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Voices Online Edition
Vol. XXIII, No. 4
Advent - Christmas 2008

Stand Up for Life: A Call to Action!

by Sarah Sheehan

My name is Sarah Sheehan and I was born November 29, 1992 to Tim and Elizabeth Sheehan. I have an older brother, Michael, who is seventeen, and a ten-year-old sister, Christina. My siblings and I are all home-schooled using Seton Home Study School, a home-school program based in Front Royal, Virginia. I enjoy writing, and am in my junior year of high school. My family has been involved in numerous pro-life activities here in the Diocese of Palm Beach, and it is a cause very close to my heart. We are presently volunteering for the local Forty Days for Life Campaign here in West Palm Beach, Florida.

I wrote this essay as an assignment for an English 10 for Young Catholics course (by Seton Home Study School) last year. I also entered it and won in an essay competition sponsored by the Pregnancy Care Center in Fort Pierce, Florida, a local center that aids pregnant women.

[Details about the Young Writers Award.]

“We will stand up wherever human life is threatened”. These words, spoken by Pope John Paul II in his famous “Stand up for Life” homily, are truly a call to action, a compelling challenge for the young people of today. Pope John Paul, who had such a remarkable charisma for youth, understood well the massive energy and enthusiasm in the hearts of today’s teenagers and twenty-somethings, and he knew that, if given the mission, they would dedicate themselves heart and soul. His words truly lit the fire of zeal for the protection of the pre-born in the hearts and souls of the hundreds and thousands of young people of the “JP II generation”. However, once the emotions and feelings ignited with his call began to subside, questions and doubts crept in. How can we stand up for life in a culture of death? What can we do to make a difference in this culture that constantly degrades everything sacred, especially life? In order to stand up for life, we must have a deep, personal conviction that life is indeed sacred, we must be immersed in prayer, and we must take prompt and public action against the murder of pre-born children.

To truly stand up for life, we must be completely convinced of the sacredness of every human life, from conception to natural death. The first places to start are Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church, which confirm life on every point. Next, we must realize what abortion is from a medical standpoint: the brutal murder of a living, breathing child, not simply the “termination of a pregnancy” or the “elimination” of something unwanted. Only after we have realized the sacredness of human life and the atrocity of abortion can we be effective witnesses for the pre-born.

Next, we should become defenders of life through fervent prayer. The best prayer we can offer for anyone, born or pre-born, is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at which we can receive Our Lord Jesus Christ truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist. Spending time with Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, in Eucharistic Adoration is another wonderful means of equipping ourselves as witnesses for life. Praying the Rosary for an end to abortion is also very powerful — Our Lady has promised her powerful weapon in ending the moral evil of abortion. In the fight for life, we must remember that without the grace of God, given to us through prayer, we can do nothing.

Once we have been convinced of the sacredness of life and strengthened in our resolve through prayer and fasting, we must assist those mothers who are considering taking the life of their pre-born child. We can volunteer as sidewalk counselors or at pregnancy care centers, or by offering rosaries outside abortion centers. We must also assist those mothers who have already had abortions and are grieving the loss of their child by recommending them to groups such as Project Rachel, by encouraging them to talk to a priest, or by simply being good listeners. We must stand up for life by assisting mothers, both those considering abortion and those who have been hurt by abortions.

Lastly, we must stand up for life in the womb by taking action in the public square. One way we can do so is by attending or organizing pro-life marches or demonstrations on the local and national level. We must also be informed voters concerning pro-life matters and encourage others to help end abortion and all crimes against life through their votes. Providing pro-life literature to churches, schools, or individuals, and participating in boycotts of companies that fund abortions are both magnificent ways to stand up for life. People who believe that life is sacred must take prompt and public action for the unborn.

In order to communicate the message of the sacredness and dignity of all human life, we must be willing to use our votes. The Church has consistently taught that all Catholics must vote with “informed consciences” and put the most important issue, that of respect for human life, first. In order to be effective witnesses for life, we must examine candidates’ voting records and determine which will be the most effectual voice for the pre-born child. In addition, we must encourage others to use their votes wisely and be willing to explain why the right to life is indeed such an important issue. Last but not least, we must pray for candidates running for office, and do our best to encourage them when they do stand up for the pre-born. If we are truly to be voices for those pre-born children who cannot speak for themselves, we must use our loudest political voice: our vote.

Lastly, we must “be not afraid” to speak up for pre-born children in our own families, amongst our friends, or in the workplace — the murder of the most vulnerable in our society must be everyone’s business. Many times it is much easier holding a pro-life sign on a public street corner than facing the teasing or ridicule our pro-life views will evoke among family members or friends. Standing up for a pro-life candidate for political office when he or she is the butt of the joke at the water cooler can indeed be difficult. However, it is by reaching one person at a time with the pro-life message that the sacredness of life will really be communicated and permeate our society.

Pope John Paul II’s “Stand up for Life” homily in 1979 was a call to action, a call that is especially urgent for today’s generation. In order to fulfill this call we must be deeply committed to the sacredness of every human life, we must be strengthened through prayer, and we must take action by assisting mothers and by witnessing for life in the public square. Pope John II, pray for us as we stand up for life!

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