Let us respect life in all its stages Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes

In 1972, Respect Life Month was initiated by the American Catholic bishops. It is observed yearly during October in American Catholic dioceses.

It stresses the value and dignity of human life in all its stages. It is dedicated to increasing a greater culture of life through public information, education, pastoral care, public policy, and prayer.

In "Living the Gospel of Life," the American Bishops stated, "The Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues seeking to protect human life and promoting human dignity from the inception of life to death. Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence, and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. It must address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care."

How to respect life

We can respect life in all its stages in many ways,

First, we can respect the life of the unborn who cannot speak for themselves.

In his speech to Catholic health care professionals and gynecologists, Pope Francis stated, "Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, who even before he was born, and right after birth experienced the world's rejection."

On February 2, Edward Morgan wrote, "A new analysis published by the National Right to Life Committee indicated there have been an estimated 60,069,971 abortions since the Roe v. Wade decision allowed virtually unlimited abortions."

This roughly equals or exceeds the population of some countries.

Pope Francis also stated that every elderly person, even if he (or she) is ill or near death, bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the "culture of waste" suggests!

When I taught high school, I visited nursing homes regularly.

After retiring, I also spent a total of six months in assisted living. Consequently, I have seen how much residents appreciate visitors, especially family.

A 97- year-old fellow resident once told me that the nursing home provided for needs that could not be met at home. He quickly added, however, that what keeps him going is his three daughters who visit him regularly. Such visits are a gift of gold to the fragile, sick, wounded, offended, shut-ins, and demoralized.

Feeding the hungry

Second, according to experts, some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life.

That's about one in nine persons on earth.

Asia is the continent with the most hungry people -- two thirds of the total. The percentage in southern Asia has fallen in recent years, but in western Asia it has increased slightly.

We can help to feed the hungry by contributing to collections that help the poor or in other ways.

For the past 20 years, I have helped a little by sponsoring four third world persons.

I started out with an elderly lady from India who died, then a youth from Central America until he was old enough to work, then an African girl whose family moved, and now a youth from Colombia.

I was especially moved when my sponsored friends explicitly shared how my contributions helped them.

Christ was not an immigrant, but he was a refugee whose family emigrated temporarily to Egypt to escape Herod's sword just as many fled to America to escape persecution. More than 3,100 immigrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea died in 2017.

In their pastoral letter, "The Challenge of Peace," the American bishops state that peace happens when we respect the sacredness of all human life.

In chapter one of Genesis, it states that men and women are created in God's image and therefore worthy of respect.

Other ways to respect life

Respect for human life diminishes when we accept any form of violence as commonplace. We also must work to eliminate the poverty, injustice, and deprivation of human rights that arm hearts for war.

In number 168 of the encyclical Pacem in Terris, St. John XXIII wrote, "So magnificent is this aim (for peace) that human resources alone, even though inspired by the most praiseworthy good will, cannot hope to achieve it. God himself must come to man's aid with his heavenly assistance."

To become persons of peace, the bishops recommend that we read Scripture, pray to Jesus, Prince of Peace, and invoke Mary, Queen of Peace.

As we pray the family Rosary, we should also pray for those in the armed forces and for innocent victims of war.

Christ embraced a human nature so he could teach us how to live as a family of peace as Pope Francis urges. In peaceful families we learn to treat each other with reverence, love, and forgiveness.

Peaceful families train us to respond to difficult situations in non-violent ways as Jesus did.

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.