January 29, 2013 // Local

Pro-life pilgrims gather for diocesan Mass

Youths from the St. Augustine Youth Group, South Bend, get a photo with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and chaperones, Deacon Mel Tardy and his wife Annie, at St. Ann Church in Arlington, Va. Bishop Rhoades celebrated Mass on Jan. 26 for diocesan pilgrims who attended the National March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 25. In the photo, from left, are Tania Wilson, Gabriell Jones, Deacon Mel Tardy, Bishop Rhoades, Tiana Wilson, Annie Tardy and Annie Johnson.

ARLINGTON, Va. — While many Catholic National March for Life participants had ample opportunity to pray and celebrate the sacraments, diocesan pilgrims gathered Saturday morning with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades who celebrated Mass at St. Ann Church in Arlington, Va.

The memorial of the day was that of Ss. Timothy and Titus.

Bishop Rhoades told the pilgrims he was grateful for all who came to Washington from the diocese “to bear witness to the Gospel of Life.”

“As believers in Christ, we must defend and promote the right to life as we recognize the incomparable value of every human life from its very beginning at conception until its natural end,” Bishop Rhoades emphasized as he began his homily. “So many lives are destroyed by abortion and that is why we came to Washington to march. We cannot be passive or indifferent to this tragedy, to the culture of death and its perverse idea of freedom. The Lord calls us to show reverence and love for the life of every person, for human life is His gift and His image, including life in the womb.”

Ss. Timothy and Titus were companions and coworkers of St. Paul in the apostolic ministry. In the first reading of the day, St. Paul tells Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, … but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

“Courageous faith is needed in the Church today,” Bishop Rhoades said. “In working for a culture of life and love, we encounter powerful forces promoting the culture of death. But the power of love is the greatest power we have.”

“It is this power that is ultimately victorious, as Jesus shows us in His life, death and resurrection,” Bishop Rhoades added. “In all we do, we must rely on the help of God, His grace, and His power, for nothing is impossible for God. It is He who sustains us in the great struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness, in our own individual lives and in our culture. He gives us the strength, as He gave strength to Saints Paul, Timothy and Titus, to bear our share of hardship for the Gospel of life.”

Bishop Rhoades spoke of the day’s Gospel where Jesus sent the 72 disciples on a mission. He sent them “like lambs among wolves.”

“We may feel, at times, like lambs among wolves as Catholics in today’s culture,” Bishop Rhoades said. He told the pilgrims Jesus warned the 72 disciples that they would meet opposition as they carry out Jesus’ mission. Jesus also told them not to carry money or provisions.

“He wanted them to rely on God and the hospitality of others rather than on their own resources,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The same for us today. We are to rely on God and trust in His care for us as we go out like lambs among wolves. Our strength lies in acknowledging our weakness and our dependence on God as we bear witness to the Gospel of life and bring God’s love and peace to others.”

Jesus instructed the disciples to tell those they visit, “The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.”

“Though God’s reign will not be established in its fullness until the end of the world, it begins to be present in peoples’ lives through the healing and preaching of Jesus’ disciples,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The Kingdom of God becomes a reality in their lives as they are freed from the grip of evil. The coming of the Kingdom of God means the coming of God’s final triumph over evil. It means the coming of God’s reign over everyone and everything — His reign of love.”

Bishop Rhoades said, today, God is establishing His Kingdom through the proclamation of the Gospel and His Gospel is the Gospel of Life.

“As Jesus sent the 72, He sends us to proclaim and to serve the Gospel of life,” Bishop Rhoades said. “In so doing, the Kingdom of God grows and produces abundant fruit in the Church and in the world today.”

Susan Richter, principal of Saint Joseph High School in South Bend, attended the national march and Masses with 157 students and 15 chaperones.

“Bishop Rhoades’ homily was very meaningful and helped all present to understand their part in the Right to Life movement,” Richter told Today’s Catholic. “It’s not just about marching, but how we live out the Gospel every day. This is critically important as we continue to fight for respect for life.”

“It takes real courage, sacrifice and commitment to stand up to so many others in our society who believe that pro-choice is right,” she added. “We must persevere in this battle — we must fight to defend those that cannot defend themselves, especially the unborn.”

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.