A Pro-Life Lenten Journey
Brought to you by the Culture of Life Studies Program
Written by Susan Ciancio
Welcome to Week 6!
Let us glorify God in all we do!
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Health is God’s great gift, and we must spend it entirely for Him. Our eyes should see only for God, our feet walk only for Him, our hands labor for Him alone; in short, our entire body should serve God while we still have the time. – St. John Bosco
God created us in in His image and likeness. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it seems only fitting that we use the gifts He gave us to serve Him. Health is truly a blessing—and it’s a blessing that very few have, perfectly anyway. We all have something wrong with us—be it small, large, or somewhere in between. But one thing is certain. We all have blessings of some kind. And the way to show God that we are thankful for these blessings is to glorify Him in all we do—and to serve Him. When we really think about it, we come to understand that we serve God by serving others. Remember that Christ said that whatever we do for others, we do for Him? That’s why we must use our senses, our talents, and our entire beings to care for others and build a culture of life. That culture of life must come from every part of us.
Don’t put off to tomorrow what you should do today. There may never be a tomorrow. Do everything to glorify God.
The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted. – St. Teresa of Calcutta
Most of us have had the feeling at some point in life of being unwanted or unloved. It’s a terrible feeling, isn’t it? It crushes you, breaks your heart, and makes you feel like the loneliest person in the world. But God is there for us and tells us that no one is ever truly unwanted. Though you may feel it in the physical world, you should know that God wants you and God loves you. Because we know this feeling of unwantedness, we should work hard to make sure that we never allow the people around us to feel this way. Building a culture of life entails listening to people and watching their behaviors so that you can react in a loving manner. These are ways to show you care and value them as children of God. People may not always say when they feel sad, and they may not ask for help, so it’s up to us to pay attention. Making people feel wanted and cherished is a huge part of the culture of life.
Look around at the people you know and focus on how they feel. Is there someone in your life who feels lonely, sad, or out of place? What can you do for that person?
Mary was not full of grace because she was beautiful; she was beautiful because she was full of grace. – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
There are many definitions of the word “grace,” including “a virtue coming from God,” a “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency,” and “a pleasing appearance or effect.” Indeed, these characteristics and more describe Mary very well. The inner beauty she exuded came from the fact that she was born free of Original Sin. We don’t have that special grace, but we do have other graces that make us beautiful—in both the eyes of God and in other people. Building a culture of life can be difficult sometimes, and when it gets difficult, we should look to Mary for guidance and strength. As our mother, she will teach us to use the graces we have to help other people, to build them up, and to show them that we care. When they see this outpouring of grace from us, we too will look beautiful and radiant with the love of Christ. We can’t help but be beautiful.
When you’re finding it difficult to radiate the grace God has given you, say a Hail Mary. Talk to Mary and ask her for her guidance.
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The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. – Catechism of the Catholic Church
The word neighbor has a friendly and welcoming connotation, doesn’t it? Who are our neighbors? When God and the Church speak of our neighbors, they do not just mean the people who live down the street. Neighbors, of course, means anyone we encounter as we go about our day. Our Catechism teaches that we must be neighbors to others. That means that we must treat others kindly, respectfully, and in a welcoming manner. And not only that, but we must serve them! We must do good for them and help them when they need it. That’s building a culture of life! And serving them becomes more urgent when we are dealing with the disadvantaged. This could include people who are poor, those who are marginalized, people with disabilities, the elderly, and even the preborn. We must serve them all! Why? Because to ignore them, let them die, or look the other way is a sin. Christ teaches us that we cannot go blindly about our day ignoring those who need our help. Building a culture of life requires that we reach out to people—no matter who they are—and make them feel special, loved, and cherished. Just like you would a neighbor.
Identify people you didn’t consider your neighbors and discuss as a family some ways you can make them feel like a neighbor.
The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right—it is the very opposite. It is a “deep wound in society.” – Pope Benedict XVI
The slaughter of innocent babies is absolutely a “deep wound in society.” When a society allows the murder of tiny preborn babies and calls it a “choice” or “healthcare,” we know that something has gone horribly wrong. We all have a fundamental right to life, no matter how we were created, and no matter how old or how frail we are. Life is precious, and as the Author of Life, God is the only one who can give it and take it away. We must trust Him and cherish the blessings He has given us. Not only must we believe this, but we must live it and tell others. Just like a light is no use if we hide it under a blanket and never share it, so is our knowledge. We know and we understand that, from the moment of conception, a human being is alive. It is a sin to hide that knowledge in our houses and never stand up and proclaim this truth. Building a culture of life takes moral courage and strength. It’s not easy to post something on social media, to speak up when someone says abortion is a woman’s right, or to be the only one in the room advocating for those who are sick or dying, but we must be their voices. They cannot do it for themselves. Part of building a culture of life includes teaching others that every single person matters.
Look around at the deep wounds created by the devaluing of human life. Talk with your family and devise three ways that you can combat the culture of death.
As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live. – St. John Paul II
We cannot emphasize this enough. Building a culture of life begins in the home. The family is the foundation of society, and a breakdown in families leads to a breakdown in society. Aside from our faith, our families should be our number one priority. Always make sure that you treat them as such. Cherish your children and teach them the importance of families loving each other, caring for each other, supporting each other, and praying together. Children don’t need the superfluous material things that society claims they need. They need the love and support of their parents. They need your time. They need a solid foundation in their faith so that they can grow up and do the same not only for their children, but for others. When you live a culture of life and teach that all human beings have dignity and deserve respect, your children see the world differently than secular society. They see a pregnant mother and smile. They see an elderly person and rush to hold a door open. They listen as grandparents speak. And they befriend the child with disabilities. They do all these things because they know that everyone has dignity and that what we can or cannot do has nothing to do with our value as a person.
Look your children and your spouse in the eye today and tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them that you thank God every day for the gift of your family. And then take time to play a game or just talk.
Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. – 1 Peter 4:9-10
This Bible verse uses the word hospitable and instructs us to do things for others without complaining. However, you cannot truly be hospitable if you do complain. That goes against the very nature of the word. Yes, we can begrudgingly do things for others, but that would not be considered hospitable. Building a culture of life means that we must serve others with a joyful attitude. It is with this joy that the recipient of your kindness feels worthy, valued, and special. People are not burdens, and the things we do for others should never be done with an air of annoyance, disgust, or frustration. This devalues the person and trivializes his need for help. Sometimes we use our unique gifts when serving others. Sometimes we don’t even realize we have a specific gift until a situation arises in which we have to use it. And sometimes our gift can just be the gift of our time. Regardless of the gifts we possess, we must hone them and use them for the good of others. Just like anything we must learn to do well, serving others is one of those things. We must practice serving others with kindness, with patience, and with a happy heart. It’s not always easy, but our humanity demands that we serve others in this manner.
Think about a person in your life whom you can serve. What can you do for this person? What does he need the most? Make a plan and then serve him with a joyful heart.
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