Pro-lifers are called to carry out a number of specific tasks. We must offer compassion and loving assistance to pregnant mothers who are vulnerable to abortion or who have chosen life for their babies. We must support our local pregnancy centers by volunteering and supporting them financially. We must fast and pray for those precious babies in the womb, for the mothers and fathers who have been wounded by their decision to abort their own child, and for those who work in the abortion industry. We must fast and pray for the conversion of pro-abortion public officials. We must support authentically pro-life candidates and legislation. And we must share the truth of abortion on a one-to-one basis whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Getting serious about public prayer and repentance
I believe that, if able to do so, pro-lifers must also be involved in peaceful public witness that increases public awareness of the evil of abortion.
Thus, I’ve participated in 40 Days for Life [see Connie’s article in Celebrate Life, July-August 2010] for the last four years and in Life Chain for the last six years. Life Chain is a nationwide peaceful and prayerful public witness of pro-life Americans standing together for 90 minutes on the first Sunday in October, to pray for an end to abortion in our nation. As LifeChain.net explains, “Life Chain … is a visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community that abortion kills children and that the Church supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of [creation] until natural death.”
Participants can choose from signs proclaiming “Abortion kills children” (in English and Spanish), “Jesus forgives and heals,” Adoption: The loving option,” “Lord, forgive us and our nation,” “Abortion hurts women,” “Pray to end abortion,” and “Life: The first inalienable right.” No other signs are used. Suggested prayer topics are printed on the back of each sign.
This movement began in 1987 with Royce Dunn’s small but mighty Please Let Me Live pro-life outreach near Sacramento, California, and has been growing ever since. In 2010, there were more than 1,700 separate Life Chain events, held in over 1,500 cities. This year, it will be held on Sunday, October 2, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Please Let Me Live reports that the Life Chain experience “has led thousands of Christians across North America to join local pro-life groups and work as volunteers throughout the year. The first Life Chain, with over 2,000 participants, elevated pro-life out of the “handful of fundamentalists” mindset at our daily newspaper to a level of high respectability in Yuba and Sutter counties. It enabled us to unite our local churches and to inform our local media, law enforcement, public officials, and area citizenry about the unmerciful killing of preborn boys and girls in our community and beyond. By 1990, after additional Life Chains, timely picketing, prayer vigils, full-page ads, billboard campaigns, and comprehensive door-to-door distribution of pro-life literature, surgical abortions ceased in our bi-county Yuba-Sutter area.”
Though not Catholic, the leadership of Please Let Me Live understands that contraception is an intrinsic evil and that its acceptance has laid the foundation for the abortion holocaust. This message is clearly conveyed in its educational and training resources for Life Chain organizers.
In Helena, Montana, our Life Chain assembles near one of the city’s busiest intersections, with participants standing about 30 feet apart, holding Life Chain signs and praying silently. During last year’s Life Chain, I observed that some passersby quickly turned their heads away when they spotted the signs. Some gave a thumbs-up or honked their horn. Some read the signs but showed no apparent emotion. A few teenagers in a truck shouted obscenities.
Our response to all of this? We simply continued to pray silently. The Life Chain guidelines state, “[I]dle chatter, frivolity, and both verbal and physical responses to motorists are strongly discouraged. Life Chain is a time for prayerful self-analysis, repentance, and serious commitment to helping end abortion in our nation.”
Reasons to persevere
As I stood with my sign and prayed the Rosary, I was also asking the Lord, “When are the people going to wake up and say, ‘Enough is enough’? How many babies will have to die? How many women and men will have to be deeply scarred for life because of their decision to abort their baby? How can anyone look at these signs, and not know what abortion is and what it’s doing to America?”
It’s so easy to feel discouraged when it seems that so many people don’t want to face the horrible reality of abortion and its effects on society. But we must never succumb to discouragement.
If just one heart is changed by pro-lifers standing in prayerful vigil, then it’s more than worth whatever hardship or inconvenience it may cause us! As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta explained, God doesn’t call us to be successful; He calls us to be faithful. On this side of heaven, we may never know whose lives have been changed by our public witness and our prayers—which God always hears.
I hope and pray that we’ll repent and turn from the evil of abortion so that God can heal this great nation. He promised that “if My people, upon whom My name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
In his “Pro-Life Meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary,” Father Frank Pavone, Priests for Life national director, penned these words of hope and encouragement:
Christ is risen! By His Resurrection, He has destroyed the power of death, and therefore the power of abortion. The outcome of the battle for life has already been decided: Life is victorious! Let us pray that all pro-lifers will spread this victory to every segment of our society.
We must continue to suit up and show up to defend life, from the moment of creation to death. We must continue to raise our voices and hearts in prayer to our almighty God and Father. We mustn’t be silent until the evil of abortion is ended.
This year, I’ve made a commitment to invite at least two people who have never been to a Life Chain to come and stand for life. Won’t you do the same?
For more information and details on Life Chain events, see NationalLifeChain.org and LifeChain.net. If there isn’t a Life Chain event in your area, find out how to start one by calling 530-674-5068 or e-mailing [email protected]rg.