I'm not sure if it was the steady rainfall rushing our pace or finally perfecting back-pack chains, but this year our group approached the steps of the Supreme Court earlier and closer than we had in years past. For the first time we saw the many men and women who courageously line 2nd Street, the final steps to the Supreme Court Building, holding signs that say, 'I regret my abortion' and 'Men regret lost fatherhood'.
I watched as teens began to weep at the sight of these men and women. Some murmured, 'That is so sad.' And many marchers stopped to shake their hands and hug them, thanking them for their presence.
Hours earlier, Msgr. Charles Pope addressed the 20,000 Catholic youth gathered at the Verizon Center for Mass, explaining that choosing to 'respect the dignity and sacredness' of human life is the fundamental decision, but 'like any fundamental choice, it has to be supported by many smaller and daily choices. We can't just shout ‘Pro-life’ we have to live it daily.'
When we attend the March for Life, we stand in the streets of our Nation's capital to protest a law that is unjust. To take a day to gather and give a very public witness – to 'shout' that we are pro-life, and that the law of our land is unjust. But as Catholics – as humans – we know that at the heart of the pro-life movement it is not a question of laws but of souls. The souls of babies, the souls of mothers and fathers, and the souls of those with whom we disagree.
We want the laws changed. But even more, we want souls healed.
Every year, teens that attend the March for Life ask me if I think that the laws will change. They stare at the sea of people and ask, 'If this happens every year, how is there still abortion?'
And each year, I respond that I don't know about the laws. But the testimony of 2nd street – of both men and women declaring their regret, and of youth and adults offering their support – shows that while laws may be slow to change, God works faster than Congress to change souls.
Msgr. Pope challenged those attending the March for Life, 'Don't just shout today, be pro-life in your decisions tomorrow and six months from now. Chastity, charity to the poor and those in crisis, courage and care for the disabled, constancy in our witness and practice.'
The March for Life lets us shout that we are pro-life, to give an important public witness. Our Catholic faith, however, gives us the grace to be pro-life daily – in our families, relationships, and communities. It is through each one of us receiving grace through the Sacraments, practicing social outreach, and clearly articulating the teachings of the Church that souls are changed.
And when souls are changed, we can be hopeful that the laws of our nation will eventually change as well.