On Sunday, January 20, more than 700 faithful gathered in San Diego’s St. Joseph’s Cathedral for prayer and a procession to decry 35 years of legalized abortion in the United States. The procession was led by auxiliary bishop, Salvatore Cordileone, and was blessed with the presence of the famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, organized the event. He called it a “Procession of Reparation” to decry the January 22 anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States. McKenna said that the infamous anniversary coincided with the three week tour of the statue he had organized for the diocese in January, so he tied the two together. “In the past 35 years more than 48 million children have been killed in their mother’s womb and the message Our Lady gave at Fatima in 1917 spoke of this type of extreme moral decay,” he said. “At Fatima the Blessed Mother asked for prayer and reparation and that is what we did” he continued.
In the early afternoon people gathered in the cathedral where the Fatima Statue was displayed. As the choir intoned hymns, the faithful filed out onto the street. Some of the participants stayed in the cathedral in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament which was exposed on the main alter after people left.
The procession stretched over three city blocks with the Fatima statue carried aloft by four men. As they walked, the people prayed the rosary in unison and chanted hymns. A police escort stopped traffic at intersections as the faithful walked just over a mile to the Family Planning Associates Abortion Center located across the street from San Diego’s Balboa Park. At the park people gathered on the lawn across the street from the clinic for a brief addresses by Bishop Cordileone and Mr. Kent Peters, the director of the diocesan office of Social Ministry. After the bishop gave his Episcopal Blessing, the procession returned to the cathedral along the same route.
“It is not ever day you see a bishop in beautiful liturgical vestments, with miter and crosier, leading hundreds of the faithful in procession through the streets of a major city in our country,” commented Sue Lopez of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants who leads weekly prayer vigils at the clinic. She said “it was very inspiring, a day to be remembered.” The presence of many religious in their habits added to the solemnity of the day.
Upon arriving at the cathedral people filled the pews and sang the Salve Regina as the beautiful statue entered the church led by the bishop and a color guard escort from the Knights of Columbus. With Our Lady beside the alter and the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance, the bishop delivered a very inspiring meditation followed by Benediction.
As the bishop processed out blessing the faithful, the church was filled with voices singing Holy God We Praise Thy Name and tears could be seen in the eyes of many.
Bishop Cordileone’s Meditation:
given by the Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, during Eucharistic adoration on the occasion of the visit of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima to St. Joseph’s Cathedral on January 20, 2008.
The LORD tells us through his prophet Moses: “Here, then, I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving Him, and walking in His ways, and keeping His commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore He would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Dear Lady, Mother of our Savior and our Mother: we thank you for choosing life, and for choosing to serve the God and Creator of all life, the one, true God whom you bore in your womb. The Eternal, All-powerful and All-holy One took on the weakness and corruptibility of our human flesh, and the mystery of that flesh you carried within your own flesh, so that, in his flesh, he might die, nailing our sins to the cross, and he might rise incorruptible to hold out to us the path to holiness and the promise of incorruptibility.
Meditation: Eucharistic Adoration – Visit of Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima Oh most blessed Virgin, please intercede to your Son for us, that he may forgive us, our entire nation, of the sins and crimes we have committed against the sanctity of human life, especially in these last 35 years. He came to sanctify our flesh, to ennoble our human nature, and how have we responded? Have we obeyed the commandments of the LORD, our God, which He has enjoined on us, loving Him, and walking in His ways, and keeping His commandments, statutes and decrees? Have we treated the least of our brothers and sisters with the dignity with which your Son has endowed us, cherishing and welcoming them as you did your divine Son? Or rather, have we not turned away our hearts from Him and closed our ears, to be led astray to adore and serve other gods, strange gods who make strange promises, who induce us to sacrifice the most vulnerable in our midst on the altars of greed, expediency and self-indulgence?
And not only this. Immaculate Virgin, even in your sinless state you knew the embarrassment and pain of bringing a life into this world which you did not anticipate. Be present now to all of those new mothers, carrying new life within them, who feel frightened, alone and desperate. Cast upon them the light of your Son, that they may find the path that leads out of the darkness which envelopes them, that they may be given the support they need to make the choice which will bring them happiness and peace. Holy mother, so many of your sisters feel trapped in a darkness which seems to never end because of the life they once bore within them and is no more. These are your sisters who have been subject to the deepest and most violent transgression of their feminine dignity. Lead them to your Son, in whom they will find forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and welcome back into the arms of their loving eternal Father.
The toll of human suffering, the unspeakable carnage that shames us, is a weight too heavy for us to bear. And yet, we rejoice, we rejoice because your Son Meditation: Eucharistic Adoration – Visit of Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima took all of our sin, all of our shame, guilt and disgrace upon himself. He told us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” and he lived these words in the flesh which he took from you, loving Mother. And he invites us to do the same: “you are my friends, if you do what I command you.” What greater hope, what deeper joy can we have than to be his friends, to lay down our lives for him? In the midst of the suffering of this world, he paves for us the way to salvation, the way to be happy with him forever.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” Thus spoke the LORD to His prophet Jeremiah, calling him to his sublime vocation. Dear Mother, may you, along with your most chaste spouse, St. Joseph, Patron Saint of your Son’s Church and of a happy death, intercede for us, that we, whom the LORD knew and called from the moment of our conception in our mother’s womb to be happy with Him forever, might be His prophets in the world of this time and place, messengers of His light, peace, healing and joy. May He help our nation to be a people that chooses life that we may live; may He help our nation to be a beacon to all the world, a beacon of the Good News that to love Him, the LORD, our God, to heed His voice and hold fast to Him means life, not simply a long life in this world, but life eternal in the world to come, in his Kingdom where, in communion with all the saints, we will behold, face-to-face, the glory of the one, true God:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.