“Sent out into the world: the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of mission,” was the theme for the third day of Catechesis held during WYD08 Sydney.
Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota told a crowded room of pilgrims at Sydney's University of Notre Dame that they should work to "create a culture of life,” to participate in the mission of the Holy Spirit.
“This is extremely difficult in our culture today, especially when we are bombarded by technology.”
Of the many issues we face, one of the most challenging life issues for us is abortion, he told pilgrims.
“In building a culture of life we must have the courage to speak of the dignity of life, particularly that of the unborn child.”
“God in the book of Deuteronomy told us that He gave us life so that you and your descendants may have life and live it to the full.”
“I say to you, choose life, because life is a gift that is bestowed. Life is a pure gift given to you… You received the gift of life from God. You must be witnesses to that gift of life, by how we live our lives.”
“We cannot give in to the father of lies, who says ‘it’s a personal choice, it’s private. It is between the individual and God. That is relativism,” Bishop Aquila said.
The American bishop also addressed what happens when an abortion occurs: “A human life is destroyed every time an abortion occurs.”
“Any Catholic who says that they are Catholic and supports the so called right to abortion, will one day stand before God and be judged by him and they will have to argue with God. What will God say to them?”
“The very salvation of theirs souls is something we must understand. Jesus did not speak lightly about the possibility of hell,” he warned.
Bishop Aquila then shared an encounter he had that exposed the reality of abortion.
“Last year I was interviewed by an media person over the position that I took over the abortion. It was obvious that she was ‘pro-abortion, although I’m sure she wouldn’t be happy to be called that,” he said.
“Let’s put God out of the equation,” the bishop said he invited her to do. “I asked her two questions. Tell me, at what point did you’re life begin? Scientifically, at what point did your life begin?”
“She did not look real happy at me, because she knew the truth, and remained silent,” said the Bishop. “She knew as well as I did that her life began when a sperm and egg met in her mother’s womb united and formed a cell.”
“My second question to her, was ‘do you think that your life has more value now, than it did when you were in your mother’s womb?’ Once again, she remained silent.”
“If we’re the ones that decide the dignity of human life, we can justify anything,” said the bishop. “We can justify Nazi Germany, the genocide of Sudan, and we can justify the killing of unborn babies. All of these can be justified if we decide the dignity of human life. Only God alone can decide the dignity of the human person.”
“That is why so many of our societies today are supporting things like abortion, assisted suicide, genocide.”
Be a witness to Jesus
“But you are to be witnesses. You are called to be witnesses, and to truly follow the teachings of God, the teachings of Scripture and the teachings of the Church,” proclaimed the Bishop.
“You are all called to be saints. Blessed Mary Mackillop heard that call. She encouraged her sisters to listen to the whisperings of God in your heart.”
The Bishop then challenged the pilgrims to reflect in the silence of their hearts.
“My dear brothers and sisters, my dearest sons and daughters, what is the whisperings of God in your heart?” asked the Bishop.
“Jesus tells us that you are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Let your light shine before many, so that what they may see by your good works, that they may give glory to God by your presence.”
Finally he encouraged the pilgrims, saying “be not afraid to be that salt, to be the light. Know that your strength is Jesus Christ, and is the Holy Spirit.”