By Susan Ciancio
This holy season of Lent reminds us to not only be thankful for Christ’s sacrifice, but it compels us to act to improve our spiritual lives. We make our own sacrifices so that, in a small way, we unite them with Christ’s suffering. We may also do certain things to educate ourselves about our faith so that we grow spiritually. We pray more. We read the Bible. We take part in daily reflections. But the most important thing we can do during Lent — and any time of the year — is to build a culture of life within our families and communities. A culture of life is one where all people are respected and cherished as children of God. One way to build this culture of life is through activism. Thankfully, we can find activism opportunities all around us.
While building a culture of life takes effort, it is also extremely rewarding and can be a lot of fun, especially for families. Teaching children to take part in building a culture of life is vital, as we help them form their moral consciences. Not only should we explain the importance of helping others, seeing the dignity in all human beings, and taking care of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but we must allow our children to see us putting our words into action and serving others joyfully.
The Corporal Works of Mercy include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and prisoners, burying the dead, and giving alms to the poor. Providing your children with activism opportunities helps them build a culture of life by allowing them to act in the person of Christ by performing these works of mercy for others.
Furthermore, activism teaches compassion. It teaches us to see the face of Christ in all people and to treat them with the dignity they deserve. It gives us the courage to stand up for the moral truths we believe in. When we care for and protect others, we know that our actions are pleasing to God. We are doing His work and teaching our children to do so as well.
How to serve
If you don’t know where to look, it might be difficult to find activism opportunities—especially if you have younger children. So we have some great ideas to get you started.
One of the easiest ways to show others that you and your family are 100% pro-life is to participate in National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day, coming up on April 3. On this special day each year, people throughout the country wear pro-life T-shirts to show their solidarity with all human beings. The Culture of Life Studies Program has great shirts for all ages at npltday.com.
The front of the shirt proudly claims that the wearer is 100% pro-life — from the moment of creation and without exceptions. The back resembles a nutrition label and boldly states that the wearer has unlimited respect for all human beings, including preborn babies, senior citizens, and people of all abilities. It then lists the qualities it requires to take this public stand: compassion, hope, charity, courage, understanding, and perseverance.
These are qualities that we all want our children to possess and to demonstrate to others. That is what activism will do for them. Wearing this shirt and learning to vocalize what it teaches is a great way for any new activist to begin.
People send us messages several times each week telling us how these shirts change hearts and minds. They especially like them because the shirts are not confrontational. The message opens the door to conversation—and it’s hard to disagree with it!
One father told us that he wore his shirt to get a chiropractic adjustment and had a frank pro-life conversation with the chiropractor, who admitted that, though he considered himself pro-choice, he had to agree with the shirt. It certainly made him think!
Children can also learn compassion, hope, understanding, charity, courage, and perseverance by performing the Corporal Works of Mercy throughout your community. Visiting the residents of a nursing home is a great way to build a culture of life. The elderly in nursing homes often feel lonely and have few family members who visit. It brightens their days to receive visitors. Take your family and play games or just sit and chat with the residents. You could even make cards or treats for them.
You could also reach out to your local crisis pregnancy center. These places help moms and babies get a healthy start in life, and they often have many needs — from volunteers who can sort donations to actual donations. Your kids could even collect baby clothes, toys, diapers, or other items to pass out to the women who live there.
Homeless shelters have similar needs. They have clothing closets that volunteers sort or organize. They have meals that need to be served. Many of these places welcome families who want to help.
These activism opportunities all help teach that every human being has dignity and value. When your children spend time caring for others, they learn the joy of giving. And the recipients of this giving feel their worth as children of God. Everything we do and everything we say should work toward our end goal of building a culture where all people—no matter their age, ability, or health—are valued, respected, and protected. That is a true culture of life!
This article originally appeared at catholicmom.com/2020/03/13/inspire-your-family-for-life and has been reprinted with permission.
Image credit: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz