Saturday, October 5, 2013

Respect Life Sunday

“Destruction and violence are before me.” These are the words of the prophet Habakkuk in today’s first reading.  On this Respect Life Sunday, we draw attention to the destruction and violence that continues against innocent human life, especially the unborn.  And sometimes we may feel like the prophet Habakkuk as he cries out:  “How long , O Lord?”  As Christians, our actions are to show the unique and priceless value of every human life.

Perhaps one of the ways we can support the unborn is by supporting their mothers who are afraid, scared and worried about the unknown.  We can do this in many ways.  One of these is through crisis pregnancy centers.  These women and girls should know that we will help make life as easy as possible for them during this temporary situation.  We are called to Christian generosity to give them everything they need so they can choose life.

And sometimes the obvious needs to be pointed out:  Nobody stays pregnant forever.  It’s only temporary.  And the death of an innocent person is a little too permanent a “solution” for a temporary inconvenience.  But people overcome by fear and anxiety make such rash decisions every day.  For those who have made these decisions in the past, there is great hope for healing.  There is no longer any need to carry around these secrets that cause overwhelming regret and emotional pain.  All people who have been complicit in abortion can get the healing they need in Project Rachel or any number of apostolates for healing the Church offers.  These apostolates reflect the compassionate heart of Christ.  And of course, they are confidential.  There is a loving God who desires to forgive and heal all who turn to him.  His offer of forgiveness and healing remains constant no matter what we have done.

There is a culture of death.  It’s not mysterious.  It shows itself whenever someone has to die in order to make the life of another person more comfortable or convenient.  That’s it.  And our bishops have pointed out for over a year that the HHS mandate from our federal government is immoral.

We Christians have an important role to play as citizens.  Last year, Pope Benedict challenged all the faithful to move beyond mere collaboration to a shared responsibility in the Church.  Our responsibility is to engage the culture as Christians.  It’s not just the job of the clergy, but of all the faithful.  No matter how we decide to get engaged, let’s remember the words of St. Paul that we heard today:  “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather or power and love and self-control.  Do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.  Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”  Our bishops continually remind us that we must express our Catholic faith and morals in the public square whether it’s done in the voting booth, contacting elected officials, raising awareness, organizing events or whatever.  Voting is a moral act, so we are not to participate in evil with our vote.

The other thing we have to do as a Christian people is pray.  October is the month of the Rosary.  This is great opportunity to reinvigorate our prayer lives and beg the Lord to change hearts in the culture.  Pray for our country.  Pray for our world.  Pray for all who have chosen abortion in the past that they will seek God’s forgiveness, healing and loving embrace.  As we pray for the conversion of hearts, we recognize more and more the awesome dignity of all human beings at every stage of development, the pinnacle of creation, wonderfully made in God’s image.