God creates each human being in an act of divine love. As Catholics, we believe human life begins at conception and unfolds over the span of time we are given on this earth until our natural death. It is our firm hope that God, who created us in love and guides and sustains us by that same love throughout our lives, will also welcome us into eternity where we can rejoice in the presence of Love itself. Life in this world is our experience of being created, sustained and redeemed by God, and for this reason life is of the highest value. This is why we celebrate Respect Life Month each October. We thank God for the gift of life, and we renew our commitment to honor and promote the dignity of every person.
In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis reminds us, “Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives” (EG 274). Every person is loved by God. Every person reflects His presence. We are then called to also love each person. As the Lord said, “Love one another as I love you” (Jn. 15:12).
Jesus left us this new commandment of love on the night before He was to offer His life for the salvation of every human being. From the Cross, He teaches us that true love is sacrificial; it seeks the good of the other no matter the cost. Christian love, then, is selfless and for all. The Lord calls us to love not only our family members and friends, but also those who are alone, afraid and abandoned. He calls us to love the most vulnerable – the unborn and the infirm. We are called to love those who suffer from poverty, those who have fled their homeland due to war or persecution, and those who have been imprisoned, cast out from society and forgotten. The Lord even calls us to love our enemies.
On our own we cannot love as Christ loves, but we are capable of such love to the degree that we allow Christ to love through us. This is why a life of prayer, built upon the fruitful reception of the sacraments and the Scriptures, is essential for each one of us. We can accomplish great things united to the Lord.
This year we celebrate the first Respect Life Month after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. We know that the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision does not mark the conclusion of our efforts to promote and foster a culture of life. More than 65 million innocent children have lost their lives to abortion in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade. This sad fact demonstrates the desperate need for conversion of hearts and minds. We must continue to pray and work so that all people come to respect the inherent dignity and sacredness of every human being from conception to natural death.
We build such a culture which respects the gift of life through prayer, sacrifice and joyful service to all. Offering our love and support to pregnant women, especially those who are alone or overwhelmed, remains an important part of this work. Likewise, the compassion and assistance we provide for the sick and the needy gives testimony to our faith. Visiting and ministering to those in prison provides hope for those who often feel forgotten and rejected by society. Welcoming immigrants and helping them to begin a new life heals the scars of the tragedies they have left behind.
We have the opportunity to love every person we encounter as Christ has loved us. In so doing, we contribute to building a culture which truly respects each human life. May God sustain us in this endeavor!