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Sacredness of Life

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Each year, the Church in the United States designates October as “Respect Life” month. 

As Catholics, we believe that all life is sacred and that life begins at the moment of conception…that all human beings have an inherent value and dignity. Sadly, there continues to be constant violations to the Christian principles of human dignity; from simple road rage and injustice to the poor and elderly, to euthanasia, and the death penalty.

Through Jesus, God blessed and sanctified all life, becoming one like us; humbling himself by sharing in our humanity. Every human being has an inherent dignity and sacredness that must be respected and never exploited, violated, or disposed of. Our dignity, our value, is not a matter of the gifts we have, the contributions we make to society, our physical beauty, or intellectual abilities, rather, our dignity comes from the God who created us, loves us, and became one like us. 

It is in that relationship, that gift, that as people of Faith, we strive to see God in one another….especially those we are most likely to overlook or dismiss. 

Caring for another person with dignity and respect as a child of God and our brother in Christ…Isn’t that what our St. Dominic mission statement is all about? “To Seek, Know and Become Christ, each for the sake of all”. 

 

Choose Life

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While in graduate school, I spent a year serving as a crisis pregnancy counselor at a Christian organization that seeks to provide women and couples with the resources necessary to choose life. I had always been anti-abortion, so I saw this as an opportunity to do hands-on pro-life work. What I experienced will forever change the way I understand what it means to be “pro-life.”

I’m not really sure what I was expecting to encounter when I agreed to the opportunity, but whatever it was, the actual experience was a completely different reality. I encountered women who lived with abusive husbands, but were dependent on them for financial support or had other children with these men that they had to consider. I encountered men and women who had been laid off from work and were unable to find gainful employment to support this new child. Families whose jobs didn’t provide medical coverage so they couldn’t even afford prenatal care, let alone the exorbitant cost of child birth. Teen mothers who were kicked out of their homes when their parents found out they were pregnant. Women whose husbands walked out on them when they found out, and left them to face the pregnancy alone. I walked these women and couples through the process of procuring government assistance and saw, time and again, how it failed to meet their needs, how it provided only a fraction of what it would take to raise their child to maturity, how the abundant requirements for assistance disqualified people who desperately needed help. For all that the center did to provide aid, most of this assistance only lasted until the age of two.

It is because of this experience that I came to understand the totality of the Christian call to be pro-life. It was in walking with these women and seeing the enormity of what they faced that I realized how much work needs to be done, starting with birth and every single day after. It was there that I realized I couldn’t simply pat myself on the back for changing a mother’s mind; I then had to do the even harder work of electing leaders, supporting policies, and donating to charities that would continue to give her and her child the assistance they needed.

So today, on Respect Life Sunday, let us of course pray for an end to abortion, pray for all of the children we have lost to abortion, and all those we still stand to lose. But let us also be sure to remember those parents who feel like they don’t have any other option. Let us pray for them and pray for the creation of a society that makes it possible for every family to unequivocally choose life.

Love Your Neighbor As Yourserlf

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“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Gosh, like so many things Jesus says, at first glance, it sounds so easy, so straightforward. However, for people who struggle to love themselves, to truly see worth in themselves in the way God does, this verse can be particularly baffling. I have always found it easier to pour out myself for others who I care about, to compliment them, to see their value, their worth, than to see my own. I often find my worth in my ability to be useful to others. In doing this, I fail to see the fullness of my worth through God’s eyes, and in so doing fail to see the full complexity of my neighbor.  Loving our neighbor means more than what we refrain from doing to them, in living the commandments, but what we actively do for them in positive service projects. Loving our neighbor means meeting them where they are, by loving their complexity, their positive and negative traits, not for what they can and cannot do for us or even for themselves, but just for who they are. I think this is hard to do for many of us, because we don’t love ourselves in this complexity. We see ourselves as our career, our accomplishments, or our ability to raise a family. God is calling us to love our neighbor as we love our self, but this presumes loving our self. So I challenge you to get to know and love yourself, your faults and failings especially, as this will better prepare you to love your neighbor in a way that gives God joy, but also remember to give yourself grace along the way, it’s not as easy as it sounds. 

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