Day for Life is the day dedicated by the Catholic Church to raise awareness on the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. This year we celebrate the Day for Life on Sunday, 4 October, with the specific theme of ‘Choose Life‘. The Church has always cherished the value of life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. It is a value which the Church upholds, no matter how civil society may consider or legislate otherwise. It is also the day when the SMA marks its commitment to upholding the principles and practices of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland [NBSCCCI].
Twenty-five years ago, Saint John Paul II issued an Encyclical – The Gospel of Life – in which he wrote that “the Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as ‘good news’ to the people of every age and culture.”
October is Mission Month. Pope Francis speaks of the Church as a missionary people “of life and for life,” which ever seeks to lead all humanity to the fullness of life in Christ, who is himself, “the way, the truth and the life” [John 14:6]. From its inception, the SMA has sought to realise this vision, but the challenges now facing us today in this mission is greater than ever.
Over recent months, as the Holy Father’s blessing highlights, the coronavirus pandemic has left a trail of sickness and death across the world. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, which arose during these months too, bears witness to a different sort of pandemic: a violent one that has deep roots in the human heart, that leads to poverty and war and that results in immense suffering across the world, not least in Africa where SMA members work continue to bear witness to the Gospel of life in every facet of their work. Pope Francis urges all believers to recommit to the moral imperative of promoting “a ‘culture of life’.
The readings for the Mass on the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time [4 October] offer valuable insights to develop these insights further. The first reading [Isaiah 5:1-7] and the Gospel [Matthew 21:33-43] offer insights into the ‘pandemic’ of violence and injustice that claims an enormous number of victims throughout the world. The Gospel parable reminds us that Jesus himself endured such violence, but in so doing he broke its stranglehold and made possible a new way of life grounded on the gifts of God which God freely offers to all.
The fruits of that new way of life are indicated very clearly in the second reading [Philippians 4:6-9], “… fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise….” With these words, St Paul points to the missionary ideal that also underpins the work of safeguarding, the fundamental thrust of which is to enhance the life of every person, so that all may grow in the knowledge and love of God and thus finds the fulfilment promised by Christ.
In his Message for this Day, Pope Francis asks for prayers for all those families, volunteers and healthcare professionals committed, often heroically, to the care and healing of the suffering, and for all those who, amid the continuing “pandemic” of poverty and war, work to uphold the God-given value and dignity of every human person.
To access the SMA Safeguarding policy etc. please click here.