Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard (January 24, 2008)

By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY, Archbishop of Atlanta | Published January 24, 2008  | En Español

We Catholics, along with many other people of faith, for the past few months have been praying for rain in order to reduce the awful drought conditions here in Georgia. We have petitioned God to send us the precipitation that we so desperately need. As with so many prayers that we may offer, the Father chooses the occasions and the means in which He responds to our needs.

It snowed twice last week, a rare event for Atlanta, and I could not help but chuckle that God’s way of responding to our prayer is often not what we might have envisioned when we originally asked Him to help us. Many of us, yours truly included, were inconvenienced when our prayers may have been answered during this past week.

Many of the annual events surrounding the Dr. King Memorial Holiday were put in jeopardy as snow and ice made travel difficult—if not ill-advised—this past weekend.

But the hardy (perhaps adventurous might be the better term to use to describe them) did manage to attend our archdiocesan celebrations. Our 25th Anniversary MLK Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception gathered people from all walks of life and backgrounds to honor the memory of this native Atlanta citizen who has so changed the world in which we now live. The music, the festive garb and the spirit of joy all praised God for allowing Dr. King to achieve his dreams and to inspire all peoples to see one another with a vision and a respect for our common humanity.

On Sunday afternoon, many of our grammar school children and high school teenagers along with their parents gathered at St. Peter Claver Regional School in a youthful tribute to the life of Dr. King. This event is always a wonderful and moving celebration—more so for the adults, I do believe, than perhaps for the kids. After all, we adults can remember the climate of racial polarity that Dr. King dared to address and to confront. Our children help us see the legacy that he left behind as they come together as brothers and sisters and sing and clap and hold hands together without the hatred and fear that so gripped the segregated and discriminatory society of yesterday.

The inclement weather did not dampen the spirit of joy and hope that always marks this time of year especially for folks here in Atlanta.

Following quickly upon the MLK weekend festivities, we shifted sentiments and recalled the sad decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America that has allowed abortion on demand for 35 years. Once again people from throughout the Archdiocese came to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to offer the Eucharist.

This celebration was more sober and reflective. It reminded us that the tasks that lie ahead are daunting. Dr. King dared to call America to a more profound sense of our heritage of freedom and respect. Those who work for an end to abortion and for a restoration of the public recognition of the dignity of all human life continue in his legacy of calling people to moral righteousness.

Dr. King was vilified for his work, and those who dedicate themselves to the pro-life movement are often misunderstood and disparaged. Yet his persistence, in time, moved the soul of a nation.

May the efforts of those who witness to the dignity of all humans have a similar victory in moving the heart of this nation.