October 2020 Four County Catholic
Following in His Footsteps
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The devastating fires that have been raging in Oregon, California, and Washington and the storms that are impacting the Gulf coast states and the Atlantic shoreline, have taken dozens of lives. In addition, millions of acres of forest have been destroyed and people’s homes and livelihoods have been lost. We mourn the loss of precious life. We feel the pain of displaced families.
Tragedies are never welcome. In a year that has already been a challenge we, as a human family, hurt for our brothers and sisters.
The events of the past 6 months have on some occasions brought out the worst in people. People who are fearful do not always react in an appropriate manner. Our duty as Christians is to love them anyway.
But often, people surprise us and act in heroic ways during challenging times. Could there be a more deeply hopeful sign than when lives are in danger, respect for life, and the love we have for each other overcomes racial bias and the politics of division? Rescuers of all backgrounds risked their lives in these many disasters to save strangers. Race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation are not the concern of the first responders – saving human life is. Let us learn from these selfless heroes as we go about our daily business.
Each October, the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life month to proclaim the immeasurable value of every person from conception to natural death. The theme this year is – Live the Gospel of Life.
The Gospel of Life (Evangelium vitae), the papal encyclical written by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1995, reaffirms the value and sacredness of every human life. It calls to all of mankind to respect, protect, love, and serve every human life. We are to imitate Christ and follow in His footsteps. This is the call of every baptized person.
Pope Saint John Paul II noted, “To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop.“
So how do we Live the Gospel of Life? Does it take selfless acts of courage and compassion in a time of crisis, like the first responders I spoke of earlier? Yes.
In our small way, we need to, through our words and actions, respect life.
We do this when we participate in one or more of the following programs – 40 Days for Life, Walking with Moms in Need, volunteering at a Saint Vincent dePaul Pantry or Kitchen.
We do this when, during these COVID-19 days, we safely reach out to an isolated elderly relative or friend.
We do this when we babysit for a single mom or dad. We do this when we take care of our planet, our common home.
We do this whenever we voice our concern to an elected official over a bill involving a life issue such as physician assisted suicide, the death penalty, addiction treatment, racism, immigration, and poverty.
We do this by supporting charitable causes that align with the value of respecting life.
Mostly we do this through prayer and fasting. I encourage you to enhance your prayer life.
I also encourage you to tune into the live online event on October 4th. A collaboration of four of our diocesan ministries, this program is entitled – Life in the Thought of Pope Francis. More details can be found in this issue of the Four County Catholic and on the diocesan website– NorwichDiocese. org.
Thank you for all you do in building a culture of life in the Diocese of Norwich. We thank God who helps us to follow in His footsteps.
Sincerely yours in the life of Christ,
Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich