Celebrating the Gift of Life

October 14, 2018

In this pro-life month, we are invited to go beyond our belief of professing the gift of life and its sanctity and to look at the practices that take life away.  The other week while I was in Chicago to give witness to the Sacrament of Matrimony, I went for a run/walk on the lakefront.  It was good to get back to a familiar path and the view of the great lake.  I used to do a lot of long runs down there when I was training for a marathon.  On this early Saturday morning as I stopped to get water at one of the many drinking fountains, there were some runners who were participating in a 10K dialoguing and being frustrated with the situation of the race.  Now it was a gorgeous morning, not a cloud in the sky.  The weather was cool and the view of the Loop was stunning.  As I overheard their quite loud conversation, they were complaining about a pacer who was to lead the group in a pace of 8:30 minute miles.  They were frustrated that the pacer was not doing his job, not getting it right and how it ruined their morning.  They said they would never make their mark because this person ruined their chances of this being a true training run.  Their complaints went on and on.  As I listened, I marveled at how quickly we are to blame others.  If this race meant so much and if the mark of time meant so much, one should pace himself.  One should assume the responsibility for his or her own run.  While I thought this in my head, I did not say it.  But it leads me to a place we are too often led; the place where we refrain from taking responsibility for our choices and actions.  As we celebrate life, we are called to accept responsibility for our own life.  We are called to run our own race; we are called to take responsibility for our actions.

Addictions to pain killers and other drugs are an escape from life and the quality of life God has given to us.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 more than 46 people died each day from overdoses to both prescription drugs and opioids.  The highest rate falls with people from the ages of 25 to 54.  This crisis and epidemic is shortening the life expectancy of our population.  When we look at life issues, we must see what sustains life and why life expectancy is now cut short. These are real life issues. The choice to become numb, to desensitize oneself is a big factor in the lives of many.  How often have we heard that we have seen so much and heard so much that we don’t even pay attention anymore? Such a lack of attention leads us to a desire to escape at times to become numb.  In this move to escape, we move to choices that are at times leading us away from the importance and dignity of life.  One of life’s lessons is to learn from experience.  This experience includes that of pain.  Our sense of avoidance, our sense of removing ourselves from responsibility challenges the importance of our life and every life.  To escape and to want to become numb to avoid responsibility for our own choices desensitizes us to the gift of each day.

Celebrating life is taking a deep breath, understanding the imperfections, mistakes and pains and living with them.  Just as neither our sins nor our triumphs define us; our relationship with the breath of God is crucial.  As we fight for life, we must fight to see why so many want to be desensitized from it.  As we fight for life, we must uncover new ways not to avoid becoming numb or complacent.

In this week may we find the time to pray for those addicted to opioids and prescription drugs and for the reasons that got them there.

Reverend John J. Ouper