Monday, January 23


Roe v. Wade

Yesterday was one of those dark anniversaries that punctuate the modern calendar with increasing frequency--memories like the murder of presidents and statesmen, or terrorist outrages that took down whole city blocks and cut short the lives of ordinary folk whose only crime was to happen to be going about their business. But unlike those, the murder's still going on here, and the numbers mount, like broken, defenseless bodies being dug out of an avalanche, and they were not the result of some immense, vast, faceless force of nature, but by the individual false choices of a million people, some who may have known the full weight of what they did, and some who may not--or so I hope, some who put pen to paper and scratched out words, and some who sat on the sidelines and let it go without a thought. We must pray for all of them, and for an end to the invisible deaths that go on around us every day. Prayer and fasting and peaceful protest.

This is one of the few causes where simply holding up a placard of an unborn babe--with all its little toes and its great translucent belly and head, and sweet little profile--may be enough to prove the humanity of those we're trying to save. It's all there if you dare to look at a sonogram. But few people have the courage these days. I was in Wisconsin this weekend, and at the cathedral at LaCrosse, the Knights of Columbus gave out red roses to the mothers and fathers who'd had their children baptized in the past year, and young parents, still handsome and beautiful with the dew of youth, came up the aisle with two or three little babies and toddlers hanging off them, the familiar parental wobble-shuffle of a compact group of lives knotted together. One family had two sets of identical twins, the little blonde girls with their straw-white hair and matching plaid jumpers, just starting to walk, the newer ones still bald and in arms.

Thanks for choosing life. It was sweet and moving, and at the end I applauded with everyone else--finally a cause I can clap for during Mass, as I whispered to my father. I suppose for these folks in particular it was the only choice. But that hardly takes away the honor. It might seem ghoulish to live in a time when we have to make an effort to thank people for giving birth rather than aborting their children, but it's like being grateful for all and any thing--it's good in the end. It is good to be grateful and thankful about certainties, because it forces us not to take them for granted. We can be grateful for the sun and the moon and the stars, and the beauty of nature and Man, be grateful to God even though they aren't going to go away tomorrow morning when we wake up. It prevents us from getting too complacent.

To all of those who are at the March for Life today, both friends and strangers, let me say I wish I could stand there with you today. I feel like someone left out of a great battle, now abed and away from Agincourt, or a young man hearing tales of the crusaders who flocked too late to the piebald standard of the Templars. But I can do my part, too, as it's not only about being there and praying, but praying anywhere we are. Pray hard, folks. That's the only way we'll win this fight.

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