In a bid to impress in the hearts of humans the value and sacredness of life, and to commemorate the 2020 Feast of All Souls’ Day, the Knights of Saint Mulumba, Festac Sub Council gathered together to mark this year’s feast in a most memorable way, as they took the occasion to unveil the Cenotaph of the unborn children, a symbol for those seeking the fruit of the womb. The Pro-life event which kicked off with Mass at the Church of the Annunciation Catholic Church Festac, Lagos was an occasion that called for sober reflection on the part of Christians and Nigerians in general, to respect and value the sanctity of life, as all were urged to avoid all forms of destruction of the human life, which God, the creator of life, has placed a premium on. The Parish Priest, Church of the Annunciation, and chaplain, KSM, Rev. Fr. Jerome Akinyemi, in his homily drew the attention of the people to the ultimate end, which is death, as he urged Christians, Catholics in particular to keep the end in mind as they run the race of life.
‘Todays reading invites us to all Christians, Catholics in particular to keep the end in mind. Speaking on the sanctity and sacredness of life, Fr. Akinyemi tasked all to take proper care of the life both of the living, and the dead because God has placed a premium of value on every life he created. Said he: “Everything is about life; God gives life, whether life is still there or is materially gone, it is still very valuable in the sight of God. So, God has placed a hard premium of value on life, and that’s why we need to actually take proper care of the life both of the living, and even those who have died because that life is just temporarily out of this life, but it is still that same life that is going to continue to be with God in heaven.
“As much as possible, we should try to avoid any form of destruction of human life, and any form of disrespect to the dead body because this dead body is going to rise. It is this dead body that God is going to raise up on the last day for the eternal rest wherever anybody has chosen to be because God has given us the opportunity, but we still have to decide where we want to go. I know many of us want to go to heaven. Those who have decided to go to heaven, hope that this life is going to continue there. Even those who decide to go to hell, it is that their life that they go to suffer in hell. but as much as possible, we should have respect for life, either young or old, either alive or dead.” Relating the All Souls’ Day celebration and recent happenings in the country, Akinyemi called on the government and citizens of Nigeria, to place value on life, as well as recognize and respect the fact that God created every human in his image and likeness.
In his words: “The government, the religious, politicians, and every human person must pay attention to the sacredness of life, the sanctity of life. There is no life that should be considered a waste or unimportant or irrelevant. There is no human life that is irrelevant. God has not created anybody to be irrelevant. He has created us in his own image and likeness, and that image of likeness of God is what is in you, in me, in every other person, whether rich or poor, whether young or old; whatever may be the status, whatever may be the condition, whatever may be the opportunities, whatever may be the situation; it is that same image of likeness of God that we are all wearing.
And this image of likeness of God in everyone must be fully recognized and respected.” Speaking on the relevance and benefits of the cenotaph, Fr. Akinyemi said: “The cenotaph is not for decoration, it is a symbol of devotion that those seeking the fruit of the womb can come and pray, so that the innocence of this unborn children can intercede for them. Then, and those who have engaged in abortion; they have willfully engaged in abortion, through their hands or through their conscious effort or whatever it is, they have been responsible for so many abortions, they can also come and ask God for forgiveness for the life of human persons they have wasted, so that God will be merciful unto them and grant them forgiveness.
The cenotaph of the unborn children is a symbol of devotion, and it serves a lot of good purposes, particularly for those who are seeking the fruit of the womb or those who are always suffering from child mortality; that is you give birth today, tomorrow the child is dead, and the rest of it. Something must be responsible for this, either medically or otherwise. One can come through this, and then, with your faith in God, you can get things right. While addressing people who abort children because they claim that they conceived by mistake, Akinyemi said that since God did not beget any human by mistake, and that every child is relevant and important, and a gift of God. Said he: “There is nothing like mistake in the plan of life. God did not beget any of us by mistake. He begets every one of us in love.
And therefore, before a woman would bring a child into the world, the family must be prepared for it, they must show that they love this child that they want to generate and bring into the world. They should not see that child either as a burden or as a mistake, as some of them would say, but rather as a gift of God that they must cherish more than any other thing in their life; cherish more than their trinkets and jewelries and any other material thing. They must cherish the life of a baby, and don’t consider it in any way as a mistake or as being irrelevant. Every child is relevant, every child is important, and every child is a gift of God.” Representing Sir William Adebisi, Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, Order of St. Mulumba, Dr. Vincent Ojini, KSM, Metro Physician relating the All Souls’ Day celebration and the Cenotaph of the unborn babies said: “What we mean by All Souls’ Day is when we pray for the dead because Catholics believe that when you die, either you go to heaven or you go to hell or you go to purgatory. If your sins are not too many, you go to purgatory. Purgatory is a place where you are purified. “So, today is the day we pray for all our departed brothers and sisters who we believe are in purgatory, so that they will pass on.
So, it is about life. What we erected there, is a kind of monument on behalf of millions of aborted babies; babies that were not allowed to come to life. So, those are the relation between the two of them. It’s all about life. And in the Catholic Church, we believe that there is sanctity of life, that we should uphold it right from the womb to the tomb. We should respect life. And nobody has the right to take life; even your own life. You don’t have the right to take it because you did not give yourself life. God is the giver of life, and he can take. So, you cannot take the life of an unborn baby who is defenseless without anything just that because you don’t want the baby. So that is it. On those who are contemplating to end their life by committing suicide he said: “Also in the Catholic Church, we don’t believe in suicide.
You cannot take your life, no matter how bad life is, there’s always a ray of hope. If you have proper counselling, you will retrace. You will find out that even those who want to commit suicide, at that very last minute, some of them do change their mind. So, with proper counselling, somebody can always step back, but some still do continue, and we believe that it’s a sin to take your own life. So, it is a believe that medically, there’s nothing in it. In terms of medicine, somebody who is critically ill, and you feel he cannot survive again, the relatives can decide to stop treatment, but in the Catholic Church, we don’t allow it. We still allow you to take treatment until God says it is over.
All Souls’ Day, in Roman Catholicism, is a day for commemoration of all the faithful departed, those baptized Christians who are believed to be in purgatory because they died with the guilt of lesser sins on their souls. It is observed on November 2. Roman Catholic doctrine holds that the prayers of the faithful on earth will help cleanse these souls in order to fit them for the vision of God in heaven, and the day is dedicated to prayer and remembrance. Requiem Masses are commonly held, and many people visit and sometimes decorate the graves of loved ones.
A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful, who on the day dedicated to the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (November 2, as well as on the Sunday preceding or following, and on All Saints’ Day) piously visit a Church. In visiting the church, it is required that one Our Father and the Cree be recited. The Church, after rejoicing November 1 with those of her children who have entered the glory of heaven, the following day, November 2, prays for all those who, in the purifying suffering of purgatory await the day when they will be joined to the company of saints.
At no place in the liturgy is stated in more striking fashion the mysterious union between the Church triumphant, the Church militant and the Church suffering. In a message of the WMPh, Lagos congratulating the WGK Sir (Dr.) Cosmas Ihekuna, the Chaplain, Very Rev. Fr. Jerome Akinyemi, and worthy brothers and sisters of Festac Sub Council on the occasion of the unveiling of the cenotaph of the unborn children, in memory of millions of aborted babies. The message read: “You have been able to keep the flag of prolife activity flying despite the prevailing situation in the country with regards to the pandemic and civil agitation induced lockdowns.
“All other sub councils in the Lagos Metro are enjoined to hit the ground running and erect a cenotaph in the parishes where they hold their sub council meetings. Later they could expand to having one in every Parish within their jurisdiction. “Also, to attract the millennials, the generation Z, the soro sokes, we need to start considering the use of electronic means of communication to propagate our messages, such as electronic billboard.”