Home Page Home Page Events Events Photos Photos Diocese of Ogdensburg Home Page  
Follow Us on Facebook

Archives Follow Me
Respect Life Sunday: A ‘gift of God’s goodness’

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

October 13, 2021

One of the privileges I enjoy as your bishop is to visit our students in our Catholic Schools. I especially enjoy visits to the second graders as we discuss the important sacraments they are preparing to celebrate for the first time – Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. They are eager to share with me their eagerness to celebrate the sacraments and illustrate their readiness. When we discuss Reconciliation, inevitably we talk about sin. Sin – something rarely discussed today.

Because we live in a fallen world, we get used to sin. We get so used to sin, in fact, that we can easily forget just how evil and destructive it is. In a certain sense, sin is wishing that God didn’t exist so that we would be free to rebuild the universe according to our own selfish and arrogant design. When we purposely disobey the moral law, the order that God has built into the universe, we cut ourselves off from the very source of our existence, like an astronaut on a spacewalk who cuts away his or her lifeline.

As you know, October is Respect Life Month. We, as Catholic Christians, have been raised to believe – and we know – that all human life, even if weak and suffering, is always a splendid gift of God’s goodness. All human life, from conception to natural death, is a sacred gift from the Heavenly Father.

I know we have all heard this before, but we can see how moral standards of the world have become rotten and decayed. We are constantly bombarded by the false teaching of me-first, the so-called precious freedom of choice, choice to abort a pre-born child of God, the choice to rid from this world the old and feeble, the undesirable, the developmentally disadvantaged, the terminally ill. This isn’t a far-fetched idea, but the reality of the tragic situation in which we find ourselves today.

Just look at some of the unbelievable legislation that is gaining widespread support. What makes it even worse, if that’s possible, is that so many of our Catholic neighbors, including government leaders and politicians, are on the front lines promoting such evildoing.

My friends, sometimes it seems that the Church is becoming extinguished in our human souls. The ways of the world are converting us instead of us evangelizing the world in the ways of God. The Catholic faith must come into its own again in our souls and the souls of our family members. We must give our souls back to God. We are a pilgrim people. We, Christians, are in the world, but not of the world. But we are here for a reason. We need to be more zealous in our faith; clearer in our convictions, not muddier; and more Catholic, not less. The Catholic faith should take root in our hearts like the mustard seed of Jesus’ parables.

We, as Christians know God’s law. We know right from wrong. We know God’s law must be respected and obeyed to the best of our ability. We know that life, our own and that of others, is most sacred. Nothing can destroy that sacredness--nothing can overshadow the goodness of God in creating and sustaining life. No human law, no decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, no politician, no governor or president can go contrary to God’s law, no matter what the polls say. That’s not forcing my religion on anyone. It is simply obeying the natural, God’s law, to whom everyone is accountable, else our society continues its rudderless free-fall.

Lord Acton once wrote, “Freedom is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.” We have been sold a bill of goods – one which erroneously tries to teach us that whatever is practical, pleasurable, or financially feasible, is good, if that’s what I want. We have lost our moral compass, our ground of values. It’s legal, so it’s OK – if that’s what I or my neighbor wants. BUT, my sisters and brothers, SIN MATTERS and it abounds! It might be legal, but it’s not ok!

Rightly so, we in America, defend individual liberty. One of the greatest teachings of God’s Church is the defense of the freedom of will, the right to do as one sees fit, even if we should, by our sins, choose something contrary to the will of God. This freedom of choice, of course, sounds so nice and it strikes a harmonious note in our American hearts. But, we have allowed the idea of freedom to become so warped that nothing can stand in its way. I have a right to be unburdened with the cares of a child. I can do what I want with my own body or that of a loved one.

For all of us who are here today, having been given life and breath, what does God want from us? A respect for human dignity, a respect for human life in all its forms. The pre-born, the poor, the old, the physically and mentally challenged, the dying, everywhere and every time to be treated as a man, a woman, to be considered as a child of God. Life is the most precious gift that God has ever given to us, all of us.

We all need the mercy and love of a Savior. It is our responsibility as God’s children to foster and protect His divine teachings; to correct and instruct the misinformed; to show the way to God’s Kingdom. It is our responsibility to be counted either with Jesus Christ or against. “You cannot serve two masters.”

There is no non-government institution that has provided more educational, charitable, and social services than the Catholic Church. I know you’ve heard me share this teaching before. We proclaim life not with hardened, harsh, judgmental hearts, but with hope-filled hearts because we know it is the Lord’s will and we who continue to speak out on behalf of the pre-born, the poor, the marginalized, the elderly, will not go away. We simply cannot go away because SIN MATTERS and our God is a God of and for life!

North Country Catholic North Country Catholic is
honored by Catholic Press
Association of US & Canada

Copyright © Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. All rights reserved.