Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
October is upon us! This is a beautiful time of year – the leaves begin to change, the weather becomes mild, and as I mentioned last week, we celebrate a long list of wonderful saints. As Catholics though, we also recognize October for another reason – it has been dedicated as Respect Life Month. In this month, we are called to a greater awareness of the many dangers that threaten the respect for human life in our current society.
This can often be portrayed as a political issue, where we are questioned as to what side we favor on hot button topics, but respect for life is much bigger than any one issue. It strikes at the very heart of how we view each other and how we treat each other in our society. Because we as Catholics believe that each person is made in the image and likeness of God. Each person is an unrepeatable blessing, no matter where he or she comes from, the gifts he or she has been given, or the crosses he or she has been asked to carry. A person is never to be seen as an object or means to an end, but rather an end in itself worth the utmost reverence.
How different than the way the world views people? Other people have become just objects in one’s universe. To a businessman, people are labor to be used or consumers to be taken advantage of. To a spouse, the other spouse is a tool to make him or her happy. To parents, a child is a commodity for their benefit or a burden that they try to avoid creating or even destroy if inconvenient. To the medical field, a sick person is becoming an expense which might be a candidate for assisted suicide.
In all of these issues, we’ve lost sight of the fact that we are not masters of life, but life is a gift to be respected and cherished. No child is a burden. No sick person is a burden. No life is without purpose or meaning. Even in suffering, God has a plan to bring about good from it. God has created each of us to be here for as long as He wills, and it is not our job to interfere. More than that, because Christ died for us, each of us is worth more than anything else on this planet! So no amount of money, no right or ideology, takes precedence over the protection of the human person.
What our society has failed to realize, is that once we do respect life, all other issues will fade away. If men and women truly respected each other and saw children as a gift, there would be no such thing as a broken family, an unwanted pregnancy, or an unloved child. If our society was less self-centered and consumeristic, there would be a greater generosity in caring for those in need and providing for others. If we took our stewardship of the earth more seriously and put the greater good over our own desires, the environmental crisis would not be a crisis. It is the Christian appreciation of the human person that sets our priorities straight and reminds us what’s truly important.
During this month then, we pray in a particular way for our culture, that there may be a greater respect and appreciation for the gift of life. We pray for an end to abortion, an end to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, a greater care for the poor, sick, and those in need, but above all a renewed zeal in selfless love which will transform our society. We look to groups like the Sisters of Life, who are based in New York, and we see in a very practical and real way what it means to defend life. I urge you to check them out online and listen to their talks on Youtube – the way they speak of life and the way they care for mothers and children is truly an inspiration. Like them may we lead the way in creating a culture of life!
Yours in Christ,