So, last night I sat and did a puzzle.
For four hours.
My brain is pretty well toasted.
I’m usually pretty enthusiastic about politics, but between the Navy (can’t really be active in politics, especially as an officer, for concern of unduly influencing or intimidating subordinates (or any appearance thereof)) and small children, I hadn’t actively gotten involved before. This time, the kids got to play with Grandma or got taken along for the ride. Over the last few months, I organized a pro-life protest (made the local TV news and the paper), made hundreds of phone calls, baked dozens and dozens of cookies for the volunteers at the local Republican headquarters, hauled the kids to Adoration to pray (“Are we going to Adoration again? “), attended a rally, participated in teleconferences and a webcast, stuffed leaflets together for door-to-door walkers, joined a prayer siege at an abortion clinic, leafleted almost 1,000 cars at parish parking lots, hosted a Republican volunteer who came down from DC for a few nights and needed someplace to stay, and blogged copiously about what I think is wrong with the Democratic party and its stances on issues and what I think is right with the Republicans and their stances on issues.
And McCain still lost.
After listening to the Priests for Life webcast last night (and sitting at Adoration for an hour this morning), I’m in a slightly more hopeful mood. (and we need to take back the word “hope”… it’s been mightily abused during this campaign.) During the 40 Days for Life campaign leading up to the election, dozens of moms walked away from their abortion appointments and got help from crisis pregnancy centers. Fr. Pavone and the other participants made the point that
1) we have had pro-abortion presidents before and the pro-life movement thrived in spite of, and even because of them, because they force us to unite and to rely on God, not politics,
2) all those moms and babies were saved over the last forty days without a single law changing (although changing the laws would certainly help),
3) there are many reasons for hope within the pro-life movement, including the increasingly pro-life stance of the youth, and
4) there are plenty of ways to get involved directly in making abortion unthinkable, even if the political side of things looks bad right now.
Fr. Pavone commented that yes, of course, we should pray for president-elect Obama to have a change of heart on abortion, but we should understand that that is highly unlikely, since, “He has no reason to move our way, except the state of his immortal soul. And most politicians only worry about their souls after they’re out of office.”
One of the speakers in the webcast also gave a quote from the late Congressman Henry Hyde, an outspoken lion of the pro-life movement. (see his obituary here; he didn’t think too kindly of waffling bishops, either)
“When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, “Spare him because he loved us,” and God will look at you and say not, “Did you succeed?” but “Did you try?”‘
I do not do this for “brownie points” in Heaven. I do this because to do less feels like cowardice. I do this because I do not want to meet the aborted children in Heaven and say, “Um… I was too busy to help. Someone might’ve thought badly of me for speaking out.” So what if I make a gaffe in front of the news cameras (Thank God, I didn’t), get in trouble with my pastor, or annoy people who may think I’m being too extreme or too single-issue? Nobody’s going to kill me for it, but thousands of babies die each day because of our silence as a nation, as a church, as a community.
I find Hyde’s image very encouraging. Those aborted children are not just dead and gone. They are in Heaven, praying for us, for their younger siblings in danger from the abortionists’ knives, and especially, I think, for healing and salvation for their mothers and fathers who aborted them.
Yes, I know, a lot of you reading this don’t “do” protests; six years ago, neither did I. A group of prayerful, orderly, smiling pro-lifers, moms and dads and kids and teens and retired, holding signs out on the sidewalk, is nothing to be ashamed of. Reviled as it is by the world and the media, the message is nothing to be ashamed of, either. We need to be more concerned with what God thinks of us than what Man thinks of us.
The abolition of slavery, women’s sufferage, and civil rights all happened because people prayed at home and in churches… and then stood up publicly to be counted.
So, pray, fast, join a prayer siege at an abortion clinic, pray some more, write your paper, visit your congressman’s office (they assume a lot of people are interested in a topic if someone actually bothers to show up at their office to voice their concerns), volunteer or donate to your local crisis pregnancy centers, pray, place an ad for your local pregnancy help hotline in your church bulletin, talk to your pastor, pray, plan on being at the March for Life in January (in Washington, DC; if that’s too far, there’s the West Coast Walk for Life, too, and multiple locations in between), and pray and fast some more.
Slavery was just an “annoyance”, too… if you weren’t the slave. “It’s too divisive; can’t you just let it drop?” “Sure, I’m against slavery, but it’s too entrenched to ever be ended.” “Aren’t there more important issues facing the country?”
But slavery ended because people refused to let the stain on the nation’s soul remain unchallenged.
A hundred and fifty years later, we look back and wonder why on earth more people didn’t do more.
A hundred years from now, people will look back and wonder how we could have failed to do more.