The potential for violence has created a deep tension in the very fabric in our society. How can we restore hope and trust? The answer, says blogger Sean Miller, lies in a “Culture of Life.”
“A Culture of Life”
It’s hard to believe that 15 years ago the tragedy at Columbine took place. On April 20, 1999, two teenagers went into their school intending to cause absolute chaos by killing innocent students and staff. Twelve students and one teacher lost their lives.
America has changed drastically since that event. Violence seems to have increased in frequency and intensity. Now, it’s not uncommon to see school shootings. We’ve seen horrific attacks in movie theaters, malls, and even on busy street corners. Violence is the new norm on the American landscape. Recently, a young teenage boy took the life of a classmate because she did not say “yes” to his prom invitation.
How can we trust each other when the climate of today’s society is so filled with rage and unpredictability?
In order to restore trust and hope, a renewed reverence for the sanctity of life must find a place again in our minds and hearts – a “Culture of Life.”
The world has been blessed with two pro-life leaders who by their words and actions showed us all the importance of reverencing life: Mother Teresa and St. John Paul II.
What did they have to say about the sanctity of life?
Mother Teresa had a way of stating a profound truth with such simplicity. For example, she once said, “How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”
But, at times, her simplicity could be direct and dire:
“If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people to not kill each other? Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”
Mother Teresa did not shy away from telling pro-choice politicians these truths. She firmly and gently spoke the truth regardless of how it was received. The Lord gave her a courageous spirit that did not seek the honor of men but, instead, a faithfulness to the truth.
Pope John Paul II also wrote and spoke in defense of the sacredness of human life in all its stages, from conception to natural death. Like Mother Theresa, he was not afraid to address the entire world: “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without a future.”
His actions were as grace-filled as his words.
In the last stages of his life Pope John Paul II suffered with Parkinson’s disease. It was quite noticeable, and his speech was so affected it was nearly impossible for him to speak intelligibly to the great masses that assembled to see him in St. Peter’s Square.
It would have been much easier for him to politely decline to appear in public. However, he did not do this. Instead, he gave another message on “life.” In his frailty, he showed the world his vulnerability by appearing to the crowds even though he was unable to communicate as he once could.
His actions spoke loud and clear: Human life is holy and sacred even when, or especially when, we are most vulnerable.
Mother Teresa too showed that all human life is precious regardless of the circumstances. Mother had a special love for the dying. She saw to it that the dying would receive the utmost dignity and respect up until their final moment.
One story illustrates this beautifully. One day a man who lived in the slums was dying in the gutter, covered with maggots. Mother Teresa took him in and cleaned him up. The nuns treated him with great care! Before he died he said to Mother, “Before I lived like an animal on the streets, but today I will die like an angel.” The care that Mother Teresa gave him restored to him his human dignity.
The struggle between a “Culture of Life” and a “Culture of Death” continues in our society. At times, we can be tempted to despair when we witness the tragedies that play out before our eyes.
However, God gave us two spiritual leaders for our time who are now interceding on our behalf in Heaven. Mother Teresa and John Paul II showed us that the remedy to “The Culture of Death” is not destruction but love — unconditional love that requires sacrifice but does not count the cost.
We need to heed the words of Saint Pope John Paul II: “Be not afraid!”
With these three powerful words he challenged each and every one of us to declare “The Gospel of Life” without reservation.
In order to overcome this “Culture of Death,” we need to bring hope where there is despair, light where there is darkness, and love where there is hatred. By doing this we will restore the “Culture of Life,” in our society, one heart at a time.
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