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The bus ride of our lives

Jennifer Manning

Pregnancy Bump by Anna Langova (CC0 1.0)

Last week, hundreds of thousands of people marched up Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court building to peacefully and lovingly witness to the sanctity and the dignity of every human life.  I was humbled to accompany a group of 33 young women, all in high school, along with 6 other fearless chaperones; we were part of a group from the Archdiocese of Boston, on a pilgrimage to Witness to Life.  We braved cold, snow, and ice to March for Life.  After the March, on our long bus ride back to Boston, I asked the girls: Over the last few days, what surprised you? What challenged you? What inspired you? Here are three pro-life lessons from this year’s March for Life, in their words.

1. Being pro-life is about more than being against abortion.

Being pro-life is not just about babies, it's a lifestyle. It's about seeking out the people who are ostracized, people who are suicidal, victims of the death penalty – showing them that there is love and support and that this life is worth living. – Carol

Over and over again, the students shared that they had realized more than ever that being pro-life means caring for life in all forms, in all stages of life. It means more than attending the March once a year; it means more than speaking out against abortion.  At a pre-march rally and concert, Mary Bielski, the keynote speaker, called the teens to think about how they can be more "pro-life" in their daily routines. Sitting with the unpopular kid at lunch, reaching out to a friend in need, being a source of compassion – all of these are small ways to be pro-life.  Everything from speaking out against the death penalty and physician-assisted suicide to caring for the poor is being an advocate for life.

2. Abortion victims have many faces – and God's mercy is boundless.

During the testimonies, one woman shared that she was 20 years old when she had an abortion and she was forced...and it is only 6 years later and she has gone through so much...it made me realize that anyone can get an abortion, and many people are forced into it. – Cassie

What impacted me the most were the women carrying the "I regret my abortion" signs. No sin is ever too big...sometimes we are ashamed and think that God won't love us because of the mistakes that we've made...but he does. – Shauna

I really liked how the men shared their stories – it allowed everyone who was there to see how the men have suffered, too. – Ali

We witnessed God's love and mercy in action on the steps of the Supreme Court building. Men and women who had been affected by abortion shared their deeply personal stories with those gathered as a part of the "Silent No More" campaign. They shared their pain, heartbreak, self-hatred, and their stories of renewal, forgiveness, and mercy.

At one point during the March, our group walked by a group of men and women who were carrying signs that read, "I regret my abortion" and "I regret my lost fatherhood." The students and chaperones alike were floored. What courage, what pain, what a remarkable witness. In solidarity and in love we marched side by side.

These stories must be heard, they must be spoken out loud. If more people knew the pain, the suffering, how would the politicians and the voices clamoring for "a woman's right to choose" defend something that is wreaking untold havoc on women and on men?

3. God makes unique, unrepeatable masterpieces.

This is my second year coming on the March, and both years one thing has really stood out to me: "before I formed you in the womb I knew you." I think it's awesome that when God created the earth he knew he wanted each of us to be here. – Lindsay

There is great power in prayer and witness. God listens to all prayers, and through our prayers we have the power to change things. If we have God by our side, why are we questioning? – Jaci

Fr. Matt Williams, director of the Office of the New Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Boston, visited our school this past fall and told the students, "God makes unique, unrepeatable masterpieces. You are a unique, unrepeatable masterpiece!" This became a mantra of sorts and could promptly be heard resounding through the halls.

What we heard this morning at Mass, though, was more of a challenge. Fr. Matt reminded us that we are indeed masterpieces, but as such, we have a responsibility to protect and to defend life, to defend other masterpieces. To reverence God's marvelous creative power we must do our part. He sent us out, back into the world, newly assured of God's boundless love and mercy for every human life, and ready to witness to life.

Topics: Abortion , Culture , Faith , Forgiveness , Motherhood , Politics , Prayer , Pro-Life

Jennifer Manning is a Catholic schoolteacher in Massachusetts and a volunteer with Catholic Voices USA.

View all articles by Jennifer Manning

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