Monday, January 18, 2010

The Pro-Life Rally and St. Aloysius

Our church's pro-life rally was held this past Sunday. It was a great success! There were lots of people, both from our church and area parishes, and for the first time ever, it was a lovely, sunny day in the low 30s Farenheit! Most of the time, the weather is gray, dreary, and around zero degrees Farenheit.

The first rosary that was prayed outside while people held signs was between the 8:00 am and 10:00 am Masses. We didn't attend that one (Evangeline and I had choir practice), but everyone went outside for the rosary immediately following Benediction after the 10:00 am Mass.

Lots and lots of people honked, and Evangeline and I counted only two thumbs-down. The best reactions were a lady driving out of the parking lot of the Protestant church across the street who leaned out her window and yelled "Amen!", and a teenage guy driving a mini-van who first leaned on the horn, then gave us the thumbs-up, then waved both thumbs in the air! It's always so encouraging to see reactions like that!

We came back inside and had lunch. When that was over, the president of our church's Pro-Life committee made several announcements and acknowledgments, and then turned the microphone over to the head of the area Knights of Columbus council. He explained the various pro-life efforts the K of C do, and ended with telling about the Respect Life essay contest and turning the microphone over to yours truly!

So I read my essay, and was terribly nervous and had a frog in my throat. But the room was absolutely quiet and lots of people said that it was very good and made them think, so it was worth it!

The elderly sister who goes to our church had been preparing the Angel's Choir (the kids aged 5 to 10) for months to sing at the rally. They sang 3 songs, and actually sounded surprisingly good! And they were, of course, very cute. :)

Then the main speaker, Paul A. Byrne, M.D., an expert on brain death, spoke. He began his talk by telling about all the things that had brightened his day so far. Among them were seeing the children, hearing the Angel's Choir, and then he said, "I was sitting on the bench over there, and when this very nice young woman came over and pulled out the boxes so she could stand on them and do her talk even better, that brightened my day!" Blushing, I realized that he was referring to me! I'm very short (5 feet tall), and so that I could reach the microphone and not look absurd behind the rather tall podium, I'd kept an upside dish pan under it to stand on! It was quite funny.

His talk was very interesting, and also very disturbing. It mainly dealt with the issue of brain death and organ harvesting, and how doctors will sometimes proclaim a person as brain dead so they are able to harvest organs such as the heart. Even though the patient may not have brain waves, they are not dead, but nonetheless their organs are harvested from their still-living body, and there's not always much the family can do about it.

We can't forget that the pro-life cause extends past abortion to the elderly who are euthanized for being "useless", and those (young and old) who are brain dead or in comas, but still alive and deserving of respect (think of "Waking Rose"!), whose deaths are hastened that their organs may be harvested.

I've been reading "Modern Saints, Book 1" by Ann Ball the past few days, and it's very good! I love the way it's written, and it's really neat to be able to see actual pictures of them. Ann Ball got the idea for a book like that after showing her middle-school students a photograph of St. Therese and seeing their shock that she was a real person. She decided to write a book that included actual photos or accurate representations of the saints, to really bring them to life for her readers.

One of the things that I really like is how some of the saints she writes about are very little-known, and some haven't even been canonized. It's so interesting to read about and be inspired by these holy people I might not have known about otherwise.

I also found this piece of information very interesting. Have you ever wondered why it seems that so very few saints were married? Has it ever given you cause for concern if you think your vocation may be to the married life? Ann Budd addressed that in the introduction - she said that since the canonization process is so very long and involved, it often doesn't get finished unless people really want to see this person canonized. Religious orders are in a much better position to have their saintly members canonized than lay people, so therefore many of the canonized saints are religious. That certainly reassured me (even though I'm not positive that my vocation is to the married life), because it seemed that almost all saints were members of religious orders, which gives one the impression that they must be a religious to be a saint! This, of course, is not true...every one of us is called to sanctity.

And, finally, I'm posting one of my favorite prayers! I've been meaning to do this for a very long time. I discovered this prayer in a very interesting way.

Last summer, I was having a terrible time struggling with temptations of impure thoughts. One Saturday after Mass, I looked through my "Catholic Girl's Guide" to try and find a prayer to assist with this problem. I came across the following prayer.

O Blessed Aloysius, adorned with angelic graces, I, thy most unworthy suppliant, recommend specially to thee the chastity of my body and soul, praying thee by thy angelic purity to plead for me with Jesus Christ, the immaculate Lamb, and His most holy Mother, the Virgin of virgins, that they would vouchsafe to keep me from all grievous sin. O never let me be defiled with any stain of impurity, but when thou dost see me in temptation, or in danger of falling, then remove far from my heart all bad thoughts and unclean desires, and awaken in me the memory of eternity to come and Jesus Crucified; impress deeply in my heart a sense of the holy fear of God; and thus, kindling in me the fire of divine love, enable me to follow thy footsteps here on earth, that, in heaven with thee, I may be made worthy to enjoy the vision of our God forever. Amen.

Much relieved, I prayed it, knowing that he would help me. Then my eye fell on the opposite page and my jaw literally dropped. There was a paragraph about a devotion to St. Aloysius through which you may gain a plenary indulgence on the six Sundays prior to or following his feast, which falls on June 21. The day on which I found the prayer was June 20!

But that wasn't the end of it. A few weeks later, during which I had prayed that prayer every time I attended Mass, I was suffering from insomnia. Around 3 am, I got up and decided to go down to the living room to sit up and read. I picked up one of my mom's library books - it was about various saints and the encounters the author had had with them - and started to read it. I came across the chapter about St. Aloysius Gonzaga, and read how the author, while visiting Europe, visited the monastery St. Aloysius had lived in. He said that he'd never given much thought to this saint, but after this, he had several experiences that made him want to learn more about him, and it seemed to him that St. Aloysius was trying to find him.

I couldn't believe how similar this was to my own experience! I'd not really known anything about St. Aloysius previous to finding the prayer, aside from the fact that he had lived in Spain and died at the age of 24. He's definitely one of those saints who I did not find - he found me.

No comments: