by Tara K.E. Brelinsky
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Matthew 13:44-46
That was the gospel proclaimed when we attended Mass after the recent Love My Life Rally, a youth event proceeding the annual March for Life in Raleigh, NC. On hearing it, I instantly recalled the joy I’d felt each time I was pregnant.
Each time I discovered a new pregnancy I had the sense that something (really someone) truly extraordinary had just been found hidden within my womb. Like the searcher who finds a treasure in a field and the pearl merchant, the knowledge of my treasure caused me to want to give up everything (unhealthy habits, sleep, comfort, my physique) to protect my child.
Since one of my children was a blessing through adoption, I considered how his birth mother also recognized his great worth. For her, giving up all that she had, in order to safe guard her priceless pearl, included sacrificing all of the joys of watching her child blossom outside of the womb.
No Two Pearls Are Alike
Indeed every new life, regardless of the circumstances of his/her arrival, should be cause for joy in the world. Just as no two pearls are exactly alike (each having its own distinct color, shape, size and lustre), no two eternal souls have the same purpose to fulfill in the expanse of time.
Unfortunately, the culture of the times is in the market of selling counterfeits. Instead of promoting children as our most valuable asset, we’re duped into selling all that we have to fill our homes with disposable goods and our hearts with fleeting fantasies. Rather than give up our possessions to gain treasure, we cast the treasure away in order to cling (white-knuckled) to our earthly matter.
Legislation Won’t Win the War
The homilist, at the Mass, made a point of reminding us that politics alone cannot end the holocaust of the unborn. If lovers see procreation as disconnected from sex, if couples value things more than children, if doctors favor paychecks over people, if the culture promotes selfishness over sacrifice, then no amount of legislation will be enough to save the unborn from slaughter.
On the contrary, the war against the unborn can only be won by changing the hearts and minds of our populace. In order to effect such change we must first reach people where they are. And while today’s social media crazed mentality would have us believe vulgarity, bullying and angry confrontation are the only methods of evangelization, Jesus taught us better.
Being a Worthy Example
We transform others by offering them a worthy example to aspire to. By living the Truth in the public eye with joy and courage, on-lookers will be stirred to want what we have (zeal), to learn what we know (faith) and to live as we live (pro-life).
He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Mark 4:21-22
Our words and actions shine in the world. They unmask the deceits.
This is precisely why I march with my family in the annual March for Life. I want my children to experience patient love and courageous faithfulness in action (this is the 44th year since Roe Vs. Wade ushered in the age of legalized murder). I want them to see the witness of so many others and in turn to offer an example of their own.
Examples Outside the Home
As parents, we recognize that it isn’t enough to state our beliefs if we hope to form the hearts and minds of our children for a lifetime. They need to observe our consistent example. We can’t claim to be pro-life and at the same time engage in acts of contraception, aid another in procuring an abortion, or ignore the mother in crisis. To do so would reveal us to be liars (and children are especially keen on detecting lies).
And beyond the shelter of our family home, our children will look to others against whom to measure our beliefs. Regularly surrounding them with company that beats the opposing drum or allowing them to feast on media that promotes destruction will likely override our message.
A fellow blogger wrote about her experience growing up in a pro-life family. She recalled how the zeal of her early youth waned once she faced the discouragement and contempt of peers. However, in time she was re-inspired as she began to come across news articles heralding the “Pro-life Generation.” The articles detailed how her generation was fast becoming the new face of the pro-life movement.
People are Seeking. What Will We Offer Them?
I know that my children and the rest of the world are seeking to belong, to be heard, to be loved, to be part of something greater and to find Truth. They are searching for the living God, Christ Jesus, in the hands and faces of their neighbor.
If and when they find Him there, they (including abortion supporters) will be moved to give up everything in order to possess that genuine treasure which is immune to moth, decay and thief. For where their treasure is, there also will their hearts be.
Tips for Marching with Children
Sometimes people ask me how we navigate the March for Life with children. We’ve found it quite doable with a little bit of preparation. Here are a few tips and tricks we use:
- Bring a sturdy carriage for the very young because there is a lot of walking. Also the carriage can double as your coat rack, diaper bag holder, etc. Don’t bring a wagon.
- Fill a back pack with water bottles, snacks, napkins (which can double as tissues) and an empty plastic bag (great for dirty diapers, wet socks, trash).
- Dress in layers.
- Have your family or group wear matching outer wear (scarves, hats, sweatshirts) so that you can more easier spot each other in the crowd.
- If you are with a larger group, carry the same signs. Our parish gives various members long poles with pictures of our patron saint on them.
- Pair your children up. Assign a teen to hold the hand of a younger sibling. You can use a bit of ribbon to create a leash between their wrists.
- Have a plan of action in the event someone gets separated (we’ve never had it happened but it’s best to be prepared). Make sure every child knows your phone number (or write it down and slip the paper into their back pocket or shoe) and instruct them to ask someone to call you asap (the majority of people in the crowd will have a cell phone).
- Invest in some disposable hand-warmers and cheap rain ponchos (the kind that fit in your pocket before use).
- Remember your rosaries.
- Wear comfortable shoes.