Like most Catholic artists, I quote the famous phrase, “Beauty will save the world” at such a high frequency that Dostoevsky is likely twitching in his grave as I write this. However, a priest once reminded me of a related truth that is far less ennobling: If it is true that beauty will save the world, ugliness will damn the world.
Jan. 22 marked 49 years since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States. In 1973, America accepted the antithesis of beauty.
Every human being is created in the image and likeness of Beauty Himself. Abortion looks at that beautiful creation and deems it unworthy of existence. It violently dismembers tiny arms created to embrace another. It physically crushes a skull formed to know goodness and truth.
The act of abortion declares that a woman, the crown of creation, is flawed in the action of bearing new life. It scorns the most intimate union between child and mother. Abortion physically tears the two apart, leaving one dead and the other in profound pain.
The abortion industry preys aggressively on preborn children with disabilities or those conceived unexpectedly. Because these children are considered to be burdensome or useless for society, they are disposed of like trash. There is no room for beauty in a fixation on utility and convenience.
Abortion, the rejection of beauty and embodiment of ugliness, has shrouded America for almost half a century. What has this nationwide embrace of damning ugliness cost us?
Since 1973, abortion has deprived us of over 62 million masterpieces of creation. More than 62 million souls are absent from homes, classrooms, churches, and workplaces, unable to share the divine goodness that they were uniquely created to reveal.
The disregard for the dignity of those murdered children has disastrous ramifications for the spiritual and psychological wellbeing of society as a whole. If certain babies are only worthy of life because they are wanted or formed without any defects, is it the same for those of us who are living?
Is a person’s worth subjective, only dictated by the response of others to that person’s presence? The abortion agenda, which has arguably pervaded every corner of society, says yes. Should it really come as a shock that younger generations have struggled with crippling self-worth problems and social anxiety?
Abortion is by no means the sole cause of societal struggles. But society condones the killing of a child because that child is considered burdensome. It violently chooses to define a person by what he or she does rather than who he or she is. This perspective carries over to the way a country teaches its citizens to view all people, born and unborn.
Beauty enthralls, but ugliness repulses. There is nothing that makes a person want to think about abortion. But every year around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it is imperative that we open our eyes in the valley of the shadow of death.
We can’t look away from the ugliness. We need a day to mourn the babies who have been killed, to repent of our own complacency and to pray that the ugliness of abortion will not damn the world.
But even in the ugliness, there is no room for despair. Edith Stein writes, “The love of Christ knows no limits … it does not shrink from ugliness and filth.”
Beauty already saved the world when He took on all the filth of sin, a victim of the ugliest crime to ever be committed. On the darkest day of human history Christ felt the pain of every aborted infant. He experienced the anguish of every post-abortive mother. When He rose, He made all things new — even the pain from abortion.
In the next days, I encourage you to take time to ponder the abject ugliness of abortion and grieve the beauty of which it has robbed us. But let that sobering reality move you to action and to deeper hope in the Beauty who saves the world. He has the final say over sin, death and ugliness.