Monday, January 23, 2012

Being Pro-Life

"What does being pro-life mean to you?" the reporter asked me after the annual Respect Life Mass at the cathedral in Denver on Saturday. (Update: read the article here).

How do you answer a question like that? I knew she was looking for a few quick quotes to enliven her article, but the soundbites didn't come rolling off my tongue very quickly.

I stammered a bit then told her that for me, being pro-life meant I was living my vocation as a mother to ten children. I saw her eyes widen and she started writing furiously on her notepad. "Ten children..." (that would make good copy!)
But I should have reminded her that it's not about the number of children you have, it's about accepting, loving and cherishing ALL human life. It means loving the unlovable among us.
Mother Teresa was perhaps the best pro-life witness of our modern age and she didn't have any children of her own. But she displayed a profound love for all humanity: the poorest of the poor and those whom society cast aside as not worth our time or attention. But she was not pushover. She stood up to heads of state who wanted to use her for a photo op or political gain and reminded them that being Americans or being rich or being powerful didn't amount to beans if you promoted mothers killing their children as the law of the land.

Mother Teresa didn't march against abortion. She didn't pray outside abortion clinics. She didn't even raise a large family. These things are good and necessary in our fight against abortion, but they aren't the only things we can do to be pro-life. We can live our lives showing love and concern for all. We can witness the love of Christ to others by seeing Jesus in each person.

Being pro-life also means accepting the state in life God has given you. If you are a mother to many young children, then you embrace that and live it to the fullest. If you are childless, or have fewer children than you'd like, you can be a pro-life witness by embracing the cross of childlessness you've been given. Maybe God is calling you to be a parent through adoption. Maybe He's calling you to help at a homeless shelter, crisis pregnancy office, or nursing home.

The reporter also asked me what brought me to the Respect Life Mass that day. I thought of the first time we came to the annual Mass at the cathedral in Denver. Archbishop (now Cardinal) Stafford was there. After the Mass we had a chance to shake hands with His Excellency and in my naivety and boldness of youth, I told him of my difficulty in finding a truly pro-life ob-gyn. (I was expecting my sixth baby at the time). He gave me a look of serious concern, but could offer no solutions.

Now, 17 years later, there are several pro-life doctors in the Denver area. The tide is turning. As Bishop Conley said at the Mass on Saturday, "Science and truth are on our side." Those who deny that life begins at conception are like flat-earthers; they know they can't keep up the facade for long, so they try to change the argument from one based on science to one based on feelings. Truth is truth no matter what. It's not a feeling.

Today, close to a half million marchers in Washington DC will commemorate the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court Ruling, Roe v. Wade, that legalized the killing of unborn children. 54 million lives have been cut short since that date. 54 million voices have been silenced. I wonder if any of those babies would've grown up to find a cure for cancer? or AIDS? How many more women must suffer the misery of having to choose to kill their child because they see no other option available to them?

Archbishop Chaput, when he was in Denver, was asked by a young person, "What should we do to end abortion?"

He replied, "Go to confession."

The scourge of abortion will end when we all fall down on our knees and recognize our sinfulness and our own need to be forgiven. Only then will we have the compassion of Mother Teresa to embrace all human life and to give mothers an alternative to abortion. But science, truth and prayer are all on our side.

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