The fragility of life once again became apparent to me last week, when I received a call from a dear friend, who was letting me know that she was in the hospital.
A week before we had been laughing together–the day of the call, she struggled to speak.
My colleagues and I have been praying hard for a quick recovery for my friend. She is indeed a survivor, and I am hoping that we will be back together laughing well before Christmas.
But the incident reminded me of the immeasurable value of each moment in life. During my father’s final days, after he had suffered a diabetic stroke and was communicating very little, he said to my mother, “Time is precious.”
Indeed, none of us know when our personal internal clocks will strike midnight and our earthly lives will draw to a close. Therefore, each moment of life has a vital importance which, once passed, can never be recaptured.
During the Year of Mercy declared by the Pope–a year which has just ended–he made it clear that Catholic women who have had abortions and who regret their decision could seek forgiveness and healing by making a Confession to any priest. (In some localities, only bishops could previously provide absolution.)
Pope Francis has now indefinitely extended permission to all priests to provide forgiveness for abortion. In doing so, the Pope wrote, “There is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled” with God.
And he added, “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.”
Talking about Pope Francis’s actions, an Associated Press story reported that some pastors during the 2016 campaign encouraged their parishioners to “keep the sacredness (of) life in mind when deciding which candidate would get their vote.” The AP writer continued, “The ‘sacredness of life’ phrase is widely seen as referring to abortion.”
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Indeed, there is no violent act in U.S. history that has claimed more lives than abortion–more than 59 million preborn children have lost their lives since the dangerous 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade.
Everyone’s life has profound value–from the baby girl nestled inside her mother’s womb to the mother who bravely carries her through a challenging pregnancy…from the father who provides love and support to mother and child to the grandparents battling insurance companies that are not willing to pay for chemotherapy treatment–but will cover doctor-prescribed suicide. The sacredness of life extends from the very moment of conception to natural death…
…And to my friend, sleepless in her hospital bed, trying to recover from a serious infection. Time is indeed, so precious.
Let’s use the final days of 2016 to celebrate life–and to be thankful for each moment of possibility that has been given to us all.