I was sitting in my office at my former parish of St. Mary in Hagerstown not too long ago when one of our faithful parishioners who is involved in pro-life ministry stopped by to see me. She had been praying just down the street from our church outside a “reproductive services” building where abortions are performed.
“I have someone I would like you to meet,” she told me, referencing a woman who had approached her when my friend was praying outside the clinic.
I didn’t know what to expect when I walked over to her. Frankly, I was a little nervous. But when my friend took me to the woman, I was delighted and surprised when I watched her pull back a blanket covering a little baby carrier to show me a beautiful little baby boy. He was tiny, with short brown hair and, although he was sleeping, he actually had a little smile on his face!
“Several months ago, I came here planning to abort my child,” the mother said, “but then one of your women here encouraged me not to do it, and told me there would be help. So I had my baby… and I just wanted to say ‘thank you.’”
It was one of the most beautiful moments I had as a priest at St. Mary’s, and I will never forget it.
I don’t know what level of faith this woman had; but I believe her act, so much like both the Samaritan in the Gospel and Naaman, healed of leprosy, [cf. Lk 17:11-19, and 2 Kgs 5:14-17] was actually a very religious act. Taking the time to bring her baby back to the people who encouraged her to mother him shows what gratitude truly is – a way of thanking God for his blessings and acknowledging that every gift we have is something we need to thank him for.
We need to be thankful for every single gift, especially human life.
The woman who had once considered abortion is now not only blessed as a mother with a son, but God is going to bless her many times over for her Godly choice of life. As we celebrate October and a month dedicated to “Respect Life,” let us call to mind our blessings, and perhaps even ask God to show us one particular one we’ve received. And, most especially, we thank God for our parents, our children and the very gift of life itself. Through our Sunday Eucharist, let us express our thanks not only in prayer but in inspired action, as we prayed at the final blessing on Sunday:
“Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
“Thanks be to God!”