We’ve all been there before – it’s early on Saturday morning, the cold air is numbing your hands as they hold the string of your Rosary. The city is still asleep, but you move into place with your fellow warriors and wait for the reason you’re awake at 6AM – babies. As the first young woman approaches the clinic, you feel your heart race, your stomach tighten, praying under your breath that the Spirit will open this mother’s heart to the message of life.
The pro-life fight is one that is filled with emotion, stress, persecution, and prayer. Everyone knows they should be involved, but sometimes we can feel like there’s just too much to be done, and it seems overwhelming to try to add a pro-life element to our Youth Ministry programs. Here are some tips for your teens (and you) in the fight for life.
- It’s not an issue, it’s the issue!
- Be passionate.
- Be consistent.
- Get out there!
- Rejoice in persecution.
- Fight the real enemy.
- Protect yourself.
- Become 1 Cor 13.
- Stay informed.
Since 1973, the average abortion rate of pregnancies in the US is 25%. Read that again. That’s one out of every four Americans in the last thirty four years. That means children, teens, adults, maybe even you are part of a generation that is missing one quarter of itself. As charged and emotional as the abortion debate is, we can not shy away from it in our ministry. Think about it like this: go into one of the high schools that your teens go to at lunch. Just divide the room into a quarter – that’s the cost of abortion. One quarter of your teens have been murdered – this truth must drive us into action.
In large apologetic sessions, it’s easy to get stuck in the debate between a fetus and a baby. I’m skipping that part because, well, you’re Catholic. Debate over.
These are babies. And these are mothers. The people lost in abortion are future priests, nuns, spouses, doctors, but above all children of God. The desire to save their lives must burn in your hearts – to defend all life is at the heart of who we are as a Church, and to impassively stand by while our future is being erased is simply not Catholic. Don’t be afraid to show your teens that passion – they live in a world where they’re told that Church is safe and meek. Want to break that bubble? Ask them if they’re ok with someone killing their future spouse.
The Catholic faith stands alone in that it is completely pro-life. We must be pro-life in all aspects or our work will crumble at its foundations. Contraception, euthanasia, the death penalty, unjust war; all things, no matter how difficult, must be pro-life. This attitude needs to be reflected in our speech, our attitudes, and our ministries.
The fight for the Gospel of Life is fought in the same place Jesus spent his time: in the streets. Get out into the world to actively be pro-life. Whether it’s time at a women’s shelter, a crisis pregnancy center, or sidewalk counseling, putting your teens face to face with the humanity of abortion takes it from a hypothetical issue to a very real one.
Contact your local Right to Life office or your Diocese to find out where sidewalk prayer and counseling will be happening. Exposing yourself to attack and ridicule can be extremely scary (especially to a teen newly into their faith) but it’s an amazing chance to be a person of the Beatitudes (“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you…” – Mt 5:11). Teach your teens by example that it is truly a moment of Grace when we share the ridicule that Christ suffered during the Passion.
Stationed outside abortion clinics all across America are people called ‘Pro-Choice Escorts.’ These are people who volunteer time to help women get past any pro-lifers and into the abortion clinic. Charming, isn’t it?
Pray for the escorts. Verbally. So many women getting abortions aren’t there because they think it’s so great – they’re there because they feel they have no choice. The women going into the clinic’s aren’t there to debate you on some abstract philosophical level – they have a baby inside of them, they’re scared, and they feel alone.
In my experience, the escorts are the ones ready to attack you, to debate you – anything to distract you from actually telling a pregnant woman that she’s loved as a child of God and that her baby needs to live. If you fight the escorts with love, Christ will always be victorious. Nothing defeats love, real holy love. No hate or wound or philosophy will stand up to the truth that everyone, even these escorts, are loved as children of God. They are wounded, they are hurt, they may have been judged and condemned by Christians in the past. None of that matters – pour out His love on them, tell them how they are fearfully and wonderfully made, how His love is unconditional, how He is waiting for them with open arms. I have seen amazing and powerful things happen in the hearts of escorts because they were simply loved.
If you’re working to save the almost 4,000 children a day that are lost to abortion, you’re gonna put yourself on the enemy’s radar. Keep yourself (and your program) guarded in prayer. Spend time in Adoration, go to Mass before you hit the streets – soak up as much Grace as you can, so that when you’re in the trenches, you can radiate the love of Christ.
When you talk to anyone about abortion, whether it’s during an open forum Life Night or in the middle of the grocery store, remember to always share love with who you’re talking to. When life is at stake and we are filled with passion, we can slip past righteous anger into plain old anger. Be patient, don’t be rude, listen. These things can go a long way – it only takes one jerk that calls himself a Christian to turn someone off to Christ for a long time.
Stay in the know with life issues – read Peter Kreeft’s Three Approaches to Abortion, read about the Supreme Court’s decision to ban Partial Birth Abortion and what that really means for America. Know what’s going on so that when your teens ask you (or you want to tell them) you have real solid answers to give.
The Abortion debate is a big one – it’s deeper in the heart of America than people think. It’s an issue based on the most unpredictable element of all: the human element. Stay prayed up and keep moving forward, and know that our God is a God of Victory.
Any questions / comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.