There are all too many times when the Culture of Death seems to have the upper hand.
We look to our political capital, and see legislators — even Catholics — turning their backs on the unborn and denying them legal protection. The culture mocks religious belief and believers, and celebrates those whose irresponsible behavior, especially sexual behavior, leads others into situations of grave crisis. Professions whose missions are dedicated to the arts of healing, instead use their skills to take life. The poor, the immigrant, the elderly, are cast to the side of society, and the affluent and powerful speak of them as burdens.
At these times, the piercing question is asked of each of us: “Are you going to abandon me, too?”
Last Saturday, I once again drove to lower Manhattan to participate in the monthly Witness for Life. This is a prayerful event, starting with Mass and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and centered on the recitation of the Rosary across the street from the abortion facility run by Planned Parenthood. It is a time when the Culture of Death and the Civilization of Love come into stark conflict, a spiritual battle.
The brave sidewalk counselors approach the men and women entering the clinic, offer them literature, and show them that there is another “choice”. The clinic staff mocks us. Many passersby make derogatory comments, or photograph us as if we were mere curiosities. Others walk by, averting their eyes, pretending that nothing is happening. The men and women heading for the clinic, fearful, abandoned or even pressured by those they love and rely on, enter the facility seeking answers, only to emerge some time later with an even heavier burden and no solutions. We stand in prayerful vigil, hoping with all our might that these young women will turn away from the facility, and choose life.
And we hear the question, posed directly to each one of us: “Are you going to abandon me, too?”
After the Witness, we gathered at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School for a cup of coffee and a little fellowship. One of the Sisters of Life spoke to us of the needs and work of their Visitation Mission, which helps women in crisis pregnancies. She told the story of one young lady who turned away from the abortion facility, and came to the Sisters for help. After the Sisters worked with her to find the assistance she needed, the young lady asked the Sisters that question.
“Are you going to abandon me, too?”
She wasn’t asking for more material help. She was asking for someone to walk with her in her travails, to be her friend and companion, to be Christ to her. Our Lord asked the same question, from the Cross. But even at that time, he was not abandoned — his mother, one disciple, and a few friends still stood by his side. And the Father and Holy Spirit were always with him. Just as the Sisters continued to be with that young woman, and never abandoned her.
The Culture of Death is powerful and seductive. The Evil One has his fingers tightly gripped on the hearts of many people. He wants us to stand alone, to turn fearfully away from the choices that God wants us to make, to mock those who do God’s will, or to walk by with heads down and ignore the struggle between good and evil. Many fall for his deceptions.
But not all. Many are haunted by that question: “Are you going to abandon me, too?” And they answer that question with quiet acts of service and prayer, saying “No, we will never abandon you, we will be with you to the end.”
Thus is the Civilization of Love built up, by small deeds done with great love.