“She was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18).
Reflection: Today we celebrate the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, chosen by God to be his own mother. In our day, we need Mary’s presence and example more than ever, because so many mothers are afraid to be mothers, and so many opinion-makers in our society have forgotten what motherhood really means.
Prayer: Mary, pray for all who are pregnant and afraid, especially those tempted to abort their child. Pray that they find new hope and strength to say “Yes” to God’s plan as you did. Amen.
Miss Nellie Gray, Founder of the March for Life, has died.“Nellie Gray and the March for Life had a most profound effect on my life,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. In 1976, when he was a senior in high school, Father Pavone went to the March for Life with his mother and grandmother. Although he had been quietly considering the priesthood before that, the March cemented both his vocation and his passion for pro-life issues.
“Every year since 1974, Nellie Gray has mobilized a diverse and energetic army for life,” said Father Pavone, who has attended every march since his first one. “Her own commitment to the cause never wavered. She was a tireless warrior for the unborn and her motto was ‘no exceptions.’ “
After his ordination in 1988, Father Pavone was assigned to a parish in Staten Island, NY. Every year he led a busload of parishioners to the March for Life. He took over as national director of Priests for Life in 1993, and the following year, attending the event in his new capacity, Miss Gray invited him to say the opening prayer at the March for Life Convention that annually precedes the March.
In 2008, the National Pro-Life Religious Council, which Father Pavone serves as president, presented Miss Gray with its Pro-Life Recognition Award. Later that day, Miss Gray tripped and fell on the stage at the opening rally for the March and had to be taken to the hospital with a head injury.
“As a colleague in national pro-life leadership, Nellie was always an inspiration to the rest of us,” Father Pavone said. “Her devotion was on display that same year, 2008, when, despite being in the hospital during the March for Life, she nevertheless was present at all all-day meeting of national leaders the very next morning, with a patch on her head.”
Every year since its founding in 2003, Miss Gray invited the women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to stand on the rally stage holding signs that said, “I Regret My Abortion,” and she arranged for a larger group of post-abortive men and women from Silent No More to be in the vanguard of the March.
“We are so grateful that Nellie Gray shared our vision of Silent No More, and recognized that the women who have had abortions speak with unquestioned authority about the ways they have been harmed by this choice,” said Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of Silent No More. “Every year more women and men come to march and to share their testimony. Nellie Gray helped make that possible for us.”
Miss Gray is also credited for realizing that African-American pro-life leaders had to become more vocal and visible in the fight for life.
“Nellie Gray knew that abortion took a heavy toll from the black community and she urged us to lend our voices to the fight against this terrible injustice,” said Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life. “She was a visionary.”
Bryan Kemper, founder of Stand True Ministry and director of Youth Outreach for Priests for Life, said: “My heart is broken by the loss of Nellie Gray, a true pro-life hero and role model. At the same time I celebrate that Nellie is with our Lord who she loved so dearly. I have had the honor of working with Nellie for years and every time I March in DC in January, I know she will be watching over us and praying for us. Nellie Gray, I will miss you dearly.
The 2013 March for Life will mark the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, and the 39th anniversary of the March.
“It was an anniversary that broke Nellie Gray’s heart every year, and every day,” Father Pavone noted. “In January we will march in her memory, in her honor, to save the unborn children to whom she dedicated her life.”
Churches and other tax exempt groups can say and do a lot more about elections than most of us think they can. Teaming up with legal experts, Priests for Life offers a seminar called, “The Church and Politics: Are We as Restricted as We Think?” This seminar booklet will give you guidance on what the IRS does and does not say, and on how Churches can register, educate, and mobilize voters. The seminar also features a talk by Fr. Frank Pavone on the theology of Church and state. This booklet can make a great tool to give your priest or group leader.
We also have a brochure called Ten Responses to Pro-Abortion Politicians.
“The human person, unlike animals and things, cannot be subjected to domination by others” (John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, 19).
Reflection: If representatives of the Church abuse children, the State steps in. The Church likewise has a duty to intervene when state allows children to be killed by abortion. America is proud of its freedom of religion, and equally proud of its protection of human rights. The two can go together, as long as “separation of Church and state” never means that either one looks the other way when human rights is violated.
Prayer: Lord, may both Church and State be faithful in their duty to protect human rights. Amen.
“For here we have no lasting city, but we are seeking the one that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).
Reflection: The Church has always held that the State does not contain the fullness of human hope or embrace the totality of human existence. The State rather, exists for the human person, not the other way around. That is why governments either have to protect human rights, or have to be reformed. Human law is always subject to Divine law: only the latter can claim our absolute obedience.
Prayer: Lord, as I strive for my heavenly home, I thank you for my earthly home; may I work to improve it. Amen.