St. Francis, Human Life, and Conscience Formation

10-04-2020From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John Barbella

Today (Sunday) is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Accordingly, Fr. Pat Boyle, OFM, will lead The Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis today (Sunday) at 12:30 PM. Everyone is welcome to bring their pets (or other animals) to the parking lot next to Mercy Hall for the blessing. As Catholics, we ask God’s blessing upon our animals as a way of thanking Him for them, acknowledging the special role they play in creation, and asking Him to protect them. I always enjoy seeing people and their pets at this brief ceremony.

The love that St. Francis of Assisi had for animals grew out of his love and respect for all of God’s creation and creatures. St. Francis showed that love most especially by the way he treated all the people he met. He freely associated with the poor, and did what he could to alleviate their sufferings. He bathed, fed, and nursed lepers. St. Francis believed that each human person was a child of God who deserved the respect, love, and protection of every other person.

It is fitting that we remember St. Francis on this Respect Life Sunday. On this day, the Church calls each of us to remember what St. Francis believed about human life: that it is a precious gift that should be cherished, respected, and cared for. From the cutest little baby to the most infirm person. From the unborn child in the womb, to the terminally ill. From our own friends and family, to immigrants and people around the globe.

There will be a Life Chain this afternoon on South Main Street at 2 PM. I hope you will consider standing along the sidewalk with us and praying for an increased respect for God’s gift of human life around the world. We will be well spaced out!

The issue of respect for human life will certainly play a part in the upcoming elections. With that in mind, we will be including inserts from a document called Faithful Citizenship. This document, issued by the Conference of Catholic Bishops, does not endorse any specific candidate. Rather, it challenges people to vote with a properly formed conscience.

I’m going to quote a bit from a very good speech on this matter that was recently given by the Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans. “A well-formed conscience is formed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit through prayer, Scripture, and reflecting and informing oneself about the moral teachings of the Catholic Church as guided by ‘Faithful citizenship.’ It is our responsibility as disciples of Jesus to look carefully at the platform of each candidate and compare these principles to the teaching of Christ and the Church.”

“There are many moral and social issues we must be aware of to form our conscience and decide how to vote. The issues of public policy concern for Catholics are listed below. Abortion and euthanasia are identified in the document as being preeminent issues because it is upon the protection and sanctity of human life within the family unit that all other life issues are built. This does not mean we can dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity or caring for the vulnerable among us, but we must stand firm on issues that directly attack life itself. We emphasize the need to respect all human life regardless of race, religion, cultural or social differences.”

“Issues of public policy concern or Catholics include:

  • Address the preeminent requirement to protect human life.
  • Protect the fundamental understanding of marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman.
  • Achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Help families and children overcome poverty and ensure access to education.
  • Ensure full conscience protection and religious freedom. 
  • Provide health care that respects human life and dignity.
  • Oppose unjust discrimination. 
  • Establish and comply with moral limits on military force.
  • Pursue peace, protect human rights and liberty, and advance economic justice and care for creation.”

That’s alot to take in, but I think it is worth considering and praying about! While you’re at it, please say a prayer for me–at least a Hail Mary a day. Let’s also pray for an end to this pandemic, and for all the sick. Finally, let’s pray for peace–especially by means of the Rosary. October is the month of the Holy Rosary–the traditional prayer for peace.

Have a great week!

Fr. John