Forward, March!

Looking through old photos from the annual March for Life - the joyful faces packed in the streets of Washington, D.C., to mark the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision and to call for its repeal - Dave and Joan Maroney had a revealing insight.

Something was missing in those photos. More accurately, Someone was missing: Jesus Christ, the Divine Mercy.

This year they decided to correct that.

If you attended the 46th annual March for Life on Jan. 18, or if you saw coverage online or on TV, you likely saw the results of their efforts. Divine Mercy Images were everywhere - held high on the National Mall, on Constitution Avenue, in front of the Supreme Court building.

Relying on the promises Jesus made to St. Faustina, Dave and Joan, the husband and wife team known as Mother of Mercy Messengers (MOMM), launched the "March with Christ for Life" initiative to empower marchers with posters emblazoned with images of the Divine Mercy and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

With financial support from the Marian Helpers Center and other benefactors, MOMM, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers, had 7,500 poster-sized images printed. With the help of Marian priests, brothers, and seminarians, MOMM distributed 5,500 posters at the nation's biggest pro-life rally, in Washington, D.C. They distributed by mail another 2,000 for rallies held elsewhere across the country.

"We believe this initiative has the potential to dramatically impact our nation," said Joan, who encourages everyone to "trust in the power of Jesus, and ask Him for big things."

The biggest of things, she said, is for an end to abortion.

To that end, MOMM and the Marian Fathers know the Divine Mercy revelations given to St. Faustina have a large role to play.

A Vehicle of God's Grace
In 1931, Jesus appeared to the Polish mystic St. Faustina and requested that an image of Him be painted and that it be venerated around the world. In the image, two rays emanate from His pierced Heart representing the healing and sanctifying graces He extends to us through Baptism and the Eucharist.

"By means of this Image," Jesus told Faustina, "I shall be granting many graces to souls; so, let every soul have access to it" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 570).

"That's what we're doing with this initiative," said Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, director of the Association of Marian Helpers. "We're making sure people have access to it. We know that many miracles have been attributed to the Divine Mercy Image when it is revered with trust in Christ's mercy."

The original Divine Mercy Image was completed in May of 1934 in Vilnius (then Poland, now Lithuania) under the direction of St. Faustina and her spiritual director Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko. The miracles began almost immediately.

Saint Faustina herself reported the first one. In 1935, the image was displayed publicly for the first time, for the solemn closing of the celebrations of the Holy Year of the Redemption in Vilnius. Saint Faustina wrote that "the image came alive and the rays pierced the hearts of the people gathered there, but not all to the same degree. Some received more, some less" (Diary, 417).

Through the March with Christ for Life, MOMM and the Marian Fathers know the image can have a similar effect. They chose to have Our Lady of Guadalupe on the posters as well since her appearance in 1531 in present-day Mexico is credited for ending the indigenous people's practice of human sacrifice and led to the conversion of millions to Christianity.

"Human sacrifice continues once again, only now we call it abortion," said Joan. "I just know if we get Jesus and Mary out there in front of people, Jesus will change hearts and minds."

'Pro-Life is Pro-Science'
Christ's presence at the March for Life served as spiritual counterweight to the day's theme, "Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science." Through talks and presentations, the pre-march rally on the National Mall emphasized the settled biological fact that the pre-born are living, complete, and distinct human beings.

Back in 1973, when the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the land, scientists knew precious little about fetal development - that at the moment of fertilization, a child's genetic make-up is complete, including its sex; that at week three a child's nervous system is forming; and that his or her eyes, legs, and heart are forming by week 5.

"Our highest priority has to be to defend life from the first moment because everyone is unique from day one. ... We know this through science," U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois told the crowd.

"We built a country for our children," the political commentator Ben Shapiro said, referring to the days before Roe V. Wade. "And then something happened. We decided the present was more important than the future. We decided convenience was more important than basic decency. We dehumanized the most human, the most innocent among us. We lied to ourselves."

But if recent public polls are correct, the tide may be turning. Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, told the crowd that "science is on our side, and so is the American public." He said, "More than eight in 10 Americans say they want policies to protect both the mother and the child before birth. Three out of four Americans want substantial restrictions on abortions. ... Best of all, when the Supreme Court reconsiders Roe V. Wade, which inevitably it will do, almost two-thirds of Americans want the Supreme Court to either ban abortions or allow the states to once again restrict abortion."

But even if laws change, Joan cautioned that hearts still need to change.

"There's still so much division about this," she said. "There are many, many people who still think being pro-choice is a good thing. We've known the science for years now. We've known the terrible effects abortion has had on women and men who have taken part in it. Even so, people defend abortion, so what is it going to take?

"To me," she said, "it's going to take more than any one of us can do. It's going to take divine intervention. It's going to take Jesus."

At this year's March for Life, He couldn't be missed.

The Divine Mercy Connection
What's the connection between the pro-life movement and the Divine Mercy message? Let's start with St. Faustina recording in her Diary how she would offer prayers and sufferings for her native Poland in order to appease the Father's anger.

Why was God so angry with Poland? As Dave and Joan like to point out, in the 1930s, Warsaw, Poland, had become the abortion capital of Eastern Europe. Interestingly, the Divine Mercy messages from Jesus to St. Faustina began just before Poland legalized abortion.

"It was as if He were coming to offset the evil of abortion by offering His mercy, even to the greatest of sinners," says Joan. "Despite how angry God was with Poland and how it suffered during World War II, the Divine Mercy message and devotion nonetheless rose out of the ashes."

And so did Poland. In 1989, Poland became the first Warsaw Pact state to break free from the Soviet Union - in no small way due to the Polish Pope, St. John Paul II, who made the spread of Divine Mercy the central mission of his pontificate. It's no coincidence the Polish people passed a referendum banning abortion in 1993, the year of Faustina's beatification.

MOMM notes that the United States should take a page from Poland, which remains the most pro-life nation in Europe, by uniting our prayers with Jesus on the Cross, as St. Faustina did. When we do so, He promises to "pour out a whole ocean of graces" (Diary, 699).

After all, the U.S., like Poland, clearly holds a special place in the Lord's Heart. This is where the Divine Mercy message took root. From the U.S., Divine Mercy spread throughout the world, beginning in the 1940s through the Marian Fathers in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Two Americans received miracles through St. Faustina's intercession, which lead to her beatification and canonization.

Let's pray to the Divine Mercy for an end to abortion.

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Check out our videos of Marians at the March for Life:


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