A priest friend of mine claims that there are no such things as “coincidences” but only “God-incidences.” The Oxford Dictionary defines a “coincidence” as “a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.” I am not intellectually skilled enough to say whether or not my friend is correct in his opinion, but I did have an experience recently, which I feel was definitely a “God-incidence” rather than a “coincidence.” The story may be of interest to our readers.
For several weeks in November and December, I was helping out at St. Joseph’s Parish in Port Elgin, as one of the priests was away. Port Elgin, as one of the priests was away. Port Elgin is some three-and-a-half hours drive from Toronto. For some time past I had been booked to speak at a pro-life function in Kingston, so I had to drive to Toronto to catch the train the following day. Mary Ellen Douglas, President of Campaign Life in Kingston, had booked my seat on the train and sent me the ticket. But advancing age he taken its toll and when I reached Midmay – about an hour’s drive from Port Elgin – I realized that I had left my ticket on the desk in my Port Elgin bedroom.
I felt frustrated and annoyed with myself and wondered what I should do. Then I saw the “Sacred Heart Catholic School” and I turned into the parking lot. I was warmly welcomed by the principal, the secretary and some of the teachers. I phoned Mary Kischuck, the secretary at St. Joseph’s, Port Elgin and told her my problem. Mary found the ticket and said that her husband, John would deliver it to Midmay – more than an hour’s drive from Port Elgin. What have I ever done to deserve such friends?
When the principal, Bruce McPherson, heard that I had an hour to wait in the school, he kindly invited me to visit Grade Eight and speak to them. I readily agreed, as Grade Eight is my favourite audience. I apologized to the students for interrupting their lesson and they assured me that I was forgiven. I began to speak to them and then it occurred that I had the pro-life video, “The Right Choice” in the car. I decided that this was a golden opportunity, so I went out and got it and the boys and girls watched and listened to it with rapt attention. “The Right Choice” is one of the best videos for students of this age which I have seen. It shows a very pretty girl of about 17 being driven to an abortuary by her boy “friend.” He tells her not to worry. “We’re in the ’90s now and if you are pregnant it is no big deal. You will be looked after.” He says that he is sorry he can’t wait as he has a practice. He will call her tonight. He drives away and leaves her alone at the door of the murder house. She goes inside and we see quite a number of girls waiting for “their turn.”
The girl has her test and is told that she is pregnant. She is left alone in a room, while the attendant goes to arrange a date for her abortion. She is sitting there, looking very sad and uncertain, when suddenly a voice says, “Say, can we talk?” The girl jumps up and looks round the room. But she is alone. She looks in a mirror and sees a blue light shining from her womb. The voice says, “Right. That’s me. Let’s talk.” The girl says, “You can’t talk. You’re only a piece of protoplasm.” The voice – which is actually that of actor Jonathan Taylor Thornpson – says, “That’s what you think.” He asks her to turn on the ultrasound machine, which is in the room, but she refuses. “I’m not going to look at any machine. I just want to get this over with.”
The baby inside her replies, “I’m not a ‘this’. I’m a ‘me’ and you can’t just get me over with.” Needless to say there is much more than I can include in a brief article, so I am just trying to give the highlights. A most interesting argument ensues. The girl gives all the arguments why she should have an abortion and the baby gives all the arguments why she shouldn’t – and wins every point… At once the girl says, “I couldn’t tell my parents.” The baby replies, “Don’t forget they are your parents. They love you. And, by the way, they are also my grandparents and they will accept me.” At his third request, she turns on the ultrasound and sees a baby in its mother’s womb. It has a head and eyes and arms and legs and a beating heart.
The voice inside her says, “now is that a baby or is it not?” She is defeated and picks up her bag and says, “Let’s get out of here.” As she passes through the waiting room the attendant says, “Wait. You haven’t made your appointment.” The girl replies, “No. I’ve changed my mind.” Next we see her on the street and the voice inside her says, “Just one more thing. I’ll never forget you.”
Of course it is fanciful. But so are most of the parables in the Gospel. I tell the students, “We all know that a baby in its mother’s womb can’t talk. But if he or she could, what we have heard is very much what they would say.” I have often noticed girls wiping their eyes as the lights go on.
Cardinal John O’Connor of New York has written about the video, “Totally winning and totally heartfelt. A must for every teenager.”
But where does the “God-incidence” versus “Coincidence” come into this? Well, if I had not forgotten my train ticket for Kingston I wouldn’t have gone into the Sacred Heart School and had the opportunity of showing the video to the students.
Possibly a few years from now, one of the girls in the class might become pregnant and be tempted to have an abortion. Perhaps the remembrance of having seen the video could help her to “make the right choice.”