October 2021 Four County Catholic
Respect Life, Always
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
October is Respect Life Month. The theme this year is Saint Joseph, Defender of Life. In this year of Saint Joseph, we recall how Joseph protected the infant Jesus and His mother Mary. In his apostolic letter, “With a Father’s Heart” our Holy Father, Pope Francis wrote, “God trusted Joseph, as did Mary, who found in him someone who would not only save her life but would always provide for her and her child.”
Saint Joseph, through his devotion and faithfulness to the will of God, reveals to us our own call to show special care for the lives of those whom God has entrusted to us, the most vulnerable in our midst --the unborn, the poor, the migrant, and the elderly.
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the Foundation of a moral vision for society. The Catechism states: “Of all visible creatures, only man is able to know and love his creator. He is the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake, and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity.” (CCC, 356). The Catechism continues: “Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something but someone.” (CCC, 357).
The dignity of the human person, the basis of catholic social teaching, is why the church is firm in its defense of the unborn, the poor, and the elderly. As Pope Francis notes in his encyclical Laudato Si, “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities --to offer just a few examples --it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself.”
To combat what Pope Francis has labeled the “throwaway culture”, we need to reemphasize that the human person is a “someone” not a “something”. Humans are not consumer goods to be discarded. The infant growing in the womb is not just a clump of cells, it is a human person created in the image and likeness of God. The same can be said of the poor, the homeless, the migrant, and the elderly. They have a dignity and worth as sons and daughters of God.
Saint Joseph, without ever speaking a word, teaches us how to say yes to life despite our own human weaknesses. He teaches us that faith in God includes believing that He can work through us despite our fears.
During Respect Life Month, in the year of Saint Joseph, how can we become more like Saint Joseph when responding to our brothers and sisters? I invite you to reflect upon these questions –– As I go about my day, do I treat others as the precious creations that God created? How can I be of help to someone who is struggling with a difficult circumstance to show them that God loves them? How do I reassure those that are near the end of life that they are not a burden? Fortunately, we are a community of faith with the ability to support each other through caring parishes and ministries; and we are a community of prayer. Prayer can move mountains. Prayer can heal. Prayers can hasten in the recovery from the turmoil and conflict surrounding all life issues. May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ graciously receive our prayers for a peaceful and just society in His name - a society where every life is treated with dignity.
October is also the month of the Rosary. The Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary can be more than just a weapon, the Rosary is a healing balm, a meditation on the life of Christ that calms our hearts and strengthens our souls. Our Blessed Mother can aid us in our desire to stand up for life and comfort us when we fall. I encourage you to add the Rosary to your spiritual toolbox.
Let us strive to build a world of inclusion to counter the effects of a throwaway society. May Saint Joseph, Defender of Life, be our model and guide for the defense of every human life.
Thank you for all your efforts to build a culture of life here in the Diocese of Norwich.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich