During the month of October each year, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life Month. We are called to spend time reflecting on the dignity of EVERY human life.
Each year, the USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat introduces a theme for our efforts in building a culture of life. The theme for this year’s Respect Life program is “Live the Gospel of Life: ‘to imitate Christ and follow in his footsteps.’”
When I first read the theme for this year’s Respect Life program, my mind immediately settled on a spiritual classic that I came across many years ago. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. The table of contents looks much like a list of life situations, and the page numbers lead us to the answers we are seeking. It is not an easy book to read, as it touches on some very tender places in our heart and soul, but it leads us into a holy way of living and is a good book to ponder from cover to cover.
I could not write on the information contained in the book and do it justice, so I will take my lead from the information offered by the USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat that touches on Matthew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
When we read these words, do we consider that every person is a “manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory” (Evangelium Vitae 34)? Do we see the “manifestation of God” in an unborn child or an elderly person facing the end or their life? Do we see “a sign of his presence” in the prisoner or the wounded? Do we see “a trace of his glory” in the hungry and homeless? Do we ask ourselves what we may be able to do to help another?
Our “… life finds its center, its meaning and its fulfillment when it is given up. … We too are called to give our lives for our brothers and sisters, and thus to realize in the fullness of truth the meaning and destiny of our existence” (EV 51). We all have various gifts and talents and are called to serve in a variety of ways or with various populations of people. Throughout the Diocese of Superior, we are blessed to have many people who are devoted to serving others. There are those who work tirelessly to end abortion and the wounds that abortion causes. Some find meaning visiting the prisoner while others find meaning in serving the homebound. Still others find fulfillment in volunteering at a pregnancy resource center or shelter. Many serve those in the churches and schools teaching and forming consciences, while some work in the fields of health and safety. Thank you all for the many ways you honor and build a culture of life throughout the Diocese of Superior.
May we always keep in mind that we are created to love and be loved, and may we be kind and compassionate as we go about our daily tasks, whether it be ministry, service or care for others.
Bonita Thom is the director for the Office of Respect Life.