I was pretty proud reading an email that one of my daughters sent me complaining that her Lutheran college is holding a pro-abortion event called “#AbortionIsNormal Pop-Up Art Show” and seldom gives pro-life events an equal stage. I was just as proud when her sister replied:
“I look at this and say, wow, the pro-life movement must be really strong right now if this is their answer. Pray that anyone involved with this event has a change of heart! I heard a story on the radio about people in Alaska standing on bridges outside to support life in -35 degree temperatures (yes, without wind chill). I’ll try and find it for you – it was really amazing/uplifting. They were talking about how everyone is so bundled up, they have no idea who is even out there! We will win hearts with positivity and love – so that is the only way to ‘fight’ back.”
Where did her mother and I go right? One of the major fears we have as parents is worrying our children will be wrongly influenced by the secular agenda rampant at today’s universities. I guess we sometimes forget the greater influence of the Holy Spirit and, the seeds of faith we hope to plant at home.
These emails came to me while the March for Life was taking place in various cities. I wondered, is this what the march is for? Once again, clarity came to me from one of my dogs.
My dog Murphy is a 15-year-old Wire Fox Terrier. I have had several terriers in my life but Murphy is the first one that has made it past 12 years old. His hind legs are getting weaker, his eyes are not as strong and he is less likely to come running to the kitchen at the sound of a cheese wrapper being opened these days. He often sleeps throughout the day and now, all too often, he goes inside the house as he seldom did when he was younger.
Many nights Murphy gets up and whines. We’re not quite sure what he is telling us. Yet, when he wakes me I generally get up and go lay with him on the floor or pull him up into a chair with me. He soon settles back down and goes back to sleep for the rest of the night. I can’t say I enjoy getting up each night for this but, I do it anyway-because I remember all the times he came and laid next to me when I needed a friend. I remember the joy and even the craziness that he had that is now only displayed by our other two-year-old terrier. Murphy has always been a true friend to me and now, in a small way, I get to do the same for him.
While Murphy slept in my lap one night, it occurred to me what a great fight for life we can see in Murphy’s struggles. In his aches he still gets excited to go for a walk. He rushes to the kitchen if he thinks my wife has a treat for him while making dinner. Murphy doesn’t chase tennis balls anymore but he still loves a good Milkbone (or two). Murphy is not going down without a fight – a fight for life.
Sitting with my dog at 4 AM, I noted the error I saw in my daughter’s email. Abortion is not normal, the struggle for life is. Sure, it would be convenient to put Murphy down right now. I also know in my heart that it would be wrong. One does not take a life for “convenience.” Life is precious for Murphy or he wouldn’t keep fighting so hard for it.
Life is precious and Murphy reminds me that I need to fight for it too. Life is more important than my conveniences. A March for Life is not simply to end abortion but to remind us all of the Corporal Works of Mercy. If we believe life is sacred then we must feed the hungry to help them sustain it. If we believe life is sacred then we must give drink to the thirsty and quench their thirst beyond today as well. If we believe life is sacred then we must help find shelter for the homeless and not simply worry about our own mortgages. If we believe life is sacred then we must visit those too sick to care for themselves and remind them they are never so much a burden that a willful ending of life is justified. If we believe in life then we will help those imprisoned by drugs, bad choices or illness. If we believe life is sacred then we must bury the dead respectfully and celebrate the lives of those who have proceeded us. If we believe life is sacred then we must give of ourselves to the poor and not simply write a check and mindlessly move on.
A March for Life is a reminder of our failures. Sadly, it is true that many women will have chosen to have an abortion by age 45. Nearly fifty percent of all abortions come from women who are economically disadvantaged. And sadly, many of these women have had more than one abortion in their lifetime. We must remind ourselves that oftentimes the women who choose abortion see the child not as a celebration of life, but as a burden. Instead of responsibility that comes with freedoms we advocate convenience instead of morality. Life is full of struggles and oftentimes the best answer is not the easy one. We have failed in not teaching our young women to honor their dignity with better life choices. We need to demand society stop glorifying unbridled sexuality. We need to demand that governments stop treating school-aged children as adults and let them be kids again. We need a society that reveres women in their femininity, not degrades them in sexuality.
A March for Life calls us to speak the Spiritual Works of Mercy. If we believe life is sacred then we are called to speak up and admonish those who call for life to end by choice. If we believe life is sacred then we must speak up and instruct the ignorant to the evils that prevail in a culture of death. If we believe life is sacred then we must counsel those who are in doubt of what path to follow. If we believe life is sacred then we must comfort those who mourn the loss or bear the hardship of past life choices. If we believe life is sacred then we must be patient with those who advocate evil and pray for their conversion of heart. If we believe life is sacred then we must openly forgive as Jesus would do. If we believe life is sacred then we must pray for the born and unborn.
A March for Life means we are not called to simply be against abortion but a commitment to the mother and child after the decision for life is made. It is not moving on to the next pregnancy without still journeying with the previous. The March for Life is a call for rational discussions on capital punishment. The March for Life is not leaving our elderly alone and unsupported after a decision to “let them live.” A March for Life is holding our “Catholic” politicians accountable for the votes they cast. A March for Life is talking about issues with our kids and living our faith in both our public and private lives.
Life is the norm. Let us live and celebrate it. #LifeIsNormal.
REVEREND DR. GREGORY WEBSTER is a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate by Francis Cardinal George in May 2014 and is assigned to St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in Old Mill Creek, Illinois. Deacon Greg holds a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Northern Illinois University, M.A. in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary and an M.A. in Bioethics and Health Policy from Loyola University of Chicago. Deacon Greg and his wife have been married more than twenty-five years and are blessed with three beautiful daughters and two pretty cool terriers.