My friend and I sat through the same homily yesterday. Hours later, as she is enjoying a fresh pot of my coffee while Bill puts the wheels on her son’s pinewood derby race car, she asks me if I’m going to the March tomorrow (today).
A little robot in my brain started flailing its arms saying, “Warning! Warning!”
I told her that although I had gone several years ago, obviously no, I would not be taking my five little kids to D.C. to stand around in the freezing cold (or rather to run in 5 separate directions driving me completely batty). Had she ever gone?
Well, no, as a matter of fact, she didn’t feel that she had any business preventing a woman from killing her child, as long as the child was unborn, of course.
She was polite about stating her opinion, and no, she didn’t really use those words because how can someone phrase it like that and really mean it? Murder is, after all, one of the chief crimes we expect our society to prevent. And those who murder children are ranked at the bottom of the scum pool with an extra-special lowlife status for parents who take the life of their children. But somehow, for some reason, it’s different if the child is still in the womb?
The only thing that is different is that the child’s cry has not yet been heard; the child’s eyes have not yet found a mother’s face; the child’s mouth has not yet awkwardly formed a smile; the child’s fingers have not yet curled around a gentle hand.
It is a good thing that human nature tends to amuse me more than anything. What inspired my friend to ask her question while receiving my hospitality? Had I begun the conversation, I would expect someone to freely defend his or her position. But I just don’t think it’s polite to go to someone else’s house, say, that Catholic homeschooling mother of five’s house, and bring up controversial topics when it’s likely that your position will be counter to hers. I don’t go to my evangelical friends’ homes and try to teach them about the Catholic faith.
My guess is that she brought the subject up because, deep down, she’s looking for someone to convince her of the truth. When you are convinced of the truth, your heart is at peace. You search no more. This doesn’t mean you know everything; it just means that you discern what is right with clarity. Having once spent many years in doubt, I know the difficulties of having to justify a false morality. It is a heavy, oppressive burden. The Lord’s yoke really is light, because it comes with the comfort of truth.
Having been there already, I know that there was nothing that I could say to change her mind right then. Had it been that easy, I would have spared myself a decade of agony. Faith is a gift, and if you lack that gift, you are lost. The good thing is that the gift is there for everyone. You just have to want it and ask for it and you’ll get it, sometimes in a gut-wrenching instant.
I found out over a year ago that my friend was Catholic, but had allowed her child to be her excuse for not going to Mass. He had been baptized, but the difficulties of taking a child to Mass (and he was born with some special needs) quickly made Mass attendance low on the priority list. But he and Billy are good friends, and he had to wait until afternoons on Sundays to play. And then Billy (dressed in camo) would come over singing his favorite song he learned at CCD: I’m in the Lord’s Ar-my, yes, SIR! And her son wanted that. He started passing the chapel and telling his parents he wanted to go too. No no, they said, very boring…you’d have to sit still for an hour (quite a challenge for this kid). I offered to take him (silently praying, “Your will, God, but please have her say no!“). I offered to take them both. I told her Mass times, and which one I thought was best based on how long it lasted and what kind of music they played (we have a variety here). Finally, over Christmas, her mom told her she was going to hell. Unconvinced of that, she apparently felt guilty enough that she’s been taking him to Mass and put him in CCD too.
And so it was that we both listened to our pastor talk about the defense of the unborn. He said that although not everyone is called to march or pray in front of abortion clinics, he does believe that on Judgment Day we will each be asked what we did to protect their innocent lives. Praying for an end to the atrocity is the basic first step. Beyond that, I think we, especially those of us currently raising children, are called to be models of the culture of life. If you are joy-filled in all that you do, I have noticed two different reactions to that joy. One is a rejection of it in the form of animosity, envy, mean comments, or worse. The other is a curious envy: what do you have and can I get some too (but can I get it without going to church, having more children, or giving up my me-centered lifestyle)? I don’t push my beliefs on others. I simply am. And in this post-modern era, what I am amounts to a freak on a traveling side-show. But there’s no admission to get a glimpse, and I can only hope that those who enter the tent go out the other side at least pointing in the right direction.