January 22nd.  Those old enough to recall learning in school what the above referenced Roman numeral is are old enough to remember the fateful decision handed down by the Supreme Court 41 years ago today, a decision that vitiated the legal prohibition against the voluntary termination of pregnancy.

It was a decision which in the ensuing decades has roiled our society with an intensifying – sometimes violent – debate among citizens whom the media has generally categorized in to two camps misleadingly dubbed ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life.’  The terms are regrettable for they imply a polarizing divide between ‘extremists’ on one side who have no understanding or compassion for ‘extremists’ on the other.

Except for those who capitalize on its promotion, abortion is never an end in itself. Rather it is pursued as a means of escape from a situation resulting from unintended circumstances, circumstances oftentimes beyond the control of those involved.  Undeniably, for some it is merely – and alarmingly – a ‘convenient solution’ to an ‘inconvenient problem.’ However, for others it is a choice into which they are compelled by fear, uncertainty and loneliness, forces which blind them not only to the scarring effect and consequence of fatality but also to the dignifying promise of life.

What the media do not tell us about are the many groups who cross the divide and offer women faced with the trauma of ‘choice’ an alternative path.

One such organization is the Guiding Star Ministries Home For Women and Children in Philadelphia. Guiding Star provides a home for pregnant women and single mothers and children. Through counseling, group meetings, and a nurturing faith based environment it helps its residents work toward total independence so that they might become productive (and fulfilled) members of society. No one is ever sorry to have lived there.

Guiding Star is one of hundreds – if not thousands – of similar communities around the country. Moved by charity and respect for life they are oases of hope and dignity in what otherwise might appear to be a desert of indifference or despair. Perhaps the vision of our recent pontiffs – that a Springtime will brighten the dawn of our third millennium – is coming to pass. Perhaps streams of charity will surface in the barren desert and connect with each other these vital springs of hope so that we as a nation, as a people, will once again bloom in a culture of life.

Knowing what we know about how things have been, how can we hope for this? Believing what we believe about the advance of the Kingdom, how can we not?

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