Hours before thousands of people of all ages filled the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for the annual Respect Life Mass, hundreds of teens and young adults filled the Cathedral Plaza on the afternoon of Jan. 19 for more than two hours of enthusiastic singing, cheering, dancing — and prayer, all focused on a common cause: to support the lives of the unborn.The Youth Rally for Life featured live music by the Jacob and Matthew Band, a skit by ELEV8, teen testimonies, and special guest speaker Danielle Rose, a music missionary who performed a song from her new pro-life themed CD, titled “Culture of Life.” Rose also served as cantor at the annual Shantigarh Requiem for the Unborn Mass which was celebrated in the Cathedral following the rally.“We want the young people to know that there’s a large community of people around them, supporting them in their pro-life beliefs,” said Anne Hennessy, executive director of the Right to Life League of Southern California, which presented the Youth Rally.Both the Youth Rally and the Respect Life Mass were held in solemn observance of the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion on Jan. 22, 1973. During the past 40 years, an estimated 55 million abortions have been performed in the United States. “You can make a difference,” Bob Rose, president of the UCLA chapter of Live Action, a youth-led movement dedicated to promoting a culture of life and ending abortion, told the Youth Rally crowd. To help bring about change, he proposed a three-part plan of action: (1) empower yourself by educating yourself (about fetal development, current laws, etc.); (2) stay active and don’t get discouraged; and (3) pray for the unborn every single day.“We will end abortion through the power of our prayers and through the grace of God,” he said.Shortly after the Youth Rally, people of all ages filled the Cathedral for the annual Shantigarh Requiem for the Unborn, a special Mass composed by John Bonaduce, music director at Our Lady of Peace Church in North Hills.“We are remembering tonight with this solemn Mass all the little children who are no more. We pray for these dear ones and we ask God to bless them,” said Archbishop José Gomez during his homily. “We pray tonight for our nation and for ourselves. We ask God to bless us, as we seek to carry on … this labor of love to proclaim the Gospel of life.“We have an important mission,” he continued. “We are called to be faithful to the culture of life…. We need to keep demonstrating by our words and actions that no one is too weak or too small. We need to proclaim in everything we do that life is beautiful, that children — each one of them — are gifts from God…. The right to life is the foundation of every other right and liberty in our society.”The liturgy concluded with the traditional Ceremony of Light, when members of the assembly brought forward lighted candles and placed them before the altar. This year a total of 140 candles were lit — with each candle representing one unborn life that was lost to abortion that day in Los Angeles County. Following the Mass, the candles were placed outside in the Cathedral Colonnade, where they were to remain for a week as a visual reminder “of our continuing commitment to life,” said Archbishop Gomez.For Blanky Aguilar, a wife, mother of two and parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in El Monte, the requiem served as a vivid reminder of an extremely difficult time in her life. More than 12 years ago, during a routine pre-natal exam in her fifth month of pregnancy with her second daughter, Aguilar received devastating and bewildering news: the fetus wasn’t developing normally, and Aguilar herself was exhibiting abnormal cell growth that indicated early cervical cancer. The doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy right away.Aguilar immediately balked at the suggestion. “I couldn’t understand what was happening, but I decided to place my faith, and the life of my unborn child — and my life as well — into God’s hands,” Aguilar told The Tidings. “I’m so thankful that I followed my heart. I didn’t have cancer after all — or if I did, God cured me — and my daughter was born perfectly healthy.“Life is so precious and we have to protect it, always,” she said.—January 25, 2013{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0125/resplife/{/gallery}