Tara and Greg are also Natural Family Planning Instructors.
By Tara K. E. Brelinsky
An action of small value performed with much love of God is far more excellent than one of a higher virtue, done with less love of God. -- St Francis de Sales
Several weeks ago, I was asking a friend if she intended to make the trip to DC for this year’s March for Life. She remarked that it had been years since she’d been able to go and then she pointed out that we’ve had more than one Republican president since Roe vs. Wade’s murderous agenda was instituted and yet there has been no note-worthy legal change attributed to our cries in the capital. She is right and she got me thinking. It has been two years since the Brelinskys made our first and only march on Washington in defense of the unborn, but honestly I wasn’t feeling the same overwhelming call to rise up and shine this January as I had two years ago. I suppose it was a mixture of worries that had me pushing the whole idea to the back of my mind. With money as scarce as it has been for us, how could we choose between food on the table and tickets for the bus ride? And yes, the question of why, why even bother when it seems those in power are not listening, was rolling around my head. Greg and I decided to forgo this year’s trip and simply focus on our daily struggles to witness to the value of life and family.
Nikolai then asked if he could represent us by paying his own way. That led Pierce to volunteer to fill-in as his brother’s keeper and purchase his own ticket as well. From day to day, I wonder which lessons I teach will actually stick and on this day I felt rewarded. So, I set about making arrangements and securing responsible adults, who would promise to protect my treasure. A few days later, we attended the local March for Life in Raleigh where we were greeted by dear, old friends from our former parish. During a conversation, they invited our boys aboard the St. James’ bus which had been paid for through fund raising efforts. Then, just as I was mulling over how to deliver and later retrieve the boys to Henderson, we received another invitation to join our parish family on the Our Lady of Perpetual Help bus. As Divine Providence had arranged, Greg was due a day off from work this month, so it seemed that we were getting a little push. Perhaps the Spirit had called us, but we were hard of hearing this year, so a push was necessary. While one child would have preferred to go sans parents, this was a mission for the whole family and God, Himself, had provided the means.
As it turns out, the bus had more empty seats to fill so we extended our hands, as well as installed the last bench seat in the van. We were joined by four more young men, ages 13-17, from our circle of home schooling friends. When you hear reports about our bleak future, don’t discount the power of the youth. How fitting it is that the daily readings for the week have been telling the stories of Samuel, who responded, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” and David, who slew Goliath with a stone. Attending the March for Life, no one could doubt that the youth are listening and I believe the stone is in their hands.
The morning of the March began for Greg and I at 3 a.m. By 4:30, we had all seven of our ducks, plus the four on loan, in the van and ready to roll out. Once at church, we were met by warm, albeit sleepy, greetings.
We took our seats on the assigned bus #3 and then relaxed as we entrusted our faithful leaders and driver with the details of the day. In retrospect, today had a very different beginning than our previous trip which had us riding on the metro. We were a people in communion. Our first stop was the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. For me, that stop was a bittersweet reminder of our last pilgrimage there. In April, Greg and I had knelt before the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to offer up the intentions we’d carried and to beg for the life of our own unborn child, Matthew Titus, who would die a few months later. However, in that favorite place of mine, surrounded by the unmistakable presence of my Mother, I felt only peace on this day. Our day had a tight schedule, so we were only afforded a short hour before our bishop was to celebrate Mass. We steered our tiny crowd down to the Crypt Church and over to the confessionals. Pride, isn’t the right word, but I’m not sure what is when I describe the way I felt as a few of our young men chose freely to receive the great Sacrament of Penance without prompting. After my own Catholic school days, I avoided this Sacrament for many years because of my ignorance and shame, so it gives me great joy to see these children embrace God’s gift on their own accord.
After Holy Mass, it was back on the bus and on to the Navy Memorial where we joined in the March for Life with tens of thousands of fellow pro-lifers. At this point in the day, we were contending with light rain and cold temperatures. On the bus, I texted a few faithful friends and enlisted them to pray for an end to the rain, but Our Lord had other ideas. Truly, it wasn’t that terrible and our rain ponchos served us well. Perhaps, one might parallel that dripping, gray sky with heaven and the tears of its Queen as she weeps for her discarded children. If you can imagine it, our littlest pro-life warrior (3yo) managed to drift off to sleep in his stroller amidst the moving marchers with rain rolling down his over-sized poncho. Isn’t that the way it should be, too, little children should be able to sleep securely in a free country whether they be inside the womb of their mother or out.
It is an awesome sight to behold and one that can’t be accurately depicted by words, the number of people at the March for Life. From the ground, there seems to be no detectable beginning nor end. I would have liked very much to have shared the view of the construction workers, who watched the day from the scaffolds high above our heads. As a former journalism major, it angers me to know that each year this event is under-reported, so I didn’t bother to sift through yesterday’s headlines to see if any of the biased media outlets had even bothered to stuff a segment in between.
The energy was palpable in that crowd as there were young people on every side of us. They were carrying signs, donning stickers and chanting pro-life cheers. But even with all of this, it felt peaceful and safe. If I am truthful, I’d have to admit my household of seven children can at times seem more chaotic and noisy than it was in the center of that crowd. We were lucky enough to have our wonderful priest, Fr. Meares catch up alongside of us and begin to lead us in praying the rosary, but somehow I lost him and later I lost my rosary. I have lots of rosaries, but that one was a gift from Deacon John, so I was a little disappointed until Greg suggested that perhaps those beads have a new owner that needed them more.
We had been advised that there would be a graphic video of an abortion along the route, but we managed to navigate passed it without too much notice. However, not much further along the road we were confronted with the graphic, still images of aborted babies. The crowd seemed to slow down considerably, so there was no way to avoid those pictures, except by conscious choice. Sasha stared intently, as well did many others in the crowd. While it is very hard to view the horror of abortion, it is necessary to know the truth. The small group of pro-aborts that we’d face down later, hide behind (or are tricked by) lies like “it is just tissue” or “it is a choice.” As I’ve said before, our own little family has been blessed to have first-hand testimony to the truth. We have beheld the beauty in the tiny faces of two of our miscarried children, and there was no mistaking that they were individual people. I noticed that in those moments, as we passed those images, no one in the crowd made a sound. There was a silence.
We jumped out of line when we reached the Congressional Building, as we were invited into a small reception by our representative, Senator Richard Burr. Quite an interesting contrast (and quite like the metro excursion experience), as the workers in that building were less than charitable in offering aid or directional instructions to our rather sizeable crowd (the entire church crew that filled three buses). It isn’t reasonable to suggest that they simply didn’t see us fumbling around. Oh well, it is a reminder that each one of us is the face of Christ and we have a responsibility to live up to that vocation. Perhaps, next time I’m feeling ill or ornery, I’ll do a better job remembering to keep my attitude and actions in check.
From there we hurried to the Supreme Court, where we listened to the courageous witness of women, who have been scarred by abortions. The Silent No More campaign pulls back the curtain on abortion and reveals the lifelong pain that women, who choose abortion, endure. I could barely listen to their stories because of he overwhelming sadness I felt. Unable to run which is what I wanted to do, I busied myself, or more so my mind, so as not to “hear” them. I’m not suggesting this stop in the day was ill-conceived, only that I needed to rotect myself and prevent the tears which are all too often nowadays right below the surface. Interestingly, this is the stop that the evil one chose to target. Maybe that is in part why I unconsciously felt the need to flee, even if I could only do so in my thoughts. Yards away from these brave women was a small group of pro-aborts. Initially, Sasha quizzed me about the sign that they held which read, “Good women have abortions.”
Misunderstanding who they were, I tried to explain that women who’ve had abortions are not bad women. They, like all of us, are sinners and Jesus is waiting to forgive them and heal them. So here I was, trying to juggle my desire to run away from this place with the need to put together a thoughtful explanation for my 10 yo, when I realized I was in the enemy’s encampment. How stupid I felt when I realized what that sign meant to say.
Quickly, the others in our group, most specifically Greg and the boys, grasped the reality of what was going on and intervened. This crowd of about 30 had ample media attention and the photographer was positioned so close as to create an illusion of a larger crowd than there actually was. I witnessed this kind of journalistic trickery before at a political protest. Well, Greg, the children and a few other pro-lifers included themselves and their pro-life signs in the photograph, but not surprisingly they were not welcomed warmly. Reading online today, I discovered that we were not the first pro-lifers to be challenged by these anti-lifers that afternoon. There is an account of their disrupting a prayer vigil and screaming in the face of a child whose sign read, “I'm glad I was adopted and not murdered.” Thankfully, our crew made it out relatively unscathed and they managed to conduct themselves in a kindly manner. Greg later shared that he’d started to engage a pro- abort woman in conversation when he became acutely aware of the pain in her voice. On the ride home, he would tell Nikolai and a friend that she needed our prayers and our sympathy because she was suffering from her abortion, but she hasn’t yet come to terms with it and found forgiveness. While I would have liked to have avoided entering that lion’s den altogether, I was proud that my family had the strength and courage to rise up and shine in that moment.
The last stop was St. Peter’s Church, where we ditched in for a few minutes of rest and thanksgiving. We began the day with prayer and we ended the day with prayer. We must always keep our eyes on Christ. Like David, the tiny stone in our hands will only reach its proper target if God is the power behind it.
The day answered that why question that I’d pondered with my friend. Why go? Go because we must rise up and shine on behalf of the nearly 50 million babies that are missing in our country. Go because we must be witnesses to the truth, that abortion inflicts injuries on mothers and fathers that often last a lifetime. Go because we have a duty to form the consciences of our youth through our example.
Evil prefers darkness and we are called to be salt and light, so this year God provided us the means to radiate His presence on the streets of our capital. I pray that my children will one day live every day in the warmth of the Son and that they will know a day when all little ones, born and unborn, can sleep in peace and security in this world.
Greg & Tara
1 Dad + 1 Mama= our beloved children
Children are a gift from God to the whole world. To deny the blessing of a child in your life is to deny the whole world the gift of an eternal soul, who was created with a purpose that cannot be fulfilled by any other.
See what the media said...
Thanks to Tara and Greg.