Today has been set aside by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops as Respect Life Sunday. This year’s theme is “Valuing the Vulnerable”.
There is no one more vulnerable than the unborn child, for these little ones cannot speak for themselves and rely totally on the care and protection of their mother to sustain them. The unborn are no longer perceived as treasured gifts by many in society if the circumstances of their conception are not ideal. In these instances, choice, autonomy, and so-called health care of the mother trump the right to life of the tiny infant in her womb.
Christians can never give in to the pervading ideas of the age. We must stand firm in our conviction that all human life from conception to natural death is a precious gift from God, that we are called to love one another, and to live that love through service.
Clearly articulating the truth about the dignity of the human person, and our duty to defend, protect, love, and serve life in all of its stages must always be a priority. It is particularly important that young people, vulnerable to the ideals of the age, hear this message, see it lived out, and be given the opportunities to actively proclaim the Gospel of Life through word and action.
Resources for Respect Life Sunday can be found at the NZ Catholic Bishops site.
As Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Burke (then Archbishop), addressed the 2009 US National Prayer Breakfast. In that address, he clearly identified the anti-life and anti-family path the nation was on. He also expressed what is necessary to resist and overcome the tide. It is strongly recommended that you read the entire speech as the following are but just a few quotes.
“6. Over the past several months, our nation has chosen a path which more completely denies any legal guarantee of the most fundamental human right, the right to life, to the innocent and defenseless unborn… Those in power now determine who will or will not be accorded the legal protection of the most fundamental right to life. First the legal protection of the right to life is denied to the unborn and, then, to those whose lives have become burdened by advanced years, special needs or serious illness, or whose lives are somehow judged to be unprofitable or unworthy.
7. What is more, those in power propose to force physicians and other healthcare professionals, in other words, those with a particular responsibility to protect and foster human life, to participate, contrary to what their conscience requires, in the destruction of unborn human lives, from the first or embryonic stage of development to the moment of birth. Our laws may soon force those who have dedicated themselves to the care of the sick and the promotion of good health to give up their noble life work, in order to be true to the most sacred dictate of their consciences. What is more, if our nation continues down the path it has taken, healthcare institutions operating in accord with the natural moral law, which teaches us that innocent human life is to be protected and fostered at all times and that it is always and everywhere evil to destroy an innocent human life, will be forced to close their doors.
8. At the same time, the fundamental society, that is, the family, upon which the life of our nation is founded and depends, is under attack by legislation which redefines marriage to include a relationship between two persons of the same sex and permits them to adopt children. In the same line, it is proposed to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. At the root of the confusion and error about marriage is the contraceptive mentality – which would have us believe that the inherently procreative nature of the conjugal union can, in practice, be mechanically or chemically eliminated, while the marital act remains unitive. It cannot be so. With unparalleled arrogance, our nation is choosing to renounce its foundation upon the faithful, indissoluble, and inherently procreative love of a man and a woman in marriage, and, in violation of what nature itself teaches us, to replace it with a so-called marital relationship, according to the definition of those who exercise the greatest power in our society.
9. The path of violation of the most fundamental human rights and of the integrity of marriage and the family, which our nation is traveling, is not accidental. It is part of the program set forth by those whom we have freely chosen to lead our nation.
14. In the battle for the protection of the right to life and for the safeguarding of the integrity of marriage and the family in our nation, we are easily tempted to give way to discouragement. And it would be right to do so, if the outcome of the battle depended upon us alone. But it does not. Christ is with us always in the Church and, in a particular way, in the struggle to restore the respect for the right to life of all of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are helpless and who have the first title to our care, and to safeguard the integrity of marriage and the family. Christ Who is the Gospel of Life, encountered in prayer and through the Sacraments, will give us the strength to announce His word of life and to act upon His word of life, on behalf of all in our nation, especially those who depend upon us to care for them and protect their God-given rights.
15. If we are serious about our patriotic duty, then we must pray everyday for our leaders, especially our President, and our nation. We should also practice more fervently our fasting and abstinence for the conversion of our lives and the transformation of our society. If we want to act for the common good, the good of all, in our nation, then we will seek to convert our lives each day to Christ, especially through the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. Christ desires to announce the Gospel of Life and bring about its saving effects in our nation by the complete conversion of our lives to Him for the sake of all our brothers and sisters, without boundary, and for the sake of the preservation of the sanctuary of human life, marriage and the family.
16. At various times of great crisis in our nation and in the world, the Holy Father and our Bishops have called upon all Catholics to offer special prayers for the nation and for the world.
17. At every Mass, we should offer special prayers for our nation and her leaders, in order that the culture of death may be overcome and a civilization of love may be steadfastly advanced. All Catholics throughout the nation should take part in Eucharistic adoration and in the praying of the Rosary for the restoration of the respect for human life and for the safeguarding of the integrity of the family… May these powerful spiritual works continue and prosper, so that, through prayer and fasting, the grave evils of contraception, procured abortion, euthanasia, the experimentation on embryonic human life, and so-called same-sex marriage may be overcome in our nation.
18. Connected with our prayer must be the thoughtful and faithful reflection upon the Church’s teaching on the respect for all human life and the integrity of the family. In our homes, in our Catholic schools and universities, in parish study groups, and in everyday conversations and discussions with our neighbors, we are called to give an uncompromising witness to the Gospel of Life. Parents, parish priests and institutions of Catholic education must be aware of the constant anti-life and anti-family messages which constantly bombard us and our young people. One has only to think, for example, of the corruption of the goodness of our youth by the multi-million dollar industry of pornography, especially on the Internet. Our reflection as individuals and groups must open our eyes to the gravity of the situation in our nation, lest we fail to take responsibility for the widespread attacks on human life and the family. Our reflection must help us all and, in a particular way, our young people to see the godless secularism and relativism which underly and justify our nation’s anti-life and anti-family programs, policies and laws.
22. Our uncompromising commitment to protect the inviolable dignity of innocent human life and to safeguard the integrity of marriage and the family are not based on peculiar confessional beliefs or practices but on the natural moral law, written on every heart and, therefore, a fundamental part of the Church’s moral teaching. At the same time, what is always and everywhere evil cannot be called good for the sake of accomplishing some other good end. All of us must be concerned about a wide range of goods which are important to the life of our nation, but the concern for those goods can never justify the betrayal of the fundamental goods of life itself and the family. We must take care to uproot from our moral thinking any form of relativism, consequentialism and proportionalism, which would lead us into the error of thinking that it is sometimes right to do what is always and everywhere evil.”
Read the encyclical letter of John Paul II – Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life). Once you have read this profound document, essential for today, begin to live it with sincerity and faithfulness.
A Litany for Life to Good St Joseph
Good Saint, Joseph, pray for us.
Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.
Protector of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Faithful spouse, pray for us.
Good worker, pray for us.
Good and gentle man, pray for us.
Man of faith and hope, pray for us.
Man of kindness and charity, pray for us.
Man of love, pray for us.
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, pray for us.
Guardian of the Christ child, pray for us.
Teacher of virtue, pray for us.
Model of patience, pray for us.
Model of kindness, pray for us.
Loving father, pray for us.
Kind father, pray for us.
Example of holiness, pray for us.
For all unmarried fathers, pray for them.
For all who are afraid, pray for them.
For all tempted to despair, pray for them
For all tempted by evil, pray for them.
For refugees and orphans, pray for them.
For those condemned to die, pray for them.
For those mortally ill, pray for them.
At the hour of their death, pray for them.
For doctors and nurses, pray for them.
For those who wait for death, pray for them.
For the old and the alone, pray for them.
For truth and justice, pray for them.
For legislators and judges, pray for them.
For our Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, pray for them.
For all who work for life, pray for them.
Good Saint Joseph, your faithful love protected and nourished the Mother of God and Jesus Christ, her son. Your fatherly care led to maturity he through whom all creation began. Through your intercession, may God guide and protect all human life from conception to natural death, and lead this nation in the ways of truth and of love.
Pray for us, good Saint Joseph, that joined with Christ Jesus, we might give praise to God forever. Amen.