UP Catholic 10 06 2017 E Edition Page 22

22 October 6, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC RESPECT LIFE www.upcatholic.org October has been set aside nationally as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month." Across the United States, hundreds of parents will remember babies who were gone too soon. Come join us at the Rachel's Garden Miscarriage Memorial at Holy Cross and remember all those tiny lives that we will never forget. All families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss are invited to the memorial service, no matter how long it has been since the loss of their child. Sunday, October 15th (Rain or shine) 7:00pm Holy Cross Cemetery 1400 Wright Street Marquette, MI 49855 Info call: 906-225-0191 There is no footprint too small that it can't leave an imprint in this world." No matter the length, every child's life leaves an impression on a parent's heart. If you would like to have a free personalized candle ready for you at the memorial service, E-mail: rachelsgarden@ dioceseofmarquette.org Come...share...remember the life of your child. A place of memorial and burial for babies lost to miscarriage. RACHEL'S GARDEN How to build a culture of life The Catholic Church observes each October as Respect Life Month. Below is one of the articles the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has put together on respect life issues. Addition- al resources are available at www.usccb.org/ respectlife. THE PROBLEM Watching the news and reading the headlines, we may feel helpless seeing the heartbreaking lack of respect for human life. How do we re- spond when our efforts seem small in the face of the culture of death? OUR CHRISTIAN IDENTITY To understand more fully how to defend and protect human life, we must first consider who we are, at the deepest level. God creates us in his image and likeness, which means we are made to be in a loving relationship with him. The essence of our identity and worth, the source of our dignity, is that we are loved by God: We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Fathers love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son. We are called to divine intimacy, true commu- nion with God, and we can grow in this closeness with him through daily prayer, reading the Scrip- tures, and frequent participation in the sacra- ments, especially Confession and the Eucharist. OUR MISSION AS CHRISTIANS The knowledge and realization of how deeply we are loved by God elicits a response of love that simultaneously draws us closer to God and, at the same time, impels us to share his love with others. Embracing a relationship with God means following in his footsteps, wherever he may call. Just as Jesus invited St. Peter and St. Andrew to become his disciples, he invites us to do the same: Come after me, and I will make you fish- ers of men (Matthew 4:19). Being a disciple of Jesus naturally includes sharing the Gospel with others and inviting them into a deeper relationship with God. As Chris- tians, our identity and our mission are two sides of the same coin; like the apostles, we are called to be missionary disciples. MISSIONARY DISCIPLESHIP This doesnt necessarily mean quitting our jobs or moving to foreign countries. For most of us, our mission field is daily life: Christ teaches us how to evangelize, how to invite people into communion with him, and how to create a cul- ture of witness: namely, through love. A Chris- tian life lived with charity and faith is the most effective form of evangelization. The first step towards living this life is allow- ing Jesus to meet and transform us daily. If we respond to his grace, our lives will show we have something beyond what the world offers: we follow a person whose love changes our lives, so we want others to also experience his transform- ing love. When we live in union with God, open to his prompting, were more able to see the opportu- nities for witness and his guidance in responding to these opportunities. We may fear doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing, but we do not need to be afraid. Jesus promised his disci- ples, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). IDENTITY CRISIS As a society and as individuals, we often measure ourselves by false standards: by what and how much we do, our successes or failures, how others treat us, the degree of our pleasure or independence, etc. And when these changeable substitutesprovetobeinsicient,orwhenwe are faced with challenges and suffering, we may feel helpless, alone, or abandoned; we may be tempted to feel as though our lives have de- creased value or worth. But Gods loveindividual, real, unchang- ingis the true source of our worth, identity, and dignity. It really is not a question of who we are, but rather whose we are. Because his love will never change, nothing can reduce our God-given dignity, and nothing can diminish the immea- surable worth of our lives. OUR RESPONSE When someone is facing great trials, we need to meet them where they are, walk with them on their journey, intercede for them, and be open to sharing Christs love however he directs. When a woman becomes pregnant, and her boyfriend threatens to leave if she continues the pregnancy, we need to lovingly walk with her. When family members or friends become seri- ously ill, we need to assure them that God still offers them something in this life, and they still have purpose. We need to consistently be with them every step of the way. Sometimes our actions speak for themselves; other times, words are needed. Whatever the situation, Jesus knows how to speak to each persons heart; we simply need to follow where he leads. A CULTURE OF LIFE This is how we answer our missionary call. This is how we build a culture of life, a culture that joyfully proclaims the truth of Gods love, purpose, and plan for each person. Changing the culture is a process of conversion that begins in our own hearts and includes a willingness to be instructed and a desire to be close to Jesusthe source of joy and love. When we encounter Christ, experience his love, and deepen our relationship with him, we become more aware of our own worth and that of others. His love for each person is cause for great joy, and growing understanding of this priceless treasure motivates us to share his love with others. Our lives are often changed by the witness of others; so too, others lives may be changed by our witness and authentic friendship with them. Let us go, therefore, and not be afraid. God is always with us. Reprinted from Respect Life Program, copy- right 2017, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. Blessing of a child in the womb God, author of all life, bless, we pray, this unborn child; give constant protection and grant a healthy birth that is the sign of our rebirth one day into the eternal rejoicing of heaven... ~ excerpt from the Prayer of Blessing Courtesy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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