October 14, 2012
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast:
We are halfway through the 40 Days for Life Campaign here in Ottawa. It is a good time to reflect on why we are doing what we are doing. This Christian witness is not about gender politics, or social activism or pushing a religious agenda onto a secular society.
At the heart of this campaign is love. It is love and care for the vulnerable that motivates us to stand outside in often blustery, inclement Fall weather in downtown Ottawa. It is love for women and their unborn children, that motivates us to be a witness to the value of human life and the great blessing and dignity of motherhood.
Elements in society today treat the gift of new life in the womb as a ‘medical condition,’ an intrusion into the private realm of personal autonomy, a potential problem that needs a radical solution.
But we know that new life is a gift; each pre-born human person is a unique expression of God’s love and His ongoing, creative work in the world. Even when children come into existence in difficult circumstances, we need to recognize that they are a gift.
The work of witnessing to the value of human life is difficult. It is not always popular and our motivation for advocating and witnessing to the value of human life is often misunderstood.
We do not always see the results of this witness. Sometimes we know that the 40 Days for Life Campaign has touched a heart or saved a life but I suspect many more hearts are softened, eyes opened and minds begin questioning than we suspect and know. It is important for us to continue this witness with love in our hearts and peace on our lips confident that what we are doing, with the help of God’s grace, matters. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to soften hearts and reorient positions in this great work for life.
Recently a Member of Provincial Parliament has suggested that to be opposed to abortion and to be pro-life—to be in favour of the protection of life from the first moment of conception in the womb—is a form of bullying and therefore is “misogynistic”—that is hateful of women and, further, that such teaching ought not to be part of the moral teaching characteristic of our Catholic schools. In effect, the suggestion is that Catholic teaching on this point should be forbidden in publicly-funded Catholic schools. While people of other faiths and no faith are pro-life, the protection of the vulnerable, including those conceived in the womb is authentic Catholic doctrine and has its place in Catholic schools.
I am reminded of the words of a martyr-priest, whose feast falls in the Jesuit Ordo today but is not observed because of the Lord’s Day: they offer an apt analogy for our times:
‘In all that concerns the king, I will be slavishly obedient; if any attack his temporal power, I will shed my last drop of blood for him. But in the things of spiritual jurisdiction which a king unjustly seizes I cannot and must not obey.’ ~ St. John Ogilvie
We witness through prayers, fasting, words of counsel, support and encouragement and simply by our presence. We must remember that our task is not to be successful but to be faithful. Blessed Mother Teresa reminds us: "We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love."
May God bless and sustain you and may Our Blessed Mother be your constant companion and intercessor.
Deacon Chuck Fink:
During this year of faith, as the Deacon of the mass, I am dismissing the congregation using the
words: ‘Go and announce the gospel of the Lord’.
This is my plea to you, to take the word which has just been proclaimed to you and proclaim it to
your friends, neighbours, fellow workers, and even from the rooftops if you are so inclined.
As JP II said, “Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places, like the first apostles
who preached Christ and the Good News of salvation in the squares of the cities, towns and
villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops.”
During this 40 days for life campaign we are giving you the opportunity to proclaim the word of God
on one of the busiest streets in Ottawa during the busiest time of the day.
This has a threefold effect: 1) God is present in His Word. When we proclaim his word in a venue
such as this, He is with us and the enemy will flee allowing our work to bear fruit. And it brings a
sense of peace to the area. Since we began this component of the campaign, there have been no
violent events as in the past – and we pray it remains peaceful.
2) The spoken word may touch the heart of someone passing by who may have never heard the
gospel and wants to hear more; or if a lady is walking into the abortion clinic and hears the word of
God, she may have a change of heart. We may never know the fruits of our work. Only God knows
the true impact of what is being done here. For us, we are just humble disciples answering his call
and praying for His will to be done. We have faith that it is being done.
3) It allows each of us the opportunity to develop the courage to proclaim the word in public; and
hopefully to take away our fear of taking a stand that goes against popular opinion; thereby
preparing us to boldly defend the church’s teaching on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, same
sex marriage, etc. instead of shying away from the discussion.
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the difficulty many of us have in accepting god’s invitation to do His
work: The young man, in the gospel, truly wanted to know what he must do, over and above what
he was already doing, to inherit eternal life and Jesus told him to sell all that he had, give the money
to the poor and follow him. But because the man was so burdened with his possessions, he would
not do what Jesus asked of him, even though, in his heart, this is was his true desire.
God has placed that same desire in each of our hearts but Satan has a way of finding one of our
weaknesses to tie us down and keep us from serving our Lord.
There is an important message in this Gospel that can probably be carried throughout the year of
faith and that message is ‘Let Go’.
Let go of the fears that are keeping you from Proclaiming the Gospel,
Let go of the fears that prevent you from going against the grain in your conversations with others
about abortion and other Church teachings.
Let go of the things that are preventing you from utilizing your God-given gifts to serve the Lord.
Jesus is calling us to action.
If abortion is to be ended and society’s moral compass realigned to accept the natural law, then it
will be accomplished by those who say yes to Jesus and no to the burdens that are holding us back.
My friends, the Church is under attack. We can see it in how government is forcing immoral policy
in our schools. We can see it in how they are refusing to acknowledge the existence of human life
in the womb. We can see it in the US where immoral policies are being dictated to Catholic
hospitals and other organizations. The list goes on.
Our voices must be loud. We must be convincing, and our methods must be intelligent and well
planned if we are to sway public opinion and turn the moral tide.
Please continue to pray. Remember, that with the Lord, all things are possible.
If anyone wishes to sign up to proclaim the word, there are still many slots available. Simply go to
the Ottawa 40 days for Life website, click on proclamation and let me know by email or by phone
which slot you would like to take.
Blessings to you all.
...This particular water attraction featured a huge barrel of water suspended about 20 feet off the ground and slightly tilted to one side. As the water circulated around this attraction, it would funnel through a little pipe just above this huge barrel of water.
As the water would collect in this barrel, you could see that the barrel would slowly start to tilt more and more to the ground. As the seconds and minutes went by, you could also see what was going to happen to the water when it reached a critical mass.
And sure enough, when that critical mass was reached, the entire barrel of water emptied down on the gleeful and ecstatic children below.
My dear friends, that is what is happening here at Ground Zero. For every prayer and sacrifice that we make here on these grounds is like a drop of water into that barrel.
We might not see any tilting of the vat. It might take some time, but rest assured that every prayer is being registered, every sacrifice is being counted, and every converted heart is bringing that barrel closer to turning over.
The critical mass is coming. It's inevitable. It's going to happen. And when it does, we will experience even a greater joy and excitement than those children did when the water splashed down on their heads.
When we first started 40 Days, I think some of us were hopeful we could shut down this clinic in a couple of campaigns, but I think we all understand that we're in this for the long haul.
And it's not just about shutting down this clinic which is really only a symptom of the greater sickness in our culture which is despair and apathy to unborn life.
We have to cure that before we can really achieve the victory.
Now many of you may think that a woman who choose not to go for an abortion as a result of our efforts here is a great victory, and indeed it is, but as bold as this sounds, a believer like us who chooses to participate in our Campaign who did not previously is almost as great a victory because it adds one more soldier is Jesus' army against abortion. Let me share with you an email I received this weekend which testifies to this:
I was one of those people. You know the ones walking by, heads down, reciting to themselves “Don’t make eye contact” over and over. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to intrude in people’s lives. If women wanted to choose, let them, it wasn’t for me to tell them they couldn’t. Then something happened. I’m not sure what, but over the last year my eyes were opened, and because of that, so was my heart. When the 40 Days for Life started, I initially thought “I can’t do that, it’s downtown, it’s gonna be cold, parking’s a pain”. Then I realized that I was thinking like my old self. Yes, it was cold, yes, parking was a pain, and, yes, it was an hour. An hour out of my day, my year, my life. An hour can seem like a lifetime. But the fact is, it’s an hour some may never experience. It really wasn’t too much. It went quickly, and if any lives were saved, if it got even one person thinking, fantastic. Am I going down again? You bet.
You see, folks, this is indeed a great victory because it shows progress amongst our own Faith community who need to be awakened like this woman was. On this sacred ground we are standing to convert not only the culture of death but also those believers among us who need encouragement - because we cannot win this fight until the Church - its pewsitters and its leaders - is fully converted to the Gospel of Life.