Respect Life Month is a call to pray for respect of all human life, and the protection of human rights
Charlotte James of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church considers every moment she spends with her husband of 34 years, George, a blessing. In January 1998, she almost lost him in a horrific car accident, which ultimately left him with short-term memory loss, limited mobility, and the need for around-the-clock care. For the past 16 years, Charlotte has lovingly tended to her husband’s needs, allowing him to live his life with dignity.
“A week after the accident, I remember the doctors suggesting that I take him off life support, and I didn’t even want to talk about it,” she said. “I knew God still had plans for him.”
Charlotte admits that becoming a caregiver was a challenge. At the same time she was adjusting to her new role, she was also grieving the death of her father and caring for her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
“It was a difficult time, but God gave me strength,” James said. “I learned what truly mattered in life.”
In the years that followed, George suffered a stroke and is currently battling pancreatic cancer. Still, “he continues to be the light of our lives,” Charlotte said, gently squeezing George’s hand. “It is such a blessing that we are still together.”
Charlotte and George James exemplify this year’s Respect Life month theme — “Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation.” The theme was adapted from Pope Francis’ 2013 Day for Life greeting, in which he said that “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
With Respect Life month in October, Bishop Noonan reminds us that we are called to look upon life as sacred and a gift from God.
“We are made in the image and likeness of God. Looking upon God’s creation, everything he creates is good,” he said. “It is sad that the most vulnerable suffer. The only way to overcome this is with respect and love for one another.”
Sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Respect Life program started in 1972, as a result of the Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Since then, the U.S. bishops have set aside the month of October as “Respect Life Month,” a time for the faithful to reflect on life issues and to pray for and promote greater respect for all human life.
Living as we are all masterpieces “goes back to Catholic Social teaching and our faith that we believe that every person is unique and created in God’s image and, therefore, has great dignity,” said Deborah Shearer, director of the Diocese of Orlando Office of Advocacy and Justice. “The U.S. bishops remind us that in the world, with the global controversies, the bioethics controversies, war, treatment of people by terrorists, and the thousands of people who are de-humanized and treated in such horrific ways, that being respectful to people and giving them their dignity, from conception until natural death, isn’t just something that is nice to do – it should be the standard in our lives.”