Hope in The Lord — Three Teresas and the cause of human life

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz

We can learn so much from the saints about respect for human life. On Sept. 5, we celebrated the feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta, who sought out the poorest and the most forgotten human beings on the streets of Kolkata and always treated them with tenderness.

I cannot help but believe that her witness, along with St. Francis of Assisi, was on the mind of Pope Francis as he penned his recent encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” (which can be translated as brothers and sisters all) in which he promotes beautifully social friendship in our common home at a time in which the pandemic and other issues divide us. “It is my desire that, in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Brotherhood between all men and women.” (N8)

St. Teresa of Calcutta stands boldly as one who cut through divisions with God’s grace and a profound respect for every person.

We remembered the second Therese — of Lisieux — as we sought her intercession on Oct. 1. She is famous as a Carmelite contemplative for her “little way.”  Recently I participated in a virtual event to honor and promote the work of the Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center near St. Louis Bertrand Church.

In its 36 years of service to mothers who are pregnant and their children, both unborn and born, the center has been inspired by St. Therese of Lisieux and her small humble acts. Their compassionate acts of love, joined to the power of the grace of God, are accomplishing great things in the lives of real families. Here is the link to the event. It is 30 minutes long and worth your viewing. See https://littleway.org/benefit-view/.

Today on Oct. 15, we salute the third Teresa, St. Teresa of Ávila.  She entered the Carmelite community in 1535 and became known as a great mystic of the Church, as well as a great activist. I read recently that she constantly walked as she established so many convents and so became known as the “andariega” or walking saint.

It is fitting that on Oct. 27, I will join with Ed Harpring and so many involved with the Respect Life department of the archdiocese in promoting a special year-long program entitled “Walking with Moms in Need.” The program was featured in a recent front-page article of The Record.  See the https://therecordnewspaper.org/archdiocese-of-louisville-looks-for-ways-to-walk-with-moms-in-need/. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, my experience is that there is no division in the pro-life movement between those who promote the protection of innocent children in the womb by opposing abortion and those who are willing to help real mothers who struggle today.

This yearlong program of “Walking with Moms in Need” is promoted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, of which I am a consultant. Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City announced this initiative in the January March for Life Vigil and Rally in Washington, D.C. We can be proud of the work of Catholic Charities and the many parish initiatives in promoting efforts throughout the 24 counties of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Your annual support for Opportunities for Life allows for grants that support this and other efforts. One local program is the special “Moms Helping Moms,” which is a group of mothers who walk and mentor women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Another is “Gianna‘s Hands,” which focuses on helping new mothers, married or not, within a given parish and who acknowledge the arrival of a new baby. In all these efforts, our local Church puts into practice our courageous and compassionate advocacy for the child in the womb, for her mother and for all of our society.

During this Respect Life Month, join me in a special prayer for pregnant mothers:

“O Blessed mother, you receive the good news of the incarnation of Christ, your son, with faith and trust. Grant your protection to all pregnant mothers facing difficulties.

Guide us as we strive to make our parish communities places of welcome and assistance for mothers in need. Help us become instruments of God’s love and compassion.

Mary, mother of the church, graciously help us build a culture of life and a civilization of love, together with all people of good will, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life. Amen.”

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