Category Archives: March for Life

holy innocents

14 Pro-Life Resolutions to Make This Year

The feast of The Holy Innocents, celebrated on December 28th, really pricks my heart. Therefore, I find it rather disappointing that it seems to pass by each year without much attention. Certainly the Church calendar is dotted with the memorials of so many great martyrs, but the Holy Innocents offer us a particular model for our current culture.

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Burning with the Fire of Truth: Are We Pro-life or Just Pro-birth? The Contraception Debate

While house hunting, we happened upon a sweet southern lady. She would turn out to be the previous owner of our current abode, a fine gentlewoman full of spunk and hospitality. Proudly, she pointed out what she considered to be a pivotal selling point. In her melodic drawl, she advised, “Y’all can burn in the country!” Spying the numerous blackened patches and charred stumps that dotted the grounds, it was clear she practiced what she pitched. Deed transferred, we’d come to appreciate the necessity for yard waste disposal with the abundance of flower and fauna spread across our yardage.
A few years later, the deep gully in our chicken yard had amassed an ample amount of logs and limbs, dragged down from our neighbor’s lot by fierce spring rains. Added to that was the dry, weathered Fraser fir from Christmas past and all the twisted, rotting scraps the kids had freed from my azalea bushes. Seeing as the weather was the right balance of early fall temperatures combined with still summer air, I set about to preparing a controlled bonfire.
Carefully, I built two piles as my helpers stretched the long, green hose from the nearest spigot. Once all safety precautions had been enabled, I stuck the match and set the blaze. It would surely have done Mrs. Wade proud to see those flames dancing hot and steady. There’s something about a bonfire that excites the heart. Maybe its the inviting warmth that calls you closer or maybe its the hypnotic tongues of fire lapping up the oxygen. My brood and I fed and monitored that burn until the sun started its descent. Then, as the smells of supper wafted out from the kitchen, I decided it was time to enlist Smokey’s advice (to prevent forest fires) so I pointed the hose squarely at the center of the flames.
A good bit of time passed with me standing guard, hose in hand. Enough water had met its target so that a small swift river was flowing down the gulley and all appearances of smoke had ceased. The wood looked thoroughly saturated in my estimation; therefore, I called it a day and headed inside.
Satisfied that I’d accomplished my day’s task of rendering most of our yard waste to ash and properly extinguishing any resultant threat, I peacefully laid my head down that night. You might imagine my shock at what I discovered the next morning. Smoke and heat were wafting from my pile which was also substantially smaller than when I’d left it. Apparently, my fire woman skills were lacking as I’d failed to snuff out the source of the fire.
The crew and I participated in the 41st annual March for Life in Washington, DC earlier this month. Coverage of the event is always minimal at best so any mention of it calls my attention. Scrolling on social media I was intrigued by an article debating the tactics of Michael Voris of The Vortex at the March. Brendan Malone, on TheLeading Edge, alleged that Mr. Voris was creating divisions among pro-lifers at the event because while interviewing attendees he asked whether or not they supported contraception. It seems many were accepting and saw no dilemma in their stance.
While I won’t weigh in either way on Mr. Voris’ tactics, I must agree with the point he was trying hard to make. According to Guttmacher statsapproximately 68-72% of Catholic women contracept. Certainly, Catholics are not the only pro-lifers, but that statistic is similar to the population at large.
Well, everyone knows that access to affordable, convenient contraception reduces the need for abortion, right? I mean pro-lifers need to target their attention on the bigger problem at large which is simply the aborting of the unborn, agreed? I mean these are two separate battles, aren’t they?
Consider that according to Guttmacher, “Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant.” Only, 8% have never used contraceptives. Get that? More than half of women seeking to dispose of their unborn babes had been attempting to frustrate their conception in the first place (i.e. thought they couldn’t get pregnant because they were using contraceptives).
What Mr. Voris was trying to expose, I believe, was the ember that fuels the raging firestorm of abortion.
I’ve written about contraception before (you can read more HERE and HERE), but undoubtedly the topic is far from exhausted. As the interviewer unveiled at the March, many pro-lifers are soaking the blaze with good efforts and righteous confrontation, but until we target the interior ignitor we will never fully succeed in the fight.
Going back to those stats it is clear that contraception does not reduce abortions, indeed it actually leads to more abortions.
Firstly, it is important to remember that hormonal contraceptives like the Pill and devices like the IUD are, in and of themselves, abortifacients. That means they can and do abort newly conceived children before their mothers even know of their creation. So, to begin with, contraceptives abort babies. Just because no one has discovered their conception doesn’t nullify their killing.
“In summary, according to multiple references throughout the Physician’s Desk Reference, which articulate the research findings of all the birth control pill manufacturers, there are not one but three mechanisms of birth control pills: 1)inhibiting ovulation, 2)thickening cervical mucus, and 3) thinning and shriveling the lining of the uterus to the point that it is unable or less able to facilitate the implantation of the newly-fertilized egg. The first two mechanisms are contraceptive. The third is abortive.”Additionally, the mini-pill, the IUD and

the drug RU-486 have abortion as the primary operation.

Alcorn, Randy. Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?(Eternal Perspective Ministries: 2007)
Secondly, contraceptives delude couples into thinking sex and procreation are not necessarily connected events. Men hear that a woman’s fertility is a feature they can opt out of; and women are sold the idea that their healthy, functioning bodies are in need of medical intervention. A child is nothing more than choice. This distorted notion is the oxygen feeding this inferno. When a man and woman view sexual intercourse as nothing more than a pleasurable activity void of long-term effects, they don’t bother to consider or plan for the future or a different outcome. The unexpected child is then viewed as a threat and a failure, a problem to be remedied.
The medical community has done a fantastic job at convincing the populous that it has the remedy for most of what ails us. (Unfortunately, they have incorrectly taught women that fertility is an ailment when instead it is a healthy, function of the female body.) Indeed it has done its job so well that now people sue their doctor when his promises of health and vitality fall flat. Remembering that more than half of those seeking abortion were depending on contraception to avoid the “problem” of a child in the first place, it is easy to see the “need” for a back-up plan. And the medical community has filled the need by offering abortions. Not only is abortion the back-up to contraceptive failures, it is the extended money maker.
Oh, but my doctor doesn’t “do” abortions, you argue. Well, if your doctor wrote a prescription for your “sister’s” contraceptive then he/she is complicit in abortion- via the abortifacient components of the contraceptives or her decision to procure a back-up abortion.
By further extension, if patients have been promised sex without procreative consequences, they certainly aren’t interested in the unexpected blessing of a child with special needs. No worries, the medical community is happy to weed out those pesky, needy children whose parents bothered to consider allowing the unplanned pregnancy to continue.
Like the hot burning ember contained in the core of my bonfire, so is contraception to the pro-life fight. Sex divorced of procreation is, simply and honestly, a lie. True, there are ethical means by which to postpone pregnancy, but couples who choose to practice periodic abstinence understand that sex is the means to the procreative powers.
If the pro-life movement doesn’t acknowledge that contraception leads directly to abortion, then it will never succeed in extinguishing the wildfire. We didn’t begin this tragedy with 54 million dead babies on the abortionist’s floor (that is in America alone, not counting those babes aborted through contraceptive means), we began it with the erroneous belief that conception was separate from sex. If we hope to end this holocaust, we need to train our nozzle of energy, time and resources at the central igniter, as well as the burn pile.

Why I Will March This Year: the 2014 March for Life

braving the weather to march for the unborn

Last year at this time, I made a vow. I vowed to never return to the DC March for Life. After a long, uncomfortable day in painfully cold weather that ended with crying and a harrowing drive, I’d reached the end of my rope.

Now God is not One to be put to the test and I wasn’t actually testing Him, but I told God if He ever wanted me to return He’d have to work it out so that my husband could attend again. Seeing as the march typically fell on a Monday, I felt confident that I was in the clear. My husband had been my co-pilot in previous years, but since we ventured out into business on our own, two years ago, sick/vacation days are non-existent. So, when I learned the 2014 March for Life had been scheduled for a Wednesday (my husband’s regular day off) it seemed my bluff was called.
hundreds of thousands gather to march for life each year

My husband thoughtfully pointed out January is part of our slow season, and our family budget couldn’t easily meet the extra expense to transport our crew of ten to and fro. Oh well, I thought, there’s my out. Just as I’d started to get comfortable with that obstacle, my children, one by one, began emptying out their piggy banks. From our 17 year old to our 5 year old, they tallied up their savings and informed me they had their portions covered.

A farmer often purchases our stale products to feed to his pigs, but the holidays threw that arrangement out of sync. Consequently, we’d accumulated a larger than usual back stock for him. When he counted out his payment last week my 7 year old son was quick to draw my attention to the fact that the payment was the exact amount needed to pay for my husband’s and my seats on the parish bus.
Finally, I relented and we registered for a block on the bus.
Briefly, a sense of peace and purpose steeled my will. But isn’t it the way that when God whispers (and we listen), the evil one roars.
The weathermen betrayed my confidence with forecasts for bitter temperatures, plummeting lower by the hour. And though snow is a rarity in North Carolina, it is snowing here hours before we’re due to rouse our sleepy brood in the dark pre-dawn hours. This year we have a baby to keep warm and how will our 5 year old fare without benefit of a double stroller. Surely, our prayers from the security of home could suffice. Indeed, I must be crazy to think our participation will even make a difference. Anxiety and discouragement rattled through my head.

Then, as if on cue, while I was randomly trolling online tonight my Facebook feed had this advice to offer from my spiritual father: 

 If God wills to prolong our trials, do not let us lament or try to find out the reason. . .We have to see God through the fire of thorns, and to do this we must go barefoot and renounce our own will and affection and accept the will of God wholeheartedly. St. Padre Pio

That word “barefoot” reminded me of the barefooted religious Brother whose path we’d crossed at last year’s march. His self-sacrificial testimony (walking shoeless on the icy streets of downtown Washington in the sea of hard-soled companions) beckoned our attention without words. I’ll never know the reason for his drastic penance, but it seems clearer now that he had accepted the will of God wholeheartedly and so, too, should I.
So, in a few short hours from now, I will roll out from beneath warm blankets, rub the sleep from my eyes and rally the troops to the ready. Tomorrow I willwalk in the 2014 March for Life in Washington, D.C.
I will march for those who want to be there, but can’t. I will endure the discomforts for all the women who are suffering in silence from their abortions. I will walk while shouldering the weight of my littlest one slung across my body to give witness for all the babies who’ll never know the loving embrace of their mama. I will march tomorrow because my presence matters. I will march because although our trials in this fight have been prolonged for the last 41 years, it is the will of God that we continue because one day soon He will lead us into victory!

The Pro-Life Generation: Your Voice Matters

                                                                                                                                                              My son, Nikolai R.F.X.Brelinsky, and some of his fellow high school friends created this video. Spread out throughout the states and abroad, they each filmed their part individually and then worked it into one message. This wasn’t an assignment; it was just a calling they felt compelled to answer. They want to make their voices heard and encourage you to follow their examples because YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

Rise Up And Shine, Taking The Lead On Pro-life Issues

pro-lifers marching in Raleigh North Carolina
our family at the March for Life
Having just returned from my travels, I was confronted with a pro-life dilemma. Currently in my state, there is a problem that has long needed to be addressed and rectified in the legislature, but until now I’ve taken a supportive role in the fight. Sure my family and I have marched on Washington, paraded in Raleigh, protested in front of the state government buildings and spoken to everyone willing to listen, but I have been contentedly in the shadows and not necessarily a leader in the pro-life effort. Now, God placed a new mission squarely in my maternity-filled lap and called me to rise up and shine rather than step behind and reflect.

Overtired and under-confident, I wept in frustration to my husband. Why would the Lord ask me to take this role on now when I’m busy home schooling, tired from this pregnancy and short on the resources to construct a thorough defense of my position? Surely there are many pro-lifers more savvy, better educated, more articulate and well-connected than me, not to mention some with time to spare.

As he often does, my thoughtful husband entertained my queries and emotional episode before he smiled consolingly and assured me that I could handle the task. Of course, alone I am insufficient, but if this mission is God’s He will present the defense, He will fuel the cause and He will direct my feet.

Still I worried that my time was too limited to prepare properly. Research was required, facts must be documented and assistance coordinated. And how in my smallness could I hope to be heard, to be taken seriously. A big bellied mother seems better equipped to orchestrate a lesson on sharing between toddlers than to maneuver through political hallways.

Then, the Word carried my thoughts back 2000 years, to the time of the Apostles. Good Friday passed and the resurrecting joy of Easter had renewed them, but still they were locked away in prayer. For what now was their mission, their purpose, in so large a world? In the company of Jesus, it must have seemed easier, easier to follow and to obey. However, in His absence where should they go, what should they do, how were they to find the courage to leave that room?

Perhaps, their smallness overwhelmed them at the thought of continuing Christ’s work. Perhaps, their ordinariness led them to feel irrelevant in such a wide world. Perhaps, their lack of understanding challenged the desire burning within them. Perhaps, their limited talents caused them to second-guess their ability to fulfill the call whispering in their ears.

Remember the Lord had foretold of His death and resurrection and yet they had not understood. When He prepared Peter for the time he would deny Jesus, Peter refuted the warning only to be disappointed later by his own lack of faithfulness. It might have seemed that all they’d once understood was now a puzzle to them. How well I can relate. How many times I have been confounded by what I thought I knew to be true and the reality presented in the world at large.

Would that God worked on our time, but He does not often. Just so, the Apostles may have hoped for a quick and ready game plan to be laid out before them, but God’s timing is His own and is always far superior to ours. So, fifty days would take their turn before the Holy Spirit would descend upon their heads and hearts and hands and voices. The Spirit transformed them into missionaries, preachers, leaders, healers, fishers of men. It was the Spirit Who decoded their languages. The Spirit Who unleashed His gifts within them.

In the days to follow, my time opened up. Perusing my home library produced the needed documentation for my position, correspondence flowed to ready helpers, and my wobbly legs steadied beneath me. And just to assure me that I was indeed the woman for the job, unexpected encouragement filled my ears without prompting.

It is not my task that must be accomplished and I am not qualified on my own merits. Instead it is God’s request of me and He will provide the fish if only I will drop my nets. When Stephen stood accosted and accused all those in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him. Studying his face and his body language, they wanted to confirm their false opinions, but they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Doubtful that the legislators will view such an angelic image in my presence, but if I am obedient to the Holy Spirit, than I can walk away confident. Confident that I will have given witness on behalf of my faith, testimony to Truth. And whether or not the resulting outcome is in my favor, I can leave the presence of the representatives, rejoicing that I was counted worthy to proclaim the pro-life message in their midst. So, I will rise up in the morning and shine His Light throughout the day.

2010 March For Life: A Mother’s Journey

I’m a people watcher, so theweekend trip to Washington, DC afforded me ample opportunities to indulge myself. You can learn so much from just watching one another, reading body language and listening to that which is being said without words.

The whole Brelinsky brood made the journey to our nation’s capitol to unite with our fellow pro-lifers in the annual March for Life. This was our first time participating in the DC March, so we weren’t sure what to expect. We knew we’d be among “friends,” but we weren’t quite sure how we’d navigate our large family through the myriad of protesters. This type of concern is enough to stop some from ever making the attempt and in truth it has prevented us in the past, but we were called this year and so we had to trust and march forward. 

All the beforehand preparation and concerns caused me to reflect on the work of the Apostles and even our founding fathers. God called them, too, to go out and spread His Truth, to forge His path in a new land. His call required their response, their willingness and action. So, we Brelinskys responded by booking a hotel, requesting time off from work, making arrangements for our animals, creating T-shirts and signs, packing and then setting out on the four hour drive. 

All around me was eagerness and combined cooperation as our kids put their full efforts into dreaming about the anticipated events. It is times like this when I relish the blessing of being part of a big family, even though in the moment to moment mothering duties I sometimes succumb to my own weaknesses.

When we arrived on Thursday night the forecast for Friday was telling us to expect the worst with a 70% chance of precipitation and low temperatures. We woke up Friday morning undaunted and began our trek to the metro station with rain drizzling down upon us. The kids were troopers, layered in shirts and coats. Watching them reminds me that life is meant to be lived joyfully. They ignore the minor details like rain and cold and simply focus on the excitement of the moment.

Arriving to wait

Arriving at the metro station, we purchased our tickets for the day and that is when I began to watch more intently. Being unfamiliar with metro mass transit systems’ methods of operation, we initially had difficulty purchasing our tickets and then discerning how and when we could use them. 

At the same time, we were fumbling around from machine to machine, there were several transit employees standing together chatting. Perhaps, they simply didn’t notice our family of nine with a double stroller in the lead because no one of them acknowledged our struggle. Once we did garner their attention, the response we received was less than warm and personal. The tickets it seemed required us to stand about for another ten minutes before we could commence our journey. We were like race horses confined by the stall gate waiting to charge forth, but instead God placed us in the moment that tested our patience. Are we too far north for some southern hospitality, I thought?

When finally the clock registered 9:30am, we charged forth navigating each of our children one by one through the ticket gate. I, myself, felt like a child following behind Greg. It all seems like a maze to me, so I simply pulled up the rear of our caravan and grasped the tiny hands of stragglers. After an elevator ride and some quick jockeying around obstacles, we pushed onto the first of our several trains for the day. 

Mindful of fellow passengers, who might not be accustomed to the commotion and noise that erupts from our children every other minute, we did our best to keep their endless stream of energy and conversation contained to a reasonably tolerable level. All the while I was on guard and watching.

Many of the other occupants on our trains seemed to me to be on their way to work, judging by their attire and baggage. It seems a rational deduction that they might see one another from time to time if they make this same trip daily. But, what struck me like a lightning bolt was the way they ignored each other. It appeared to me that there were no quick, friendly smiles nor even general polite pleasantries like “Good morning.” At one point, the man in front of me was texting a long note when a woman sat down beside him. She began talking to someone on her headset. Another young lady across the entrance was listening to her iPod. In my estimation they never made eye contact, it was as though each was alone on this crowded train. Being made in the image of Christ, we are made for communion. 

Understandably, we should exercise some cautious and privacy, but written in our very hearts is the desire for communion. This all seemed so unnatural.

Changing Company

Once we reached our destination we found ourselves in different company. Now I don’t mean to imply better or worse company, just different company. Perusing the pro-life messages printed on their hand-held signs, we discovered that our new companions were marching in the same direction as we were. We began to exchange nods and smiles and friendly banter. Our communion of purpose was obvious, so I suppose that may be the reason for our greater displays of charity. Of course, it is always easier to show charity to our friends, but we are called to charity for strangers and enemies as well.

As we walked the blocks to the Basilica, we prayed that our Mother Advocate would ask her Divine Son for clear skies and comfortable temperatures. Inside the church we met up with a number of friends both old and new. Together we joined in communion to receive the Word and the Eucharist. Contrasting our feelings of separateness that we experienced on the train rides, I felt united with my fellow Catholic pro-lifers. But if I’m honest and I delve a little deeper, I have to admit that sometimes even inside the pews of my parish there exists a separateness. Some Masses find me, like on the metro, focused on shepherding my children and trying to hear the Word, but scarcely connected to the people sitting in front, beside or behind me.

Ultimately, we found our way to a designated starting point for the March for Life. There were so many people that we could see neither the beginning nor the end of the crowd of protesters. Many schools and churches were represented by large groups of teenagers. The exhilaration was palpable, but we were reminded of the true nature of our mission when we walked passed the images of the tiny, innocent victims of abortion. 

Our young children had never seen those images beforehand and so they had questions. The tone changed to solemn as we explained that the small limbs belonged to babies who’d been aborted. I know that many would chide me for exposing my children to what they deem “violent” images, but that is how evil continues to exist. When we turn our heads away, we are too easily convinced to accept a lie. We, in that crowd, had a shared purpose which was to walk in the place of those innocent babies and cry out on their behalf. Ironically, the children looked intently at those pictures trying, no doubt, to make sense of it all. It seemed to them, obvious, that those were babies, individual persons worthy of living. Fair to say I believe, those who claim abortion is a simple “choice” are the ones who refuse to look at the reality and consequence of that “choice.”

Flowing Blessings Everywhere

Blessings flowed throughout the day in the form of helpful friends and sunny skies. We managed to feed everyone while in transit and to keep them all close. There wasn’t a whine to be heard. Thanksgiving echoed in my thoughts.

Returning to our hotel required another trip on the metro, albeit this trip didn’t require any change-overs. Understandably the children had plenty of energy to spare, except the baby of course. Again trying to be considerate of our surrounding travel mates I kept our 3 year old busy with tales of the Three Little Pigs and Five Monkeys Jumping. This time a person or two offered a compliment about the children’s good behavior before exiting at their stop. Being a family of nine with so many young children we are often hyper-alert to those around us since not everyone appreciates the beauty of a large brood. I’ve shared the stories before of comments both complimentary and insulting that strangers and sometimes acquaintances freely utter to us. It’s not worth re-mentioning except as an explanation of why we are vigilant in public appearances.

Mulling It All Over

The long ride home a few days later allowed me the opportunity to mull over the whole journey and to apply some more thorough reflection. I took an account of the various encounters we had and applied this to my insights on the purpose for our trek. I thought about the reasons why a mother would abort her child. I considered what we need to do to end this murderous agenda. It hit me so squarely.

Our nature is for communion, but we in this current age suffer from loneliness. Women are life bearers and so they have the ability to manifest communion in a physical way. Husbands and wives join in communion through the marital act. These are facts, but they are regularly distorted. When contraception was created and then invited into the marital embrace, it destroyed communion. The husband and wife broke off from their communal union with God, as pro-creators. They fractured their communion with one another by holding back their fertility and they thwarted communion with the new soul that their love was capable of conceiving. The people on the metro were a glaring example of this. Rather than recognize their connectedness as persons, persons in the image of One God, they were alone in their travels. They separated themselves with things. They ignore opportunities to shine His light to one another, to offer charity, comfort and direction.

When we deny ourselves the truth, true communion, the lie does not suffice. People are lonely, lonely in their relationships, lonely among one another. It is this deep and real loneliness that leads a mother to reject her child or to accept the lie that he isn’t really a person in the first place. Abortion can’t be eradicated simply through legal means. We need to recognize its roots. We must reach out to one another and share our gifts. Christ abides within us if we abide in Him and through us He accomplishes His work, but we are called to action. He instructed us to love one another as He has loved us, freely, faithfully and fruitfully. In His Presence we are never alone. Women need to feel His love, His support, His forgiveness and it must come through us, her fellow travelers.

It seems such an insurmountable task. Before the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, they couldn’t imagine how they would ever carry out Jesus’ mission for building His Church. Abortion must become unthinkable to each and every individual. When we all recognize and understand that we are not alone and that every choice we make, every step we take is connected to our fellow journeymen, then the culture of death in all of its forms (contraception, the contraceptive mentality, abortion, euthanasia) will become a sorrowful page in our human history.

So, today I must do my small part by living in the moments and seizing every opportunity to reach out through acts of sacrifice, compassion, charity, honesty, mercy, etc. It is not enough for me to simply watch people, I am called to respond. We are not alone and if we all live that way imagine how lovely and fulfilling this life journey can be. 

2013 March For Life: Carrying The Cross Into Battle

                                                                                                                                A cradle Catholic, I chose the topic of abortion as a high school English class assignment. Feeling bold and confident, I remember standing at the front of the class, facing my peers, and passionately imploring them to understand the horrible realities of abortion. It was clear in my head and concise in my words; abortion was not a beneficial choice for unborn babies, nor their mothers. How could anyone see it differently?

Unfortunately, youthful passions often lack deep convictions.

A child born into the world just as the fateful decision of Roe vs. Wade was penned into history, my mother courageously chose life and would soon find herself a single parent. My Catholic grammar school base instilled in me the general sense of right and wrong, but missing were some core truths. And my experiences would present me with a very distorted picture of “reality.” The annual March for Life didn’t even exist to my knowledge at this time.

Blessed to be surrounded by my mother’s parents and five siblings, I always felt like a cherished member of a big family; however, juxtaposed with this life was the one I witnessed with my father. Not that I want to discredit my him because he did stick around the periphery of my life. He loved me, but it has to be said that I was effected by the seeming glamor of a life lived for self. I watched the pursuit of love,time and time again with different partners. I understood myself as part of that pursuit, wanted when convenient.

So, when the hormones of my teen-aged years revved into full gear, self destruction lie ahead.

Abandoning My Weak-Kneed Convictions

The truths that I had espoused in that English class were easily abandoned once I listened to the “thoughtful” opinions of the opposition. I heard good people, honest friends, even friend’s parents testify to the necessity for personal choice in all things. In fact, they presented choice as the mature stance to take. Since I was busy exercising my own personal, self destructive choice in various arenas of my life, that message felt empowering and it certainly fit in with the pursuit of self-satisfying love.

A good friend’s mother even shared her own story of abortion. And how could I condemn friends, whom I loved, who felt pressured into aborting their unplanned babies to satisfy parents, hide their sin or just save themselves from their worst fears? Standing against abortion was equated to condemnation and how could a good, mature Catholic condemn others whom they proclaimed to love?

Glimpses Of Reality

As God has done time and time again throughout my life, He offered me glimpses of reality,not the personal “reality” of my ego, but the REALity of His creation. Young friends of mine chose life for their son in spite of the substantial obstacles before them. Brian, their baby, came into the world bearing so many crosses. Only a portion of his brain developed in utero and he routinely suffered seizures, he was the picture of innocence and beauty wrapped up in suffering,a new reality for me. 

Brian came home to the embrace of a family who loved him dearly. He spent his eleven months on earth swaddled in the arms of many. Bitter tears were shed at his funeral, as I lacked the understanding of the deep meaning of the Cross in my faith. Couple this experience with the “thoughtful” messages of the pro-life opposition and it is no wonder that I temporarily established myself in the pro-abort camp.

The world sells us the commercial image of perfect, pretty people satisfying their wants with stuff. Suffering and sacrifice don’t sell. Happiness and its pursuit are the avenue to the endgame of self-satisfaction, honor and fortune. Of course, Christ lived, suffered and died to free us from this distortion, but the constant drone of the world seems to have all but drowned out His still, gentle voice.

By the grace of God, as my early twenties waned, my errors were corrected and my suppressed pro-life heart was fortified by truth. I will never forget the night, sitting alone in front of my computer screen, I stumbled upon the images of abortion. The Priests for Life website confronted me with the first graphic depictions of abortion. Weeping, I forced myself to look at those tiny babies and their brutally dismembered parts. Painful pictures, but somehow necessary, like the crucifix hanging in the forefront of every Catholic Church. Never again could my brain justify murder as a personal choice. Never again could I be duped into believing the pro-abort stance was an expression of love. I cried until my head ached and I sent an email thanking the website for opening my eyes, literally.

Consider The Meaning Of The Crucifix

Consider the difference between the bare cross and the crucifix. How often do we prefer the innocuous image of Christ’s sacrifice, free of the marks of torture and agony? But in doing so, we alter the truth, we shield ourselves from the deeper meaning.

Now that we know of its existence, in the last few years, accompanied by our big brood, my husband and I have attended the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. Each year of participation has been a little different. Now pregnant and with the knowledge that my husband’s work schedule prevented his attendance, apprehension set in at the thought of braving this year’s march. My children, in contrast, were fully engaged for battle and had their sights set on Constitution Avenue.

President Obama’s 2nd term inauguration was scheduled for the same locale less than a week before the marchers would traverse our country’s Capitol to mark the 40th anniversary of the legalization of fetal murder. I literally prayed that God would make evident through His creation the stark truth of that week. Not wishing harm on our President, I simply asked for a stormy inaugural Monday, complete with thunder and torrents of rain, contrasted with a sunny, mild marchers’ Friday. Obviously, my preference for personal comfort was steering my prayers.

Forging Ahead Against Advice

Against some loving advice from family and friends, against my own internal struggle, before the rising of the sun, I boarded the bus for D.C flanked by my children and a couple of extra teens on Friday morning. The forecast ahead predicted a dismal picture.

Our priest, a rider on one of the other three buses leaving from our parish, boarded ours long enough to offer prayer and inspiration. He reminded us that it was the feast of the conversion of St. Paul and challenged us to be acutely aware throughout the day of God’s Presence.

Not one of my preferences manifested, except perhaps that I was able to plant my pregnant bladder near the bus rest room. Entertaining a 4 year old on a bus for 4 hours requires lots of patience which is in shorter supply in my before-referenced state. Bus seats are only comfortable for about 2hours at best.

Because we were traveling with a group, we had to keep up with a less than family-friendly pace throughout the day. While the sun shone on inaugural Monday, snow fell amid freezing temperatures on Life Friday. Our hand warmers numbed our palms, but failed to stave off the sting biting at our fingertips. Navigating a stroller along with 3 young ones and 4 teens through a sea of shoulder to shoulder strangers is a nerve-wracking feat. Sorry I am to all my fellow marchers who suffered clipped heels and rolled over toes during my defensive stroller driving.

Plans to stop and warm up with hot chocolate got canceled along the route, so by the day’s end I was trying to comfort a teary, shivering 6yo while straining to hold my crying 4yo, not to mention the whining 8yo. More frustrating was the fact I couldn’t answer the question as to when the day would end and the bus would open its welcoming doors. Every mother knows the feeling of watching her suffering child without having the ability to end the sorry, it is perhaps the worst feeling in the world.

The ride home was equivalent, in my opinion, to torture. Overtired kids fighting sleep, bus seats as comfortable as concrete slabs, temperatures in the rear of the bus now equal to a sauna, pregnancy hormones over-riding all sense of inner peace… Add to that the fact that our journey ended in a church parking lot hidden under an inch of solid ice and one might consider it understandable that I fell into bed promising that I would never, ever do that again.

Ah, What A New Day Does Brings

A new day dawned this morning, finding me refreshed and inspiring me to take a second look.

Like that empty, decorative cross, I thought a day of ease would represent the same meaning. But just as the crucifix is the honest representation of sacrificial love, so too a day of redemptive suffering bore out a deeper understanding of the reality of the battle we are engaged in. Abortion is a horror, an abominable act of violence waged against the most innocent among us. There is nothing sanitary nor incorruptible about it.

Christ gave His life; He offered up His flesh to torturers; He silently endured false accusations and mocking; He carried His Cross even though at times the very weight of it crushed Him. He gave us the true symbol of love, agape. That symbol is the Cross. His Apostles understood, they embraced their crosses and thereby spread His Truth throughout the world and through history.

I guess old distortions remain for me, I still struggle with the REALity of my faith at times. Self and its attraction to comfort still get in my way. Of course, the March for Life shouldn’t be an easy offering, especially this year. Of course, 40 years and 50 million lives shouldn’t be marked by a sunny day filled with smiles, cookies and hot chocolate. I wept when first confronted by the images of aborted babies, why shouldn’t I have been surrounded by weeping as I marched in their defense?

Friday was the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, but before that bright light struck him, he was an enemy of Christians. Known for his readiness to torture and persecute the followers of Jesus Christ. However, when Saul, Paul’s former name, felt the light of God upon him, when he heard the voice of God call his evil deeds out, he changed forever. Christ’s life, suffering, death and resurrection took on their deeper meaning, Paul was transformed. And his conversion, the conversion of so great and so prominent a sinner, had wide spread and long lasting effects (even 2000+ years later). Keep in mind, Paul did not simply have a conversion of heart and than go back to a life of comfort and ease. He followed his Love, Jesus, he suffered, was imprisoned, and died for the Truth.

Reflecting today, I realize there was greater power to be born out and witnessed by Friday’s suffering. There is the redemptive suffering which only Christ fully understands. There is the witness to our fellow brothers and sisters that shows our deep-seated commitment to the pro-life cause, unlike my shallow-rooted high school testimony. To this end, it is no wonder that the media has spent year after year hiding this march from American citizens. They dupe non-participants into continuing to buy the lies of commercial reality.

Praying for Obama

Taking Father’s advice to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I came to the realization that President Obama is every bit the man that Saul once was, but he has the potential to become a Paul. He needs our prayers for his conversion of heart, not prayers for rainy days.

Like Christ, my suffering gives witness to my convictions, it calls me to focus less on self and more on the battle for others. It allows me to teach my children, through actions, that love is sacrificial, that it is not self-serving, that it isn’t simply given when convenient.

There is a battle to be fought and WON, a battle for the unborn, a battle for Christ. The armor is heavy and uncomfortable, the journey is long and treacherous. Our efforts will be ignored, mocked and falsified. None of that matters, the battle continues and it must be WON. We will WIN, Christ is the Victor of that there is no doubt, but in the meanwhile we have to “soldier-up.”

  • Will I attend future Marches for Life?I pray that they will be celebrations of victory instead, but until then, yes, I will. 
  • Will I go with all of my kids in tow? Yes, I will because I want their pro-life hearts to be deeply rooted in REALity. 
  • Will I see you there? I hope so, and if I happen to run over your toes with a stroller, I’m sorry, think of it as your offering of self.