Phew! We're still so worn out from travelling and whatnot that neither of us has really worked up enough momentum to tackle much of what we learned about in Wichita, but I'll take on just a little bit right here. Hopefully there will be more to come.
So, the theme for the whole conference was what Mary said to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana: "Do whatever he tells you." John 2:5 Not coincidentally, this was also part of the Gospel reading during the first big Mass of the conference, on Saturday. Fr. Frank Pavone from Priests for Life was the homilist and, while he did incorporate the message of the reading into his homily, he probably would've said pretty close to the same thing no matter what the reading was: that, especially in an election year such as this, we need to remember that life is the first and most foundational of all rights and, while we should work to alleviate all kinds of other social ills, if we do so without protecting the sanctity of life from conception to natural death all our work will be "built on quicksand." Despite its predictability, Fr. Pavone's homily was very good and very powerful, and it ended with a definite message of hope: unlike the apostles on Good Friday, we know what the outcome is going to be so, during the darkest times, we can say, "It's Friday, but SUNDAY'S COMING!"
All the while Fr. Pavone was speaking, I couldn't take my eyes off the sweet little Down's child in the row ahead of us. He was probably about 18 months old, I'd guess, and just exuded a calm joy throughout the Mass (made even more evident by contrasting it with our girls' increasing impatience with Fr. Pavone's long homily). I got to thinking about the girl in Eva's section of the kids' program with the severely malformed legs, of the Boehmer Family Jugglers' (one of the featured speakers/performers at the conference) second-oldest son who had been born with only one and a half arms but had gone on to be, literally, a world-class juggler. How many of these people would have been "therapeutically" aborted without people like Fr. Pavone fighting for their lives? Thank God for him.
I also thought back to that homily later this weekend when we became what felt like some of the last people on earth to see WALL-E in a theater before it goes into the DVD and pay-per-view rotation. I loved the movie, but won't write too much on it here as it is no longer "fresh" news. But, going back to Fr. Pavone's homily, I will note that I was touched by one moment in the film when some of the humans finally start to rediscover what it means to be fully human; in this case, a man and a woman work together to save the lives of some helpless babies. See: even Hollywood gets it on some level!