Young women carry a March for Life banner at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Ontario passed bubble zone legislation last fall that forbids pro-life protesters inside a 50-meter zone around abortion clinics. Register file photo

Speaking Out: Living my pro-life identity

By  Gabriela Pariseau, Speaking Out
  • October 11, 2018

“Hi, my name is Gabriela Pariseau and I am an American pro-life Catholic.”

As I grew up, I became more afraid to say and defend those words in a secular public setting. What if someone asked me to explain myself? What could I say that would make sense to those who disagree? I wanted to say something that would reach souls and change minds, but I had no idea how.

Since high school I have struggled to identify what it truly means to be pro-life. I knew that it meant taking a public stand on certain issues like abortion and euthanasia, but I also knew that there had to be more to it than that. 

In 2012, my small Iowa hometown closed its local Planned Parenthood after a single 40 Days for Life campaign. While the success of the campaign was an enormous blessing, it came with the question of “what now?” 

While definitely a good and unusual problem to have, I was once again left with the question of how to actively live out my identity as pro-life Catholic with nowhere to channel that enthusiasm. 

As an American university student studying in Canada, I realize that many Canadian pro-life Catholics are dealing with a similar problem but for very different reasons. Abortion has become a non-issue for many, euthanasia is widely accepted and there is an ever-growing jungle of laws antithetical to life. 

Many of my friends feel as though the new “bubble zone” laws make it almost illegal to publicly and actively be pro-life, especially in Ontario. So again we are left with the question, how can we express our Catholic pro-life identity when the culture and the laws make it almost impossible to do so?

An answer to this question came to me a week ago when I was talking with my friend Rose, who is president of the pro-life club on campus. We began discussing a book we are reading for our Spiritual Theology class, The Three Ages of the Interior Life by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange

In the book, he explains that the Trinity “dwells in the souls of the just” and that this truth should impact how we treat ourselves and others.

Rose pointed out to me that this is a very pro-life idea because it implies a calling to look for God in the other. When we love and care for others with this attitude, we show them that their lives have value and purpose. In turn, we reveal that God dwells in us and we see that our lives have value and purpose. 

This was it! Whether rich, poor, immature, totally dependent or difficult to work with, I must treat each as if the trinitarian God dwells inside their souls because He does. 

This is a pretty tall order, but it is something we can very practically strive to live out, not just in October during 40 Days for Life, but every single day. 

(Pariseau, 20, is a third-year Catholic Studies student at Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.) 

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