By Hilary White

TORONTO, October 2, 2006 ( – When I came out of the café I and my friends frequent after Sunday Mass yesterday, the weather was so lovely that I decided it would not be worth going home for the two hours I had before LifeChain. So I shopped. I Sunday-shopped. What else does one do in this day and age, in the beating heart of Canada’s largest commercial metropolis?

There is a little second hand bookstore in which I like to kill time and hard-earned paycheques and despite the heavy preponderance of Marxism in the political section, and post-modernism in the poetry section, I still usually score a treasure or two.

This time I came away with a hard-backed edition of Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism; everything you never wanted to know about the progress of the ideological and genocidal states of the 20th century.

It struck me later, that such a simple and apparently harmless activity as Sunday shopping, even for important and educational books, is a tiny but telling sample of the larger problem, the Big Picture of moral and social degradation that LifeSiteNews is at such pains every day to chronicle. What do I have to do on a Sunday afternoon? The same thing everyone in this culture has to do. Consume merchandise. It’s the new meaning of life.

It seemed a funny irony (not the sort you laugh at) that I was buying a book, on a Sunday, on LifeChain Sunday no less, about everything that is wrong with our modern world; including, presumably, the wild, out-of-control consumerism that has pushed us to keep our shops open every day of the week.

The trouble with living in the modern world is that we have to. Live in it, I mean, and never mind the daily, painful ironies. To be good citizens, we have to pay our taxes, even though we know that they will pay for abortions; for school contraception programs; for day care programs that separate children from mothers; for legal programs that end by installing all sorts of destructive and logically contradictory legislation; for all manner of horrible, soul-killing things. We are faced more often than we like with the duty to vote in elections when all the candidates support abortion (and the whole social program that seems invariably to go with it,) often without the tiniest moment’s reflection.

LifeChain St Lawrence parish Scarborugh


We must live and work every day with people whose ideas are so deeply and unconsciously formed by the Culture of Death that we often find ourselves feeling as though we live in a parallel universe; we can see and hear everything, but we sometimes wonder if there is not an unbridgeable and nearly infinite distance between ourselves and our neighbour.

What good does LifeChain do? People often ask me. I sometimes wonder myself, though I go every year. It is, for one hour a year, an opportunity to stand in front of the world and say clearly that this is not how things should be. It allows us to bridge that infinite gap with a silent shout to the other side. For one hour, we can be identified with something so radically different from what the world understands as normal, that they don’t even have a word for it any more.

I have a particularly good corner. Our parish announces and promotes the event, usually putting posters on the doors for several weeks in advance, placing notices in bulletins and making pulpit announcements. More than this, the priests of my parish preach throughout the year on the unimaginable evil of abortion, on the breakdown of the social order and what we, as individuals, can do about it.

LifeChain is always well attended from our parish. This year the weather looked iffy; it had rained earlier in the day, but this did not stop a hundred people from coming.

Every year I see a slow shift in the demographics. The first year I came the balance was top-heavy with the faithful ladies that seem to form the backbone of every parish, mostly over seventy, and well able to remember a quite different sort of world. Since then, I have seen more and more young families who bring their children, people my age and younger who have seen the fruits of the social revolution their parents brought, and have suffered from them.

All these people do something so simple that it seems foolish, even to our own eyes, and yet, none of the people there could be called fools. We stand in silence, holding a sign that says something is so absurdly obvious it ought not to need saying: “abortion kills children.” Or something that everyone ought to want to hear: “Jesus forgives and heals.” At the end of an hour, we pack all the signs up and after standing about chatting for a bit, disperse.

People driving by this extremely busy central Toronto street frequently honk their horns, give us the thumbs up. Of the hundreds of cars passing in that hour, there are always more thumbs up than insults thrown.

What good does it do? It is one candle in a sea of darkness. Maybe it makes one person stop and think. Maybe it makes a person look on the internet to see about this whole abortion business. Maybe it makes a person try to stop a friend from having an abortion. Maybe it challenges someone’s political assumptions at the next election.

Then again, maybe not. It’s not for me to know.