With the missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe displayed beside the altar, Augustinian Father Denis Wilde celebrated the Eucharist during a Pro-Life Day of Recollection on June 14 at St. Joan of Arc Church in Indianapolis.
During his homily, the Priests for Life speaker reminded pro-life supporters to pray to both Jesus and Mary for help in battling sin and the culture of death that are prevalent in contemporary society.
“Call to mind the marvelous gift of Mary,” Father Wilde explained. “She represents the Mother Church because we wouldn’t have the Church without Jesus and we wouldn’t have Jesus without Mary. … St. Augustine said before she bore him in her womb, she bore him in faith.”
The Virgin Mary’s “total ‘yes’ to God” before the Archangel Gabriel was filled with power, he said, because she was free from original sin and fittingly prepared to become the mother of Jesus.
“It is, of course, up to us all during our life to live that [‘yes’] out,” Father Wilde said, in service to God and his people.
“We have so many gifts,” he said, “starting with the gift of our own life and that we’re able to worship God in freedom.”
With thankfulness for God’s gifts and blessings comes the responsibility to do God’s work, Father Wilde said, and his graces will help us do that in daily life.
“When we are four-square with the Lord,” he said, “when we respond with a ‘yes’ without adding stipulations, it is then that we are most powerful because we have let into our lives an obedience to what God’s plan is for us.”
Complete surrender in life is living and working for Christ, Father Wilde said, so that we may be worthy of God’s promises of redemption, salvation and eternal bliss.
Active in pro-life ministry for four decades, Father Wilde has traveled to 43 states on behalf of Priests for Life to preach about the Gospel of Life at more than 450 programs as well as support the local pro-life efforts of clergy and laity.
“The devil is a liar and a murderer,” he said during his pro-life presentation, and the abortion industry is fueled by lies.
For spiritual inspiration, Father Wilde urged pro-life supporters to read Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelations, which describes how evil wages war with “those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus” (Rv 12:17).
St. Anthony parishioner Debbie Miller of Indianapolis started Healing Hidden Hurts in 1999 after she experienced post-abortion reconciliation because she wanted to help other women suffering from the trauma of abortion.
“It is the Lord who is doing this work,” Miller said. “Because I have had an abortion, a lot of times women who are contemplating abortion will speak to me. And because I’ve been there, I can tell them that it is a place they never want to go.”
With prayer support, she said, “God has worked very powerfully through this ministry.”
Miller had an abortion at age 23 at the urging of her husband, who was temporarily unemployed and concerned about being able to support their two young children.
“It wasn’t something I wanted to do,” she said of the abortion. “I never wanted it. … We felt like we had no choice. I told myself that this was one of those hard things in life, and I had the abortion. … I thought that I could put it behind me and move on, but I was mistaken. Like a lot of women, I was deeply affected by my abortion and never realized it for many, many years. … As the years went on, I realized that I no longer had tears. … God was not a part of my life so when I had to make this horrible decision I never thought to turn to God.”
Miller said she struggled with feelings of deep sadness, physical and emotional pain, inappropriate expressions of anger and isolation from God until she participated in a Christ Renews His Parish retreat and was reconciled with God.
Women often deny their abortion experience, she said, and don’t understand why they are grieving, feeling angry or thinking about suicide.
Miller said when she finally turned to God for help, went to confession and received the Eucharist for the first time in 20 years, “good things began to happen to me, and I knew that God had heard my prayer and he was there for me.”
She returned to her Catholic faith, participated in an abortion reconciliation retreat and later said “yes” when God called her to begin Healing Hidden Hurts.
“Women need to develop a personal relationship with God,” Miller said, in order to heal from the trauma of abortion.
St. Boniface parishioner Diane Teder-Cochrane of Lafayette, Ind., the owner of St. Michael’s Catholic Books Inc. store, told pro-life supporters about how Jesus and Mary sustained her during several miscarriages and other difficult times for her family.
“Here are a couple pointers of things that you can do with Our Lady to help you get where you need to be,” she said. “I’ve learned them through all this suffering so I think it’s a good thing to pass them on.”
Sanctify your sleep, she advised, by telling God that you love him and ask him to bless your time of rest.
“Smile,” Teder-Cochrane said. “… Look in the mirror and say ‘I can make it today. Everything is OK because I’ve got you [God].’ … The adrenalin that flows from that smile into your body changes you and changes everyone you meet.”
Never tell lies, she said. “No exaggerations of the truth. God is truth. Anything else comes from the devil.”
Each day, she said, “say ‘God bless you’ to everyone you meet. … It’s a prayer. Start every day with a consecration to Jesus and Mary by praying ‘I am all yours, and all that I have is yours.’ ”
Display holy images in your home, she said. “Your home should become a little church. … Make it holy. Pray there.”
Life is a cross, and there is always another cross waiting, she said, “but the minute you offer it up to God that relieves it.” †