Recently I put out flyers for a Catholic conference being held in our area. The people behind the apostolate are good, solid, loving members of the Catholic Church. They are family oriented. They are loyal to the Magisterium. They understand that Faith means more than just belief; it means an assent of the will. They are Dominican. Their only real flaw, as far as I can tell, is that they are Raider fans.
They have chosen to focus on the family in Catholic life. They believe (and I agree) that a strong Catholic family means a strong Catholic Church. And strong Catholic Church means a strong community at large, because to be a strong Catholic means we care about society as a whole.
I am a bit of thorn in their side, however, because I constantly remind them (like, you know, any chance I get) that there is a segment of the Catholic Population that is growing and largely forgotten. To forget about them is to undermine the Family as a whole, because theologically the Family is more than just the domestic church; rather, it is the Body of Christ.
I am aware of this growing population because I belong to it - we are the Baby Boomers who are back in the Pew.
We lived scandalous lives and then got our heads out of our armpits. We killed our own children because we mistakenly believed we didn't HAVE a choice - much like Michelle Williams we honestly believed that unless we killed our child we would not be able to go forward and achieve in our careers, or we were told by the 'him' in our life that we would be left alone and so unable to care for ourselves and our child, or we were forced into the abortion clinic through physical or mental coercion by well meaning parents who thought their child couldn't have a child. Whatever our reason most of us did not really have a choice because we didn't think we had any other option, and now we are reaping what we have sown.
We have our houses. We have our dependable cars. We have our bank accounts. We have our dogs and our cats. We can bake, crochet, create beautiful artwork, cook an amazing meal, decorate a lovely home. We read, we are well educated and up on current affairs. We volunteer in and outside the Parish. We have those bank accounts the parish Administrators love to tap.
What we don't have is family.
We have no grandchildren to hold, no daughter to pass on that wedding dress in our closet to, no son to dance with at the reception. We have no child to congratulate when they get the promotion, we have no one to sit with at Mass.
We have to hire someone to put up those outside Christmas lights. We put jerseys on our dogs during football season. We pray for all of you every day before the Blessed Sacrament or in the privacy of our bedrooms and then we read your online posts about what you think about post abortive women and we cringe.
Our favorite Scripture passages have to do with returning sinners, because that is who we identify with the most. We know what it is like to come to the realization that society lied to us, that we BOUGHT that lie hook, line and sinker, and now we just want to come home and be a part of The Church.
We sit in the pew and look at all the people around us who we think lived life the right way and now their entire family - Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad and all 15 of their perfectly scrubbed children - fill two pews and we think.....look what I did....forgive me....look what I did.
Now, of course we are not completely right in this - it is envy and jealousy on our part and that is a sin. Besides I don't know any perfect families with perfectly behaved children. I don't care how cute they are in their matching outfits and how many pictures you put on FB I know there are times when the moms in those photos want to run screaming from the room or the dads think about faking their deaths and moving to France. I am not naïve. I get it.
I also know that there is a beauty to my life that they do not share. It is not a BETTER beauty but it is a beauty none the less. I can spend all night reading if I want. I can binge on Netflix. I can say, "No" to attending a party or I can attend three in the same evening. I can go to the Adoration Chapel whenever I feel like it and I do not have to cook if I don't want to and all I really HAVE to do is make sure I am a good steward to my animals and to the environment around me in the ways the Church teaches.
However, I am aware that we as a society often have a hard time integrating issues. We think Pro Life only means being against abortion. As important as that issue is we forget that being Pro Life means so much more. It means working towards clean water and air, providing a good solid education to all, the availability of good jobs (not just minimum wage ones, either, people), affordable and safe housing, care for the sick and the elderly, reaching out to the poor and the mentally ill, supporting law enforcement and our military and first responders and otherwise working towards a society that supports the Dignity of the Human Person at ALL stages of development. We think family means ONLY the domestic church and we forget that it also means caring for and loving those who have fallen short but by golly they are back and they are trying to be a part of the Body of Christ.
I challenge all Catholics and all our Parishes to look at the Whole Life idea of being Pro Life. Look around you - who is at Mass every week that you see but to whom you have never said hello.? Are they wearing a nice pair of earrings? Compliment them. Do they have a Raiders jacket on? Commiserate with them. Can you shoot them a smile as you get into your regular place in the pew? Double dog dare you - shoot out that smile.
Let's not forget these members of the Body of Christ. They are special, they have a worth that may be unnoticed and they have so much to offer.
And if you are one of the Forgotten, make some noise. Become a Catechist, attend classes, contribute to the bake sale, haunt the office and make yourself available to help. More importantly? Look for that family that doesn't have a Noni or a Nono and make yourself available. Don't have grandkids? GO GET SOME.
Let's reclaim our lives - and let's show the world what being prolife really is!