Sunday, January 24, 2010

Love, Conversion, and the March for Life

I returned yesterday evening from the March for Life. I flew up on Wednesday with my seminarian brothers and met up with a group of high-schoolers from Baton Rouge, LA for whom I would be playing music. I had the privilege of spending the march with them last year, and I was surprised and in awe at their openness to God's will and their great desire to protest for the right to life. I was very much looking forward to spending time with them before, during, and after the march.

We marched, a sea of white knit caps, singing, praying, and chanting that life would be respected from conception to natural death. Each teen sang, each teen prayed, each teen chanted. Each teen showed their great love for the gift of life.

In the process they experienced a great love of each other. They found in each other Christ. They became witnesses not only to Washington D.C., the United States, and other Pro-lifers, but to themselves. Their joy and willingness to wake up a five in the morning 3 days in a row and ride 30 hours on a bus there and 30 hours on a bus back became a great witness to their brothers and sisters on the trip. At the very end of the bus ride we asked for some of the teens to give testimonies. One usually expects the most talkative and most faithful to speak. In fact, the opposite happened, some of the quietest in the group spoke and became great witnesses of how Christ can change lives on a bus.

Now in the process of all this I missed some classes. Today I planned on catching up on reading. One of those readings is the introduction and first chapter of the Compendium of Social Doctrine. Paragraph #4 explains this trip,

Discovering that they are loved by God, people come to understand their own transcendent dignity, they learn not to be satisfied with only themselves but to encounter their neighbor in a network of relationships that are ever more authentically human. Men and women who are made "new" by the love of God are able to change the rules and the quality of their relationships, transforming even social structures. They are people capable of bringing peace where there is conflict, of building and nurturing fraternal relationships where there is hatred, of seeking justice where the prevails the exploitation of man by man. Only love is capable of radically transforming the relationship that men maintain among themselves.

On this pilgrimage, in visiting Arlington Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum in being able to pray in front of an abortion clinic and having the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, attend mass daily, and spend time in front of the blessed sacrament in adoration, these teens experienced the love of God and their transcendent dignity allowing them to better proclaim Christ and His gospel of life.

From this trip, more than a few of the teens experienced conversions by means of the love of their peers, we can only pray that they persevere. For "your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

We can never underestimate the power of peer witness and the power of the Holy Spirit working in a community of faith.

No comments: