Our good friend from New Jersey, guest blogger Sean Miller, recalls the first time he marched for life in a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2013
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.
It was the first time I was going to march in a parade. And it wasn’t just any parade. It was the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, dear to my heart for a number of reasons.
First of all, I’d be celebrating my Irish heritage of which I am very proud, and I’d be honoring St. Patrick, my namesake. (My middle name is Patrick).
Also, I’d be representing the unborn, marching with the local right-to-life group. In a rather hostile, modern world, that was a challenge I was proud to take up.
But I did have some reservations. How would the onlookers react? Would there be hostility or confrontation?
When I arrived at our designated meeting place, it looked like we might be quite a small group. And as the minutes ticked by, I became increasingly concerned since there were not nearly enough people to carry our banners, flags, and signs.
But as the time for the parade to begin approached, our numbers started to grow. Soon we had 20+ joyful, spirit-filled, prolife marchers, eager to march as witnesses to life. I was excited but, even still, uncertain as to what to expect.
The parade finally stepped off, and the number of spectators was quite impressive. As we continued for the next hour and a half with periodic stops, there was something about the atmosphere along the streets that day that made me think of another procession that took place some 2,000 years ago – the journey of the Lord on his way to be crucified.
Of course, I don’t mean to imply that our parade was in any way comparable to the Passion of Our Lord in its signficance. But, as we marched down the streets – watching the people who were watching us go by — I couldn’t help but feel that this crowd, with its variety of responses, was probably not too different from the crowd that Jesus encountered so long ago.
Three reactions stood out.
Small groups along the way clapped and cheered for us and our cause. It took guts for these people to raise their voices and applaud amid the silence around them.
Perhaps there were others who were on our side but lacked the courage to speak out.
But those that did speak up reminded me of Veronica’s encounter with Jesus on His way to the Cross. Out of sheer love and compassion, she consoled Our Lord by wiping His face.
Unconcerned about the thoughts of others, she acted without hesitation and without fear. Her love touched Our Lord so much that He left His facial imprint on the cloth. Veronica’s courage was rewarded. The supporters of life exemplified this same type of courage, which is driven by love undaunted by fear.
The second reaction that I noticed was one of opposition. Honestly, this was the reaction that I was anticipating, and I had been pro-actively planning how I would react to it.
But to my surprise and delight, overt hostile behavior was nearly nonexistent. Only on a few occasions did I hear any comments.
But this also led me to think about Our Lord’s Passion. The crucifixion of Our Lord took place largely due to the disdain a rather small number of people had for Him. Their hatred and evil motives spurred them on to brutally mistreat Him … to the point of death. Is this not what the abortion industry is all about as well? The women are exploited as their babies are brutally led to their death. Only hatred and evil motives can do this! These are the very pillars of the abortion industry.
The third reaction of some of the crowd was actually not a reaction at all. It was their lack of a response that left an eerie cloud of stillness in the air. It made me wonder what was going on in their hearts. Were they being quietly polite? Were they afraid to speak up? Or my biggest fear — were they just completely indifferent?
This possibility of indifference scared me and left the biggest impression on me! Have we become a society so used to abortion that we’re not even bothered by it any more?
I’m afraid so many have become numb to the reality of what abortion is and how frequently it happens. Approximately 4,000 babies will lose their lives tomorrow in the United States alone. This will be repeated on a daily basis, unnoticed by most of us that live in the land of the free.
Likewise, while Our Lord’s Passion was taking place, the vast multitude of people were indifferent. To many, it was just another day. Just another criminal being crucified for breaking the law.
Our Lord’s dying in such a brutal way out of love for them and us certainly deserved so much more than such indifference. Likewise, doesn’t the heart of a troubled mother warrant our attention? Doesn’t the life of an unborn baby in jeopardy call for our attention? Can we afford to be lukewarm?
These reactions that I witnessed took me into the heart of Our Lord’s Passion. And through the experience, I found a great gratitude for those who bravely support the unborn, the strength to pray for those who hate us, and a renewed vigor to educate those who just seem not to care.
As we continue to speak on behalf of the unborn and their mothers who are in such great need, let us ask Saint Patrick for his protection and guidance.
For years, organizers of St. Patrick’s Day Parades held throughout the New York metropolitan area have invited local prolife groups to join them. The Rockland Ancient Order of Hibernians have welcomed the Rockland Right to Life Committee and other Rockland groups, who march together under the Respect Life banner in the annual Pearl River parade. Here are photos from years past.
For more blogs by Sean, just search for “Sean Miller” in the box in the upper right corner of the home page.