“TAKE THE whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph 6:13).
With these words, St. Paul exhorts the Christians in Ephesus to stand firm in the faith, despite the opposition of the culture around them — a culture that was opposed to life at a fundamental level. For example, it was regular practice in the Roman Empire to expose unwanted or malformed babies and leave them to die. What to do in such a world?
Those early Christians had very limited tools for social change. So, St. Paul says “stand.” What does “standing” look like? St. Paul elaborates: First, pray. Call out to God for his aid. And second, speak. St. Paul ends his letter asking the Ephesians to pray “that I may have the courage to speak as I must” (Eph 6:20).
This is good advice for us too, for we face increasing hostility to life in our own culture. The urgency of the issue has been elevated of late, owing to the passage of legislation by the U.S. House of Representatives that wiped out the Hyde Amendment and other related protections to prevent taxpayer money from being used to fund abortion. I hope that the House-passed funding bill will be moot by the time you read this. But the fact that lawmakers took steps to force all American taxpayers to pay for abortion on demand — for the first time in 45 years — is a tragic shift and a startling break with bipartisan precedent.
The Hyde Amendment, sponsored in 1976 by U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde (1924-2007), a brother Knight, was a bipartisan provision that had been adopted annually by Congress and signed into law by presidents of both parties. It prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions in almost all programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.
‘Standing comes with cost. And we can expect a fight as we work to defend innocent human life. This is why the Holy Father’s call to follow St. Joseph as a man of creative courage is so important.’
While we ultimately desire prohibitions that go further to protect human life, the Hyde Amendment at least protected pro-life Americans from funding an evil they opposed. It has been credited with saving an estimated 2.4 million children since it was enacted, and it has served as the foundation for a number of other similar federal and state provisions.
The actions of the House also fail to consider that a majority of Americans are against forcing taxpayers to pay for abortion. Our annual Marist poll, released last January, confirmed that 58% of Americans oppose such funding. And yet our lawmakers have taken this step.
Brothers, it is time to stand. That is, it is time to pray and to speak. As Pope Francis told us in his message for our 139th Supreme Convention: “In an age of epochal change, our societies need the courageous witness of men of faith and integrity, who can serve as a leaven of Christ’s kingdom of justice and peace, holiness and truth.”
And so, let us pray and recommit ourselves to building a culture of life, to praying the rosary frequently, to fasting and doing penance. And let us speak: letting our members of Congress know — together with our family and neighbors — where we stand.
Standing comes with cost. And we can expect a fight as we work to defend innocent human life. This is why the Holy Father’s call to follow St. Joseph as a man of creative courage is so important. St. Paul had many enemies, and his life was constantly threatened. Yet he was fearless, stating: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16). Strong words, but also encouraging ones because they make our duty so clear.
So brothers, we too must have the courage to preach the Gospel. We too must stand, with St. Paul and all Christians throughout history, for the poor, the weak, the abandoned, the elderly, and the most vulnerable of all — the unborn.
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