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Respect for life and faith formation

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

January 14, 2015

As you know, a key priority that has been established for our Diocese is Strengthening Faith Formation in Family life.  Parents are the primary and powerful force for faith growth and development in the family.  They need our support and assistance, particularly in life matters.  The more faith activities that young people are exposed to and participate in, the more that faith ‘sticks.’ 

Every January, tens of thousands of pilgrims, many of whom are our youth, travel to Washington, DC to pray together for an end to abortion at the National Prayer Vigil for Life.  This March for Life has become an occasion for education, formation, and evangelization.

The theme for this year’s March for Life is “Every Life is a Gift.”  Sadly, many reject the gift. According to the latest statistics, one out of every five babies in the United States is aborted annually. 

For certain populations of developing babies, the statistic is even more tragic.  A number of studies have shown that preborn babies with disabilities are aborted at rates from 60 percent to as high as 90 percent!  Such precious gifts of God are being thrown away literally.

Jeanne Monahan, President of March for Life, commented:  “There is an underlying sense that if a life is not normal or perfect or it is somehow different than what one anticipated, it is not a happy, fulfilling or even worthwhile life.” 

One is deemed disposable if he or she is unable to function as someone thinks he or she should, to be productive and of use to society.  Preference of the sex of the preborn has also become a determining factor of the decision to let one live or die. 

Pope Francis has frequently referred to ours as a throw-away society where everything and everyone has become disposable.  In making the argument that every life matters, one risks being dismissed as a ‘fanatic.’

Therefore, at the earliest of ages, our children must be taught that at every stage of life, each and every person is a divine gift from God and must be reverenced and honored as a unique child of God. 

We need a sense of urgency for change.  Parents, with our help, must explore with their children how every life is a gift.  This is an example of how we can strengthen faith formation in family life. 

Too often our words and actions say human life is a burden and can be disposed of.  Our language about another often tears down, rather than builds up a person.  The human person is demeaned.

No culture of life has a chance of flourishing when we hear people, instead of affirming and congratulating parents who are blessed with large families, ridicule and even condemn them. 

Not everyone can participate in the March for Life, but we can all contribute to our Church’s effort in building a culture of life by being, as St. Peter writes “stones that live and breathe” (1Peter 2:5).

By being united in prayer, we become living stones upon which a culture of life can be built.

During these days of prayer, penance and pilgrimage for life, why not set aside an hour to pray for those who are struggling with a decision of life or death for their unborn child?

Use social media to post something that supports, embraces and celebrates the gift of life. Write to someone who is lonely or needing some encouragement.  Spend time at the bedside of someone you know who is suffering.

Living stones are essential for our family of faith to grow.  Resolve today to make your home a school for life, a place where every human life: the preborn, the healthy, the hurting and the infirmed is honored, supported, and embraced.

Let us pray for and lend support to our moms and dads as they respond to their vocational responsibility in the faith development of their children.                                 

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