Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 8, 2004
Teens given a compassion for life
Pro-life conference leader tells youth to wait until university before starting to date
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Your happiness depends on doing what's good and true and following God's laws, especially those relating to sexual morality.
Natalie Hudson delivered that message to about 250 teenagers at the ninth annual pro-life conference at St. Anthony School here Oct. 30.
Hudson, executive director of Toronto Right to Life, spent the day with the teens speaking about the meaning of personhood and human happiness and issues such as chastity, marriage, abortion and euthanasia.
What's Life All About was the theme of the conference, which this year tried to answer the question: What am I Looking (Living) For?
Sex before marriage is wrong, Hudson told the teens, encouraging them to "control their passions" until they are ready to tie the knot.
"Sex outside marriage is a huge problem in our society," she said, noting 80 per cent of abortions occur among unmarried women.
Marriage justifies sex
"Marriage is necessary to give justification to the sexual relationship of the couple. It's important that the couple has the blessing of society, of the community, of the family. They now have committed themselves to marriage and now they can conceive life. That sexual relationship is now justified."
Hudson actively discouraged teens from dating too early, saying 16 is definitely too young. "At 16 they are not preparing to get married, so dating at that age is highly questionable," she said. "The relationship has got to be ordered toward marriage."
The pro-life leader thinks young people should postpone dating until they enter university.
Throughout her presentations, Hudson said humanity, driven by a desire for happiness, legitimately seeks to alleviate suffering.
"Abortion is an attempt at achieving happiness because the woman who is in a crisis pregnancy thinks that by having this abortion she somehow regains her lost happiness," Hudson explained in an interview. "She is in a state of self-preservation and survival and she wants to get rid of the pregnancy so she can be happy again."
The root of the problem is "we are ordered toward materialism, quick fixes, easy-way-outs and we don't understand our suffering," she said. "We don't understand the value of difficult situations and how they can be an opportunity for growth and maturity; we just see it as an obstacle, we just see it as something bad, as something we want to get rid of. We have a warped sense of human happiness."
Hudson, 34, has been speaking to students on life issues since she became executive director of the Right to Life Association of Toronto and Area three years ago. Originally from South Africa, she spent part of her youth as a ballerina dancing in San Francisco and with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Career cut short
Her career was cut short in her early twenties due to an injury, but she soon found solace studying the Great Books at a liberal arts college in southern California. She graduated in 1995 and worked on her master's degree in theological studies in Virginia. She was a high school teacher in Vancouver for four years and has recently completed a graduate business program.
During breaks and between presentations, the teens sang along and danced to the rhythm of the music of Roadside Cry, a Saskatoon-based praise band.
Hudson said there are four levels of happiness. The first is things that drive us like material possession and pleasure. The second level is ego-gratification through success and winning and achieving. "Our society generally gets kind of stuck on these two levels," she noted.
But she said Christian teens must go beyond the first two levels and strive for spiritual happiness like Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa is an example of level-three happiness, which involves doing good for others and society as a whole.
People who achieve this level derive a deep sense of happiness from self-abandonment in the service of others.
The fourth and ultimate level of happiness consists of what Hudson terms the transcendentals - those realities that transcend the material world, such as love, truth, beauty, goodness and justice.
"It means you recognize that the good that you do is a part of something higher," she said. "It means recognizing that our life is a contribution to the common good in (association) with God."
Chronic illnesses do not inhibit the participation of a human being in the highest forms of happiness, but ironically, can increase them, according to Hudson. Perfect love, beauty, justice, goodness and truth are attainable by those who are infirm, disabled, elderly or dying.
Rather than eliminating these people to avoid suffering, society should try to find meaning in their unavoidable suffering. "Suffering makes us reflect on who we are," Hudson told the crowd. "Suffering slows us down and causes us to reflect and contemplate the good in others."
"I'm very impressed with her message," said Michela Barter, a 17-year-old student from near Chipman. "She is telling us what we were created for - for justice, for truth, for love. I got a lot out of her talk."
Being pure is a virtue
Emile Berube, a 14-year-old from Vegreville, said the conference reaffirmed what she already knew: "That being pure is a virtue and that we have to make the right choices until marriage."
Edmonton's Megan Stephen, also 14, got a similar message: "I learned it's important to preserve yourself until you are married and have a true relationship with your husband," she said.
Monika Kowalczuk 16, also of Edmonton, attended the conference to be closer to God, to learn more about pro-life issues and to experience the friendships of other young pro-lifers. She got everything she was looking for. "I'm very happy I came," she said.
This is the last pro-life conference in Drayton Valley for the foreseeable future as the town's pro-life association decided to share the hosting of the event with other cities, towns and villages in Alberta. In a ceremony, it passed the banner to the Pembina Pro-life Association, which will host next year's conference in Westlock.
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