A Pro-Life Lenten Journey
Brought to you by the Culture of Life Studies Program
Written by Susan Ciancio
Welcome to Week 2 of the Pro-Life Lenten Journey!
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I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. – John 13:34
The Greeks had several words to define different types of love. The greatest of these is agape—a self-giving love. Christ exhibited this love when He died on the cross for us. He gave His whole self so that we might live forever with Him. It’s a mind-blowing kind of love, and we should feel humbled by it because we in no way deserve it. Yet He freely gives it. In this Gospel verse, God didn’t just tell us to love one another. He told us to love one another as He has loved us. Wow! That’s a tall order! Imagine living each day loving others as God loves them—seeing people with His eyes. That’s part of building a culture of life! When we see people through God’s eyes, we can’t help but treat them with respect, show them they are valued, speak kindly, and help when needed. That agape love—the giving of ourselves—can change people’s lives. It all begins with love.
Loving family and friends is easy. But do you love your neighbor, your coworker, or the stranger who bumps into you at the grocery store? Learn to see these people through Christ’s eyes and then treat them accordingly. The joy and the love you show them will create a ripple effect with love, for we never know just what people need at any given moment.
Teach us, Good Lord, to serve You as You deserve. To give and not count the cost. – St. Ignatius of Loyola
There is no point in building a culture of life if we do not know why we are doing it. We build a culture of life to serve God—and to help people attain eternal life with Him. To that end, we must learn to listen to Him, to glorify Him in all we do, and to live according to His word and His teachings. In order to serve God as He deserves, we must give fully of ourselves—not just to Him, but to others. Remember that Christ taught us that whatever we do to the least of our brothers, we also do to Him? Let us begin with the most vulnerable among us—the preborn baby. Building a culture of life begins with showing moms that we value, honor, and respect them as mothers and women and that their babies are valuable members of society. Serve these moms and their babies through your prayers, your donations to pregnancy centers, or through a generous act. We will never be able to give God all He deserves, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Serve God by serving a mom or baby in need. Your parish or local pregnancy center will help guide you. Let them know that you value life and you value them.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. – Romans 12:6-8
During Lent, we frequently give something up to deny ourselves some pleasure in life. It may be chocolate, our favorite snack, or that much-desired glass of wine at the end of a long day. The sacrifice of self-denial unites us just a bit with Christ’s suffering and helps bring us closer to Him. But what if we also added something to our Lent? As Romans above says, we all have special gifts or talents—and we can use these gifts to help spread a culture of life and bring us closer to God. It’s a twofold spiritual win. When we devote our time to help or teach others, we show them that they truly matter. Giving of ourselves and our time is one of the greatest gifts to bestow on others. So reflect on your talents and on what you can give others. Do you teach or tutor? Can you organize a food pantry or clothing closet? Are you good with kids? Do you know someone who needs a friend or who needs help because of a disability? Give of yourself. It’s the greatest gift imaginable.
Reflect on or chat with your children about what you can do individually or as a family to build a culture of life and to help others know that you value them as children of God. Then make a plan to go serve others.
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Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. – Catechism of the Catholic Church
As sons and daughters of God, we have inherent dignity. We have the right to be treated with respect by others, but we also have the immense responsibility to treat others with respect. That’s not always an easy thing to do, especially when someone treats us poorly. However, this is what our faith calls us to do. Building a culture of life demands that we treat others with the respect that they deserve. Think about how you show respect to others, especially people you don’t know. Do you speak kindly to the person who takes your order at the fast-food restaurant? Do you greet the person who cleans the office in your building? Do you smile at the bank teller? Part of building a culture of life is using your words and actions to let other people know that they matter and that you appreciate the work they do. When you do things to help them understand that they are valued, chances are they will do the same for others. This spreading of love and respect has the potential to go on endlessly.
Think about how you show respect to the people in your life—whether they are in your family or in your community. Make a conscious decision to take more of an interest in people, to speak kindly rather than grunt a reply, and to really spread the light of Christ everywhere you go.
The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. – St. Maximilian Kolbe
We cannot help build a culture of life if we just don’t care—about people, about politics, or about what’s going on in our communities. Sometimes it’s so easy to be wrapped up in our own lives that we feel we don’t have time for what’s going on outside the walls of our homes, but we all have at least a little time and effort to give to make the world a better place. Thinking we cannot make a change is defeatist. We all make a difference when we try. We make a difference when we pray in front of Planned Parenthood and show that we care about moms and babies. We make a difference when we speak up when with our friends or acquaintances who think that abortion is a woman’s right. We make a difference when we smile instead of glare at a mother struggling with her child in a store. Offering our kindness and our compassion goes a long way to letting others know that we care about their well-being and that we are all part of the human family.
Think about what you can do to stave off any indifference you may be feeling. Plan to take some kind of action that will show someone that he matters to you.
Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. – St. Teresa of Calcutta
Sometimes we get hung up on the monetary values of the gifts we give others or of the things we do for them, but that is society creeping in. Think about the gifts you have enjoyed the most. Chances are they are the ones that were thoughtful or that required someone else’s time and effort. Building a culture of life is exactly like that! It’s not how much we do or how much money we spend, but the actions we take out of love. When we take the time to sit with our children and listen to how their day was, they feel the love because we are devoting our time and attention to them. When we call an elderly neighbor or grandparent to check on them, they feel wanted and valued. When we stop and help a struggling mom at church or at the store, she feels relieved and welcomed. These are all things done out of love that help others realize that they are God’s children. And, chances are, they will pass these feelings of love along to someone else.
The greatest gift you can give someone is your time and attention. Take time out of your busy schedule today and just sit and talk with someone.
Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. – Ephesians 4:32
We all have people whom we struggle to forgive. It may be a brother or sister, a parent, a child, or a former friend. Or it may even be yourself. The hurt that you feel tears you apart, little by little each day, and this pain keeps you from fully shining the light of Christ. Christ doesn’t want it this way. He taught us to forgive. Indeed, at the lowest point of His life, he uttered the words, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” Christ died for us to save us from our sins. He forgave the people who mercilessly tortured and mocked Him. He wants us to live by His example. We cannot control what other people do to us, but we can control what we do to other people. Part of building a culture of life is forgiving others and treating them as Christ treats us. It may not be easy, but it’s what He commands us to do. And, when you forgive someone, you will find that that spirit of forgiveness spills over to others and that you will be an example to someone else—maybe a spouse or a child. Modeling a culture of life through your example is the greatest way to teach people.
Think about someone who has wronged you. Pray for that person and pray for the ability to forgive. God will help you.
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