The mustering of the march began in front of the Aegidiikirche at around half past three, and by shortly before four o’clock, we were formed in three single-file columns, each with a cross on our shoulders and led by an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe (afterwards, the head of the march explained that, although the event was ecumenical, this icon was chosen because it represents the pregnant Mary praying to her Son—thus making her the ideal protectress of the unborn). We were instructed not to engage in conversation with passersby (though there were certain young people whose task it was to hand out explanatory leaflets), for this was primarily a time for prayer.
We set out singing the hymn “O komm herab, du Heiliger Geist” (“O come upon us, Thou Holy Ghost”), aided by the excellent male and female voices that were broadcast over a series of loudspeakers distributed throughout the train. After this hymn, we recited the “Way of the Blood of Christ”; this devotion involves seven stations (1: The Lord shed His Blood at His Circumcision; 2: The Lord shed His Blood in Prayer on the Mount of Olives; 3: The Lord shed His Blood at the Scourging at the Pillar; 4: The Lord shed His Blood at the Crowning of Thorns; 5: The Lord shed His Blood on the Way of the Cross; 6: The Lord shed His Blood at His Crucifixion; 7: The Lord shed His Blood and Water when His Side was Pierced), each of which begins with a passage from scripture and a meditation. The first six stations are followed by the recitation five times of the Lord’s Prayer, while the last station has four “Our Fathers”: the 34 total “Our Fathers” represent the thirty-three years of Christ’s life and the one year of His unborn life in Mary’s womb. Finally, each station was closed by the “Glory be”, sung in German to the tune of “Amazing Grace”. As we finished this devotion, we arrived in front of the Lambertikirche, where we halted (above photo). A meditation on the work of Blessed Clemens August Kardinal von Galen was read over the loudspeakers; Bl. Clemens August was the Bishop of Münster from 1933 until his death in 1946, and was beatified under Pope John Paul II. His motto, Nec laudibus nec timore (“Neither because of praises nor because of fear”), exemplified his stand against the oppression of the Nazis in his own time, and has become a watchword for the stand against the injustice of abortion today.
As we continued from the Lambertikirche, we sang two antiphons, Laudate omnes gentes, laudate Dominum (Psalm 117: “O praise the Lord, all ye nations”) and Misericordias Domini in aeterno cantabo (Psalm 89(88): “My song shall be always of the mercy of the Lord”); and we concluded with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and a reprise of “O komm herab, du Heiliger Geist”. The entire procession took about two hours, winding its way throughout Münster and stopping up traffic at very points along the way. Most bystanders watched in respectful silence; some even joined us in reciting the Lord’s Prayer. A few teenagers and twenty-somethings either laughed at us or yelled at us about individual rights (the latter charge came from a group of punked-out homeless kids who routinely solicit money along the city’s streets).
Perhaps the most moving part of the experience, for me at least, was the little old lady who walked beside me the whole way. Though she must be in her seventies, she carted that cross the entire two hours, shuffling along with the rest of us, and never yielding to the oft-repeated offers to lighten her load. If the stiffness and aches in my limbs that greeted me when I awoke this morning are any indication, she truly bore her cross for Christ and for the unborn children yesterday.
At the end of the procession, which returned to the Aegidiikirche, the head organizer gave a short speech describing the efforts the group have undertaken in the past year, and inviting us to join them in their upcoming prayer marches throughout
The lead organizer was especially keen to describe the march in
The power of this pro-life movement, however, far surpasses the abortion debate. After the march in
If this movement, founded upon the Christ’s love for all humanity, including the unborn, can bring relief to the deep-seated prejudices of old, what power has it not? Dare we to hope that in this movement, the Orangemen and the Catholics in