God chose each one of us, and made us in His image and likeness. And our worth doesn’t come from what we do; God loves us because of who we are, said Sister Marie Veritas.
The Sister of Life was the keynote speaker at the annual Archbishop’s Gospel of Life Prayer Breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton on May 12. The event was hosted by the St. Louis chapter of Legatus, a lay organization of Catholic business and professional leaders and their spouses dedicated to living and spreading the faith in their professional and personal lives.
“We can’t treat ourselves cheaply. The fact that we exist means that we are loved. To be is to be loved.”
Pointing to the recent U.S. Supreme Court leak on the impending Roe v. Wade decision, Sister Marie Veritas noted that life issues such as abortion, and euthanasia/assisted suicide fracture our society. So how do we heal those fractures and engage with others, including those we disagree with or who are vulnerable or experience suffering?
“God chose you because He loves you,” she said. “He chose you to live in this time, with your particular heart. … He wants to speak a particular word of love to the world through you. The world needs you.
“At the end of the day, the violence, the contempt for life that we see and experience in our world is at root spiritual,” Sister Marie Veritas said. Cardinal John J. O’Connor, who founded the Sisters of Life in New York, said that a spiritual attack demands a spiritual response. Death can only be countered by love.
“Love is the answer,” she said. Here are three spiritual responses that the Sisters of Life — who take a fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life — have found essential to their mission and allow Jesus’ life-giving love to overflow within all of us:
• Prayer: This is a personal, heart-to-heart conversation with God and essential to life. “Prayer isn’t about doing something,” she said. “Prayer is about being with someone. It’s about letting ourselves meet the gaze of the Father.” Prayer allows us to receive ourselves as a gift, someone God created. And we need to see that within ourselves before we can see other human life as a gift from God. “One of the greatest things that we can do to build a culture of life is to personally engage His gaze, His healing in our own lives,” especially encountering Him in eucharistic prayer, she said. Seeing Jesus in His vulnerability is where we find true life and healing.
• Rest: True rest is an act of faith in Jesus, in which we have total reliance on Him to save us, knowing we cannot save ourselves. “True rest is a secret weapon of the spiritual life,” Sister Marie Veritas said. “It’s the fortress where peace lives.” In the Gospel of Matthew, God tells us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” In pro-life work, there is pressure to do more and be more productive. There is an illusion that we can save others by what we do. “True charity moves us into God’s action and collaborating with Him,” she said. As we respond to the needs He places before us, we need to leave our rest in God. And when we follow what He is calling us to do, we can become a healing force in the world.
• Delight: We all desire to be seen, known and loved, and one of the greatest gifts we can give to others is to look upon them with the same gaze of love that God gives to each one of us. Taking delight in others, just for their existence alone, is important, Sister Marie Veritas said. Sisters of Life delight in celebrating the mothers they serve in their ministry. “Unless a woman can experience herself as gift, she’s not going to be able to experience her child as gift,” she said. “The power of delight and seeing the goodness of the other — especially when they can’t see it themselves — and revealing it to them is one of the most powerful ways of response in love.”