All across the country this week, protesters gather to mourn the day 37 years ago when Roe v. Wade was filed in Dallas, TX. Appropriately, the first major gathering was held right here in Dallas, at the source of the river, on January 16th.
At 10:00 a.m., a memorial Mass was concelebrated by the Bishops of Dallas and Ft. Worth at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, that imposing High Victorian Gothic edifice of red brick smack-dab in the middle of the downtown Arts District.
The highlight of this Mass -- aside from, of course, the Eucharist -- the Rose Procession moves me to tears every time I see it: one person born each year since Roe in 1973 carries a rose for the approximately 1.2 million children lost to abortion the year he or she was born. As each places a rose in the basket in front of the altar, a bell is rung. The final rose bearers are themselves borne by a parent or grandparent. (The 2009 representative was asleep on his daddy's shoulder.)
Finally, a pregnant woman, her hair covered with a mantilla, carried the last rose and placed it in the basket. The bell sounded. She turned and stood, her full belly suspended over the basket of roses, the icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe above and behind her bowed and covered head. A beautiful picture, and I couldn't help but hear Mary's timeless Fiat in my head as I saw it.
I exited the sanctuary to find myself standing above a sea of people. While we were inside, thousands had gathered outside in the plaza, awaiting the March. Because the president of New Wave Femmes and her son were in the Rose Procession, and we had to go back to the car to get our banner, we were at the end of the line.
The March was different from previous years; the biggest difference was that we were confined to the sidewalks, so the route that should have taken us 30 minutes took an hour. Also, the rally that usually took place in the street outside the federal building was now in a parking lot. We froze in the shadow of skyscrapers, but it was worth it to hear uplifting speakers, such as Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas and Kyleen Wright of Texans for Life Coalition.
The March for Life has two purposes: one, it is a powerful public witness. It says to our city -- and the nation, if the media will report the truth -- that pro-lifers are not a few hundred fringe religious fanatics, but a large, vocal, powerful community with a voice. Its other purpose is edification. It brings us together in one place to remind us that we are not alone, that others see the Truth as we do. Gifted speakers rally us and lift our spirits before sending us back out to fight the good fight.
An interesting thing happened after the March: the New Wave Femmes, honoring tradition, met at a Chili's in North Dallas. When I arrived, I heard that one of our members, Jackie, was bringing a "new friend" she met at the March. Knowing Jackie, this didn't surprise me. Her new friend was an 18-year-old vegan who talked a lot about her art collective; she reminded me of people I knew in Austin and San Francisco: the same loopy, navel-gazing "spiritual but not religious" Whole Foods philosophy. Destiny said she had seen her across the street from the March, holding a sign that said something about acceptance and tolerance. Destiny asked her if she was a counterprotester, and the girl -- we'll call her Leslie -- said no, but not with much conviction.
I found out later that she spoke to a reporter for the National Catholic Register and called us hypocrites who were overpopulating the world.
I am so proud of Jackie and the rest of the New Wave Femmes for welcoming her to our table and showing her that we are intelligent, kind people with a sense of humor, not the beady-eyed zealots she probably imagined. It was a powerful witness to the only counterprotester at the March; maybe we gave her some food for thought to go with her veggie burger.
This video courtesy of Fallible Blogma. The girls holding signs reading The Strong Choose Life and Empowered by Birth are Destiny and Julie of New Wave Femmes.