Last week, I shared with you a practice that I have when praying with the mysteries of the Rosary, asking Mary to help me better understand what she wants me to see from each decade. I had also mentioned how I often use the final two Glorious Mysteries (the Assumption of Mary and the Coronation of Mary) to ask for the grace to strengthen my desire for eternal life, the final destination to which all of God’s children are called.
As I continue to reflect on the Rosary during this month of October (the month of the Rosary), I think of the many different places and times where I have prayed the Rosary. One set of memories sticks out in a special way during this month of October which is also Respect Life Month in the Church. While I was in seminary in St. Louis, a group of seminarians would travel across the river to Granite City every Saturday morning to pray in front of the Hope Abortion Clinic. The first time I went, I had no idea what to expect. There were a few different groups around the building and we joined a group of Catholics who were peacefully praying the Rosary. The group would pray all 20 mysteries of the Rosary, something I had never done before. They used a little booklet of Pro-Life Rosary meditations to introduce each decade, giving the group something to consider as we prayed each decade. Those meditations often come to mind as I pray the Rosary now, and the meditation introducing the Assumption is one that I have found particularly powerful:
The Blessed Virgin Mary was taken body and soul into Heaven because she is the Mother of God. Mother and child are united. The Assumption reminds us that they belong together. We pray that society will see that it cannot love women while killing their children, and cannot save children without helping their mothers. We pray that people will be touched by the pro-life question, “Why can’t we love them both?”
That question would often sit in my mind as I prayed the Rosary, especially as I saw women entering the clinic for an abortion. For each woman, there was a story, often a very sad story such that they felt as through they had no option but to go through with the pregnancy. While some on the sidewalks tried to appeal to the mothers that there was a human life in their womb and that they needed to turn back from having the child in their womb taken, this often did not register. As one woman told me who had done much counselling for women faced with an unplanned pregnancy, those appeals almost never worked, because the women were so sacred about what this pregnancy meant to themselves. The counsellor said that what these women needed most was to be loved, to be encountered with love, not defined by the action they were about to take. Those women who encountered somebody on the sidewalk who loved them and appealed to them, not just the baby in their womb, were those most likely to reconsider because they were able to reassess their own value and dignity, which opened their hearts to move beyond the fears and to finally recognize the gift they had been given with the child in their womb.
As we pray the Rosary during this Respect Life Month, perhaps we can ask our Blessed Mother to touch the hearts of all the good people who work to build a culture of life, that as we undertake our various efforts, we may always be motivated by an authentic and generous love not just for the unborn children in the womb, but especially for the women who carry that gift of life. May we one day have a culture in which these women will find in us a loving encounter with Christ, for being touched by His love for them will be the most effective means for them to choose life.