After spending 22 hours on a bus from Jefferson City, Mo. to Washington D.C. and unloading our bags at our gracious host parish we headed to Mass at the National Shrine. We arrived around 4 pm for Mass that was scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm. When we arrived two and a half hours early, the entire Basilica was packed. I’m not sure there were any seats left in the main upper church, I know that many of our pilgrims got seats in the crypt church below where they were able to watch the Mass on a television screen.

All of the seminarians were told to vest and gather in one particular area of the crypt church. It was really wonderful to meet some new seminarians from all over the country as well as catch up with old friends who now study at different seminaries.

Eventually we formed a line and then began the procession, the seminarians alone took 21 minutes to process, the overall procession time was around 45 minutes. As one of the first seminarians seated, I was afforded the luxury of watching all of the other seminarians, deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals process in to participate in the Mass. What a beautiful testament of faith to watch as all these men of faith approached the altar.

As mentioned, the Shrine was packed which made for a very intense experience of the Mass. Every time there was a song to sing there were so many people joining the already amazing choir which led to the entire Shrine being filled with a very powerful sense of spirit and worship. The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, I really enjoyed his homily as it touched on the important issues of Life while still being coherent and enjoyable to such a young crowd. While I may be biased, I particularly enjoyed his baseball analogies.

During the Mass I remember looking around, amazed at all the people, just like on NCYC, these people, both young and young at heart, from the East Coast, West Coast, North, South, City, Country were all united as ONE that evening. United in worship of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Mass, united and preparing to fight for something they believe, the right to Life!

Another reflection I had on the Mass was that it was the perfect way to start the activities in Washington D.C. Here were somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 people celebrating and recognizing that Jesus Christ, our Lord, gave up HIS LIFE for OUR LIVES… How beautiful was it that we, as the Body of Christ were preparing to stand up and March for the Right to Life that next morning. Just as Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper the night before he was Crucified on the Cross for our sins, we participated in this meal before we marched for those who have unjustly lost their lives.

Do we have any other choice than to stand up for the lives of others? From conception to natural death we have no choice but to stand up because if we want to honor our baptismal call to be a part of the Body of Christ, we must act as Christ acted.

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