Just like everyone else who has been attending Mass here this month, I heard our Bishop offer a wonderful message about respecting life. Quite naturally, everyone will pick out something in that message that will be particularly relevant to themselves. What caught my own attention was the Bishop’s emphasis on the spiritual life. I thought his emphasis was at the same time a good insight, for it seems to me that most people would not think of the spiritual life when considered the theme of respecting life.
To respect life means to oppose abortion for most people. Some people would take it a step further and take on a pacifist stand. They will then find themselves opposing war. And once more, some people would take it one more step yet and oppose capital punishment. J suppose that it is possible that there would be people who give the concept a “green” spin and also desire to respect life by means of respecting our planet. After all, our planet does seem to be often times ill, noticeably with the increase of natural disasters that have been affecting our planet. Whether you agree or disagree, certainly we would admit to being at least aware of the multiple voices “out there” that attribute such natural disasters to human negligence. and in some cases, to human greed. My only point by bringing out these examples is to demonstrate that one can define “respecting life” along a pretty wide range. But nonetheless the various meanings that one can deduce in the respecting life theme, our Bishop offers yet one more by suggesting that it can also refer to our spiritual life. Yes, our spiritual life needs to be respected as well. It needs to be respected as much as new life; as much as the lives of all people affected by war and the continuing existence of capital punishment.
The implication of such a stance is profound. Take, for example, the feelings behind our Catholic anti-abortion movement, which is of course the most populous understanding of respecting life. Emotions run high when this topic is discussed. There are protests everywhere. I find this especially to be true over the past several years. Christian folk are just disgusted that this practice continues even now. Even the woman who was directly involved in the Roe vs. Wade decision, the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion, is against abortion and participates in pro-life rallies. Now, feel the force of the anti-abortion movement and aim it at a pro spiritual life idea.
After all, new life is threatened due to the legalization of abortion and the concomitant proliferation of abortion clinics. Likewise, the spiritual lives of many are threatened by the numbers of people no longer praying; by the fact that Churches of different denominations, including ours, are shutting down and sold as real estate; by the fact that mysticism is viewed by many as outmoded, despite that fact that Pope John Paul II believed that all people are called to be mystics. If the spiritual lives of people weaken and even fail, aid to other people also falls off. Wouldn’t my heart grow colder if I allow myself not to care if the unborn are killed, if people, combatants and innocents, are killed in war, and if people are executed? Wouldn’t my heart also grow colder if I choose not to pray, or to rarely pray? The Bishop had a good insight. It’s something to think about.
Blessings, Fr. Walter