A Pro-Life Lenten Journey
Brought to you by the Culture of Life Studies Program
Written by Susan Ciancio
Lent is a time of reflection and fasting, of giving things up, and of waiting for the most glorious of holidays. During these six weeks, we strive to be a little more like Christ. We hope to unite ourselves with His suffering, and we look to improve ourselves and our faith. This Lent, we want to go a step further. In addition to all those things, we want to strengthen the culture of life in our homes and communities. We want to reach out to others to let them know they are valued as children of God. We want to help people feel God’s mercy and forgiveness. We want to spread joy with acts of kindness.
We all do things on a regular basis to help build a culture of life, but sometimes life just gets in the way, and we end up not doing as much as we should. This daily reflection booklet draws on wisdom from poignant Bible verses, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and from the saints to teach us how to build a culture of life every day and everywhere we go. It will help you and your family find concrete ways to live a culture of life, and it will teach you to make a conscious decision to do so every day.
Christ gave His life for us. This Lent, and beyond, let us vow to give our lives in service to Him and to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
February 26: Ash Wednesday
Today the Church lays great stress on this truth, confirmed by the history of every man. Remember that “to dust you shall return.” Remember that your life on earth has a limit! . . . Therefore the message of Ash Wednesday is expressed with the words of St. Paul: “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – St. John Paul II
Indeed, we are ambassadors for Christ, and our time on earth does have a limit. That’s why we chose this beautiful quote for today to begin our Lenten journey in not only strengthening our faith, but in building a culture of life. Everything we do and everything we say should reflect the love Christ feels for us and gives to us. That means that our interactions with others should be fraught with that same love. The way we treat people, the way we talk about others, and the way we conduct business reflects not just on us, but on our faith. If we are to live as true disciples of Christ and turn our country toward life, our actions must always glorify Him. Take action now to let others know they are valued and that they matter, for when you do return to ashes, God will hold you accountable for the things you have done on earth. What will you say to Him?
Wear your ashes all day today. Do not remove them. They are an outward sign of your faith and your love of Christ. Begin Lent as that ambassador by showing others that you are not afraid to stand up for your faith and to let the light of Christ shine through you.
Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. – Genesis 1:26
It’s not enough to understand how to build a culture of life, but we must also understand why we should build a culture of life. St. John Paul II used the term “culture of life” to mean a love of and respect for human life from the moment of creation until death. That means that everything we do and everything we say should reflect that respect for others as children of God. We do this because God has created us all in His image and likeness. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, and God dwells within us. Not just you. Not just me. All of us—every single human being who has ever lived and who will ever live. This is why we must treat each person as a precious gift—especially the vulnerable, such as preborn babies, the elderly, and those who are sick. We cannot build a culture of life if we sacrifice even one person, for we are all precious in the eyes of God.
Today, say a prayer of thanks to God for creating you and giving you your family. Then resolve to spend Lent seeing Christ in others.
The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. – Catechism of the Catholic Church
The marginalized and weakest members of society are often forgotten. Sometimes they are even discarded. But Christ teaches that we are all valued and that no one is expendable. We must live this teaching every single day. Part of living this teaching is sharing it with others, especially our families. Our children follow our leads. Their compassion for others comes directly from our examples. If we actively serve others as Christ would, we help build a culture of life through not just this service, but through the valuable lesson to our children. Responsibility is a hefty word—and Christ teaches that we are all responsible for each other. This responsibility begins in the family and moves into the community. It includes not just the physical formation of our children, but the moral formation as well. So teach your children compassion for others. Model it for them. Live it as a family. Then let it spread outward. This is Christ’s desire for us.
The elderly in nursing or retirement homes are often forgotten. This can be an extremely lonely life. Many things cheer them up and make them happy. Have your children draw pictures or make cards for them. Bake some cookies. Or just take your children to play games with them. Build a culture of life by reminding the elderly that they are not forgotten and that they are very much loved.
Support Pro-Life Education
Modern man has become passive in the face of evil. He has so long preached a doctrine of false tolerance; has so long believed that right and wrong were only differences in a point of view, that now when evil works itself out in practice he is paralyzed to do anything against it. – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Looking at the events around us today, we can see the wisdom in Archbishop Sheen’s words. We hear the word tolerance bandied about like it’s something we must all do, lest we’re horrible human beings making others feel bad. Our culture wants us to live and let live, but our God tells us to evangelize and build a culture of life. We cannot do this if we passively accept the sinfulness of society. Yes, we are supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin, but that love does not entail tolerance of the sin. Though it may make us uncomfortable, we must speak up for Christ’s truths and for the teachings of the Church, while making sure people know they are valuable and loved as children of God. It is precisely because we value them that we want to help them live lives that will bring them closer to God. Christ ate meals with sinners, but they did not just talk about the weather or about trivial things. Christ taught them how to turn their lives around so that they could enjoy eternal life with Him. So too must we.
Build a culture of life by doing something to negate any passivity you have exhibited in the past. Take action to live your faith publicly and to shine the light of Christ to those in need.
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