It has definitely been a rough couple of weeks for Team Catholic. The HHS Mandate which Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone described in his Jan. 30 letter to Catholics as “a direct attack on our freedom and first amendment rights” has thrown the church and the pro-life movement into the middle of a lot of controversy.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has read the paper, heard the news or even conversed with friends and exclaimed, “that is not true!” as our beliefs seem to be constantly misrepresented and criticized.
While this can be discouraging, there’s a story from the March for Life pilgrimage that gives perspective. The youth of the Diocese of Charleston represented our state quite well in Washington, D.C. About 250 youth and adults from South Carolina joined the half a million who marched through icy, rainy weather to show their support for human life.
A favorite event for many groups — including our Lowcountry group comprised of teens from St. Francis by the Sea, St. Gregory the Great and St. Peter — is the “Life is Very Good Rally” held the night before the march. A Mass, concert and holy hour, it’s a prayerful and fun way to prepare for the next day.
As our bus was making its way to Arlington, I received a text message from Joan Labone, the director of youth ministry at St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken. Their bus had broken down and they had been on the side of the road in North Carolina for several hours waiting for a mechanic.
They had a dinner of chips and soda from a nearby gas station and didn’t arrive in Arlington until about 11 p.m., missing that evening’s entire program and cutting into the little sleep they’d be getting on the floor of a gym.
The youth of St. Mary didn’t spend that afternoon on the side of the road complaining, however. Joan shared that one of her seniors was leading praise and worship and the teens were quite positive.
I asked Caroline Smits, one of her young adult leaders, about the experience.
“We figured that God gave us the chance to make a huge sacrifice, waiting on the side of the road,” she explained.
“We knew prayer and sacrifice is the most important thing we can do to save babies, so that’s what we did.”
While all the youth attending the March for Life made sacrifices, it was incredibly cold and icy for our delicate Carolina constitutions; I find the example of the St. Mary youth to be particularly inspiring.
In the close of his letter, Bishop Guglielmone encourages us to make prayer our first course of action, stating “we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing.”
I don’t always find prayer easy — I’d much rather be “doing” something.
However, when this is my initial reaction, I’ll think of the teens from St. Mary and remember that a supernatural battle requires supernatural weapons, the first of which are prayer and sacrifice.