Why You Won’t See Me Marching at a Pro-Life Rally

The Author

Kathryn is the mom of six and wife to a pretty amazing Catholic man. She blogs about what she knows: big families, carpool, prematurity, her beloved Aggies, her faith, DIY/organization projects, finding God in the details and the occasional glass of wine at 10am. In her free time she operates a freelance graphic design business.

marching for lifeEvery year on January 22, the anniversary of the landmark case Roe v. Wade, hundreds of thousands of people march in our nation’s capital and around the country in support of a culture of life. The March for Life, as it’s known.

But, you won’t see me marching. And here’s why.

I believe that everyone has a calling, a charism, a unique set of gifts. God calls us to use them with purpose, passion and love. A little more than a year ago, I volunteered to stand on the sidewalk outside of an abortion clinic during the 40 Days for Life campaign.

It was powerful.

But it also taught me that I can best serve the pro-life movement in other ways. There wasn’t a specific event or person, but it was more of a realization. Standing there, praying, left me feeling emptier than I imagined and that was startling.

I’m as pro-life as they come, but I soon realized my gifts weren’t found on that abortion clinic sidewalk, in the State Capitol hallways or even marching in Washington, D.C.

Just as our consumption of the Holy Eucharist is no less powerful than if we distribute it as a Eucharistic Minister or our understanding of the Word is no less important than those who proclaim it. No, I learned that my best witness to life was to live it. And living it means something different to every single person who believes in the pro-life movement.

Our fifth son was born premature and lived 44 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. He’s been hospitalized eight times since then and endured seven surgeries. I was the mom who received the very difficult prenatal diagnosis that he probably wouldn’t live to 24 weeks gestation.

Last September, he turned four.

And now I find myself carrying life once again. Our sixth child.

You see, the pro-life movement is bigger than any march, any legislation, any video, any blog post, any event. As the body of Christ we all take part in creating a culture of life.

Some are called to pray a daily rosary.

Some are called to religious life.

Some are called to parenthood.

Some are called to staff and work in crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes.

And yet others are called to stand, publicly, to defend those that cannot defend themselves.

No matter where you’re called, I believe each one is important. No one is greater than another. My challenge to you today, on this sobering anniversary, is to find how you can best promote a culture of life, both in your own family and in your greater community.

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  • Laura G.

    I, too, had an empty feeling praying in front of abortion clinics. Especially since my first time, it was 40 degrees, windy, and raining and I spent over half of it by myself. I find comfort in the words of St. Ambrose of Optina, “If you do not feel like praying, you have to force yourself. The Holy Fathers say that prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced. You do not want to, but force yourself. ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force’” (Matt. 11:12). One must be careful when judging the fruit of their prayer by their feelings. Praying *in spite* of an empty feeling is all the more holy. :)

    • Kathryn

      I wholeheartedly agree, Laura. For me, however, my heart was never really on that sidewalk. I’ve found my cause within the pro-life culture to be in my home, teaching my children the sanctity of life. We all have a different path to God and I now know mine. God bless!

  • Julia

    There are so many roles for all of us to fill, we each must pray and discern to see where God calls us. Thank you, Kathryn!

  • Rita Suva

    Thank you for the reminder that we all have different roles and ways to serve.

  • Colleen Snow

    Hi Kathryn. I understand what you’re saying and you may be right insofar as your personal calling; but if you’ve never attended a March for Life you might not understand what you’re missing. It’s not at all like praying outside a clinic, which I too find to be overwhelming and emptying. I was always pro-life, but in my adulthood, having struggled with infertility myself, I find abortion to be somewhat of a personal insult.

    I’ve been to the March in Washington D.C. every year but two since I was 14 — I’m now 30 — and every single year come away feeling hopeful and renewed. It’s beautiful to see how the crowd gets younger all the time, and to see the throngs of high school students chanting pro-life sayings and singing hymns.

    Your witness is a beautiful thing and I love your blog. You seem to be raising a family of fine Catholics, and I know the people at the March for Life would love to welcome you all someday if you get the chance!

    • Kathryn

      For me it’s not about what I’m missing – as I’ve talked to many friends who have been and know that it is life changing. I, personally, don’t feel called to march. It’s just not part of my DNA. Huge crowds really freak me out, no matter the cause. Give me a good yell pro-choice friend and I’ll sit down and visit theology with them any day, though. I’ve found the Holy Spirit works best in one-on-one conversations with me. But please know that I respect, honor and support every single marcher, both in D.C. and around the country. It is needed and I’m grateful there are people who answer that call.

  • http://fatherryan.tumblr.com Fr Ryan

    Kathryn, I think this was just a typo or a misstatement but you wrote: “Just as our consumption of the Holy Eucharist is no less powerful than if we distribute it as a Eucharistic Minister”

    Are you somehow saying that serving as an extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion imparts the same grace or spiritual good as receiving Holy Communion? Because that would be really, really wrong. Please clarify. Otherwise, I enjoyed the article.

    • Kathryn

      Fr. Ryan thanks for asking. Giving and receiving Communion are two different acts and some of us are called to administer and receive, while others simply receive. While the act may impart different graces, neither the giver, nor the receiver is the better Catholic. I hope that clears my writing intention up a bit more.

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