I’ve written before about how I graduated from Saint Louis University Law School in May 1982, moved back to Peoria with my wife and child during the summer of 1982, and opened my law practice in January 1983. A month after I started my law practice, my wife and I had our second child.
During the summer of 1983, I heard about a Saturday morning event that was being sponsored by a local pro-life organization. The speaker for the event was Joe Scheidler, a well-known pro-life activist from Chicago. I had read about how Scheidler was using creative tactics to disrupt and close abortion clinics in the United States.
I told my wife about the upcoming event, and she made arrangements for her mother to babysit our two children, so we could attend the event. There were about 30 people who showed up to listen to what Scheidler had to say.
Scheidler reminded me of the men I grew up with on the Williams side of my family: tough, rugged, no-nonsense, aggressive, and at times, eager to do battle. He described how he had gotten involved in the pro-life movement in 1972, which was a year before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand. He then worked with several pro-life organizations before forming his own organization, the Pro-Life Action League.
There are only two things that I remember about what Scheidler said during his talk. The first was the story he told about how he got involved in the pro-life movement. The second was a challenge that he made to each of the people who were in the room listening to him. The challenge came at the end of his talk. Here’s what he said:
All I ever hear from people is, “What can I do? I’m only one person.”
That type of thinking is a cop out. Do great leaders think that way? “I’m only Thomas Aquinas, what can I do? I’m only Abraham Lincoln, what can I do? I’m only Pope John Paul II, what can I do? I’m only Adolf Hitler, what can I do?”
Real leaders know that they have the power and the responsibility to do great things. They know that God expects great things from them, and they’re not afraid to boldly move forward and do what needs to be done.
What kind of person are you? What are you willing to do to help put a stop to the killing of unborn children?
Scheidler’s closing comments were forceful and compelling — a call to action to those of us who were sitting on the sidelines, while the greatest atrocity of all time was being ignored by our society and government.
I thought about what Scheidler said last week after I read a comment that was posted in response to my article, “The Gods of Technology and Government.” Each Saturday evening, I post my weekly article on my website at Adoration.com. There are several hundred people who visit the website each week to read my articles. The following comment was posted by Lou Kuklok, in the comment section underneath last week’s article:
Excellent! Now how can we stop it with your number 1 and 2 suggestions…. I do vote and am informed, but who will listen? It seems that AI (artificial intelligence) is too far gone and I wonder if God is leaving us to our own devices. Do you have any other advice?
Lou’s comment expressed some of the same frustrations that most of us have. Those of us who pay attention to what’s going on in the world and understand the threats that we face would like nothing more than to put a stop to the madness that is occurring all around us. But each of us is only one person. With our limited influence and resources, we know that there’s really nothing we can do that will have an impact on our institutions and government.
Yet, there are things that we have the ability to do that can have a positive and life-changing impact on our family members, friends, colleagues, and the members of our local communities.
If you’re over the age of 50, you probably recognize the name of Ted Bundy, the serial rapist and killer who took pleasure in murdering and assaulting young women and girls during the 1970s. Bundy was a career criminal who was responsible for killing more than 30 women and girls. He was executed on January 24, 1989, by the state of Florida for murdering two college girls who he attacked while they were sleeping in their bedrooms at the Chi Omega sorority house, at Florida State University.
After beating the two young girls to death with the large piece of wood, Bundy entered the bedrooms of two other girls and beat each of them. He then entered a fourth bedroom and saw a girl sleeping in her bed, with a rosary in her hand. He immediately left the building and fled.
The girl was later questioned by investigators and told them that before she left for college, she promised her grandmother that she would not let a day go by without praying the rosary for protection. The night that Bundy entered her bedroom, she had fallen asleep while she was praying her rosary.
The incident about the girl and her rosary was described in the book, With Mary to Jesus, by Fr. Joseph M. Esper. In his book, Fr. Esper wrote,
Ironically, when Ted Bundy was on death row, awaiting execution for his crimes, he asked Monsignor Kerr to serve as a spiritual counselor, and the priest took the opportunity to ask about that terrible night. Bundy explained that when he entered the girl’s room, he had fully intended on murdering her; some mysterious power was preventing him.
Fr. Esper later added,
And not only does it (the rosary) aid our own spiritual growth — it also undermines the kingdom of Satan. The famous Vatican exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth testified, “One day a colleague of mine heard the devil say during an exorcism, ‘Every Hail Mary is like a blow on my head. If Christians knew how powerful the rosary was, it would be my end.’”
Who was it that helped to save that college girl from being murdered? It was her grandmother, because she was the one who asked the girl to commit to praying a rosary every day. Instead of saying, “I’m only one person, what can I do?”, the grandmother developed a loving relationship with her granddaughter, which allowed her to later exercise influence over her granddaughter and convince her granddaughter to commit to praying a rosary every day.
I wonder how many family members, friends, and local members of her community the grandmother was able to influence and help during her life. While she was only one person, she had the ability and power to influence numerous people.
We know from the book of Genesis that God listened to Abraham’s prayers and promised him that if he could find 10 righteous people in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, then the inhabitants of those cities would not be destroyed. Genesis 18: 22-33.
How many righteous people do you think there are in America who love God and pray to Him for guidance and protection? There’s no doubt in my mind that there are millions of people who are in that category. Each of them has been given different gifts, talents, and abilities by God that they can use to influence and persuade other people to pray and develop a closer relationship with their Creator.
Very few of us have the power to influence or change our institutions, or our local, state, or federal governments. But through our prayers, our example, and our actions, we have the power to influence and change the lives of our family members, friends, and members of our local community.
Who knows? As a result of who we are and what we do during our lifetimes, maybe someday one of our descendants will become a great theologian and Doctor of the Church (like Thomas Aquinas), or a great national leader (like Abraham Lincoln), or a great world leader (like Pope John Paul II).
What’s your name and which of your God-given gifts, talents, and abilities are you using to perform daily works of mercy? How often do you attempt to persuade and influence others to turn to God in prayer?