With few exceptions, those who march for life in Washington, DC this Friday are people of faith, and see the pro-life movement not only as a response to Roe vs. Wade, but as a response to Jesus Christ. Their love for the children in the womb is a corollary of the command to love God and neighbor; their advocacy for the unborn is an aspect of their discipleship.
There are a number of specific spiritual dynamics that flow from this, and that can be seen among the marchers.
- Repentance is the starting point. Despite the efforts of the other side to portray pro-life people as self-righteous and judgmental, the crowds that march on Friday recognize that they are sinners, and in fact are motivated by repentance. Some have had abortions or in some way share responsibility for someone else’s abortion. For them, publicly standing up for the unborn is a way of making up for their devastating mistake.Many others who march are simply aware that they have not done enough (and who has?) to be a voice for these children, to educate others about abortion, to reach out to dissuade others from abortion, to communicate with their legislators, and to pray for the unborn.
And every disciple of Christ knows he or she is a sinner who, with every choice against God’s commandments, “aborts” God’s will in his or her own life. We do not proclaim a moral code to others that we ourselves are not also bound to obey.
Follow LifeNews.com on Instagram for pro-life pictures and videos.
We, therefore, first and foremost come to events like this with the words, “Lord, have mercy on us” on our lips and in our hearts. We are here to repent, and to resolve to do more for our youngest brothers and sisters.
- We grieve and rejoice at the same time. The March for Life each year, and the pro-life movement generally, are marked by an interesting combination of grief and joy, of mourning and celebrating.On the one hand, we march because we have broken hearts. We face the evil we fight; we weep for the children for whom we advocate.
On the other hand, the March is like a great celebration. There are happy families, enthusiastic youth, and veterans of the movement who have a deep sense of peace and joy. There is singing and laughing, embracing and clapping.
We are celebrating the joy of life and expressing our confidence that we are on the right side of justice and of history, and that by faith we know death has been conquered because Christ is Risen and is walking among us and working through us.
- We affirm the good that others do. The pro-life movement is very large and diverse, and that fact is clearly on display at every March for Life. There are so many facets of the movement and arenas of activity: educational, religious, legislative, and political; there are pregnancy centers and ministries of healing, media outlets and youth ministers; there are researchers and writers, artists and filmmakers. There are housewives and people of every profession, every age, and of a rich diversity of ethnic backgrounds and religious and political affiliations.There are individuals and groups who embrace a wide variety of pro-life tactics and strategies.
And the spirit that pervades this march and should always mark this movement is one of We come together as one movement, seeking one simple goal: the protection of children in the womb from the violence of abortion. Nobody has a silver bullet to reach that goal; we are each working to accomplish some aspect of getting there. But we each recognize in one another a fellow warrior, a kindred spirit, and can affirm the goodness, the courage, the creativity, the fidelity and perseverance that are the fruit of God’s spirit working in that person.
There are many other spiritual dynamics and virtues that mark and shape the pro-life movement; in fact, there is an entire training program in the spirituality of being pro-life.
As we march again this year, or take part in it by following the events from afar, let’s renew our discipleship, and let the Lord increase in us – individually and as a movement — the fruits of his Spirit.
LifeNews Note: Fr. Frank Pavone is National Director of Priests for Life. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For the full schedule of his activities this week, see www.PriestsForLife.org/MarchForLife.