Second Place Winner: Ruth Roberts
The Visitation in Our Modern Era
When Mary and Elizabeth meet, it is a holy moment because they are holy people with a special purpose: to bear Jesus and John. They recognize their purpose and their children in this beautiful moment. Even their babies recognize it, as John leaps for joy. In this modern world, when people continue to head toward a culture of death, we can learn from Mary, Jesus, Elizabeth, and John.
How is a similar grace present in any preborn baby today? Preborn babies are precious and human. They are chosen by God to be His own sons and daughters. We are all body and soul, alive, unique, and made in the image and likeness of God. We are made to love and be loved. We are God’s sheep with an awesome Shepherd that we may follow. We need each other. We need God. We are brought together by our story—our history—which began with Adam and Eve, and we have the inheritance of Original Sin and their need for a Savior. We have free will—our gift from God, our loving creator—and our identity. We all have our part in God’s beautiful plan, and we have a holy call and vocation—our blank page for us to write on. We are meant to live, die, and resurrect into God’s perfect kingdom. We are LOVED.
But we must not just bask in our love. We must also spread it. This love, this grace and faith, will bring us together as it brought Mary and Jesus and Elizabeth and John together. If we accept this love, we will build a culture of life and fulfill God’s plan of life. We must be an example to others and bring the peace and solemnity of the Visitation into our modern era.
There are many opportunities for us to build a culture of life. Most importantly, God gave us prayer as a way to communicate with Him, for without God nothing is possible, but with Him anything is possible. For example, we can pray at abortion clinics, or we can have a prayer bowl at home with the names of those who need prayer. We can also fast or sacrifice something special for our culture, or we can simply pray in our own way, “Jesus, be in this culture, help everyone to see life as You do.”
A culture of life does not only seek to end abortion, but also to support the elderly, poor, mentally ill, disabled, and immigrants or foreigners. When we act and show our Christian spirit by doing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, we are building a culture of life.
For example, once, an old, mentally ill homeless woman arrived in our neighborhood and camped out on a bench near the library. When my mom first noticed her, we baked some cookies and gave them to her. We learned her name—Hester, or Hetty. From then on, every day, after dinner, we would take a plastic plate full of our food and walk to the library to give it to her. Once when we were on vacation, we arranged for our friend to take care of her. Months later, one very cold, snowy evening, our neighbors rang our doorbell. They said, “There’s an old lady here who says she knows you.” We looked down the road and there was our weak friend Hetty, supported by our neighbors. She came into our house, showered, dressed in my mom’s spare clothes (while hers were in the laundry), and ate dinner with us. After Mom read The Hobbit to us all, Hetty said, “This has been my first happy and warm evening for a long time.” After breakfast the next morning, she left. Then my dad made some phone calls and arranged for her to live with her sister.
In a year or so, Hetty died, and we went to her memorial gathering at her sister’s home. There were about 20 non-Christian people there, mainly her family. At the end of the party, my dad said a prayer and Martha, my sister, played her violin.
My family built a culture of life by caring for Hetty and seeing Jesus in her. By believing Hetty to be made in the image and likeness of God, my family built a culture of life with Hetty’s family.
As we continue to build a culture of life and bring the holiness of the Visitation into our lives, we should remember that God loves us and will always support and sustain us. Pope Francis once said, “[God] loves you, dear young people, for you are the means by which he can spread his light and hope.”