Jan. 22, 2014
By its very nature, love always involves sacrifice. As did other parents, my parents went without in order to provide a loving, secure home for my five siblings and me.
Couples who have been married for decades know both the personal cost and the great rewards of a lifetime of putting the needs of spouse and children ahead of their own. Not only does this mean stretching one’s wallet and pocketbook, most importantly, it means the stretching of our hearts.
My parents never drove a new car and our family never went to Disney World (yes, the place existed back then!).
Certainly, times have changed and things are different today, but, my sisters and brothers and I knew that we were loved and we felt secure, even though we didn’t get everything we wanted.
We thank God for all our spouses and young parents whose lives today reflect such sacrificial love.
As we mark the forty-first Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court abortion decision, Roe v Wade, it is timely that we reflect on the question, “How are we responding to God’s invitation to love sacrificially?” Today, many people fear the thought of going without. This “fear” prompts them to make decisions that minimize the possibility that they will have to encounter any sacrifice in life. Sometimes marriages are at risk because spouses choose not to go without for the sake of the other. Clearly there is the absolute need for responsible parenthood and natural family planning.
However, sometimes parents choose to abort a child in the mother’s womb for fear that they would be unable to provide all the material things that they want their children to have. Unborn children become the tragic casualty of a consumer mentality.
A consequence of such fear of “going without” is that our society as a whole has been going without. We have been going without a sense of marital stability and permanence.
With the fracturing of families, children question the love of parents and are denied the security of that one place to call ‘home.’
Our modern world has been increasingly going without the sound of children’s laughter and the normal commotion that is part and parcel of daily living in a family of several children.
Our children are going without the lessons of what it means to sacrifice and not have everything they want. They are missing the lessons about needing to share with siblings, the lessons of how to play together and get along with sisters and brothers. If I never learn how to sacrifice, how to go without, I will never mature fully into the human person I was created to be.
Our culture has been going without respect for the dignity of every human person, born and pre-born. Many persons today have been going without a sense of the common good.
While so many men, women and children in our world are literally begging for their daily bread, some persons became indignant because their Christmas gifts arrived at their doorsteps a day or two late. Some of us cannot comprehend what it means nor accept going without. God can use our sacrifice, yes, even our suffering, to conform us to His sacrificial love and to show us He is always near us in difficult times.
The Holy Father exhorts us to never cease finding ways to “accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish” (EG,214). For forty years, the pro-life community has promoted the inestimable value of the human dignity of mother, father and child.
In our efforts, we must be careful not to suffer from a pessimism that stifles boldness and zeal when we seek to continue to advance the Good News to a culture that too often seems deaf to the message. Pope Francis reminds us that “Christian triumph is always a cross, yet a cross which is at the same time a victorious banner borne with aggressive tenderness against the assaults of evil” (EG,85). The Holy Father urges us to “go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the ‘peripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel” (EG,20).
Today’s culture, more than ever, needs the light of the Gospel in promoting human life. A culture that tells us we can have it all without meaningful sacrifice is a culture that misleads. No sacrifice breeds a culture of death.
How are we responding to God’s invitation to love sacrificially? Our response is a lifetime endeavor of following Him who has shown us how to risk loving selflessly. Our grace-filled mission to promote life continues today as we stretch and open our hearts to life.