This past Friday I attended the Iowa Mass for Life celebrated by Des Moines Bishop Pates that served as a sending Mass for those from our diocese making the trek to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. It was a beautiful Mass and Bishop Pates’ homily was quite moving. There was a sound that moved me to tears: a young child attending the Mass was joyfully singing the hymns and Mass acclimations from the top of her lungs. It was a bittersweet sound as I reflected on the millions of babies who have been aborted with never a chance to display such a joyful witness. There was a scene that moved me to tears: the sight of a family sitting across the way from me who has been emotionally ripped apart by the pain of abortion. While their sins have been reconciled and forgiven, the pain in their hearts will never leave.
Today I am fasting and praying for the 200,000+ pilgrims marching in Washington, D.C. at the 2011 March For Life, including our parish priest and 40+ high school students from the local Catholic high school. Organized in 1974 as a response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion, the March has continued to attract growing numbers in annual support of our preborn brothers and sisters.
The March’s purpose is not to judge or condemn, but to demonstrate a truthful, prayerful, peaceful, and healing witness to the destruction of abortion. Today the Church also remembers the life of Saint Francis de Sales, and one of my favorite quotes from Francis de Sales is, “You can win more converts with a spoonful of honey than a barrelful of vinegar.”
I wish I could say I was more honey and less vinegar in defense of life…but it’s so tough when there is so much rhetoric on both “sides” of this debate and millions of babies are being aborted in the midst of it. Add to that, I’m in the thick of it here in Iowa where some frightening things are happening to advance abortion practices including a late-term abortionist attempting to open a clinic in the Council Bluffs/Omaha area and Planned Parenthood using our sacred soil as pilot ground to build momentum for telemed abortions.
Last night I couldn’t sleep as I thought about what more I can do in honor of the preborn, so I went to the Lord in prayer and vowed to become an agent of change (shall I, in the spirit of St. Francis de Sales, call it being more like honey?) who attempts to transform the heated rhetorical debate into a peaceful, truthful dialogue so that more hearts are converted and more souls are saved.
A friend of mine posted the following powerful words from Pope John Paul II on her Facebook page over the weekend. It’s fitting to end with his words.
“America you are beautiful…and blessed. The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life.” – Pope John Paul II