The March for Life and the Contemplative Life

The annual March for Life is coming up in two days, this Thursday, May 10th, with Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral at 10:00 a.m., and Saint Patrick Basilica, same time, followed by the Rally at 12:30, and the March itself at 1:30 p.m. (For a complete schedule, including the vigil services, see here).

If you are able, make the pilgrimage to Ottawa, bringing your presence and voice to the great cause of the culture of life, so under attack in Canada.

As you may have heard, Doug Ford has removed Tanya Granic as a candidate for the provincial Conservatives, citing her ‘extreme’ views, enunciated, apparently, in an archived 2014 video. As recently as last month, Ford was describing her as a friend and supporter; but now, well, politics is about expediency, and some just have to get thrown under the bus.

I had some reservations about Mrs. Granic-Allen running for a seat in parliament, as she is the mother of children still being raised, and either vocation, politics and motherhood, requires full dedication, but she was and is a voice of true conservatism, which has now been made even more silent than it already was in the ‘conservative’ party. Why must we be the pusillanimous ones, hiding the truth, complaisant and quivering bowls of yellow jell-o, while the ‘other side’ can be as vocal and strident as they want, a la Kathleen Wynne, not known for holding back her views? In fact, the more vocal and strident they are, the more they get what they want.

So perhaps it is time for more of Saint Paul’s parrhesia, the boldness to make our voice more heard, from the rooftops and in the streets, that the silent and hidden killing, and the rank, public immorality, especially the sexual hedonism and deviancy at the root of the culture of death, now brainwashed into children, must stop, and stop forthwith.

Then again, for all the good that things like the March and political involvement can do, it is really the quiet witness of prayerful and holy souls that often do the most to re-instantiate the culture of life, all that is true, good and beautiful.  Today is the feast of Blessed Catherine of Saint Augustine, a professed religious from Normandy, who came to the colony of New France in 1648, to the village that would become Montreal, working especially with the sick amongst the colonists and indigenous peoples, learning the latter’s language to serve them more effectively, and was instrumental in the foundation of the hospital Hotel-Dieu, all the while faithfully keeping up her religious duties.

Sister Catherine was known for her gentle and charitable disposition, regardless of difficulties, the fruit of her deep prayer, her contemplative disposition, and a disciplined and mortified life. She went to her eternal reward at the tender age of 36, universally revered as a saint, and was beatified by Saint John Paul II on March 9, 1984, during his own pilgrimage to Canada, in what now seems like another, by-gone era in this fair land.

As the great pontiff, whose first desire was to become a contemplative Carmelite, tirelessly reiterated in his own writings, prayer, the sacraments, the liturgy, especially the Holy Mass, the interior life of grace and charity, truly are the soul of every apostolate, without which even the greatest works remain just ‘activism’, a clanging gong and empty noise. Unless the Lord build the house, in vain do the builders labour….

As Pope John Paul wrote towards the end of Evangelium Vitae, his 1995 encyclical on the Gospel of Life:

The family celebrates the Gospel of life through daily prayer, both individual prayer and family prayer. The family prays in order to glorify and give thanks to God for the gift of life, and implores his light and strength in order to face times of difficulty and suffering without losing hope. But the celebration which gives meaning to every other form of prayer and worship is found in the family’s actual daily life together, if it is a life of love and self-giving.

This celebration thus becomes a service to the Gospel of life, expressed through solidarity as experienced within and around the family in the form of concerned, attentive and loving care shown in the humble, ordinary events of each day.

Humble and ordinary events, the ‘pots and the pans’ as Saint Theresa of Avila would say, where God is most often to be found.

I will leave you for now with an exhortation from Pope John Paul from the same encyclical, a final thought, fruitful to ponder in our own work to build the culture of life:

Filled with this certainty, and moved by profound concern for the destiny of every man and woman, I repeat what I said to those families who carry out their challenging mission amid so many difficulties:  a great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer. Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love.