In John Paul II’s encyclical, Familiaris Consortio, (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), he states (p. 45) “The Church is called upon to manifest anew to everyone, with clear and stronger conviction, her will to promote human life by every means and to defend it against all attacks, in whatever condition or state of development it is found.”
Our society has become a culture of death. This is most obvious now that several states in the USA allow for abortion up to the moment of delivery. In January, Gov. Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act, which expands abortion rights and essentially allows abortion up to the moment of delivery. In the photo of the signing, every person is smiling joyfully. Crowds cheered when the news came that New York would allow abortion up to the moment of birth. World Trade Center 1 was lit in pink to “celebrate.”
I’ve been pregnant eleven times with twelve babies (five living sons), and I just cannot comprehend how anyone could be elated and happy that a baby can be killed up to the moment of delivery. Just 20 years ago, President Bill Clinton said that abortion should be, “safe, legal and rare.” What happened to that attitude?
Since 1969, Canada has had no restrictions or law regarding abortion. Killing an unborn child is legal right up to the moment of delivery.
Until recently, the movie “Unplanned,” was banned in Canada. Based on Abby Johnson’s compelling book , theaters here in Canada initially “claimed” that it was too controversial. However, these same theaters also regularly show movies with graphic sexuality, language and violence. Thankfully, Landmark and others have overturned this decision and we will be seeing Unplanned at theaters in Canada beginning July 12.
Our own grandchild is currently weeks away from being born and yet here in Canada, my daughter-in-law could legally walk into any clinic or hospital and kill her baby. Thankfully, she and my son are staunchly pro-life. But thinking about the innocence and defenselessness of a small baby being murdered at any point in pregnancy breaks my heart. How has our world gotten to this point where such an evil act can be considered a good thing and something to rejoice about? And can anything be done to turn the tide back to embracing all life from conception to natural death?
“The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then defend life.” St. John Paul II
What about cases of rape? That’s what my husband and I are always asked when we talk to high school students about the evil of abortion. First, pregnancy from rape is rare. Yes, it happens, but it’s less than one percent of all abortions. Second, seventy percent of women who are raped and become pregnant decide to continue the pregnancy. Some keep their babies; others give their babies up for adoption. The innocent baby does not deserve the death penalty for the sin of his father. For a compelling story, watch this beautiful testimony from Jennifer Christie.
We must do more to fight against the culture of death by rebuilding a culture of life. Here are a few ways to do so:
Prayer and Fasting
Never underestimate the power of prayer and fasting. Daily Mass, the daily Rosary, a weekly fast (especially on Fridays) and other forms of prayer have more effect than we can possibly realize. Spiritually adopting a baby in danger of abortion is a beautiful way we can build the culture of life. Try to recite the Litany of the Saints daily. We can never know the effect that our prayers have had (until we die), but be assured this is one of the most important ways to rebuild a culture of life.
Chastity, NFP and Openness to Life
All Christians (not just Catholics) are called to practice chastity and be open to life. Being chaste before marriage and practicing marital chastity (faithfulness) is essential for building a culture of life. Contraception is “intrinsically evil,” (CCC 2370) it harms marriages and separates couples physically and spiritually. Natural Family Planning (www.ccli.org) is a safe, moral and effective way to avoid and plan pregnancies.
Some contraceptives are actually abortifacient (cause early abortions), rather than preventing conception. In certain parts of the world, abortion is used as a contraceptive and pre-born baby girls are being killed by the thousands simply because they are female.
This also includes treating children as blessings rather than burdens. Children are a gift from God. Is parenthood hard work? You bet it is. But these little human beings deserve our attention, love and respect.
Make sure that your voice heard. Register to vote and vote often and whenever the opportunity arises. This can be no more evident than in our upcoming presidential election. Although I have been living in Canada for 37 years, I remain a US citizen and I have continued to vote in US Federal Elections.
Corporal/Spiritual Works of Mercy
Performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy will also help to rebuild a culture of life because these works will help build spiritual character. When we are closer to Christ, we are closer to a culture of life.
The corporal works of mercy, based on Matthew 25:31-36, are: 1. feed the hungry 2. give drink to the thirsty 3. clothe the naked 4. shelter the homeless 5. visit the imprisoned 6. care for the sick 7. bury the dead.
Being pro-life doesn’t mean that we stop support for women with unplanned pregnancies when they have their babies. Donating clothes and food to crisis pregnancy centers and spiritual support are essential in rebuilding a culture of life.
And being pro-life also doesn’t just mean being against abortion; it also means respecting and defending life at all stages. Donating blood (if you’re able to), visiting the elderly, the sick and those who are confined to their homes are all wonderful ways to rebuild the culture of life.
The spiritual works of mercy, commanded or encouraged in many places Scripture, are: 1. admonish the sinner 2. instruct the ignorant 3. counsel the doubtful 4. comfort the afflicted 5. bear wrongs patiently 6. forgive all injuries 7. pray for the living and dead.
Peaceful Pro-Life Events
Attend peaceful pro-life events like the National March for Life (in the USA it is held every January; in Canada, it is held every May around Mother’s Day), the Hike for Life and other Pro-Life rallies.
Patience and Charity
It’s important to be patient and charitable when speaking to, interacting with, or debating with, those who are pro-abortion. Many of these fiercely pro-choice women have had abortions.
St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” Try not to be judgmental of the person (always separate the person from the sin). In some cases, these women were coerced by their partners or parents (those who should’ve been protecting them) into having an abortion.
Be a Good Example
Being a good example of Christian virtue is another great way to rebuild a culture of life. Volunteer at or support a pro-life crisis pregnancy center, embrace faithful Catholicism and donate money to causes that will rebuild the culture a life.
Helpful Pro-Life Resources:
Persuasive Pro-Life: How to Talk About Our Culture’s Toughest Issue by Trent Horn and Fr. Frank Pavone (foreword)
If each of us does our own part, we can rebuild a culture of life, one in which every life is respected and valued from conception to natural death.
Copyright 2019 Ellen Gable Hrkach