Hi everyone. My name is Mike Shoule and I extend a heartfelt thank you to Father Peter and Deacon Stan and Mike Chimenti and our Rosary leaders and all of you sitting in our beautiful church tonight to pray together as a faith community. Also a special thank you to Margaret Reyes who has been leading the Respect for Life Novena after the 8:30 mass each morning. As it says in Matthew Chapter 18 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” and I know at some prayer services it does seem like only two or three are gathered.
In a similar vein, there is strength in numbers when it comes to being a public witness for the unborn. Ever been to a wedding where either the bride or the groom has a huge family and the other one does not? And you walk into the church and you see one side jam packed with people while you are a guest of the other soon-to-be spouse and it looks like they saved you a seat in the “front row” on that side of the aisle. That’s how it is sometimes when we pray outside of abortuaries. There’s a few of us standing on the sidewalk with our Rosary beads in hand and people keep walking by wondering what we are doing. But then they look around and realize our reason for praying in front of that specific building. And some actually give us a thumbs up while others choose a different finger.
My point is that there are a lot of people in our City who are against the killing of babies and the larger the prayer group the more confidence they have in knowing they are not alone in their beliefs. Heck, there are even sidewalk volunteers and security guards who when they make eye contact with us you just know that they are giving thought to their role in this horrible industry. It is also an important fact that people praying outside an abortuary can have a significant impact on women changing their minds or not even showing up for their appointment.
Most of us here tonight know where we were on the morning of September 11th, 2001, and some also know where they were on November 22, 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. But how many of us remember where you were on Tuesday, October 28th, 1986 right around lunchtime? I do and since my parents are in Florida right now and the fact that I am standing here in church, I can admit that I cut school that day to attend the NY Mets parade in downtown Manhattan after they had won Game 7 of the World Series the day before.
What does this have to do with respecting life or abortion? Not a ton other than on Saturday, March 25th there is the International Gift of Life Walk from Foley Square down that same Canyon of Heroes that has hosted parades for other NY sports teams (although not for quite some time) and US generals and aviators and astronauts. This walk takes place every year on the Feast of the Annunciation and this year we have the good fortune of it falling on a Saturday making it quite easy for us to attend.
As you know, yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Roe vs Wade and although that law was overturned it does not change the fact that there have been over 63 million abortions in the United States since January 22, 1973. More importantly it does not change the fact that our home state of New York continues to be an abortion leader with roughly 1 our of every 3 pregnancies ending in abortion – over 110,000 in 2020. That means live baby, live baby, dead baby . . . live baby, live baby, dead baby . . . . Those are dauntingly big numbers of course and they almost seem incomprehensible. It would be easy to say, so what if we got that number down to 109,999 abortions per year in NY. Is it such a big deal? Well, it sure would be to that one baby whose life was saved and to that baby’s family and to all of the people that that baby would meet during their life.
Legal or illegal, God is not going to one day just drop that number to 0. While I haven’t gotten any text messages from Him lately and I don’t think He has an Instagram page, I am pretty sure He wants us to pray. And to bear witness. And to advocate for unborn babies. And to do these things a lot . . . unceasingly in fact. Clearly praying and bearing witness is needed since many states are not requiring medical care be provided to babies born alive after botched abortions. And as you probably have heard, the abortion pill is becoming more and more widely available.
One last number -- medical advancements have helped increase life expectancy of people with Down syndrome from about 10 years in the 1960s to nearly over 50 years today. Yet, it is estimated that 60 to 90 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the U.S. I can’t imagine that most of us would be okay with killing a baby in hopes of getting a different one the next time around, so let’s speak up.
I know this is a bit of a silly thought, but humor me for a minute. God willing, we all make it to heaven one day . . . imagine being greeted at the Pearly Gates and the first question is – Mets? Or Yankees? If you give the right answer, the gates open and you are let right in. Answer 'Yankees' on the other hand and instead there is a “warm bed” waiting for you elsewhere.
Seriously though, we as human beings are more than happy to speak up about why our team is the best baseball/football/hockey/basketball team in NY or why we think so-and-so should have won or not won on Dancing With the Stars or The Bachelorette; yet, more often than not, we are unwilling to speak up about the unborn. We wear those team jerseys with pride wherever we go and go to parades when they win championships, but God forbid we bear public witness for the cause of life.
Why is that? Maybe we are afraid that we might be seen by someone who knows us? Or even worse judged? There is only one judge and only one judgement day. When we come together at Respect Life masses and pray the Rosary with the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants or other groups outside of abortuaries, we are praying that God will change people’s hearts about abortion. There is no yelling or screaming, just peaceful prayer.
We are praying without judgement for the mother carrying the baby inside of her and the father who is equally responsible for that pregnancy regardless of the decision they make. We are praying without condemnation for the doctors and nurses and volunteers who are accomplices in the 200 plus babies that are killed each day in New York. We are praying that God will change their hearts and we are praying for ourselves that we are doing enough to be the voice for the voiceless. We are also praying that people will no longer commit the crimes of incest and rape which account for just under 2% of the abortions in the US. Ultimately the large majority of us, regardless of religion, race, gender, or age, are morally against abortion. We know that killing a baby is wrong. Advancements in science have proven to us without a doubt that it is a living baby inside a woman’s womb and not just a glob of cells.
The media and politicians and “rights” groups want us to accept their wrongs, but we can choose not to. Instead, we can choose to be a public witness for unborn babies and attend Respect Life masses and participate in Rosary processions and invite our family and friends to join us as well. We can choose to not stay quiet, but instead offer another perspective when someone who calls themselves pro-choice talks about abortion. Sometimes those people are really pro-abortion rather than pro-choice since the only choice they want the woman to make is abortion. By the same token we should still pray for them and try to find common ground so we can have a respectful conversation.
In order to have a respectful conversation and to advocate for the unborn we need to educate ourselves and educate our youth. Abortion is a difficult subject for sure, but one that is better taught by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and religious education teachers rather than by middle school social studies or debate class teachers or, even worse, Tik Tok. Our children are hearing about abortion and seeing things online about abortion long before they should. We need to share the truth with them before they hear all of the lies.
One of the flyers has a list of resources with websites and a couple of books for you to consider. Another is a reminder that on Saturday March 25th we all have a chance to be a hero for the unborn as we walk down the Canyon of Heroes to be a witness for life. The other side of that flyer lists the upcoming monthly prayer vigils for the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.
Matthew, Chapter 25, Verse 40 says And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Are there any in our world more least than the unborn?
So, as we head home this evening and as we pray this week and beyond, we should give thought to this . . . God forbid we are called to our heavenly home tomorrow, what will your answer be when God asks what have you done for these least brothers of mine? If you don’t think God will be fully satisfied with your answer, the good news is that there are opportunities for each of us to help save the unborn one precious baby at a time.
When I went to that Mets World Series parade I was very much pro-choice. I had 2 close friends in high school who had abortions. When I went to Boston College I stood in front of an abortion clinic to make sure women could enter the building safely. When I joined the Knights of Columbus about 10 years ago I considered myself pro-choice and now here I am.
God wants us to be a public witness for the unborn and He wants to change your heart . . . WILL YOU LET HIM?
Michael Shoule gave this talk during a Respect Life Prayer Service, held at Americian Martyrs Church, Bayside, New York, on January 23, 2023. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus.