The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Respect Life...Keep it Alive

Although it's certainly a good thing that this past Sunday was Respect Life Sunday, having one day of the year so designated runs the risk that some of the good people who celebrated this day by taking part in all those wonderful pro-life activities will put respect for life on the back burner for the other 364 days of the year. It doesn't take much for us to treat this special day as we would any other special day. Few of us think about Christmas in August, or Easter in November, or Mothers Day in February. And so many of us might be tempted to think, "Well, I did my part. Let's see, what's next? Oh, yes, Halloween. I guess I'd better put up some decorations for the neighborhood kids."

Pope Benedict Respect Life poster. Click picture to download a larger version suitable for display.

Priests and deacons, and yes, even bishops, can fall prey to this same kind of thinking. Far too many of us preach just that one pro-life homily every October and ignore the issue for the rest of the year. And do you know what? The words we use have a significant effect on our parishioners. For example, I really shouldn't have labeled respect for life as simply an "issue", as if it were analogous to such political or societal concerns as tax rates or off-shore oil exploration. Life, you see, is much more than an issue. It's at the very core of our beliefs as Christians, as a people who believe that life is a precious gift from God, a gift that we abuse at our peril. By abusing and misusing God's greatest gift, we are, in effect, trying to replace God with us...and that simply will not do.

As Catholics it's important for us to realize that Church teaching on life remains unchanged. Abortion, euthanasia, artificial contraception, the destruction of human embryos for whatever reason -- these and other anti-life activities are all serious sins, mortal sins, and those who commit them or support these inherently evil acts place their souls in grave jeopardy. We need to be told this every so often. Despite what you may have heard, sin still exists, and so does hell.

So let's spend, not just one day, but every day of the year praying and talking and acting in ways that remind others about the sacredness of human life. Remind them that God is loving and forgiving, that only He can take away the pain, the guilt, and the sadness that so often accompanies sins against life. And make no mistake about it, this is the responsibility of every Christian, not just the clergy. We are all called by Jesus Christ to teach "them to observe all that I have commanded you" [Mt 28:20]; and so let's accept this mission willingly, joyfully and lovingly.

God's peace...

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