I know, the title of this blog caught your attention. You’re probably wondering, How can an inanimate object, such as a running stroller, be pro-life? Let me explain…
Three years ago I had just accepted the Archdiocesan position of Respect Life Coordinator. A few months later, when I was 42 and our youngest was eight, my husband and I discovered that we were expecting. Wow…what a glorious surprise! We had given away all of our baby items years ago, thinking that perhaps seven kids was about it for us. But my pregnancy at an “advanced maternal age” was happy news–and proof that God has a sense of humor!
My coworkers in the Office for Marriage, Family and Life knew of my passion for running. They also knew that the jogging stroller in which I pushed all of our other babies had gone to its eternal rest–the Babies ‘R’ Us in the sky. A collection was taken up among many of the Archdiocesan worker-bees, and the perfect gift was bestowed on me–a red, double running stroller–with an emphasis on DOUBLE!
Yes, I had twins in that big belly! Proof that God has a GINORMOUS sense of humor!
Praying for the Church
The director of the office, Kathy Laird, requested that I offer prayers for all of the Archdiocesan staff when I use the stroller–and I do–beginning with Archbishop Nienstedt, Bishop Piche, Fr. Laird, my pastor who is Fr. Creagan–and radiating out to the others who serve as God’s hands and feet. As Kathy often told me, “Working for the Church is such a blessing,” which is so true, but I know that the rewards are often mingled with sweat. Without even exchanging their clerics or business suits for athletic wear, the Archdiocesan staff can feel like they’re in the midst of a marathon. That darn devil chases us in order to sink his talons into all that is good–like building Our Father’s Church and a culture of life– and it takes a lot of strength, energy and courage to combat his evil-doings and bring others to the Truth.
In the Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life ) Blessed John Paul II wrote:
The Church’s spiritual motherhood is only achieved–the Church knows this too–through the pangs and ‘the labor’ of childbirth (cf. Rev 12:2), that is to say, in constant tension with the forces of evil which still roam the world and affect human hearts, offering resistance to Christ.
Yep, the church needs our prayers. Even if these prayers are “on the run”!
Praying for Others
The twins are two-and-a-half now, and their red run-and-pray stroller is well broken-in. Like many mothers, I pray that the guardian angels protect my family. Whenever our running route takes us through tunnels or under bridges, the twins remind me to belt out prayers (they like the echo.) The boys begin in unison with a “Da-Da!” because we usually start off praying for my husband who has rheumatoid arthritis. Of course we pray for the twins’ big brothers and sisters (This takes a while!) We pray for extended family, especially a sister-in-law who is expecting, and a niece who is pregnant and going through breast cancer. We add people to our prayer list who are suffering–and their care-takers, because individuals who are selflessly comforting loved-ones often feel like they are running a long race with an uncertain end.
As I chug along, I give thanks for the gift of life (My mom taught me to do this when I was a little girl) and I ask God for the strength to endure my blessings.
A Symbol of Life
A stroller or buggy conjures happy memories and warm visions for most people. I see my running stroller as a domestic church on wheels. In The Gospel of Life Blessed John Paul II states, “As the domestic church, the family is summoned to promote, celebrate and serve the Gospel of Life.” (#92)
I teach my kids lessons on life as we’re rolling along–I believe that they’re never too young. For example: Yesterday, we came across an injured monarch butterfly on our running path. I gently picked it up and placed it on the twins’ blankets so that they could watch it flutter its wings. The lovely insect bummed a ride for about a mile, and then took flight. As I pushed the toddlers along the banks of the Mississippi, I used that butterfly to tell them how precious is God’s creation, especially us human beings. I was reminded once again of The Gospel of Life:
Human Life is sacred because from its beginning it involves ‘the creative action of God,’ and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. (#53)
This is one of the reasons I also bring my running stroller to abortuaries, where we pray and stroll on the sidewalk: It is a symbol of life. Twenty-one years ago, when I was thinking of praying outside of Planned Parenthood with my church for the first time, a parishioner said, “Oh please come…and bring your baby!” And I did, in my old, neon-green running stroller.
When people see me–a 45-year-old mommy– and my babies out on our morning runs or strolling outside of abortion clinics, I hope they are reminded that life doesn’t always go along as we ‘planned.’ But the important thing is that we all embrace life and promote it. I know that the babies–with their matching faces–bring many smiles to people, and teach their own lessons to passers-by: That life is a precious gift and that we should cherish it!