Call to pray, serve and learn in the name of life

By Marnie McAllister 
Catholic News Service 

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz called on Catholics to “renew their commitment to loving people” during the annual Memorial Mass for Life celebrated at St. Martin of Tours Church in downtown Louisville Jan. 19. 
“You and I know that our Catholic faith tells us that the dignity of human life is from the moment of conception to natural death; that it includes every human being that God has created -- created in his own image and likeness,” Louisville’s archbishop told the congregation of about 700 people. 
Massgoers included families with small children, elderly religious and members of both the Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The fraternal organizations sponsor the annual Mass. 
“It doesn’t matter –– rich or poor; it doesn’t matter whether someone is of great intelligence or has a disability,” he said. “What matters is that the Lord God has created each of us and we are called to support and defend life.” 
Archbishop Kurtz, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was scheduled to be in Washington to attend the annual March for Life on the National Mall Jan.22. But the severe winter storm that hit a good portion of the country just a day or two earlier kept him from traveling to the nation’s capital. 
In Louisville, the archbishop in his homily called on his listeners to commit themselves to four actions in the name of life: “to pray, to serve, to continue to learn and to be an advocate for life.” 
On prayer, the archbishop urged the faithful to pray to understand the dignity of human life –– both the lives of their own families and strangers alike. 
On service, the archbishop called on the faithful to continue the church’s long tradition of service as volunteers in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and places where the poor and vulnerable are aided. 
On learning, he said, the faithful must educate themselves about “the important aspects of a changing culture.” 
And on advocacy, the archbishop urged people to advocate both for just laws and for a change of heart. 
Pope Francis has pointed out, he said, that we live in a “throwaway culture” where everyday items are discarded without a thought. 
“We’re tempted to treat people that way,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “If they become burdens for us, let’s just throw them away. You know that’s wrong and I know that’s wrong. 
“And so it is that we are called to renew our commitment to love people, not to use people ... but to love people and to use God’s creation to help us in that call,” he said. 
The archbishop concluded his homily by inviting the congregation to “commit yourself to that four-step action. We need each of you to do it and we need you to go home and testify just as John the Baptist in the Gospel today testified love.” 
This year’s organizers of the Mass were Celesta and Rick Arnold, the Knights of Columbus State Council’s culture of life chair couple. 
The couple took turns announcing the names of each school, church and organization that publicly recommitted itself to pro-life ministry at the end of the Mass. There were more than 100 groups represented. Each sent a volunteer to receive a red rose in the front of church. 
The liturgy also included a procession of children who carried 41 white roses to a side altar during the offertory. The white roses represented the 41 years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion in this country. 

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