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Rome

We Still Need Heroes

April 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

We woke up Sunday morning to the sound of bells across the city. Then followed by helicopters overhead. The city of Rome was preparing for the canonization ceremony for Saint John Paul II and Saint John XXIII.

The night before we’d walked through St. Peter’s Square to see policemen welding manhole covers closed for security, and young people roaming in groups strumming guitars and singing hallelujahs. The city was alive with celebration. The joy was palpable, and most impressively among students. While my feet were sore from walking all day, one group of young people had formed a large circle and were dancing.

I’ve come to see that we live in a world hungry for true heroes.

Sunday morning as we walked toward St. Peter’s Square, we saw a series of RV’s parked along the Tiber River, with their radios blaring the sounds of the lead-up to the Canonization Mass.

So many different languages! Probably the most memorable image in my mind is the little boy on a bridge, still a mile away from St. Peter’s, kneeling next to his mother, hands folded, eyes tightly shut in prayer.

What is an evangelical to make of this adoration? As I’ve listened to my Catholic friends talk about the canonization of these two men over the last several days and observed the celebrations, I’ve come to see that we live in a world hungry for true heroes. photoIn lifting up these two men, the Church gives us examples of people who lived lives of devotion to God and service to mankind. I want to set aside differences in theology and the question of what it means to be a saint for this reflection: I am impressed by the elevation of someone based on a spiritual measurement, rather than the temporal ones of power and beauty with which we are oh so far more familiar.

We still need heroes. Men and women of faith and selflessness whose example calls us to make hard choices. People who demonstrate that a deep joy exists in a life invested in learning and committed to spiritual discipline.

That kind of inspiration leads a small boy on a bridge to dream of being a great man. And that could change the world.

Michelangelo’s Pieta: Inspiration for LIFE

April 16, 2014 | By | No Comments

This Easter, as I’m preparing to travel to Rome for an international pro-life conference, I find myself drawn to the Pieta, perhaps Michelangelo’s most famous work, that is on display in the Vatican.

It occurs to me that in that extraordinary work, we can be inspired for life, and the potential that all of us born and unborn carry in us.

And you can’t always imagine, in those dark days, how brighter days lie ahead.

The anguished face of Mary, holding her son Jesus, crucified and dead, reminds us that motherhood does hold sorrow and difficult days. But Mary’s most difficult day was not the end of the story. It was not the only day of her motherhood. Easter is a celebration of life, of Jesus raised from the dead with a message that we have hope and a future. Mary’s love for her son, physical even spiritual, is mirrored in the passion that we can have for own children, no matter what comes.

And you can’t always imagine, in those dark days, how brighter days lie ahead.

Even the story of how the Pieta came to be inspires with life’s potential. Michelangelo came from a family of modest mean, of no real prominence, carving the Pieta at only 24. He received that commission from a French Cardinal known to live a very faithful life during dark days in Rome, who wanted to leave behind in that great city something of beauty, something inspired. He took a chance on a young unknown… but not he alone.

A man named Jacopo Galli guaranteed the wonder of the Pieta as he drew up the contract between the man of God and the unknown artist. Galli put his reputation on the line, for the hope of something great to come. And it did.

We in the pro-life movement share that message with the world that every life has potential; that taking a chance with hope is worth it. People’s extraordinary potential comes from inside, not bound by family of origin or circumstance, and not diminished by the realities of hard times and dark days.

I will have the great opportunity to visit the Pieta in the Vatican later this month, thankful that a few took a chance on a young man, believing he could be great. And thank you for supporting the work of Americans United for Life, where we believe the same of every child.