At times in this long, twilight struggle against the Culture of Death, our morale naturally sags. Our adversaries control all the levers of our government, the cultural and media arbiters are steadfastly opposed to us. We stand and pray outside the clinics and there is still an unrelenting series of pregnant women who pass us by and enter those places of death. Threats to the lives of the elderly and disabled continue to mount, hiding behind the prevarications of those who tout “compassion” and “choices”.
It’s times like those when we need morale-boosting events like the Human Life Review annual dinner.
This is the second year that I have had the privilege of attending this dinner, and it’s one of my favorite events. I get a night on the town with my wife, who dresses to the nines. We spend a fun evening with friends from the Respect Life Office, and meet lots of other committed pro-lifers who are enjoying themselves immensely.
But more than anything else, it gives me a tremendous boost to see what I consider to be the real face of the pro-life movement. The general public doesn’t usually see this face. It’s the side of our movement that is deeply committed to ideas, to expressing those ideas clearly and forcefully, and to converting hearts and minds to the cause of right. It’s the face of pro-life that is smiling, laughing, and full of a deep joy, even as we remember our fallen warriors and look out at a very daunting battlefield. It is the firm commitment of pro-life people who know that the best causes, the ones really worth giving your whole life in devotion to, are the ones that are right, regardless of whether the world thinks you’re winning or losing.
Anyone who wants to know what it really means to be pro-life should come to this dinner.
If you do, you’ll see a diverse group of guests that includes intellectuals who fight for life in the journals and op-ed pages. You’ll see dedicated people who staff crisis pregnancy centers, running them on a fiscal shoestring but saving lives. You’ll meet some of the best priests in the world, humble men of God who are living the Gospel of Life. You’ll meet pro-life stalwarts like the McFadden family and the staff of the Human Life Review, who have kept that journal running so that the central weapon in our battle — the truth — continues to be proclaimed. You’ll hear from the honorees, who this year were the senior editors of the Review, Ellen Wilson Fielding, Mary Meehan, William Murchison, and Faith Abbott McFadden. And you’ll meet lots of little people, who are doing their all to transform our society into a Civilization of Love.
For me, the highlight of the evening was the brief remembrance, offered by Jody Bottum for his dear friend, the great defender of life Rev. Richard John Neuhaus. It was eloquent, loving, and wonderful to hear. Fr. Neuhaus helped to form the opinions and commitment of a generation of pro-lifers. His magnificent address to the National Right to Life Convention several years ago — entitled “We Shall Not Weary, We Shall Not Rest” — should be mandatory reading for all those who are in this struggle. But more than anything he was a friend of life, and a person who was loved by many. And that, after all, is the heart of the Culture of Life — the simple love of others that motivates us all.
The Human Life Review Great Defender of Life Dinner was a celebration of love. Love for life, love for God, and love for our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable. And that is why we fight — for love.
How could you not be charged up after an evening like that?