Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Right to Life Month

Right to Life Month

October is Right to Life Month.  As Catholics, we believe in the value and dignity of every human life, and we fight for the right of every person to life, from conception to natural death.  There is no other Catholic position on this issue.  This month, we as a Church highlight the importance of this issue; we attempt to educate, evangelize, inspire, and ultimately convert hearts.

Pope John Paul II (and many, many others) have spoken about the right to life as being the fundamental right, from which all other rights flow.  This is, of course, because without life, one can not enjoy any other right.  One can not experience a right to health, or education, or liberty, if one has not first had his right to his very life respected.  This is the fundamental moral issue of our time, and the threats which we as Catholics must fight are many.

The primary of these threats is abortion.  Abortion is the greatest evil of our age, from my perspective.  Not only are so many people denied their right to life by abortion, it tears at the heart the family, which is the fundamental building block of society, and is sacred to God.  We must never lose our focus on saving as many babies as possible, and on changing laws so that our country can once again be a place where the most innocent human lives are valued and this great scourge can be eradicated.

Of course, our pro-life work in this area focuses on more than just babies.  There are many crisis pregnancy centers that desperately need our support.  Christians are well known for their support of women in crisis pregnancies.  As Father Frank Pavone, the founder of Priests for Life says, “Women don’t get abortions because of freedom of choice; they get abortions because they feel they have no choice.”  We, as Christians, have to show them that they do have a choice, that there are many people who want to love and support them.

Another critical area of pro-life ministry is post-abortion healing.  There are untold millions of women and men suffering so grievously for the mistake of a past abortion.  They desperately need to see the loving Face and feel the healing Touch of Christ.  We, His Hands and Feet, must bring that to them.  There are ministries like Hope After Abortion, Rachel’s Vineyard and others, that help women and men to feel God’s forgiveness and love, and be made new.  If we know someone whom we can help in this way, we have to try and help them believe that they can truly heal and find forgiveness and rebirth in Christ.

Another threat to life that is gaining steam is euthanasia.  We have seen this evil spread in Europe and now in many U.S. states.  It is my belief that it will also be one of the evil fruits of Obamacare if it is allowed to take root.  We need not only fight against the lie that euthanasia is an act of charity, we need to show true charity to those who are suffering.  We need to support ethical research into palliative care, and most of all, truly love those whom God has placed in our lives who need help enduring and finding meaning in their suffering.  And we need, once again, to be a nation that reveres and honors our elderly.

The Culture of Death we oppose has also claimed many people with disabilities.  Currently 90% of babies with Down Syndrome are aborted, often under pressure from a physician.  They are seen as useless, a burden, and possessing a life not worth living.  If there’s one message that we must send to the world, it is that all life is precious, everyone has value, and there’s no such thing as a life not worth living.  We must see the value and beauty in our disabled brothers and sisters, and if we are disabled ourselves, be lights to the world.  Those suffering with a disability are perhaps the most powerful spiritual lights there are, with the ability to inspire people, and bring about miracles with their prayers.

The most controversial issue we must confront this Right to Life Month is capital punishment.  I do not want to imply that it is on a level with issues like abortion.  It is not.  There is more flexibility in the Catholic understanding of this issue, and the execution of the guilty is very different than the death of the innocent.  However, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI made very strong statements against capital punishment in practice, if not its outright prohibition in theory.  The fact that it is essentially never necessary for the protection of society in our day and age makes it difficult to justify.  And cases like that of Alessandro Serenelli should give us all fruit for meditation.

There are, of course, many other threats to the right to life: war, human trafficking, human rights abuses at home and abroad.  But what we are being encouraged to do this month is take a step.  One more step in the defense and honor of all human life that can become a permanent habit.

Perhaps we can remember these issues more in our prayer intentions (there is still time to make a novena before the end of the month).  Perhaps we can occasionally join a prayer group in front of an abortion clinic.  Perhaps we are being called to be more politically active, perhaps to support a local pregnancy center or an assisted living facility or hospice.  There are countless ways to live a pro-life spirituality as a Catholic.

As always, the most important thing is prayer.  The more we can unite our hearts with His Heart, the more we will be a people of life, and the more souls and lives we will save, and maybe, God willing, even a culture.