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Respect Life

Last week I saw a news story that caught my attention. It seems that a dozen French bulldog puppies had been shipped from Jordan. As no one claimed them, they were languishing in the warehouse at the O’Hare airport. Some animal lovers were appalled that those poor, lovable pets were abandoned. As the federal government planned to ship them back to Jordan, some people rallied to raise a loud cry of protest. Even a state senator/representative threw his weight behind the cause to stop this terrible decision to send back the puppies. Finally, the authorities relented and as a result, those dogs can stay in the US where they will be adopted by loving families and individuals.

This story triggered something in me. These individuals and groups were there to champion the cause of these helpless animals. And yet, great numbers of our fellow citizens do not champion the cause of the unborn. Where are those ready to champion the cause of innocent, helpless babies in the womb? Where is our compassion? Even so-called good Catholics hesitate to support life issues. The voices of those who cry out for protection of the unborn get drowned out by the loud voices of those clamoring for choice. Our society wants to play God. It has usurped the right to decide who deserves to live and who deserves to die. 

This temptation to play God is as old as humanity itself. What was the first sin of Adam and Eve? It was not merely eating a fruit. It was a profound desire to become like God and so get rid of God altogether from their lives. Remember the tempter’s words to Eve: “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." We humans have succumbed to that temptation over and over again. With regard to life issues, that is exactly what our world is doing – trying to do away with God and take His place. God alone can give life; He alone can take it away.

During this Respect Life Month, the Church calls us to reflect on our attitudes and our actions as a parish and as individuals. Let us embrace life in its entire range – from natural conception to natural death. Let us heed the call of St Pope John Paul II who challenges us to oppose the culture of death and establish the culture of life. Let us protect unborn babies. Let us peacefully resist war and violence. Let us care for the elderly and rediscover the redemptive value of suffering. Let us fight every form of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Let us oppose capital punishment. Let us provide for the poor and the vulnerable in our society so that they can live in dignity.

Pope Francis has often decried the lack of education on life issues even on the part of Catholics. Too often we allow ourselves to be seduced by the dominant voices in our mainstream culture and forget our obligation to protect life. In a homily Pope Francis delivered on June 16, 2013, he said the following words:

All too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the ‘Gospel of Life’ but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. …As a result, the living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.

It would seem that the Catholic Church is the only world body that speaks boldly and unequivocally to defend the rights of the unborn, the elderly, the poor, the displaced and the marginalized. All the recent popes have been insistent on this unpopular stance of the Church. Not to be outdone, Pope Francis reiterated the teachings of his predecessors when he wrote the following in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel:

Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. …Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the church cannot be expected to change her position on this question… It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life…” (#213-214)

We need to pray for the conversion of our nation especially with regard to life issues. Let us pray for all those who are working to promote the culture of life: those who work towards changing the laws of the land; those who are elected to make our laws; those who counsel and support pregnant women; and parents who teach their children the right values regarding chastity. Let us also remember in our prayers those women who find themselves in difficult situations and feel alone, and young people who are learning the ways of love. Let us pray for mothers who have lost children. Let us pray for women who have had abortions so that they will find peace and reconciliation.

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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St. Paul of the Cross

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Park Ridge, IL 60068


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