Before I jump into my regularly scheduled broadcast, I want to take a moment and thank everybody who prayed for or attended this year’s Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet & Conference. We had an incredible crowd of almost 500 people for the Friday evening banquet and around 100 attendees for the Saturday conference. It was a great moment for celebration, solidarity, and learning. While I will write more about the weekend’s festivities and activities in next week’s column, for now you’ll want to mark down Sept. 23-24, 2022, on your calendar so you don’t miss out on next year’s banquet and conference.
In this year’s Respect Life Month Statement, Archbishop Joseph Naumann—who also happened to be this year’s pro-life banquet keynote speaker—says: “While attacks against human life seem to grow ever more numerous and callous, we know that Christ has conquered sin and death.” The archbishop continues, “Jesus asks us to be as leaven in the world, to bring His light to the darkness.”
And there are few better examples this side of heaven as to how to bring the Light of Christ into the darkness than St. Joseph, the patron of this year’s Respect Life Month.
At the dawn of a new springtime in the history of mankind, St. Joseph was faced with some of the most challenging circumstances known to mankind. He was asked to trust in the virginity of his betrothed, Mary. He was asked to protect this same Virgin in an arduous trek to his home city. He was then given responsibility to care for the newborn Christ, and almost immediately called to flee to Egypt to protect the Infant Christ from slaughter.
As Pope Francis states in his apostolic letter Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), “in every situation, Joseph declared his own ‘fiat.’” “His ‘yes’ to the Lord,” states the Respect Life Month reflection, “meant that regardless of the hardships and personal sacrifice to himself, he consistently chose to put the needs of Mary and Jesus before his own.”
This “humble and often hidden carpenter of Nazareth” becomes for each one of us an example of heroic virtue. St. Joseph shows us the way to reverence the human dignity of every person given over to our care.
All of this might give us pause: Do I take seriously the example of St. Joseph? Do I seek to imitate his virtue? Have I stopped to consider not only how he would have treated the God-Man, Jesus Christ, and the most perfect of created human beings, Mary, but also how he would have treated each and every individual human person he encountered? After all the virtue of Joseph wasn’t that he treated Jesus and Mary well—his virtue extends beyond them to others he encountered in his community. And his virtue would have only grown the closer he came into relationship with the Son of God. What was that daily life of virtue like? How did Joseph respect the dignity of each person day in and day out?
These questions are something for us to ponder during Respect Life Month 2021.
May we, like Joseph, following God so faithfully that our witness to Christ may bring light to the darkness of a world the too often denigrates the beauty of human life.
For more information about this year’s Respect Life Month that can be shared in your parish, visit www.respectlife.org.