September 11th is a somber day in America. On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists launched four coordinated attacks upon New York City and Washington, D.C killing almost 3000 people. This included 59 people aboard the American Flight 77, which was deliberately crashed into the Pentagon, killing another 125 people on the ground.
The pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa was driven past the monument to the victims of September 11th at the Pentagon on her way to Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Parish in Washington, DC.The violence of September 11th was horrific, shocking and has made a profound impact on American society and how we view the world, but every day in Washington horrific violence is committed which is not reported in the news. The violence of abortion is committed against pre-born children under the guise of “women’s health”. In 2008, 15,900 of the 147,193 women of child bearing age became pregnant in Washington, DC. 58% of these pregnancies resulted in live births and 28% in the violence of abortion. While Washington, DC just enacted a 24 hour waiting period before getting a tattoo or body piercing done, there is no such restriction on abortion which takes the life of a pre-born child.
A lack of respect for life one stage of development cannot help but effect the way we view human life in other stages, especially when the person is of a different race, nationality or religion than we are. Lack of respect for the life of pre-born children can’t help be lessen our concern for other vulnerable people in our society. It affects numerous problems such as the crime in our streets to the way we view other nations.In a speech before the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in 1994, DC, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said:
“But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? ... By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Church is a light shining in the darkness. Located less than a mile and a half from the U.S. Capitol, Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Church is a predominantly African-American parish, but it’s a place where everyone is welcome and can feel at home. It was a great place to seek the comfort of the Holy Spirit on a somber day, and to honor Our Lady to whom the Bishops of the United States entrusted the nation to under her title of the Immaculate Conception in 1846, eight years before the formal definition by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
A small but enthusiastic crowd of people came out to honor the Black Madonna. Most of the congregation were not familiar with icons or the history of Our Lady of Czestochowa, but they listened intently and showed great enthusiasm and devotion as the meaning of the icon and the purpose of the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage was explained. The music was typically African-American – very soulful and full of devotion. The pastor, Msgr. Charles Pope, is a gentle, but strong spiritual leader in the community and a well-known blogger about the Catholic faith. Fr. James Bradley, a priest from England who is studying at Catholic University, concelebrated the Mass. Fr. Bradley had seen the pilgrim icon when she visited London earlier in the year and was happy to greet the Black Madonna again in America. After the Mass and Holy Hour everyone came forward to receive a holy card and touch it to the icon. The presence of the Lord filled the church that evening and everyone felt blessed that Our Lady of Czestochowa had come for a visit.Unfortunately, five days after the visit, a mentally ill man gunned down 12 people at the Washington Naval Yard, just a mile and a half away from the church. This senseless act of violence underscores the need to continue to implore Our Lady’s prayers for an end to all violence against the human person, whether it be the violence of abortion, euthanasia, crime or war. The very survival of our nation depends upon it. Our Lady of Czestochowa pray for us that we will recognize that we are all made in the image and likeness of God, and that no one has a “right to choose” to take the life of another innocent human being!