A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘pro-life

From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

~ s. 2270, Catechism of the Catholic Church: Popular and Definitive Edition

At one time or another, most of us have been distracted in church by the sound of a baby testing her lungs or a toddler fussing when his parents want him to sit down.

And yet it’s a beautiful moment. We see parents raising their children in the Church, an opportunity for the Church to grow through the children’s use of their talents, and a perfect illustration of this quote:

A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.

~ Carl Sandburg, quoted on BrainyQuote.com

As we read in Psalm 139, we’re all precious to God from the moment of our conception:

Your eyes beheld my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16*)

How can we promote respect for life? By participating in prayer vigils across from abortion clinics; supporting pro-life organizations and crisis pregnancy centres; working toward the enactment of legislation to restrict abortion; praying for and supporting those who choose the adoption option (birth parents and adoptive parents); and finding other positive ways to oppose abortion, such as by maintaining a pro-life bulletin board at our church.

Today the Church in the United States marks the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. Here in Canada, where no laws restrict abortion, may we also pray for these children and promote their right to life.

As believers, how can we fail to see that abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide are a terrible rejection of God’s gift of life and love?

~ St. John Paul II, quoted in “Celebrate January 2015,” Catholic Digest, January/February 2015

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Recently, I had the chance to pray across the street from the Ottawa abortion clinic with people from my parish and another parish, as part of 40 Days for Life.

We said the rosary, read aloud from the Gospels, and prayed as we walked along the sidewalk.

I prayed for the fathers who would never know their children and the grandparents who wouldn’t get to hold their grandchildren. For the mothers who might come to regret aborting their children and would need healing. For the people working in abortion clinics, that they might have a change of heart, like Abby Johnson did.

On a busy workday, I hope our quiet witness touched someone who passed by.

But we can do more to witness to our belief in the sanctity of life.

We can educate ourselves on life issues through websites such as those of Action Life, Campaign Life Coalition, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and LifeSite News. We can follow the progress of legislation and court cases touching on abortion, adoption, reproductive technologies, stem cell research, and euthanasia and contact our member of Parliament or member of provincial parliament to express our views. We can support crisis pregnancy centres and palliative care programs. We can encourage parents who choose to adopt children.

And we can pray that more people would recognize that “Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God” (s. 2319 of the Catechism).

May we choose life and teach our children and youth to do the same.

Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end.’

~ s. 2258 of the Catechism


Every now and then, I’ve considered joining a political party. While I have no plans to run for political office, sometimes I think it would be good to have a say in a party’s policies.

Today I learned that I’d better not look to the Liberal or New Democratic parties. With my pro-life views, I’d be completely unwelcome.

According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, “Liberal candidates must be pro-choice,” Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced that people “must make concrete commitments to be openly pro-choice in their positions and if they want to be a candidate in 2015.” Ditto for new party members.

Those lucky current Liberal Members of Parliament who hold pro-life beliefs will be allowed to vote as they choose. Which is apparently unacceptable to the NDP, whose leader, Thomas Mulcair, stated that, “In the NDP, no MP and nobody running to be an MP is going to hold a different position than the party position on a woman’s right to choose.”

I nearly choked on my breakfast.

How often we have heard comments about the way Conservative MPs must toe the party line? And yet some Tory MPs have introduced pro-life private member’s bills and voted in line with their pro-life beliefs. It seems that, for the Liberals and NDP, just holding these beliefs is unacceptable.

Surely these parties aren’t going out of their way to alienate people of faith and others who take a pro-life stance. Wouldn’t they want to encourage a wide range of Canadians to stand for public office?

march for life

2013 National March for Life in Ottawa

Perhaps those in power should take a look at Parliament Hill today as people gather from across Ontario and the Outaouais to take part in the National March for Life.

And note the other marches being held in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and St. John’s today.

And in Winnipeg on Saturday, Saskatoon on Sunday, and Fredericton next Thursday.

Not to mention the one that happened in Regina on April 28th.

Maybe they’d see that many Canadians believe life begins at conception. And recognize that their views should also be represented in the House of Commons.

Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.

~ s. 2319 of the Catechism

I loved Halloween as a child, both the trick-or-treating and costume creation. But my family didn’t really decorate for Halloween, and it isn’t my thing now. I won’t be transforming our front lawn into a graveyard. At Christmas, my decorations will be up for a month, but at Halloween, the window clings and other items tend to go up just a day or two in advance and come down early on November 1st.

And I can’t say I’m keen on carving pumpkins either. Probably because the pulp feels slimy as I scoop it out. I’d honestly rather enjoy homemade pumpkin pie. But since it’s something my son and I do together, and my son’s braces mean all the good stuff is off-limits (no chewy or sticky candy or corn chips for him) and the thrill of trick-or-treating is gone, we’ll be carving a pumpkin in the next few days.

pumpkin drinking apple juice

Our pumpkin enjoying some apple juice

Usually we brainstorm ideas while I create a lid and hollow out the pumpkin. The past couple of years, we’ve had a horror-film theme going. In 2011, our pumpkin “vomited” pumpkin pulp into a bowl. Last year, our pumpkin used an apple as a juice box (shades of the Calvin & Hobbes snowman comic strip where a snowman uses an ice cream scoop on another snowman).

I know some Christians choose not to mark Halloween. But if you do find yourself carving a pumpkin, I’d like to suggest a wonderful idea I saw in the October issue of Catholic Digest: a pro-life pumpkin.

On its website, the American Life League offers pro-life stencils for pumpkin carving, including a silhouette of a baby sucking his or her thumb.

pro-life pumpkin

Pro-life pumpkin design from the American Life League’s website (http://www.all.org/plpumpkin)

Something as simple as this can be a kind of peaceful witness to our support for the pro-life movement, just as participating in a prayer vigil at an abortion facility is. And as Campaign Life Coalition’s 40 Days for Life page tells us, peaceful witness has been effective in the pro-life cause:

40 Days For Life has succeeded in shutting down 39 abortion facilities, and has documented saving at least 7,536 babies. In addition to the babies, 83 abortion workers have quit their jobs and walked away from the abortion industry and thousands of women have been spared the suffering and trauma that comes with the decision to abort one’s own child.

With the 40 Days for Life campaign drawing to a close in just over a week, I pray that we would show our support for life, whether by saying a rosary for life or peacefully witnessing to our pro-life beliefs in some way. Even if it’s as simple as using a pro-life pumpkin design.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10*

Once I would have thought it went without saying that life is precious.

So why do I believe it bears repeating?

Lately I’ve been reading far too many news reports that show how easy some people find it to take a life (or lives), as well as articles suggesting society’s attitudes on issues such as euthanasia and abortion tend not to lean toward the pro-life side.

Dr. Donald Low, who was the microbiologist in chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and a University of Toronto professor, passed away in September. Before his death, Dr. Low called for the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide. Among the many news items in support of euthanasia in the days that followed, I spotted a letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen by Steve Passmore of Hamilton, Ontario. He described his physical health and went on to say this about euthanasia (the emphasis is mine):

Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide is an abandonment of me as a person, that society would rather help me die, than help me live….The answer is not legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide but rather improving social supports….Society needs to ensure life with dignity not death with dignity.

Much of the media coverage on euthanasia focusses on whether we have the right to a doctor’s assistance to “die with dignity.” And not enough attention is given to whether we are helping people live out their final days with dignity through palliative care, including hospice programs such as Hospice Care Ottawa.

Similarly, when the mainstream media reports on abortion, the focus tends to be on access to abortion services, with limited coverage of pro-life events. And the pro-life position is sometimes tarred with labels such as “anti-choice” and “anti-woman.” But I wasn’t sad to read in the October issue of Catholic Digest that, since 40 Days for Life began, 38 abortion clinics across the United States have closed, as Carolee McGrath reported in her article “Peaceful, Prayerful, Public Witness Pays Off.” Or to hear that campaigns such as Defund Abortion, Life Chain and 40 Days for Life continue, and that Priests for Life Canada offers a monthly Pro-Life Hour program on pro-life and pro-family issues.

Sometimes it seems people of faith swim against the tide when we take a pro-life stance, especially if we rely on the perspective of mainstream media. But I pray that we would find hope in reading articles from pro-life media such as Action Life’s blog and The Interim newspaper and in learning about and participating in pro-life events such as the ones I’ve mentioned.

Life is precious.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Who takes the child by the hand takes the mother by the heart.

~ Danish proverb

family photo

My mother, grandmother and me

This past Sunday, the priest reminded our congregation that May is a month dedicated to Mary, Jesus’ mother and our spiritual mother, and encouraged us to say the rosary or at least a Hail Mary each day.

He spoke about how Jesus made sure his mother was cared for as he was dying on the cross and how he brought her to heaven to be with him, where she intercedes for all of us and leads us to Jesus. (If you’re new to the Church, sections 963 to 975 of the Catechism talk about Mary’s role as our advocate.)

I’m thankful that Mary said yes when the angel Gabriel told her she would be the mother of Jesus and that she carries our prayers to Jesus.

I’m also thankful for my mother. I’m grateful that she has been there to have marathon phone conversations with, offer advice on everything from making a good cup of coffee to dealing with a high-energy child, celebrate my joys, and comfort me in the tough times. That she has always made it clear how much she loves me, even when I’ve felt less than lovable. And that we are not only mother and daughter, but also friends.

As a mother myself, I’m not looking for a grand gesture on Sunday. No breakfast in bed or bouquet of flowers or jewellery. Just a little quiet time to have some coffee or tea and read the paper at breakfast, and a big hug from my son—which may not seem like much but is sometimes asking a lot of a 13-year-old boy.

On Mother’s Day, let’s give thanks for and honour the mothers in our lives—mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, godmothers, foster mothers, and other women who have cared for us as a mother would. For those of us who fill these roles, may we be a positive influence on the children in our lives.

And on this day of the National March for Life, I pray that we would be thankful for birth mothers who choose to raise their children or allow others to raise them through adoption, and for adoptive mothers who welcome these children into their lives and hearts. And I pray that all those affected by abortion would find healing and compassion in Jesus.

As a mother, I know that “do as I say, not as I do” just won’t cut it. For instance, if I want my son to respect others and be kind, he has to see me treat people with respect and kindness no matter what kind of day I’m having.

That seems obvious, doesn’t it? But how many of us tell our children that they need to follow the rules—and then roll through stop signs or drive over the speed limit? How many say smoking is harmful—and then light up a cigarette?

“Putting your money where your mouth is.” “Walking your talk.” No matter what expression we use, it’s a daily challenge to make sure our words and actions line up with our beliefs.

While the media often report on the marital problems, tax headaches and addictions of actors, musicians and others in the public eye, we don’t have to be famous to deal with these issues. And as we see in the news and in the Bible, even religious leaders have their struggles. For example, we read in Matthew 23 that Jesus denounced the scribes and Pharisees for being more concerned about their social standing than the state of their souls. Since even the people we look to for moral guidance find it challenging to match their actions to their beliefs, it’s not surprising that we do too.

That’s where the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist come in: we confess our sins, receive forgiveness, and then receive Jesus in the bread and the wine so that we’re strengthened to become more like him every day. Which means growing in the fruit of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23*)—and letting these qualities shine through our actions.

The book of James has a lot to say about living as a Christian, and we read in James 2:18, 26 that faith and good works go hand in hand:

Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

Here are a few areas where we could use our time, money and/or talent to put feet to our faith:

  • shelter, food or clothing for those in need
  • assistance to immigrants adjusting to life in Canada
  • friendly visits to a seniors’ or veterans’ residence or a children’s hospital
  • support for those dealing with disability, illness, or addiction recovery
  • help for those escaping domestic violence
  • microloans to small businesses here and in other countries
  • sponsorship of children in need
  • fundraising to fight a disease

Over the past few months, one area where I’ve been trying to live out my faith is in support for pro-life activities. I’d just like to mention that people can sponsor a hiker or walk in the Hike for Life on April 27th and that the National March for Life is coming up on May 9th.

I’d love to hear how you put your faith into action. If you stop by to leave a comment, I invite you to visit my resources page as well.

(*Quotes from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

During the 40 Days for Life campaign last fall, our parish took part in a peaceful and prayerful protest across the street from a downtown abortion clinic.

I’d been very moved by a talk a fellow parishioner had given about her involvement in the pro-life movement and by Abby Johnson’s Unplanned book, and so I signed up for a one-hour shift.

Wearing a 40 Days for Life sign, I walked up and down the street praying for a change of heart for the women inside who might be considering an abortion, for the health of their babies, and for the clinic workers to find a way to care for expectant mothers outside the abortion industry.

I’m so glad that I participated but saddened by the knowledge that this won’t be the last pro-life protest we need to have in this diocese.

According to a recent press release by Campaign Life Coalition, 25 years have passed—and at least 2.5 million children have been aborted—since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down our nation’s abortion law in the Morgentaler decision. A fact sheet on abortion on the CLC’s website states that “Abortion is legal throughout all 9 months of pregnancy, for any reason, up to the moment of birth.” And in much of Canada, abortions are paid for by tax dollars. Read the rest of this entry »

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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