All Life Is Good… Even when it’s not
October is Respect Life Month. I’d like to avoid this subject. I’d rather write about something we all agree on—like the beauty of fall foliage or the importance of regular exercise or the sweetness of my growing grandchildren (ages five, three, and one, thank you for asking).
But just as the fall foliage reminds me that this stage of life is good but fleeting, and just as I exercise to be strong for my grands as they grow up, I also want to make this a better world for them. And the process of improving our world begins with admitting that life is good and that it’s a gift directly from God—not from our parents or the government, which should help to protect and nurture it, but from God.
Life is good when it feels good and when it doesn’t. Life is good when we’re young and lovely and when we’re old and sick (and still lovely, just not by this world’s standards). Life is good because it is God’s gift. All life: the child in the womb, the criminal waiting for execution, the terminally ill person hoping for heaven, the soldier on the battlefield, the person you see in the mirror when you are grieving or depressed or just plain tired. All life is gift and all life is good.
Our Church leaders have said this clearly, over and over again. In his February 27 address to the 12th General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Benedict said God loves embryos the same as he loves young people, adults, or the elderly because in each he sees his own image and likeness. (See Gen 1:26.)
This is part of the secret to respecting all life: To see every human being as precious because he or she is an impression of God, a facet of God’s image no one else has ever reflected or will ever reflect. As I love my grandchildren and see in them my son when he was little, so does God see in each of us his Son. And we are called to see as God sees—not only when it’s convenient or in an ideal world, but now. Today.
There is something demonic about having to choose whose life we protect and whose we take with legal sanction. Do you side only with those who would protect life in the womb and in the terminally ill, or do you side also with those who seek alternatives to war and the death penalty? Is this not a peculiar choice fashioned by the Evil One? Our Church leaders have consistently spoken out for all life, but sadly, we Catholics have too often presented an inconsistent and divided rhetoric and thereby lost our credibility and our power to influence.
What does the Church teach about abortion, euthanasia, war, and the death penalty? I recommend reading the relevant passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2258–2330). And the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published a document that is clear, thoughtful, and very helpful to people trying to sort out respect-for-life issues in an election year. Access Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship at www.faithfulcitizenship.org/church/statements. Amid all of the campaign ads and election literature, this document is one we can trust as we seek to make a better world for everyone’s precious grandchild.