Oops! I Forgot to Protest at the March for Life (or) The Essence of the Pro-Life Movement

Each year, the same thing happens – I find myself marching down Constitution Ave. with hundreds of thousands of other protestors.

We all certainly want the same thing – an end to legalized abortion in the US.

Yet I have found myself moving away from a purely politicized position and am instead gravitating toward the authentic conception of what means to be pro-life in my daily course of action – which does not typically involve any sort of direct work with abortion ministries.  And, at least the past two years, I know that I am not the only one taking up the deeper understanding of the need for a pro-life conversion, which is nothing other than a conversion to Christ – a metamorphosis into his life and way of loving.  Only in reaching to this level of personal conversion, will culture change.  Why?  Because only on this level is the full extent of man’s depravity addressed. Gaudium et Spes reminds us of a similar point:

Indeed, as a weak and sinful being, he often does what he would not, and fails to do what he would.Hence he suffers from internal divisions, and from these flow so many and such great discords in society (10).

Thus the celebration of the Mass has become a central point of my journey to DC each year.  It doesn’t matter which Mass, or who it is with, what simply matters is entering deeply into the mystery of His sacrifice, of His life and expression of self-emptying love, in order to first be converted myself, that I may become a light to the nation in charity and truth.hands

Now you know my primary motivation for going to DC each year, so the next piece won’t scandalize you.

Let’s go back to the beginning: each year I find myself marching down Constitution Ave.  Each year the same thing happens.  I don’t carry a sign (unless it is forced upon me), I don’t spend a lot of time chanting (unless it is clever), and I don’t get angry.

See, the March for Life as I have experienced it is more of a celebration of life than a protest against those who ascribe to the pro-choice agenda.  And, as such, the March takes on a very natural feel, and a very human one as well.

Sitting with a priest in Union Station after the March had concluded, he leaned back and, looking around at all of the groups of young people, said, “This event is so natural.”  There is nothing abstract or artificial about it.  The March brings together live human beings as a testimony to the gift of life itself – it is all natural, really.  It is not esoteric, or technical, or conjuring up something contrary to itself (Cf. “Reason Rally”).

As such, the March for me has become a true celebration of my whole life.  In DC each year, I inevitably run into dozens of friends from my past who are now scattered about the US – and each chance encounter is always a surprise.  Thus, I spend most of the March looking for, being surprised by, and speaking with friends.

Is this scandalous?  Do I ever feel like I just blew off the March?

No way.  Instead, I made a public expression of the joy that is friendship and the life that comes from human relationships.  In this way, the March for Life is supremely a natural and even beautiful expression of life that transcends the image of the “angry mob” or a group that is “attacking women’s rights.”  We are a people who have recognized this life as a gift, not created by ourselves, or even dictated by ourselves (for the most part), but instead we see ourselves and our friends as part of a mysterious web called life that is nothing other than a supreme expression of Providence.

Thus the Sacraments, and similarly, the signs of friendship become a most powerful witness and ongoing means of converting hearts – and converting hearts is always a brutally (and beautifully) painful process – at least in my experience.