As a youth minister for my parish, you can imagine the questions I get asked by my students. From the more serious: “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”; to the comical: “Do you think there is a McDonald’s in Heaven?”; the youth are eager to learn about their faith. One day, during the month of January, a student came up to me and asked, “What’s it mean to be pro-life?” But, rather than answering, I asked him, “What do you think it means?” The response was immediate, almost automatic, “It means you’re against abortion.” I pushed for more, hoping he might have a few other concepts of what this term means. And when I didn’t get a response, I began to wonder how many people, young and old, have come to accept this reduced definition of a beautiful belief—how many people have come to believe that being pro-life simply means being anti-abortion.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being (CCC 2258).” I think this concept is easy for most people to understand; it is why the Church is against abortion, the death penalty, and euthanasia. Thus, being pro-life naturally means taking a stand against these practices. We are against these issues because we are for something bigger, we believe that every single life—not just some lives—are worth protecting, that every human, because they were made in the image and likeness of God, has dignity, and should be treated accordingly.
Pope Francis said, “All of us must care for life, cherish life, with tenderness, warmth…to give life is to open (our) heart, and to care for life is to (give oneself) in tenderness and warmth for others, to have concern in my heart for others. Caring for life from the beginning to the end. What a simple thing, what a beautiful thing.”
And this my friends, is the essence of what it means to be pro-life. Yes, we must fight to protect the unborn. Yes, we need to vote to abolish the death penalty. Yes, we need to be aware of the reality of euthanasia and work to put an end to it. But we are called to do more than that. We must love. And in order to love the way Christ wants us to love, we must pray to see the world with His eyes. For it is only then that we will begin to see Christ in each person we encounter—in the woman who chose abortion, the man with an addiction, or the teenager who killed someone while driving under the influence. When we are able to look at someone and see Jesus, even when it is most difficult, then it becomes easier to see Him in the people we encounter every day.
If we as Catholics want to be effective in this pro-life movement, if we want to overcome the culture of death, we must aim to be pro-life in every aspect of our life, and that begins with the way we view ourselves. Ask yourself if you give yourself the dignity you deserve. When you begin to value your own God-given life, you can help others to begin to value theirs as well. So I challenge all of you to go forth and begin to care for life. Care for life, and above all, love.