For Immediate Release
By Mary E. McClusky
October 31, 2008
In these turbulent times, our nation is focused on election results, financial crises, and natural disasters which are all largely out of our individual control. Near-sightedness threatens to take over efforts to build up a culture of life and we end up living "of the world" rather than "in the world." Yet as Catholics, we are called to be faithful and persistent no matter what happens here on earth.
A line from Aquinas' Tantum Ergo - "Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui" (Let our faith supply what our senses fail to perceive) - points to what's needed. Persistence in the pro-life cause requires a belief in realities that we cannot see: that with God all things are possible, that Christ's death and resurrection has purchased our salvation, and that the battle is already won for us in heaven.
The Holy Father made "Christ Our Hope" the theme of his 2008 U.S. visit, reminding us that this virtue is an essential element of our journey of faith and our efforts to advance a culture of life. "The virtue of hope ... takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude" (CCC 1818). Eyes opened by this gift of hope are encouraged by the signs here on earth of Christ working in our lives.
One recent sign of hope is the success of grassroots efforts like the 40 Days for Life Campaign. The campaign reports that nationwide, within weeks, more than 400 babies were saved from abortion. There were countless tales of encouraging responses from passers-by. Many individuals took part in this ministry of prayer outside abortion facilities for the first time, and some plan to continue after the campaign. Such efforts have contributed to the decline in free-standing abortion facilities from over 2000 locations to 749.
Another source of hope is Christ's promise that His vicar, the pope, and the leadership of the Church will always be with us. Under the guidance of the Holy Father and the apostolic authority of the bishops, we have a framework and direction for our efforts. The Catholic bishops of the United States issued "The Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities" to serve as the model for national, diocesan, and parish-level pro-life work. The Pastoral Plan calls on all the resources of the Church - "its people, services and institutions" - to work to restore respect and legal protection for all innocent human life through prayer and worship, education, public policy and pastoral care.
No matter how long we must endure Roe v. Wade, there will always be a need for efforts to promote life and human dignity. Instead of allowing the prevailing winds of politics and punditry to distract our focus, we should lift our hearts to the promises of Christ and pray for encouragement, strength and, most importantly, the gift of hope. Our hope is in the Lord, who will sustain us and transform our pro-life work.
Read the Pastoral Plan at www.usccb.org/prolife/pastoralplan.shtml. To purchase copies, visit www.usccb.org/prolife/publicat/abortion.shtml.
Mary McClusky is Special Projects Coordinator at the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about the bishops' pro-life activities, go to www.usccb.org/prolife.