St. Ambrose Academy juniors and seniors attend march in Washington, D.C. Print
Written by Patrick Delaney, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
With their traditionally seen cow flag at these events, juniors and seniors from St. Ambrose Academy in Madison, along with teacher and parent chaperones, and some students from Edgewood High School in Madison, pause for a group photo in Washington, D.C., during the March for Life on January 18. (Contributed photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Forty years ago, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., St. John Paul II affirmed the validity of absolute moral norms including prohibitions against sins such as perjury, adultery, and in this case, abortion.

Only six years after the intrinsically unjust Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, St. John Paul addressed not only the decriminalizing of abortion but implicitly warned against the cascading moral relativism it helps to engender.

He stated: "If a person's right to life is violated at the moment in which he is first conceived in his mother's womb, an indirect blow is struck also at the whole of the moral order, which serves to ensure the inviolable goods of man.

"Among those goods, life occupies the first place . . . And so, we will stand up every time that human life is threatened.

"When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, we will stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life."

As a natural consequence of a society saturated in contraception, the abortion holocaust of now 60 million preborn girls and boys remains a bedrock of the relativistic culture of death which has also logically fostered a rationalization for euthanasia, assisted suicide, in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, homosexual activity, transgenderism, and much more.

Indeed, 46 years later, Roe v. Wade has stricken "an indirect blow . . . at the whole of the moral order, which serves to ensure the inviolable goods of man," and this cascading slippery slope of moral degeneracy continues with a compounding of human misery, strife, hostility, and societal breakdown.

Call to conversion

But as disciples of Jesus Christ, we know this will not be the last word.

As the largest annual human rights demonstration in the history of the world, the March for Life remains a significant visible expression of a national call to conversion.

It's a witness to the truth and goodness of the objective moral order "which serves to ensure the inviolable goods of man," and "among those goods," is the right to life which "occupies the first place."

It proclaims what science and common sense infallibly affirm: that each human life begins at conception and that all human beings have human rights, not because the government or Supreme Court say so, but because they are human.

And the most fundamental human right is the inviolable right to life from the moment of conception to natural death.

The march also remains a witness to the goodness of the virtue ethic, which has been handed down for millennia in Western civilization as the finest guide for human fulfillment and happiness.

Among these fundamental natural virtues is chastity, which serves as a foundation for the freedom necessary to encounter and experience the greatest bonds of human love in the blessings of marriage and family, the sanctuary of human life.

Finally, the march is at least an implicit call to the greatest gifts that make such a life of virtue possible to our fallen human nature: the grace and mercy of Our Loving God, especially in Jesus Christ, the fullness of revelation, and the sacraments He has instituted and continues to lavish upon us through the ministry of His Church.

Student reflections

St. Ambrose Academy has made this pilgrimage opportunity to the March for Life available to its students since 2005, recognizing the permanent fruits that flow from this experience.

This year, we were also blessed to welcome four outstanding young people from Edgewood High School (EHS) in Madison on our trip as well.

Some of the students' reflections are below.

Senior Danny Kwas: "The March for Life blew me away. The hundreds of thousands of people, the authorities supporting the pro-life movement, and the enthusiasm of the marchers was a moving spectacle."

Senior Sarah Wells (EHS): "The profound peacefulness and resolution of the march was quite inspiring. People from all across the country and even the world came together to support life in a such beautifully peaceful and encouraging way."

Junior Erin Butler: "One thing that really struck me was the peacefulness I experienced while marching. You would think in a crowd of half-a-million (people) there would be total chaos. But instead . . . (they) felt like a long-lost family."

Senior Heather Lancaster: "To see all those people, hundreds of thousands, all coming together to march to (the) Capitol to defend life was incredible, and to be a part of that movement was beyond words. To hear (abortion survivor) Melissa Ohden tell her story was especially powerful. I learned to never give up hope and to always trust in God."

Senior Gus Pirlot: "It was powerful to see how much support the pro-life movement has. Seeing that many people coming from all over the country was powerful."

Senior Celine Schmiesing compared the march to the beautiful mosaics she saw for the first time at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington: "For just like the uniquely colorful and shaped pieces of stone come together to create a beautiful image, everyone all over the United States and parts of the world come together for the common goal in giving a voice to the voiceless. This experience opened my eyes to all of the people who are pro-life."

Junior Anna Kurth: "When attending this year's March for Life, I was pleasantly surprised at just how many people took part in the march; a very large part of them being people my own age, which gives me hope that we are the generation that will abolish abortion."

Junior Elizabeth Scott: "This year's march made me realize the effect that abortion has on real people. Hearing from an abortion survivor (Melissa Ohden) helped me understand the true significance of the pro-life movement."

Senior Michael Rhatican offered a critique of the pro-life movement emphasizing the necessity of speaking out against our contraceptive culture which is a fundamental cause of the societal demand for abortion as a back-up to failed contraception: "The pro-life movement can improve its effectiveness tremendously by speaking out against contraception: the root cause of the culture of death." He continued to affirm that "The March for Life was an eye-opening experience that helped me to see that . . . we are not alone in the pro-life movement."

Junior Philip Emmel: "I wanted to take part in the (March for Life) to end systematic murder in our country, and to stand up for the voiceless."


Patrick Delaney is a theology and history instructor at St. Ambrose Academy in Madison.


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