After celebrating the Gospel of Life, we are called to live it

As part of its Year of Faith commemoration, the Vatican focused on the dignity of life June 15-16 by hosting a pilgrimage organized around Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”). The event, which included a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis, offered an opportunity for communal witness to the sacredness of all life.

In his homily, Pope Francis said that it is only through Jesus that we can find the life of God, and that “the Holy Spirit gives and keeps us in our new life as true sons and daughters of God.”

But then the pope dug a little deeper — with words that, if we’re honest, relate to all of us in one way or another, no matter how pro-life we think we may be.

“All too often, people do not choose life; they do not accept the ‘Gospel of Life,’ but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life,” he said. “They are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. It is the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God’s life and love — a new Tower of Babel. It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfillment. As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.”

Powerful words with a powerful challenge.

As Catholics, life is at the very center of what we hold sacred. That is why, especially during this second annual Fortnight for Freedom that runs through July 4, we work so hard to advocate for the protection of our religious liberty. That’s why we balk at contraceptive drugs being available to purchase by anyone without oversight or age limit (Pages 4, 19). That’s why we strive, at all costs, to protect our children in the age of the Internet (Page 5).

Dangers lurk around every corner and, as Russell Shaw outlines in his new book, have crept into the American Church (Pages 14-15).

A microcosm of how to combat some of these dangers can be found in the form of two priests in North Dakota. Fathers Russ Kovash and Brian Gross are ministering to the very specific needs of “boomtown territories.” In addition to the work they do in their parishes, the two men reach out to these transient workers and their families, administering the sacraments and simply making themselves available.

“We are personally responding to charity as opposed to responding just out of duty,” Father Gross said.

The story (Page 6) is a beautiful one of two men fulfilling a very specific need — and of finding dignity in the lives of all. Pope Francis would be proud.

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