Respect Life Sunday "It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop." - words of Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical - The Gospel of Life Since 1972, a year before the U.S. Supreme Court made the shocking Roe V. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S., the first Sunday of October has been designated by the Church as Respect Life Sunday, also called Sanctity of Life Sunday. For more than 35 years now, the Catholic Church and others have dedicated the month of October, starting with the first Sunday, to extra time and resources in advancing the culture of life. This can be done through prayer, activism, and education against the falsehoods promoted by the pro-abortion advocates. In the 30+ years since that immoral (and many believe, unconstitutional) decision, the right to life for the unborn has faced particularly vicious attacks. The push for abortion “rights” has gone further and further, and we now live in a time when fighting back against the abortion agenda and the “culture of death” is especially crucial. It has always been vital, but especially in an election year it is important to remember and publicize the truth of the evils of abortion. Contrary to what some believe, the Catholic Church has never taught that it is right to kill an innocent human life, even if several centuries past, particularly due to a lack of medical knowledge, aspects of how and when life began were not completely understood. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is undeniably clear on the Church’s teaching on abortion: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you." - Jer 1:5 "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth." - Psalm 139:15 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: "You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish. God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes." - Gaudium et spes Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae," "by the very commission of the offense," and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society” (CCC 2270-2272) Furthermore, the arguments of the pro-abortion side are largely subjective and irrelevant, and often downright contradictory. For example, abortion advocates have continually fought for the “right” to late-term abortions. Language such as “tissue” and “cells” replace baby in these arguments. However, in 2004 Scott Peterson was convicted for not only killing his wife, Lacey, but also their unborn son, Conner. Lacey wanted and fully intended to birth and raise the child, and so his death was included in the verdict against Peterson. The humanity of any person does not depend on whether or not they are liked or wanted, so not wanting an unborn child cannot negate the child's humanity either. For much more in depth information on the intrinsic evil of abortion, take a look at Peter Kreeft’s Three Approaches To Abortion: A Thoughtful and Compassionate Guide to Today's Most Controversial Issue or Father Frank Pavone’s Ending Abortion. You can also read Pope John Paul II’s full encyclical on all life issues at stake – even beyond abortion – Gospel of Life, which was written in 1995 but becomes more imperative every day. As the sun sets on the first Sunday of October, do not let Respect Life Sunday end as merely a slogan. As ever, we Catholics must not simply listen to the gospel and homily then head home and forget the message. We must carry the message out into our entire lives, including the public square, living the gospel message every day. Many parishes hold some sort of fundraiser, such as Roses for Life, to heighten awareness on the issue and to raise money to donate to pro-life organizations. This is a good step, but your contribution need not end with your wallet. Pray always – October is the month of the rosary, so it would be a good time to pray a rosary for the unborn. If you are at a loss as to how to respond to pro-abortion comments, educate yourself further with apologetics writings so that you can become an active voice in spreading the truth of the sanctity and dignity of life. Research local pro-life organizations and see how you might become involved with their mission. Research the companies you shop with to determine if they donate money to pro-abortion groups and which companies do not; locate alternative companies that do not support the abortion agenda and give them your patronage. For more insight into the "culture of death" which is rapidly becoming the dominant culture in today's society, take a moment to read some recent sobering thoughts from Archbishop Raymond Burke, the leading prelate on legal matters in Rome (head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signatura) by clicking here. Pro-Life Rosary Meditations (Courtesy of Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life) Joyful Mysteries The Annunciation: Mary is troubled by the angel's greeting, yet rejoices to do God's will. Let us pray that those who are troubled by their pregnancy may have the grace to trust in God's will. The Visitation: John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother's womb. We pray that people may realize that abortion is not about children who "might" come into the world, but is about children who are already in the world, living and growing in the womb, and are scheduled to be killed. The Nativity: God Himself was born as a child. The greatness of a person does not depend on size, for the newborn King is very small. Let us pray for an end to prejudice against the tiny babies threatened by abortion. The Presentation: The Child is presented in the Temple because the Child belongs to God. Children are not the property of their parents, nor of the government. They - and we - belong to God Himself. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple: The boy Jesus was filled with wisdom, because He is God. Let us pray that all people may see the wisdom of His teachings about the dignity of life, and may understand that this teaching is not an opinion, but the truth. Luminous Mysteries Christ is Baptized in the Jordan: When Jesus is baptized, the Father's voice is heard: "This is my beloved Son." All are called to become adopted sons and daughters of God through baptism. We pray that children in the womb may be protected, so that they may be born and welcomed into the Christian community by baptism. Christ is made known at the Wedding of Cana: Jesus revealed His glory by the miracle at Cana. The new couple was blessed not only with wine, but with faith in Christ. Let us pray for strong marriages, rooted in the Lord, and open to the gift of new life. Christ proclaims the Kingdom and Calls All to Conversion: "Repent and believe the Good News." Let us pray that these first words of Jesus' public ministry may be heard by all who have committed abortion. May they know that the Lord calls them to conversion, and may they experience life-giving repentance. The Transfiguration: Christ is transformed on the mountain, and the disciples see His glory. May the eyes of all people be transformed, that they may see each and every human life as a reflection of the glory of God Himself. Jesus gives us the Eucharist: "This is My Body, given up for you." The Eucharist teaches us how to live and how to love. Let us pray that parents who sacrifice the babies for the sake of themselves may learn instead to put themselves aside for the sake of their babies. Sorrowful Mysteries The Agony in the Garden: Let us pray for mothers and fathers who are in agony because they are tempted to abort a child. May they be given the good news that there are alternatives, and may they make use of the help that is available. The Scourging: As Christ's flesh was torn by the instruments of those who scourged Him, so the bodies of babies in the womb are torn by the instruments of the abortionists. Let us pray that abortionists may repent of these acts of child-killing. The Crowning With Thorns: Jesus suffered the pain of thorns in His head, and did so silently. We pray for the mothers and fathers of aborted children. So many of them suffer deep grief and regret over a choice they can never reverse. So many suffer in silence, because others tell them it's no big deal. The Carrying of the Cross: Jesus was not condemned by the power of wicked people. He was condemned because of the silence of good people. Silence always helps the oppressor, never the victim. Let us pray that we may never be silent about abortion, but rather will clearly speak up to save babies from death. The Crucifixion: As we ponder the death of Christ, let us remember the many women who have died from so-called "safe, legal" abortions. Let us ask forgiveness and mercy for them. May their memory save other women from making this tragic mistake. Glorious Mysteries The Resurrection: Christ is Risen! By his Resurrection, He has destroyed the power of death, and therefore the power of abortion. The outcome of the battle for Life has already been decided: Life is victorious! Let us pray that all prolifers will spread this victory to every segment of our society. The Ascension: By ascending to the Father's throne, Christ takes our human nature, given to us in the womb, to the heights of heaven. He shows us that human beings are made to be raised to heaven, not thrown in the garbage. Let us pray that the world may learn this truth and reject abortion. The Descent of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the Advocate: He pleads our cause, for we cannot save ourselves. We pray that He will make us advocates for the babies, who cannot speak or write or vote or protest or even pray. The Assumption: The Blessed Virgin Mary was taken body and soul into heaven because she is the Mother of God. Mother and child are united. The Assumption reminds us that they belong together. We pray that society will see that it cannot love women while killing their children, and cannot save children without helping their mothers. We pray that people will be touched by the pro-life question, "Why can't we love them both?" The Coronation: Mary is the Queen of the Universe. The Church teaches that she is the greatest creature, second only to God Himself. The Church defends the dignity of women. We pray that people will understand that to be pro-life means to be pro-woman, and that to be pro-woman demands that we be pro-life.