One hundred percent for life

Sister Judith Sutera | October 4, 2017


I can’t believe I’m writing another column noting yet another horrible act of unprovoked violence, each one worse than the last. None of the worst mass shootings in this country was committed by an illegal alien, a person with close ties to international terrorism, or someone who flew in from one of the banned travel nations. They were committed by individuals with mental illness and access to powerful weapons.

On a recent trip east, I stopped to visit friends in the Appalachian area of Kentucky. At a roadside flea market, next to the produce, DVDs and socks, we saw tables of guns that would be the envy of some small-town police officers. There were even fancy women’s purses with built-in holsters at the back for concealed carry. What I didn’t see was any paperwork being done as these guns changed hands.

Despite the rush for more guns in this country, I have yet to hear of a single one of these terrible events that was prevented or stopped in progress by any bystanders with pistols in their pockets. I have heard, however, of at least two recent area shootings of small children who picked up guns that didn’t have safety locks on them, locks which, by the way, some cities give out for free. That’s how it is these days in the land of the free and the home of the scared.

Last Sunday, some Atchison residents were part of an annual event called National Life Chain. Because of a scheduling conflict involving a number of our sisters, only a few were available to join the group that stretched along Highway 59 through the city. Though we were few in number, one of our signs says it all: “Benedictine Sister — 100% for Life” — an important proclamation in a world that seems to be so much about death. While the event is primarily to draw attention to deaths caused by voluntary abortion, there are many ways in which the unborn and the recently born are having their lives involuntarily ended as well.

There are no statistics on how many babies die before or shortly after birth in random acts of violence or in the flood of refugee mothers fleeing wars and persecutions. How many babies are lost because of their mothers’ drug addictions or poor prenatal health care? So much in our world seems to be anti-life. Hurricane victims without food, water or power are told they shouldn’t expect other people to do everything for them. People racing from their war-torn homes with only the clothes on their backs are told to go back where they came from. Impoverished families and handicapped children are told there might not be money for them because the wealthy don’t want to pay more taxes. Pharmaceutical companies say they are not responsible for the opioid epidemic after they told millions of people that their new painkillers were not addictive and marketed them aggressively for every little ache.

The pro-life movement and the prayers that we say regularly at our monastery refer to “respect for life from conception to natural death.” With all that is going on around us, and in our own neighborhoods and families, every citizen of Atchison County should have been lining Utah Avenue last Sunday. But we weren’t … not even me as I was stuck at that aforementioned meeting. However, there are 364 other days in the year that we can put ourselves on the line by praying for the victimized, being people of peace ourselves, and speaking up for all human rights, not just the right to bear arms, but the right to put them down and seek life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in peace.