Today I attended a Mass marking the 20th day, or the mid-point of 40 Days for Life. This is a 24/7 prayer vigil held on the sidewalk across the street from an abortion facility. The targetted abortion clinic is diagonally across the street from our parish church, St. Charles Borromeo. From the little knowledge I have of it, the 40 Days for Life movement is an intensive prayer effort coupled with the sacrifice of praying outdoors for an end to abortion. The prayers are focused first of all on the clients, the young pregnant women who seek to end the life of the child within them. There were some extremely cold days and nights in the past 20 days. I pray that the sacrifices made by men and women of all ages and walks of life will save many children from extinction in abortion mills. Our Archbishop Thomas Collins quoted one of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories about a man who wanted to steal from Father Brown. The would-be-thief tried to distract Father Brown with highfalutin language so as to steal a cross from him. Father Brown broke into the man's rambling by quoting the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not steal." Thou shalt not steal is a commandment, not an option. So too "Thou shalt not kill" is not a suggestion. It is a commandment. May abortion be replaced by a love for and a culture for life. May 40 Days for Life continue on for all the days of this year. I pray that both America and Canada be places where love for unborn life is a priority among all citizens.
The penance which the 40 Days for Life participants practice reminded me again of St. Patrick whose feast is on Tuesday. There is a place of pilgrimage in County Mayo, Ireland, in a little village near the town of Westport. Pilgrims walk or drive to a visitor center from where they climb a steep rock strewn hill. It is said that in the year 441 A.D. St. Patrick spent 40 days in prayer and fasting on that mountain. Croagh Patrick, as it is called, has been a place for Christian pilgrims and penitents since the earliest of Christian days in Ireland.
For more information on Croagh Patrick check out the web site: www.croagh-patrick.com.
Tomorrow evening, March 16, for those who can tune in, watch the story of the wave of Irish immigrants who came to Toronto in 1847: Death or Canada. It will tell also the story of Toronto's first Catholic prelate, Bishop Power.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!