October 5, 2014
"Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor are masterpieces of God's creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” Pope Francis, July 17, 2013.
Every year the Catholic Church celebrates the month of October as Respect Life month. The quotation above from Pope Francis reminds all of us of the continuing and urgent need for each of us to do what we can to protect life, especially the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Human life, beginning at the moment of conception, must be protected. Human life, well into the trials of old age, must be respected and protected as well. Pope Francis reminds us that we are made in the image of God. As such we are “masterpieces” of God’s work. If I am a masterpiece of God that means that my brothers and sisters are also masterpieces of God; to be cherished and loved and respected. This is an incredibly lofty ideal for us. It means nothing less than a constant and total reordering of our lives, a constant conversion of life in order that we make room for others. To do this successfully, it means that we must first make room for God in our lives. God will then help us to make room for one another.
St. Benedict, in his Rule for Monks, does not use direct words in regard to our obligation to protect and nourish life. Nevertheless, he is very clear in that this is a high priority for the monks. Consider for a moment the following selections from his Rule:
- “You must relieve the lot of the poor. Clothe the naked, visit the sick, and bury the dead. Go to help the troubled and console the sorrowing.” (Chapter 4,14-19)
- “Respect the elders and love the young.” (Chapter 4, 70)
- “The abbot must exercise the utmost care and concern for wayward brothers.”(27,1)
- “The brothers should serve one another.” (35,1)
- “Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ.” (36,1)
- “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.” (53, 1)
- “They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another. No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.” (72, 4-7)
This is only a small sampling of St. Benedict’s deep concern for respect for life.
I invite you to join the monks of Marmion Abbey during this Respect for Life month to pray for the unborn, the poor, the elderly, the young and for all human life; and to do something concrete for the protection of human life.
God’s Blessings to You,
Abbot John Brahill, O.S. B ‘67