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Culture of Life Series 1: Respond with Love

October 29, 2008

Part One of a Series

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the political ramifications of the abortion issue and it’s certainly been popping up around the blogosphere plenty. Rather than dig further into the most commonly talked about aspects of how we can fight abortion and other evils (i.e. politics, prayer and sacrifice) I’d like to focus here over the next week or so on less talked about, but quite important, aspects of building a culture of life. It seems to me that as we pray for God’s will to be done in the elections, we should also reflect on what *we* can do to make a difference even after the elections are over (no matter what the outcome is).

We mothers have frequent and significant opportunities to do the little things with love (ala St. Thérèse) which will help build a culture of life. This all depends, of course, on God weaving our little actions together into something significant. And we know that He does!

In the next few posts, I’m going to offer some concrete ideas for building up the culture of life along with some inspirational quotations to put things in perspective. I’ve been thinking about these ideas partly because of our readings on St. Paul for our teen discussion group. So many things I’ve been reading and studying point in this direction – how can we go about actually *changing* the culture rather than merely setting up an alternative sub-culture.

1. Respond with Love. Remember that this is supposed to be a defining characteristic of Christians. Good humor helps too. Mothers of large families are particularly susceptible to creating situations in which these responses are necessary. I *loved* Kim’s story here. It doesn’t require a clever answer – and is often an occasion for humility (!) – and sarcasm probably doesn’t help. Naturally this doesn’t apply *only* to those grocery-store line questions about family size (though these can often be answered with a simple smile and “thank you”). It applies to people whose ideas or political views we disagree with. It applies to people who are being ugly to us! It applies to everyone!

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

The critic without love resembles rather a man who scratches himself all the more furiously, the more fiercely he itches, a process which of course can only result in exacerbating and spreading the inflammation. The great saints were reformers of the Church but they were edifying reformers. Not all great reformers were saints, that is to say those who truly loved; many of them destroyed more than they built up. (quoted in Fr. Thomas Dubay’s Authenticity, I believe it’s St. Catherine of Siena)

Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave. Here we can see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbor which the First Letter of John speaks of with such insistence. If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God. But if in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be ‘devout’ and to perform my ‘religious duties,’ then my relationship with God will also grow arid. It becomes merely ‘proper’, but loveless. (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est)

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

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