Finding practical and effective ways to respect and support human life from conception to natural death that are easily implemented, can be at times, tricky. However, with a little thought, lots of love, and a firm resolution to do something, we can restore a culture that embraces and celebrates life at all stages, and in all circumstances.
In his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae – The Gospel of Life, Saint John Paul II appealed to all people of good will to “respect, protect, love, and serve life.” He went on to add, “only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!” (#5)
October is traditionally the month when we take time out to specifically remember our duty to respect life from conception to natural death. The second Sunday of October is set aside by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops as a Day of Prayer to Respect Life. Recently, the day has been rebranded as a Day of Prayer to Support Life.
Prayer is the very foundation on which all our works are based. Mother Teresa said, “Love to be true has to begin with God in prayer. If we pray, we will be able to serve.”
Here are eight practical and effective ways to respect human life.
1. Pray the Daily Prayer for Life
Saint John Paul II concluded his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae with a beautiful prayer entrusting the cause of life to the Blessed Mother, who, he says, “is a living word of comfort for the Church in her struggle against death.” (#105) The team at Family Life International have been praying this prayer daily since 1995, when the encyclical was promulgated. We’d love for you to join us!
2. Hold a prayer vigil outside an abortion facility
Gather friends and family and head down to your local abortion facility to pray (not protest). Praying outside abortion facilities is a powerful witness to truth, as our peaceful presence shines a light on the great evil that takes place within the building. Being present shows all those who pass by that abortion is not a normal “procedure” – human beings die, and lives are forever changed. We beg Almighty God for His mercy on all those who participate in this great evil. And we pray that just one life may be saved.
Your prayer vigil does not need to be a big event (although feel free to organise something larger if you wish). Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20.
Note: Please ensure you follow Covid restriction rules. It is not possible to legally hold a vigil in New Zealand during Level 3 or 4 restrictions. Vigils are possible under Level 2 restrictions. You may be able to find other ways to be present such as praying while walking, or while sitting in your car.
3. Support your local pregnancy centre or maternity home
Pregnancy Centres and maternity homes are the hands and feet of the pro-life movement. By providing a listening ear, encouraging life-giving choices, and providing practical assistance, lives are saved from the trauma of abortion.
You can support your local pregnancy centre of maternity home by providing:
- baby clothing in excellent condition,
- cots, prams, and baby equipment, all in excellent condition and meeting the safety code
You could also offer to volunteer at your local pregnancy centre, offering your gifts to serve pregnant and new mothers in their greatest hour of need.
Monetary donations are always welcome.
4. Encourage pro-life medical practitioners
Write a letter, or send an email of support to pro-life doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care workers whom you know are outstanding in their commitment to life. Many are being forced to make difficult decisions in the face of recent abortion, euthanasia, and other laws, that take away their freedom of conscience. Encourage these courageous men and women as they stand at the forefront of the battle between life and death.
5. Watch and share the short film Sing a Little Louder
This powerful 12-minute short film asks the question “will you raise your voice for those who have no voice?” The film is based on a true story of an elderly gentleman haunted by the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust, which he witnessed as a young boy. The film’s message can be applied to modern day atrocities against life, especially the unborn.
6. Pray for the conversion of abortion and euthanasia advocates
Many medical professionals are misguided in their thinking about abortion and euthanasia. Some sincerely believe that these intrinsically evil practices are necessary; believing access to death is a “right.” Others find themselves involved because they want to help, and they mistakenly think that they are doing so. Still others simply find themselves caught up in the provision of these deadly procedures because they need to make a living, and this position was available.
It does not matter what reason the person is involved in such evil, what matters is that we love them enough to care about the salvation of their soul. Your prayers can bring about conversion in their lives.
7. Connect with people who are vulnerable in your community
You could visit an elderly or sick friend, relative, or stranger or have a friendly conversation with someone who has a physical, or intellectual disability. Many caregivers struggle with the responsibilities that they carry and would welcome an offer of help, or to be given the opportunity to have some time to do things that interest them. Your offer to provide some respite is a very tangible way to make a difference.
8. Provide a meal for a family who have just welcomed a new baby
Sleepless nights, caring for other children, and staying on top of the housework can be quite a struggle in the early days and weeks after a baby is born. Not having to worry about preparing a meal can be a great relief in the chaos, but also on days that have run smoothly. You can be certain that your generosity will be greatly appreciated by the recipients.
Doing something helps restore the culture
Respecting and supporting human life from conception to natural death can be achieved by embracing the everyday opportunities that come your way. Starting with a firm foundation of prayer, you will be able to recognise those opportunities and serve without counting the cost. In doing something, you will be helping to restore a culture of life and a civilization of love!