Most of us have heard, read, or seen on a bumper sticker Mother Teresa’s profound statement, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
The statement serves as a powerful reminder that the choices expectant mothers, fathers, and abortion providers make are choices between life and death. But in truth, this statement applies as profoundly to those in the pro-life movement as it does to those on the other side. Of course, this might be better understood if Mother Teresa’s statement were rephrased to read, “It is a blessing to suffer so that a child may live as God intends.”
The abortion holocaust in our nation simply is not going away, and it will not until we as Christians begin to understand what is required of us. This is a battle that requires more than our good wishes, our checkbooks, and even our prayers. Of course, those things are needed, especially the essential element of prayer, but to save lives in our country, we need to be willing to give ourselves wholly to the Lord, to be discomforted, to suffer, maybe even to die.
Our Lord, never outdone in generosity, is willing to take the suffering we endure and multiply it endlessly. The Scriptures confirm this in the first letter of Peter (1 Peter 2:19), declaring, “God will bless you…if you endure the pain of undeserved suffering because you are conscious of His will.”
I came to understand the meaning of this verse when I walked across the country this summer with Crossroads, American Life League’s walking pilgrimage across the United States. Though those of us on Crossroads could have taken on much more, we endured the sufferings of physical duress, community life, difficult living conditions, and, of course, more physical duress. Our mission was to pray for an end to abortion, to witness to the sanctity of life, and to raise awareness of the pro-life movement. The Lord blessed our sacrifices in at least a few ways.
The first blessing was perhaps the most temporal, that is, the good done through our actual work, the walking. Because we were walking, we were able to serve as witnesses for the preborn to the people we met along the way. God, through our sacrifice, made clear to others how important His children are.
A second blessing was the way Crossroads helped up develop our characters. Through sacrifice, the virtues of prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice can be gained or perfected, and thus, characters can be formed. For us, this meant that we could become better workers for the Lord because we were better able to reflect His glory. This manifestation of grace will stay with us in pro-life work for the rest of our lives.
Finally, the spiritual blessings were countless. Through our prayers, and our yielding to the Holy Spirit, we were able to witness to many women, three of whom decided to choose life for their children. I am convinced that this was the result of God’s softening their hearts through our prayers. All of us can soften the hearts of others through our prayer, especially through offering ourselves as prayer.
Father Maximillian Mary Kolbe, a great saint of the Church, and a man who gave up his life so that another could live, once said “The most deadly poison of our times is indifference…. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits…. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.”
We as Christians can begin to truly praise God to the greatest extent of our powers when we begin doing the work that is unpleasant, but important. To save lives, we need to put ourselves on the edge, to be praying at clinics when we’d rather be in bed, to be sidewalk counseling in the heat and the cold. We need to be known, excluded, maybe even hated for our stand on life.
We need to be doing whatever work has to be done and trusting that God will make it worthwhile. He will. He loves us too much not to. I have come to know and believe that abortion in this country will end not when the Supreme Court reveres itself, or when Planned Parenthood flounders, but when Christians truly accept the call of Jesus to “lay down our lives for our friends”-especially the preborn. It is a hard call, but Christ lays down His life with us, and that is our victory.