St. Helen Youth group at the Lincoln Memorial
Last week, I was blessed to accompany five teenagers (and another adult chaperone) from our parish Youth Group (St. Helen, Glasgow & Our Lady of the Caves, Horse Cave, Kentucky) to the annual March for Life in Washington, DC. Due to the pandemic, it had been two years since our last March for Life, and so, I wanted to get back into the rhythm of participation in this important event, which I think is really important for our young people to experience. I would like to share some of my thoughts from the experience.
First of all, questions can arise: is an event like the March for Life a political event? If so, should churches (and church youth groups) be participating? Or is it a religious event? If so, should politicians make public appearances and speak? Is the March for Life a protest, or is it a peaceful rally? Here are my thoughts:
Americans (and other “modern” persons) often want to “compartmentalize” everything: religion, politics, education, etc. This is one of the reasons that some people say that they don’t mix religion and politics. Other people say that they won’t talk about religion or politics — to which I respond: “What else is there to talk about? The weather? Sports?” In the classical tradition, “religion” is about God, and everything else as it relates to God, including us, as we relate to God our Creator. “Politics” is about man living in society, and includes everything that relates to society. In this sense, everything is, or should be, related to both religion and politics, because everything that really matters relates to man in relation to God, and man as he lives in relationship with other people in society.
The March for Life is a religious event, in that the women and men who participate (most of whom are Christians, Jews, or others who believe in a Creator) recognize that human life is a gift — a gift from God the Creator, and that this gift deserves to have protection under the law. We come together, and prayer is an important part of what we do, because the practice of mass murder of innocent human persons is demonic, and, as the Lord Jesus said, some demons are “cast out only by prayer and fasting.”
The March for Life is also a political event, in that we recognize that our society is weighed down by the guilt of the 62 million (+) children who have been legally killed in our country since the Supreme Court handed down the “right to abortion” in Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973. Men and women recognize that this is a social evil, that untold human potential has been lost forever with the death of so many children (many of whom would have their own children, and even grandchildren, by now — even more human potential lost!). During the March, I saw several signs indicating that we had “secularists” and “atheists” among us, who also recognize the evil of the destruction of innocent human life, and its detrimental effects on society.
For those who were interested in learning the truth, the March for Life (and the Students for Life Pro-Life Summit the next day, which we attended) is also an educational opportunity. A person with an open mind could learn the truth about fetal development, the problems that come from creating artificial lines saying that some humans are “persons” while others are not, and the psychological and emotional harm done to mothers and fathers who have made the tragic decision to have an abortion. We also heard from people who are on the front lines of the battle for the right to life in many different spheres.
For me, the beauty of the March for Life is that it brings together the many facets for the pro-life movement: those who are fighting for the sanctity of human life in Congress and state legislatures; those fighting within the legal system in court cases; those who pray and give public witness outside abortion clinics (such as 40 Days for Life); those who do sidewalk counseling; those who work in pregnancy resource centers, providing practical helps to expectant mothers; those who work to educate the public through state of the art media (such as the “Baby Olivia” video by Live Action); and those who work to bring healing to women and men who have been wounded by abortion. The March is a reminder that, despite the different approaches that we take, all those involved in the Right to Life movement have the same goal: to “Love them both,” which involves bringing healing to those who are already suffering, and to prevent others from suffering in the same way.
May our Almighty and Merciful God help us to persevere in the battle for life, to show compassion to those who are suffering, to help every mother (and father) to be supported in their all-important role in the lives of their children, and to help every human person to have the protection of society from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death!