By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published January 26, 2017
ATLANTA—Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory spoke of God’s wisdom and human folly at the 28th annual Mass for the Unborn, held Jan. 23 at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta.
Students, parish groups and individuals gather each year to remember the Jan. 22 anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. The Office of Life, Dignity and Justice and the Respect Life Ministry of the archdiocese sponsor the Mass and a public witness that follows along Peachtree Road, Stand for Life. A reception was held afterward.
Brendan Dudley, director of the Respect Life Ministry, estimated that 400 people attended the Mass and Stand for Life.
In his homily, Archbishop Gregory noted that God’s wisdom succeeded in bringing each individual to life, without human consultation or advice.
“Even lacking our sage guidance, the Lord God began to knit us together in our mothers’ wombs,” he said. “As St. Paul reminds us in the first reading (Romans 11), God’s wisdom is always greater than our own.”
Regardless of the circumstances of each creation, all belong to God’s providence and benefit from divine decision, emphasized the archbishop.
“We are young and old, white and black, left-handed and right-handed, but each of us is the gift of God’s design. To see and value each other as a product of God’s wisdom is to understand the true meaning of sacred Scripture that praises God’s design of creation,” he said.
His wisdom is also to be found in the lives of those who are not like us, who may have done terrible things, or those considered inconvenient to others.
“God’s wisdom and providence is to be found in every human life he has fashioned. A dated phrase from my youth once reminded people that God doesn’t make junk,” said Archbishop Gregory.
The Supreme Court’s decision 44 years ago contradicts that adage, suggesting God’s wisdom was mistaken.
“The pro-life movement must be a constant reminder that God’s wisdom is always perfect and that it is we who must acknowledge our misjudgments in ever suggesting that human life is not valuable and the result of divine providence,” he said.
The Supreme Court ruling on abortion spawned other flawed decisions such as reintroduction of the death penalty in 1976, “the hostile treatment of our immigrant neighbors,” and it damages society in other ways, said the archbishop.
“It was an arrogant decision that suggested that we knew better than God, who is the author of all human life,” Archbishop Gregory said.
Annually since then, people pause to reflect on the implications of the decision, he said, and “we pray that our society will come to its senses.”
“St. Paul got it right in our first reading: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God,” he said. “May our nation restore the respect that all human life deserves because it always comes from the hand of a God who is far wiser and more loving than any one of us might ever dare to consider themselves.”
Students take part in Stand for Life
The Mass included the commissioning of parish respect life ministers. A group of more than 40 leaders gathered at the front of the church to receive Archbishop Gregory’s blessing. It is a time for ministry leaders to rededicate themselves to creating a culture of life.
“Lord, help us to perform deeds of mercy and acts of love on behalf of human life wherever it is threatened and spread the message of hope and healing,” they prayed in unison.
Cathedral volunteers distributed rosary bags to those worshiping at Mass. The bags contained prayer cards, rosaries, a miraculous medal and a Carmelite scapular.
Teachers from St. Joseph School in Marietta brought 25 students in grades six through eight to the Mass and Stand for Life.
Eighth-grade student Rachael Beno was attending for the second time.
“It lets you know that other people believe what you do,” she said.
Her classmate Megan Swade said students learn about other issues related to respect for life in their family life classes at St. Joseph, including awareness of alcohol abuse and other addictions.
They joined other groups outside the cathedral after Mass to hold signs promoting life.
“It’s very powerful to stand out there and watch everybody,” said Rachael.
Students from St. Catherine of Siena School in Kennesaw took a brief respite in Kenny Hall before bundling up to go outdoors.
Francisco Puentes, an eighth-grade student, was attending the Mass for the Unborn for the first time.
“It was beautiful. It was good to see the other schools too,” he said.
They learn about life issues at school and pray for others to come to the same realization about the dignity of all lives.
“After this, we all probably have a lot of confidence to say abortion is wrong,” said Francisco, who hopes to have a career in medicine one day.
“We’re very blessed to not have last year’s freezing rain conditions,” the head of the Respect Life Ministry said as he stood alongside Stand for Life participants.
The Office of Life, Dignity and Justice provided signs to the larger groups, and Dudley encouraged smaller groups to make eye-catching signs of their own.
Juli Faulkner, a parishioner of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Woodstock, brought three of her children—Josie, 16, Sawyer, 14, and Silvia, 12—to Mass and Stand for Life.
“I am witnessing to my children that this is more important than the thousand other things I have going on,” said Faulkner.
Faulkner’s husband Fred, who died last fall, was very active in pro-life causes. He founded a Facebook page, which shared the stories of women who have had abortions.
“He’s here in spirit,” said Juli Faulkner. The family attends the Mass for the Unborn every year.
As mid-day traffic whizzed by Stand for Life participants, many drivers indicated support by waving and honking car horns. Some groups prayed decades of the rosary during the half-hour period of witness.
Penny Krautter, a parishioner of Our Lady of Assumption Church, Atlanta, who grew up attending Mass at the cathedral, is involved in the respect life ministry at her parish. She has a Jan. 22 birthday and marks it by participating in the pro-life celebration annually.
As she held a sign reading “Life Is Precious,” Krautter remarked it’s nice to see youth participate in Stand for Life.
“It touches my heart,” she said.