The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


A modest proposal: move the March for Life

posted by jmcgee

My father-in-law in suburban Maryland suggested it the other night.  You know: it makes sense.   

“I’ve never been,” he said, ” but I’d do it if it weren’t so damn cold.” I explained that it’s done in January because it’s the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision.

“So?,” he said. “What difference does that make? You could do this any time. Why make it so hard on people?”

I have to say: they organizers would probably get a much bigger turnout in June than in January. Life, after all, transcends a fixed date on a calendar — and this cause should not be limited to just one day, either.

And I can’t help but think a rally in spring might have even more meaning. It is a time of new life, and of resurrection. The ground is thawing, the cherry blossoms are budding, the earth is stirring, lovers are strolling the mall. Spring is an annual reminder that it’s great to be alive.

And isn’t that the point?



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Michele

posted January 26, 2010 at 12:52 am


Well, it’s a good idea for communities where we are buried in snow and it’s midterms for students- we can’t ever have even high school students attend because it’s mid-term week every year here in our entire County…but on the other hand, people in our community don’t go to anything as soon as it’s hunting season (October-November) or summer vacation (June-August)….the October count kills us every year at our parish :)
I wish it wasn’t just a focus on only Roe v Wade–what about the ‘seamless garment’? We have legalized assisted suicide here in Oregon but I hear very little from the Right to Life Catholic Groups about ‘conception to natural death’. It’s all about abortion. What about the Death Penalty? What about Physician Assisted Suicide?



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Holly Hansen

posted January 26, 2010 at 6:46 am


I so agree, the date should be changed and for another significant reason. The Week of Prayer For Christian Unity always falls on or near the date of the Roe v Wade anniversary and in many places the Christian Unity octave gets short shrift. We need both.



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TNP

posted January 26, 2010 at 7:02 am


It’s never going to be the perfect time for everyone. For me, it’s always incredibly moving to see that the crowd is larger each year even in the most bitter of temperatures. Why make it easy? Isn’t inconvenience part of the suffering?



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Your Name

posted January 26, 2010 at 7:55 am


Michele,
Euthanasia was mentioned at the March this year and Bobby Schindler was one of the speakers. That said, the March is held on the aniversary of the court decision that imposed abortion in particular, not other issues of concern to us Catholics. I don’t see anything wrong with focusing on the one issue on that particular day.
As for the weather, I was talking to one of the visiting bishops as I escorted him from the Verizon Center’s garage (venue for the Mass for Life) to the vesting area and he asked if we were going to have good weather that day. I replied that it was up to him and the other bishops, that that is one of the reasons we invite them every year. However, our testimony would be more powerful if the weather did not cooperate. For example, a common opening for news items about the March is “Thousands braved the cold/wet weather to March in Washington….”



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Dana MacKenzie

posted January 26, 2010 at 9:16 am


From what I could see, by doing a little googling, there were huge turnouts for local marches in San Francisco and Austin, and the DC march itself had a turnout of over 200,000. That’s not a small number, any time of the year. In January, it’s a HUGE number that the press would find worthy of reporting on. If only it weren’t damn pro-lifers marching.
It doesn’t matter WHEN the March for Life was held, or even if a million people turned out for it. The press would still ignore it or -like Newsweek- file a report about how it was “full of old people,” which belies all the photos.
The press does not like the March for Life and will not cover it. Period.



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Mark in NH

posted January 26, 2010 at 9:52 am


The ground is thawing — because it’s muddy –, the cherry blossoms are budding, — any my allergies are going haywire — the earth is stirring — and so are rain clouds — , lovers are strolling the mall (If that’s all they’re doing, this wouldn’t be a problem). Spring is an annual reminder that it’s great to be alive.



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Michele

posted January 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm


Your Name- I understand that the March for Life is held on the anniversary of Roe v Wade…in our county, the Catholic Respect Life Group and Right to Life Groups in a county of 60,000 has 75 people show up in the snow on the Courthouse steps for 1/2 hour for Roe-v Wade, and not one word all year long about other Life issues. No standing on the County Courthouse on the anniversary that assisted suicide became legal in Oregon….I’m just making a comment on my particular area. We’ve had local priests refuse to attend the local event because it’s so bitterly cold and snowy.
And I agree with TNP- redemptive suffering is a very Catholic concept.



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Jeffrey L Miller

posted January 26, 2010 at 12:21 pm


I think the anniversary of this deadly decision is an important date and considering it is the largest march with about 325,000 this year I don’t think it needs to be moved.
Besides if pro-lifers don’t go just because of the weather, it seems unlikely that they will march for the unborn just because the weather in better. In season or out of season we are called to.



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crazylikeknoxes

posted January 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm


To folks like us from Ohio and other climes north of the Mason-Dixon, a trip to D.C. in January is sort of like an early spring break.



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Franklin Jennings

posted January 26, 2010 at 1:43 pm


Michele,
So what are you doing to change things?



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Eric Sammons

posted January 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm


Every year at the March I make a joke about wishing the Supreme Court had decided Roe v. Wade at the end of their term in June rather than in January.
But then I think of the benefit of it being in January; specifically, the opportunity for penance. The bishops have declared January 22nd a day of penance for crimes against life, and I can’t think of a better penance than standing out in DC cold for four hours in January.
Last week before we left I reminded my children of the penitential nature of the day and asked them not to complain about any inconveniences we might encounter that day at the March, including the cold. If nothing else, it made them realize the solemnity of what we were doing (and I’m happy to report that none of them did complain).



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cathyf

posted January 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm


One of my fellow choir members had 2 daughters who went to the march this year. They live in different states, and were each with their own groups. They could not meet up during the march the crowd was so large. At one point they were on their cells phones talking, a block away from each other, and neither could force her way through the crowd to get any closer.
So, no, “better weather would get better turnout” doesn’t seem to me such a compelling argument — we’ve already got turnout! If anything, marching when no one else does ought to help gain attention. As somebody else already said “Thousands braved the cold/wet weather to march in Washington….” is a compelling story.



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Julie D

posted January 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm


Isn’t this the same exact thinking that leads bishops to move holy days of obligation? Heck, I resent the government melding and moving George Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday into President’s Day … so maybe I’m not the best person to ask. But if symbolism doesn’t count for our dead unborn, then when?



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Your Name

posted January 26, 2010 at 4:12 pm


Sounds like a good idea to me. But how many more would turn up? Another thing, going to rallies in D.C. costs a lot of money. Lots of pro-lifers, perhaps most, just can’t afford it no matter what the weather.



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Your Name

posted January 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm


Coming down from Vermont to the last several rally’s I find the weather kind of warm and comfortable. But kidding aside, I agree with Eric that part of the rally is the sacrafice that we make to go to it.I always tell the students that I bring with me that we are suffering for those who never had the chance to even feel pain outside of the womb.I think that having it on the anniversary holds a special meaning and it should not be moved to make it more comfortable for those who attend.



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Dante

posted January 26, 2010 at 6:26 pm


Come to our West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco. This past weekend we had the 6th annual one drawing about 40,000 people! No snow or ice, I promise. Maybe a little rain (has only rained twice in 6 years). It was AWESOME!!!



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Joseph J Cleary II

posted January 26, 2010 at 7:49 pm


A couple of thoughts:
* Roe v Wade remains the most important court decision related to all of the life issues. So a march on that anniversary forces the general media to pay attention to the importance of that particular date- as much as they pay attention at all.
* as for the Octave for Christian Unity- one of the great unintended — and I believe quite unforeseen consequences –of the pro life movement has been the change in relationship between Catholics ( as a church and a people) and many fundamentalist Christian churches. Consider the previous decades — even centuries –of mistrust and often hateful slander said about the Church and the Pope in many fundamentalist religious traditions.
This appears to go well beyond political expediency in my opinion. – As groups of Catholics and fundamentalist christians have marched, rallied and prayed together over the last 35 years– a respect for the faith of the other and the presence of Christ ” when two or three gather in his name” has brought unity to theologically different peoples.
Perhaps one could say the March for Life is in fact well situated the same week.



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crazylikeknoxes

posted January 26, 2010 at 9:42 pm


Joseph J Cleary II: one of the speakers at the rally on the Mall this year made the point that it is a happy coincidence (or Providence ?) that the March coincides with the week of Christian Unity as well as the Martin Luther King holiday.



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Bender

posted January 27, 2010 at 2:58 am


More often than not, the weather in D.C. has been quite reasonable for the March on January 22. So, the date is hardly a good excuse for a person from suburban Maryland not to go.
And that “it’s great to be alive”??
No, that isn’t the point. Not. At. All.
The point is the legalization and inauguration of the Culture of Death, which happened at a particular time in history, and not merely as a theoretical, intellectual exercise. Besides, death tends to be cold and harsh and awful.
It is not a time to celebrate and cheer. It is a time to repent to God for the precious little that we have done in defense of life. It is a time of penitence for the blood that we — we prolifers — have on our own hands for the pitiful job we have done. 50 million dead. In no realistic sense of the idea can that said to be a job well done.



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Bender

posted January 27, 2010 at 3:17 am


I’m sorry to be snarky, but this is quite annoying.
You might as well claim that you could get more converts and repentence if it weren’t for the hardship of the Cross. “Why make forgiveness so hard on people?”
We should get the resurrection and new life without having to go through the horror of the Passion. We should get Easter without Good Friday. After all, it’s great to be alive. Isn’t that the point?
Again, I’m sorry to snark, but sometimes reductio ad absurdum is the best way to make things clear.
As I said previously, no, that’s not the point. The point is not to make it easier. The point is to say to the promoters of death and the lords on high at the Supreme Court that we are here — we will always be here, no matter what, no matter what the hardship, no matter how awful it may be, we will never, ever, ever give up. The point is to stand up in defiance of evil. You don’t demonstrate that by running away from hardship.



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AnnaRose

posted January 27, 2010 at 9:14 am


A little “extra sacrifice” will have more meaning to the cause!



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Sarah

posted January 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm


I don’t know about that. Yes, spring is a time of new life but we are protesting new life being cut down, are we not? What could be a better reminder of what an unwelcoming place the world has become for children than a frosty slap in the face as you march! If the turn out were weak then yes, maybe a change of time would be helpful but it seems the March for Life has had no problem attracting protesters since its inception.



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Monica

posted January 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm


It is hard on those who attend and I am sorry if the cold precludes some eledery or sick from being able to come, but some things can only be got rid of through prayer and fasting . . . fasting, self-denial, comes in many forms!



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Your Name

posted January 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm


Thanks, Deacon — I can’t help but connect this to your post last week on the pro-life movement being more “pro-active,” and I can’t help but think that a more optimal date for the March for Life would help the damaging, counterproductive — and, most of all, often unjust — perception that the pro-life movement is happy to protest much, but do little.
I fear that January 22nd frames us too much within the political sphere. As the framer always sets the story, this has the ill effect of inexorably politicizing what, to us, is a moral issue, an issue that transcends law and speaks to the peak, the foundation, of human rights. That means that a faith-based witness almost always becomes diminished in the process given the focus on Congress, the courts and the White House, as if the setting wasn’t enough.
As several speakers underscored last week, our greatest strength as a pro-life people is our strength of faith, always rooted in love for life and our belief in every life’s potential — the intrinsic, God-given good and value of each — to be a light and change the world. So why not tie it in with the one mother’s “yes” that taught us all this and brought us together? That is, why not hold the March on Annunciation Day, 25 March? After all, if we believe life begins at conception… complete the sentence. And it allows us to express, in our most powerful form, our witness an incarnational people, speaking faith and right not framed by what’s here below, but on our own terms in affirmation of things given us from above.
It might not be June, but the weather aids the message along: the 25th falls in those wonderful first days of spring, when the light just begins to overtake the darkness, the buds of summer begin to appear, and warmth returns to the world.
There’s a magic to our calendar, our tradition and ritual — it’s much wiser than we are, and oftentimes we don’t give it the credit it deserves. Maybe something like this would be a start.



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Joe

posted January 27, 2010 at 10:07 pm


We do better to proclaim than to denounce. The current date denounces the Supreme Court decision, which should be denounced. But March 25 proclaims the Incarnation, the human life God the Son took on at the moment of conception. Move the March to March.



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natasha bailey

posted January 28, 2010 at 2:54 pm


i think it’s a good idea to move to summer & i live in florida. 2 yrs ago raw & cold; this year rain was predicted —
i would participate but i’m handicapped.



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Your Name

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I would bet they would get at least 4000 more people if it were on a saturday



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