Friday, January 24, 2014

(131) Our March for Life Pilgrimage January 22, 2014........a Different Adventure



AMDG

                                    


OUR MARCH FOR LIFE PILGRIMAGE 2014.....A DIFFERENT ADVENTURE

           Every March for Life on the January 22 anniversary of the 1973 Roe v Wade Decision legalizing abortion is a different adventure and always a great experience.  It’s always cold, but not this cold and all that snow…….about four inches that slowed down travel on Interstate 68 through the West Virginia and Maryland mountains to a crawl even though most passenger cars did not venture out.  However, the March for Life buses from Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, etc. trudged on.  Nothing would stop them or cancel the march.  At one point we were held up by a jackknifed truck.  Most of the fast food shops at the rest stop mall were closing down for lack of business.  The usual nine hour trip took 12 hours. The bitter cold, the ice and snow closed down businesses and the federal government, but it did not stop the dedicated marchers from all over the country.

            Little hardships seem to be very normal for a pilgrimage, which is a journey to a place of prayer.  Centuries ago pilgrims would walk this distance.  On the way we prayed the rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  The March itself is not only a demonstration of protest of about one million abortions per year (329,000 by Planned Parenthood alone……what a misnomer!), but also a time for meditation and prayer.  During the March, one lovely student with a beautiful voice from Franciscan University of Steubenville boldly sang the Chaplet of Divine Mercy; the people near her and I joined in……such an appropriate prayer asking for forgiveness and mercy for the American Holocaust, our greatest national sin since slavery.  This shows the power of just one person.  Other groups sang beautiful hymns as well.          

We made it to Silver Springs, but too late for the Right to Life Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.  Nevertheless, a group took the subway and arrived super late.  On their return they trudged a mile through the snow from the subway.  After the Mass there was an all-night vigil before the Blessed Sacrament with a different seminary in charge each hour.  We had our own all night adoration at St. Louis Church and Mass at 5 am before leaving at 6 am.  Father Tom blessed the pilgrims in each bus and Fr. Tim Kozak gave another blessing at the Sacred Heart Pomeroy stop.  The third pickup was at St. Ambrose Little Hocking.  This was the greatest number of pilgrims from our area in years, including some people from Ironton and West Virginia.  Tim and Chrissy Stapleton are dreaming of having three busloads of people next year.



      We had three priests with us…….Fr. Thomas Hamm, our current pastor; Fr. William Myers, our retired former pastor, came from Dayton; and Fr. David Schmitt, retired former pastor of Sacred Heart Point Pleasant, came from Mason, WV.  We felt quite secure with having enough priests for the last rites in case of a bad accident.  We had people of all ages……including college students, teens, tweens, toddlers and babies, which is what the March is all about.  The weather added to the great camaraderie.  The bus ride presented opportunities not only for sleeping & reading, but some great discussion of the faith.  Pastor Dan Fulton of the Church of the Nazarene in Middleport, Carrie Gloeckner, the editor of the Gallia Hometown Herald (www.galliaherald.com), her mother Sally, a recent convert, David Deem, Jacob Hoback, a very inquisitive high school student in search of the truth, and I were engaged in an ecumenical discussion for hours.

The March itself was prayerful and solemn with beautiful hymns.  At the same time there were chants by exuberant kids such as “Obama, Obama, your mama chose life”; “You love babies; we do too”; “Roe v Wade must go”; etc.  There were many placards as “Defend life”; “Human Rights begin in the womb”; “Stop abortion now”; “Pro Woman, Pro Child, Pro Life”; “Abortion hurts women”; “Speaking for those who can’t”; “Jews did not choose genocide; Blacks did not choose slavery; Babies did not choose abortion”; etc.  There were pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the unborn because she is pregnant in the image.  During this beautiful sunny but frigid afternoon, we sometimes felt like penguins, keeping each other warm.  Indeed, it was warmer when we marched close together.  The cold seemed to unify us even more in a common cause…….at least 300,000 pilgrims.  Pope Francis sent a “tweet” of encouragement to the rally…… "I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable."  Click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad4cZf8f0gE for a complete video of the March.

As usual Catholics dominated……priests, brothers, nuns, seminarians as from Josephinum in Columbus and busloads of Catholic school kids from as far off as St. Louis, Missouri.  The Knights of Columbus councils were there, front and center, including our own St. Louis Council 3335 with its banner.  The St. Louis Church banner was also prominently displayed.  This year, however, they pushed for a greater number of Evangelicals.  “Anglicans for Life” responded.  Our separated brethren were well represented among the speakers at the rally in the National Mall prior to the March.  James Dobson, the founder of “Focus on the Family” radio program and ministry was the main speaker.

Inspiring were a number of handicapped people in wheelchairs who could not be kept down.  Toddlers in strollers and an occasional bundled up infant added to the atmosphere.  St. Louis Church brought its babies in full force and Grandma Karen Stapleton was there helping to take care of her numerous grandchildren.  Especially inspiring was the blind woman I met; she was assisted by her husband.  A hit and run driver ruined the ability of her brain to process images.  After mentioning my own incipient macro degeneration, she suggested the prayer: “Lord, that I may see; bless everyone that pass before me”.  Fr. Dave, once an avid hiker, now has difficulty walking, but was there walking the walk.

I made Walmart pro-life by using their bags.  Since my sneakers were designed for summer jogging, water and snow easily leaks into the shoes.  So I had one sock covered by a bag which was covered by another sock wrapped by another bag.  This improvisation worked!  I saw so many Pittsburgh Steeler hats (including my own) and jackets that I began to conclude that Steeler Nation is pro-life.

The March which began at the National Mall, proceeded up Constitution Avenue, and ended just past the Supreme Court building at 1st Street and Independence.  There we met for a quarter mile walk in the bitter cold to the buses waiting on the other side of the Capitol building.  By this time our babies were tired and some cranky, although they otherwise behaved beautifully during the entire trip.  They seemed to sense the importance of it all and enjoyed the adventure.  So I relieved a Mom and pushed her toddler in the stroller.  It took a half hour for my gloved fingers to thaw.


Why do we do this?   The March is not only very peaceful protest calling attention to a grave societal problem among the people and their leaders; not only educating the people; it’s witness to the true, the good, and the beautiful.  The truth is that abortion is a grave evil that is seriously undermining the moral fabric of our nation.  Life is good; life is beautiful…….be it a baby or an old grandmother.  I got together with a very dear friend just before the March started.  I suspect that my liberal friend condones abortion, but he observed:  “I admire all these people who travel great distances and brave the cold for a cause.” Exuberant young kids from grade school to college all over the place is a powerful witness.  This March has to impress people of all views who see the March closeup.  

Interesting is the true story of Jane Roe, actually Norma McCorvey in the Roe v Wade Supreme Court Decision.  Click on http://endroe.org/roebio.aspx.  

        Home. We got on the nice warm bus and they applauded me.  Lo and behold, they did not lose me or anyone else this year.  Last year I was waiting across the street and we did not see each other.  I walked back and forth for three hours to keep warm and was on the verge of taking a Greyhound bus back.  I borrowed a phone and called home to find that they already called there, leaving their phone number.  This year we were much better organized.  Each pilgrim was given a map and assigned to a team leader.  They had each other's cell phone number.  The ending point was repeated over and over again to make sure everyone got it right.  This Saturday there’s March for Life West Coast in San Francisco.

We finally made it back to southeastern Ohio by 1 am Thursday…... tired, but with a warm feeling that we did our little bit in the fight for the lives and the dignity of the unborn.  Little babies in utero have human rights too; help the baby and the mother both.  Thus the theme of the rally in the National Mall was adoption.  So many would be mothers are infertile and are aching to have a little son or daughter.  Why should such parents have to search for a baby in Romania, Ukraine, Russia, or Latin America and go through bureaucratic red tape, travel, and expense of out of country adoption?

On television a guest referred to us as radicals.  Who are the real radicals……those who travel 18 hours and over a thousand miles through snow and cold from Kansas and Missouri to plead for the lives of unborn babies?  Or those who condone literally tearing out from a mother’s womb a struggling baby desperately holding onto life ---as recorded on ultrasonography?  God intended that the womb be the most secure place for the development of His greatest masterpiece, a little human being created according to His own image and likeness.  At conception the tiny human being has a unique genetic makeup, unlike any other person in history.  Who has the right to destroy him/her?  Women are unwittingly sacrificing their babies to the pagan gods of convenience and pleasure.  Such pagan sacrifice was common in ancient history, as recently as the 16th century in Aztec Mexico.  


         A couple freely makes a choice in the bedroom, but have a grave responsibility to courageously accept the consequences in a moral way.  Does anyone have the right to play God and determine that a developing baby should be allowed to live or be put to death?  There is hope and help out there for the desperate woman not knowing what to do.  In Columbus alone there are at least 30 pregnancy distress centers that provide pregnancy tests, counseling, and alternatives to abortion as adoption and many in WV.  Birthright (1-800-550-4900) also gives help for raising the baby if the mother so chooses.   Abortion is NOT the only choice.  Click on www.yellowpages.com/columbus-oh/pregnancy-distress-center.

         Causes of Abortion.  Perhaps the root cause can be found in the solution as summed up in the slogan, “You want justice; promote chastity”.  Premarital and extramarital sex with or without contraceptives will often result in pregnancy and unforeseen consequences often for a lifetime.  Then the woman often resorts to the so called “backup” contraceptive of last resort, the “easy solution” of abortion.  Contraceptives and the pill facilitated the Sexual Revolution of the sixties because they reduced the risk of pregnancy……..apparently.   They often fail.  Most women who have had an abortion used a contraceptive.  For example as Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former Surgeon General of the United States, observed:  “They slip, they rip, they tear, and have tiny holes in them large enough for the HIV virus to get through”.  There’s no such thing as safe sex……safer, perhaps, but not safe.        

        Our many thanks to the many donors who made this trip so affordable…….$60 for travel, motel, and three meals.  Most of all thank you, prayer warriors for spending hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in our all-night vigil for the unborn and for the guarantee and protection of the right to life from conception to natural death for every person without exception.  We also pray for and help the mothers who have aborted their babies and must live the emotional trauma of Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (click on www.postabortionsyndrome.org.  For help go to www.rachelsvineyard.org

       The Pro-Life movement also educates Society regarding the harm to the health of the mother who aborts her child.  After all, there is considerable evidence of a strong link between the pill and/or abortion and breast cancer (click on www.lifeissues.net/writers/kah/kah_19breastcancerpill.html and www.abortionbreastcancer.com).  According to Dr. Thomas  Hilgers M.D. a researcher with Napro Technology for Natural Family Planning,  claims the pill is a Category 1 carcinogen and invariably women who die of breast cancer were on the pill.  Also there’s evidence of a link between the pill and pulmonary embolisms as well as strokes.  WE CARE ABOUT THE MOTHER TOO!  See Blogs #67 &109 of http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com for the 2012 and 2013 Marches.

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