As we embark on another 40 Days for Life journey, I had an inspiration and a request I wanted to share with you.
I am known by some in Colorado Springs as a truth-teller, a whistle-blower, a ‘disturber of the peace’ (taken from Lord of the Rings to describe Gandalf), or plainly, someone with a big mouth. 😉 I tell it like it is… some like it, some don’t. Those that don’t usually have something they’re hiding… but most of us do, because most of us try to protect those weaker parts of ourselves or have some hidden agenda of appearing a certain way (i.e. pride)…
Well, regarding pro-life, I will be no different here. I just have to say it: we are a motley crew. We are freaks and geeks to the world, and sometimes even to each other. Whether we carry a staff around with us that has 3000 holy keychains, or wear 7 different scapulars to cover all the potential evil forces, we’re a strange brood.
Oh, I do know a few healthy and balanced and normal pro-lifers. But I can count them on one and a half hands. And I’m not one of them.
But we do have one thing in common. We’re united in our disgust for the killing of innocent children in their mothers’ wombs, and in the victimization of the women and men who feel they have no where to turn, and are NOT given all the ‘choices’ available to them. But as a group, we are kind of like a family that is united by the same last name or bloodline, but many times, that’s about all that unites us.
Take the last Respect Life meeting I went to. I am not able to go often because we live in the boondocks, and have eight children and a dairy. So this time, as I sat there, I felt that deep down comfort of being amongst some of my favorite people in the world, who are just as passionate about the same things I am… kind of like the familiar and predictable smell of my grandmother’s kitchen when I was a child. But the warm feeling soon gave way to the other childhood feeling I had at big Thanksgiving dinners with extended family. The ‘delicious food’ was sprinkled with years (even decades) of history that lent itself to strange looks across the table, mysterious arguments, and occasional knowing looks and eye-rolling. As I sat there, I realized that I have a history with many of you… at least a 10 year one, and many of you have a much longer history with each other than that.
Yes, it was like I was at a Pro-life Family Dinner, and it was just as dysfunctional as my own family (or anyone’s, for that matter). It didn’t help that the person who ousted my family from their parish sat kitty-corner to me and wouldn’t lift their eyes in my direction. Or that little cliques naturally laughed at each other’s jokes but not others. Or that some people were checking their cell phones out of boredom when some people decided to speak. Oh of course there was no outright gossip or anything like that. But it wasn’t needed because we all know too much, kind of like family.
In the end, I chuckled over it all, because I am quite sure the apostles were the same way. In fact, Sunday’s Gospel mentioned about the apostles arguing over who was the greatest. Who knows, maybe they were even using Hebrew swear words and forming little cliques or teams who would band together. And of course, we know Jesus’ answer… “Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all–he is the greatest.'” (Luke 9:48) This passage struck me Sunday, because it speaks of ‘welcoming a child’… which is precisely what we set out to do as pro-lifers. So in reality, we know we are doing His work.
However, there is more to this passage… and it’s all about being ‘the least’ and being… humble. What we bring to our little meetings and to our churches and to our pro-life work simply HAS to be grounded in humility… and this is the trickiest of all. Of course we all know abortion is evil. But something tells me that unless I become as humble and transparent as one of the preborn babies we are praying for, I will bear no fruit, but will be just another activist with a sign or a rosary.
Satan knows this. And that is why he works overtime to make sure we all ‘do our own thing’ or ‘hold little grudges’ or ‘have that sneaky prideful attitude about how the rest of the world is wrong and we are right’ or ‘don’t treat each other as any more of a unified loving family than we treat the abortionist.’
And so, while we are praying for an end to abortion and for the success of 40 Days for Life, I would like to challenge all of us to PRAY FOR EACH OTHER. Each of us comes to this pivotal and holy movement with our own heavy burdens. We all have a history, and we all have a cross. The battle for life is not going to be won because we go to a meeting or do all the activism in the world, but because we are united with God and love our neighbor… not in some idealistic way, but for REAL, down to the core, flaws and all. And I’m not just talking about that poor pregnant mother in crisis. I am talking about those of us actually fighting this battle and who make up our pro-life community. We need to guard against needless DIVISION and acts of pride and un-charity with each other, even those silent ones going on in our hearts behind our cordial smile. “Charity covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8) How great is the sin of abortion? Is it possible that charity and true holiness (not religiosity) can cover, or cancel, a multitude of abortions?
And so, my fellow pro-lifers, please know that I love all of you, and I pray for you every day. I commend you most of all for your perseverance in this battle. There are many of us behind you in prayer, working on building a culture of life one diaper at a time. Please pray for me, too.
Afterall, I’m a pro-life freak like the rest of ’em.