Birthdays are opportunities for each of us to reflect on the graces and blessings we have received from Almighty God. Although life can be difficult at times, if we look for the hand of God in the midst of the sufferings we can see grace at work. I will readily admit that there have been times when I have been in the midst of the struggle and it was quite difficult to see past the darkness of the affliction. Thankfully, God has been patient with me in my slowness to understand and appreciate His grace.
I will be focusing on the gift of life in a couple of unique ways tomorrow. I will be attending the Governor's Symposium on Suicide Prevention in the afternoon and then I will be speaking at a 40 Days for Life kick-off rally in the evening. It is an honor to be included in both of these events being held in Casper, Wyoming.
The afternoon session will provide an opportunity to learn about initiatives to improve outcomes and close gaps in health care. This will obviously include behavioral health. A session will be devoted to the high risk of suicide among our veterans. Another session will look at the ramifications of losing a child to suicide. The event will close with a panel discussion about ways in which we can increase awareness and provide educational opportunities for suicide prevention.
A closing thought on the topic of suicide--
If you, or someone you know, is contemplating suicide please seek help. There is no need to walk the journey alone. If you have family support let them know you are struggling. Contact your pastor, counselor, or medical doctor. Let someone know you are hurting before it is too late.
In the evening I will speak to the people preparing to begin the 40 Days for Life campaign on Wednesday. I intend to give a brief rundown of how we arrived at this point in time in regard to life issues--in particular abortion. Here are some of the highlights. (If you are in Casper don't look.)
In 1968 Pope Paul VI promulgated the Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae. This document clearly described the slippery slope we would be on if we accepted the contraceptive culture. The publication was ignored by many and ridiculed by even more. Unfortunately, many of those ridiculing the document were prominent theologians and clerics. They convinced a multitude of people to reject the teaching laid out in the encyclical. We are now reaping the consequences of that dissent in a monumental way.
In 1972 the United States Bishops set aside the month of October as "Respect Life Month." The first Sunday of October was set aside as "Respect Life Sunday." It was as if they could read the writing on the wall. In January of 1973 we had the Unites States Supreme Court decision Roe versus Wade which gave us abortion on demand. The follow-up court case of Doe versus Bolton made abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy.
In 1987 Life Chain began in Yuba City, California. There were about 2,000 participants in that first life chain. In 2015 Life Chain took place in over 1,600 cities in the United States. I hope you will participate this Sunday in your local community. Go to www.lifechain.net to find a location near you.
In 1995 Saint Pope John Paul II issued The Gospel of Life. He could obviously see the necessity of proclaiming the sanctity and dignity of each human life from conception through natural death. As our society continues down a path that celebrates abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and euthanasia we need his message of hope even more today. There are examples in the state of Oregon now of where people have been refused by their insurance company to pay for treatments. However, the insurance will pay for physician-assisted suicide. There is something really wrong with that picture.
On September 29, 2000--just a couple of days before Respect Life Sunday--the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the RU-486 abortion pill in the United States of America. The trajectory of our nation continued toward being a culture of death with this disastrous decision.
Finally, in 2007, we saw the first 40 Days for Life campaign. According to their website the 40 Days for Life statistics are as follows:
11,796 lives have been saved
133 abortion workers have quit their jobs
75 abortion centers have closed
These statistics demonstrate that being a prayerful witness to the sanctity of life is bearing fruit.
I simply close with these thoughts. If you have been impacted by abortion in one way or another, please know that there is help and healing available. I know some individuals struggle for years following an abortion. God's grace can bring healing and hope. Call your local church or crisis pregnancy center for guidance and help if you don't know where to turn.
Our culture needs a lot of healing. Each of us can play a part in building a culture of life. How will you get involved?