By Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB
This is an excerpt from a homily given at St. Patrick's church in Victoria before the March for Life May 10.
Today is a celebration of the sacred value of human life, a prayer of thanksgiving that God cares for us from the first moment of our existence.
"You knit me together in my mother's womb," the Psalmist sings. "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." We are then celebrating, praising the God of life, the God who gives life.
Pope Paul VI wrote, "despite its hardships, its hidden mysteries, its suffering and its inevitable frailty, this mortal life is a most beautiful thing, a marvel ever new and moving, an event worthy of being exalted in joy and glory."
Every child who is conceived in his or her mother's womb bears the image of God and is called to eternal life in him.
We are also praying in a special way that reverence for life will grow and increasingly be realized in concrete ways in our province and nation. We pray in supplication: that we may be worthy and effective messengers of hope to a world where self-centeredness, greed, violence, and cynicism so often seem to choke the fragile growth of grace in people's hearts.
The commandments are not external impositions on us, given to restrict us or test our freedom. They tell us what is really good for us. To obey them is to follow the desire, the wishes, of the one we love; it is being pleasing to Him.
This is the sign of true friendship: willing what He wants, doing what He wants, following Him - as true friends do. If you care for the "little ones" - in whatever form that takes from the hungry, to the imprisoned, to the bullied, to the unborn in their mother's womb - then you are doing what Jesus did, and what Jesus wants you to do as His friend.
Let's remember, too, the reason why he tells us to "stick with him." Jesus wants us to be filled with joy and to be fully alive. Our joy is his joy, just as we are happy when a friend is happy.
"I have said these things so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete" (Jn 15:11).
So many of our contemporaries, including many of your own age, do not understand the source of joy, and they do not understand the fifth commandment: "you shall not kill." It is designed to protect human life as a great good. It tells us the solution to an unexpected or even unwanted pregnancy is not the so-called "choice" to kill an unborn child, as tiny and fragile as that little being is.
Abortion is so wrong not just "because God said so," as if it could be otherwise! No. It is wrong because it attacks what is truly wonderful and good: human life.
I know that many do not understand why threats against life not only destroy the lives of individuals but also eat away at the moral fiber of civilization itself, leading it to return to a state of barbarism, where life is treated trivially.
Abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide are often justified by the argument that a person has "a right to choose."
Of course, they do. But you can't choose to steal, to be violent, to be abusive, just because you want to.
Our choices are to be for the good, especially when what we want conflicts with another person's wants. In the case of abortion, the unborn cannot express his - or, more likely, her - desire to keep on living. They are still too small.
Nor, when you think of it, can an infant.
And so we must protect them; we must act on their behalf. That is why we are here in Victoria today. To act on behalf of those who want a choice - the choice to live.
You are their voice. It is up to you to tell the truth about life to your friends and to the wider community - just as we are doing today in our March for Life.
I encourage all of you to participate - now and especially in the future - in the political life of Canada. As citizens of a democracy we seek political and legislative solutions which will serve the common good of all citizens, especially the most vulnerable, including the unborn who have no voice but yours.