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Celebrating the God of life at Life is Very Good

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Pro-lifers descended on the nation’s capital en masse Jan. 27 to stand up for the right to life. But before they marched for life, young people at the Life Is VERY Good youth rally were reminded that being pro-life is about more than opposing abortion. It’s about celebrating the life of every person and recognizing God as the Lord of life.


The annual event, held at Eagle Bank Arena in Fairfax, is sponsored by the Arlington Diocese’s Respect Life and Youth Ministry offices and requires months of preparation.


The rally began the evening before the March for Life with a night of prayer, opened with performances by musicians The Afters, speaker Mark Hart and emcee Father James R. Searby, chaplain at George Mason University in Fairfax. Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge welcomed the crowd and encouraged them to take a moment of prayerful silence during adoration. He held the monstrance in the Eucharistic procession that made its way around the arena amongst the more than 8,400 youths and volunteers reverently kneeling in prayer. 

In addition to the young people, the rally was filled with many men and women religious, as well as seminarians and novices. Sister Giovanna of the Sisters of Life was handing out Tiny Saints charms as people came through the doors. “It is so moving to see mercy in action,” said the Life is VERY Good veteran of five years. “It’s like a mini-World Youth Day.”


George Mason student Barbara Brophy also enjoyed the enthusiastic message of the rally.“Even though the event was for high schoolers, I think (as a college student) it makes you appreciate even more what is said and presented,” she said. “You appreciate even more how Father Searby and all the people tonight really understand their audience and they understand the gravity and also the joy of their message. The older I get the more I understand that it is not easy to be a faithful Catholic.”


The next morning, Jan. 27, students came for praise and worship music led by Ben Walther, a talk about the beauty of being children of God by Sister Miriam James Heidland, a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and Mass celebrated by Bishop Burbidge, Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo and dozens of priests. On behalf of Pope Francis, Msgr. Walter Erbi, counselor of the apostolic nunciature, relayed a message of encouragement to the crowd.


In his homily, Bishop Burbidge reminded the marchers to keep God at the center of their pro-life journey.


“If all our efforts on behalf of promoting and witnessing to the sacredness of all human life rely on ourselves and not God’s strength, then they’re in vain,” he said. “If today is about us and not about God, it’s merely a pep rally.


 “It's our sacred duty to encourage others to embrace the Gospel of life. We do so when we bring our beliefs and convictions into the public arena as we peacefully and prayerfully March for Life and proclaim its sacredness. The world cannot help but to notice you and to be encouraged,” Bishop Burbidge said.


Bolstered by the Mass and armed with a Chik-fil-A sandwich to go, the young marchers headed to their buses and out into the 44th annual March for Life. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017