I CAME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT MORE ABUNDANTLY – JOHN 10:10
I’d much rather be posting boomerangs of my coffee drinks, hair progress and LA looks, but the news of this past week brought down such a pall that I can’t not speak. Life is hanging in the balance in the United States. The gravity of the throw away culture didn’t just emerge this past week with Gov. Cuomo’s barbaric legislation paving the way for abortion up to birth. The culture of death has been here for decades. The horror of the celebration by New York lawmakers to the sign post of lighting up New York’s major landmarks in pink became one of the most base visuals in the American landscape. Do you know any woman or man who has been impacted by abortion that threw a party? The people I know who have had abortions or men who have been forced against their will into an abortion are broken.
Over twenty years ago Saint John Paul II arrived in the United States for World Youth Day in Denver. A pilgrimage gathering of Catholic teens in celebration of the faith and at the feet of the Vicar of Christ on earth. Pope John Paul II’s Pontificate was spent commissioning young people, trusting them with the mission of spreading the Gospel to every nation. Saint John Paul II formed the consciences of the young Church now in its 30’s, 40’s and 50’s – those who are now in leadership and family life – and bearing witness against this tide that wants to wreak havoc on human sexuality, marriage and the family.
The 8th World Youth Day was themed after John 10:10 “I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” I’ll never forget the saint’s words to the whole Church at Cherry Creek Park August 1993:
“At this stage of history, the liberating message of the Gospel of Life has been put into your hands. And the mission of proclaiming it to the ends of the earth is now passing to your generation. Like the great Apostle Paul, you too must feel the full urgency of the task: “Woe to me if I do not evangelize” (1Cor 9,16). Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life. The Church needs your energies, your enthusiasm, your youthful ideals, in order to make the Gospel of Life penetrate the fabric of society, transforming people’s hearts and the structures of society in order to create a civilization of true justice and love. Now more than ever, in a world that is often without light and without the courage of noble ideals, people need the fresh, vital spirituality of the Gospel.”
He went on to say:
“In much of contemporary thinking, any reference to a “law” guaranteed by the Creator is absent. There remains only each individual’s choice of this or that objective as convenient or useful in a given set of circumstances. No longer is anything considered intrinsically “good” and “universally binding”. Rights are affirmed but, because they are without any reference to an objective truth, they are deprived of any solid basis. Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to “create” opinion and impose it on others. ..The family especially is under attack. And the sacred character of human life denied. Naturally, the weakest members of society are the most at risk: the unborn, children, the sick, the handicapped, the old, the poor and unemployed, the immigrant and refugee, the South of the world!”
One night while praying I had a profound vision of Saint John Paul II and the message was so deeply impactful. My grandmother was in the last stages of her life at age 95 and my family had cared for her in her bed ridden condition for several years. The throw away culture would suggest placing her in a nursing home or “get your own life” and be free to live your own. My aunt and my mom made radical provisions and sacrifice to allow for my grandmother to be cared for lovingly in her own home until her last day. My aunt moved in with my grandmother at great sacrifice to her immediate family life and it was tiring physically and spiritually. Some family thought this was too much and that we were just “keeping her alive.” We were realizing that this care at the end of life was radical in the eyes of contemporary culture. Too sacrificial. And too convicting for those around us who didn’t want to be required of the same. Because what real purpose does a 90-ish year old woman have? A lot in the eyes of God. I’m not saying it was an easy path for my family but they pressed in, amid the pain and suffering for a culture of life.
That night in prayer, what God permitted me to see as we prayed for perseverance, grace and mercy, was Saint John Paul II kneeling in a genuflected state, one knee down and one up, with his arms around my aunt’s waist and his head pressed into her womb. In this vision, my aunt was in my grandmother’s bedroom and my aunt facing my grandmother in her bed and JP2 was kneeling, almost honoring my aunt. I couldn’t understand at first what this meant and I asked the Lord – what is happening here (it seemed sort of weird) and I heard the words, “All of Heaven bows down at this regard for human life.” Then I had this complete interior understanding – from the womb (head pressed into her womb) to the end of life. God was showing me that all of Heaven bows down because the sanctity of those building up a culture of life is rare and radical. God was showing me, even if people are not on your side in this, Heaven IS on your side – and Saint John Paul II especially present.
I believe Saint John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa were the strongest voices of life in this generation. We who were formed by them, have a particular call to echo their words, echo their actions, and heed the commission and go to the ends of the earth, even the uncomfortable places to bear witness to the Gospel of life. Saint John Paul II urged:
“Have no fear. The outcome of the battle for Life is already decided, even though the struggle goes on against great odds and with much suffering. …. The paradox of the Christian message is this: Christ – the Head – has already conquered sin and death. Christ in his Body – the pilgrim People of God – continually suffers the onslaught of the Evil One and all the evil which sinful humanity is capable of.”
We cannot be afraid. Even as we see the manifestation of the Crucifixion of our Lord again and again as the deaths of the innocent continue. It’s not enough to silently believe it’s horrible. We need to speak, we need to pray, we need to teach and instruct. Joyfully, in love, but in the truth. The enemy operates to blind people to truth. The enemy wants us silent. The enemy wants us angry and fearful. We have to bear our Christian witness with joy, conviction and trust that even the greatest sinner and perpetrator of this evil could be converted at any moment.
I’m working on a new feature film called UNPLANNED and it’s the true story of Abby Johnson (releasing March 29) whose testimony is most authentic because she was snatched back from the culture of death. Abby was a Planned Parenthood Clinic director super star who for almost a decade was complicit in nearly 22,000 abortions. Abby also had two of her own abortions. By God’s grace and the prayers of her own husband, parents and strangers who got to know her on the other side of the fence, Abby came out of the darkness of the pro-choice world. This happened when she assisted in an ultra-sound guided abortion and she saw an unborn baby fight for its life until it was sucked out of the womb. What she saw changed everything. Now she has helped lead nearly 500 abortion workers out of the abortion industry. You can listen to my conversation with Abby Johnson on Mary’s Touch radio here.
Deliverance is possible. Shifting the culture of life is possible. We have to do it in the area in which God has called us to live, work and serve. One on one, hand to hand combat. One on one with God on our knees interceding constantly for hearts and minds to be illuminated. May, He who was wounded for our offenses and became Victim on the Cross, remember Mercy to us and our nation. Holy Innocents, pray for us! Saint John Paul II, pray for us!
Praying for you, praying for life+