When God gives life, it is forever: Diocese celebrates annual Respect Life Mass
DENTON — Prayer for lives lost to abortion and focusing on the breakdown of moral, social, and civil structures supporting human life was at the heart of the diocesan annual Respect Life Mass held Jan. 24 at St. Mark Church in Argyle.
“Human life is precious because it is the gift of a God whose love is infinite,” Bishop Michael Olson told about 400 attendees, referring to the preaching of Pope Saint John Paul II at the Mass celebrated on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, 1979. “And when God gives life, it is forever.”
The bishop’s homily began with reflection of the first reading during the Mass, Isaiah 49:1-6: “Before birth, the Lord called me, from my mother’s womb He gave me my name.”
“In a sense, the first assault on the gift of human life at every stage of development is to remove someone from the light of belonging by removing his or her name, thereby thrusting them into the darkness of anonymity,” he said.
Bishop Olson spoke of the significance of a child, which is made clear in Matthew 18, the Gospel for the Mass.
“The child in the ancient world was the primary symbol of radical dependence, vulnerability, and hope for the future of a family and for a nation,” Bishop Olson said.
With hopes of a possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court could curtail, if not overturn, Roe v. Wade, the bishop said the work doesn’t stop then.
“We must remember that we still have so much work to do for the protection and dignity of life, including that we first promote the integrity of natural marriage and the sacrament of Holy Matrimony between one man and one woman bound in a loving and respectful commitment to permanence, fidelity, and openness to conception of new human life,” he said.
The bishop said, “The government cannot replace the essential role of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, any more than it can replace the essential role of the Church in the formation and education of human beings.”
During a reception after the Mass, Theresa Schauf, Diocesan Respect Life Coordinator, said, “Changing the law is a great step, but it’s really the heart that needs to change.”
Boyd Burris, Knights of Columbus State Warden, attended the Mass with his wife Patricia. The couple, who attend St. Philip the Apostle in Lewisville, also participated in the Texas Rally for Life in Austin a few days prior.
Boyd Burris said he appreciates the value the Catholic Church places on human life, at every age and circumstance.
He had an “eye-opening” moment while serving as a juror on a capital murder trial. During voir dire, when asked if he had a problem with the death penalty, he said no. But in the end, when it came down to answering a simple question as to the fate of the convicted inmate, the answer wasn’t easy.
“It came down to a yes or no,” he said. “That really bothered me.”
Dr. Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, drove from Austin for the Mass. He has been active in the pro-life movement for 37 years.
Pojman grew up Catholic and watched his mother work diligently at a pregnancy help center. He did not get involved with the cause until he learned that a couple, close friends of his, were involved in an abortion.
“It wasn’t about numbers anymore; it was about people whose lives were being destroyed. I could no longer sit on the sidelines, I had to get involved,” Pojman said. “There are so many wonderful people going through this in their lives that we don’t know of. Society doesn't recognize the loss, whether abortion or miscarriage.”
As for the current situation in the Supreme Court, Pojman said he sees a glimmer of hope.
“My hopes have been devastated many times, but this is different. I am truly an optimist,” he said. “This is the first time in 49 years we could have enough votes in the Supreme Court to ratify the terrible Roe v. Wade or to overturn it completely.”
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Bishop Olson's homily for the Respect Life Mass can be found at fortworthbishop.org