A ‘game-changer’ for the pro-life movement

| Sharon Wilson | September 26, 2013 | 1 Comment

Eleven years ago, I would have called myself a pro-choice Catholic. At the time, I didn’t know the meaning of either word. People are amazed when I say that, especially since I have been the respect life coordinator for the archdiocese for almost five years.

I like to think that my transformation is a result of the New Evangelization. So how does one go from pro-choice to pro-life?

No one argued me into it. It wasn’t statistics on abortion that changed my mind. It wasn’t even the knowledge of the Church’s moral teaching that moved me.

I didn’t know it then, but I didn’t know God. It was the encounter with Christ, through the sacrament of reconciliation, that brought me to recognize my own worth in God’s eyes. Then, it hit me. I realized, if I have worth, if I am known and loved by God, then so is everyone else! If I am made in the image and likeness of God, so is everyone!

Once you realize that, your life can never be the same.

The New Evangelization is the game-changer for the pro-life movement. Though statistics are staggering when we speak of abortions (some 3,000 a day), it is the stories of people’s lives, encounters with others and prayer that most often change people’s hearts and minds.

Prayer, service and activism are key in today’s pro-life movement, and they require a loving encounter with Christ to be sustained.

A key task of the New Evangelization is to reintroduce non-believers to the message of the gospel of life. In his 1995 encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”), Blessed John Paul II described our culture as the culture of death. These are grim words when we think of the abundance of material goods we have at our disposal. Our material goods, however, cannot satisfy us. Only Christ can, and that is the crux of the New Evangelization.

My own activism for the pro-life cause came when I was doing work for youth. I would meet young people from difficult family situations. They were broken. It was the same brokenness I saw in the women I knew who had had an abortion. It was the same brokenness I knew in my own life. My encounter with Christ brought me healing and joy, and I wanted to bring that same joy to others.

Pope Francis, in an interview published last week in America magazine, said: “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle.”

The New Evangelization calls us all to be doctors and nurses on that battlefield.

As people encounter Christ in us, they may need to change their lives — their beliefs, habits and actions. It is here that the culture of death shifts to the culture of life.

The 2013 theme for October Respect Life month is “Open Your Hearts to Life.” The program materials state:

“Opening our hearts to life means that we reject the killing of human beings from the moment of conception to natural death. . . .

“To open our hearts to life, however, we must first overcome every tendency to reject people and the demands they make in our daily lives. The culture of death begins and flourishes in a culture of rejection. It begins with seeing oneself as the person whose ideas, interests and wishes should prevail over those of others, even when it will cause them lasting harm.”

I hope to see an end to legalized abortion in my lifetime. I hope to see better protection of the weak, elderly and disabled. I hope all those who are hurt by abortion come to see God’s great love and mercy. I am certain the work of the New Evangelization will shift the culture of death to that of life.

The work of being pro-life is our baptismal call, and it all starts with an encounter. Plan to get involved with one of the many pro-life opportunities in our archdiocese and in your parish during Respect Life Month. Open your heart to life!

Wilson is the respect life coordinator for the Office of Marriage, Family and Life in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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Category: Social Concerns