“The grandeur and raison d’être of each person are found in God alone. The unconditional acknowledgement of the dignity of every human being, of each one of us, and of the sacredness of human life, is linked to the responsibility which we all have before God.”
(Pope Benedict XVI, quoted in the USCCB’s 2012 Respect Life statement)
I’ve heard that in my grandmother’s day, pious Catholics would trace the sign of the cross over themselves when meeting someone with disabilities, recognizing that they were in the presence of an innocent soul headed straight for heaven. Some may wag their fingers at romanticizing the spirituality of a bygone era, but I believe such a posture shows both the height of Christian loving and the depth of our Holy Faith’s teaching on redemptive suffering.
Respecting life does not always end with a bright-eyed newborn charming away familial disapproval or the pain of an empty crib for adoptive parents. There is not always a happy testimony with a chubby cutie at a sidewalk rally. Sometimes, respecting life means a mother must embrace a child with profound problems and love him or her as God’s little one, as another soul headed straight for heaven. From the USCCB:
“How can people coexist, much less flourish, in a society lacking the shared belief that we are called to care for those unable to care for themselves, not to neglect, abuse, or kill them?”
Babies are killed in utero daily due to sickness and troubles, due to the shock, then embarrassment of parents perceiving that they have created a defective child. And rather than sharing the caring, people wonder (and often despicably speak of) why a woman would give birth to a sick kid and spend life easing their pain and lovingly nurturing the sacred life of another human. Again, from the USCCB:
“The close bonds, commitments, and sacrifices for others, once modeled in families and carried into neighborhoods, civic organizations, and communities, have gradually eroded.”
During this month dedicated to the respect of life, may we actively search out and reach out with the hands of Jesus to families with disabled children. May we be quick to speak up and connect expectant mommies with others in a similar situation. To save lives. To respect life. For the glory of God and His heaven.
Allison is a 40-something mother of seven, living in Alaska, accepted into the Church (together with her husband, thank God) in 2004. She spends her days homeschooling and packaging meat that her menfolk hunt and bring home. She cannot garden to save her life but picks wild blueberries like a champ. She has been published in an edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul and keeps a blog at www.northerncffamily.blogspot.com, writing about living out the Faith with children with cystic fibrosis.