Last night I was privileged to gather with a relatively small group of pro-life leaders and activists for the wake service of Nellie Gray. Board members of the March for Life, along with some pro-life leaders from Washington DC-based groups and elsewhere, gathered in a quiet Church of Saint Mary on 5th Street NW. This was Nellie’s parish, where she attended the Traditional Latin Mass. Some family members of Nellie were there, specifically three nieces and a nephew. They had come in from Texas and Georgia, and I very much enjoyed talking with them and reminiscing about Nellie.
I arrived at the Church at the same time the casket arrived, and we had a short initial prayer service at the door. One of the first people I saw there on the sidewalk was Dee Becker, who served for a long time as Vice-President of the March for Life and whom I have known and worked with for many years. Janet Morana and I had spoken with Dee on the phone not long after we got the news about Nellie, and Janet reminded her to make sure that Nellie’s distinctive red coat, which she wore at every March, was preserved. Sure enough, there next to her casket, on a coat stand, was the red coat (with a March for Life button pinned to it), red hat, and red scarf. It brought back many memories.
My friend and colleague Pastor Luke Robinson shared an exhortation during the evening service. He read the Life Principles, reminding us that this is the basis on which Nellie asked us to unite the pro-life movement. Moreover, he pointed out how Nellie made the Silent No More Awareness Campaign an integral aspect of the March, thereby representing her conviction that abortion did not only destroy the baby, but the baby’s parents as well.
Nellie and I had a number of very honest discussions about what would happen with the March for Life after she died. One concern of hers was paramount: that its nature and message be preserved. It is not simply a rally and march; it is an expression of the American people to their elected representatives that all law must conform to the Life Principles, without exception or compromise. It will take a while for all of us to grieve and readjust to Nellie’s absence. But I’m confident that her hope about the future of the March will be fulfilled.
“Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones…will not go unrewarded” (Matthew 10:42).
Reflection: As Terri Schiavo was dying, a police officer was in the room at all times, making sure that nobody gave Terri a drop of water. A vase of flowers sat on her night table. It was filled with water. Those flowers were being nourished, and a human being was not. How upside-down is the Culture of Death! How offensive is the cruelty we show to the weak and vulnerable.
Prayer: Have mercy on your people, Lord; bring an end to the cycle of blindness and violence around us. Amen!
STATEN ISLAND, NY — Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, issued the following statement about a funeral service planned for tomorrow for an aborted baby.
“On Friday morning, July 27, I will stand proudly with my brothers and sisters of Operation Save America to honor the body of an aborted child for whom we will offer a memorial service in which the public will have an opportunity to participate. We have also arranged for the burial of the child.
“It is not often that we have the bodies of aborted babies. Unfortunately, the act by which their lives are dishonored and their bodies dismembered takes those bodies and discards them with the medical waste.
“But once in a while, we are able to retrieve these bodies. When we do so, we give them the honor that others have denied them. The act of violence that killed them is done in secret; we believe that the act of reparation that honors them should be done in public. The cold-hearted killing was done in darkness; the broken-hearted mourning should be done in the bright light of day.
“We will have an open casket at this memorial service so that people can see the bruised body of this baby. The body is intact, having been killed by prostaglandin abortion, which induces violent contractions that bruise and ultimately kill the child. Seeing the child awakens the conscience to the fact that abortion kills real people, and must be put to an end without further delay.”
This service will occur Friday, July 27, in Charlotte, NC at the intersection of Trade and Tryon at 10 a.m. ET.
Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.
“And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8)
Reflection:Here is the reaction of a ‘pro-choice’ person upon seeing what abortion is: “I have looked at the pictures on this site
on aborted babies and I started to cry. I have always believed in freedom of choice but after seeing this, I have to say this is just murder.”
Prayer: Lord, as you promised, your Holy Spirit teaches us about you, and helps us to see the full truth about what is right and wrong. May that Spirit reveal to our world its sin and its salvation. Amen.
In his Letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “If the spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also.” The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of life, and to accept the call to follow Christ is to accept the call to welcome, nourish, defend, and celebrate life. We are the people of the One Who conquered death, and that is why we fight against the power of death as it manifests itself in evils like abortion. To stand with Christ is to stand with life, not to justify what takes life.
The Church’s pro-life work is not based on political ideology, but on the truths Christ has revealed to us.
In Psalm 1:30 we read, “For with the Lord is kindness, and fullness of redemption.” He does not give us only the redemption of some or most aspects of our existence; He gives us the fullness of redemption. He does not only destroy our sins – He destroys our death. He does not only raise up our souls; He raises up our bodies. He does not only restore our relationship with Him; He restores our relationships with everyone else. The Lord gives us fullness of redemption, which means He frees us from all that oppresses the human family. And that is precisely the connection between our faith and our pro-life work. When we labor to end the oppression of children in the womb, we are bearing witness to what the fullness of redemption means.
In Matthew’s Gospel, we read that when Jesus died, there was an earthquake. In the Old Testament Scriptures, the earthquake was one of the signs of the day of the Lord, when God’s power and glory and presence would be manifest in human history. This is what happened at the death of Christ, because at that moment, death itself was done away with. The Lord went among the dead to rescue them and to open for them – and for us – the kingdom of life. Things change at that point for human history and the destiny of the human family, and it is the foundation of who we are as a pro-life people. Our stand against abortion is not just political. It is rooted in the death and Resurrection of Christ.
As we make our Lenten journey, I invite you to join with me and thousands of others in a Lenten Prayer for Life. You can find it here.
Lent is a season in which we prepare to celebrate Christ’s total victory over death, and our share in His life by baptism. Death was not part of God’s original plan for us. Scripture says that God created all things that they may have life, and that He does not rejoice in the destruction of the living.
Standing with Christ in His new life means standing against whatever destroys life.
The Lenten prayer for life renews us in our commitment to be the People of Life. It can be prayed each day by families, school classes, parishes, and individuals.
The debate in America about partial-birth abortion did a lot to shift public opinion in a pro-life direction, because it focused attention on what actually happens to the baby during an abortion – and what happens is not pleasant. That procedure was banned. But the D and E procedure is one among those that remain legal. In a D and E, the baby, while alive, is dismembered limb from limb. Medical textbooks and sworn court testimony describe how the abortionist pulls off the arms and legs and crushes the head. Above and beyond any thoughts they have about abortion in the abstract, it’s time to ask our fellow citizens what they think about D and E. Many who call themselves pro choice nevertheless oppose this procedure. Find out more at www.priestsforlife.org
Great tool for planning your pro-life activities: The 2012 Priests for Life calendar is a great way to keep pro-life front and center in your home throughout the year. Click here to order yours today.