On January 27, I was #blessed to go to the 2017 March for Life in Washington, DC. This was my third year to go as a chaperone for my parish’s youth group, and going to the March with teenagers is never boring. This year, experiences included discussions about exoskeletons and Manga, 98 pizzas from Dominoes, and a giant stuffed caterpillar named Popito. You don’t wanna ask…
For many of them, this “pro-life trip” is one of the most exciting of the year. We spend 19 hours getting to DC from southern Alabama, we get to eat food truck fares on the Washington Memorial lawn, and we try to beat our 23 second roll-call record. Plus, standing up for something they believe in, spending time with friends, and being a part of a national movement is in itself enough to make anyone sign on, I think.
But after each March, I like to reflect on why this one was different and what it actually means for me. Last year, it was that pro-life unification between groups of all kinds—Catholics, Lutherans, feminists, atheists—this intersectionality is crucial to ending abortion in our lifetime. This year, it was a little different.
More than a Movement
During the pre-March rally, pro-life advocates spoke out about the horrors of abortion but generally focused on a more positive message: unity, hope, life, and forgiveness. And I firmly agree that the message of the pro-life movement is not one centered around politics, policies, or legislation. Rather, this moral dilemma moves us toward an entire shift in the culture of the United States.
Brothers and sisters, this movement is an opportunity to share Truth. It is a platform on which we are called to spread love and joy and peace. It is a gift to us, a chance to be the hands and feet of a God who is Love. We come to DC and to the forefront of this movement because we are so compelled by this unending, perfect Love, because we want to make sure our brothers and sisters who might feel imperfectly loved know their worth, know their potential, and know their future which rests in Him.
I never should have doubted them, but even the same kids who tried to climb into the bell tower of the National Basilica understood this greater motive. They understand what hundreds of thousands who oppose the pro-life movement have not yet grasped: that this is the holistic support of a human person. This dignified treatment of every human life is what we are fighting for, and it’s what we desire more than being comfortable, watching other people fight the battle.
2x4s and the Pro-Life Cause
During our pilgrimage, the archbishop of Mobile spoke to the teens in a beautiful church outside of DC before a period of Eucharistic Adoration. He called to mind the need to be pro-life in each and every moment of our lives. He reminded them that every decision we make will either be pro-life or anti-life, and that our choices do matter.
He reminded us to pay attention to our own contribution to being “anti-life.” Most of us pro-lifers would argue that we are never anti-life, that life is too precious and is too beautiful to be against it. But if we did contribute to the culture of death, what would it look like?
Archbishop Rodi called to mind companies like Home Depot and Starbucks that give regularly to Planned Parenthood, directly supporting their abortion services and anti-life agenda. If we frequent these corporations, how can we say that we disapprove of what they support? It would be easy if Home Depot supported Rwandan genocide: of course we would buy our 2x4s elsewhere. But them donating to Planned Parenthood contributes to a different sort of national holocaust. How can I buy my caramel macchiato from Starbucks but say I do not support Planned Parenthood when a portion of my payment will go to them?
My friend Dillon pointed out a similar message, for example, when we are fifteen minutes late to that concert we’ve been waiting for months to attend. We know the speed limits are ultimately there to protect not only ourselves, but other drivers and pedestrians as well. How does my speeding, therefore, promote a culture of life when I’m risking my own life and the life of others for my own personal convenience?
We must think again about what our actions do to promote life. Does ignoring the homeless man on the corner bring him life, or more importantly Life? Does berating the slow cashier to my friends promote the dignity of her life? No, but in each of these moments, we have opportunities to defend their lives in our actions, in our thoughts, in our words, and in our prayers.
“We dare defend our rights.” While this may (in the South, anyways) best be known as the Alabama state motto, it is completely appropriate for the pro-life movement. While others may see our protests against inhumanities such as abortion, death penalty, or physician-assisted suicide as judgmental, we dare to act against the effects of the culture of death.
We stand firm together to raise our voices in the hope that our voice of hope is louder than the voices of selfishness, our cries of love and mercy is greater than those of “choice” and irreverence toward the most basic right man has ever been given.
From there, brothers and sisters, we are called to action. We are called to speak out for all of those whom the culture of death preys upon: the impressionable, the impoverished, the elderly, the refugee, the ignorant, the disabled, the homeless, the young people, the hurt, the lonely, the tired. We know where the Truth can be found; dare we defend the rights of others to know that Truth.
If You Call Right Now…
While this movement as a whole does seem a bit daunting—wanting to complete a paradigm shift in a society that values convenience over morality—if we take each opportunity as it comes, each of us is able to change the small society around us. If we intentionally seek out opportunities to bring the idea of being “pro-MY-life” and “pro-YOUR-life” to others, each of us has the chance to, as Saint Mother Teresa says, “do little things with great love.”
Right now, I challenge you to think about the parts of your life where you need to be a little more pro-life. I challenge you to think about the “what could happen” if you put just a little more effort into that one area. And finally, brothers and sisters, I challenge you to think right now about what you can do to spread this mission to those who need it.
When the Will Meets the Wheel
Biking for Babies intentionally spreads the pro-life message to folks across the nation who want to contribute to their little society. We give them an opportunity to be that difference in their community, by sharing their spiritual and financial resources with centers that directly impact the souls we work so fervently to reach: specifically, the women and children who find themselves in undesired, unexpected, and often unwelcomed situations.
In a similar way, we offer young people the opportunity to be this world-changer, this message-bearer, this “theotokos” to the nation on our national rides. Are you ready to do one more thing for our world? Is the Lord asking you to go out and serve Him in this radical way, using your physical gifts in solidarity with the women and children in seemingly impossible situations? Then, my friends, answer Him: “Here I am, Lord. Your servant is listening.” Join our national ride this year, and be that difference on the highways. Who knows: maybe you riding on the shoulder will prevent people from speeding…