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Martyrdom for Life

Building a culture of life is not something for the weak of heart; that is well known among those of us who have labored in the pro-life vineyard for so many years. However, it is also something that requires a complete understanding of what is at stake if we fail to do our utmost.

Archbishop Charles Chaput recently told a Fargo, North Dakota, audience, “If we really believe that abortion is an intimate act of violence, then we can’t aim at anything less than ending abortion. It doesn’t matter that some abortions have always occurred, or that some abortions will always occur. If we really believe that abortion kills a developing, unborn human life, then we can never be satisfied with mere ‘reductions’ in the body count.” He then expressed a series of “dos” and “don’ts” to the audience, articulating at one point, “In the America of our lifetimes, we may never be asked to shed our blood in witnessing for our faith. But we do see character assassinations, mud-slinging and lies used against good people every day in the public media. And we should be ready to pay the same price. Nothing, not even our good name, should stop us from doing what we know to be right.”

It is well known in pro-life circles that this sort of debunking based on fraudulent assertions comes about because we are doing the Lord’s work. Because we are serving a Lord and Master whose laws and teachings are unwelcome in a culture that has waxed cold to the idea of sin for many, many years now, anything can and will be done to discredit our efforts.

We know that abortion is the ultimate crime against God. It is an act that is literally a direct assault on His very being since each and every preborn child at every stage of his or her development is God’s child created in His image and likeness. Each preborn baby, including the single cell human, is a reflection of God’s infinite love for all mankind.

This martyrdom of which the Archbishop speaks reminds me of the heroism of many men of God, most especially Cardinal John O’Connor who, during his lifetime, was maligned by many foes—including some of his fellow bishops. But as he told me on more than one occasion, such verbal weaponry never deterred him because not a single one of his antagonists had ever threatened to crucify him. And as he reminded us, Christ was crucified for us, calling us at that instant to suffer with Him and for Him in our own pursuit of Christ-like perfection.

This season of Lent, and particularly the 40 days for Life campaign, remind us of WHO it is we are struggling to protect. That child has no political party; he has no agenda; he is a human person whose life is more valuable than all the riches in the world and all the power in the universe.

Let us be refreshed and renewed by these powerful words spoken by the Archbishop:

What we do in the world matters.  How we use our time matters.  And therefore the choices we make matter—precisely because we come this way only once, and the world will be better or worse for our passing. … Your commitment to human life matters eternally.  Some lives will only be lived because your voice made those lives possible.

Let us prepare ourselves to move forward, without ever counting the cost.