Pastor’s Note: Each year Holy Trinity fills a bus to make an annual trip to the March for Life. Speaking and preaching for the rights of the unborn is an integral part of the role of every Catholic. Below is a blog written by one of our parishioners, who shares one perspective on why we march.
On We March by Michael Salvemini
The brakes hiss in the crisp, cool air as the bus mimics the driver’s sigh of relief after coming to rest in the parking spot. With an ice storm the night before and freezing temperatures continuing, the drive wasn’t for the faint of heart, even for a professional. But there we were, parked in rows like ants marching to their colony. Slowly the passengers waddle out, only their eyes and noses visible from behind every layer of warm clothing they could find in their house that morning. They are fortunate because it isn’t snowing or icing but they barely notice the weather as the spirit of the day warms the air and urges them to get out and find the rest of the pack. They are fortunate and thankful for the life they have. To feel the cold in the air, to see the blue in the sky, to be the voice for the voiceless because not everyone is this fortunate.
This is the scene as it played out for me last year when I was there, when hundreds of thousands were there in Washington DC, just like they are today for the annual March for Life. The march is a protest of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v Wade made in 1973. The ruling in the simplest of terms made abortion legal until the unborn could survive outside the womb. Ever since, people who believe that the right to life starts at conception brave the elements on the anniversary to speak out in protest of this decision.
Lately using the word protest brings images to our minds from news coverage of other recent protests. Images of rioters setting fires, looting stores, rallying for their cause and of police dressed like commandos, shooting teargas and arresting instigators opposing them. This won’t be the scene today, partly because it won’t make the news, but mostly because these protesters know that the power of hate will never achieve as much as the power of love. So instead of war cries, there are rosaries. Instead of teargas, tears shed for the lives that might have been. There are fires being set not in the stores along the path but in the hearts of each marcher and it burns with hope that the Flame spreads to the politicians watching from their windows and fills them with compassion for the unborn. This protest is about love.
It’s about love of all life. It’s to spread the word that no matter the shape, size, color, creed, sports team affiliation or preference between Coke or Pepsi, that life has worth. That our life has worth. To remind us that our worth isn’t proportional to our fame, our fortune or our family. We have worth because we were created.
It’s about love for people in a situation that makes abortion seem like the best choice. That they feel the prayers being said for them to not give in to fear and anxiety of the future that only freezes hearts and instead think of the warmth and love that this child can bring to their world. It’s to show them that they are not alone because Jesus is with them every step of the way and showed us the example of sacrifice on every step of His way with the cross. That if they don’t want to be a parent, couples are praying for a child to love who would gladly accept this one into their home. To remind them that there are centers and charities and churches all over that can help with physical and spiritual support in such a difficult time.
It’s about love for the unborn. Although not having the physical characteristics of a child yet, the unborn are to be loved and have the same dignity and right to life as a newborn, infant or toddler being held in their parent’s arms. Have hearts grown so cold to believe that a person’s right to life is dependent on their physical characteristics and not inherent in the fact that they have life already? Believe that an unborn child is not alive? Ask a mother as her body changes to sustain it. As she becomes an expert at spotting trash cans, buckets and bathrooms as safe havens from an unexpected attack with nausea or as she changes her diet, her exercise routine and her sleep cycle and see if she believes that there is nothing alive being nurtured inside of her. These are just some of the changes that can take place in just the first trimester! Not believing that an unborn child is alive is like a child putting their hands over their eyes and claiming to be invisible. No one can stop them from believing this and if they do it long enough, they may just trick themselves into believing that it’s true.
The truth is that we are human and we are alive at the moment of conception. The very fact that abortion in the third trimester is generally agreed upon as immoral and therefore made illegal in all but 9 states should be a huge red flag that there is something awesome and beautiful growing inside the womb.
I think of it like baking a cake. The oven isn’t just opened and a perfectly made cake comes out. First, a decision is made to bake the cake so we get a recipe, gather the ingredients, mix the ingredients and then bake it. At what point is the cake a cake though? Is it when the decision is made to bake the cake? No, because there is nothing physically happening. Ok, well then it must be when the ingredients are gathered because now there is something physical to touch. No, because eggs and milk and flour may be ingredients but alone cannot grow into a cake. It then must be when the ingredients are finally mixed and is ready to be put in the oven. The eggs are cracked, the milk poured and combined with the flour and a line is drawn between what were individual ingredients and what has become an inseparable mixture. The cake’s characteristics of taste, color and texture all start to form and even though it’s not a cake in the appearance or state that we would serve to guests, it will be after the right amount of time in the oven. There’s no denying that at this point, if we changed our mind or thought we made a mistake, there is no way of getting the individual ingredients back. The options are to either see this cake through or throw it away and start over.
The difference between baked goods and babies are obvious yet unborn children are treated no better than a baking cake as long as abortion is not only legal, but thought of as moral. A child conceived outside marriage, or at a time that is inconvenient for a career, or that is diagnosed with chromosomal abnormalities is easily rationalized to kill when dehumanized to the level of an experimental cake recipe than it is when thought of as a human life. We have our marching orders to fight this mentality armed with hope and love because regardless of the circumstances surrounding the conception of a child, a child is loved if by no one else, then by God. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” Well before the ingredients were mixed, God knew us and loved us. Before we took on human characteristics, God knew what we looked like and loved us. Just like in the creation story, God created us and we are good. The circumstances surrounding how a child is created does not diminish their dignity, doesn’t take away their right to life or cause them to be loved any less. This is why the streets of DC are packed with people praying rosaries, singing songs and rallying together to stand up for the most defenseless of populations. To remind parents considering abortion that they are not alone. That through faith, prayer and sacrifice, an unwanted pregnancy can fill their lives with the love that no career or previously planned out future could duplicate. It’s time we spread the message of love for all stages of life. It’s time to march….