Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Walk the Talk

~from Fr. Leo Patalinghug's Grace Before Meals mailblast
Every year, a staggering number of people converge on the streets of Washington – as well as on other main roads of cities across the United States – to proclaim Life is a Precious Gift! Yesterday, at the annual March for Life, hundreds and thousands of people walked the talk. With every step, they reminded the world life is worth living – from conception to natural death.

For the past 35 years, Pro-Lifers have been called “antichoice” by the media. Since the first March for Life, the media and proabortion advocates have underplayed the significance of this March, questioning the sanity and good will of the participants.

But I’m here to inform the media that the ploy to redirect the issue by playing word games (such as “pro-choice” versus “proabortion,” and “fetus” instead of “baby”) is not working. People are smarter than that! I also want to inform the politically motivated news agencies that not paying attention and not covering this incredible event as a true front-page headlining story will NOT make Pro-Life marchers go away! In fact, the number of Pro-Life marchers continues to grow!

But before I get accused of being too political in this Blast, I want to offer a spiritual reflection about the first march for life, which took place nearly 2000 years ago. It was when Jesus took up His Pro-Life sign (the Cross), and walked to a hill called Calvary outside another capital, Jerusalem. That Way of the Cross is the first and most perfect March for Life! We walk in His footsteps!

In meditating on this decisive Pro-Life March of Jesus, I offer some reflections for other Pro-Lifers to consider. Even though this Blast comes one day after the official marching date, who says advocacy for life issues is limited to just one day? The Pro-Life effort isn’t simply to host a big event, but to educate, inspire, and to help create a culture where life, even if it isn’t perfect, is still worth celebrating and rejoicing!

First: Jesus’ Pro-Life March was taken up out of love. That should always be our motivation! It’s easy for Pro-Lifers to get zealous, pumped up, and sometimes even angry about the state of affairs in our world, especially when it comes to the undeniable crime of abortion. But we cannot forget that we are called to love all people – especially those who consider the Pro-Life cause an enemy to their unfortunate “choices.” After all, Jesus’ Pro-Life March ended with Him imploring forgiveness for those who persecuted Him! He did not walk in anger, but in love.

Second: Jesus marched patiently! There are times when we may get discouraged – that despite our best efforts, things don’t seem to improve. That’s why I believe Jesus allowed Himself to fall – three times! To show us the courage and faith required to take the positions and the stands that are NOT supposed to be easy. We must be patient with our Pro-Life efforts, and be patient to walk the Pro-Life message not just one day a year, but every day of our lives.

Third: Jesus didn’t walk alone! Even though He bore the Cross alone, we know He was never completely abandoned. His family – the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Beloved Disciple, and the sanctified Mary Magdalene – was with Jesus every step of the way. There may be times when we feel isolated in our belief of the gift of life, especially when we constantly face people who tear lives apart! But this annual event reminds us we are not alone. Besides the fact Jesus promised His eternal presence with us, he also sends God’s family – the Church – to encourage us every step of the way, by walking with us every step of the way.

In my experiences of the annual March for Life, I’ve been truly edified to see so many people come together and be a witness for Life. It’s moving to see families bringing their children – the best “sign” they could display! I’ve witnessed counselors who have given out pamphlets for free services to anyone who needs help with their pregnancy, or how to cope with a bad “choice” they may have made in the past. The event brings together so many young people that one would think they were at a high school convention/party, with the exception that these teens aren’t partying, but praying. The participants also see a vast array of the different religious groups proudly carrying their Pro-Life banners, not on placards, but through the witness of their religious habits and clerical dress.

If you’ve never been to a March for Life, be sure to come next year! It’s a great way to strengthen your faith and conviction for this important cause. If you are unable to come due to physical conditions, please know we proudly walk with you and for you! We know you’re there in spirit. If you are not sure what your position is on Pro-Life issues, come anyway; get the information the media won’t provide. And see for yourself that you can find strength in numbers, especially since Christ walks among us.

It’s true. Action is louder than words. This annual March for Life is not new. It is simply reminiscent of Jesus’ first walk for eternal life. This walk, His and ours, leads us to a crossroads in our lives. We are given a choice: Will I join our Lord, and, with His family, take the steps that lead to Life?

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