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***To see my featured talk "How Love Defeats Porn" given at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. click here. ***

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Takeaways from the March For Life (through photos and video)

This is my sixth March For Life I've participated in, but this year's experience was significantly different than the other ones.  Here's how through photos:

1.) Attending the Mass For Life at the Verizon Center
I've always heard about the Mass, but never had a chance to go.  I was really grateful to go through the youth group at my parish St. Andrew the Apostle in Silver Spring, MD.  The event (although apparently smaller this year due to the weather) was amazing.  I felt like a high school kid again feeling the spirit of youth around me, singing along and even dancing to the rally part before we said a rosary which was then followed by the beautiful Mass.  I highly recommend everyone to go at least once during this time of the year.  This is the future of the Catholic church.

2.) Marching with University of Maryland Catholic Terps
Same chants, different school.  For my first four Marches (and even the fifth when I found them), I walked with my fellow students at The Catholic University of America.  We used to take somewhere around 200-plus students on the Metro to march.  It was there where we learned the chants from our old priest Fr. Bob, and throughout those years the megaphone torch passed from first the legendary Joshua Baum, then down to me and my boy Bobby Kilner.  In those four years we chanted things like "Hey hey, ho ho, Roe v Wade has got to go!" or "Your mom, chose life!" or "Pro-Choice, it's a lie, babies never choose to die!" or my favorite "I. Believe. That. We. Love. Life!"

This year I was with the students from the Catholic Student Center at the University of Maryland-College Park.  I've recently started working there last semester as their part-time Men's Campus Minister, so it was appropriate to lead chants with them this year.  They have a great chaplain in Fr. Rob and staff, and it's a pleasure to work with these students.  Looking forward to this semester.

3.) Hispanic Catholics represent!
We all hear the statistics: the Hispanic and Latino population is ever increasing in our country, especially in the Catholic church.  I believe the future of the Church is headed that way, but often in my Catholic experiences, their presence is lost, including in this March for the past several years.  When I was standing at the Supreme court at the March, I wondered if  Hispanic Catholics cared as well as I hadn't seen any yet that day.

Then I heard the hand drum, then I heard the cheers, then I saw the jumping, and the the enthusiastic large group of several Hispanics march down the street.  They were by far the most vibrant and alive group I saw all March and I loved all of it.  Where were they from?  I went around to look at their banner---Diocese of Raleigh!  My old diocese in North Carolina!  With such fond memories of high school life came back to me, I couldn't be happier about their presence, from my old home state, old diocese, enthusiastically alive here on the March.  Other Hispanic communities, take note!  You are the future and we need you to represent.

4.) Stopping Abortion begins with Chastity
I really loved that throughout the March, there were people from the Generation of Life group giving out these following stickers.  This is huge for all of us to connect the dots.  Working at crisis pregnancy center Centro Tepeyac in Silver Spring, I can tell you that people who have abortions are not bad people--- they are only misguided, misinformed, and in unfortunate situations.  A vast majority of abortions happen through women who get pregnant out of wedlock.  What if we had a generation that truly understood the meaning of sex, and the enormous value of saving it until marriage.  Which leads to last point...

5.) One of the biggest contributing factor to abortion: Men's chastity
The part of yesterday's experience I was most proud of was when a video that was shown during the Mass For Life where two of our teenage males from St. Andrew's youth group were highlighted talking about how men can help stop the cause of abortion by being pure themselves.  It does take two to tango, and media makes it really hard for guys to guard our eyes, but what if all men understood and valued the dignity of women and saw them holistically beautiful, instead of just for  pleasure and lust.  Less pre-marital sex, more value of saving it until a loving marriage, and babies will be born into a family that's ready for them.  We have to start somewhere, and we men (and women) can start with ourselves and educating others about authentic chastity.


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