by Ed Harpring
As we enter into Respect Life Month, (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops set aside the month of October to call attention to the dignity of human life) the urgency is greater than ever for Catholics to become even more engaged in becoming a voice for the voiceless. The theme for this year is “Be Not Afraid” and has timely significance with the 100th anniversary of the final Apparition of Fatima and the “Miracle of the Sun” witnessed by 70,000 spectators in Fatima Portugal on October 13, 1917.
As Mother Mary revealed to Lucia in Fatima, “Look, my daughter, at my Heart encircled with thorns, with which ungrateful men wound it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude.” Certainly, in our day and time, we have been deluged with seemingly unending inhumane offenses to our fellow man including abortion on demand, ever increasing euthanasia, human trafficking, suicide, religious persecution and eroding rights of those with disabilities. Recently, Pope Francis has called attention to another major human rights issue – the unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world who have been forced from their homes due to persecution, wars, and natural disasters. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. Entitled “Share the Journey” the new campaign is focused on providing practical ways for Catholics to break down barriers of fear and build bridges with migrants and refugees.
“Man’s inhumanity to man” and disregard for God’s natural law were referenced by Our Blessed Mother in the messages to the 3 children in Fatima. We know that Our Lady of Fatima’s descriptions of evil in the world are all too real. The battle between good and evil is raging. Sister Lucia related before her death in 2005 that “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” Family and marriage is under attack like never before.
St. John Paul II in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, who attributes Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life from the attempted assassination in 1981 said, “we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the “culture of death” and the “culture of life.”
Despite these unsettling examples of disrespect for human life, Our Lady of Fatima provides her tender motherly solace through her Immaculate Heart. “In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Similarly, Respect Life Month echoes this theme to “be not afraid” and to courageously stand up for Life. Christ calls us to see the face of God in everyone, for as Christians, there is no other view. The dignity of every human being must be upheld – even when this positions us in direct opposition to secular cultural norms.
Respect Life Month in the Archdiocese of Louisville provides opportunities to learn, advocate, and get involved with a variety of Life-affirming ministries and events during the month of October. The following is a list of many of those events:
Family Life and Disabilities – Tue., October 17; St. Patrick Parish (6:30 – 9:00 pm)
Keynote speaker, Jeff Wright, father, teacher, family man, (as featured on the TODAY Show), is sure to inspire with his family’s story and his special son Adam. For more information, please call the parish at 502-244-6083.
A Catholic Perspective-Understanding & Preparing for End of Life Decisions – Mon, Oct 23 – St. Agnes (7 pm – 9 pm)
Topics covered will be include End-of Life Ethics, Advance Directives, Health Care Proxy, Extraordinary vs. Ordinary Care and first-hand end of life experiences from a panel of experts including:
- Fr. Patrick Dolan (STL in medical ethics & STD in Moral Theology from Angelicum University in Rome)
- Mike Ahrens, Member of St. Albert the Great Parish, retired Director of Mission & Values Integration at
KentuckyOne Health. Served on the medical ethics committees of several area hospitals.
- Emily Monarch, Attorney, Elder Law Solutions, who helps clients answer the tough questions that families
face when confronted with age, disability, or chronic illness.
Persecuted Christians & Refugee Crisis – Education, Prayer and Advocacy – Fri. Oct. 27 – St. Peter the Apostle
Doors open 6:00 pm, Dinner at 6:30 pm, $10 per person. You must have prepaid reservation – call: 502-937-5920
A 30 minute documentary, available in Spanish & English, shows how ordinary people have coped with desperate situations with courage and hope. A panel will give comments from their perspective:
- Fr. Deogratias will speak of persecution occurring in Kenya.
- Francisco Casal Matea, a medical doctor in Venezuela will speak of how his family fled the country.
- Ed Harpring, Coordinator of Pro-Life Ministries will comment on this topic as a Life Issue.