• Gianna Beretta Molla is a Catholic, Pro-life saint. She was a simple but significant
    messenger of divine love. Following the example of Christ, who “having loved his own who
    were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1), this mother of a family remained
    heroically faithful to the commitment she made on the day of her marriage. The extreme
    sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that those who have courage to give of themselves
    totally to God and to others are able to lead a life of fulfillment.
    Gianna was born in Milan (Italy), in 1922 (October 04). She received Christian
    education and she willingly accepted the gift of faith. She experienced life as a marvelous gift
    of God. After earning degree in medicine and surgery, she opened a medical clinic. She
    specialized in Pediatrics and gave attention to mothers, babies, the elderly and the poor.
    Gianna Beretta considered the field of medicine a 'mission' and rendered generous service.
    With simplicity and equilibrium, she harmonized the demands of a mother, wife, doctor and her
    passion for life.
    In 1961 during her pregnancy, she developed a fibroma in uterus. She was conscious
    of the risk to her continued pregnancy. But she pleaded with the surgeon, to save life of the
    child she was carrying. A few days before the child was due, although trusting in God's
    providence, she was ready to give her life to save the child. “If you must decide between
    mother and the child, do not hesitate; choose the child …' she told. Despite all efforts and
    treatments to save both of them, in the morning of April 28, 1962, in untold pain and after
    repeated exclamation of 'Jesus, I love you', the mother died'.
    Conscious immolation, was the phrase used by Pope Paul VI, to define the act of
    Gianna. A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed
    her own.
     
    Gianna was beatified on 24April 1994, during the International year of Family and
    canonized by Pope John Paul II as a saint, on 16th May 2004. St. Gianna is the patron saint for
    mothers, physicians and unborn children.
    By her example, we should rediscover the pure, chaste beauty of conjugal love, lived
    as a response to divine call. We learn how to place ourselves at the service of each person we
    meet within family and professional lives and thus grow in love and holiness, acknowledging
    the worth and dignity of human life.

    Life- Gift of God

     

    Life is a mystery and gift of God. The very purpose of life makes this world most
    vibrant. Human life is sacred as it involves the creative action of God. It remains forever in a
    special relationship with the Creator. God alone is the Lord of life. No one, can under any
    circumstance, claim the right to destroy an innocent human being. If only we understand the
    greatness and true worth of life, we will be able to value and protect life and become promoter
    of the same. Life is a unique gift of God. There are many theories of life. Science tells living
    matter originated from water and man is the result of evolution. The theory of evolution claims
    that the earth had changed since its creation. Our universe has proved to be in a constant
    change and progressive development. This theory further tells that life originated on earth
    after millions of years long, constant evolution-process. In the background of the Bible, we, the
    Christians believe that God has created life. He is the only source and end of life. Both science
    and Bible tell that the theory of the origin of life shall not be taken as contradictory. The Bible
    gives the answer to the question as to who has created life. The subject of study on the origin of
    life under science is how life developed. Therefore, the studies presented by both the Bible
    and science will help us to understand more and more about the value and sanctity of life.
    Life is a blessing (Wis. 4:8-9). Though science and religion study the reality at different
    levels they are concerned with the same thing. Einstein said, “Science without religion is
    dangerous. Religion without Science is blind.” Religion prevents science from falling into
    materialism and moral nihilism. Both science and Bible will have to help to be more aware on
    the greatness of life and the need of promoting the same. This study will also make us
    conscious of our responsibility to protect the nature and every form of life – the flora and fauna,
    environment, etc. Both science and religion are complementary and not contradictory.
    A culture which doesn't encourage to respect and protect life will pose a vital threat to
    the very existence of life. All the creatures, created by God have a right to exist, survive and
    grow to its fullness.

    Dignity of Man

     

    There is something special and holy about human life. Man is the crown of creation.
    Human life is different, because we share something of the nature of God. “God breathed into
    his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7). Genesis also says that man is made in the image and
    likeness of God.” So “God created humankind in His image; in the image of God he created
    them …” (Gen 1:27). This means that people in some way, are the reflection of God. In humans
    something of God himself can be seen. Man is different from other forms of life. Man is created
    with indestructible soul which lives after the body had died (Ps. 139:13-16). So man is given
    the honour and sanctity to partake directly in the divine life. That's the cause of his dignity and
    value. Hence life is sacred. Animals do not have souls, no reasoning or thinking power
    although they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.
    As God loves each person, whether new born, elderly, healthy, sickly, all are members
    in the same society and are in need of our care. The greatness and dignity of man is revealed
    to the world with the incarnation of Jesus, the beloved Son of God. Man became more aware
    that he is called to be the child of God.
    When the image and likeness of God in man was tarnished due to sin, Jesus came to
    redeem man from this lost sanctity through his saving acts by sacrificing his life on the cross.
    He has brought greater glory to human body by his resurrection from the dead. He gave us a
    share in his glorious resurrection. By sharing the divine life with man, God has implanted in him
    a great responsibility – to give life and the duty to protect life and do all that is possible to
    flourish this divine gift of life.
    God has revealed his mind in the 5th commandment, “You shall not kill.” This
    commandment forbids causing harm to life, directly or indirectly. The great responsibility to
    protect life is entrusted to humans by God Himself. God has very strongly conveyed His
    message to protect life when he questioned Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” (Gen. 4:9).
    We shall keep in mind that any threat to life, whether serious or not is a grave violation of divine
    commitment. In any given circumstance and at any place, we are bound to protect and respect
    life.

    Respect for Life

     

    Respect shown to human life is indeed the respect given to God, our Creator and end
    of life. It is the will of God that we respect human life, irrespective of caste, creed or nation. All
    are human beings worthy of our respect whether they are sick, disabled or marginalized.
    Anyone who suffers disability is also created by God - a human being of dignity and sanctity!
    Disability doesn't lessen his humanity. They deserve our special care and protection. It will be
    a grave sin to neglect those who are disabled, invalid or aged.
    There are many opportunities for us to become 'keepers' and protectors of our
    brethren, neighbours and needy fellowmen. We shall try to become protectors of life with due
    respect and concern towards others. Saints like, Maximilian Kolbe, Fr. Damien, Gianna
    Beretta, Blessed Mariyam Thresia and others became saints and people respected them as
    they were people who cared and safeguarded lives of others. They were inspired by the
    teachings of Jesus, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”
    (Jn 15:13).

    Challenges against Life

     

    There are many circumstances which raise challenges, threatening the quality and
    very existence of human life. On the one hand, we find people running after comforts and
    luxuries, offered and facilitated by the scientific and technological developments. On the other
    hand, we can see man submitting himself easily to inordinate desires, growing tensions of
    families, terrorism, and exploitation of religious sentiments. Due to all these evil tendencies
    and lust for luxuries and greed we witness many precious lives being lost, day by day, in the
    midst of the race of power.
    In this century, destructive circumstances are growing, supported and encouraged by
    various and different challenging elements of life. A proper knowledge about those threats,
    their adverse effects in the society etc will help a true Christian to be a promoter of life by
    leading an exemplary life.
     
     

    1. Abortion

     
    It is the deliberate and direct interruption of the generative process of human life.
    According to the 1980 statistics, each day and average of 30, 000 women have a baby and
    12000 have an abortion. This means that for every five live-births in the world, there are two
    abortions. The Church teaches: human life must be respected absolutely from the moment of
    conception; from the first moment of its existence, a human being must be recognized as
    having the rights of a person. The Bible says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and
    before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer. 1:5).
     
    We read in the Psalms, “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in
    secret intricately woven in the depths of the earth” (Ps. 139:15; Cf. 139:13-14). Since the first
    century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. Direct abortion,
    willed as an end or means is gravely contrary to the moral law: “You shall not kill.” In the
    encyclical, 'Gaudium et Spes' we learn, “God, the Lord of life, has entrusted the men the noble
    mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life
    must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and
    infanticide are abominable crimes” (GS. 51:3). Therefore, since it must be treated from
    conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for and healed as
    far as possible, like any other human beings. We have seen that abortion is the deliberate
    termination of life in the mother's womb by human intervention. Some people justify abortion
    as a method of Family Planning and population control but it is, in fact, a killing and a grave sin.
    Termination of life of an infant who is defenseless and helpless is equal to killing and is a very
    grave sin. Mother Theresa warns, “No nation that permits abortion can ever progress in the
    world. The best nation is the one which takes measures to safeguard life of the helpless and
    defenseless.”
    As already mentioned - foetus - infant growing in the womb of its mother is also a
    human being and its life is also precious. It has the right to grow to its fullness. The Vat. II
    document on “Church in the Modern World” speaks, “Life must be protected with the utmost
    care from the moment of conception” (Church in the Modern World 51). People resort to
    abortion when an unexpected pregnancy occurs. There is serious discussion: pregnancy can
    be inopportune when it is a result of a force, rape or that the continuation of pregnancy would
    involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or when there is substantial risk of the child
    born, what could be legally and morally justified?
    Whatever the reasons advanced abortion results in the death of a weak and helpless
    human being. Abortion leaves deep psychological and emotional scares on the mother who as
    a result, could experience serious bouts of depression and hysteria. Abortion would also lead
    to a general devaluation of life and a regeneration of social and individual morality. To conclude
    this short discussion we bring a passage from Abortion, the silent Holocaust, by John Powell,
    “Once you permit the killing of an unborn child, there will be no stopping. There will be no agelimit.
    You are setting off a chain reaction that will, even though, make you the victim. Your
    children may kill you for they will not want to support you in old age. Your children may need
    your home and states. If a doctor will take money for killing the innocent in the womb, he will kill
    you with a needle when paid for your children; this is the terrible nightmare you are creating for
    the future.” Abortion is also called the double death syndrome as it may lead to death of the
    child and mother. Women die of unsafe abortion every year.
     
    Youth are both the future of the country and the most likely victims of deviations. The
    traditional values, imparted at home, must be reinforced at school. The dangers of considering
    sex as the source of irresponsible pleasure must be etched in their minds so that they may
    realize that reckless behaviour is a one-way-ticket to unhappiness and death. Dangers that
    threaten the young loom large each day in contemporary India, due to the liberalization of the
    economic policy and subsequent invasion of Western cultural mores. The economic revolution
    seems to have set off a 'sexual revolution' on the Indian adolescence circle. This has to be
    watched and guided in order to bridle those forces that prove catastrophic.
     

    2. Crime of Killing (Homicide)

     

    The crime of killing is the most serious of crimes for which society reserves the
    strongest punishment. Murder is an extreme crime that engenders special horror. The act of
    killing is the killing of a human being, unjust way of taking away of human life. The direct killing
    of an innocent person is the most grievous of sins. It is the violation of the supreme ownership
    of God over the lives of His creatures. It is also an outrage upon the most cherished and
    fundamental rights enjoyed by man – right to life.
    The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The
    murderer and those who co-operate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries for justice
    (Gen 4: 10). Infanticide, fratricide, patricide and murder of a spouse etc are especially grave by
    reason of the natural bond which they break. The fifth commandment forbids doing anything
    that indirectly brings about a person's death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to
    mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing help to a person in danger.
    In our times planned violence and killing are alarmingly on the rise. Killing out of
    revenge or with sinful designs are daily occurrences. Homicide takes place due to greed for
    power, lust and luxuries. It is the duty of every Christian to rise against the rising crime and
    violence and to prevent crime of killing innocent persons.

    3. Suicide (Terminator Syndroms)

     

    God is our source of life and the sovereign authority over life. We must be thankful for
    the gift of life and it is our sacred duty to safeguard it. We are only stewards to this divine gift of
    life entrusted to us. We have no right to inflict any harm or destroy life. So everyone is
    responsible for his life before God. No doubt, it is God alone who remains the sovereign master
    of life. We must protect life for His honour and the salvation of our souls. As was mentioned, we
    are not the owners of the life and it is not ours to dispose the same. Suicide contradicts the
    natural inclination of humankind to preserve and perpetuate life. It is of course adverse to the
    just love of self. It also offends love of neighbours because it unjustly breaks the ties of
    solidarity with family, friends near and dear ones and other human societies to which we
    continue to have obligations. Suicide is a grave scandal to the society. Voluntary co-operation
    and leading a person to suicide is a grave violation of the moral law.
     
    Timely care and treatment of persons with suicide tendency can reduce a number of
    such incidents. It is also necessary to identify and prevent circumstances and reasons leading
    one to suicide. We shall take care that no one should disturb the eternal plan of our salvation.
    The church is alert and vigilant to see that no one is perished by resorting to this extreme act of
    suicide. Our Christian conscience prompts us to pray for God's grace to keep our mind and
    soul healthy and happy for a peaceful and contended life.

    4. Euthanasia (Mercy Killing)

     

    The word 'Euthanasia' comes from the Greek, meaning “good death” (Eu = well,
    Thanatos = death), signifying mercy. It refers to the practice of ending life in a manner which
    relieves pain and suffering. It is a deliberate intervention undertaken with the intention of
    ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering. It can be categorized as voluntary and non
    voluntary, active and passive, assisted Euthanasia, etc.
     
    1. Voluntary Euthanasia:It is when the person who is killed has requested to be killed.
    2. Non Voluntary:When the person who is killed made no request to be killed.
    3. Assisted:Someone provides help or guidance for. When it is a doctor who helps – it is
    physician-assisted.
    4. By Action:When intentionally causing death, not with the consent of the person
    suffering. Eg. - Death by giving a lethal injection (an Action).when intentionally causing death by not providing necessary care, food,
    water or medicine.
     
    Euthanasia is usually considered to be criminal homicide, when it is active – with the
    intention of killing by action or omission of a dependent human being for his of her alleged
    benefit. So, Euthanasia is the process of killing a person who is mentally or physically sick,
    suffering from an incurable decease without his/her consent. Ending life of a person suffering
    from a terminal illness can't be considered an act of mercy. It is against dignity of a human
    being and against moral values. For a Christian, pain and suffering are not always evil. Our
    Lord Jesus Christ through his suffering, agony and crucifixion has brought about eternal
    salivation for each and every one of us. So, he regained our lost dignity and added value and
    sanctity to human suffering. We consider, for example the lives of saints who voluntarily
    suffered pain, martyrdom and violent death for the sake of others. Therefore, pain and
    suffering may not be totally evil in all the circumstances. It is consoling to see that there are
    palliative care centers to give considerable care and relief and bring hope in patients who
    suffer due to terminal diseases. No doubt our care and loving presence with due kindness can
    serve a lot in this sphere. This is what Christianity demands form each of us.
    5. By Omission:

    5. Use of Drugs

     

    Since the beginning of the recorded history, people have used drugs to provide
    pleasure, to escape from pain and to get relief from illness. Our time is witnessing a rapid
    increase in the availability and use of drug. This is due to the rise of technically oriented
    societies devoted to advances in Chemistry and to the greater production of synthetic
    substances. The increased use of drugs poses serious threats to the humans. Drugs are
    substances that influence the function of living tissues. Drugs are powerful agents for either
    good or harm. Most people tend to abuse drugs due to their soothing, anaesthetizing
    (Sedative), and stimulating properties. The problems have gained a new dimension with the
    increased use of narcotics and other drugs. The increased use of drugs has been posing great
    danger to the physical and psychological health of the users. Addiction to certain
    habit–forming drugs involves such a compelling desire that the addict becomes a virtual slave
    to the habit and may begin to use a drug to get relief from pain or fatigue. Before they realize
    the negative impact, seductive effect, they develop overwhelming desire for drugs. They
    become so desperate for regular dose that they often resort to crime to get money for the
    same. The total helplessness of the addict is miserable – no sleep, cant work, can't stop taking
    drug and are driven to s stage of madness. The best advice to anybody is: “Don't start.”
    Pleasure, prosperity and comforts are not values which can fill the human heart. Man needs
    higher ideals to live and work for. If the young people learn to deal with their personal problems
    with the help of responsible, caring people they will realize that a life can be fruitful without
    substance of abuse. The pressure of social living attracts people to drug use. The use of
    alcohol and drugs adversely affect the life and health of the user. It is definitely an obstacle to
    progress and peaceful family life and the person becomes an enemy to the society. It mars a
    person's capacity to dispense his ordinary duties. Alcoholic and drug users are generally antisocial
    and serious violators of the commandment of God. As true Christians, we have the
    responsibility to create awareness about the adverse use of all kinds of drugs and alchahol.
    We can also extend sympathetic assistance by co-operating with the organizations working
    towards de-addiction care and by supporting anti-alcoholic drive by the enlightened pressure
    groups.

    Promotion of pro-Life Culture

     

    While making a reference to the modern world and its culture, it is Pope John Paul II
    who used the word, 'the culture of death'. Culture of death is the result of the commercialization
    of life itself. The sins and crime against life, exploitation and misuse of the nature and reforms
    are all heading towards lust and luxury of man and ultimately violence and violation of
    ecological balance.
     
    It is our sacred duty to protect and promote human life, controlling the destructive
    activities. Mankind is being pulled by the culture of death through drug abuse, homicide,
    suicide, abortion, sponsored crime etc. If society holds human life so cheaply, it is no surprise
    that young people will also hold life cheaply by engaging in violences. Much in our modern
    culture, there is something toxic to the life of the human beings. We have become masters by
    allowing the exploitation of the unborn for our economic and medical gain. Both legal and
    illegal activities which promote a culture of death reinforce and sustain each other spreading
    darkness of social conscience. It is our duty as Christians at every opportunity to promote and
    protect life which is the most fundamental right through works of justice and peace.
    We have to renew our conviction that it is time to abandon the illusion that we can
    protect life by taking life by violent means.
    Respect and development of human life require peace. Everything peaceful is the fruit
    of the prince of peace – Christ (Eph. 2: 14; Mt. 5: 9). We are to renounce violence and
    bloodshed and to safeguard human rights by our exemplary life and activities and bearing
    witness to evangelical value. We shall learn to reverse 'evil' by learning to live well. (Reverse to
    word 'evil' to make the word 'live'). As devoted Christians it is our duty to foster life. The
    following factors may help us to nurture a culture of life with due reverence.

     

    1. Be aware of the dignity and sanctity of Human Life

     

    As a first step towards the protection and promotion of human life, one should be
    sufficiently aware and convinced of its value and dignity. If you are ignorant, it may lead you to
    take life and obligation towards others as mere legality. This mentality may lead one to engage
    in violence and a culture of death and disrespect to the gift of life. Study classes, media
    education etc can be arranged in groups to create awareness and to proclaim the dignity of
    human life.
     
     

    2. Proclamation of the sanctity of human life

     
    It is not enough that we are simply aware of the importance of human life. We shall be
    prepared to make others convinced of the importance of human life and the sacred duty to
    promote the same. People can be enlightened about the same through seminars, study
    classes, audio-visual and media education.
     

    3. Co-operation in respecting and protecting Life

     
    In order to promote a culture of life it is necessary that we give due respect to others.
    Whenever programmes are being organized for the promotion of human life, arrange prayer
    groups. We shall extent full co-operation and ensure our participation.

     

    4. Children, the wealth of Family

     

    Family is the cradle of the culture of life. Children are the extended life of parents and
    they are to be taken proper care with the strong conviction that life is precious and wonderful
    gift of God. Children are to be welcomed and accepted happily and helped to grow gracefully
    inculcating in them moral values and respect for self and others.
     

    5. Engage in Pro- Life Activities

     
     
    Pro-life activists are promoters of the culture of human life. By way of encouragement
    and extending support to them we too can contribute much to the good cause of life. Let us try
    to be the collaborators in the campaign to protect and promote a culture of life as against the
    culture of death. Thus, we can save the society from the culture of violence and destruction of
    life, by faithfully following the example and teaching of our Lord, who is life, and life in the
    abundance.
    There is a need for moral regeneration or spiritual renewal of mankind. Spirit of love,
    mutual respect and peaceful co-existence can help to check up violence and the destructive
    brute in man. Humankind must awaken from the slumber and discard violence and other base
    instincts for its own survival. God has created us in His image but he has created us in
    freedom. Abundance of life depends on the choices and decisions we make and we are free to
    choose the best or worst. Let s choose life and sow seeds of life. Let us promote life so that all
    may have abundance of life. That is the glory of God! (Jn 10:10).
    Life is priceless; it has to be carefully nurtured. When we are thoughtless and careless
    we hurt others by the use of harsh words, rude criticisms and pointless remarks. Such
    behavior paralyses life. Love and life beget life. Develop virtues of compassion, kindness, and
    care for others, forgiveness, tolerance and sense reconciliation for a peaceful co-existence.

     

    I. Let us Discuss

     

    1. Scientific and Biblical views presented on the origin of life are not contradictory but
    they are complementary.
    2. Christians are duty bound to promote a culture of life.

     

    III. Activity

     
    Prepare a colash on the 'promotion of a culture of life.’
     

    IV. Let us Read and Reflect

     
    Psalms 139: 13-24.

    Find out Answers

    Let us Enlighten our Hearts