Washington, D.C., January 22, 2018
Orthodox Christian hierarchs, clergy, monastics, seminarians, laity, and thousands of others gathered in Washington D.C. on Friday for the 45th annual March for Life in protest of the national tragedy and shame of abortion. The theme of this year’s march was “Love Save Lives.”
At the request of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Chair of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon (Mollard) of the Orthodox Church in America led the Orthodox delegation. His Eminence Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh (OCA) and Archbishop Michael of New York-New Jersey (OCA) also participated in the march.
Moreover, Met. Tikhon was invited to offer the opening prayer at the pre-march program, the theme of which can be summed up in his phrase: “Let us be pro-life and thus not oppose Christ’s dying for the life of the whole world.” The full prayer is provided at the bottom of this article. The text of Met. Tikhon’s message for Sanctity of Life Sunday, January 21, is also available on the OCA website.
Even before the march, the day began with Met. Tikhon celebrating the Divine Liturgy for the Old Calendar feast of the Theophany at St. Nicholas Cathedral (OCA) in Washington.
Both St. Tikhon’s and St. Vladimir’s Seminaries report that the march was well attended by their communities. St. Tikhon’s was represented by the aforementioned Abp. Michael, who serves as the seminary Rector, seminary Dean Archpriest Steven Voytovich, Fr. Ignatius Gauvain, the Director of Student Life, and Hieromonk Herman (Majkrzak) of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, who led the choir during the Orthodox prayer service, as well as a number of faculty, student, and community representatives.
St. Vladimir’s Seminary also reports that seminarians, faculty, and administration, including members of the school’s pro-life student interest group the St. Ambrose Society were present at the march, taking a stand against the murder of innocent children.
Orthodox Christians have also been taking part in local marches for life throughout the country.
This year’s march was also notable in that President Donald Trump became the first sitting president to ever address the March for Life live. “I’m honored and really proud to be the first president to stand with you to address the 45th march for life,” President Trump stated. “We will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence … the right to life.” Vice President Mike Pence also addressed the crowd.
On the same day that thousands gathered in the nation’s capital, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that protects babies born alive during botched abortions, reports LifeSiteNews. “The bill states that if a baby survives an abortion, that baby is entitled to the same level of care as any other baby of a similar age, no matter how delivered, would receive,” Fr. Mark Hodges write.
Met. Tikhon’s Opening Prayer
45th Annual March for Life, Washington, D.C., January 19, 2018
I don’t come here to represent an ideology or to put forth a new thought.
I am not here to disclose a new insight or to speak for others.
I don’t even come here to speak for myself.
I come here to speak out the Gospel, to speak for the One who died “for the life of the world.”
In this phrase I see the summary of all that our communion today is about.
And so, together with my brothers from the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition, I ask you to join me in offering a prayer to the One who died, not for the lives of the world, but for the life of it.
O Lord Jesus Christ, we know that all things and all people of all times share a kinship, a oneness that even surpasses our understanding. They all have one life and one life only, flowing through everything that breathes and everything that exists. When You came into the world, You did not just become human, but You also took on this one life and clothed Yourself with it, making it Your seamless tunic.
As life is one, all violence of any kind is of the same essence, the tearing of the one tunic. The tearing of the tunic will take many forms: abortion, execution, war, racism, genocide, oppression, slavery, hatred of any kind, but the essence of all is one and the same. All such acts are only symptoms of one and the same illness, “the sin of the world,” of which we are all part, which is self-love.
It is tempting to place blame for death only on some, but to be pro-life means to understand that violence is not the sin of some, but of all, that all violence of all time is the sin of all.
The truth is that every human being is Your image and everyone’s life finds infinite value in You, regardless of one’s sins.
Lord, You show us that life has only one source and only one victory: self-sacrificial love. Help us to be self-sacrificial love for all, and we will conquer death. As the great Syrian saint, St Isaac said:
Be persecuted, but persecute not.
Be crucified, but crucify not.
Be wronged, but wrong not.
Be slandered, but slander not.
Have clemency, not zeal, with respect to evil.
Lay hold of goodness, not justice.
Justice does not belong to the Christian way of life, and there is no mention of it in Christ’s teaching.
Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep: for this is the sign of limpid purity. Suffer with the sick, and mourn with sinners; with those who repent, rejoice. . .
Be a partaker in the sufferings of all men, but keep your body distant from all. Rebuke no man, revile no man, not even those who live very wickedly.
Spread your cloak over the man who is falling and cover him.
My Brothers and Sisters,
Let us be pro-life and thus not oppose Christ’s dying for the life of the whole world.
Let us be pro-life and be against anything that injures life, against any violence, under any circumstances.
Let us be pro-life and understand the kinship of all people and even of all other creatures and all things.
Let us be pro-life and thus become unable to endure the injury done to any creature.
May we be all this to the glory of our Almighty God, revealed in Trinity at the river Jordan, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, both now and ever and unto ages of ages. AMEN.