One of the most central elements to the Catholic pro-life movement is prayer. As Catholics we have the power of the communion of saints and in my own reflection, I have come to identify a handful of saints who could be considered “co-patrons” of the pro-life movement.
The Holy Family exemplifies for us a common situation a couple considering abortion may face. Mary responded to the angel’s message saying “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Mary finds herself in a unique predicament—pregnant and an unwed. I wonder what the reaction of Sts. Joachim and Anne was or those in the village of Nazareth. Yet, Mary was faithful to the Lord, responding with her fiat and persevering onward to give birth to the savior of the world. St. Joseph takes much concern for the life of Jesus since Herod ordered all newborn males to be slaughtered. The Church commemorates these martyred babies as “The Holy Innocents”. Joseph and Mary took Jesus and fled to Egypt to procure safety for their newborn king. In the situations that the parents of the savior found themselves, one cannot help but realize that they truly were pro-life in all situations.
Those involved in the Pro-Life cause are most likely familiar with St. Gianna Molla Beretta, the pro-life saint, par excellence. St. Gianna was married, a mother and a physician. While pregnant she refused to have an abortion and hysterectomy despite having a uterine tumor. Instead she chose to have surgery to remove the tumor. Following the procedure she continued to experience complications. Knowing that she might die, she made certain her family knew she desired for the child to have life. Gianna Emanuela was born on April 21, 1962, but in the days following the pregnancy Gianna developed septic peritonitis and died as a result. It would have been easy for St. Gianna to have had an abortion, or risked the life of the child, yet she chose life, because she could not reconcile an abortion with her Catholic morals.
Like St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Maximilian Kolbe chose to sacrifice his life in a heroic manner. After a man went missing from the barracks at the Auschwitz concentration camp, the Nazi commander decided to choose ten men to starve to death, so as to strike fear against escaping. Among the ten was a married man and father. St. Maximilian Kolbe spoke up and demanded to take the place of this Jewish family man; making the ultimate sacrifice of his life so that another might live.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, affectionately known by many as Mother Teresa, gave her life in the service to the dignity of life; caring for the poor and homeless on the streets of Calcutta, India. The life and mission of the order she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, in a sense adopted the “seamless garment,” the pro-life philosophy of Cardinal Bernardine of Chicago. The seamless garment called for respect of all life: for an end to abortion, and the respect and care of the elderly, the poor and the marginalized—everything that Mother Teresa lived for!
Blessed Chiara Badano, recently beatified on September 25th, 2010, was only 18 years old when she died from bone cancer. During the agonizing months leading up to her death, Chiara refused to take morphine because “she wanted to share in the sufferings of the cross”. She exemplified what it meant to live redemptive suffering. She always had time for others, walking with depressed or drug dependent patients at the hospital. She said “I have nothing left, but I still have my heart, and with that I can always love.” For the world, Blessed Chiara shows us the power of suffering and refusing to succumb to the culture of death—particularly euthanasia.
Lastly, the two saints who revolutionized the devotional life of the Church and were instruments of God’s revelation of His Son’s Heart are St. Margaret Mary Alocoque and St. Faustina Kowalska. Through these two saints God revealed his love and mercy in a powerful way. From the Sacred Heart of Christ, the heart that is pierced because of sin and the scourge of abortion, exudes mercy and the longing of Christ’s heart for the respect of all human life. St. Faustina, the messenger of the fountain of mercy from which blood and water gushed forth, reveals to us the mercy Christ wishes to spread over mankind—the mercy that can wipe away sin and can restore us to grace. In the diary, one reads about the mercy shown to Poland through the intercession of St. Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy. What more could our Lord do through her intercession in the culture of death?
May the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, usher in an era where abortion is no more and the conversions of abortionists abound. As people of life, may our communion with the saints and their intercessory prayer, win for us a culture of life and an end to the culture of death, Amen.
[Originally published in Lifers, a pro-life publication of the seminarians at Conception Seminary. ]