Pro-life: Hobby or Spirituality?
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
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Jesus Christ is Life. To stand with him is to stand with life, and to
stand against whatever destroys life. Being "pro-life," therefore, is not
merely a "personal belief" or a political ideology. Pro-life action is not
merely a hobby or an "extra-curricular" activity.
Pro-life is a spirituality, a way of relating
to God, an integral dimension of the Christian Gospel. There is, in the end,
only one Gospel. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the Gospel of
Life. The work of announcing and applying that Gospel to the concrete
circumstances of our culture of death is deeply rooted in the commitment we
already have as Christians. It is an aspect of discipleship.
At Priests for Life, we have developed and articulated this spirituality
since 1991. It is a spirituality not only for priests, but for all the
baptized, and the Church has allowed us not only to train people in it but
to have them publicly profess promises to live it as Missionaries of the
Gospel of Life. In nearly a thousand cities, people are taking this
training and professing these promises.
This spirituality that draws deeply from the lives and teachings of three
great pro-life warriors whom I was privileged to know personally: Pope John
Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Cardinal John O Connor.
The spirituality is biblical, prophetic, liturgical, Eucharistic,
ecumenical, and Marian. It is marked by a spirit of joy, a serene
confidence, a deep compassion, a radical solidarity with the vulnerable, a
strong courage, a constant readiness for public witness, and a passion for
justice. The missionaries do the pro-life work they are already doing, but
in a way more deeply rooted in the Church.
Here s what the promises say. Try them on for size!
"I, (name), in the presence of God the Father, the Creator of all Life,
Jesus Christ the Son, the Resurrection and the Life, and the Holy Spirit,
Lord and Giver of Life, and in the presence of this gathering of the People
of Life, do joyfully promise, for the rest of my life, to live as a Lay
Missionary of the Gospel of Life. I promise to defend my brothers and
sisters whose right to life is under direct attack, and to be, especially
for the unborn, the voice they do not have. I promise to pursue union with
God in all things, and holiness of life which will foster my love for the
weakest among us. I further promise to engage in pro-life work, according to
the spirituality and virtues of the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, and
to collaborate with their work to the best of my ability and within the
context of my own vocation. I am confident that the Victory of Life has
already been won through the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, and as the
Church proclaims, celebrates, and serves the Gospel of Life, Christ will
transform the Culture of Death into the Culture of Life."
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