Free­dom? Yeah, right!

The Saline Courier - - OPINION -

“This time, with free­dom!” Sis­ters Mary Karen and Mary Gabriel im­plored. It was a rare day for Sis­ters of Life from dif­fer­ent con­vents to get to be to­gether at the re­li­gious order’s mother­house in the sub­urbs of New York. There, they gath­ered around an out­door Nativity scene with fire for warmth and sang car­ols and other de­vo­tional songs.

The funny part of the free­dom re­mark is that these women are freer than just about any­one I have ever met.

In one de­scrip­tion of the found­ing of the Sis­ters of Life, Mother Agnes Mary Dono­van said about its founder, Car­di­nal John O’con­nor: “He was very frank. He of­ten said he was do­ing what he be­lieved the Holy Spirit had asked him, and if it was of the Holy Spirit, then it would turn out all right.”

I thought of that story as Sis­ter Mary Gabriel gazed on the flames of the fire and talked about the Holy Spirit burn­ing in each Chris­tian.

When you ac­knowl­edge that re­al­ity within, great things can hap­pen. Good­ness and joy can be­come con­ta­gious. Hope can be seen and love can be plau­si­ble.

The Sis­ters of Lie help women in need -- women who may not want their chil­dren, but don’t want to choose abor­tion; women who need help with par­ent­ing; women who need help, pe­riod. It is an in­ter­na­tional move­ment, with Sis­ters hail­ing from all cor­ners of the globe. (The Sis­ters cur­rently have con­vents in New York, Den­ver, Philadel­phia, Washington, D.C., and Toronto.)

It’s safe to say the Holy Spirit wanted the Sis­ters of Life, be­cause it is look­ing more than all right. They are women ded­i­cated to God and His peo­ple, with a spe­cial com­mit­ment to in­no­cent human life. The Sis­ters of Life were born of an in­spi­ra­tion Car­di­nal O’con­nor had at Dachau. He asked him­self: “How could human be­ings do this to other human be­ings?”

Speak­ing of free­dom, I re­al­ize I still can’t get over an event at the Free­dom Tower -- the struc­ture built on the site of the World Trade Cen­ter -- in Jan­uary, when the gov­er­nor or New York de­cided to ex­pand abor­tion in a state al­ready known as the abor­tion cap­i­tal of the coun­try. To cel­e­brate such a blow to life at a site at which so much life was taken should be be­yond the pale.

But life con­tin­ues, and God pro­vides peo­ple who see clearly and will pour them­selves out in ser­vice for oth­ers. Ours doesn’t have to be a cul­ture of cyn­i­cism and de­spair. The Sis­ters not only show us some­thing greater, some­thing won­der­ful, some­thing more real than so much that we al­low our­selves to be­come en­slaved to; they draw us into it, as well.

The Sis­ters will tell you: “We be­lieve ev­ery per­son is valu­able and sa­cred. We be­lieve that ev­ery per­son is good, loved, unique and un­re­peat­able. We be­lieve that ev­ery per­son’s life has deep mean­ing, pur­pose and worth. In fact, we give our lives for that truth.”

And that seems to me a good prompt for a res­o­lu­tion for the new year, for the rest of our lives. What more can we do to help peo­ple see that they are “good, loved, unique and un­re­peat­able”? Peo­ple don’t feel good, loved, unique and un­re­peat­able. What can each one of us do about that? That’s not sim­ply a ques­tion for women who take par­tic­u­lar vows with the Sis­ters of Life. It’s fuel for the rev­o­lu­tion our lives and world need. This is us­ing free­dom well. And it only comes from know­ing it about your­self -- at which point it be­comes harder not to want the same for oth­ers.

So, as the Sis­ters said: “This time, with free­dom!” -- how about that as a mantra for 2020?

•••

Kathryn Jean Lopez is se­nior fel­low at the Na­tional Re­view In­sti­tute, ed­i­torat-large of Na­tional Re­view mag­a­zine and author of the new book “A Year With the Mys­tics: Vi­sion­ary Wis­dom for Daily Liv­ing.” She can be con­tacted at [email protected]­tion­al­re­view.com.

KATHRYN LOPEZ

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