Friday, January 22, 2010

Pro-Life... Pro-Active

As always, this 22 January is a national day of Prayer and Penance in the Stateside church to observe the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion on these shores.

Sure, it might never be far from center stage of late given recent months' battle over health-care reform, but the pro-life movement's traditional moment in the ecclesial sun ensues over these days; last night saw the usual throng of some 18-20,000 fill every open inch of Washington's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the annual Vigil Mass for Life, led by some six cardinals, 150 bishops and enough priests to fill an hourlong processional... then around 2,000 visitors camp out at CUA for the night before another 20,000 fill the capital's Verizon Center for the DC archdiocese's Mass and Youth Rally, the tickets for which were snapped up in 45 minutes; this year's event will have "satellite" sites due to the high demand, all while other diocesan groups in attendance hold scores of individual liturgies across the city.

All, of course, are preludes to the afternoon's March for Life, an all-faith gathering which draws an invariable throng of some 150,000, long making it Washington's largest annual demonstration.

CatholicTV will be streaming the Verizon Center Mass at 11am ET (1600GMT)... and, well, here's hoping someone from EWTN (which ran last night's liturgy) can rustle up on-demand video of the Vigil -- at least, the homily.

While the USCCB's freshly-installed pro-life chair, Cardinal Dan DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, had a prepared text for his first "State of the Movement" address (as the Eve's preach has become over the years), the draft ended up getting upended as the extemp-friendly prelate delivered some of his strongest passages off-the-cuff, preserving his usual pop in the process.

For now, suffice it to say this: the core of DiNardo's message laid out the three core qualities of genuine pro-life witness -- joy, caritas, and dependence on Christ... and just in case the full treatment doesn't materialize (or even if it does), one sister's call for the church to not just be "pro-life," but "pro-active" is well worth a read, to boot.

PHOTO: Nancy Wiechec/CNS