Segment Nine. Living the Gospel of Life in Ordinary Daily Life (86):
Overview: John Paul tells us that the spirituality of the Gospel of Life is based on self-giving love in the everyday experiences of daily life. This “everyday heroism” is grounded in prayer and involves a sharing in the mystery of the Cross. Especially in our materialistic culture, we need to emphasize “being” over “having” in order to understand and live out this call to love.
Abortion. War. Capital Punishment. Poverty. Euthanasia. The many varied aspects of the Gospel of Life seem overwhelming in their complexity. They are the subject of national and international debate among heads of state, scientists, legislators and jurors. John Paul was an actor on the stage of world politics and decision-making. Yet, when he writes about “the most solemn celebration of the Gospel of life” (86), this celebration does not take place in a cathedral or in the halls of Congress or the United Nations. Rather, it takes place in what he calls the “heroic actions” of daily living.
It happens, he writes, in “the many different acts of selfless generosity, often humble and hidden, carried out by men and women, children and adults, the young and the old, the healthy and the sick”. In this context, “so humanly rich and filled with love”, they are “the radiant manifestation of the highest degree of love”, a “sharing of the mystery of the Cross.”
John Paul calls us all to adopt a “new life style” (98) based on “the primacy of being over having ( Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 35; Paul VI Encyclical, Populorum Progressio, 15) and of persons over things” (Letter to Families Gratissimam Sane, February 2, 1994, 13)
So much of the good that is done in the pro-life movement is accomplished by ordinary people making self-giving sacrifices in their everyday lives. At the Pro Life Office, we are blessed to witness so many examples of good people helping out in sometimes small, but always important ways. Last year, for example, more than 80 parishes and Catholic organizations sponsored “Baby Showers” to support the clients of our Pregnancy Help crisis pregnancy center. Beautiful baby items are purchased. Others are hand-made, some of them by elderly “knitters for life”. School children use their allowance to buy a teething ring or a pair of baby socks and so learn at an early age the importance of giving. Volunteers sort and organize countless bags of baby clothes so mothers can receive a beautiful layette in anticipation of their baby’s birth. Those with cars will fill them up with items donated at a parish and drive them to the office in Natick where they cheerfully help carry them up and down stairs. Others use their talents in building websites or analyzing data for an annual report. Therapists and spiritual directors volunteer their professional time to assist at Project Rachel retreats. Other volunteers cook and clean to make a retreat possible. The homebound will offer their prayers for a woman considering abortion and for the well-being of her baby. One woman last year told us she was offering the pain from her cancer treatments for the success of the pro-life work of the Archdiocese.
Being over having. Persons over things. Self -giving love in everyday life. In short, that is the Gospel of Life.
Gospel of Life (86,98)
Any of the writings of Mother Theresa. One excellent compilation is In My Own Words: Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, (compiled and translated by Joe Luis Gonzalez-Balado, 1999) available from Liguori Publications.1-800-325-9521.
Questions to Consider:
- How can we detach ourselves from the materialism of our society? How can parents instill in their children a desire to value persons over things?
- In general, do we as a society and a church, make an effort to recognize the importance of prayers and small acts of selfless love, especially among the homebound and terminally ill? How are these acts connected to the Cross of Christ?
- How can discouragement over the lack of political and social acceptance of the values of the Gospel of Life negatively impact our spirituality?