Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Traditionally the month of October is known as the month of the Rosary and Respect Life Month. It is very difficult to speak of those themes these days without sounding political. Nonetheless, the Rosary and Re- spect for Life are of utmost importance for Catholics during the month of October, and every other day of the year. This is non-negotiable part of being a Catholic, not a political statement. As I have mentioned before, I am a Brazilian National who has permanent residency (Green Card). I’m not affiliated with any political par- ty, nor do I vote in the United States. Therefore, this reflection is the sole product of the teachings of the Church and the saints.
When we speak of Respect Life or the sanctity of life, often people think on the issues related to abortion. That is only one part of it. The Church always refers to the wholeness of life, from conception to natural death. That also includes everything in between the beginning of life and end of life. It has been my desire for a long time to clarify Catholic regarding end of life issues. Usually this is a topic that we are not so com- fortable talking about, but the Covid crisis, and other illness make us think about it. Although it can be fright- ening, when we look at the big picture (that we are created for heaven and eternal life) fear of death sub- sides. That doesn't mean that as Catholics we can take any action or participate in any action that would hasten death of a person with terminal illness. It only means that as Catholics, we should not fear death.
This week, reading St. Cyprian of Carthage (De Mortalitate), I was very much enthusiastic about heaven. He writes in his letter, “The kingdom of God, beloved brethren, is beginning to be at hand; the reward of life, and the rejoicing of eternal salvation, and the perpetual gladness and possession lately lost of paradise, are now coming, ... already heavenly things are taking the place of earthly, and great things of small, and eter- nal things of things that fade away. What room is there here for anxiety and solicitude?” He continues “Since, therefore, to see Christ is to rejoice, and we cannot have joy unless when we shall see Christ.”
We were not only created for God, we were also created by Him. He is the sole giver of life. Therefore, our lives are not our own, but a gift that God has entrusted to us to be dealt with prudently. There are many cir- cumstances in life that can be frightening and that may seem inescapable. We all know of these situations like a college student who finds herself pregnant, an adult child with older parents that require care and at- tention when they are already overwhelmed taking care of their own children, someone who has a painful illness that seems to be unfair, or actions of certain individuals that devalue or disrespect the lives of others. In all these instances, God always has special graces to assist us in making the right decision. As challeng- ing as they may be, or even as “impossible” as these situations may seem, remember, FOR GOD NOTH- ING IS IMPOSSIBLE. There are many men and women who have faced the same problems, and they sided with God and the problem was addressed. The saints always have said that God does not remove our prob- lems, but gives us the strength to overcome them. The solution is not to get rid of the problem, but aided by faith, to find God in them.
In Scripture, we often hear how God protects the innocent, the stranger, and the orphan. It is also our duty as Catholics, Christians, and humans, to protect, promote, and defend every life, born and unborn, regard- less of age, ethnicity, religion, or social status. We area called to do so in accordance of what is in our pow- er. That is, in our conversations, our daily actions, in our civic duties (voting), and supporting financially the institutions that help vulnerable persons. This month we have the opportunity to support Birthright Pregnan- cy Center, World Missions (on Sunday 18th), St. Vincent de Paul, and the Food Pantry at the Walker Build- ing. And as always, we continue to pray for those in need, and for a greater respect for life.
Let us therefore ask the assistance of Our Lady, through the powerful prayer of the rosary, that we may be like her, to persevere in our troubles, be constant in our faith, and intercede for the whole world as she inter- cedes for us. This weekend we have another opportunity to come to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament for 24 hours. Come and Pray! We also join our Spanish Community on Sunday as they celebrate their Pa- troness, Our Lady of the Rosary, and the Brazilian Community as they celebrate Our Lady of Aparecida. Therefore, let us entrust ourselves and those in most need to the intercession of our Blessed Mother as we pray, “O Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of us all, we turn to you today as the one who said "Yes" to Life. "You will conceive and bear a Son," the angel told you. Despite the surprise and the uncertainty about how this could be, you said yes. "Be it done unto me according to your word." Help us at the moment that we may recognize your Son, Jesus Christ, in every person, and assist in every way we can. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
God bless, Fr. Steven
Father Steven Clemence