A few days ago, I gave a talk to college students on the topic: “What does it mean to be a pro-life Church?” As I was praying about the talk, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to go “deeper and wider.” What does it mean to go “deeper and wider” into “pro-life?” My response: “Oh great, the Holy Spirit is going to lead me on a wild goose chase.” I received the image of roots and wings. Roots go back to the core identity of who we are as a Church and who we are individually as baptized Catholics. Wings signify going forth to be missionary, to be prophetic, and to be a lighthouse. But to go deeper and wider will cost us. We will endure labor pains as we bring forth a pro-life culture, a pro-human culture, and a culture in which everyone has a voice. It takes sacrifice and selfless love. It requires that we go deeper into who we truly are. It will stretch us. It will be uncomfortable. But isn’t that what the Gospel does?
Sacraments are outward signs of inward realities. As a sacramental Church, we are called by God, the Author of Life, to be a sign of the value that He placed on every human life from conception to natural death. So, where is God calling us to bring forth life? In what areas of our individual lives, families, neighborhoods and greater society is God moving in our hearts to be pro-life, pro-human? What stirs our hearts? Or what breaks our hearts? The answers to these questions will lead us to how we are to bring forth life.
At Baptism, we are anointed priest, prophet and king. We are given the sacramental grace to live out each anointing.
Priest — As priest, we are called to be intercessors and bridge builders. Pray Boldly. I mean really pray . . . not just lip service. Who are we praying boldly for? Who are we bringing to the throne of grace?
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
The priestly anointing also calls us to be Bridge Builders. To create a pro-human culture, we have to go deeper and wider than arguing about issues. We have to transform hearts. I don’t think debates on Facebook and social media are going to change hearts. I think genuine dialogue, honest discussions and relationships formed at dinner tables or over a cup of coffee can bring about transformation of hearts.
Prophet — As prophet, we are called to speak life in our words and actions. Where are we speaking life in the culture of death? What dead, dying, or even just numb areas of your life and/or our culture is God putting on your heart? Are you praying boldly for these areas to be brought back to life? God told Ezekiel to prophesy over dry bones and they came to life.
Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.’ “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. ‘I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Ezekiel 37:4-10.
Where do you see “dry bones”? Is God calling you to speak into marriages? How do we speak life into one another’s marriages? Are we safe places for one another? Are we praying boldly with and for one another? I feel that we have to model beautiful, messy, holy family . . . not perfection, but real authentic love that comes with bumps, bruises, healing and redemption. Are we living our marriages prophetically? Are we living a committed, passionate, colorful love found in Song of Solomon that leaves no room for any shades of grey?
Is God calling you to do something about the 147 million orphans in the world? What about the 400,000 foster kids in the United States? Is God asking you to be a voice for the voiceless? Over 27 million people are in some type of slavery today. That is more than any other time in history.We have to be pro-life on all fronts. A high school friend watched a video on what Planned Parenthood was doing to babies and felt convicted to do something about it. He immediately invested into an adoption fund for a young family seeking to adopt and sowed seeds of life. He had financial resources. The family was willing to take a child into their family forever. Both were prompted by God and used what they had to speak life.
King — As king, we are called to look at our area of influence and ask God how we can impact our little world for His kingdom. What area is God putting right in front of us to bring forth life? Two of our children are Haitian. By God’s design, we are a richly blessed bi-racial family. At first glance, some might say that two people don’t belong. In God’s eyes, every child in our family was designed from the beginning to be a full member of our family. On some Sundays, we go to the traditionally black parish in town. In this setting, it may seem that some of us don’t belong. They welcome all of us with open arms and warm hugs. Love breaks down walls and we bring forth a culture of life.