United for the pro-life cause

It was a wet, cold Saturday in November when I participated in my first Shield of Roses event as a student of Christendom College in front Royal. As a freshman, my preferred status on Saturday mornings would be asleep, but since another student had asked me to come with her to D.C. to pray in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic, I felt obligated to come and pray the rosary with the rest of the students who committed six hours of time and energy every Saturday to spiritually battling the culture of death.

On the two-hour drive from Front Royal into the city, we prayed to pass the time, with the intentions for a successful trip and the conversions of those who were considering abortions, as well as for those who worked at the clinic. I had no idea what to expect from a club that was run by and consisted solely of Christendom students like myself. I thought it would be a simple recitation of the rosary, as a sort of spiritual protest.

What I didn't know was that the Shield leaders were also sidewalk counselors, trained to evangelize as the rest of the students prayed. We knelt on the sidewalk, across the street from the clinic, while those designated as sidewalk counselors walked around the fences.

I also underestimated the emotional effect such an exposure would have on me. The grim reality of the situation was presented to us in the form of clinic employees, sent out to keep us from "trespassing" on the property. People entering and exiting the building stared at us and ignored the counselors. I had never done something like this before, and as I watched women walk into the clinic, I wanted to cry. I had heard so much talk about the "pro-life movement" that much of it had gone over my head, but as I joined the prayers and witnessed the attempts the counselors made to change the minds of the employees and the patients, I could feel the spiritual tension between the two sides.

Yet we were supported, too, by the passers-by who smiled, the people who waved from their cars, and the people who even joined our prayers for a few minutes. The pro-life movement's power to bring different denominations and cultures together was evident in the approvals our group gained from random strangers.

To get up early and drive to and from Washington was a sacrifice for some of the students, as I could tell from the number who fell asleep on the drive back to campus. This attitude, to work toward defeating the pro-choice attitude of our culture, is prevalent in our college, as our fundraiser for the local crisis pregnancy center this fall attested. We are college students, working to pay tuition and get a start on our lives in this economy, yet we were able to raise $7,000 for the center. When we participated in the Front Royal Walk for Life to further aid the center, students brought all their joy and enthusiasm to the event, singing hymns as they walked on Main Street in Front Royal.

Secular studies indicate that in college, most Americans become "pro-choice," lose their faith and ultimately find a way to fit into the shallow culture. Such is not the case at my school. The pro-life cause is close to our hearts. Many students at Christendom find the time and energy to volunteer at the pregnancy center. Last year, when ice and record-breaking low temperatures made the school decide to cancel the trip to D.C. for the March for Life, many students found cars and braved the elements anyway to make their voices heard.

But even though the majority of the students stayed back on campus, we found a way to contribute to the spirit of the March for Life, by spending much of the day in prayer and adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. Little acts, prayers and sacrifices, are just as crucial to the pro-life cause as marching in protest. Whether it's participating in the March for Life, joining in the multiple bake sales and bottle drives on campus, volunteering at the pregnancy center or just spending an hour in prayer, we are not indifferent to the pro-life cause.

The thing that counts, as we all understand, is the goal. Abortion is one of the darkest blots on our society. As part of the next generation, our aim is to renew a respect for life at its earliest stages and to educate others as we go along. We are all individuals with different views, and we disagree frequently, but when it comes to supporting life from the moment of conception onward, we are united.

Weaver is a sophomore at Christendom College in Front Royal.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015