Saturday, October 20, 2012

40 Days for Life: Mid-Point Rally

40 Days Campaign for Life Mid-Point 2012

The beginning and end of the 40-Days Pro Life campaign fall when I am out of town, so I was pleased to attend last Sunday night´s gathering to support this important service of prayer and witness.  Here is the brief message I delivered:

Blessed Mother Teresa once said: "Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."

We are halfway through the 40 Days for Life Campaign here in Ottawa. It is a good time to reflect on why we are doing what we are doing. This Christian witness is not about gender politics, or social activism or pushing a religious agenda onto a secular society.

Some people, perhaps many people, might think that these issues are behind the campaign but it is really something simpler, more important than these things.

At the heart of this campaign is love. It is love and care for the vulnerable that motivates us to stand outside in often blustery, inclement Fall weather in downtown Ottawa. It is love for women and their unborn children, that motivates us to be a witness to the value of human life and the great blessing and dignity of motherhood.

Elements in society today treat the gift of new life in the womb as a ‘medical condition,’ an intrusion into the private realm of personal autonomy, a potential problem that needs a radical solution.

But we know that new life is a gift; each pre-born human person is a unique expression of God’s love and His ongoing, creative work in the world. Even when children come into existence in difficult circumstances, we need to recognize that they are a gift.

The work of witnessing to the value of human life is difficult. It is not always popular and our motivation for advocating and witnessing to the value of human life is often misunderstood.

We do not always see the results of this witness. Sometimes we know that the 40 Days for Life Campaign has touched a heart or saved a life but I suspect many more hearts are softened, eyes opened and minds begin questioning than we suspect and know. It is important for us to continue this witness with love in our hearts and peace on our lips confident that what we are doing, with the help of God’s grace, matters. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to soften hearts and reorient positions in this great work for life.

Recently a Member of Provincial Parliament has suggested that to be opposed to abortion and to be pro-life—to be in favour of the protection of life from the first moment of conception in the womb—is a form of bullying and therefore is “misogynistic”—that is hateful of women and, further, that such teaching ought not to be part of the moral teaching characteristic of our Catholic schools. In effect, the suggestion is that Catholic teaching on this point should be forbidden in publicly-funded Catholic schools. While people of other faiths and no faith are pro-life, the protection of the vulnerable, including those conceived in the womb is authentic Catholic doctrine and has its place in Catholic schools.

I am reminded of the words of a martyr-priest, whose feast falls in the Jesuit Ordo today but is not observed because of the Lord’s Day: they offer an apt analogy for our times:

‘In all that concerns the king, I will be slavishly obedient; if any attack his temporal power, I will shed my last drop of blood for him. But in the things of spiritual jurisdiction which a king unjustly seizes I cannot and must not obey.’ ~ St. John Ogilvie

We witness through prayers, fasting, words of counsel, support and encouragement and simply by our presence. We must remember that our task is not to be successful but to be faithful. Blessed Mother Teresa reminds us: "We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love."

May God bless and sustain you and may Our Blessed Mother be your constant companion and intercessor.

Photos: courtesy Paul Lauzon

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