October 1, 2017

I.  Respect Life Month This October!  Whether it lasts for a brief moment or for 100 years, each of our lives is a good and wonderful gift. At every stage and in every circumstance, we are held in existence by God’s unconditional love and extravagant mercy. Our relationships on earth are meant to help us and others grow in more perfect love which embraces forgive-ness and mercy. The consistent ethic of life demands societal protection of the nurturing of life from conception to natural death, and everything in between. It forms a bridge between anti-abortion concerns and social justice concerns as Respect for Life embraces the quality of life in all its stages. We are meant to depend on one another, serve each other in humility, and walk together in times of struggle and suffering.

Experiencing suffering—or watching another suffer—is one of the hardest human experiences. But we are not alone. Christ experienced suffering more deeply than we can comprehend, and our own suffering can be meaningful when we unite it with His. Jesus is with us every step of the way, giving us the grace we need. God invites us to embrace the lives we have been given, for as long as they are given. Life is a gift from God and so is His mercy. “Only God is the Master of Life!” (The Gospel of Life, #55, JPII). “As the Father loves us, so do His children. Just as the Father is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.”

While abortion is a central issue of the consistent ethic, it cannot be an unqualified single issue. Abortion, rather, is linked with other interconnected issues—health care of the terminally ill, warfare, infertility, care for the earth, suicide, and capital punishment. It is linked with quality-of-life issues—hunger, poverty, unemployment, living conditions, immigration, tax policies, welfare, and nutrition and feeding programs. Our theme this year is “Be Not Afraid.” Do not be afraid to embrace God’s gift of life.

Catholic social teaching is rooted in a single pivotal truth—the dignity of the human person. It affirms that the “human person is both sacred and social” (Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, #12). For more information, www.usccb.org/prolife, www.hopeafterabortion.org, and www.faithfulcitizenship.org

II. Devotion of Rosary—Month of October: “The rosary is ‘the school of Mary,’ a special devotion that teaches us about the profoundly close relationship Mary shared with her Son, Jesus” (Pope John Paul II). More than this, praying the rosary invites us into this relationship, nurturing our faith and deepening our understanding of who Jesus Christ was/is for the world. The Church celebrates Our Lady of the Rosary, Saturday, Oct. 7th, to honor Mary’s example and guidance to her Son. and we learn in her school how to open our lives to her Son, Jesus, and how to imitate His example of sharing God’s love with the world. Question to ponder: do you “say” the rosary, or “pray” it? I’d suggest it’s better to “pray” one decade with reflection and intention, than to rattle off the entire rosary just to “get it done!” Rosaries, and pamphlets with the mysteries, and how to pray the rosary, are at the Church doors during the month of October, thanks to our Cathedral Rosary Makers. Help yourself!

III.  The Call to Simplicity & Detachment:  As the son of a wealthy Italian, an Assisi merchant, Francis (1182–1226) was destined for grand homes, exquisite clothing, and fine food—the “good life.” After a conversion experience, he relinquished his wealth and the trappings of this world to minister to lepers and preach to the spiritually hungry. His home was the earth; his clothing, humility; and his identity, that of an impoverished beggar seeking God. Many young men joined Francis in this “new way of life,” leading to the foundation of the frati minori (“lesser brothers”), which eventually became known as the Friars Minor. One of the most popular saints in Church history, he showed an outstanding love of creation as exemplified in his famous “Canticle of the Sun.” We are  blessed to have a Pope who embraces not only his name, but also the values of St. Francis of Assisi, and to have several Franciscan Sisters ministering in our Diocese, including Sr. Consolata and Sr. Antonia as members of the St. Stephen Cathedral faith community. Celebrate Mass this Wednesday, October 4th, on the Feast of St. Francis. What is it about this saint that still attracts and challenges us?