"It is good that you exist." Inside:
Reflection on love and a culture of life Pictures from Christmas and other events
Tips for a good Lent Book Recommendation
Love Saves Lives This January, hundreds of thousands of people, including many of our Sisters and their students, attended the March for Life. This year, the theme for the March for Life was “Love Saves Lives.” What exactly does this mean? It does not seem possible that love can save lives, but this is just what love does: it saves lives. This is true of natural love, but it is most preeminently true of the infused virtue of charity. St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast day we celebrated soon after the March for Life, defines charity in terms of the love of friendship, and citing Aristotle, explains that “In the first place, every friend wishes his friend to be and to live” (Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 25, A. 7). At first blush, this does not seem like a very deep expression of love—do we not wish our friends more than mere existence? Reflecting on the thought of Thomas, Josef Pieper explains that the affirmation of the existence of another, the exclamation, “It is good that you exist; how wonderful that you are!” is fundamental to all true love (Pieper, Faith, Hope and Love, p. 174).
“It is good that you exist; how wonderful that you are!” God speaks this benediction over each of us from the first moment of our existence and in every moment, but He also wills that our existence be affirmed by our fellow man. This is especially necessary because ever since Adam and Eve hid in shame after their sin, human beings have been inclined to hide. We are ashamed, afraid that our existence is not good, is not enough, is not lovely. In the face of this tremendous shame and fear, only love can free us from our hiding places. Some hiding places are rather crowded: we hide behind our physical appearance, behind our social media profiles, behind our work, behind our sin, behind our successes, behind our sufferings, behind our poverty, behind our wealth, but love sees through all this. Love sees us in our hiding places and says, “Come out, I have found you. You are lovely” (cf. Song of Songs 2:14). It is with this love that God searched for Adam and Eve in the garden, and it is with this love that He kept searching even to the point of sending His Son to lie hidden in a dark tomb for three days and to come out triumphant. He is constantly seeking us in the dark tombs of our hiding places, asking us to rise and walk out.
Love Saves Lives, cont. Through the infused virtue of charity, God gives us the power to love with the same love and power that triumphs over even the darkest hiding place of death (cf. Romans 8:11). With this charity, He invites us to search out those in hiding. During the March for Life, we remembered those unborn children who live hidden in their mother’s wombs, and we continue to pray for each mother, that she will receive the grace and human help she needs to say to her unborn child, “It is good that you exist.” This affirmation quite literally saves lives—from abortion, but also from the death that comes from lack of love. If a baby or young child is not loved, he dies. Mothers are the ones who can concretely and powerfully offer this love to a child when he is still hidden from the world. What a tremendous power! Love saves lives.
Through the infused virtue of charity, God gives us the power to love with the same love and power that triumphs over even the darkest hiding place of death. In order to help these small, hidden unborn lives, we must build a culture of love, a culture where each person has heard and experienced that “It is so good you exist.” Without this, women and men in difficult situations will be too afraid to love their babies into life outside the womb. They may stand to lose much on a natural level if they choose life, and they can only face such loss if they know they are loved. If they feel free to escape from their hiding places, they will allow their unborn children to come into the light and live. Love saves lives. In order to build a culture of life, we must love every person: the poor, the homeless, the immigrant, the prisoner, the elderly, the sick, the annoying person, the proud person, the militant atheist, the superficial person, the entitled person, the painfully disfigured person, the enemy. No hiding place is too dark for the love of Christ, who sought us in the dark cave of Bethlehem, who sought us in the sealed tomb of Golgotha, and who seeks us still in the hiding places of our lives. He called his dear friend in the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43), and He calls us to come out as well—to come out of our hiding places and to join Him in seeking out those who still hide. Love saves lives.
Christmas at the Motherhouse
Christmas this year was filled with the joyful sounds of Sisters praising the newborn King with instruments and voice and of happy gatherings preparing for and enjoying meals together.
Several of our Sisters were able to attend the Student Leadership Summit sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). The Sisters were delighted to visit and pray Compline (see above left) with many students and missionaries. We were especially excited to send Sister Margaret Joseph to participate in SLS as she is a former FOCUS missionary!
March for Life 2018 Many Sisters attended the March for Life from near and far, traveling with other Sisters and with students.
Ideas for a Fruitful Lent As you are planning your Lenten observances, don't forget to pray to the Holy Spirit and to be prudent. The Lord wants our observance of Lent to free us to Pr receive in greater abundance the Love flowing from His cross. g n i ay Some practical ideas: iv e
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Say a morning offering first thing in the morning (before checking the phone).
Serve the poor once a week through direct service. Give away a significant portion of your nice clothes to those in need.
Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day. Read 1-2 chapters of Scripture each day and write down 1 verse.
Donate 15% of your income to the poor. Write one letter of gratitude to a different person each day.
Go to daily Mass. Add 10 minutes of silent prayer to your day.
Whenever you start to complain, say something positive instead.
Pray the Stations of the Cross each day.
Give kind attention to Pray for each person one lonely or isolated with whom you Fasting person each day. come in contact. Avoid eating at restaurants and Give up TV and movies, Visit the elderly Pray the give money saved to the poor. including online. or sick twice rosary each Give up eating between meals. Give up the snooze button. a week. day. Avoid phone use after 8 p.m. Give up taking pictures. Only get news from a printed source. Give up social media. Give up listening to recorded music. Give up salt, pepper, and condiments. Image: Diego Velรกzquez, "Christ Crucified" (PD-1923).
Recommended Reading Faith, Hope, Love By Josef Pieper
In this book, which is a collection of three separate books, Josef Pieper analyzes and reflects on faith, hope, and love. Pieper especially relies on the thinking of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas, as he writes about these three virtues. The section on love provided many of the ideas on which the above reflection is based. His treatment of love includes an examination of the definition of love, the relationship between eros and agape, and potential obstacles to love, such as acedia.
“We say that a person 'blossoms' when undergoing the experience of being loved; that he becomes wholly himself for the first time; that a 'new life' is beginning for him--and so forth. For a child,, and to all appearances even for the still unborn child, being loved by the mother is literally the precondition for its own thriving. This material love need not be 'materialized'' in specific acts of beneficence. What is at any rate more decisive is that concern and approval which are given from the very core of existence--we need not hesitate to say, which come from the heart--and which are directed toward the core of existence, the heart, of the child" (p. 174).