Every Life is Worth Living is the theme of this year’s annual program from the United States Bishops for Respect Life ministries throughout the U.S.

The program is a call to prayer and action to respect all human life — particularly the weakest and most vulnerable. The challenge is in how we regard human life and how we decide to treat one another.

How do we regard unborn human life? As an embryo, a fetus, a being unworthy of protection or rights? Or do we regard unborn human life as a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable gift given by God? How we think about unborn life makes all the difference in how we treat the unborn.

How about those living with a disability?  Do we consider them as precious gifts, able to teach us great lessons in love? Or do we consider them a burden to their families and society? How we think about people with disabilities makes all the difference in how we treat people with disabilities.

How about the ill or elderly? Do we think about the ill and elderly as a drain on medical resources? Or as people not useful to society? Or do we see them as having eternal value with opportunities for grace surrounding them? How we think about the ill and elderly makes all the difference in how we treat the ill and elderly.

The same can be said for the poor, for immigrants, for those who suffer domestic violence or the horror of human trafficking.  The same can be said for members of our own families! Because they all have one thing in common. They are all human.  The way we think about human life makes all the difference in the way we treat one another.

Respecting life means walking together on the journey. It means being unafraid to encourage one another and commit to one another — through difficult times and joyful times.

Pope Francis has shown us beautiful examples of this. He’s kissed babies, hugged those with disabilities, encouraged a beautiful young teenager to be courageous and sing to him. He’s showing us what it means to regard people as individual gifts and to treasure them in that way. He’s showing us that walking closely with Christ and being nourished by the Sacraments will give us strength, grace, and bountiful love and mercy to enable us to walk with others on their journeys.

Will it always be easy? Most definitely, not. Will it show us that God has a plan for each of us and that every life is worth living? Infinitely, yes.

Below is a prayer from the Respect Life program. I encourage you to pray it and offer it as an acknowledgement of the gift of life.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the precious gift of life.

Help us to cherish and protect this gift, even in the midst of fear, pain, and suffering.

Give us love for all people, especially the most vulnerable, and help us bear witness to the truth that every life is worth living.

Grant us the humility to accept help when we are in need, and teach us to be merciful to all.

Through our words and actions, may others encounter the outstretched hands of Your mercy.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For a copy of this year’s Respect Life program, visit www.usccb.org/respectlife.

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