Thank God for life!
Life is a gift: each day I become ever aware of this. Some of you know that I was a premature baby. It reminds me that just as life is a gift, it is a fragile gift and we carry this gift in clay vessels as Scriptures remind us. My friends in Ottawa used to say I was precocious since I was a baby! I couldn't wait to embrace the world and all that it contains. I pray I may still see with world with fresh eyes each day. There is so much good to be seen, first of all, in the people around us, in the beauty of creation, in the flutters of grace which pass by each day.
Birthdays can be strange things. Some people like to celebrate them, some people prefer no mention or fuss be made. For me to mark a birthday is to say to a person: "I thank God that you were born," I am grateful that you are alive and in this world." Maybe we forget to say this to each other and we wait for an obituary to do it. Many lost opportunities!
Throughout the course of the day my mind and my heart often returned to different experiences when I was in Canada and the experience of working for the pro-life movement there.
Five years ago today, I spent the early part of the evening of my birthday at a Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa, the speaker being Stephanie Gray on the theme of gender selection abortions. My life changed and I saw things in a different way. It was hard to watch the videos of what happens in an abortion and how God's children are torn apart in such a way just because they were born as girls.
Here I was having my birthday as I thought about the millions of children who never to have a birthday because of abortion. It showed me how too often I took life for granted and how I, in my own small way, could make a difference.
|Cupcakes for Life-|
remembering children who never got to celebrate their birthday
In our university as a Students for Life Group we used to pray outside the abortion clinic. For some students it was the first time to be involved in public witness for life and also the first time to pray in public. I remembered my first experience and how initially I felt very awkward and even a little scared as to the potential risks from people who did not agree or would challenge us. One of the priests pointed out the location of the clinic as we were standing on the opposite side of the busy street. In my head I guessed that it would be a backstreet dingy and dark building but this was a shiny main street building, flanked by McDonalds and Curves. The irony is that Curves, an international chain of women’s gyms, often direct their advertisements towards women who want to get back their figure after giving birth! A glitzy Rolex jeweller shop front was the main attraction of the whole building. No-one would know that on the third floor of this same building, abortions were taking place. There was something very eerie about the normality of life around this centre of death. I wondered to myself, how many people know what goes on in there? Or if the people in the Rolex jewellers are aware of what is going on over their heads as they spend hundreds of dollars on jewellery. Again, ironically, one of the priests pointed out to me that the trees on the street are all protected by netting so they don’t get damaged!
We used to pray the Rosary, taking a decade each. Some people stopped and stared. Others awkwardly moved along quickly or ignored us pretending not to see us. Children waved and smiled. Life went on around us. People ate their lunch on the street benches beside us as teenagers giggled and laughed, texted and called friends. As we prayed, I offered each Hail Mary for those mothers, prayed that Mary, our Mother, would touch their hearts so as to welcome the life that God had allowed them to conceive. She knew too well what it was like to experience a pregnancy that was not expected, not planned, yet it was God’s will that she bring forth a child.But as I prayed, I felt deep peace in knowing that life is precious and has to be defended. I also had a sense of evil and even nausea as I looked at this building which housed so many secrets, emotions and broken dreams for many men and women. Along with that sense of evil was a sense of sadness and a deep rooted plea for mercy and kindness for those who chose not to give their babies the gift of life.
Praying the Rosary was always part of the prayer outside the Clinic and also in our prayer as a group. In this way, we honour Mary as Mother, and we call the ‘fruit of her womb’, ‘blessed’. This counteracts the abortion mentality, which sees motherhood as more of a burden than a blessing and sees the fruit of the womb as disposable. In the Rosary, we remember that we are sinners. “Pray for us sinners.” “Forgive us our trespasses.” It proves false the accusation of pro-aborts who tell us we are “self-righteous.” Rather, we are the ones who need to repent of our negligence and inactivity regarding abortion when we can speak up and haven’t done so.
On this my birthday, I thank God once more for the gift of life. I am grateful for each one of you who have sent greetings, wishes, prayers, texts, calls, cards....I am overwhelmed by the love shown me, none of it deserved, but all for His glory. I pray for mothers, I pray for fathers, I pray for children, I pray for each one of us that we may open our arms to the gift of life! In a particular way, I pray for our country of Ireland as we fight to protect the 8th Amendment which will stop the floodgates opening to allowing abortion and the destruction of life.