October 10, 2014


October is Mary’s month, a time to reverence and respect life

During the month of October, we celebrate Respect Life Month. We also honor in a special way the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was obedient to God’s will and chose life above all else.

The model for all Christian life, including respect life activities, is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Francis tells us, “The Mother of our Lord is the perfect icon of faith; as St. Elizabeth would say: Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). 

The Holy Father calls Mary an “icon of faith” because her entire life makes the true source of all life concrete and visible to us. Mary is blessed because she believed; she is blessed because she accepted God’s will for her (without fully understanding it); and she is blessed because she said “yes” to life when she was asked to sacrifice her whole life to God’s mysterious plan (“Lumen Fidei,” #58).

In his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”), St. Pope John Paul II wrote, “By his incarnation, the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every human being. This saving event reveals to humanity not only the boundless love of God … but also the incomparable value of every human person” (“Evangelium Vitae,” #2).

Every human life is sacred. Every person is a child of God who possesses incomparable dignity and worth—no matter what his or her state in life or personal gifts and talents. Regardless of who we are; or what our background is; or the state of our physical, emotional or mental health; or our accomplishments; or our race, religion or cultural heritage; or our age; or our social status; every individual human being is precious in the sight of God and, therefore, should also be valuable in the eyes of his or her fellow human beings.

Every human being is wanted by God because every single person has been given the gift of life. This gift is a share in God’s own being that is more precious than anything we can possibly imagine. Life itself is the treasure given to us by God to be nurtured and protected and shared generously with others. Nothing on Earth is more valuable than human life.

That’s why deliberately taking a human life by murder, abortion, euthanasia, infanticide or any other means is such a grave sin. God alone gives life, and only he can take it back again. That’s why we reverence all life, why we help the handicapped and care for the infirm and the elderly, why we encourage and assist women with unplanned pregnancies and why we speak out forcefully against all attempts to treat society’s unwanted human beings as somehow less valuable than they truly are in the sight of God.

As St. John Paul taught us, “Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can … come to recognize … the sacred value of human life from the very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and political community itself are founded” (“Evangelium Vitae,” #2).

For the past 2,000 years, Christians have turned to Mary, the first disciple of Jesus Christ, for help in believing and in strengthening our commitment to the sanctity of life. Her witness and her intercession “awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise” (“Lumen Fidei,” #60). Mary helps us to be touched by the love of Christ and to touch him in return by our fidelity to his words and example. Mary helps us to completely give ourselves to Jesus through the kind of personal encounter with him that stirs our hearts and fills us with a holy zeal to follow him without counting the cost.

All life is sacred—especially those who feel unwanted or who have been rejected by the unjust, unloving and inhuman laws, policies and social practices of this and every other age.

Let’s ask Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of Life, to show us the way to her divine Son—the source of all life. Let’s pray for the grace to follow her example, and to believe as she did even when we don’t fully understand God’s will for us. Let’s ask Mary, to teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

May the respect for life always increase in us, until the dawn of that fullness of life which is Christ himself. Amen.

—Daniel Conway

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