The Gift of Life


Are you afraid of death?
Well, I can’t say that I have
any great affection for it.
Look below you, my friend.
For 70 years,
I’ve watched the seasons change.
I’ve seen the vibrant life of summer,
the brilliant death of fall…
the silent grave of winter.
And then, I’ve seen
the resurrection of spring
the glorious birth of new life.
And my father and my father’s father
have seen it before me.
Nothing ever dies, my friend.

Prince of Foxes Screenplay, 1949



My twins’ godmother wrote this to Donnie my surviving son this week:


Happy baptism anniversary!  I’ve been thinking lately about how precious the gift of life is.  I wrote an article on it for the parish newsletter.  I was thinking about Larry when I wrote about people with different abilities.  I had a chance to stop by his grave on my way back from a workshop on Saturday.  So I thought I’d share part of the article with you:


The Gift of Life


God loves you.  God just loves you. And the best evidence that God loves you is that he created you.  God can create anyone that he wishes to and he can see how each person will grow and develop, so he’d be nuts to create someone that he didn’t love.  But he’s not nuts.  He has chosen to love you.  His love is the spark of life in your soul, the beat of your heart, and the breath in your lungs.  When we “die,” his life in us changes, but does not end.  We continue to live as his creation, deeply, deeply loved by him forever.

The gift of life is the evidence that God loves us, not just you, but each of us.  Perhaps this is why we value life so much.  The love and respect that we have for every person is an expression of the love and respect that we have for God.  Emergency workers, for example, often risk their own lives to save others.  What we share with others God counts as having been shared with himself.  Parents, for example, give more than they thought possible to care for their children.

God’s love for us does not depend on our age or abilities.  It begins when he begins to knit us together in our mother’s womb and continues forever.  Before our bodies are formed, before we think our first thought, before our talents are known, before our parents know of our existence, God has chosen to create us because he loves us.

As we grow through life, all of us are loved by God.  Whether we’re athletically gifted or klutzy, whether conventionally beautiful or unattractive, whether we find it easy to love and trust others or not, whether intelligent or simple, whatever our gifts and talents, we are loved by God.  Even if we are hurt by abuse, or trauma, or addiction, or accident, God loves us.  We know that he loves us because of his gift of life.  And the loving care that we have for others, regardless of their gifts, shows that we are learning to love as God loves.

No matter how we leave this life, God’s gift of life continues.  If you die in an accident, if you are struck down suddenly by disease, if you linger for many years as dependent as a child, if you die gently in old age, no matter what, God loves you and his gift of life continues forever.  The respect and care that we have for those nearing the end of this life shows that we get it, that we understand how precious is God’s gift of life.

Life never ends and God’s love never ends.  They continue in the next life.  It may be that the only way we can continue to express our love for those who have passed on is by our prayers.  And this, too, shows that we have learned from God how to value his gift of life.

October is Respect for Life month, but respect for life is an everyday thing.  We constantly express it in the way we love and care for others, regardless of their age and abilities, but simply because God loves them, as he loves us.  But it’s good to recognize everyday things and to appreciate their value. 

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We Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made


Hattip to Joe Carter at First Things.  A truly remarkable video showing the development of us humans from our conception to our birth.  While I was watching it I thought of Psalm 139:14:  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  Tomorrow as we thank God for his manifold blessings, we should always keep in mind our chief blessing:  His gift of life to us.

Raquel Welch and CS Lewis

When I was growing up in the late Sixties and early Seventies the number one sex symbol going away was the actress Raquel Welch.  What little I had heard of her opinions seemed to be those of a conventional Hollywood liberal.  Therefore I was shocked by this column she wrote for CNN on the anniversary of the invention of the birth control pill:

Margaret Sanger opened the first American family-planning clinic in 1916, and nothing would be the same again. Since then the growing proliferation of birth control methods has had an awesome effect on both sexes and led to a sea change in moral values.

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It's Just Legislation

Having a number of fairly liberal friends and acquaintances, it struck me recently how many blog posts and facebook updates I’d seen lately that began, “I was just watching one of the anti-health-reform protests and I’m just so angry right now.”

I get that many on the progressive side are very, very excited about whichever of the major proposals in the congress at this point ends up being the chosen one by Obama (despite the fact that none of them actually get that close to being what progressives have wanted in regards to health care reform for all these years), if only because they’re very excited to see Obama succeed at whatever he tries. But it strikes me that there’s a difference in how people think about the state and about legislation at play here as well. Thinking back, I can’t recall any example of a piece of legislation on any topic that I was so excited about that it made me angry to see people out protesting against it. Sure, there have been a few things that I’ve strongly supported (like the marriage amendment ballot initiative in California; the national partial birth abortion ban, etc.) or strongly opposed. But there’s nothing I found myself so worked up about that I felt it necessary to watch the protests for or against and then get furious that there were opponents out there — whether their sentiments were fair and honest or not.

My thinking would tend to be, “Hey, it’s just legislation. We win or we lose.” But then, that springs from a basic assumption that things will not change very much from the status quo, that the government will work no miracles for us or against us, and that on a day to day basis the government basically is and should be invisible to us. That seems to be a set of assumptions which many on the more progressive side of the political realm do not share.

Life and Liberty

A State owned church in France

A State owned church in France

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternitie. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Often when we look upon these mottos of two of the three great revolutions, the French and the American (the third of course being the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), we often feel they are comparable and born of the same mother, the so-called Enlightenment. We certainly have been taught this in school, and it is true to an extent. The desire for man to be free is inherent in us. But how and by what means we attain that freedom is often the deciding factor in whether we really become free, or exchange one slave master for another. That is where the mottos of these revolutions show us why one failed, and descended into unspeakable horror and bloodshed, and the other, with all its imperfections, succeeded and became the greatest democracy in world history.

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