By Jeff Schinstock, director of youth ministry, Diocese of Lincoln
(SNR) - I was blessed with the opportunity to pilgrimage to Philadelphia and be with Pope Francis during his recent visit to Philadelphia.
I was struck by many memorable moments on the journey. In particular, I was moved by the Holy Father’s homily to close the World Meeting of Families. In his homily he preached about Moses and Jesus both having to correct the most faithful because others were prophesying or casting out demons in Christ’s name without “permission.” Moses corrected his faithful servant Joshua, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!”
For Jesus the correction was similar, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”
Pope Francis echoed the sentiments of Moses and the Lord, “Would that all could be prophets of God’s word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the Lord’s name!”
I have seen the prophets of the Lord. A generation who “bypasses bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles” and “does not hold back anything that is good, instead help it to grow!” The youth of the world are the leading prophets in the pro-life movement. I have watched them.
As many have tried to organize and make the message of the Gospel of Life tidy and well-packaged, the young people have stepped into the mess. They have met a secular world filled with angry soundbites and unclear discourse, and they have met it with love. They have no fear of going and being a prayerful presence at an abortion facility. They do not fear entering into dialogue to be a voice for the voiceless.
Make no mistake, Pope Francis is encouraging this very thing. In his recent encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis said, “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?
“If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.”
The young people in the Diocese of Lincoln have no intention of withering away. Inspired by the leadership of the Church, they have become leaders in the greatest social justice struggle history has known: the struggle to uphold the dignity of life, particularly at its most vulnerable stages.
Once again this year the diocese will be at the front of the battle for a culture of life. Five buses of high school students, priests and chaperones will again march in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of others, mostly young people from around the country at the National March for Life.
I am asking the whole diocese to take part. As the Holy Father said in his address to congress, “if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.”
Can you encourage a high school student in your parish to go? Can you offer to sponsor them with a full or partial scholarship? Can you organize a prayer group to support the pilgrims in prayer? We have all been challenged by Pope Francis. It is our time to respond to that call. May we all grow in holiness together, as we strive to create a culture that dignifies every person.
Editor’s Note: Each year ,the Diocese of Lincoln participates in standing up for the right to life at the National March for Life. The trip is open to all high school students. The trip includes round-trip transportation, housing, some meals, and touring of Washington D.C. monuments and other sites.
To register to attend the March for Life trip Jan. 19-24, 2016, go to www.lincolndiocese.org/pilgrimages/march-for-life. Contact the Diocesan Youth Ministry Team for more information at 402-488-2040.