As the Catholic Church in England and Wales prepares for Day for Life – the day in the Church’s year dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition – Pope Francis has sent his good wishes and prayers for a successful and inspiring Day to be celebrated in parishes on Sunday 19 June.
In a letter sent from the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini to the Bishop for Day for Life, Bishop John Sherrington, the Holy Father’s Apostolic Blessing is cordially imparted “upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion of the dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death.”
Day for Life 2016 will this year explore how the wonder of human life and God’s creation are intimately connected.
Dr Pia Matthews, a Lecturer in Healthcare Ethics at St Mary’s University Twickenham, encapsulates this wonder in the liturgical resources that she has created for Day for Life this year. She tells us the story of Paula, a woman who “has profound intellectual and multiple disabilities” who “spends much of her time rocking gently, smiling and looking around her. She cannot talk but she clearly loves to sit outside in her wheelchair, in spontaneous appreciation, listening to the birds, feeling the warmth of the sun and the cool of the wind, taking in the scent of the flowers. Just watching the world go by. Above all, she loves people to come and sit with her. As Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche says, people like Paula live by the heart.”
“Paula reminds us all, especially very busy people, to stop and see that God has given us so many gifts, and often the most wondrous gifts are the simple ones that we take for granted. It is also easy to overlook or ignore or indeed think less of people who rely on the heart, who do not seem to be ‘like us’ because of disability, age, vulnerability or frailty.”
By growing in wonder, we learn to treasure more deeply the precious gift of human life.
This weekend, 18-19 June, there will be a second collection in parishes to support Day for Life. Proceeds of the collection assist the work of The Anscombe Bioethics Centre and other life-related activities supported by the Church.
Over 300,000 postcards will be distributed to parishioners in England and Wales this weekend about the wonderful gift of human life.
More about this year’s Day for Life can be found on the official site.