When the calendar page turns to October, pro-life issues come into focus for Catholics as we observe Respect Life Month; a spiritually rich time to pray and meditate on the sanctity of life.
The core teaching about the sacredness of life is found in the Catechism: “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.” (2258)
However, this teaching can be the focus of more than just one month. People can follow the Gospel and make a commitment to life throughout the year.
Here are some suggestions on how to protect and care for life during all the seasons, as we are told to respect life from natural birth to natural death, and protect the dignity of all persons. The spectrum of issues includes abortion, contraception, rights of the disabled, human trafficking, domestic abuse, access to health care, the death penalty, end-of-life-care, racial justice, social justice issues and more.
This is the big season for pro-life activities, as people nationwide take part in Respect Life Month and join in prayers on Respect Life Sunday, which is traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday in October.
People are encouraged to take part in Life Chain demonstrations. Typically held on the first Sunday in October, the national celebration for Life Chain Sunday was moved to Nov. 1 for 2020. Join other advocates across the nation to stand in silent, prayerful witness against abortion; or take part in weekly protests outside local Planned Parenthood facilities.
Learn about the 40 Days for Life campaign, which runs from September through November, and take part in activities related to it throughout the three months. Incorporate these activities throughout the year.
Study the full range of pro-life issues, which includes abortion, health care, rights of the disabled, domestic abuse, end-of-life care, the poor, justice issues and more. Pick one or two you feel strongly about or have experience with, and learn ways you can help others and advance knowledge of these issues.
October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Learn ways you may be able to help victims of domestic violence in your community, such as volunteering at a shelter or hotline, donating supplies, or helping to raise awareness.
Attend the state-wide pro-life march in January in Columbia.
If your parish offers a chance to travel to the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., make the trip at least one time to join with others from across the country. If you can’t attend, pray for those who do and/or find a way you can support those making the trip.
Take part in prayer vigils around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which is Jan. 22, 1973.
Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center or a charity that helps young mothers.
Collect baby items or other supplies for children and mothers in need.
Think about the homeless and poor — collect warm coats and other items for them, contribute to Catholic Charities or other organizations that help those in need keep their utilities on when it is cold.
Visit the sick or senior citizens who are homebound. Check on older people who live in your neighborhood or belong to your parish who have no one else to look out for them.
Help an elderly or disabled neighbor do spring cleaning, or assist them in finding services such as Home Works of America to help if there are safety issues or repairs needed around the house.
May is dedicated to Mary. Pray a rosary to end abortion and honor her role as mother by donating to a program that helps unwed mothers or those in need.
For the past several years, March has been designated as Disability Awareness Month in South Carolina. During that month and throughout the spring, find ways to help individuals and families with disabilities. Help parents of a disabled child with basic needs or respite care, work to make liturgies and activities at your parish inclusive and accessible for the disabled, or contact your legislators to advocate for issues related to those with disabilities, especially in regard to health care access and medical treatment.
April 21, 2018, is National Pro-Life T-shirt Day. Make T-shirts with your kids, members of your parish youth group or others as a fun way to teach about life issues and show your advocacy.
Volunteer at a local hospice or offer assistance to a friend or neighbor who is caring for a terminally ill relative or spouse.
With kids out of school for the summer, this is a perfect time to get the entire family involved in pro-life volunteer activities. Work together at a crisis pregnancy center or a senior center, collect items needed by a local homeless shelter or a medical clinic that offers health care to those in need.
Continue checking on disabled or elderly friends and neighbors. Donate to local charities that offer services to help beat the heat, such as buying air conditioners and fans for those who don’t have them.
Pray for those who are in prison and for an end to the death penalty. Volunteer for a prison ministry program at your parish or find a way to donate to a program that helps the incarcerated.
Human trafficking is a year-round problem in South Carolina, and is often concentrated in tourist areas that are bustling during the summer, such as beach resorts, truck stops and airports. Learn how to spot signs that a person is being trafficked. Warning signs can be found at https://traffickingresourcecenter.org.
There are thousands of children in need of care in South Carolina. Consider becoming a foster parent and opening your home to one of them, or learn about ways to help foster parents and children.
Editor’s note: This article on Respect Life first ran in The Catholic Miscellany in October 2017.