October Respect Life Month October is set aside by the U.S. Bishops as Respect Life month, a special time for showing support for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. Respecting life is not about any single issue, reducing it to standing on one side or another of issues like abortion, assisted suicide, the death penalty, or war, serves only to create sides with apparent winners and losers. The reality is much deeper, and at the same time much simpler. Cardinal O’Malley pointed out: “We live in a society of unbelief, where the unborn, the sick, and the elderly are often unwanted and endangered by acts of violence or neglect.” To me it is in this lack of faith, and the lack of hope that accompanies it, where we find both the source and the solution to the issues in our society that surround a lack of respect for life. In Genesis we read: “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” From the very source of our creation we are endowed with the fact that all life is sacred. Imagine how different our world would be if that one belief became the basis of decisions. That foundation of our faith needs to be coupled with hope, the hope that comes from a belief that Jesus paid the price for our sins, and in his resurrection opened the way for our eternal life. The hope that comes when we become the hands and feet of Christ, showing His love to those who need it most. If you need an example of what that might look like, look to the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta. She more than anyone I can think of embodied what it means to see all life as sacred, and in that sought to bring hope to the hopeless. Jesus said in John’s gospel: “I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” In this October let us be the ones who share this sacredness of life with others, and bring His hope to the world. In the Way of the Disciple, Edna Brunkhorst reflects on an important part of respect for life.
From Edna Brunkhorst: It is unfortunate that there has to be a Sunday designated to respect for life. We are individually created in God’s image and thus worthy of respect, dignity, love, and care. All life is precious and authored by God, the Almighty Father. As Catholic Christians, my generation dropped the ball and we now need to be reminded respect for all life is inherent in calling ourselves Christians. However, since the 1973 Supreme Court decision in the Roe v Wade case, abortion became legal; and soon thereafter, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) proclaimed the first Sunday of October to be dedicated to reminding us of our obligation to respect life in all of its stages from pre-born to very old age. Our parish is blessed with lots of infant baptisms so there is a hope our young people will be the generation that overcomes this loss of respect for life. The Supreme Court did not declare abortion itself to be a constitutional right, because at that time, 1973, they could not resolve the question of when life begins since personhood had not yet been established. 46 years later, science is clear that human life begins at conception when a new life is formed. There is a petition to reverse Roe v Wade, called A Life at Conception Act, being co-sponsored by several pro life legislators. Individuals can sign that petition by going to the National Pro-Life Alliance website. We must pray for an increase in respect for life in all of its stages and a reversal of the Roe v Wade decision. We can be part of the prayer vigil with the local 40 Days for Life by going to 40daysforlife.com/cedarfalls and also be informed through the Iowa Bishops’ Faithful Citizenship printed and video media tom@iowacatholic conference.org