CATHOLIC HERALD STAFF
October is annually celebrated by the Catholic Church in the United States as Respect Life Month. No matter what age your kids are, there are activities and devotions you can engage them in throughout October to emphasize the innate dignity of all people made in the image of God — from womb to tomb.
For little ones:
Just because your kids are too young to fully grasp issues surrounding abortion, contraception and assisted suicide doesn’t mean they are too young to learn about the preciousness of life. “Angel in the Waters” by Regina Doman is a beautiful children’s book that tells the story of a baby developing in its mother’s womb, showing small readers how life begins before birth and, through Christ, can endure after death. You can also pray a novena or a rosary for the protection of the unborn and for the promotion of a culture that respects life in all its stages. Spiritually adopt an unborn baby at risk of abortion, praying for him or her and for his/her parents each day (many families do this for nine whole months, and even choose a name for their baby). If you’re feeling adventurous, hop in the car and take a road trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, where you can wander through the Memorial to the Unborn, praying for the intercession of these little saints.
For elementary and middle schoolers:
Learn about saints who were champions for life, like St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who refused to abort her unborn daughter even though her own life was at risk (she eventually died one week after giving birth). That daughter, Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, now travels the world giving testimony to her mother’s courageous choice; find a YouTube video of her story and watch it — there are plenty. Collaborate with your child on collecting items to donate to a crisis pregnancy center or charitable group that supports mothers in need (on a local level, suggestions include Hope Network, Life’s Connection, Women’s Care Center, Birthright, Women’s Support Center or Christ Child Society). “This is a learning opportunity for them in that they see we need to walk with mothers and fathers and support them when they choose life,” said Anne Haines, Respect Life Director for Urban Ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. “They learn that economic conditions can drive people to make decisions that they would not otherwise choose and that something must be done systemically to address this. They may not see this in these terms right now, but it does get their mind working and plants seeds for larger questions down the road.”
For high schoolers:
When your child is ready for more adult conversations about abortion, contraception and other respect life issues, make it a point to engage in activities that get you talking about the Church’s teaching on these issues. There are many showings of the hit movie “Unplanned” scheduled in Catholic churches throughout the archdiocese during the month of October (have caution that the movie is rated R and is very intense — follow this link to see complete showtimes: https://catholicherald.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Parish-showings-of-Unplanned_9-25.pdf). Sign up for a shift together praying with a 40 Days for Life chapter (for locations, visit www.40daysforlife.com). Many Archdiocesan parishes are also participating in the Public Rosary Rally on Oct. 12. You can also participate in the National LifeChain on Oct. 6 (for more information, visit www.milwaukeelifechain.org). Dive into a papal encyclical that illustrates some of the beauty of our Catholic teaching on the sacredness of human life (Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae are both great places to start) so that your child understands the wisdom behind the Catholic defense of life in all its stages.
“One thing that is important is that students learn why these activities are taking place — that they are taught the foundational Catholic social teaching principle of ‘life and dignity of the human person,’” said Haines. “The Catholic Church takes a very consistent stand by protecting the sanctity of all human persons from ‘womb to tomb.’ This consistency will be attractive to our youth as they value authenticity and people and agencies that ‘walk the walk.’”