Christ our Hope in every season of life

By Bishop Joseph M. Siegel

The Message publisher

Each year, the Church in the United States designates October as Respect Life Month. It is so important that we take this time to reflect on this most precious gift of God – the gift of life itself - and how we, individually and as a nation, reverence and protect this priceless treasure. Our reflection on the crucial issues of human life and dignity is more timely than ever as so many of these concerns are involved in the cultural and political debates in our country and around the world.

The theme for this year’s observance, Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life, reminds us of the preciousness of every human life at every stage, from the unborn child in the womb to the sick and elderly. Our concern and care reaches out to women struggling with their pregnancy; the poor and hungry of our world and our country; victims of crime and violence; refugees forced to flee their homes; those who face prejudice and discrimination; the condemned facing execution; and so many others whose lives are threatened. Pope Francis has reminded us that care for the earth is also a life issue because so many people, especially the poor, are affected when the environment is degraded.

The attacks on life in our society seem so pervasive that St. John Paul II called it a culture of death – a whole mindset that sees life as precious only if it is useful, functional or convenient. But in the face of these attacks on life, our Church proclaims a message of hope rooted in Jesus’ Gospel of Life. We are reminded to see the deeper truth about the sacredness of all life in all its stages and the innate solidarity of all humanity, as we all share in God’s image and likeness. We must commit ourselves as individuals, as parishes and as a diocese to cultivate the Gospel of Life by word and action in our homes, with our children, families and neighbors.

For some, it will mean getting involved on the front lines – praying at an abortion clinic, especially during these 40 Days for Life, providing assistance to mothers in crisis pregnancies, volunteering at a soup kitchen or other outreach to the needy, or getting involved in civic life. For some it will be less public – for example: Keeping current on public debates involving life issues and writing to legislators to express concerns; contributing to various respect life organizations; supporting the work of Catholic Charities, St. Vincent de Paul Societies and other charitable organizations; donating food for our local food pantries; visiting the sick and elderly in nursing homes; or learning about how we can be better stewards of the earth, our common home. Certainly all of us can pray, if just a decade of the rosary each day for life, seeking the intercession of Our Lady, the Mother of Life, that her Son may touch the hearts of those who fail to hear the cries of the weak and defenseless among us, and to give all of us the strength and grace we so desperately need to transform the culture of death into a culture of life.

With God’s help, we can all make a difference, even if only for one person, one life. In all our efforts, may we always keep our eyes fixed on Christ, our hope in every season of life, for we remember that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do for him (c.f. Matthew 25:40).