I am sure that many of you are like me in that you look at Monday, January 22, and the March for Life with heavy yet hopeful hearts. How long have we been fighting on behalf of the precious unborn, with seemingly little result? You may be tired of hearing about abortion, you may be frustrated with its portrayal in politics and the media and you may be angry that the same issue is debated year after year.
Yet any movement experiences its ups and downs, I am convinced that in the history of rights for women and unborn children, we are living in an encouraging era. Imagine for a moment the lumberjack. He toils many hours, chopping into a tree trunk that will finally fall. But when the tree does fall, it is not the last swing of the ax that accomplishes his goal; it is the culmination of his many prior — seemingly fruitless — swings that causes the tree to fall. The result of his labor is not borne out of his one final chop, but out of the hundreds that came before it.
With the issue of abortion and our fight to give rights to the unborn as well as emotional help to mothers, what are we doing today to ensure that the tree will fall tomorrow?
Here in the Diocese of Arlington, we are joining together in many events that involve the March for Life. On Sunday, a Mass and National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.; prayerful contemplation is a powerful way to be a part of the solution.
On the day of the March for Life, all parish groups and individual marchers from our diocese are encouraged to assemble at one location — the Garden Ice Rink on the north side of the Mall, on Constitution Avenue just west of 7th Street — and march together, following the pre-March Rally for Life on the Mall which begins at noon. The March itself will begin at 1 p.m. and will proceed past the Capitol, ending at the Supreme Court. Please check with your parish — most have groups that will be attending the March for Life together.
We are also hosting Vicki Thorn, founder of the post-abortion reconciliation and healing organization, Project Rachel. On Friday, January 19, at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, she will discuss her nearly 20 years of work in assisting women after they have had abortions. Forty-three percent of women have had an abortion by the time they are 45 — a staggering number — and Thorn will discuss the emotional, spiritual and mental wounds inflicted by abortion. This is an important aspect of the debate that often gets overlooked. While women's rights are often debated prior to having an abortion, rarely are they considered after the abortion has taken place.
We must be steadfast in our dedication to this cause. I am so often encouraged by the youth of our diocese, their vigor and zeal for the faith. A pro-life teen rally and night of adoration is taking place at Paul VI High School on Sunday, January 21, and so many teens come out to march on Monday. I look forward to marching with all of you, but I am especially optimistic when I see the countless youth and young adults of our diocese who are dedicated to preserving the dignity of every human being. I hope you will be able to witness the energy and strength of these faithful young people. They are inspiring and invigorating.
God has known us from our earliest moments. As we hear in Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you" (Jeremiah 1:5). Are we doing all that we can to ensure that these precious infants, with inherent dignity, are known to us all through the gift of life?
As the lumberjack patiently works, we too march in hope and in prayer for an end to abortion. Ultimately, I believe the tree will fall. When the last blow to the trunk is heard, and the tree falls, it will be because of the countless faithful efforts of so many, who patiently and courageously defended and spoke for the unborn.