In these embattled days, it’s all the more important that we look for reasons to hope, and to be optimistic. Fortunately, God being so good, there have been several such signs thrown my way in recent days.
First was the special Family Life Conference sponsored by the Respect Life Office. The theme this year was to honor the legacy of John Cardinal O’Connor, and all that he did to defend and promote the dignity of every human life. It was a wonderful day, with great speakers — Archbishop Dolan, Helen Alvare, Mother Agnes of the Sisters of Life, and Fr. Charles Connor. The large crowd was filled with fond memories of the Cardinal, and we were reminded of his indomitable commitment to the cause of life. Despite all the battles he fought, he never wavered, and never lost his well-founded confidence in the rectitude of our cause. It was an uplifting day.
The second event was a pro-life legal symposium at Columbia University last week, sponsored by (believe it or not) the Columbia Law School’s pro-life group. Yes, you read that correctly — a thriving group of committed pro-life law students at one of the most liberal institutions in the nation. The line-up of speakers was outstanding — experts in constitutional law, attorneys who were actively litigating pro-life cases in the courts, law professors who are teaching and mentoring the next generation of pro-life legal crusaders. The best part of the day was how dynamic and hope-filled the law students and young attorneys were. For old warhorses like me, it was a breath of fresh air, and another uplifting experience. I felt as if the cavalry was on the way.
The final cause for hope was the most recent Witness for Life — the prayerful vigil that is held outside of the Planned Parenthood abortion mill in lower Manhattan every first Saturday. After praying outside the clinic in the cold and benediction at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we return to the basement of the school for a hot coffee and a doughnut, and a bit of fellowship. Part of the social is a sharing of stories by some of the participants. Some of the men in the group shared their experiences in doing the sidewalk counseling — taking for a few moments with the women on their way into the clinic, handing them brochures from the Sisters of Life offering alternatives to abortion, and then talking at greater length with the men who bring the women there and then wait outside.
One of the sidewalk counselors reported that, after talking to one of the men, the man decided to go back into the clinic to try to convince his friend not to have the abortion. We all prayed that he would be successful.
But the most amazing story of all was one told by one of the Sisters of Life assigned to the Visitation Mission, which helps women in crisis to make the decision for life. Recently, the Sister was called to speak to a young lady who had gone into the same Planned Parenthood clinic that we pray in front of, to make arrangements for an abortion. While sitting in the examining room, the young lady happened to look at the pamphlet rack, which was filled with all the usual horrible material about contraception, STD’s, etc.
But what did she find instead? One of the very same brochures from the Sisters of Life, offering hope instead of abortion, that our sidewalk counselors hand to the women who are going into the clinic — someone must have put it into the pamphlet rack, and the clinic staff hadn’t removed it. This young lady read the brochure, had a change of heart, left the clinic and went right to see the Sisters. After talking to them, she made the decision to keep her baby.
The Holy Spirit is a very inventive fellow, always looking for ways to open our hearts to God’s will and His love. He works through our memories of great leaders, he buoys our mood by raising up new warriors, and he reminds us of the wonderful mysteries that the world would call coincidences, but which we know as the handiwork of God. How can we not be hopeful with such an ally?