The Future is Life
#iStand4Life is the rallying cry of our young people who will gather early Thursday morning, January 22, for the 2015 Youth Rally and Mass for Life. This inspiring event, which drew tens of thousands last year despite a heavy snow, will be held at two locations again this year – at the Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory – with the March for Life to follow.
The hashtag #iStand4Life will also be splashed across smart phones, tablets and video screens of all sizes as young people board buses in church parking lots as far away as Oklahoma and as close as Hyattsville. #iStand4Life will alert family, friends, and fellow marchers that the young person tweeting it is a messenger for life.
When I see this hashtag, I think of Saint John Paul II’s challenge to take up the mission of the New Evangelization, using means that are new in “ardor, methods and expression” (Ecclesia in America, 66). The speed and versatility of digital media, so loved by young people, is an example of a new method for preaching the Gospel of Life that suits young life and has proven to be a powerful voice in society.
At last year’s Youth Rally and Mass for Life, the hashtag #Mass4Life trended nationally, I have learned, meaning that of the more than 500 million tweets that are sent every day, this one was among the most popular topics on that particular day. Additionally, #Mass4Life trended at the number one spot in ten U.S. cities. Young people in attendance at the Rally and Mass for Life and those back home were united in one common mission – to share the good news that every child is cherished and created for a purpose. Pope Francis even joined in solidarity with us with a tweet of his own!
Youth leaders speak of reading Saint Paul’s admonition to “not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2). In this, as one group of leaders recently reflected, they are emboldened to cast aside their fear (1 John 4:18) and work to steer society away from a future in which no life is guaranteed.
This young generation of marchers understands better than previous generations the reality of what it means that their own mothers and fathers could have chosen differently. They can read the statistics about the number of abortions performed annually and realize those lost lives would have been classmates, neighbors, and friends. They articulate a profound desire to be a voice for the babies who have no voice.
They are indeed missionary disciples for a New Evangelization. The Rally for Life is an exuberant celebration of music, dance and prayer, with an opportunity to meet Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Mass is a celebration of thanksgiving for all God’s gifts and most especially for the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. And the March for Life literally is their response to being sent from Mass to “go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
Adopting a stance for life is the strongest indication we have that future generations will nurture a moral vision for society. The fundamental principle of Catholic social teaching is the protection and promotion of the dignity of human life. Without this foundation, family life, communal life and the protection of individual rights, all suffer. We can see an encroaching instability in society as questions related to marriage, family life, abortion and assisted suicide are continuously debated in a culture growing deaf to the voice of truth.
In the numbers, energy and profound message of our young marchers I see such hope for the truth of the Gospel of Life to be heard once more – new in method, expression and ardor. With our young people, #iStand4Life! Will you join us?