By MARNIE McALLISTER
Record Assistant Editor
About 700 people filled the pews of St. Martin of Tours Church in downtown Louisville Sunday to pray for an end to abortion and other practices that threaten the dignity of human life.
The annual Pro-life Memorial Mass usually draws a standing-room only crowd. But this year, the Archdiocese of Louisville sent a delegation for the first time to take part in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 23. The 140 delegates were remembered in prayer during the somber liturgy at St. Martin.
Father J. Mark Spalding, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Louisville and pastor of Holy Trinity Church, celebrated the liturgy, which is in its 39th year. It began after the Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion.
Father Spalding called on the faithful to recommit themselves to the three “C’s” which Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz normally emphasizes during the Mass, he said, noting that the archbishop was in Rome for his “ad limina” visit.
“The first ‘C’ is courage,” Father Spalding said. “The second ‘C’ is civility. The third ‘C’ is compassion.
“Courage,” he said, “is a gift of the Holy Spirit. May God continue to give it to us as a church, that we may have the courage to go forth and speak to whomever” the truth of the Gospel.
“With that courage,” he said, “never let us forget civility.”
He encouraged those who advocate for the dignity of human life to show their respect for life in the way they speak to those who may disagree. He called on the congregation to remember, “ ‘I show the dignity of the human person by the respect I show you right now.’ ”
“Both of the other ‘Cs’ lead to that third one — compassion,” he added. “This ministry of life and the value of life must be one where others see and hear and experience compassionate caring Christians.”
Father Spalding also connected the memorial Mass to the day’s readings, which focused on being called by God.
“As we celebrate life, we remember that a key part of our calling as Roman Catholic Christians” is to “announce the Good News of Jesus, the Gospel of life,” he said in opening his homily.
As he concluded, he said, “Come, follow the
Lord. Come preach the good news to others. Come, make this a better place so all — from conception to natural death — may rejoice in their lives.”
Following the concluding rites, representatives of 150 schools, churches and organizations were called individually to receive a red rose. The rose signifies their commitment to the dignity of human life.