“The Church teaches us that ‘the one who has hope lives differently’ (Spe Salvi 2). Christ’s promise of salvation does not mean that we will be spared from suffering. Rather, the promise of salvation ensures that even in the darkest moments of our lives, we will be given the strength to persevere. By virtue of this Christian hope, we can face any challenge or trial. When the seas of life swell and we are battered by the waves, hope allows us to remain anchored in the heart of God. May we hold fast to Christ our hope, from the beginning of life to its very end” (www.respectlife.org/reflection).
In this year’s Respect Life reflection on “Christ Our Hope In Every Season of Life,” found on the new U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website for Respect Life resources, we are called as disciples to be the ones who have hope and to live that hope as witnesses to its source, rooted in our relationship with Christ. Hope can sometime seem in short supply these days, and discouragement a ready temptation. In facing challenges, we can be grateful that God has made us into a people, so we may be a source of support and encouragement through difficult times, sustained by the sacraments and by our care for each other. This is critical, for the mission of the church has not changed. We are called to bring others to Christ, and in doing so to live the Gospel of Life. It is fitting that in the coming year we will celebrate a special anniversary of St. Pope John Paul II’s “Gospel of Life.” Twenty-five years ago this March, he wrote: “In our service of charity, we must be inspired and distinguished by a specific attitude: we must care for the other as a person for whom God has made us responsible” (Evangelium Vitae 87).
Our care for each other extends in a particular way to those who are especially vulnerable. While there are many times in the course of our lives that we are fragile, “Human life finds itself most vulnerable when it enters the world and when it leaves the realm of time to embark upon eternity” (Evangelium Vitae 44). How we choose to show our care for those at such critical moments of life is a witness to our own hope in Christ. Women and men in times of crisis in their personal lives need our care and support, need our yes to helping them to see that life is possible. In our diocese this year, we will be continuing the important work of raising awareness of programs and opportunities that exist, so that anyone who is at a critical decision-making moment in their lives know that they do not need to do so alone.
We will begin to celebrate that journey together at the Respect Life Mass, this Oct. 6, 2019, at 11:15 a.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 296 Flower City Park, Rochester. Through the coming year, we will provide opportunities for all the faithful to participate in supporting life issues through their prayers, education and advocacy on key issues facing our society. We also will initiate the Diocese of Rochester Volunteer Life Liaisons program. This program will train volunteers to act as bridges of hope to those who come to our communities in need, and to connect them with resources that support them in saying yes to life, in any situation. As we move forward together, I ask your prayers for this new initiative. I ask as well that you find some way in your own life to help whomever God places in your care, that they, too, may know that life is possible.
Kilbridge is director of the Diocese of Rochester’s Office of Life Issues.