Donald Trump is now the 45th president of the United States, and Inauguration Day hangovers have kicked in full force. We’re either happily hopeful, or terrifically terrified.
Either way, gatherings to voice what kind of nation we’re to be in coming years have just begun, and opinions differ widely.
We have, for example, today’s Women’s March on Washington, a massive, female-led protest to repudiate our new president. On Friday, another monumental event will return to D.C.; the annual March for Life opposing the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
But in quieter corners, another, even bigger event is being anticipated by Christians who’ve been inspired by a supposed series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917 before three peasant children in Fatima, Portugal.
Many who’ve followed this closely believe this 100th anniversary-year since the reported Marian visits at Fatima will have great spiritual implications, though its manifestation is yet unknown.
I’m especially curious about the private, divinely-sent message purported to have been received by the oldest Fatima “visionary,” Lucia, post-childhood. The message concerned what she described, prophetically, as “the final battle” between God and “the reign of Satan,” which, Lucia was told, would concern marriage and the family.
“Don’t be afraid,” Lucia wrote in 1981 to an archbishop in Italy, who shared the message publicly with the Italian press in 2008, three years after Lucia’s death. “Whoever works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will be fought against and opposed in every way…nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed (Satan’s) head.”
The Fatima apparitions are detailed in “The 13th Day” documentary.
Whether the stories are true is left to individuals to decide, but I find something noteworthy in what Lucia shared with the archbishop. The current state of our world does indicate that the battle is on, and at its center, marriage and family.
Take Planned Parenthood, which has tried convincing the public of its good intentions, despite being our nation’s largest abortion provider and involvement in a scandal allegedly involving the illegal selling of baby body parts.
Fellow columnist Jane Ahlin defended the organization here recently, projecting that without Planned Parenthood, maternal mortality rates would rise. But Snopes, a website that attempts to debunk false reports, and some other news outlets, have challenged the “facts” Ahlin and others have used to scare us.
In fact, there are more than 13,000 healthcare facilities in the United States that offer women’s health care without such questionable practices. Why not choose these more just options?
But Planned Parenthood’s mobilization efforts are accelerating, including here in North Dakota. Unless the U.S. government defunds them, we are complicit in supporting their deadly deeds. Though America is turning more pro-life, this organization’s chokehold remains for now.
Planned Parenthood, despite its name, is no friend of the family.
Marriage has not escaped its share of arrows, either. Our North Dakota legislators recently voted on the failed Senate Bill 2043, which would’ve changed the state’s statutes to remove the words “one man and one woman” from the definition of marriage.
Despite our Supreme Court’s recent determination that marriage no longer requires one man and one woman, at its roots, marriage has not changed.
In reality — and most North Dakotans still agree — marriage is the union of a man and woman. It is also the only civil institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers. This is what marriage is and does.
Rewriting the definition of marriage, while not changing marriage reality, presents a dangerously more adult-centric institution, minimizing the rights of children to be born into a family with their mother and father united in marriage.
Though we have lost this point along the way, marriage is a reality to be understood, existing before any written definitions came to be; the civil definition was needed largely to safeguard children.
Though the faithful often try to approach the marriage issue with Scripture, our predominantly secular world rejects Biblical backing. Thankfully, the truth of marriage can be understood through reason and reality and explained with love.
When we see marriage from children’s eyes, the matter becomes simpler. While not every marriage includes children, every child has a mother and a father, and each of us has an inherent need to know and be loved by our mother and father.
Indeed, the warning given to Lucia has come to pass. The battle is on; marriage and family are under attack.
But both are dear to God, and as the general at the helm of this fight for life, he will lead us to victory. Until then, pray diligently, and act when possible. Our younger generations deserve not our selfish negligence, but our steadfast protection.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Jan. 21, 2017.]