“The right to life is the first among human rights.” –Pope Francis
As the month of October, also known as Respect Life month, comes to an end, let’s continue to promote the dignity of all human life and work toward protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
As youth ministers we have an important responsibility to provide opportunities for young people to grow in their faith as sons and daughters of God. It’s extremely critical that we offer experiences where they can truly enter into the Sacramental life of the Church as well as give them solid catechetical teaching so they can go out and be living witnesses of the Gospel message (Acts 1:8). As a part of our formation of the youth, we should be intentional in planning pro-life activities that engage the teens and instill in them the value and dignity of the human person.
The following are some practical suggestions for you to implement in your youth group to create a deeper sense of awareness about being pro-life:
- Participate in a 40 days for Life Campaign
- Volunteer at the women’s shelter or end of life clinic
- Host a pro-life speaker at your next youth gathering
- Pray the rosary for life
- Organize a trip to the National March for Life in Washington, DC
- Coordinate a fundraiser at your parish and donate the proceeds to a local pro-life charity
While the practicals are always essential for working with teens, it’s vital to understand as youth leaders that we are called to be pro-life in our daily life, not just during respect life month. St. Irenaeus says, “the glory of God is man fully alive.” Are we living life fully alive? Do we reflect the value of being person-centered in our daily life?
Witness of Christ
We are called to be bold and we are called to be passionate witnesses of the Gospel of life in our own daily journey. The decisions we make matter. Young people look up to us. How do we present ourselves everyday? How do we communicate with others? Is it with love? How do we respond on social media? What type of language do we use? Every aspect of our choices has to reflect the respect and dignity for human life.
We can’t give what we don’t have. Our daily life needs to be centered on prayer. When prayer is the center, you can expect the Holy Spirit to do some awesome things to spiritually grow you and your teens. Let our prayer as youth leaders echo the words of St. Therese of Lisieux, “Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be and becoming that person.”
I leave you with this great challenge on being actively pro-life from one of my favorite Saints, St. John Paul II!
“You are called to stand up for life! To respect and defend the mystery of life always and everywhere, including the lives of unborn babies, giving real help and encouragement to mothers in difficult situations. You are called to work and pray against abortion, against violence of all kinds, including the violence done against women’s and children’s dignity through pornography. Stand up for the life of the aged and the handicapped, against attempts to promote assisted-suicide and euthanasia! Stand up for marriage and family life! Stand up for purity! Resist the pressures and temptations of a world that too often tries to ignore a most fundamental truth: that every life is a gift from God our Creator, and that we must give an account to God of how we use it either for good or evil.”