Pro Life Stewardship - written by Father Jim Whalen - Priests for Life Canada Newsletter - 2005 Issue 3
by Fr. Jim
Whalen Priests for Life
Newsletter Issue 3 - 2005
Fr. Jim Whalen, who was one of the greatest Canadian advocates for life.died suddenly on Sunday, February 24, 2008, at the age of 68.while conducting a Pro-Life Parish Mission in Thorold, ON
Stewardship is not an
option for pro-life disciples. It is a necessity. It means responding to a
personal call to “choose life” and imitate Christ, no matter what the cost.
Catholics have a duty to be stewards of human life - Jesus did not hesitate to
carry out His mission and expects no less from his followers: “I came so that
they might have life and have it more abundantly...” (Jn 10:10). Living as a
pro-life steward means collaborating with God in His work of creation and
cooperating with God in His work of redemption. A pro-life Christian steward is
one who recognizes, receives, and respects God’s gifts of life thankfully -
taking care, cherishing them in a responsible and accountable manner, sharing
them in love and justice with others, and returning them with increase to the
‘Giver of Life’. A pro-life steward recognizes God as the origin of life, the
giver of freedom, and the source of all they have, are, and will be. Once human
beings have accepted their lives as gifts, the Spirit can use them as
instruments to spread the ‘Gospel of Life’.
difficult to be a pro-life steward in the ‘Culture of Death’ society that
surrounds and suffocates us. The contraceptive mentality we live in is due
largely to the strong influences of materialism, relativism, hedonism,
individualism, and consumerism. There is a strong tendency to marginalize faith,
confining it to hearts and homes, excluding it from the media and marketplace,
from where policy is often formed, where many acquire their view of life and its
meaning. There is a lack of charity, a lack of love, and a selfishness which
pervades our world. There are extreme disparities in wealth and power that
hinder unity and communion. There is a need for solidarity and contributive
justice, for the measurement of productivity by fulfillment of basic needs,
employment levels, patterns of discrimination, and a sense of community. There
is a persistence of religious conflicts and divisions. There is a need for
mercy, forgiveness, and truth, Stewardship of life, the Lord’s way, is not
about comfortable living, feeling good, or pleasant experiences. It means
surrendering ourselves through grace and choice.
It is not an illusion.
It is not cheap grace.
It is real.
It is costly.
It is demanding.
become stewards of life by grace, starting with our Baptism, which makes us into
a royal priesthood and members of God’s family. This means sharing in the
priestly work of Jesus and acting on His behalf. This means imitating Him. “For
in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all
things for Him, making peace by the blood of His Cross” (Col 1:19-20). It means
putting aside the desire for possession, control and domination. It means
seeking grace because it confers true liberation and eternal life. It also means
the condemnation of sin and reparation: living a life of grace, reaching out,
and accepting the call to greater conversion. It means accepting the divine
mandate given to our first parents: “Be fertile and multiply, fill the earth and
subdue it” (Gen 1:28). We are challenged to work, to cultivate, and to care for
the gifts of creation, for life, and all living things. This is fundamental to
our human vocation and necessary for human happiness and fulfillment. Vatican II
emphasizes our task - the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life: “From the
moment of its conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care...”
(Gaudium et Spes, #51).
principle of stewardship applies to all believers. In this age of unbelief we
are asked to follow Christ, step by step, in the service of human life: “Each
one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for
all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others” (1
Pet 4:10). We must give to God all that is due to Him. We must in charity and
justice give to human persons all that is due to them. This means not only
giving of ourselves and embracing pro-life discipleship whole-heartedly and
cheerfully, but also in realizing our responsibility, we must also give the full
amount for which we are accountable. “I will demand an account of every man’s
life from his fellowmen” (Gen 9:5).
stewards our first and foremost responsibility is to give ourselves - our lives.
Jesus made this very clear: “Whoever shall save his life [live for self], shall
lose it, but whoever shall lose his life [live for Christ and neighbour] for My
sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it [in following Christ]” (Mk
8:34-35). Pro-life stewardship means giving priority to God and our neighbor.
The Holy Scriptures point us in the right direction:
- Loving God and others ( Deut 6:5). - Be found
faithful (l Cor 4:2). - Choose Life (Deut 30:19). - Pray constantly (1
Thess 5:17). - To Evangelize (Mt 28:19:20). - Seek justice (Zeph
2:3). - Put self on the altar of sacrifice (Rom l2:1). - Be holy (l Thess
4:3). - Resist and oppose evil to the point of shedding blood (Heb
12:4). - Be forgiving (Eph 4:32). - Imitate Mary’s Fiat (Lk
Jesus, it is Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen and Mother of the Americas,
Mother of Life, Star of the New Evangelization, Patroness of Life, who, by her
example, teaches the meaning of stewardship. The essential elements are found in
her life. She responded generously, creatively, and prudently to God’s call and
gifts. She understood her role as handmaid in terms of service and fidelity. As
Mother she was the first Protectrix of Jesus in the womb, and this continued on
into infancy, childhood, and then adulthood - until the agony of Christ’s
Passion and Death (Jn 19:25). As ‘Mother of the Church’ (Pope Paul VI,
Discourse, 1964), Mary’s stewardship is articulated in the Constitution on the
Church (Lumen Gentium). She is “clearly the Mother of the members of Christ”
(#53). She is invoked in the Church under these titles: Advocate, Helper,
Benefactress, and Mediatix (#62). Pope John Paul II explained her role in
Redemptoris Mater: “Mary is one of the first who believed and precisely with her
faith, as Spouse and Mother, she wishes to act upon all those who entrust
themselves to her as children” (#46). The pro-life disciple is called to
share all he or she possesses as gifts and blessings with others for the sake of
the Kingdom of God. Good stewards of life live with joy and gratitude for what
they have received, living in communion with Christ and the Spirit and strive
through diligence and hard work to multiply these blessings so as to offer them
back to the Father. They have come to realize and understand their personal
responsibility: “To each individual a manifestation of the Spirit is given for
some benefit” (l Cor 12:7).
Pro-life stewardship is a position of trustworthiness
and faithfulness. In many cases it is a matter of life or death choices. Of
necessity, it implies competence and commitment to God and our neighbours. It
involves proper use of initiative, talents, and abilities. It also means hard
work and tremendous efforts. At times it includes taking appropriate risks
courageously. It means accepting a sense of responsibility for one’s personal
development: spiritual dimension, discipleship, etc.; for relationships within
the family, the workplace and the wider community: follow the ‘Golden Rule’; for
certain entrusted material, financial possessions, and resources: keeping
promises, fulfilling expectations, loyalty, integrity, etc.
Catholics advocate that pro-life stewardship be
Trinitarian, Eucharistic, Scriptural, Marian, and Magisterial. It means giving
thanks to God for the gifts received and sharing them with others, “leading to
works of charity and mutual help, as well as to missionary activity and to
different forms of Christian witness” (Vatican II, Presbyterorum Ordinis, #6).
It means living the fundamental pattern of stewards: “Serve one another through
love..., bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfil the law of Christ”
(Gal 5:13; 6:2). It means service of life by doing all for Jesus, through Mary,
by doing all with Jesus and Mary (True Devotion, St Louis de
stewards are called to share the life of the Blessed Trinity: “Go, therefore,
make disciples of all the nations: baptize them in the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). Pro-life disciples model their
lives on their Master, Jesus Christ, who said: “I have come not to be served but
to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:28). +
NOTES: Information &
Stewardship, a Disciple’s Response, U.S.C.C.C.B.
Publishing, 10th Anniversary Edition, Washington, DC, No. 5-465, 80 pp.
To be a
Christian Steward, Summary U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Stewardship,
U.S.C.C.C.B. Publishing, No 568-2, 16 pp.
Make Disciples, Evangelization Strategy, U.S. Catholic Bishops, No. 5-475, 104
Principles for Life, Robert Boyd, 1995,
Chapter 12, Stewardship, pp. 109-114. +