Life has been on my mind lately.
Last Saturday, I participated in a Memorial Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, remembering all those who have been killed or will be affected by abortion. The Mass was preceded by a Rose Procession, in which I was among the volunteers who carried a rose in honor of their peers lost to abortion since its legalization in 1973. For the U.S. Catholic Church, January 22 is marked as a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. Many people I know are attending the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. this weekend. While I remain in St. Louis this week, I pray and wonder what I might do to witness to life in my own way.
Several events this week relating to life issues strike close to home. On January 21, the Purdue University community marks the one year anniversary of the shooting on campus that resulted in the death of student, Andrew Boldt. I was serving in campus ministry at Purdue at that time, and continue to grieve this tragedy (see my earlier post here). While neither I nor anyone else can undo the loss of life and enduring pain of this event, I have been doing something small in support of a culture of life among the Purdue Community and beyond. Each day, I cast a vote on the Infinity Coaches' Charity Challenge for Purdue's Coach Matt Painter, in support of the Smith Family BReaK Thru Fund. This charity was established by the Smith Family (who are parishioners at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center at Purdue University), in honor of their three children who battle a rare and currently fatal genetic disorder, seeking to find a cure. The Smith Family courageously witnesses to the dignity and preciousness of life, and their witness is contagious!
I'm also following this week Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines. In this country, where poverty and natural disaster cause great suffering, the Filipino people turn to their faith as a source of hope. Pope Francis, as the spiritual leader of the Church, in some way embodies this hope, and shows us all how to witness to life, even when death and destruction seem so overwhelming. I see Francis visiting those still recovering from Typhoon Yolanda, acknowledging the dignity of people who are suffering, poor, and powerless. I see Francis bringing the Good News of the Gospel by sharing Christ's attention, mercy, and love, and this witness is contagious!
In bringing together this varied constellation of thoughts, I find that there are many ways each one of us can be witnesses to life, no matter our circumstances. Here are some simple ways to witness to life each day:
♦ Remember and pray for those who have died
♦ Offer support and hope to those faced with suffering and difficult life decisions
♦ Thank God for the gift of your own life, and be good stewards of the life you've been given
♦ Be attentive and caring to those around you (whether you know them or not!), acknowledging their dignity and celebrating the gift of their lives
♦ Ask God how you might be called to advocate for those whose lives are threatened or unnecessarily burdened and who have little or no voice
Please join me in being greater witnesses to life in ordinary and extraordinary ways.