Saint Vincent the Deacon (+304), who suffered grievously under the Diocletian persecution, is a providential saint for this sombre anniversary of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision of the United States of America, which legalized abortion across the nation, over-riding the rightful autonomy of the States themselves, which was written into the very DNA of the Constitution. Now even to repeal abortion ‘rights’ is a long and laborious endeavour; we must not underestimate the pedagogical effect of law, both of the good and bad variety.
Just as Vincent was torn asunder in the name of a false view of ‘truth’ and ‘freedom’, so are millions of babies, under the rubric of ‘privacy’ and a woman’s ‘autonomy’.
Here is the silver lining in all of this: The martyr Vincent went straight to eternal beatitude and, we may hope and pray, so do all the aborted children who, like the Herodian innocents, knew not any taint of personal sin. The primary evil in abortion is moral and spiritual, the corruption of the human will, which makes the soul, engrossed in grave and even demonic evil, fit only for hell, that tragic and final and irrevocable loss of the beatific vision.
That is why Pope John Paul II declared in the very opening of Evangelium Vitae (1995) that not only do the numerous crimes against life ‘poison human society’ at its very roots, but “they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury” (#3).
Strong words indeed, given the heinouness of abortion. For moral evil is always more grave than physical evil.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather be afraid of him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mt. 10:28)
A final thought: God can bring great good from both moral and physical evil, often in ways that we cannot imagine nor foresee.
The woman at the centre of this initial abortion case, ‘Jane Roe’, Norma Leah McCorvey Nelson, who won the right to murder her own child, falsely claiming she had been raped to add emotional appeal to the decision, not only gave birth to that child (while the three-year Court judgement was pending), but later converted to Catholicism and became a leader in the pro-life movement.
And Bernard Nathanson, one of the physicians who helped build up the ‘millions of back alley abortions’ lie, and who himself performed thousands of abortions of all varieties, finally realized one day while placing the baby parts on the surgical tray that they were the limbs and legs of actual humans. It took some time, but eventually he too converted to Catholicism and was at the forefront in the fight to end abortion, not least with his medical documentary The Silent Scream, showing through real-time ultrasound what an abortion actually is.
Who knows how many others were brought to the truth by witnessing the effects of the moral evil of abortion?
For heaven rejoices over even one sinner who repents…
While we continue to pray, sacrifice and work to end the holocaust, we should keep in our minds and hearts that in the midst of this carnage, over which God Himself weeps, He is also able in His infinite power to bring great good. For this is a battle not “against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high”
Against which only Christ and His Church can give the victory.
Saint Vincent, ora pro nobis!