“To each one of you Christ says: ‘I am sending you.' Why is he sending you? Because men and women the world over—north, south, east and west—long for true liberation and fulfillment. The poor seek justice and solidarity; the oppressed demand freedom and dignity; the blind cry out for light and truth (cf. Luke 4:18). You are not being sent to proclaim some abstract truth. The Gospel is not a theory or an ideology! The Gospel is life! Your task is to bear witness to this life: the life of God’s adopted sons and daughters. Modern man, whether he knows it or not, urgently needs that life – just as two thousand years ago humanity was in need of Christ’s coming; just as people will always need Jesus Christ until the end of time.”
As a former college track and field sprinter, I have spent countless hours of my life practicing. I have struggled through long workouts to build endurance, faster workouts to build speed, weight-lifting to build strength, and shorter workouts to provide rest before a competition. In each one of these instances, I began practice going through a set of drills. While these drills provided the necessary preparation for the workout, they also functioned to train my muscles to behave in a certain manner. Marching, skipping, high knees—all of these tedious drills were extremely important in creating muscle memory. Every sport has a series of drills or routines that athletes perform which allow an athlete to trust her muscles to act in the way she needs them to without thought.
Training and preparation is necessary not only in sports but in all areas of life, especially the moral life.
Practicing Hospitality, Welcoming Life
A consistent life ethic begins at home. Mother Teresa, one of the most beloved canonized saints of the 20th century and a great defender of human dignity, said very simply in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize:
As a moral theology teacher at a Catholic high school and moderator of our school's pro-life club, people expect me to teach my students about a Catholic ethic of life. I do, certainly, and conversing with young people about key life issues is incredibly rewarding (albeit challenging!). But just as faith and prayer should permeate every aspect of a Catholic school—and not be relegated to its theology curriculum and ministry programs—the same is true of a Catholic vision of human life and dignity.
Throughout the month of October, Catholics celebrate Respect Life Month. As the Body of Christ, we are encouraged to pray and work for the protection of life from conception to natural death. In a culture that is inhospitable to life, that views human beings as disposable, we are called to live out the consistent ethic of life. But what is the “consistent ethic of life?” Quite simply, it means committing oneself to consistently living in ways that uphold the irrevocable worth of every human being. The Church has a long and rich tradition of upholding a consistent ethic of life. The Didache (ca. 2nd century A.D.), for example, describes the Two Ways: the way of life and the way of death. The first commandments of the Way of Life provide Christians with paraenetic, or moral instruction. Christians are called to “give to everyone who asks, without looking for repayment” and are expressly forbidden from committing murder, abortion, and infanticide. These prescriptions are at the heart of Christian life.