I remember when Y2K (was supposed to) happen. At the stroke of midnight on January 1st, windows still glowed with the blue of T.V. sets, planes stayed in the sky, and the lights didn't even flicker. I turned to my cousin and said, "Well THAT was anticlimactic." I felt the same about the RNC in Cleveland. For MONTHS we had been told to stay away and that the city was going to go down in flames. Again, the whole event, by the standard that cataclysmic events are measured, was more tame the the Cav's victory reception.
But a week ago, we were preparing for armageddon. (I am NOT joking.) During that maelstrom, one of the seminarians living at the rectory was invited to attend the Pro Life rally at the Brown's stadium. I asked him to blog about his experience. Please note that this article is not an endorsement about any person or political party but a description of his adventure that happened to be at the RNC, which just happened to be on our doorstep.
So, without further ado, here is David Stavarz's article entitled,
"Are You a Lion or a Sheep?"
Last week, during the RNC in Cleveland, another seminarian and myself were blessed to be invited to the Browns Stadium for a Pro-life Luncheon hosted by the Republican National Coalition for Life. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience! As a seminarian, it is really often amazing where, at times, one finds oneself. My life is certainly blessed.
Being the second full day of the convention, Josh and I were not sure about how exactly we were going to make it all the way to First Energy Stadium considering all the hype that surrounded this RNC. However, as God's providence outdoes all human attempts to worry about everything, we were able to catch the RTA into the city and walk a few blocks to our destination without any trouble.
Once we arrived at the stadium, despite walking a good distance in our suits in the Cleveland heat, there was not much time for relaxation. For the representatives and delegates especially, there was much important work to be done for the Pro-Life cause on the Republican platform. There were some protesters outside, but otherwise it was a peaceful and uncontested event.
At the beginning of the program, our own Bishop Roger Gries, OSB was asked to give the opening remarks and prayers. Frankly, and not to the detriment of the subsequent speakers, with his short talk, I think the bishop hit the nail right on the head. Bishop Gries challenged those in the room not if they were a true Republican elephant, but if they were a sheep or a lion. He explained that many times in our modern society, especially when it comes to life issues, religious people are seen as sheep. People of faith, like sheep, are seen as unintelligent, passive, and, hence, easily dismissed. We simply aren't taken seriously.
Granted we live in a turbulent culture that is increasingly anti-religious and even somewhat hostile to religion, but in my view as religious people, as people who follow Jesus Christ, we have two options: apathy or chivalry. And I don't think that it is the apathetic people who Jesus wants to find when He comes again. Before the prayer, the bishop called for us not to cower like lambs when it comes to life issues, but roar like lions so that our voice is heard and it is not one that is easily unheard. Bishop Gries added that as Christians we need to be in the center of the culture, not out on the fringes, never to be heard.
The event itself was hosted, as it had been for many years, by Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly, founder of Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund and the RNC/Life, constitutional lawyer, author of twenty-six books, and female activist who has had an instrumental contribution to the Pro-Life cause in the Republican Party. Over the years, Schlafly has been a lion who has unabashedly promoted life and the dignity of the human person both as a politician and as a mother of 6 children. I could tell the room was filled with respect for Mrs. Schlafly as she was greeted with a profound applause. Before the meal, videos of her speaking before Congress cycled on screens around the room. She was certainly not a woman who sheepishly let the culture change around her. She believed in Christ through her Roman Catholic faith, stood up for what she believed, and addressed the cultural changes with a roar.
Next, Mr. Lou Holtz, legendary college football coach (most notably from Notre Dame), gave the keynote presentation. His talk was inspiring, moving, challenging, and was really what everyone - Democrat or Republican - needed to hear. Holtz drew from much of his personal experience as a coach and as a father in our culture to highlight the various challenges to life issues in our country. Granted, Coach Holtz has more resources and means than your average joe on the street, but he has not been a sheep, but he has chosen to be a lion in the pro-life cause.
Reading some of the coverage of his talk at the event, Holtz has even received flack from the media for this talk at that very event. One quote that I guestfound memorable was, "We can tell people how to make a living, but we can't tell them how to make a life." In other words, the precious nature of a human life needs to be protected before the frail nature of what goes into our pockets. Human lives are and will always be more important that anything else in this world.
All in all it was a great experience going to the luncheon, meeting people who were highly involved and passionate. It was an honor to represent seminarians in a Church who is, at times, greatly persecuted, yet greatly cares about the Pro-Life issues, the dignity of the human person, and the future of our country. In the years to come we should take to heart the bishops words truly becoming lions and not sheep, undeniably fighting for our faith and what we believe in.