When we look around our world, at the wars that claim the lives of so many innocents, at the greed that puts profits before people, at the crushing poverty that saps hope from people’s hearts, at the tensions in so many of our communities that pit the police against the people, at the fear that drives people to end a life before it even starts or when illness cripples us near life’s end, it’s easy to get discouraged.
That’s why we need Respect Life Month, which we recognize in the month of October. We need a reminder that the value of life is not measured in coins or comfort. We need a reminder that the answer to political conflict or ethnic strife isn’t found in a bomb blast or a bullet. We need a reminder that even in the most difficult of times, life retains its value because it is a gift from God, each person endowed with dignity by the Creator.
“We know that human life is sacred and inviolable,” Pope Francis said in a 2014 address to the Italian Pro-Life Movement. “Every civil right rests on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinate to any condition, be it quantitative, economic or, least of all, ideological.”
It’s important to remind not only ourselves of the value of every human life in every circumstance, but to remind our families, our neighbors, our communities. We must remind them with our actions and our words.
It’s not enough to denounce abortion, but we must also offer comfort and assistance to the woman whose pregnancy has filled her heart with fear and concern.
It’s not enough decry physician-assisted suicide, but we must also be there with the sick and the dying as St. Teresa of Kolkata taught us to do.
It’s not enough to denounce war, but we must help the victims of war rebuild their lives, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
The Catholic Church is answering Christ’s call to value all human life by caring for others. That answer is heard in our parishes, in our communities, around the world. As Catholics, we believe in what Jesus said: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” We can’t leave that work to others. Find a ministry in your parish that lifts up the value of life and offer your hands to help.
Modern society can often be hostile to public witnesses of faith. But we cannot shrink from our duty to demonstrate our belief in the value of life and our belief that that value comes from God our creator. All our actions should be accompanied with prayer. And a public prayer, whether it be outside an abortion clinic or at Mass or at school or at work, is a reminder to all who see us that God is in our lives, showering us with his love and mercy, shaping our actions to reflect his love upon all people.
October is also the Month of the Holy Rosary, a fitting companion to Respect Life Month. When we pray the rosary we think of our Blessed Mother, whose loving mother’s hand caressed and cared for our Lord. As she loved Jesus, we must love all God’s sons and daughters.
We cannot allow ourselves to become discouraged. Only by being steadfast in our faith will we turn our culture to Christ and his never-ending love for each of us. Only in being resolute in our respect for life can we demonstrate the value that each life holds as a gift from God.