If any pro-lifers from across the UK and further afield had significant misgivings about making the trip to the Black Country for the ‘March for Life’ in May last year, they could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The only tinge of regret I had was that our minibus from Newcastle reached Birmingham only after midday, so we missed Mass and the Holy Hour in St Chad’s Cathedral. However, having prayed the Rosary and a Chaplet of Divine Mercy on the journey, none of our contingent had cause to feel any of the spiritual impoverishment against which we had come to do battle.
Joining a queue in the cathedral, it also seemed important to pray in front of an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and specifically, some prayers to St Juan Diego which included the following: “Take to Our Lady protectress of the unborn, all the Holy Innocents lost through abortion. Help us to remember that Human Life is sacred. Beloved Juan Diego, show us the way to Our Lady of Guadalupe that she may receive us in the depths of her heart and guide us to the true God. Amen.”
At 1pm we gathered on a patch of grass to one side of the cathedral for the welcome from the organisers. After this Archbishop Bernard Longley, the kind guarantor that our day would have his Apostolic seal of approval, said a few timely words of encouragement, as well as warning that there would be some opposition to our rally on Chamberlain Square later in the afternoon.
If you’ve never heard of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen, find one of her videos on YouTube and let her tell you her story. In Birmingham on May 16th last year, she was magnificent!
“I am a Christian first and pro-life activist second.”
She is Jesus’s girl! So much so in fact, not only did Our Lord bring her, as He did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (cf. Daniel, ch.3), through the fiery furnace of an abortion attempt; but when she tells Him to do something, He does it!
All of us will remember that, although the sun was out, it was very windy in Birmingham that day, causing Gianna inconvenience as she spoke. Of course, she could joke about this with no little aplomb, but there came a point when she simply said: “Lord – I’ve had it with this wind. Take it away!”
Within a couple of seconds of making this demand, about half-way through her 45 minute-long testimony, the wind dropped, and there was no more than a gentle breeze for the rest of the time she spoke to us!
“And he said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.’ And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)
Gianna Jessen is an inspiration to women, to men, to girls and boys, mothers and fathers, priests and religious, educators, philosophers, doctors, factory workers, taxi-drivers – everyone on the face of this earth! Even if she might not win, I for one would love to see her challenge, for instance, Hillary Clinton as a candidate for the presidency of the United States! She not only speaks the truth – Gianna Jessen is close to Jesus because she is the truth. She is the truth of our invincible cause; she is a living refutation of every shred of foolish, deceitful propaganda trotted out by the abortion industry.
We then dispersed and made our way, to the sound of Marian hymn-singing, to Chamberlain Square. Here we encountered our dear brothers and sisters in the opposition camp, who were as noisy and disruptive as could be expected, though we outnumbered them by at least 5:1. Among their supporters however, were representatives with a giant banner of at least one of the UK’s biggest teaching unions; a reminder of the abortion industry’s success in getting its claws on the formation of our children.
We were then addressed by Obianuju (Uju) Ekeocha, from Nigeria; a Biomedical Scientist by profession, and founder of Culture for Life Africa. Her African heritage was a rebuke to our rowdy antagonists in itself, and she was extremely eloquent and courageous in drawing a parallel between the systematic ‘de-humanisation’ which allowed her fellow Africans to be forced into slavery until 200 years ago, and the de-humanisation of unborn children which allows them to be killed in such dreadful numbers today.
As a final act of witness, we all knelt and prayed in silence for a few moments, before singing the Salve Regina. Being relatively so far from home, our North East minibus-load then had to make our way back to St Chad’s in some haste, so as not to keep the driver waiting. After a group photo and a few goodbyes (‘God-be-with-ye’s) to people we’d met, we filed back on board the charabanc, and had no trouble at all in sustaining our joyful and prayerful spirits all the way home.
For full details of this year’s March for Life, due to take place on Saturday May 14, visit www.marchforlife.co.uk.
James Bruce is currently writing an account of a pilgrimage from Scotland to Malawi, to raise money for school-feeding charity Mary’s Meals.