By Lisa Hall | Director, Office of Family/Respect Life Ministry

Cherished. Chosen. Sent.

These are the words used in the 2018-19 Respect Life program from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Visit usccb.org to find prayer petitions, articles, and images relating to Respect Life month.)

October 7 is Respect Life Sunday, the beginning of a month devoted to even greater awareness of the inherent value and dignity of human life.

How do we devote ourselves more fully to celebrating life? First, we recognize that God created each one of us. God cherishes us and has a plan and purpose for every human life, no matter how long or short that life is. I have a friend who beautifully describes her vision of what happens at the moment a new human being is created. She says it’s like the Pirates of the Caribbean movie when Elizabeth’s gold coin goes over the side of the Black Pearl and hits the ocean. The shock waves reverberate throughout time and space. My friend says she thinks that when new souls are created, the shock waves reverberate throughout the Heavens and the earth. That all eternity is changed. And it is.

Second, we recognize that we are chosen. God chooses and loves us into being. This is an important revelation. Our lives are not an accident. God chooses us on purpose. Jesus died for us on purpose. The Holy Spirit was sent to us on purpose. God chose and created every single human being. On purpose. What is the loving response to being chosen? Choosing to love in return. For us, as Catholics, we choose to be baptized, receive First Communion, and to be Confirmed. Through this initiation, we choose to be disciples. We choose to allow God into our lives and to model our lives on Jesus. We choose to pray, partake in the sacraments, and do our best to open our lives to God. We are not perfect, but we are chosen.

Finally, we recognize that we are sent. Our authentic discipleship requires that we step out in faith to help others experience being cherished and chosen. To invite others to know God’s goodness and to know that Jesus died for us to have life everlasting. Lives that are abundant and full. Maybe your being sent includes praying in front of Planned Parenthood or helping mothers to choose life through supporting a pregnancy care center in your area. Maybe your being sent includes serving the poor or the immigrant. Maybe your being sent includes helping the ill or elderly. Maybe it’s praying every day that life is held in greater esteem. Maybe it’s being sure to vote in the upcoming elections to try to install or uphold policies that protect the vulnerable. Whatever call God has placed on your heart to help value and protect life, do it!

Let this Respect Life month be a time where we renew our commitment to protecting and defending the goodness of human life, regardless of stage or station. We are cherished, chosen, and sent. Let’s do all we can to help those around us know the same.