Wednesday, 20 February 2013

News from St John's Pro-Life Group

As ever it's been quite a task to coordinate our diaries - mainly because most of the members of our Group are taken up with "pro-life in action", i.e. family life with all its often last-minute demands!  Praise God for it.  However on Monday of this week four of the Group - Katherine, Chris, Niki and Anneli - did manage to meet up for a somewhat overdue St John's Pro Life Group meeting in the church hall, with apologies from other members.  Here follows a brief rundown of our plans and discussions.

Same-sex "marriage"

For obvious reasons this has been high on our Group agenda lately.  Before the Commons vote some members of the parish had attended a very informative meeting held at our church hall by SPUC with the aim of equipping priests and lay people to campaign effectively against the same-sex marriage bill (see previous post here). It was a great day and we got loads of useful material.  Just one quibble though: understandably the meetings (held by SPUC at various locations through the country) were arranged rather hastily, but communication from SPUC HQ was a tad random, with for example Stella getting a personal 'phone call in advance of the day and Katherine (our group Chair) only finding out via a last-minute letter meaning she didn't have time to make the necessary arrangements to attend.  Hmm... The pro-same-sex marriage campaigners are very well-organised in their publicity and lobbying efforts.  We need to be, too.  But in any case, many many thanks to SPUC for an extremely helpful and heartening meeting.

Our discussions on Monday night ranged from the fact that, whilst carried and without as many abstentions as we might have hoped, the Bill was by no means a landslide victory with a significant vocal minority in the House ready to defend traditional marriage (we await the Lords debate with interest) to our MP's dismissive reply to a letter sent by Anneli and Edek on the topic recently (most of our points were simply ignored) and the widespread vitriol and vituperation exhibited by supporters of same-sex marriage to those opposing it.  If it is not permissible (and it certainly isn't) to bully gay people, why is it acceptable to send death threats to those who advocate keeping the meaning of marriage as it is or to bully their children in the playground? Does freedom of conscience only apply to the "in crowd"?

But I rant, exactly the behaviour I'm complaining about!  Pausing only to reflect, as we did on Monday, that the vehemence displayed by some supporters of same-sex marriage may be indicative of a superficial view of "individual rights" resulting from a lack of cognisance of the wider issues involved - and that doubtless some supporters of traditional marriage haven't been minding their manners either - we'll move on!

40 Days for Life

Katherine and Chris supported this campaign last time round and plan to go up again on Sunday 3 March where we have booked a slot to pray quietly and peacefully in front of the BPAS centre.  They will be joined by Anneli and any other St John's parishioners who would like to come.  Meet us at the 9am Mass at St John's or at Horsham Station where we will be catching the 10.30am London train.  If you aren't able to make it, please consider saying a daily Memorare for the Campaign during Lent:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession was left unaided.  Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O virgin of virgins, my mother.  To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.  O mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petition, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.  Amen.

Pro-Life Mass and All Night Vigil

Some of the most beautiful events held in our parish have been pro-life Masses followed by all night vigils before the Blessed Sacrament.  With our parish priest's permission we are hoping it will be possible to celebrate another in March. We've done this now (two? three?) times with the inclusion of all the mysteries of the Rosary, said for pro-life intentions, during the night.  The idea is that people sign up in advance for an hour's prayer slot, with two people at the minimum being required during each slot for the practical purposes of safety - but we've always managed at least that!

Sometimes it does seem that there's so little we can do.  The prevailing ethics of modern society can feel like a huge black Goliath of a supertank growing ever bigger as it guns and speeds onwards, with pro-lifers a small, small band of Davids standing knock-kneed before it clutching our slings and stones.  (Possibly I have been spending too much time watching my offspring play X Box games.)  There's something bigger and more powerful than the Goliath supertank though and that's prayer.  Every time we gather quietly to bring pro-life intentions before our Saviour, we raise up new strength and inspiration for ourselves and new power for the spiritual battle.  That all sounds rather "violent" but in fact we are fighting for hearts - the heart of our society, the hearts of humankind, the beating hearts of the unborn, vulnerable and elderly.

Other stuff

We aim to produce a pro-life newsletter approximately quarterly which is distributed to all parishioners at Mass and hopefully we will be able to release another one to coincide with the Vigil, trying to explain why we are opposing the same-sex marriage Bill and reporting on our trip to London.  We also aim to have another post-Mass Cake Sale (big respect to our Cake Team of Amanda, Demelza and Chris who know how to hold a cake stall like no-one else does) - I suppose we'll have to wait until after Lent for that one though!  After the Sale we will be making a donation to a local charity, as yet TBD.  We passed a resolution some time back that we would aim to support a different local charity each year through fundraising; last year Aila's Fund was grateful to benefit.

We're happy to report that all is well with the Memorial to the Unborn Child in Hill's Farm Cemetery, so lovingly restored and planted by Stella and her daughter Bekah, and would like to thank the staff at the cemetery for the kindly eye they are keeping on it so that it remains safe and beautiful.

That just about concluded proceedings, though in a rare burst of efficiency we managed to put a date in the diary for our next meeting in April!  A  big vote of thanks to our amazing Chair, Katherine, who manages to keep the Group alive and active despite having a thousand other calls on her time.  If anyone reading this would like to get involved, please do contact her via this blog.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

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