Conversing in the Womb

Doug McManaman
Reproduced with Permission

While doing graduate work in Theology at the University of Montreal during the late 80s, I recall being suddenly struck by the ironies with which modern thought is replete. I discovered quickly enough that contemporary philosophy that was then used to undermine much of traditional Catholic theology could just as easily be employed to elucidate and defend it. Contradiction soon became a kind of beacon, allowing me to distinguish the true liberal from the false, neo-Hegelian liberalism that characterizes much of what passes for liberal thought today.

Recently, while visiting a friend of mine in a small Ontario town, I was given an opportunity to listen to a rather liberal priest who is known for singing his homilies, or at least parts of them. Although it would not be fair to characterize this priest as anti-life, I do think it is fair to say that he is one who probably wouldn't be caught dead delivering a strong pro-life homily. But in his homily during the funeral mass which I attended, he employed an interesting image that I found very striking. Perhaps to bring consolation to the grieving family and shed the light of hope on the darkness of death, he spoke of how he often imagined himself entering the womb of a pregnant mother in order to converse with the baby, telling him or her that in just a few days, perhaps even in a few hours, "you will go through this dark and narrow passageway, and doing so might be painful, but when you do, you will enter a room filled with light, and you will be touched by warm hands and greeted with joy." He went on to suggest how the baby might respond to him: "How about if you go, Father, and I'll stay right here," underscoring of course the fear of death that is natural to us all.

This, I thought to myself, is a powerful image that highlights the diabolical nature of abortion. Just imagine going into the womb and telling the baby, "Unfortunately you won't be going through that passageway over there to enter a world of light and love. Rather, something from out there will be coming through it very soon, a suction apparatus or polyp forceps, and it will rip you apart, forever preventing you from entering the beautiful world that's on the other side."

How does this highlight abortion's diabolical nature? Consider that the only condition that renders heaven impossible for the soul is the absence of divine grace. Moreover, the principal aim of the powers of hell is precisely the elimination of supernatural grace in the souls of the faithful. Pope Paul VI writes: "He [the Devil] undermines man's moral equilibrium with his sophistry. He is the malign, clever seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the senses, the imagination and the libido, through utopian logic, or through disordered social contacts in the give and take of our activities, so that he can bring about in us deviations that are all the more harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental makeup, or to our profound, instinctive aspirations...those who do not keep watch over themselves with a certain moral rigor are exposed to the influence of the "mystery of iniquity" cited by St. Paul which raises serious questions about our salvation." (Confronting the Devil's Power, General Audience November 15, 1972).

If the priest's image is correct, then the diabolical effort to destroy the grace of God in souls, maliciously depriving them of the inheritance of eternal life, is an accurate image of abortion, and abortion is an accurate image of the very heart of hell. Just another example of the irony of someone not particularly hot on pro-life topics unwittingly providing an equally lukewarm congregation with the key to discerning the very vile and dark visage of abortion, if only they would just take the image a little bit further.