January 27, 2017

At Mass for unborn, priest notes that ‘real love always seeks to serve’

Scott Seibert, marriage and family enrichment coordinator for the archdiocese’s Office of Pro-Life and Family Life, prepares to lead a prayerful march in witness to the call for legal protection of the unborn along Meridian Street in Indianapolis on Jan. 23. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Scott Seibert, marriage and family enrichment coordinator for the archdiocese’s Office of Pro-Life and Family Life, prepares to lead a prayerful march in witness to the call for legal protection of the unborn along Meridian Street in Indianapolis on Jan. 23. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

The line of approximately 200 marchers stretched more than a city block, signs bobbing up and down as they walked 1.5 miles along Meridian Street in downtown Indianapolis, their Hail Mary’s echoing between the walls of the buildings.

This was a march for life, a solemn, prayerful witness calling for an end to abortion that was legalized 44 years ago through the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions.

“It was beautiful to see the reaction of the people as we turned corners and walked down busy roads,” said march leader Scott Seibert, archdiocesan marriage and family enrichment coordinator, who helped to lead the march.

“There were semi-trucks driving on the overpass that honked in support of us. There were several cars that honked in support as they drove past. It was amazing for me to see people in some of the larger buildings we were walking past who flocked to their windows to look out and see what was taking place.”

There were some negative responses to the march as well, but Seibert said that’s to be expected.

“I kept thinking about the beatitudes, [the Gospel of] Matthew 5:11,” he said. “When we do the Lord’s work, we should expect both moments of affirmation, and moments of negativity. In both, we need to offer it to the Lord. It’s never about us—it’s always about him!”

Before the march, the archdiocesan observance for the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children began with Mass on Jan. 23 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Worship and Evangelization and rector of the cathedral, served as the principal celebrant.

In his homily, he recalled the story from the day’s Gospel reading in which Christ asked the disciples what they were discussing along the road (Mk 9:30-37).

“When confronted directly by Jesus, the disciples are ashamed to confess their conversation, but he knows anyway,” Father Beidelman said. “They had been arguing about who was the greatest.

“He tells them, ‘So you want first place? You want to be on top? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.’

“Jesus is constantly turning things upside down and inside out for us. He sets a standard that is contrary to the ways of this world. … Real love always seeks to serve. If we let ourselves be secure in God’s love, serving others and ‘being last’ are easy.”

In serving those in need, Father Beidelman said, it is important to remember that “when someone says, ‘I am pregnant and don’t know where to turn,’ or ‘My marriage is falling apart,’ or ‘I can’t handle taking care of my elderly father or my sick sister,’ that’s when you need friends to drop everything and be there.”

He noted that Catholic teaching “stands in stark contrast” to modern culture’s idolization of power and wealth.

“[Catholic teaching] says that if your ambition blinds you to the needs of others, then you have stepped away from being a disciple of Jesus.

“He offers us another way of living: ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last and servant of all,’ for in the reign of God, the places of greatness are determined for us by our attitude toward the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.

“Strikingly, Jesus uses an innocent, needy child to illustrate that real greatness comes in developing an attitude and ability to be of service to those who are invisible in society.”

Father Beidelman reminded the congregation of the call to respect all life “without discrimination and with unconditional love.

“This starts with how we speak to one another, how we work and play with one another, and especially how we sort out our problems and differences. Let us do so courageously and compassionately and with deep reverence for the little bit of God that is within each of us.”

He asked that, even as people “pray especially for the weak and the ‘little’ lives among us, whose lives are put in danger by abortion today, let us also pray for the weakness in all of us that sometimes tears down others and brings division to the Body of Christ. Folks, like it or not, we’re all in this together, and we would be nothing without the grace and mercy of the Lord.”

Father Beidelman closed by requesting that, “As we respond to his call to pray for and give witness to the dignity of every human life in our world, may [God] give us his mercy, may he give us his strength, and may he use us as instruments of his peace.”

The Mass ended with time for adoration for those who were unable to join in the march after the Mass.

Taking part in that adoration were Candice Schott and her 10 children, members of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis.

“We want our kids to know to respect life and to be on the front lines to end abortion,” said the homeschooling mother as to why she brought her children to the Mass. “We wanted the kids to be here, to be visible, and we want them to be active in their community.”

Six students from Christ the King School in Indianapolis also stayed for adoration after the liturgy. The students volunteered to go to the Mass when their literature teacher, Laura Hollowell, asked who would be interested in joining in the archdiocesan observance.

“I really wanted to support this because it’s something we should do to save babies’ lives,” said eighth-grader Emma Kress. “I was praying for the unborn babies, that their parents could make the decision to save their lives.”

Her classmate, Meghan Thompson, said she prayed “for people who were going through the decision of whether to terminate their baby or not, that they would choose life, because that’s what Jesus would want us to do.”

Hollowell, who teaches literature at the middle school level at Christ the King School, said she sought volunteers because, “Logistically speaking, it made a lot more sense to take a small group.”

Hollowell dedicated a class to reading and discussing a pro-life poem and some short stories in advance of the solemn observance of the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion.

“We prayed about it in class,” she said. “I definitely think it’s something that we need to continue praying for.

“I thought it was great to be able to bring these students because they’re the new generation of pro-life advocates. I thought it was really important for them to be able to come to Mass and concretely pray for it in church, to let them know they’re not alone in the pro-life fight.” †

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