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As Catholics, we know life is a gift from God, something we protect and celebrate:
The gift of life, which God the Creator and Father has entrusted to man, calls him to appreciate the inestimable value of what he has been given and to take responsibility for it.
A culture of life is a culture in which every human life is honored with dignity and compassion.
What can we do to build up this kind of culture in our own daily spheres?
These are a few ways I’ve worked with my four young children to build a culture of life in our home, but these can apply to just about anyone in any situation.
I hope these ideas can inspire your own celebration of the gift of life!
Use life-affirming language
One of the smallest but most impactful shifts is to use language that affirms the gift of life, choosing our words to honor and celebrate life at all ages and stages. For example, I always tell my kids that babies are a gift from God: Now when they hear that someone is expecting a new baby, they say, “Oh wow, God blessed their family!”
When we encounter someone who is different from us, we make an effort to learn the appropriate vocabulary for their situation: For example, my kids have learned to say that a friend “has a limb difference.” We look up online videos and library books to learn more about a friend’s condition, such as diabetes, autism, cerebral palsy, or Down syndrome.
Educating kids (and ourselves!) about these kinds of things helps us to feel familiar and comfortable when we meet someone who is different from us in some way, instead of seeing differences as something unknown and “other.” Cumulatively, these little acts of education and familiarizing ourselves with differences add up to helping all our friends feel welcomed and respected, something that’s central to a culture of life.
Visit elderly people
Taking some time out of our busy schedules to visit with elderly people and form friendships with them helps us appreciate life at all ages.
Pope Francis speaks out often about the importance of cherishing elderly people, for example when he spoke out against the “throw-away culture”:
It’s awful to see the elderly discarded — it’s an awful thing. It’s a sin! … There is something vile in this addiction to the throw-away culture. We have grown accustomed to throwing away people. We want to remove our increasing fear of weakness and vulnerability, but in doing so we increase in the elderly the anxiety and fear of being unsupported and abandoned.
When we visit elderly people and enjoy our relationships with them, we are affirming that everyone has something valuable to contribute, no matter their age. And honestly, we are probably having a great time, because the elderly people I know are a blast! Visiting our elderly friends can be something fun and enjoyable for all of us.
Care for the vulnerable
It’s been tricky to find ways to volunteer and give back with young kids, but over the years I’ve been able to find a few ways to practice the corporal works of mercy with kids in tow.
One of my favorite ways to care for vulnerable people is to make gift bags for people experiencing homelessness. Another approachable option is to volunteer with an organization like Feed My Starving Children or your local Catholic Worker house.
When we take time from our own busy agendas to care for people who need it, we are building up a culture that affirms and celebrates every human life.