The Pastor's Corner 093012

posted Sep 27, 2012, 2:54 PM by Music Director

Autumn, a favorite of many, has officially arrived!  The air has gotten noticeably cooler.  Leaves are beginning to change and hopefully will soon be ablaze with color. Cornstalks, mums, pumpkins and gourds already decorate homes, shops, schools, and even churches as we celebrate the arrival of the harvest season. 

               It’s a nice coincidence that we observe the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi early in the first full month of autumn (Oct.4).  We see in St. Francis one who’s love for nature was so great that he is often referred to as the First Environmentalist; his love for animals so legendary that his image is almost always depicted surrounded by our furry and feathered friends.  This is why it is traditional to bless farm animals and pets on his feast day, as we will here at St. Charles this Thursday at 6PM in the Prayer Garden near his statue. 

Unfortunately, what gets lost in this aspect of Francis’ character is how he turned his life completely around; how he went from being a vain, worldly and fabulously wealthy, aristocratic soldier of fortune, to giving up his titles and position, handing over all his wealth for the care of the poor and needy, and placing himself squarely in their service in the name of Jesus Christ, founding a community of brothers to share in this work.  From this sprang many other communities, male and female, who call themselves “Franciscan” and to this day continue to fulfill Francis’ vision and mission.

Given autumn’s association with the harvest that sustains life, magnified by Francis’ love for and service to it, is it any wonder that October is a month we are particularly called to reflect on the sacred gift of life and the need to respect, uphold, promote and defend it.  This begins with the first Sunday of October, designated by the Church as Respect Life Sunday.”  Please don’t make the mistake of associating this theme solely with the movement to end abortion.  Abortion is one of the gravest evils we are capable of committing because it is an attack on human life at its earliest, most innocent and defenseless stage; a despicable crime against humanity.  But it is not the only grave evil, and so respect for life goes beyond abortion. 

As Christians, we are called to have a profound respect for all life just as Francis did; to pledge ourselves to promote, uphold and defend it as a gift from God which no one has the right to take from anyone, regardless of that person’s condition or state of development.  Whether we are talking about an unborn child or a person who has grown old; a friend or an enemy; the healthy, the sick, or even the terminally ill; the innocent or the guilty, we must respect the other’s right to live if we want to call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ. 

War, capital punishment, euthanasia, poverty, discrimination, pollution - of the human body as well as the natural environment that sustains it - are all evil and crimes against life. None of these can have a place in the Christian heart because they threaten to destroy life and the dignity of those to whom it has been given by our Creator Himself.  The late archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, once referred to life issues as “a seamless garment,” unable to be separated from each other.  Bravo!  We cannot be against one while ignoring another.

To put an end to these evils wherever they exist can only be accomplished by attacking their root cause:  poverty, ignorance, greed, jealousy, fear, lust and every other form of selfishness - in other words, sin.  Respect for life must be rooted in each person’s heart, beginning with our own.  It must be taught to our young and advocated whenever, wherever it comes up in conversation.

               Since October is also dedicated by the Church to the Rosary, perhaps we can all commit ourselves to praying a decade or more each day of the month for an end to all that threatens life.  What better way to demonstrate our love for Mary, Mother of the Author of Life, than to pray this special prayer in support of the gift of life? 

We can also join pro-life rallies when and where they assemble.  We can write letters to local newspapers in support of life.  We can petition our local, state, and federal leaders to support legislation that protects life, lobby them to appoint pro-life justices to our courts, & let them know that we will use the power of the ballot to support pro-life candidates for political office.  We can utilize social media and “blog” or “face book” for life.  We can donate time, talent and treasure to pro-life institutions and support parish pro-life activities, including our “Baby Shower Tree.” 

In these and many other ways may we be true to the Spirit we have been given from God the Creator, the Lord of the Harvest, the Giver of life. 


In His Love,

Fr. Mike