While our efforts to cherish, protect and defend human life should occur all year, the month of October is a special time in which the Catholic Church celebrates the gift of human life, from the moment of conception until natural death.
During Respect Life Month, Catholics serve as witnesses to the dignity of every human life. This year, the U.S. bishops have chosen the theme “Christ Our Hope: In Every Season of Life.”
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said that the theme is particularly suited for our times. “While attacks against human life seem to grow ever more numerous and callous, we know that Christ has conquered sin and death,” he wrote. “Through our Christian hope in the Resurrection, we are given the grace to persevere in faith.
“Jesus asks us to be as leaven in the world, to bring His light to the darkness,” wrote Archbishop Naumann, a St. Louis native and former head of the archdiocesan Pro-Life Committee (now Respect Life Apostolate). “Our daily activities take each of us to places only we can go, to people only we will meet. May we allow Christ to renew and strengthen us, that He may work through us in each moment of every day.”
One of the most important actions Catholics can take this month is to pray for the protection of human life. The bishops’ website, respectlife.org, includes sample prayer intercessions for use during the Prayer of the Faithful at Sunday Mass. Schools may also use them to pray for life at the beginning of the day or class period. Families can include these intercessions in their regular prayers in the morning, evening, or before or after a family meal. And seeing that October also is the month of the Rosary, we suggest offering a Rosary with these intentions in mind.
Catholics also must renew efforts to make abortion unthinkable. St. Louis has a myriad resources to support women and men facing an unplanned pregnancy. Organizations such as Catholic Charities of St. Louis and its federation of agencies, the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Birthright, Our Lady’s Inn and others are always in need of support, whether through volunteer efforts or financial donations. (Read more on how to connect with these organizations at bit.ly/2L16H3K.)
Planned Parenthood recently announced that a new 18,000 square-foot facility scheduled to open later this month in Fairview Heights, Ill., will offer surgical and medication abortions. This should be a clarion call to work harder to protect the most innocent of all human life.
“Let us not be discouraged by this news, but emboldened to pray and work together across state lines as we fight for changes in legislation and culture that will uphold the dignity of every human person,” Archbishop Robert J. Carlson recently tweeted.
Cynthia Haehnel, director of the archdiocesan Office of Respect Life, Family and Social Responsibility, said she sees the new clinic as a new opportunity to engage others on the issue of abortion. “Whether peaceful witness or rallying together against this, we’re all affected,” she said. “This gives us an opportunity to provide a witness for the sanctity of human life. We’re all affected in the same way, no matter what side of the river we live on.”
Indeed, in every season of life, Christ remains our hope. Let us remain committed to building up a culture of life — at all stages.