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RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY REFLECTION
Respect Life Month 2012
Respect Life Sunday 2012
Watching the Vice-Presidential Debate last Thursday, I was particularly drawn at the point when Martha Raddadz asked both candidates about their views on abortion given that they are both Catholics. I got hooked to it not just because it concerns our faith as Catholics, but also because, non-verbally, both candidates seem to have shifted their tone after a long heated discussion on Foreign Policy. I know for one, that as pointed out by the moderator, it is an ongoing sensitive issue today as it has affected particularly women on different levels. But on certain degree, both candidates being Catholics may have been prejudiced as to how they would defend their sides given their religion.
Question is, should we hold back, when our faith is being tested by worldly and political stands? Should we hold back, if we know for sure, that anything that impedes the possibility of life is evil? Should we hold back, if we know for sure, that indeed life begins at conception and ends in natural death?
Forty years ago, the USCCB designated October as Respect Life Month, and named the first Sunday of October “Respect Life Sunday.” Throughout October, Catholics are called to reflect on the gift of human life, anything that threatens it and how we can protect all persons from conception to natural death by being PRO-ACTIVE about those sensitive issues. Let me read to you Msgr. James Moroney’s reflection for Respect Life Month for our guidance which I have shortened to accommodate our time:
“LOVE and LIFE are BOUND TOGETHER [emphasis mine]. We see this most clearly at the heart of the family: the permanent, faithful and life-giving love of husband and wife to which Jesus was referring in the Gospel last Sunday. It is an especially fitting Gospel, since a culture of life and civilization of love are inseparable."
The recurring idea that Msgr. Moroney points out redounds on the Catholic understanding of love. What is love? It is the TOTAL giving of oneself to another. It is a love that’s unselfish, a love that’s unconditional, and more importantly, a love that’s FRUITFUL recognizing the fruitfulness of the love shared by God in the Trinity of Persons. He moves on by saying:
“LOVE and LIFE GO TOGETHER [emphasis mine].” [As they are inseparable, they too, complement each other]. “The total, one-flesh union of husband and wife is fruitful, never self-enclosed; it is open to the other and open to the gift of the child. From the very beginning, God had a purpose in mind. He made man and woman for each other, to be united as one, and at the same time he lovingly commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, to be partners with him in creation by bringing forth new life, cherishing and sustaining it."
In line with infertility, he adds quoting Familiaris Consortio:
"Sometimes, the desire to cooperate with God in bringing forth new life may become a source of heartache, for example, to married couples who are unable to conceive or give birth to children. The Church acknowledges their suffering, and assures them that infertility does nothing to diminish the value of their marriage (Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 14). And as, Blessed Pope john Paul II has written, infertility can in fact become an opportunity to love and serve children through foster care, “adoption, various forms of educational work, and assistance to other families and to poor or handicapped children.”
It is interesting to note that infertility, as in the case of couples who cannot bear a child, does not diminish the value of marriage. It is very logical since, if marriage is founded on love which is giving of oneself totally to the other, we cannot, therefore, simply limit it to child-bearing. Though procreation forms part of the twofold-purposes of marriage, it is not limited to it essentially. Moroney further adds:
“All this stems from parents’ willingness to be what God has called them to be, “a real and visible sign of the love of Christ for the church” (Pope Benedict, Homily in Santiago, Cuba, March 26, 2012). The domestic Church which they build of faithful love is the only worthy sanctuary for the birth and education of a child."
It is very unfortunate that today it seems that not a lot of parents bring their children to Church. Even those who have sent their children to Church to prepare them for First Communion do not come to Mass regularly to have their kids receive the Eucharist. Are we becoming more like parents with “drop off” mentality where we simply send our kids to Church and let the Church people do the faith formation for us? Or should we rather become part of the entire process of formation in order that our kids would grow in their faith?
Beginning today and throughout the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI to begin on October 11, let us resolve to study and reflect on the wise and inspiring teachings of our faith on human life and the gift of married love so that we can become modern day apostles, capable of transforming American culture and building a civilization, life, love and hope.
May the Lord grant us the grace to see his love revealed in our lives, and the grace to respond by respecting and protecting human life in all its stages and conditions.
God bless us all!