Guardian Angels News

Pastoral Pearls: National Celebration of Life Day

Posted by MaryPat Potts on

Human dignity is the same for all human beings: when I trample on the dignity of another, I am trampling on my own. ~ Pope Francis

January 22 is National Celebration of Life Day! 

This day is a reminder that each child and each life is to be held as a precious gift with the highest respect and dignity. In one sense it is easy for me to look at babies and children and see the precious gift they are, and the right they have to a wonderful life. But it occurred to me that I less often look at people in some walks of life or some life realities as being that same gift or being deserving of dignity and respect.

In visiting senior care centers – or when my dad and mom were each in such a facility – I would notice so many residents who seemed to be only seen in their diminished capacities. Staff might treat them as children or, sadly, even stupid. But I found myself looking at the symbols or photos outside their rooms from the life they lived before they arrived in the senior facility. I would wonder what kind of person they had been, what kind of job or role they had, what their interests and adventures were, what their intelligent thoughts had been. When I see them in this time of their life - very small in proportion to their whole life – I miss who they really are. I would think about the rich life of ups and downs that each of my parents had lived, that nobody at their facility really knew or cared about, and I became fascinated by the stories I would hear of other residents and their own very full lives. But somehow, rather than celebrating this life, it seems they were diminished to the person they often hated being at the end of their lives.

A person is their story. How often do I make the effort to get the real story of a person? – elderly; living in poverty or temporarily homeless; with a chronic or terminal illness; living with physical or mental disabilities or illnesses; and so much more... How often do I just write them off or choose not to see them?  How often do I help those people celebrate their lives, however they may be? I guess it starts with me seeing them as a precious gift, worthy of dignity and respect and celebrating. Then, with God’s help, taking an action outside of myself to help them see themselves  in that light. Then, maybe I can help them find what to celebrate about them or their life.

Loving God, remind me to always discover a person’s story, what makes them who they are. Guide me to treat their story with love, to help them realize the gift that they are and to celebrate their gifts!  As I see a person as gift from you, may I treat each person, even those I do not understand or prefer not to see, with respect and dignity they deserve as a child of God , gifted uniquely by you, for your own infinitely wise purpose. May I celebrate the life you have given me as well, with immense gratitude. ~ Amen



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