Pro-life supporters turned out in force at this year’s Nebraska Walk for Life, Jan. 29 in Lincoln. The possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade this year is one of several reasons to celebrate, said Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference. SUSAN SZALEWSKI/STAFF

Commentary

Faithful, Watchful Citizens: Reasons to Celebrate

I’m not sure what the opposite of the “dog days” of summer are. I’d like to think they are the “cat days” of winter, but I’ll try not to push too many lazy jokes on you. After all, I’d hate to lose my audience before you even start reading the good stuff below.

Anyhow, late January and early February, for me, always has that dead winter feel to it. You get a day or two of good weather here and there but, on the whole, you are stuck indoors. And, if you are as lucky as the Nebraska Catholic Conference staff, you are stuck indoors reading a bunch of legislation to kick off the New Year.

Even though these days seem a bit grim and glum, given the weather and the Dallas Cowboys failing (again!) to make it to the Super Bowl, there is no shortage of reasons to celebrate.

“But, Tom,” you ask yourself, “what’s worth celebrating this time of year?”

First, Jan. 22 brings about that dreadful memorial of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that has haunted our country for 49 years.

So, what does Roe have to do with anything resembling a celebration?

The celebration is hidden in that virtue of hope that we, as Christians and pro-lifers, carry in the depths of our hearts. While on one side is sorrow, hope is the flip side of the coin. To quote the Psalmist: “Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for the sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves” (Ps 126:6).

Though the yearly memorial of Roe brings with it sadness beyond measure as we consider the 63 million preborn human lives lost to abortion, we rejoice knowing Roe’s days are numbered. Roe, like slavery, will ultimately go down as a stain on our nation’s history. Future Americans will look back in bewilderment, pondering how it was that their own country not only permitted but also defended and honored the killing of innocent preborn human life for so long.

As usual, Roe’s annual memorial brought pro-lifers together from across the state for both the Pro-Life Mass and the Nebraska Walk for Life. This year’s crowd, probably the biggest I’ve seen so far, came together to both weep and also shout with joy. We came together with shouts of joy because, as Father Justin Fulton (homilist at the Pro-Life Mass) preached: “Christ lives within us; we consume Him in the Eucharist; and He calls us to live out His love and joy as we witness to the Gospel of Life. There can be no better stance in life to belong to Christ and to proclaim His unwavering mercy to a country wallowing in its own sinfulness.”

The other great celebrations are National School Choice Week (NSCW) and Catholic Schools Week (CSW). These events highlight two foundational elements of a just and flourishing society: 1) the priority of parents to direct the education of their child and 2) a faith-based education that instills virtue in students and ultimately points them toward Christ.

During these two separate celebrations, numerous Catholic school students visit the Capitol and disturb (in the best sense of the word) the otherwise adult atmosphere of state government business. The students share their stories of what a parochial school education means to them and how it gives them hope for their future.

Just as with the celebration of the Mass, the celebration of these events calls us out of ourselves. They call us to go beyond our isolated winter selves and to advocate for bigger ideas and principles. The Pro-Life Mass and Nebraska Walk for Life urge us to action in the legislative sphere, such as contacting our state senators to pass critical pro-life legislation and to find other ways to care for mothers and fathers in crisis situations. NSCW and CSW also urge us to take action to ensure that every single child in the state of Nebraska has access to the best possible education they can receive, whether that be a public, parochial or home school education.

To constantly take action without a celebration of why we act will quickly dull our willpower. We will forget the joy that casts us forward. It is the animating joy of celebration of the wins over the hearts and minds of our opponents and others who are looking for direction. May your winter days be filled with this joy as you bear the light of Christ in the public square.

Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference. Email him at tvenzor@necatholic.org.