War of the Worlds
They had heard about it, maybe even caught a glimpse of it. By the late 1940s, Americans started to own it, this thing called the “home screen.” The name didn’t stick, but product sure did. Viewers could see the world from the comfort of their living rooms. Television showed it all. Nothing was left to the imagination.
That was the job of radio, and it was imagination that in late October 1938 caused parts of the U.S. eastern seaboard to fear for their lives. For the Halloween episode of The Mercury Theatre on the Air, young actor Orson Welles and cast performed an adaption of H.G. Wells’ novel, War of the Worlds. Welles fooled his audience into believing that Martians had actually invaded a small New Jersey village. Faked news bulletins interrupted scheduled programming to report on the developing story. Listeners heard from supposedly worried government officials that troops had been mobilized. The sounds of hysterical crowds and the echoes of cannon fire filled the airwaves. Imaginations ran wild as listeners heard hellacious battles being fought. Invaders from another world were taking control of the nation — or so it seemed.
It doesn’t take any imagination to know that life is filled with battles. Just getting up in the morning can be a battle, and that’s just the start. Then there’s going to work, paying the never-ending bills, keeping the spouse happy, dealing with the kids, getting along with workmates, neighbors, and assorted others, fixing the faucet, and oh yes, fighting for control of the television. It can all be so very exhausting.
But our biggest, most exhausting battles are within ourselves. We are our own worst enemies. It’s in our DNA to want everything, right here, and right now. It’s a desire that often results in sin, as it has done since the very beginning. Remember what Satan told Adam and Eve: they could have it all, and even be like gods. That would tempt anyone. And in that first battle against their pride, it was no contest. Score one for the invader from another world.
The fight against the weaknesses of our nature is an ongoing spiritual battle. It is why the Father, in His mercy, sent His Son. He came to show us the Way — a love that breaks through the self by our selflessly giving love to God and others. Jesus taught us the meaning of sacrificial love; He surrendered His throne and became mere flesh and blood. And then He poured them out on a cross atop a hill.
Yet Jesus knew that for us to make it back to Heaven, we need even more. So He instituted His Church and sent His Holy Spirit to guide it. Through the Church, we are nourished by the sacraments and instructed by God’s word. Christ intended His Church to be the rock on which we all could safely stand, protected from the waves of Satan’s onslaughts. Jesus promises that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. But those very words should tell us something important: we will not get to Heaven without struggle. Centuries of the blood of martyrs have proven it. Like it or not, we are in a fight for our very souls.
Christ’s instituting the Church did not change our fallen human nature. Satan and his minions know it only too well. They tempt us with fame, power, prestige, money, sex, drugs, and alcohol. They lure us with the thoughts of independence and autonomy, the very things that makes us feel like the gods we are not. But total autonomy comes at a price: we must be willing to kill to get it — or at least stand silent when others do. And those being killed are the unborn. The toll is over 59 million, and climbing.
As Church, we are called to fight against the evil of legal abortion with all our might. But more and more, our Church—and we are Church—seems content to simply co-exist with it. We focus on other things. We build parish centers. We install new sound systems and softer kneelers. We adorn our worship spaces with flowers and ribbons. We hold our fellowship events, the fashion shows and March Madness parties. But in the midst of it all, a baby is ripped apart limb by limb. Then another. And another. And still another. On average, an unborn baby is slaughtered every two minutes. We’d rather not notice. So we don’t.
Years ago, an elderly German told of life in Nazi Germany. During Sunday services, a train would rumble past his church. The congregation heard moans, which they came to realize were coming from the train’s cattle cars. The cars were filled with Jews being taken to the camps. The congregation chose to say nothing. But they could not make the moaning stop. So as the trains passed by, they sang. And each Sunday, they sang a little louder. The war ended; the steady stream of death trains ground to a halt. But in his mind, the shattered man still heard the trains and the moans. He lives with the guilt of knowing he did nothing to help.
That man told his story following a pro-life rally. He understood the parallels between the Holocaust in Germany and the one here. We cannot deny the truth of his words, for we know what is happening. We have an obligation in faith to end the slaughter. We cannot claim to have faith in Christ if we fail to put it in action to save His children. And for our sakes, we need to realize: ending legal abortion is not just about saving the unborn. It’s also about saving our souls. For at a time of His choosing, He will ask each of us just whom we saw in the unborn. Did we see Him? Did we help Him? With 59 million killed on our watch, dare we say yes?
But bad news can become good news. We, the followers of Christ, can end legal abortion. We can do it with our votes. The time is now. We can vote for the candidate committed to ending it. At the very least, we can withhold a vote for the one who wants to keep abortion legal forever. And some day, we may hear: Well done, my good and faithful servant. For when I was growing in my mother’s womb, you saved My life. Battle won.
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.