Monday, February 25, 2013

Defending the Faith: My Reflections on the March for Life



I have been contemplating for about a month on how I was going to write about my experience of marching at the March-4-Life on January 25, 2013. And I’m going to stick my neck out on the chopping block, because I think it is best if I start with a confession. I have not always been pro-life. Let me clarify that statement, it was not that I did not think that aborting a child was wrong, for I saw that as wrong. I would say, I was pro-life, but I did not believe that it was my place as a man to state my morals and beliefs on what I thought was strictly a women’s issue. I know that I am not the only man (or woman) out there that thought this on the Pro-Life Movement.

Now, I have always been Catholic and I was raised in a wonderful Catholic home. My parents quizzed my siblings and me on the faith on a regular basis; Holy Days of Obligation were not an option, as well as, the Stations of the Cross during the season of Lent. When I was really young I thought owning a home was something only priests had because the only person I new that “had/has” a house was my cousin, who is a priest. My brothers and I were Altar Boys for mass, lectors, and were extremely active members in the CCD programs and the high school ministry program too. And my parents made sure that my older brother and I made it to Rome, Italy for the Jubilee Year in 2000 to see, now Blessed Pope John Paul II because they said, “it will be an experience that will change your lives.” And when it came time in choosing a university after two years at the community college, I wanted to attend a Catholic university for my higher education and I even chose to study Sacred Music as my discipline. So you’re probably thinking: what went wrong? Where was the screw up? I seem pro-life, but how was I not Pro-Life?

The answer is simple: I was terrified to live out my faith; I was scared of what people would say or do to me if they found out I was one of them [pro-lifers], who prayed their rosary outside an abortion clinic or even worse I might be seen on television protesting for the Right to Life. I would be invited to march, both in DC and locally too, or to go and pray outside of an abortion or planned parenthood clinic by friends and colleagues and every time I would find some reason, some lame excuse of why I could not attend. Even after entering seminary, I was still frightened of the outside world. So during my first year of seminary, I said I would pray here at school, in solitude, all because I was scared, because I was a chicken, because I was a coward to fight for the right to life. It was as though for my entire life I was like Judas, dipping into all the vast riches of the Church, and then taking the sword and twisting the heart of Jesus and Mary right before a time of trial and prayer. How for so long I have had the desire to be like the Beloved Apostle Saint John to stand at the foot of the cross and never leave Christ, Our Lord and Savoir and how I have failed to live up to his exquisite expectations. 

But this year I did it, I stood up, maybe in a small way, but I stood with Christ on the thresholds of the battlefield. And I was still scared, I was still terrified, and on the outside I looked calm and cool, but internally I shaking and nervous. But I was there standing up for the belief that every human from the moment of conception has the right to live, the right to live a life to the fullest. And how good God was to me. The day before the march, I was in full roman attire walking with over hundred men of the Pontifical College Josephinum to the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to attend the Vigil Mass for Life. My heart was racing and all I could think was, “Create in me a clean heart, o God.” All I wanted to do was go to confession for my sins, and as I walked into the crypt thinking “it will be easy to find a priest,” but every seminarian was in clerical attire and I didn’t know where to go. And low and behold, out of the corner of my eye I caught the glimpse of my spiritual director. How good God is that he made sure that my spiritual director and I crossed paths at that very moment. And here at this most beautiful shrine were thousands of people cramming into the basilica to pray for the repose of those innocent souls and to pray for the conversion of all our hearts. As I was processing into the main church for the mass, and when I finally saw the resurrected Christ in the mural I was blown to tears. And watching the faithful seeing seminarian after seminarian you see on their face, “these men are the future that will help in the front lines of this war on life.” And how terrified I still was, but I knew, at that very moment, I knew God is with me in all my anxieties, fears, and temptations.

The day of the march is something I will never forget, it is etched into my memory for as long as I live whether it be long or short.  As we, the men from the Josephinum, arrived at the Washington Mall, I was struck by the amount of people. Banners waved, hymns were sung and no it was not just Catholics, it was people from every walk of life. I thought of scripture, “Every nation on earth . . .” for everywhere I looked: from the young to the old, the blind and the lame, the rich and the poor in extremely cold temperatures were united on the common ground that everyone deserves a life. I have been to Washington D.C. three times before this, but never have I seen this city this crowded. It was estimated that roughly 600,000 people were marching. One woman stood out in particular to me, she had a sign that said, “I regret my abortion.” and you could see on her face the pain she had, you could feel that her heart was broken and she was picking up the pieces and here she was doing the unthinkable, by putting herself in an extremely vulnerable position to help others not do what she had done. I was moved to tears and I could not help but think, “This woman is stronger than me.” With each step I could feel the presence of God, I could hear the saints and martyrs singing their hymns of praise. As we marched in our full roman attire, men, women and children thanked us for being here as a witness to the faith. All I could think was how could I have been so blind for so long; how could I not have seen that I have been needed to help pray and act for the end of this evil? And now I am here ready to take my place with Christ to confront something that I truly believe is an evil to our society.  

So I charge you all, what are you going to do to help end abortion? Imagine if every Christian finally said, “enough is enough!” It would be just a matter of time for this 40 Year War to be over. But it’s not going to be easy; you will be ridiculed and made fun of, and you will be called horrible names, but remember, Christ took every sin, every ounce of our brokenness since the fall of mankind to the cross and shed his blood to save us from eternal damnation. And if Mary, the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and Earth could watch at the foot of the cross, her most perfect son die such a horrible and yet victorious death. Then I can do the simple thing of defending my faith, of defending life to the most innocent of all human beings, the unborn child.  I am proud to be Catholic and I am proud to be Pro-Life.

Eternal rest grant unto these unborn children, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

3 comments:

  1. Nick Cooper rocks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. God Bless you Cooper!
    Awesome journey, and to think I've known you since you were still in high school.....LUCKY ME!
    Your, and all the Semenarians, always in my prayers!
    Pax et Bonum,
    Anndrea/Andy

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is very powerful and it is a good reminder that we can with God end this 40 year war. A baby in the womb has the potential to do great things, but only if given the time.
    Thank you for sharing this Nick.

    ReplyDelete