October is Respect Life Month

10-07-2012Weekly ReflectionDeacon Mike Bachynsky

Dear Parish Family,

I was on vacation last week. We visited my wife's Aunt and Uncle down in South Carolina. They are in the their mid 70's and could be considered "snowbirds" since they return back to their other home in Long Island for part of the year. They made a nice dinner for my wife, son and I (spaghetti, my favorite!). Just before we left, she asked me about the requirements to become an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. I told her that she needed to contact her parish, that the process is usually not a big undertaking, but that most pastors looked for candidates with an active faith life and devotion to the Eucharist, which she has. Later I thought about why she asked me. She said she wanted to help some of the homebound people she knew and of course she knew that I am a deacon. But I wondered why now, why now at this particular time of her life. And this is the question we all need to ask ourselves. How are we called to make a difference? How are we called to come and follow Him?

These questions are very appropriate for us today. Pope Benedict XVI has declared a "Year of Faith" starting this Thursday, October 11th . The date of October 11th has historical significance in the Church. It is the 50 anniversary of the opening of the 2nd Vatican Council and it is the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict proclaimed this "Year of Faith" one year ago on October 11, 2011 in his apostolic letter "Porta Fidei" or "Door of Faith". His first sentence provides each and every one of us with a personal invitation: "The 'door of faith' is always open for us…" In this letter, Pope Benedict reminds us that we cross over this threshold through the door of faith when we are baptized. We are on a life‐long journey in pursuit of our faith. Whether we attend Mass every day or are just returning back to the church after a period away we are all at different points in our faith journey. And Jesus does not discriminate. He invites all of us to continue that journey with Him. To progress in this spiritual journey and to reach a higher plateau, there is one crucial event that must take place. We must open our hearts to the love of Christ. If we do this, He will gather us to Himself and lead us. Then we can follow Him. And as we grow in our faith, we can, through our words and actions, pass on our faith to others…to evangelize those around us. This may sound like a daunting task, but we are called from where we are in our faith journey to progress one step at a time, realizing that we will stumble, but also knowing that Jesus is there to guide us every step of the way.

This first Sunday in October also signals the start of an annual renewal of one specific element of our faith. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has designated the first Sunday in October as Respect Life Sunday and October as Respect Life Month. Forty years ago, the USCCB foresaw the insidious way that the culture of death was becoming pervasive in our society. To combat this, they instituted Respect Life Sunday and Respect Life Month. We are called during October to reflect on the gift of human life and to defend it as part of our faith. Human life is bound by the love of Christ. One example of this is the way the love of Christ extends to the sacrament of marriage. The love of husband and wife, reflective of the love of Christ, the bridegroom, to His Church is culminated in the creation of new life. We hear in Genesis today how God creates woman to be man's companion so they can become one flesh. And in Mark's gospel, Jesus proclaims the sanctity of marriage. This marriage bond is created for the purpose of bringing new life into the world.

Wehave an opportunity to put our faith teaching on the sanctity of life into action this afternoon. There is a Life Chain at the Flemington Circle this afternoon from 2 pm to 3:30 pm. It is an opportunity to remind all the people in our little corner (or maybe circle!) of God's kingdom that every life is treasured.

Yours in Faith, Deacon Mike