How to Build a Culture of Life

Reprinted [Excerpted] from Respect Life Program, copyright © 2017, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

The Problem

Watching the news and reading the headlines, we may feel helpless seeing the heartbreaking lack of respect for human life. How do we respond when our efforts seem small in the face of the culture of death?

Our Christian Identity

To understand more fully how to defend and protect human life, we must first consider who we are, at the deepest level. God creates us in his image and likeness, which means we are made to be in loving relationship with him. The essence of our identity and worth, the source of our dignity, is that we are loved by God: “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”[1]

We are called to divine intimacy, true communion with God, and we can grow in this closeness with him through daily prayer, reading the Scriptures, and frequent participation in the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist.

Our Mission as Christians

The knowledge and realization of how deeply we are loved by God elicits a response of love that simultaneously draws us closer to God and, at the same time, impels us to share his love with others.

Embracing a relationship with God means following in his footsteps, wherever he may call. Just as Jesus invited St. Peter and St. Andrew to become his disciples, he invites us to do the same: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

Being a disciple of Jesus naturally includes sharing the Gospel with others and inviting them into a deeper relationship with God. As Christians, our identity and our mission are two sides of the same coin; like the apostles, we are called to be missionary disciples.

Missionary Discipleship

This doesn’t necessarily mean quitting our jobs or moving to foreign countries. For most of us, our mission field is daily life: “Christ teaches us how to evangelize, how to invite people into communion with him, and how to create a culture of witness: namely, through love. A Christian life lived with charity and faith is the most effective form of evangelization.”[2]

The first step towards living this life is allowing Jesus to meet and transform us daily. If we respond to his grace, our lives will show we have something beyond what the world offers: we follow a person whose love changes our lives, so we want others to also experience his transforming love.

When we live in union with God, open to his prompting, we’re more able to see the opportunities for witness and his guidance in responding to these opportunities. We may fear doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing, but we do not need to be afraid. Jesus promised his disciples, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Identity Crisis

As a society and as individuals, we often measure ourselves by false standards: by what and how much we do, our successes or failures, how others treat us, the degree of our pleasure or independence, etc. And when these changeable substitutes prove to be insufficient, or when we are faced with challenges and suffering, we may feel helpless, alone, or abandoned; we may be tempted to feel as though our lives have decreased value or worth.

But God’s love—individual, real, unchanging—is the true source of our worth, identity, and dignity. It really is not a question of who we are, but rather whose we are. Because his love will never change, nothing can reduce our God-given dignity, and nothing can diminish the immeasurable worth of our lives.

Our Response

When someone is facing great trials, we need to meet them where they are, walk with them on their journey, intercede for them, and be open to sharing Christ’s love however he directs.

When a woman becomes pregnant, and her boyfriend threatens to leave if she continues the pregnancy, we need to lovingly walk with her. When family members or friends become seriously ill, we need to assure them that God still offers them something in this life, and they still have purpose. We need to consistently be with them every step of the way.

Sometimes our actions speak for themselves; other times, words are needed. Whatever the situation, Jesus knows how to speak to each person’s heart; we simply need to follow where he leads.

A Culture of Life

This is how we answer our missionary call. This is how we build a culture of life, a culture that joyfully proclaims the truth of God’s love, purpose, and plan for each person. Changing the culture is a process of conversion that begins in our own hearts and includes a willingness to be instructed and a desire to be close to Jesus—the source of joy and love.

When we encounter Christ, experience his love, and deepen our relationship with him, we become more aware of our own worth and that of others. His love for each person is cause for great joy, and growing understanding of this priceless treasure motivates us to share his love with others. Our lives are often changed by the witness of others; so too, others’ lives may be changed by our witness and authentic friendship with them.

Let us go, therefore, and not be afraid. God is always with us.

[1] John Paul II, Homily, 17th World Youth Day, Downsview Park, Toronto, July 28, 2002.
[2] USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization. Copyright © 2012, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from “Homily of the Holy Father John Paul II” © 2002, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Toll-free order number: (866) 582-0943 | FREE Downloads: www.usccb.org/respectlife

Reprinted [Excerpted] from Respect Life Program, copyright © 2017, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

September – The Month Dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows

The month of September is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. She suffered such anguish when she watched her Son’s passion and death (Luke 2:35). When Our Lord, while dying, gives John the Disciple (symbolically the Church) to His mother, so that we may have her aid.

In the words of St. Therese of Lisieux, “She has given us so many proofs that she cares for us like a mother.”

Background 

Our Lady of Sorrows (Latin: Beata Maria Virgo Perdolens), Our Lady of Dolours, the Sorrowful Mother or Mother of Sorrows (Latin: Mater Dolorosa), and Our Lady of Piety, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows or Our Lady of the Seven Dolours are names by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to in relation to sorrows in her life. As Mater Dolorosa, it is also a key subject for Marian art in the Catholic Church.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are a popular Roman Catholic devotion. In Catholic, the Blessed Virgin Mary is portrayed in a sorrowful and lacrimating affect, with seven daggers piercing her heart, often bleeding. Devotional prayers that consist of meditation began to elaborate on her Seven Sorrows based on the prophecy of Simeon “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also….” (Luke 2:35). Common examples of piety under this title are Servite rosary, or the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady and the Seven Joys of Mary and more recently, “Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary”.

The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is liturgically celebrated every 15 of September.

The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows grew in popularity in the 12th century, although under various titles. Some writings would place its roots in the eleventh century, especially among the Benedictine monks. The first altar to the Mater Dolorosa was set up in 1221 at the Cistercian monastery of Schönau.

The formal feast of the Our Lady of Sorrows was originated by a provincial synod of Cologne in 1423. It was designated for the Friday after the third Sunday after Easter and had the title: Commemoratio angustiae et doloris B. Mariae V. Its object was the sorrow of Mary during the Crucifixion and Death of Christ. Before the sixteenth century this feast was limited to the dioceses of North Germany, Scandinavia, and Scotland.

According to Fr. William Saunders, “… in 1482, the feast was officially placed in the Roman Missal under the title of Our Lady of Compassion, highlighting the great love our Blessed Mother displayed in suffering with her Son. The word compassion derives from the Latin roots cum and patior which means “to suffer with”.

Devotions to Our Lady of Sorrows

Prayers for the Sorrowful Mother
Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows
Graces and Promises
Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows

Join Us In Prayer

As we look for new ways to stay connected and pray together, we have transitioned to celebrating the Mass via our parish YouTube channel.

If you are on Facebook, be sure to like our parish page, www.facebook.com/St.MaryLourdes, in order to have the most up to date parish information.

The daily rosary and Mass is also streamed live on our YouTube channel. Click here to subscribe to our channel.

The link for the YouTube live stream of the daily and weekend Masses will also be posted on our Facebook page approximately 15 minutes before the rosary begins.

Our current schedule for daily and weekend Masses and drive through distribution of Holy Communion is:

Monday – Friday: 11:45am Rosary followed by the Mass at Noon

Saturday Vigil: 4:15pm Rosary followed by the Vigil Mass at 4:30pm
Sunday:  7:45am Rosary followed by the Sunday Mass at 8am
10:15am Rosary followed by the Sunday Mass at 10:30am

Drive Through Distribution of Holy Communion (at lower hall entrance):
Saturday evening: 5:30pm – 5:45pm
Sunday morning: 11:30am – 11:45am