I firmly believe that Our Lord has called me to the pro-life ministry and crisis pregnancy ministry. It is something that I have always been passionate about. In high school, when I had to deliver a speech on the abortion issue and why it was deeply immoral to murder the unborn, it became clear to me how deeply this issue has been imbedded in our culture. I was the only person defending life in a classroom of 40 people. I took barrage after barrage of questioning. Never giving in to emotion and sticking to reason. My teacher gave me an A+ and he could not believe how I handled the attacks. My years as a varsity debater had paid off.
It was something that went to the back burner during my years in the Navy. Political activities are not encouraged in the military and while it is a moral issue that has been turned political, it just wasn’t something I worked in while I served.
It was when I moved back to Montana to finish college that I started to think about the issue again. I was more involved in politics, and I have to say that it was politics that first brought it back to the forefront of my conscious thought. I started to see the staggering numbers of aborted children in this country and across the globe. I was able to see more clearly the lies of radical feminism and what it has done to our country. So I focused on politics for a couple of years.
Then something happened. I had returned fully to the Church after a few wayward years and was married and thinking about children. I met some wonderful women who were devoted to the pro-life mission and I joined with them in serving the local parish. I read Evangelium Vitae, which transformed my understanding of the Church and the Culture of Life. It became clear to me very quickly that the scourge of abortion has infiltrated the Church in horrible ways. While our media likes to portray Catholics as obsessed with abortion and contraception, the opposite is true. Many people are either apathetic or hostile to sanctity of life ministries. I was not prepared for attacks from within the Church.
My husband and I eventually switched parishes to the parish we are members of currently. I immediately joined the Sanctity of Life Committee and began work with the three women who are deeply devoted to helping women, babies, and families, as well as educating Catholics on the Church’s teachings on marriage, human sexuality, abortion, justice, etc. We had tremendous backing from our parish priest, but a lot of the issues I faced at my previous parish, are still in my current parish. I cannot quite put my finger on it. I don’t know if it is apathy. That is my biggest fear. To paraphrase Venerable Fulton Sheen, ‘the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.’ My husband thinks that it is fear. That makes sense. Putting yourself out there in an issue that generates a lot of conflict does require courage. I often wonder if it is that we are too busy? I would say that is part of it. Americans are inherently busy and the really important things tend to be put on the back burner. I speak from personal experience here. To be honest, I hazard a guess that it is because a lot of Catholics have not experienced a real conversion to Jesus Christ.
To follow Jesus means to wade into the muck. It is standing up to injustice in the face of overwhelming odds. It is radically loving our neighbor, even when they do not want that love. It is sacrificing our time, treasure, and talents. Everything belongs to Him. Once we know the joy of following Christ, we are given the grace to go out and bring people to that joy. That means going into the streets looking for the poor. It means helping the mother who feels that abortion is her only choice. Even though these things make us deeply uncomfortable. Christ came to shake us out of our complacency. We all do it and we all need a wake up call.
I am not saying that Christ is calling all people to be devoted to the ending of abortion full-time. We are all called to serve in some capacity, but perhaps not be in the front lines. We all have unique talents. Perhaps He wants you to work in soup kitchens or a shelter, or to visit and serve the sick, or work with refugees. I believe God wants me to use the talents He gave me serving these women and families who are facing abortion, or those poor women who need supplies for their pregnancy. I do both, as Pope Francis tells us to do. We must bring about change and true justice, but we must also serve the poor in love and mercy. I do believe that we are all called to share in the Culture of Life. Our fallen world needs hope, and we are the bearers of the hope, the Church. Jesus Christ is with and in His Church always. He guides us and He wants us to go out and share in His mission. Do we truly want His mission? We must all ask ourselves this daily.
Can you give an hour to testify to the joy and love of the Living God, twice a year? 40 Days for Life runs in the spring and in the fall. To date over 7000 babies have been saved by the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign. How? Because our loving presence reminded these women and men that they have a choice. So many of these women believe that they have no choice. That is one of the great lies of the “pro-choice” narrative. We remind these desperate people that there are options. We show them that the Truth is stronger than the lie. Thanks to this peaceful campaign, abortion clinics are closing at record rates, while crisis pregnancy centers that minister to these families are on the rise.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I really started getting involved in pro-life ministry. When I was 5 months pregnant with her I participated in my first 40 Days for Life prayer vigil outside our local Planned Parenthood. I knew deep within me that every woman should know the joy and beauty of motherhood without the pressure, pain, and despair of abortion. I also know that the idea of “choice” is a lie. Not only because I know that life begins at conception, but more importantly, because I know that so many of these women are forced or coerced into having abortions by families, boyfriends, abusers, and the abortion industry. My heart breaks for these women. And these women are more common than the media would have us believe. I pray for these women, and the abortion workers, because I know that they have fallen for a lie. The evil one has deceived as he always does. I want to show them the Truth and the Life. I want them to find peace in the one who saves all of us sinners. I am a sinner who works in the vineyard of Our Lord trying to help other sinners. Will you not join us? Will you show these people who dwell in darkness the Light?
I understand that standing out in public in front of a Planned Parenthood is scary. I know that it takes courage. I am not going to lie to you. People will yell at you and flip you off. People may even try to argue with you. But, at least here in the Bible Belt, more people honk in support than scream expletives. Think of Christ on the Cross. People screamed at him and mocked him as he died for their sins; as He died for all of us. Defending the Truth takes faith and courage, both of which come from the Holy Spirit. So please prayerfully consider taking an hour of prayer this fall. You can find information about your local 40 Days for Life at www.40daysforlife.com
Remember, as Christians, we are not there to judge or bring hate. And I am not talking about the secular “virtue” of tolerance either. Rather, we are there to testify to Love and Hope. Some of these people have never encountered Christ crucified and risen. Some of these people are despairing and some are deeply deceived. Just like us they are created in the image and likeness of God. Our prayers can save them from years of pain, torment, and regret, and we can save them from the brutal murder and torture of their unborn child. In this country alone 55 million babies have been murdered through abortion. That number continues to climb and it is over one billion worldwide. Pray that the Culture of Life may invade and convert all hearts. Pray for the families who have had abortions. Pray for those considering abortions. Pray for those who work in the abortion industry. With God all things are possible and the Culture of Life will prevail. God bless you.
As we begin 40 Days for Life tomorrow we pray:
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the Divine Power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.