January 20, 2023 — This morning, Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ, national director of the Pope’s Prayer Network, delivered this homily at the Ignatian Family Mass for Life at St. Aloysius Church in Washington, D.C. Students from Jesuit schools around the country were in attendance, including from Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami; Boston College; College of the Holy Cross; Creighton University in Omaha; Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School; Jesuit High School of New Orleans; Marquette University High School in Milwaukee; Regis Jesuit High School in Denver; Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri; Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago; St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan; St. Joseph Preparatory School in Philadelphia; St. Louis University High; and University of Detroit Jesuit High School.
Here is the text of Fr. Laramie’s homily:
Let’s begin with a guided reflection. Put your hand on your heart and feel your heartbeat. You can close your eyes or keep them open. Just feel your heartbeat. Maybe your heart is beating slowly and peacefully.
For others, maybe your heart is beating faster. Perhaps you had to rush over here from the subway. Maybe you are excited and nervous about the events we’ll encounter today.
And notice emotions underneath your heartbeat. Perhaps there is a quiet joy as we gather here for this Mass for Life.
For others, maybe there is a touch of anxiety, fear, or worry. Perhaps you’re thinking about a family member who is suffering right now. Or you’re wondering what we will face when we walk out these doors after Mass. Cheers and support? Shouting? Yelling?
And let us see in our hearts an image of the Father’s love for us. The Father’s slow, powerful, persistent, love — giving us life and strength all day, every day.
Also, we see in our hearts an image of the Heart of Jesus. Let us see the Sacred Heart of Jesus — for our hearts are made in the image and likeness of his Sacred Heart. Jesus felt the whole range of human emotions, as we see in the Gospels: joy, sorrow, even anger.
Lord Jesus, we ask to unite our hearts with your Sacred Heart. To mingle our joys with your joys, our sorrows with your sorrows, even that you may purify and channel our anger.
We conclude by praying together:
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Dear friends, I am Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ, a Jesuit. I am a proud graduate of many Jesuit schools.
SLU High in St Louis, Saint. Louis University, Loyola in Chicago and Boston College.
I’ve also taught at Rockhurst High in Kansas City, Regis High in Colorado, and I now live at Marquette University.
I am a national director of the Apostleship of Prayer, which is the Pope’s Prayer Network. This is a 175-year-old Jesuit ministry promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the monthly prayer intentions of the Holy Father. Of course, we love our Jesuit pope, Francis — and we know that he joins us in prayer on this historic day.
This is a historic day and a glorious day. We gather here celebrating the end of Roe v. Wade! “Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye!” And good riddance!
Fifty years ago, in the Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court legalized widespread abortion in the United States. This summer, 49 ½ years later, that decision was overturned, thankfully, finally, miraculously, mercifully. Alleluia! One of the worst, most disastrous, most violent court decisions in our nation’s history was finally overturned. And it happened on Friday, June 24 — on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
On the feast of the Sacred Heart, we honor and adore the Heart of Jesus — his Heart beating with love for us right now. He has a risen body, a glorified body; he is fully human and fully divine. His heart beats with love for our hearts right now.
On the feast of His Heart, Roe v Wade was overturned. God is Love. God’s light overcomes the darkness. In the 50 years since Roe v Wade, 50 million tiny hearts have been destroyed. Fifty million babies massacred in the womb.
The war is won, but the battle is not over. After the end of Roe v Wade, the battles are happening in all 50 states. In your state, in your town. In mine. In St Louis and Milwaukee, in Missouri and Wisconsin.
And some states have actually hardened and become more forceful in their commitment to abortion after the end of Roe v. Wade.
There is bill being debated in the state of California that would provide travel expenses [airfare] AND CHILD CARE for women from other states who want to come there for an abortion.
So, California will pay for a babysitter for the kids while an abortion doctor ends the life of their unborn baby sister? This is madness. Can’t we use that money to help this woman, help her children and help her care for her baby?
Other states have passed sensible legislation — protecting and supporting pregnant women and providing resources for their unborn and newborn children.
As Jesus tells us, be as innocent as doves and as wise as serpents [Matt 10:16]. We’re not fools, we’re Jesuit educated! Be on the lookout for lives and half-truths; use your brains and mouths to uncover the lies. “This is just tissue.” I’m made of tissue; am I a person? “Only women can speak about abortion.” Well, half of abortions happen to baby boys. Let’s speak truth to power.
Let’s talk about a few pro-life Ignatian heroes — from our day, from our Jesuit schools. Kat is a graduate of Regis High in Colorado; she took AP biology and played rugby. She became pregnant in the spring of her senior year. She was confused and upset.
A young Jesuit, a good friend of mine, was her teacher. He was a great support to her, encouraging her, praying for her. Kat said, “I never thought about abortion. I knew I would have this baby.” Her boyfriend also supported her.
In 2007, she gave birth to a beautiful little boy. I went to visit her in the hospital. Her mom was there with her, holding baby Xavier. I walked up to give the child a little blessing, and he peed all over me. She offered her son in an “open adoption.” An open adoption means that she met the adoptive parents, got to visit them and little Xavier in the months ahead.
He is now 15 and he plays rugby and the cello. Kat is now married with five kids; she’s finishing her degree as a medical doctor. She will focus on healthcare for pregnant women and their babies. Kat, you are an “Ignatian hero for life.”
Lucy is a graduate of Saint Louis University. I was chaplain for the Pro-Life club there just a few years ago. Lucy was the vice president, organizing campus events to help educate her classmates. Lucy now works full-time for Students for Life of America, helping other campuses to organize events. Lucy is here this weekend. Lucy, you are an “Ignatian hero for life.”
Finally, Fr Jorge is a proud Jesuit graduate. He joined the Jesuits after high school. In his writings and homilies, he speaks about the environment — about the dignity of immigrants, the poor, the elderly and the disabled.
He writes: “I cannot stay silent [when globally] over 30-40 million unborn lives [are] cast aside every year through abortion. … The practice is often urged because the children [to be born] are disabled or unplanned … I often ask myself these two questions — [first] Is it right to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem?; [second] Is it right to hire an assassin to resolve our problem?”
Fr. Jorge Bergoglio is now Pope Francis, our Jesuit pope! Jesuits are called to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable — Pope Francis does both! Pope Francis, we love you — and you are an “Ignatian hero for life!”
Alright, boys and girls, proud members of Team Jesuit — so what can we do? How can we be Ignatian heroes, too?
Good questions. We can do a lot. We have hearts, made by God. We have brains, formed by our Jesuits and our teachers at our schools.
First, from your heart, pray. We’re doing this now. Pray for young women who are pregnant and may feel alone and afraid. Pray for their babies. Pray for those who are helping in pregnancy centers, in pro-life ministries, for the Sisters of Life.
And pray to ask Christ where he is calling you to love and serve — how he is calling you to use your gifts in this great mission for life.
Second, use your brain. Educate yourself. Learn about the development of a child in the womb. I’m sure you talked about this in biology class. That’s where we all started, in our mother’s wombs. Be ready to talk and give reasons for your commitment to pro-life. And to understand the lies and half-truths used to justify abortion. Alright, hearts and brains. Now we’re talking. Grace is flowing.
Third, use your mouth. Yes, use your phones. Talk to some friends — does your school have a pro-life club? If yes, join them. If not, start one. You might need to fill out a form from your principal or dean. Talk to your friends, work together, start a little movement.
Heart, brain, mouth — and now hands. Make something happen. Get active. Do a diaper drive for young moms. Volunteer at a pregnancy support center — washing and folding donated baby socks! Aaaah! Nothing cuter! Look at your school website or handbook — is there a ‘pregnant student resource guide?’
If a young woman at your school becomes pregnant, high school or college, what happens? She needs to know she will be supported, that she can finish her degree. This information needs to be easy to find — positive, helpful, specific. Show these girls we love them no matter what. God loves her. And we want to help her.
Heart, mind, mouth, hands. Boom. This is the Body of Christ. This is us! In fact, our alumni LOVE to donate to this cause. Parents can help. Teachers can support us. A movement! Let’s put the devotion in motion!
Talk to your school leaders — be friendly, be respectful, of course. “Fr. President, or Mrs. Principal, we have an idea, and we want your permission. We want to form a committee to support pregnant students,” (Jesuit schools love committees!)
This is cura personalis! This is “loving our neighbor!” We speak the truth in love. So, we’re walking out the doors of this chapel in less than an hour. What will we see and hear?
Yes, some crazy people yelling. Some angry people shouting at us. And a lot of faithful people praying and singing. Grandmas and priests. Moms and religious sisters. Teenage girls, baby boys in strollers. This great mission of life is open to everyone. Life is precious, that life begins at conception, that women deserve better than abortion.
We fight this battle not with swords and arrows, but with love and service. With joy and hope. And, yes, using our Jesuit minds and hearts, using our voices and hands.
Women and mothers are strong and we’re here to help them. Every child is beautiful. We love them both! In all 50 states, we are on a mission of mercy. God is love, God is life — and life wins.
We want to make abortion not just illegal, but unthinkable. Our moms said yes to life. Our grandmas said yes to life. We have hearts made by God. We have minds formed by our Jesuit education. We are men and women for others! We are Jesuit educated and we stand for life — we do this Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, for the greater glory of God.
Fr. Joe Laramie, SJ, is the National Director of the Pope’s Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer) and author of “Love Him Ever More: A 9-Day Personal Retreat with the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Learn more at JoeLaramieSJ.com and find him on Twitter @JoeLaramieSJ.