Many of brothers and sisters have begun to do the same thing with another great mystery that is beyond our comprehension…the death of a child still in the womb. Today, we in the Church call this day “Sanctity of Life Sunday”, because it remembers and mourns the tragic anniversary of the Roe Vs. Wade case which legalized abortion in this country.
This morning is a reminder to the entire world that life does not begin when we emerge from the womb…it begins at conception. There is no better evidence of this great fact than in the beginning chapters of the Gospel, when it is an unborn child…St. John…who leapt in the womb of his mother when he came in the mere presence of the Living God. When Mary came to visit Elizabeth, the unborn John’s heart burned with joy as he perceived the presence of Him who would take away the sins of the entire world.
There is no amount of scientific reasoning which can overcome the simple truth that the first person to recognize Christ on this earth…was an unborn child.
Today we will do something that is exceedingly rare in today’s world. We will remember and pray for all unborn infants…all of the holy and sinless innocents, who as we hear in one of the services, are like “Ships that pass through life, leaving no wake behind”
These types of memorials are rare, because society will ask us why it is necessary.
“Why bring up bad memories?”
“Why relive sad emotions instead of burying them in your mind?”
What can the Church offer us that time and healing cannot?”
There is a beautiful Ukrainian Christmas Carol, which was one of my favorites growing up, about the story of Rachel. If you remember from the Gospels, King Herod, out of fear of the stories about the messiah, put an order out to slaughter innocent youths under the age of two.
We hear in the Gospels a quote from the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, Weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children…refusing to be comforted…because they are no more.”
What happened that night to Rachel is not so much different than what couples go through when they experience the loss of an innocent youth. It doesn’t matter how many grief counselors are visited, how many family members try to comfort them, or how much time has passed, parents will often find themselves in the same shoes as Rachel…refusing to be comforted.
Sometimes, there are no answers to the difficulties of life. There are no easy paths towards eternal life, and the Church in Her wisdom knows that. In times of great trial and tribulation, the Embrace of the Orthodox Christian Faith offers those who are suffering in this life a warm blanket. It offers in the Theotokos, a mother for us to cuddle up with as when we were young…a shoulder for us to lay our head on…and a warm cloak for us to shed our tears in…just as she sheds tears with us for the difficulties that we endure in this fallen and imperfect world.
To all those who suffer from the loss of an unborn child, regardless if it was a natural loss or not, let the Church, and the Theotokos, be your blanket today, and for the rest of your lives. Let it sing not only to your hearts, but to the world…to not weep for our unborn children.
To quote the ending to that beautiful Ukrainian carol:
”Do not weep O Rachel, see your children are whole. They did not die…they are alive…they are in heaven.”