ND Right to life buttons on a desk.

“Our march will be a witness”

Fr. Jenkins offers reflections on Christian charity and the sanctity of life

January 21, 2022

The University of Notre Dame annually sends one of the largest contingents of students, faculty and staff to the March for Life each January in Washington, D.C. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Notre Dame group was not able to travel to the nation’s capital for today’s event, but, instead, held an ND Day for Life, celebrating Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart followed by a campus march and rally.

University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., presided at the Mass and offered the following reflection in sending forth those gathered:

As we go forth, let’s remember Father Pete’s charge in his homily: We are to go forth from here guided by Christian charity.

On this issue of the basic right to life, about which we are so passionate, we may sometimes be tempted to be angry at those who support abortion. And that anger can grow into expressions of hatred and acrimony that seem so common in our public life these days.

I know this group will not be guided by those emotions. You will be guided by love.

We have just celebrated the Mass — the sacrament of God’s love for us in Jesus, in which God is present, speaking to our hearts in the words of Scripture, and nourishing our souls with the bread and wine, Christ’s body and blood. Strengthened by this sacrament, we will soon be charged, in the final words of the Mass, to go forth and glorify God with our lives. We do this by witnessing to the love to which Christ calls us.

As we march, then, we do so with love and compassion.

Love, of course, for the millions of children in the womb who are the victims of abortion.

Love also for mothers with crisis pregnancies who find themselves in circumstances in which abortion seems to them the best or even the only option.

Love and gratitude for the dedicated men and women who offer other opportunities for mothers and their babies at the Women’s Care Center and similar places.

Love as well even for those with whom we disagree and who oppose us.

For this is the hard Christian call — to love those who oppose us.

If we have this kind of love, our march will not be like others that simply advocate for a political cause or a change in a law. Our march will be a witness to the love that conquers all things, present in and proclaimed by this Eucharist, and present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. And it is precisely this love that will give our march its special power.

Let our march begin, then, and let us walk together in love, compassion and confidence in the ultimate victory of Christ over sin and death.