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Today we ponder this eternal truth: God’s love reigns supreme. On this feast of the Annunciation, on this 25th anniversary of the Great Pope Saint John Paul II’s letter Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), during this 35th year since a mom and baby came to the first Good Counsel home, in the midst of this coronavirus crisis, God's love reigns supreme.
God’s love was magnificently shown to us in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke verses 26 – 35.
The Angel Gabriel spoke.
Mary joyfully received.
The Holy Spirit filled her.
Jesus was conceived.
Reflected in every child.
Every mother carrying a child, both of whom are in desperate need, deserve our most special care and direct support. You make that happen: You who aid Good Counsel today.
“In our service of charity, we must be inspired and distinguished by a specific attitude: we must care for the other as a person for whom God has made us responsible,” wrote the Great Pope Saint John Paul II who issued this magnificent letter today, on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25th, in the year of Our Lord 1995. Good Counsel was only 10 years old then, and I was extremely encouraged, inspired and challenged by every word he wrote.
He continued, “As disciples of Jesus, we are called to become neighbors to everyone (cf. Lk 10:29-37), and to show special favor to those who are poorest, most alone and most in need. In helping the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned – as well as the child in the womb... we have the opportunity to serve Jesus. He himself said: ‘As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:40).”
When did we serve Jesus? That is the question every person will have to answer at the end of this life. Saint John Chrysostom directly asked: “Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not neglect it when you find it naked. Do not do it homage here in the church with silk fabrics only to neglect it outside where it suffers cold and nakedness.” Helping Good Counsel mothers and babies serves “the body of Christ.”
I felt very much as if this was written for you and me: “To this end, appropriate and effective programs of support for new life must be implemented, with special closeness to mothers who, even without the help of the father, are not afraid to bring their child into the world.”
“Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation.”
You are also recognized in these words of this Great Saintly Pope, “How can we fail to mention all those daily gestures of openness, sacrifice and unselfish care which countless people lovingly make in families, hospitals . . . and other centers or communities which defend life? Allowing herself to be guided by the example of Jesus the ‘Good Samaritan’ (cf. Lk 10:29-37) and upheld by his strength, the Church has always been in the front line in providing charitable help: so many of her sons and daughters . . . in ever new forms, have consecrated and continue to consecrate their lives to God, freely giving of themselves out of love for their neighbor, especially for the weak and needy.”
You do more than you know, really, as the Great Pope explains, “These deeds strengthen the bases of the ‘civilization of love and life’, without which the life of individuals and of society itself loses its most genuinely human quality.”
Let me emphasize his next words:
Even if they go unnoticed and remain hidden to most people, faith assures us that the Father ‘who sees in secret’ (Mt 6:6) not only will reward these actions but already here and now makes them produce lasting fruit for the good of all.
Part of that “lasting fruit for the good of all” is the love that is shared in your giving, your thoughtfulness, your prayers, your kind gestures of every kind. Every act of love is an act of peace. If we want peace in the world we first need peace in our own heart. We need peace in our own family. We need peace where we work, where we live, where we pray, in our neighborhood, in our town, in our nation.
Non-violent ways to respond to the violence of hurt, rejection, discrimination because of race, age, gender whether in the womb, newborn, young or old need ever more forceful acts of love, which bring true peace, which overcomes all these evils.
After all these years at Good Counsel, I have to say, what else overcomes anger, hurt, rejection, pain but “a supportive environment to help them to overcome destructive habits and discover anew the meaning of life.” Again, you are part of building and supporting that “supportive environment” helping others “discover anew the meaning of life” at Good Counsel homes.
Good Counsel has always meant to be a beacon of hospitality for a pregnant mother, but I must confess it was with fear and trepidation that we willingly took in women with special needs. In fact, even before Good Counsel's Daystar Program for pregnant mothers with mental health challenges and chemical additions was opened, we have always accepted women who were dealing with various maladies of mind and body, including AIDS, which especially in the 90s was considered a death sentence.
These words were especially provocative to read, “When life is challenged by conditions of hardship, maladjustment, sickness or rejection, other programs-such as communities for treating drug addiction, residential communities for minors or the mentally ill, care and relief centers for AIDS patients, associations for solidarity especially towards the disabled-are eloquent expressions of what charity is able to devise in order to give everyone new reasons for hope and practical possibilities for life.”
Also, how much does this reflect Good Counsel volunteers and all those who serve pregnant women and mothers in need:
“Volunteer workers have a specific role to play: they make a valuable contribution to the service of life when they combine professional ability and generous, selfless love.
The Gospel of life inspires them to lift their feelings of good will towards others to the heights of Christ's charity; to renew every day, amid hard work and weariness, their awareness of the dignity of every person; to search out people's needs and, when necessary, to set out on new paths where needs are greater but care and support weaker.”
On this feast of the Annunciation, on this 25th Anniversary of the Gospel of Life, let us re-commit ourselves to praying more, doing more, helping more babies in the womb, their moms, and all single-parent families in need.
Please share this message.
God bless you.
President of Good Counsel
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