In his apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, Pope Saint John Paul II identifies pro-life advocacy as one of the works of the family apostolate. As John Paul implores, “Family, became what you are!” The Christian family has a fundamental duty to serve life. Through my family, my parish, and my campus ministry, I developed a love for the pro-life movement. It gave me a sense of community, of belonging, of unity in a purpose outside of myself and outside of my immediate worldview. All might not be perfect, but it was what it should be.
As a cradle Catholic who was blessed with a solid faith foundation, I grew up in a very pro-life family environment. My parents would bring my sister and me to the annual Life Chain, in which communities across North America gather along the roadside and pray for an end to abortion. We would even color our own signs. As I grew older, I joined my high school campus ministry’s Pro-Life Club. I trudged through the cold snow in Washington, D.C. on the March for Life. I prayed outside of Planned Parenthood during the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil. I say this not out of pride or as a boast. In fact, I found being pro-life in this environment easy.
I treasure those times of innocence, of not knowing the horrors that awaited me in the “real world” in which not everyone is a pro-life Catholic. Certainly, I found myself in the rare Facebook debate, but I always seemed to be one in a chorus of voices all promoting the cause of life. In my little world, abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, etc. were all (properly) labelled as evil. Whether through my own naiveté or willing ignorance, I had no understanding that there were people out there who saw abortion as a “reproductive healthcare,” and assisted suicide as death with dignity. I had no anticipation that those who “call evil good, and good evil” have a prominent voice in our culture (Isaiah 5:20). Reality was the stuff of nightmares.
After I discovered the Church’s call in the New Evangelization, I no longer felt overwhelmed or frightened by the awesome task of transforming the culture. In simple terms, the New Evangelization is a proclamation of Jesus Christ to a world that yearns for the Truth. It is to live in the world, but not of it. To proclaim what it means to be authentically human, to celebrate the gift of life and to defend it.
Spreading the culture of life is not easy. Sometimes we might even feel discouraged, as it seems the culture of death tries to drown us in its own maelstrom. But we should not be downhearted, distressed, or discouraged. Ultimately, it’s not up to us. Yes, we must do what we can, but we must trust in the Lord and in His timing. In the words of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI), we must “dare, once again and with the humility of the small grain, to leave up to God the when and how it will grow” (Mark 4:26-29). As I try to constantly remind myself, it’s not up to me, it’s up to God, and He has already won the victory.