1) Because it is not enough to be quietly horrified by Planned Parenthood killing babies and selling baby parts. The doors into your local abortion clinic are the gates of hell. You are called to exercise your prophetic charism and unambiguously witness to the truth.
2) Because Planned Parenthood and the abortion/baby part industry radiates a deadly spiritual poison upon our culture. If we do not stand up to the culture of death our indignation will fade and we will be swallowed up by it. Banish fear and sloth from your heart. Go today.
3) Because the terrible state of things is in some measure our fault—mine and yours. We have not done enough. Years ago it was poignant but rhetorical when someone asked: If it was a crime to be a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? Today it is not a rhetorical question. We must take up the cross and follow Christ.
4) Because the expose of Planned Parenthood selling the body parts of aborted babies is a conversion moment which must be seized. The connection between abortion and the sale of aborted baby parts forces everyone to envision the bodies of babies killed by abortion. Facing the bodies of aborted babies, few people can find a place to hide from the truth.
5) Because the innocent about to be killed deserve our solidarity. Unborn children about to be killed cannot see us, they do not know we are there, and yet we know in our hearts that all of us, including babies not yet born are connected beyond space or time or age or ability. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must be witnesses for them. We owe them our presence.
6) Because our presence might save a baby from abortion. Just a couple of weeks ago I was participating in Show The Truth in Ottawa. We hold large graphic pictures of babies killed by abortion on busy street corners. A young man in a work truck sat staring at the picture I was holding and staring at me. He shouted “come here,” so I approached. He wasn’t friendly and I expected an ear-full. He said that he had seen our protest a couple of years ago, when his girlfriend was 9 weeks pregnant and they didn’t know which way to go. He said they now have a two year old girl and another on the way. He spoke as if speaking to himself, and then he looked at me and said “thanks.”
7) Because we are a lifeline for mothers and fathers. To beget offspring is a basic instinct in all living things, including humans. We all long to have children. Our children are an extension of us, a means of transcending our fleeting 28,000 days and entering into the unbroken chain of being. All of this echoes faintly within the souls of mothers and fathers sleepwalking into the abortion clinic. It is often as if they are themselves almost lifeless, being swept along in a river of death. Standing there as a witness may seem futile but your presence is a lifeline. Our culture is full of hollow praise, fake smiles and cool indifference, but your painful, prayerful witness in front of the gates of hell bears an authenticity which can call souls away from death and back to life.
8) Because our persecutions count in the economy of salvation. We are often despised and reviled while picketing abortion, but it has to be this way. As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, we are all one body, and when one member suffers, the whole body suffers. We must pay each other’s spiritual debts. We must join in Christ’s redemptive suffering. When offered in prayer, nothing is wasted. The logic of the world has brutal power prevail over vulnerability. But when we deliberately make ourselves vulnerable in solidarity with the defenseless, the logic of the world is refuted and the Love of God warms the world.
9) Because our persecutions establish solidarity with frightened mothers and fathers about to abort. At a merely psychological level, the persecution you endure makes you a more credible witness to the unloved, frightened mother about to abort her baby. She is lonely and suffering and you are more credible as a suffering witness. You are a model of endurance and perseverance. The Father of Lies will say that you are there to accuse and condemn, but even as he says this, his persecution of you and your gentle persistence proves the opposite.
10) Because you are a sign of contradiction to the world. “Winner and loser” is the most succinct summation of the binary logic of the world. The world races forward flint-eyed, with the brutalist angularity of fascist art. William F. Buckley Jr. said to be a conservative is to “stand athwart history yelling stop.” While protesting abortion is not exactly that, there is something of the clash of blind, perpetual motion and deliberate rest. There is a sort of priesthood of the abortion protester performing the sacrament of witness. A sacrament achieves what it signifies; that is, there is the external form, which symbolizes something, like the water used in baptism symbolizing cleansing, life-giving and mystery, and then there is the actual transformation achieved by baptism, cleansing original sin, giving eternal life and entering into the mystery of God. In a similar way, the abortion protester both symbolizes and achieves crisis and transformation in the soul of the culture. The abortion protester holds a mirror up to the world, and when the world shrieks, it initially shrieks in wrath at the abortion protester, but over time it shrieks in horror at its own reflection.
11) Because all of us must repent. Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven is here, among us. These are frightening words because we are so soiled, so unworthy of heaven, and so it is a great consolation that the beginning of heaven is purgatory. We are cleansed of our sins through the sufferings we endure for the love of the Lord. In The Divine Comedy, Dante shows the souls in purgatory withstanding excruciating punishments with gratitude and delight, as they are brought closer to the Beatific Vision of Our Lord. All of the world belongs to the Lord and as much as we as abortion protesters hold a mirror up to the world, the world holds a mirror up to us. Those who curse us and revile us—they do us a service. We are purified by our sufferings.
12) The twelfth reason is between you and God. There is no place of greater evil in the world than an abortion clinic. Naturally, it is the last place on earth any wholesome person would want to be, but supernaturally it is where we are called to be. The Lord will stand beside you before the gates of hell and you will know that he is there beside you.
Editor’s note: The above image depicts an anti-Planned Parenthood protest in Wilkes-Barre, PA on August 22, 2015. (Photo credit: Aimee Dilger / Times Leader)