Editor’s Note: Mary Wagner is currently serving a 10-month prison sentence for attempting to counsel women seeking abortions at Toronto’s Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic. This letter is addressed to the National March for Life in Ottawa, an excerpt of which was read on Parliament Hill on May 14.
Dear Jim Hughes and friends, organizers of the National March for Life, and all who have come out to participate:
I’d like to thank you for dedicating this year’s National March for Life to Linda Gibbons and me. We appreciate the public support you are giving to our efforts to love children and their mothers when and where they are most abandoned. It is not about getting arrested or not getting arrested. It is not about us, but about that poor mother and her utterly helpless child about to be killed, who are owed all the love and protection their neighbours are able to give them.
Linda has shared publicly that one of the steps that led her to be present where the babies are killed was the awakening that, though a child belongs to their parents, the child belongs to God first. This insight helps us to understand that each child must be loved, welcomed and protected because life is from God and for God.
We are entrusted with children as a family but also as a society and we are responsible for them before God. If we are Christians we know that the Commandment to love is not limited to our family, and therefore we must extend our love to others, especially to the most neglected and abandoned.
We all know people who have not hesitated to put their sick child or loved ones at the centre of their care and concern, spending days, weeks, months, years, even a lifetime at their bedside, sacrificing everything for their loved one. Very few of these people will ever be found in the news or praised for their selflessness. In fact, most people who have done this would find such praise strange, because their love for the person in their care is so strong they do not see first and foremost the sacrifices they have made. They are thinking only of what is best for their loved one.
Those little ones whose parents have forgotten them are waiting for an unofficial adoption by followers of Christ (through whom we have all received adoption by our Heavenly Father). How many mothers and children are going to these places of death today, even in this city, with no one there to love them? How many sick and elderly people are abandoned, if not killed in their vulnerability?
Dear Marchers for Life, especially all young people present, let us consider the words of Mother Teresa: “I do not see crowds; I see only one person at a time, Jesus.” While the work of Mother Teresa and thousands of her sisters no doubt helps and continues to help combat the great injustice of poverty, fighting poverty was not the goal of this saint. It was to quench the thirst of Christ – this thirst to love and be loved – present in each core person. There is no opposition between the work of Mother Teresa and the legitimate initiatives to stop poverty. In the same way, there is no opposition between those who seek to love the unique people whether born or unborn who are victims of the death culture and the many initiatives to uphold the sanctity of life.
If we are Christians, then we are called to be what a good friend calls Gospel of Life People, not simply pro-life: We have faith in Christ and in the Gospel and this faith is the greatest treasure because it leads to Love. We know that the struggle, which gathers us together today, is not just about human rights – although human rights are exceedingly important! The struggle is ultimately in building what Saint John Paul II called a Civilization of Life and Love, and it begins within each one of us. If we want to see the culture of life flourish we would do well to listen to the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Do I see that I too am, in some way, a part of the darkness of the culture of death?
Am I willing to admit that I need to change?
Do I believe that growth in personal holiness is essential for the flourishing of this civilization of Life and Love?
Do I know how important it is to pray?
Do I seek God’s Kingdom, His way first, trusting that He will take care of everything else?
“But seek first his kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matt 6:33). These words of Jesus bring us back to the mother and her unborn child. She may be in very difficult circumstances and tempted to forget the priority of God’s way: to protect His Little Ones. Are we who urge her to do what is right and good, to welcome her baby and to trust all will work out well, willing to make sacrifices ourselves to help her and her child? Will we be there for them?
Many here today are there for these mothers and babies; praise God! Still, there are many mothers who end up at these places where their children are brutally killed. Let us think of these mother and babies, pray for them, and as much as possible be there for them, as we would be there for our own children, mother, father, sister, brother, or friend. We do not need to have loving feelings before we choose to act for the good of another.
All we need is to listen to Jesus who says: “Love one another as I have loved you…Whatever you have done for the least of my brothers you did it to me…In the world you will have trouble, but take courage I have overcome the world … I will send you the Holy Spirit, who will lead you to the fullness of truth … Do not be afraid … I am with you always!”
I would like to thank as well everyone who has written to both of us in jail and who have expressed support in various ways, especially through your prayers.
God bless you.