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Matthew Warner has blogged about yesterday’s March for Life at National Catholic Register and at Fallible Blogma.  He includes some great photos and video.

In his Fallible Blogma post, he points out that there was a single, solitary counter-protester somewhere along the way.  I didn’t notice her.

Today was the Dallas March for Life/Roe v. Wade Memorial.  I didn’t go to the Rosary or the Mass, but just to the march and the rally.  I got to the cathedral before the Mass was over, and the plaza in front of the cathedral was already jam-packed!  I don’t know if we reached our goal of 10,000 participants, but there sure was a crowd in any case!

I somehow managed to find Julie and her husband, which made me happy–it’s sort of been a tradition for me to attend the march with them.  I saw plenty of other folks from our parish, and saw one of my Lay Dominican sisters in the crowd.  We happened to walk beside this lovely lady, Mrs. Terry Jenkins, who was talking about how she and her husband had gone to jail before for protesting against abortion.  Julie struck up a conversation with her and learned that she has been a pro-life activist since Roe v. Wade came about.  I wish I could have listened in more on her stories, but I was so pitifully hard of hearing, especially in the middle of the crowd and noise.  One thing I could tell very easily was that she was so delighted to see the young people taking up the standard and ensuring that the cause will be carried forward.  And it was a wonderful privilege for me to meet somebody who helped get the cause started.

Here’s a photo of me, Mrs. Jenkins, and Julie after the rally (thanks to Julie’s husband, Tom for taking it).  I call this one “Ladies on Crusade”!

The signs were being handed out by one of the other marchers.  They were made by the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which seems like a very good Christian campaign against abortion.  From their Web site:

Silent No More Awareness is a Campaign whereby Christians make the public aware of the devastation abortion brings to women and men. The campaign seeks to expose and heal the secrecy and silence surrounding the emotional and physical pain of abortion.

The Campaign is a project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life.

I have to say, though, one of my favorite signs of the day was this one:

I like the little baby with the cowboy hat.  And for those of you unfamiliar with Texas, the slogan is a play on the state’s iconic anti-littering slogan, “Don’t Mess with Texas.”

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get too many good photos this year–partly because the crowd was so huge and there weren’t really any good vantage points–and I’m not going to complain about that!  I’m sure that the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of Dallas will be posting some photos soon.

Read Julie’s account of the day too.

Here is my post from last year.

Like my friend Julie, I just remembered that the annual Dallas march for life is this month.  In fact, it’s one week from today!

This will be my third march, and I am very excited about it.  It’s been such a powerful experience, a true blessing.  Last year, it was twice as big as the first march I attended, and hopefully this year will be twice as big again–10,000 people! With a million Catholics in the Diocese of Dallas, and countless other pro-life advocates, it could definitely happen.

You can find more info at the Catholic Pro-life Committee of Dallas.  If you live around here, please come, and invite others to join you.

If you don’t care to attend all the events, please at least come out for the march to the court house.  The walk itself is easy, but what a testimony it gives!

I always find it both a sorrowful and a joyful event.  Sorrowful for what it commemorates: the legalization of a horrible injustice… so many millions of lives lost or damaged.  But joyful in that it shows such solidarity and hope.  We may not be able to do anything for the victims of yesterday.  But we can still try to bring about a better tomorrow.  And none of us is alone in that striving.

Please sign this petition to the United Nations to protect the right to life and the preservation of marriage and family, in accordance with the U.N.’s own Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It is sponsored by the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM).  Their goal is 1,000,000 signatures by 10 December 2009.

Please sign and ask everybody you know to sign.

It may be a small and simple thing to do, but small gestures can add up!

Don’t have time to comment much… obviously, it’s very sad and sickening.  As I always say, it doesn’t matter how much you dislike or disagree with somebody or their message.  It doesn’t mean they deserve to die or that you get to play executioner.  That’s what it means to live in a democratic society.

May God grant eternal rest to Mr. Pouillon, and to the other un-named person who was shot and killed apparently by the same suspect.

May He grant peace and comfort to their families and loved ones.

May something good come from the tragedy.

Well-Known Local Pro-Life Activist Gunned Down in Michigan

By Kathleen Gilbert

OWOSSO, Michigan, September 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pro-life activist was shot multiple times and killed this morning in front of Owosso High School in Michigan, according to local police cited in the Flint Journal newspaper.

Locals say that the victim, James Pouillon of Owosso, was well-known in the area for his pro-life activities.  Columnist Doug Powers wrote on his blog that Pouillon, called “the abortion sign guy” by Owosso locals, was known for standing on street corners holding up signs with pictures of aborted children.

Pastor Matt Trehella of Missionaries to the Preborn said today that Pouillon had joined his organization for a few stops of a pro-life tour less than a month ago. “Jim was a selfless, soft-spoken, kind-hearted man.  All who knew him, knew this,” he said. “Please pray for Jim’s family.”

Trehella said that Pouillon was an elderly man who needed constant use of an oxygen machine.

Reports indicate that a second individual was shot and killed in a different area of the city shortly afterward, and the two shootings are believed to be related, according to Shiawassee County sheriff George Braidwood. Police confirmed that a suspect was taken into custody at the suspect’s home shortly after the 7:30 a.m. shooting.

A black car was parked near the scene of the shooting, where a portable oxygen tank lay in a front yard next to a large sign with the word “Life” and an image of a baby.

In the wake of the tragedy, Fr. Pavone of Priests for Life told LifeSiteNews.com that he hoped to see “a strong expression of indignation from the pro-abortion community, just like there was a strong expression of indignation form the pro-life community at the killing of Dr. Tiller.”

Secondly, Fr. Pavone called for “a renewal of unity within the pro-life community, coming to one another’s assistance supporting one another, and by no means allowing fear or intimidation to have any role in our lives, but rather to move forward in peaceful organized ways to stand against this evil of abortion.”

Developing…

Catholic politicians who actually have their heads on straight about abortion?  Now that’s news!  I am not really familiar with Reps. Cao and Melancon, but they certainly are a nice change from the Catholic politicians who say, “I’m personally opposed to abortion BUT…”   (With my emphases and comments):

Congressman: I Would Rather Save My Soul than Support Abortion-Promoting Health Care Bill

By Kathleen Gilbert

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, August 4, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Like his fellow conservative delegates from Louisiana, one U.S. Representative has vowed not to support Obama’s health care overhaul. But Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-New Orleans) says that his primary motivation stems from a desire to preserve his own soul from the danger of participating in the destruction of “thousands of innocent lives” [A Catholic politician concerned for his soul–that’s refreshing. Would that all the others would follow his lead.] that are threatened by the vast expansion of abortion embedded in the bill.

“At the end of the day if the health care reform bill does not have strong language prohibiting the use of federal funding for abortion, then the bill is really a no-go for me,” Cao, the first Vietnamese-American Congressman and a Catholic, told the Times-Picayune this weekend.

Cao once studied to become a Jesuit priest before turning to a career in politics.

“Being a Jesuit, I very much adhere to the notion of social justice,” Cao said. “I do fully understand the need of providing everyone with access to health care, but [BUT] to me personally, I cannot be privy to a law that will allow the potential of destroying thousands of innocent lives.”  [This is a dilemma faced by most Catholics today: we want to support all social justice causes, with abortion being the greatest social justice cause of all… but too often, even among Catholics, the two are opposed.  Abortion is left out of social justice.  And we get accused of being ignorant, narrow-minded “single-issue” voters who don’t truly care for social justice.  Rep. Cao makes it clear that he cannot be accused of such ignorance.  In that, he speaks for most of us.]

“I know that voting against the health care bill will probably be the death of my political career,” he continued, “but [BUT] I have to live with myself [he has to follow his conscience], and I always reflect on the phrase of the New Testament, ‘How does it profit a man’s life to gain the world but to lose his soul.'”  [St. Thomas More would be pleased.]

The abortion mandate may not be the only thing preventing Cao’s support for the bill: he also told the newspaper that he is wary of the formation of a public health insurance option, which Cao believes could end up crippling the private insurance market and facilitating a “government takeover” of health insurance.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon [also a Catholic], a Louisiana Blue Dog Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, says he voted against the committee’s version of the bill Friday night due to in part to his concerns over the abortion mandate.

“I am concerned that the public option, as designed, would unfairly undercut anything the private sector could offer,” Melancon said. “As someone who is personally pro-life and represents a deeply pro-life constituency, I am also concerned that this bill does not do enough to ensure taxpayer dollars do not fund abortion.” [No BUT about it.]

Other Catholic politicians should take a lesson from these two men about when and where to use the word BUT.

From Father Z:  “The Problem With Toning Down the Rhetoric – And Why We Probably Won’t Do It”

It reminded me of this Sunday’s scripture readings, and the wonderful homily our deacon gave, about the challenges and trials of the prophetic mission we all receive at baptism–and what happens when we neglect that mission.  Why, asked the deacon, is it practically taboo to speak of God in public?  Or why is there public outcry when Pres. Obama swats a fly, but silence when children are killed in the womb?  It’s because the prophets have disappeared.  Their voices have fallen silent. And those prophets are you and me.  Every single baptized Christian.

On the other hand, when we do speak out, we often find ourselves in a situation similar to that in which Lord Jesus found Himself in this Sunday’s gospel.  He was visiting His hometown, surrounded by family, friends, and neighbors, all the people He had grown up with.  And they reject Him.  They don’t believe in Him.  They scoff.

It’s not so different when some of our fellow Catholics tell us to quiet down about abortion, to stop being “single-issue” Catholics, or even to give up the pro-life movement altogether because it’s already lost.  Those who should stand with us instead stand against us.  Those with whom we already have so much common ground to share distance themselves from us.  Those who should encourage us scoff at us.

Never mind all the opponents we have in the secular world.  There’s more than enough opposition among us!  And it’s not because some of us need to tone it down.  It’s because too many of us care too much about feeling safe and comfy and all respectable in the eyes of the world to exercise our prophetic voices.  They may sincerely think that they are preserving some kind of peace and harmony, seeking common ground and dialogue with society.  I understand these things.  In fact, I’d be a bold-faced liar if I said I didn’t struggle with them myself.  But I do struggle, because I know that the easy, smooth, popular way is never the right way.

I think I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Catholics have no safe, comfortable place in this world.  We will never be popular.  The sooner each of us realizes and accepts this, the more at one we will be as Catholics. The more we will share genuine common ground.

Speaking of which, lots of those people out there who talk so much about common ground and dialogue and tolerance would actually prefer that we Catholics vanish from society, disappear from the public square, never to be heard from again.  They want to do whatever they want, without any response from us.  Oh, I’m not suggesting they want us dead (though that has been the case before at various times and in various places), but they do want us silent.

That’s the way of the world.  No Catholic can choose that way.  It’s not an option.  It goes against everything we stand for.  It goes against the way our Lord and King took.  It goes against the way the prophets of old took.  It goes against the way all the Apostles took.  It goes against the way every single Martyr and Saint has taken.

No.  We have to take our role as prophets seriously.  Especially when it comes to the defining issue of our time, which is undisputably abortion.  The Church has consistently taught the evil of abortion.  But she has never been faced with it on this scale.  It out-scales every other social justice issue combined.   Every future generation of Catholics is going to look back at the Church of today and remember us for how we did or did not deal with the abortion issue.  They are going to judge whether we succeeded or failed… or even tried.  How do we want them to remember us?  Think about that for a moment.  If we truly represent the Culture of Life, we have to think about the future; not taking the future into consideration is a trademark of the Culture of Death.  It may sound silly or even arrogant, but I want to be thought of well by future Catholics.  Honestly, if I may say so, I wouldn’t mind being canonized!

That’s what I mean by the “defining issue of our time.”  It will define us.  It’s the great trial for us now.  The great battle right now.  The great crucible.  It’s not going away.  And it’s not going to make the secular world fond of us.  We have to take it very seriously.  We have to speak and act seriously on it.  We have to be willing to put ourselves on the line for it.  And we have to not allow ourselves be swept under carpets or hammered underground.  Not by the secular world, and not by other Catholics.

I’ve been using the Pro-life meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary by Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.  These meditations are very simple, but profoundly moving.

It’s wonderful and powerful to be able to combine two things so important to me.

What is the very first step to winning any war?  Is it not simply to know that you are war?

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, knows it and doesn’t hesitate to say it.  In April, he made it the theme of his address to the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention:

We are at war.
Harsh as this may sound it is true – but it is not new. This war to which I refer did not begin in just the last several months, although new battles are underway – and they bring an intensity and urgency to our efforts that may rival any time in the past.

But it is correct to acknowledge that you and I are warriors – members of the Church on earth – often called the Church Militant. Those who have gone ahead of us have already completed their earthly battles. Some make up the Church Triumphant – Saints in heaven who surround and support us still – tremendous allies in the battle for our eternal salvation; and the Church Suffering (souls in purgatory who depend on our prayers and meritorious works and suffrages).

But we are the Church on Earth – The Church Militant. We are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan, with the glamour of evil, and the lure of false truths and empty promises. If we fail to realize how constantly these forces work against us, we are more likely to fall, and even chance forfeiting God’s gift of eternal life.

He is refreshingly frank about what it means and what it costs to wage this war:

What will happen to us if we take up this war in faithfulness?
Do you really want to know? You will be hated by some powerful people. You may be rejected by those whose approval you most desire. You will be loved and supported by some and this will be a wonderful encouragement. You will be misunderstood by many – and this can be very painful. After you have suffered a little in your battle, some will tell you that you have done nothing – or that you have done it the wrong way.

Yes, if you push – others will “push back.” We should always be very careful to obey the law. But, regardless, some will threaten you with legal action, and law suits cost money and you may suffer that difficult hardship. In the end, dear friends, if we err let it be on the side of life. Life! 4000 human lives a day!

What if I suffer greatly trying to change this tragic trajectory – through prayerful, legal, peaceful means? It is in God’s hands, and you and I are warriors for the victory of life. The stakes in terms of human life are high. The stakes in terms of human souls are even higher.

Fortunately, he also gives very practical and encouraging advice on how to survive:

How do we arm ourselves for what is first and foremost a supernatural war?
First: Unless we are living in God’s life we should not go near this battle. I don’t care if you are the strongest and most brilliant and clever person on the planet. The devil – as he has shown over and over again – will turn you inside out. If you are not fortified by the sacraments – frequent confession and worthy Holy Communion – you cannot succeed in an ultimately supernatural battle. We must live – no longer ourselves – but Christ in us. Be always in the state of grace.

Pray. Be a prayer warrior. One modern day saint said when you are going out to try to change someone’s heart determine to make your effort 80 % prayer and 20% words or actions. Prayer defeats the devil. Prayer aligns us with Christ. Pray for the abortionist. Pray for the legislator. Pray for the mother (and father and other family members). Pray for the child in the womb. Pray for yourself and allow God to guide you. Pray that you will be a warrior of faithfulness and love and mercy. Remember that God often chooses the foolish to shame those who are clever.

Use the symbols and instruments of our devotion. Arm yourself with the rosary. Protect yourself with the scapular or a blessed medal. Ask for a blessing as a sign of unity in the Church in what we do: unity with the Holy Father, with your bishop, with your pastor. What I am supposed to do as bishop (teach and lead, and sanctify) I must, in turn, delegate in proper measure to my pastors. They, in turn, need you as soldiers.

Don’t worry very much about numbers. If you read the accounts of the Old Testament battles, over and over again God used a tiny misfit army to overthrow a legion 1000 times its size. In this way it is so much clearer that God is fighting the battle. We are only His instruments.

I especially like this last point about numbers. And the part about God using the foolish to shame the clever. That inspires a bit more confidence in me! ;)

Bishop Finn took up this emphasis on warfare again in responding to Debacle Day.  From an interview with The Catholic Key:

As a country we want to see an end to racial prejudice. We want a more secure peace in the world. We want sound economic justice for people. So we can’t give up on working with the administration.

But we’re fighting for our lives – literally. We are attempting to protect real unborn children by the thousands. We’re fighting for the right to exercise a rightly-formed conscientious difference with public policy. We shouldn’t underestimate the danger of dragging our feet in this effort, or taking a “wait and see” approach. If we are not ready to make a frontal attack on the protection of conscience rights, the overturning of Roe v’ Wade, and the primacy of authentic marriage, we will lose in these areas. I think the rug is already being pulled out from under us. If we sit back and allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of peace and cooperation in regards to these things, then we will lose these battles and, later, wonder why.

The Catholic Key Blog, by the way, is probably the best source for keeping up with this extremely active and  outspoken bishop, as well as other news and commentary.

He is definitely a man to watch!  God bless him!

After our meeting, I joined some other members of the parish pro-life group in praying the Rosary outside a local abortion mill.  Doing this is always a profoundly moving and powerful experience.  On one hand, it gives a real sense of solidarity and strength, which is comforting and hope-affirming.  Nobody in the pro-life movement is alone.  Especially not when it comes to prayer.  Our hope truly does spring eternal–in our myriad young members, in our children and descendants, whether biological or spiritual, but most of all in the Lord.

But what a cold, sharp contrast from the people on the other side of that chain-link fence.  Most of them are doubtless very much alone and very much in despair.  What else could lead them to even consider abortion?  Yes, there may be other factors and influences, and also coercion at work.  But I suspect that fear, desperation, desolation, and abandonment bring most people there.

As we prayed, we saw some people go in.  My heart was so heavy and wanted so badly to fly out to them and plead with them!  To do anything to help and heal and reassure.  All I could do was send my prayers after them.  And that’s what I did, together with a number of people.  If there’s one thing I know, it’s the power of prayer.  I trust and hope in it, as I trust and hope in the One who hears.

One of the biggest lies our opponents tell about the pro-life movement is that we don’t care for the struggling, suffering women who consider or choose to undergo abortion.  And we don’t care about children once they are born.  That these are malicious lies is testified to by the burdens our hearts and minds bear for all the women, children, and men who are affected by abortion–and for our entire society, country, and the human race.  The pro-life movement is a matter of life and death to us, nothing less.

Testimony to the lies is also given by the White Rose Women’s Center that stands right next door to that abortion mill.  After we prayed the Rosary, one of our members provided a tour of the Center.  What a vastly different atmosphere within those walls!  What a labor of love and generosity.  It offers physical, psychological, educational, spiritual, and material support to women and children.  Practical, long-lasting support.  One of the highlights was visiting the chapel that overlooks the abortion mill next door.  The sanctuary lamp was burning bright.  It was also wonderful to see the room full of supplies for mother and baby–baby clothes, diapers, and many other kinds of material goods.  And to see people bringing in more donations!

It reminded me once again of what Bishop Farrell told us at this year’s Roe Memorial Mass–the victory of the pro-life movement will not be effected with the repealing of abortion rights laws.  Rather, the victory of the pro-life movement will be effected with the building up and flourishing of a culture of life in which abortion rights laws simply become irrelevant. Because nobody will have any need or desire or care for them.  They will know that there is something much better.  They will be able to find the hope, comfort, and real help that they need.

It may or may not happen in my lifetime.  That doesn’t matter to me.  I have every reason to hope, and no reason at all to despair.  Let’s keep on praying and let’s support organizations like the White Rose Women’s Center.  And let’s keep on standing together, united in our hope.

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