Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

1/27/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Carrying the Cross Into Battle

There is a battle to be fought and WON, a battle for the unborn, a battle for Christ. The armor is heavy and uncomfortable, the journey is long and treacherous. Our efforts will be ignored, mocked and falsified. None of that matters, the battle continues and it must be WON. We will WIN, Christ is the Victor of that there is no doubt, but in the meanwhile we have to "soldier-up."

One perspective on an historci march for Life in 2013

One perspective on an historci march for Life in 2013

Highlights

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/27/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: 2013, March for Life, abortion, Obama, Suffering, cross, pro-life, Tara K. E. Brelinsky


ZEBULLON, NC (Catholic Online) - A cradle Catholic, I chose the topic of abortion as one of my high school English class assignments. Feeling bold and confident, I still remember standing at the front of the class, facing my peers, and passionately imploring them to understand the horrible realities of abortion. It was clear in my head and concise in my words, abortion was not a beneficial choice for unborn babies, nor their mothers. How could anyone see it differently?

Unfortunately, youthful passions often lack deep convictions.

A child born into the world just as the fateful decision of Roe vs. Wade was penned into history, my mother courageously chose life and would soon find herself raising me as a single parent. My Catholic  grammar school base instilled in me the general sense of right and wrong, but missing were some core truths. And my experiences would present me with a very distorted picture of "reality." The annual March for Life, in protest of Roe/Wade didn't even exist to my knowledge at this time.

Blessed was I to be surrounded by my mother's parents and five siblings, so I always felt like a cherished member of a big family, but juxtaposed with this life was the one I witnessed with my father.  Not that I want to discredit my father because in his defense he stuck around the periphery of my life.  He loved me, but it has to be said that I was effected by the seeming glamor of a life lived for self. I watched the pursuit of love, time and time again with different partners.  I understood myself as part of that pursuit, wanted when convenient.

So, when the hormones of my teenaged years revved into full gear, self destruction lie ahead. 

The truths that I had espoused in that high school English class were too easily abandoned by the "thoughtful" opinions of the opposition. Surely, I knew good people, honest friends, friend's parents even, who testified to the necessity for choice, personal choice in all things. In fact, they presented choice as the mature stance to take. Since I was busy exercising my own personal, self destructive choice in various arenas of my personal life, that message felt empowering and it certainly fit in with the pursuit of self-satisfying love. 

A good friend's mother even shared her own story of abortion when she, as a single mother to two already, became pregnant by a boyfriend. And how could I condemn friends, whom I loved, who felt pressured into aborting their firstborn children to satisfy parents, to hide their sin or just to save themselves from their worst fears? Standing against abortion became equated to condemnation and how could a good, mature Catholic condemn others whom they proclaimed to love?

As God has done time and time again throughout my life, He offered me glimpses of reality, not the personal "reality" of my ego, but the REALity of His creation. Young friends of mine chose life for their son in spite of the substantial obstacles before them.  Brian, their baby, came into the world bearing so many crosses.  Only a portion of his brain developed in utero and he routinely suffered seizures, he was the picture of innocence and beauty wrapped up in suffering, a new reality for me.  Brian came home to the embrace of a family who loved him dearly. He spent his eleven months on earth swaddled in the arms of many. Bitter tears were shed at his funeral, as I lacked the understanding of the deep meaning of the Cross in my faith. Couple this experience with the "thoughtful" messages of the pro-life opposition and it is no wonder that I temporarily established myself in the pro-abort camp.

The world sells us the commercial image of perfect, pretty people satisfying their wants with stuff.  Suffering and sacrifice don't sell. Happiness and its pursuit are the avenue to the endgame of self-satisfaction, honor and fortune. Of course, Christ lived, suffered and died to free us from this distortion, but the constant drone of the world seems to have all but drowned out His still, gentle voice.

By the grace of God, as my early twenties waned, my errors were corrected and my suppressed pro-life heart was fortified by truth. I will never forget the night, sitting alone in front of my computer screen, I stumbled upon the images of abortion. The Priests for Life website confronted me with the first graphic depictions of abortion. Weeping, I forced myself to look at those tiny babies and their brutally dismembered parts. Painful pictures, but somehow necessary, like the crucifix hanging in the forefront of every Catholic Church. Never again could my brain justify murder as a personal choice. Never again could I be duped into believing the pro-abort stance was an expression of love. I cried until my head ached and I sent an email thanking the website for opening my eyes, literally. 

Consider the difference between the bare cross and the crucifix. How often do we prefer the innocuous image of Christ's sacrifice, free of the marks of torture and agony? But in doing so, we alter the truth, we shield ourselves from the deeper meaning.

Now that we know of its existence, in the last few years, accompanied by our big brood, my husband and I have attended the annual March of Life in Washington, D.C. Each year of participation has been a little different. Now pregnant and with the knowledge that my husband's work schedule prevented his attendance, apprehension set in at the thought of braving this year's march. My children, in contrast, were fully engaged for battle and had their sights set on Constitution Avenue.

President Obama's 2nd term inauguration was scheduled for the same locale less than a week before the marchers would traverse our country's Capitol to mark the 40th anniversary of the legalization of fetal murder. I literally prayed that God would make evident through His creation the stark truth of that week. Not wishing harm on our President, I simply asked for a stormy inaugural Monday, complete with thunder and torrents of rain, contrasted with a sunny, mild marchers' Friday. Obviously, my preference for personal comfort was steering my prayers. 

Against some loving advice from family and friends, against my own internal struggle, before the rising of the sun, I boarded the bus for D.C flanked by my children and a couple of extra teens on Friday morning. The forecast ahead predicted a dismal picture. 

Our priest, a rider on one of the other three buses leaving from our parish, boarded ours long enough to offer prayer and inspiration. He reminded us that it was the feast of the conversion of St. Paul and  challenged us to be acutely aware throughout the day of God's Presence.

Not one of my preferences manifested, except perhaps that I was able to plant my pregnant bladder near the bus rest room. Entertaining a four year old on a bus for four hours requires lots of patience which is in shorter supply in my before-referenced state. Bus seats are only comfortable for about two hours at best. 

Because we were traveling with a group, we had to keep up with a less than family-friendly pace throughout the day. While the sun shone on inaugural Monday, snow fell amid freezing temperatures on Life Friday. Our hand warmers numbed our palms, but failed to stave off the sting biting at our fingertips. Navigating a stroller along with three young ones and four teens through a sea of shoulder to shoulder strangers is a nerve-wracking feat. Sorry I am to all my fellow marchers who suffered clipped heels and rolled over toes during my defensive stroller driving. 

Plans to stop and warm up with hot chocolate got canceled along the route, so by the day's end I was trying to comfort a teary, shivering 6yo while straining to hold my crying 4yo, not to mention the whining 8yo. More frustrating was the fact I couldn't answer the question as to when the day would   end and the bus would open its welcoming doors. Every mother knows the feeling of watching her suffering child without having the ability to end the sorry, it is perhaps the worst feeling in the world.

The ride home was equivalent, in my opinion, to torture. Overtired kids fighting sleep, bus seats as comfortable as concrete slabs, temperatures in the rear of the bus now equal to a sauna, pregnancy hormones over-riding all sense of inner peace... Add to that the fact that our journey ended in a church parking lot hidden under an inch of solid ice and one might consider it understandable that I fell into bed promising that I would never, ever do that again.

A new day dawned this morning, finding me refreshed and inspiring me to take a second look. 

Like that empty, decorative cross, I thought a day of ease would represent the same meaning. But just as the crucifix is the honest representation of sacrificial love, so too a day of redemptive suffering bore out a deeper understanding of the reality of the battle we are engaged in. Abortion is a horror, an abominable act of violence waged against the most innocent among us. There is nothing sanitary nor incorruptible about it. 

Christ gave His life; He offered up His flesh to torturers; He silently endured false accusations and mocking; He carried His Cross even though at times the very weight of it crushed Him. He gave us the true symbol of love, agape. That symbol is the Cross. His Apostles understood, they embraced their crosses and thereby spread His Truth throughout the world and through history.

I guess old distortions remain for me, I still struggle with the REALity of my faith at times. Self and   its attraction to comfort still get in my way. Of course, the March for Life shouldn't be an easy offering, especially this year. Of course, 40 years and 50 million lives shouldn't be marked by a sunny day filled with smiles, cookies and hot chocolate. I wept when first confronted by the images of aborted babies, why shouldn't I have been surrounded by weeping as I marched in their defense?

Friday was the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, but before that bright light struck him, he was an enemy of Christians. Known for his readiness to torture and persecute the followers of Jesus Christ.  However, when Saul, Paul's former name, felt the light of God upon him, when he heard the voice of God call his evil deeds out, he changed forever. Christ's life, suffering, death and resurrection took on their deeper meaning, Paul was transformed. And his conversion, the conversion of so great and so prominent a sinner, had wide spread and long lasting effects (even 2000+ years later). Keep in mind, Paul did not simply have a conversion of heart and than go back to a life of comfort and ease. He followed his Love, Jesus, he suffered, was imprisoned, and died for the Truth. 

Reflecting today, I realize there was greater power to be born out and witnessed by Friday's suffering.  There is the redemptive suffering which only Christ fully understands. There is the witness to our fellow brothers and sisters that shows our deep-seated commitment to the pro-life cause, unlike my shallow-rooted high school testimony. To this end, it is no wonder that the media has spent year after year hiding this march from American citizens. They dupe non-participants into continuing to buy the lies of commercial reality.

Taking Father's advice to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I came to the realization that President Obama is every bit the man that Saul once was, but he has the potential to become a Paul. He needs our prayers for his conversion of heart, not prayers for rainy days.

Like Christ, my suffering gives witness to my convictions, it calls me to focus less on self and more on the battle for others. It allows me to teach my children, through actions, that love is sacrificial, that it is not self-serving, that it isn't simply given when convenient. 

There is a battle to be fought and WON, a battle for the unborn, a battle for Christ. The armor is heavy and uncomfortable, the journey is long and treacherous. Our efforts will be ignored, mocked and falsified. None of that matters, the battle continues and it must be WON. We will WIN, Christ is the Victor of that there is no doubt, but in the meanwhile we have to "soldier-up."

Will I attend future Marches for Life? I pray that they will be celebrations of victory instead, but until then, yes, I will. Will I go with all of my kids in tow? Yes, I will because I want their pro-life hearts to be deeply rooted in REALity. Will I see you there? I hope so, and if I happen to run over your toes with a stroller, I'm sorry, think of it as your offering of self.  


Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a home schooling mother of seven living children, with six more heavenly ones who intercede.  Married to her childhood sweetheart, they make their home in North Carolina where they teach Natural Family Planning, grow a garden, raise two dogs, a cat and a bunch
of chickens.  Tara studied journalism a lifetime ago in college, but now she writes for the the glory of God.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Living Faith

Abolish death penalty and life imprisonment, Pope Francis declares Watch

Image of The Vatican recently eliminated life imprisonment from its own penal code, Pope Francis noted.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Calling for the abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment, Pope Francis soundly denounced what he called a "penal populism." The world's prescribed cure for crime - punishment, should never overtake the pursuit for social justice, he says. LOS ... continue reading


Making a Difference - Newly beatified pope championed justice and peace

Image of Pope Paul VI addresses the UN during his 1965 appeal for peace.

By Tony Magliano

With numerous armed conflicts raging in various parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965 proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: "No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and ... continue reading


'War does not begin in the battlefield. Wars begin in the heart,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis addressed the topic of war. With the majority of the world engaged in some sort of battle, and it's up to the individual to realize that major conflicts begin with little things. LOS ... continue reading


Finding the Path to Peace Through Forgiveness Watch

Image of For he (Jesus) is our peace, he made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his Flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one Body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father- St Paul

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In 1999 I was a part of Project Reconciliation led by a true peacemaker, paralyzed police officer Detective Steven McDonald. This trip was a part of Steven McDonald's mission of preaching peace through forgiveness. It had the goal of helping to heal the wounds ... continue reading


The Parable of the Rich Man: Becoming Rich in What Matters To God

Image of

By Deacon Frederick K. Bartels

What leads to permanent and lasting happiness? As Jesus points out, becoming "rich in what matters to God" is the key. When we place God first, and love our neighbor as another self, we soon begin to experience a perceptible, lasting happiness that is not of this ... continue reading


Pope Paul VI closer to sainthood with beatification by Pope Francis Watch

Image of Pope Paul VI cleaned house, abolishing the pontifical court and simplifying the Curia, the Vatican's administrative arm. Pope Francis is continuing his predecessor's effort to reform to this day.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis cleared the process for sainthood for Pope Paul VI after his beatification over the weekend. Pope Paul VI led the Catholic Church through internal reform during a tumultuous time of social and political change before his death in 1978. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


We Need Courageous Bishops: Ignatius of Antioch is a Model Watch

Image of Ignatius of Antioch - I know what is to my advantage. At last I am becoming his disciple. May nothing entice me till I happily make my way to Jesus Christ! Fire, cross, struggles with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs-let them come to me, provided only I make my way to Jesus Christ. I would rather die and come to Jesus Christ than be king over the entire earth. Him I seek who died for us; him I love who rose again because of us.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

We need Bishops like Ignatius in this new missionary age of the Church. There is a literal assault on marriage and the family in much of the West. Yet, what the Church has to offer on the truth about marriage and the family paves the path to a future of true ... continue reading


Need a chapel? Pope Francis to rent Sistine Chapel for charity Watch

Image of Pope Francis is renting out the Sistine Chapel for charity.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is renting out the Sistine Chapel for charity. The decision marks the first time that the chapel has ever been rented out for charity. It will be used for a private concert hosted by Porsche. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Vatican has announced ... continue reading


On World Food Day, a reminder of Pope Francis' mission for the Church Watch

Image of It's time to ensure that everybody has enough.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Today is World Food Day and we are all called to do what we can to feed others. This year's World Food Day falls during Pope Francis' 'Week of Action' where all Catholics are called to pray and act to feed the world's hungry. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Today, ... continue reading


Pope Francis: The only thing that counts for Jesus is 'faith working through love' Watch

Image of Pope Francis related former Jesuit leader Father Arrupe's lesson in humility in his recent talk.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis reiterated in his morning homily that faith is not about appearances and superficially following Church laws. The Pontiff said that God wants to see a faith that inspires action and is "working in charity" and making sacrifices for others. LOS ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:1-6
1 I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you therefore to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:54-59
54 He said again to the crowds, 'When you see a cloud ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 24th, 2014 Image

St. Anthony Mary Claret
October 24: Claretian archbishop and founder. Anthony was born in Salient in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter