Pope Francis, the Synod, and the Dignity of Human Life

01-16-2022From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

“No human being can ever be incompatible with life, not for his age, nor for his health conditions, nor for the quality of his existence.”

Pope Francis spoke those words not long ago. He was speaking of something that we, as Catholics, believe quite deeply – that every human being is sacred, created in the image and likeness of God, and has a God given right to life.

This coming Sat, Jan 22, will be 49th anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, which effectively legalized abortion on demand in our country. The statistics since then are staggering, with well over 54 million abortions since that time. While the number of annual abortions has actually declined in recent years for a number of reasons, the lives of some three quarters of a million unborn babies are ended this way in our country each year. Add to that the fact that so many other lives are shattered by violence, hunger, and neglect and it is clear that we have much work to do.

Because of this, next Sat, Jan 22, is a special Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children in our country. Everyone is asked to say a special prayer that day. Giving up a food you like that day, attending Daily Mass that morning, or doing some act of charity, perhaps for a place that helps mothers and children, such as Catholic Charities or Life Choices, are all good things to do that day. So is sending a message to our congressional representatives about the sacredness of human life.

This Friday, a bus of people from our parish will attend the March for Life. They will join hundreds of thousands of people to tell all the world that we believe in the dignity of human life. Pope Francis put it best, as he often does, saying: “every human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development.”

The Holy Father certainly knows of what he speaks in this regard. While Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he regularly visited and celebrated Mass in some of the poorest slums in the world. He is well aware that some people live very difficult lives, but still believes their lives are precious, sacred, and deserving of our respect and help. The pope also practices what he preaches, not only advocating for the poor and unborn, but also inviting homeless people to lunch at the Vatican, visiting the imprisoned, and taking every opportunity to show his respect for the life of every human being. May we find concrete ways to follow his example, bringing food for the poor, serving at the soup kitchen, visiting elderly relatives, praying near abortion clinics, and going out of our way to show that we truly value every person that God has chosen to create.

Speaking of Pope Francis, many of you have probably heard that he has convoked a Synod. I will dedicate much of next week’s column to explaining just what a Synod is and what part we are being asked to play in it. Suffice it to say that a Synod is a process of prayer and reflection that, God willing, will lead us more deeply into both our personal relationship with Christ and our relationship with each other as members of His Church.

For this to happen, each of us has to enter more deeply into prayer. To help us do this, our parish will host a Forty Hours beginning at the conclusion of the 5:30pm Mass next Sunday. Except during Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in Church from that time until 6:30pm on Tue, Jan 25 roughly forty hours! Everyone is asked to come and spend some quiet time with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament during that time.

Please plan on spending at least an hour or two in prayer during Forty Hours. I can tell you, from my own experience, that doing so is a very powerful experience! More details about Forty Hours can be found on our parish website, and in next weekend’s bulletin. Questions to help you in prayerful reflection will be provided in the pews, and in next week’s bulletin.

Please say a Hail Mary for me today, and every day. I make a point of praying for all of you. It is a pleasure to be your parish priest, and I appreciate all the help that so many of you give me, especially by means of your prayers.

Have a great week!
Fr. John