You can imagine how thrilled I was to see the front cover of the folder created for this year’s Respect Life Program, held every October. There, under a quote of Pope Francis now familiar to many, is the photo of a child with Down syndrome. How appropriate!
This photo brings back my wonderful relationship with my brother George, who was born with Down syndrome and who lived to be 60-years old. We lived together for 12 years after our Mom died, and I think of him every day. He had such a profound influence on my life. Of course, this young woman with Down syndrome deserves our attention, because so many children with Down are aborted before they can be born.
The full quote from Pope Francis is worth stating:
“Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
As I read the packet, I could not help but hear the echo of Pope Francis’ words: “deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
Let me tell you a bit more about this Respect Life packet. A copy has been sent to each parish and school, and you also can view it by clicking here.
Sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops since 1972, the Respect Life Program offers fresh perspectives each October to educate us, encourage our prayer and urge our action on behalf of those whose lives are threatened.
Perhaps because of the emphasis on the family with the Synod on the Family next month, the pamphlets in this packet highlight various situations involving families and children. I read all six pamphlets, and they kept my attention because they told compelling, real stories. Here is a list of the six topics:
-An Adoption Love Story.
-Solace and Strength in the Sorrow of Miscarriage.
-Healing within Marriage from an Abortion.
-Poverty and Abortion: A Vicious Cycle.
-Children as Commodities?
-Advance Medical Directives: Planning for Your Future.
The stories relate the implications of morally questionable practices within our society that are being accepted without people understanding church teaching about the moral principles involved. They are well worth reading.
I also was pleased to see that the last brochure encouraged having a durable power of attorney involving someone whom you trust and who knows church teaching about end of life issues or who knows how to ask about church teaching. I have chosen that path, and in the midst of increasing complexities, I find that having a trusted person to help when I am no longer able to make decisions is a reassuring and life-giving option.
These resources are based on the four areas for renewed commitment to pro-life ministry as provided in the U.S. Bishop’s statement Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities:
-Prayer and worship.
-Information and education.
I am so grateful to Ed Harpring, who leads our pro-life ministry efforts in the Family Ministries Office, and to all who work to respect human life from conception to natural death.
I peeked at the homily helps for October and will close by sharing a paragraph from these hints that is well worth our meditation:
“Imagine yourself pausing in quiet wonder in front of a beautiful piece of art. Now think of the artist who created that masterpiece with painstaking care and precision, stepping back to admire his work. Each of us is a masterpiece, created by God with purpose and tenderness. We are each loved so intensely and are each of such great worth that we cannot even comprehend it.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz