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In all of Ireland's rich and ancient mythical tradition, there is only one reference to human sacrifice. The High King of Teamhair, Tigernmas, set up an idol called Cromm Cruach and ordered that children be killed as offerings to it. It was, ironically, the Druids of Ireland who brought an end to this bloody cult, murdering Tigernmas during a frenzied ceremony around the idol.
Bear one another's burden — "As you sow so shall you reap" (Galatians 6:2).
This week many people who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ will have the opportunity to vote in a referendum in Ireland on whether that nation's constitutional safeguards against the abortion of nascent human beings in the womb should be removed. Recently I ran across the account, excerpted above, of the druidic repression of the cult of child sacrifice in Ireland. Reading it, I was struck by the thought that, after centuries, a nation famous for its reverence for the heart and vocation of motherhood seems poised to abandon it. It's as if the arrogance engendered by the technical wizardry of our age has resurrected the kind of idolatry that long ago debased itself with child murder and was long ago rejected.
The Irish are the last people I would expect to find returning to that estrangement from humanity. People upon whose spirit the wounds inflicted by inhumanity still freshly glare ought to be proof against the false pretense of "freedom" that in fact beckons a people to self-extinction. The plague of abortion portends the ever-more rapid self-extinction of peoples in several European countries. But one would think the Irish most resistant to the invitation blithely to do to themselves what others have consistently tried to do over their strong objection.
But beyond the physical self-extermination the abortion cult promotes lies the spiritual death it more immediately entails. Our present age pretends to be obsessed with all kinds of loving. But the abortion cult promotes the hardening of emotional and spiritual arteries most likely to result in the incapacity for love, especially the kind that nurtures identity, hope and mutual sustenance for generations. Nations that have endured oppressive persecution either form the character for such mutual self-help or live to become soulless, hollow shadows of their former selves. In this respect the meaning of St. Paul's admonition must become a way of life for those determined never to succumb to that fate.
In human experience, is there a more meaningful illustration of the phrase "bear one another's burden" than that of a mother evidently with child? There is no doubt that the feminine body is, by nature, made to accept the burden of another's life, even if, these days, some seek to make that a criminal observation. Much evidence also suggests that the good heart and will required to bear a child is also a natural characteristic of women, however much some self-styled "feminists" resentfully denigrate it. For many people, myself included, our mother is or was the most influential example of the noble humility required to follow the Apostle's admonition. Her example shaped our self-respect, even before we were aware of it. It informed what we expected of ourselves, and what we felt obliged to do for others, long before we could take responsibility for meeting either one.
In many respects, our mother's care is what first introduces us to the meaning of love, in human terms. It is surpassed only by the ultimate love for one another that Christ upholds and exemplifies, i.e., "to lay down one's life for one's friend." But here too a mother's love prefigured the good will of Christ, through all the millennia when the eventual labor of love, in which the conjugation of man and woman bears fruit, often proved fatal.
Was this fatality the intention of God, when first He created us, male and female? Certainly not. He meant us to multiply, and that is unlikely if, in the very giving of it, life must be taken away. The painful travails of the woman's life-giving labor reflect the corruption of nature, human and otherwise. That corruption comes in consequence of acting on the mistaken sense that we require something beyond the bounds of God's provision to be the very image and likeness of God. What need is there to take what, in the act of creation, God has already forgiven?
To do so was Eve's mistake. But, as God foresaw, what the first woman took into her own hands, the First of Women humbly admitted within herself. She readily accepted God's will that she should take His being as her own, but not by any work of her own hands. Rather, she did so by surrendering herself — hands, limbs, mind, heart and all — to the spirited power of God. She gave way to His being so that He could come among us and renew the gift of living in His way that He intended for human life all along.
It is the way of life simultaneously withdrawn from and returned to God, as breath is from the air, so that life is replenished, multiplied and renewed with no interfering shadow of death. That shadow fails to intervene because no disparity comes between the life He engenders in us and the life of which He, and He alone, is the nourishing original. From Him our nature is born — as the tree is born from the seed, the fruit from the tree and the seed again from the fruit. So, in all the panoply of existence, the living God persists — ever present and inviolate — so that life remains in constant communion with God and through Him, with all things.
The righteous spiritual obedience of the First of Women rescinded the terrible mistake of the flesh of Man's Flesh, the bone of his bone. Mary bore the happy burden of God's presence in Christ so that Christ could snare the burden of our death through sin. Holding it fast upon the Cross, He redeemed the promise of God for our humanity. He restored the community of God's creation, in which all things work together for good.
This is the way of God in respect of all nature, including our own. The mother of Christ had the heart of Christ (that is, of God) within her, before Jesus came to be within her womb. Otherwise, leaning like Eve upon her own understanding, she would have gone the way of Eve. Prefiguring Christ, she saw no will but God's. This is proof that, in her conception, God restored the sinless understanding of humanity before the Fall. Then we lived blissfully in the presence of God, utterly exposed to His power but also utterly involved with His will. Therefore, we labored joyfully, unashamedly, with no burden of fear.
Was there, perhaps, no difference then between the ecstatic welcoming cry of procreation and the fearless cry of human life aborning, bathed in the sounding joy of God's Creation? The labor of love was easy then, because the laborers made way for life in and with the generous Spirit of God. No one yet walked in the valley of the shadow of death. No will yet balked at the burden, no heavier than light, of being God's life-bearer, fated again and again to go through ecstasy in order, again and again, to bring humanity to life.
If you could stand with God in the moment of Creation and feel in the very depths of you the stirring, flowing universe poised to erupt through and upon the Word of the Living God, would you reject the Glory? But isn't this precisely what we are rejecting when we harden our hearts against humanity's perpetuation by embracing the lie abortion implants in our very soul — that the freedom to kill the future of our kind somehow merits the name of right?