Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Priest(s) for Life Takes St. Kateri Parish by Storm

Fr. Stephen, St. Kateri Respect Life Ministry Leader Donna B.,
a volunteer, and a parishioner, eager to learn more.

Though there wasn't anything confrontational about Father Stephen Imbarrato as he gave the weekend homilies and a special presentation on Sunday afternoon, his words carried through the parish with the force of a tropical storm. Tropical Storm Stephen. It fit.

His words were powerful not because they revealed something most of us didn't already  know deep inside. They rocked because they carried the Truth. And people heard them. I've since spoken with several woman who experienced "Aha!" moments during those homilies.

I already knew that most women who have abortions are coerced into them, but Father Stephen explained so clearly how that happens and why. "I'll support you whatever you decide." Sounds innocuous, doesn't it? But behind the words is a clear message: "It's all on you. It would be more convenient if you decided to get rid of this child, but if you choose to keep it, I guess I'll have to support your decision, though I'd prefer it if you got rid of the problem." In other words, women have abortions because they believe they DON'T have a choice.

Why do women allow these seemingly benign words to convince them to commit an act that goes against every natural instinct? Because we are intuitive, and we can sense the real message behind the facade.

Father Stephen came with a plan. 

He said there was a way to end abortion in five years. FIVE YEARS. That's five years too long, but it's a heck of a site better than someday. So, how does this priest think we can win this war? With fortitude.

If, during the reelection year of a first-term president, Catholics, Protestants, Atheists, and all pro-life people went on strike until the murder stopped, the country would come to a standstill, and politicians would be forced to act. Following the example of Poland's peaceful Solidarity movement led by Lech Walesa, we too could accomplish our goal.

That, combined with the peaceful protests of Martin Luther King, Jr., could allow us to change this country. Father Stephen wondered aloud how many people might become more aware if they saw two people on a street corner holding signs that said things such as I love babies! I'm pro-life! or I love women! I'm pro-life! And again on another corner. And another.

Surely, if 1/3 of the Polish workers were able to take on the evil of communist rule and win, we can take back our own country from the politicians and movements that promote a culture of death.

An alternative plan came up at the Sunday talk. If all parishes would join the Gabriel Project, women would have true choice. The Gabriel Project is a national parish-based pregnancy assistance resource. They "seek to serve all pregnant mothers in need regardless of their personal situation, the size of their family, their age or their baby’s gestational stage." Imagine all the women who would keep their child if they saw a way to do it?

This means we must put our intentional discipleship into action. Too often, we think that throwing money at an issue is enough. Jesus didn't ask us to pay for social change. He asked us to go out and be social change.

Here's where I make a confession. I was at one time pro-choice (years ago, when I was away from God), and the biggest stumbling block for me was that standing out front of a clinic with a sign didn't help these women. I imagined that once protesters convinced a woman not to abort her child, they would be satisfied and she would still be alone facing an abusive boyfriend, homelessness, or poverty. The Gabriel Project addresses this very real concern. 

In fact, the more I learn about the abortion industry and the mindset behind it, the more I realize how it is a coordinated attack on women. 

What are some steps we can take now?

Prayer, fasting and alms giving.

Jesus told his apostles that "some demons require prayer and fasting."  Pray and fast. Don't stop eating solid foods. Start slow. Give up snacks in-between your meals. Drink water instead of coffee or soda for a day.  Fasting from food is traditional and effective, but what if you can't do it because of a medical condition or your pregnant or elderly? Fast from Candy Crush or watching television and pray instead. Every sacrifice of a worldly pleasure counts. And don't worry if you fail. Just get back up and try again. Your effort will please God, and maybe more so than if it were easy.

Another interesting point made by Father Stephen was that abortion is a sin of convenience. We can make our prayer a prayer of inconvenience to counter it. How?

If it is inconvenient to get up early to pray, do it anyway. If you're tired at the end of the day and don't feel like taking ten minutes to talk to the Lord, do it anyway. Maybe a friend has asked for a ride to Mass, and that would cut into your morning coffee time. Do it, and offer it up. It makes perfect sense.

The third step is alms giving. Support Priests for Life or 40 Days for Life or any other pro-life organization. Make sure you do your homework, because some pro-abortion organizations use confusing names deliberately. Take Planned Parenthood. Who would guess that it's all about eliminating the necessary element of parenthood--a child?

Don't Take on the World 

It's easy to get depressed or angry over the big picture. When you hear Hillary Clinton praise Margaret Sanger, a racist of the top order who admired Hitler's eugenics program, and then realize she has a very real chance of becoming our next president, it's easy to want to give up. But Jesus is in charge of the world, not us. Stay humble and trust that He's got it covered.

You can see Him at work when Hillary Clinton broke rhetoric by referring to a fetus as an unborn child, something she was blasted for by the president of Planned Parenthood. Sometimes the victories are subtle, but they are sweet.

If you want to find out more about what inspired the Solidarity Movement, here is some suggested reading:

St. Pope John Paul II "On Human Work"

Leszek Kołakowski's 1971 essay "Theses on Hope and Hopelessness"

1 comment:

  1. I am humbled by you sincerity and clarity Jackie. If everyone took just one of your wonderful suggestions and put it into action, one small deed at a time, we would no doubt change the world! Jesus said, "love they neighbor". As Fr. Stephen said, the innocent baby in the womb are our most defenseless brothers & sisters(neighbors) in Christ. Thank you for speaking out for them <3