By Monica Ladner
“The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life, who will proclaim, celebrate, and serve the gospel of life in every situation.”
– Saint John Paul II
What does it mean to be unconditionally pro-life? How can one “proclaim, celebrate, and serve” the gospel of life as an individual? These are questions which everyone, at some point, would do well to ask. The answers are found on three levels: individual soul, family, and community. The reason for this we can find in scripture. 1 John 4:19 says: “We love because he first loved us.” The wisdom, truth, and understanding of the value of each life comes from God to the individual soul, then ripples out to the family, the community, and eventually the whole world. Therefore, one who desires to live the new evangelization must accept Saint John Paul II’s challenge and take proclaiming, celebrating, and serving to those three levels.
The first part of the challenge which John Paul II readily sets for us is to proclaim. We can proclaim the gospel of life in many ways in our souls, families, and communities. For the individual soul, it is important to study, read, pray for deeper understanding, and overall, nurture a deep relationship with God, accepting in the heart God’s plan for life. Secondly, on the family level, we can speak to others about the sanctity of life, whether in our families, at meetings, conventions, or in a one-on-one conversation. We can also write from a pro-life perspective, proclaiming life to the larger community, as Thomas Jefferson did when he declared: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” and as the beloved Dr. Seuss wrote: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” One can also proclaim the gospel of life by example, which ultimately leads to celebrating life.
Celebrating life is essential to being pro-life. In our soul, this means thinking positively and choosing to have joy in our hearts and attitudes, radiating happiness and peace to all around us. If one does not have joy, praying and simply smiling will help. Saint Theresa of Calcutta said: “For smiling is the beginning of love.” Without joy, upholding the sanctity of human life could become a chore, which could culminate in bitterness. Besides, that would not be very attractive. Can you imagine myriads of pro-life advocates or the millions of people in the March for Life all with scowls on their faces? That would turn people away without a doubt. They would automatically think, “If that’s what being pro-life is and looks like, we definitely don’t want any part of it!” However, with joy, our actions will be more pleasing to God and our neighbor, and much more attractive. In our families it is easy to celebrate life by having large families, giving birthday parties, and hosting baby showers for expectant mothers. These bring joy to everyone involved. Even funerals remember and celebrate the lives of departed loved ones. Respecting, honoring, and celebrating life with joy are essential to the pro-life standpoint and help us to be open to service.
The final part of the challenge is to serve. One can nurture the life of one’s soul by prayer and strengthening one’s relationship with God, which are immensely important to the well-being of our whole existence. A family offers innumerable opportunities to serve life, as all the members in a family, especially the mothers and fathers, do with every waking moment. Helping with the children and grandchildren is a great aid to the family and, overall, society. As the old saying says: “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” This is true because the children of today are the adults are tomorrow; they are the ones who will be here after us, and the mothers are the ones who are ultimately in charge of the fate of the world. In our communities, there are also things we can do to serve, such as assisting at nursing homes, adoption centers, hospitals, and pro-life centers, and by babysitting. By serving, one can bring joy into the lives of others and show God’s love. As Jesus Himself taught His disciples: “The Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28).
We are called to obediently follow Christ’s humble and loving example, serving, celebrating, and proclaiming the gospel of life, upholding its unquestionable sanctity and dignity, protecting the preborn and the elderly who are vulnerable, and standing up for the rights of people everywhere. This is essential to the survival of our society and the world. Whether we like it or not, we are our brother’s keepers. God put us here together so that we can help each other to grow in virtue and get to heaven. Let us accept the challenge which Saint John Paul II set for us. We will be unconditionally pro-life! With the grace of God, we will proclaim, celebrate, and serve life to the fullest. Let us answer His call and gain heaven, drawing the world to Christ through our example and testimony. We are all God’s children. Let us do what He asks!
Monica Ladner won an honorable mention in Category 2 of CLSP and IEW's Pro-Life Essay Contest.