Letter From the Zone #5 is my reflection after praying outside our local abortion centre.
This week’s letter has a slightly different format: it is the text of a talk I gave last week at the Hobart Pro-Life Culture Forum, which also included talks by Kay Painter and Brigid McKenna. This topic started to come together as I prayed the Rosary inside the exclusion zone.
Tonight I’m going to talk about my favourite topic.
Most of you probably don’t realise that my favourite subject is personal sanctity. This is because I look around at different pro-life groups and see disunity, pride, lack of charity, and I find all that the most discouraging thing about pro-life work.
The first things people say is that this disunity is due to the devil. They say, “The devil is going to get in there and ruin your pro-life work.”. Well, sure, the devil does want to stop people from trying to end abortion, but really, blaming him can be a bit of a cop out. These problems are due to our own failure to be holy.
The cause of pro-life disunity is a lack of personal sanctity.
Personal sanctity, or personal holiness doesn’t consist necessarily of performing many great acts, but rather of doing our small daily tasks well. St. Jose Marie Escriva said, “Sanctify yourself in your work, sanctify your work, and sanctify others in your work.”
I would like to offer three practical ways to sanctify yourself, and become more Christ-like, more holy:
1. Commitment to Regular Prayer
Everyone asks, ‘What will end abortion? What will end divorce? Pornography?’
I think the answer is very simple: these great evils will end when every Christian takes their prayer life seriously.
Ultimately, each of us is only responsible for our own souls, so we each have to make a commitment to a regular prayer life. It’s good to be spontaneous, and to turn to God when we need His help.
But our God is a covenant God - He deals in covenants.
When we make a commitment, He honours that, even though we’re weak and can’t always keep our side of the bargain.
When we have a regular prayer-life, we make sure we aren’t always asking for things: we make sure we are also praising and adoring Him, repenting fro our sins, and thanking God.
When we have a regular prayer-life, we develop our self-discipline.
We learn to pray not only when we feel like it.
And for Catholics: you probably already know, this but I believe the single most important thing you can do if you want to change the culture is to commit to regular Adoration. Mother Teresa thought this was so important, that she said abortion would end if every Catholic made a Holy Hour each week.
Part of our regular prayer-life is to read Scripture daily.
At the very least, I would suggest praying Ephesians 6, the Armour of God, every day.
When trying to change the culture, you are meeting evil head-on.
You will be engaged in spiritual warfare; there is no doubt about this.
I’ve prayed Ephesians 6 daily for about 18 months, and I’ve noticed an unexpected benefit from this: It’s become easier for me to separate the sinner from the sin. You see, every day I’m reminded that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers of darkness.
So when I’m in a position were people are screaming at me, swearing at me, standing two inches from my face and yelling, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” I remember that these people are not my enemies. These are people who are made in the image and likeness of God. They are wounded souls. I’m not scared of them, and they don’t bother me; my struggle is not against enemies ‘of flesh and blood.’
So please, get out your phone and download a Bible app. Carry it with you and pray Scripture daily.
3. The Virtues.
The third way to become more Christ-like is to think about the virtues. The virtues are:
Prudence lets us know the right thing to do, in the right time, in the right way.
Justice is all about dealing correctly with others - it’s about our relationships.
Fortitude, or courage, helps us overcome our fear of doing the fight thing.
Temperance is self-control, it is the ability to resist over-indulging in the good things that we like.
Faith: this lovely description of faith comes from my website:
Now faith is a very special kind of belief. Faith is when you hold something to be true, based on the testimony of God. With this theological virtue, God tells the person something he couldn’t have known on his own, and that person makes the decision to accept what God says as true. Faith is therefor the virtue that enables us to add heavenly information to our knowledge - we can know what God knows - and this information radically changes our lives.
Hope: Our ultimate hope is for heaven, so if you really want to change the world, you need to make heaven your ultimate destination, and put God first.
Charity, or love, is a very over-used term these days. Charity really means to love the way God loves. It is not an airy-fairy or romantic love, but it is true love, love for the welfare of the other person.
In conclusion, and I’m speaking particularly to the young people who may want to become activists in the pro-life movement, please don’t fall into the trap of trying to find the most successful strategy, or the most effective apostolate or the biggest organisation or he most followers. Instead, try to make heaven your priority and everything else will fall into place.