This is what the Lord God asks of you:

To fear Him, and to love and serve Him

with all your heart and soul.

For the first time in Canada since the second world war a large group of men and women who are innocent in the eyes of God but guilty in the eyes of society has voluntarily gone to jail.  Forty-four Vancouver men and women participating in Operation Rescue on Tuesday, February 7, were sent to prison for two weeks.  A dozen others were sentenced to a series of weekends there.

As the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, James Carney put it the week before Christmas, “peaceful resistance to evil is now apparently considered a greater offence than the destruction that goes on in these so-termed (abortion) clinics.”

As many pro-lifers have known in their hearts for a long time it had to come to this.  Abortion is not merely some legal or political mistake which can be corrected through polite discussion.  Public supported abortion is not a mistake, it is an evil. It is not an act of reason, but an act of the will and an evil will can only be overcome through penance and atonement.

To serve the Lord in fear and love requires sacrifice.  It was appropriate, therefore – whether intended or not – that the Vancouver action flowed over immediately into Ash Wednesday when the community is reminded of sin and death, our sin and our death.  Lent, the season for prayer, penance, fasting and self denial is not intended to dishearten by a pessimistic view of life, but rather to open hearts to repentance and hope.  “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend you hearts and not your garments.”  (Joel 2”12).

Resisting evil through civil disobedience is now part of the struggle to protect our society from disintegration.  The justification for such action is abundantly clear in Scripture and the teaching of the Church.  We ourselves cooperated with the abortion evil for twenty years, as citizens, taxpayers, voters.  But we cannot continue to serve God and mammon at the same time.  “Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death: don’t stand back and let them die,” the book of Proverbs (24, 11) tells us.

In 1881, Pope Leo XIII taught in his encyclical “On Civil Government” that “if the will of rulers is opposed to the will and the laws of God, they themselves exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice; nor can their authority then be valid, which, when there is no justice, it is null.”

Pro-lifers have been seeking various ways of disassociating themselves fro cooperating with evil and of converting passive participation into active resistance.  Ultimately the evil of abortion can only be cast out of society through prayer and penance (Mark 9:12).  Now that other types of action seem to be stalled, Operation Rescue is one of the more powerful ways of seeking the conversion of society through penance and atoning for sins.  Some are willing to do this personally and physically; others can join them in their hearts and by their actions.