Last month, we received a call from a youth minister at a local parish who was looking for a speaker to give a pro-life presentation to the church’s teens. When we get requests like this, Annie and I normally offer to give our standard pro-life presentation (titled, simply enough, â€œPro-Life 101â€), which examines a number of different aspects surrounding abortion. (It’s about a 45 minute presentation.) This wasn’t quite what the youth minister was looking for. Instead, she was looking for a somewhat shorter and somewhat more theoretical talk that would explain the underpinnings of the Church’s teachings on life issues generally. No problem, I said, as I had given a talk along these lines last year. So, I kept putting off preparing for the upcoming talk, as I figured I would basically be able to use the same one I’d given last year. At most, I thought I’d need to make only a few minor changes. As I looked at the presentation I gave last year, however, I realized it needed some work. Also, I had given that talk in a classroom to a high school pro-life club before school on a Friday morning, and this talk was going to be on a Sunday night, after Mass, in a church basement. With this different setting, the talk would also need to have a somewhat different “flavor”. One of the main themes I chose to focus on for this presentation is the basic belief that every human life is a gift from God. And since every human life is a gift, every person, born or unborn, sick or healthy, young or old, etc., must be received and accepted and appreciated. From this theme flows the other major theme I spoke about: Since God has given each of us the gift of life, and since we are called to imitate Him, we, in turn, must make a gift of our own lives to others. These are simple enough ideas, of course, but it helps to remind ourselves of them from time to time because of the critical role they play in our mission. I bring this up because this day, December 7, marks the 41st anniversary of the publication of Gaudium et Spes, one of the more important documents issued by the Second Vatican Council, in which the Church reminded her children of what our life on the planet we call Earth is really all about:
Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, “that all may be one. . . as we are one” (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.
Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. If we do nothing else today except to spend some time thinking — really and truly thinking, prayerfully and reflectively — about what this means for each of our lives, we will be in a better position when we wake up tomorrow than when we did this morning.