This year’s Day for Life will be celebrated on Sunday 3 October on the theme ‘The Good Samaritan: A Model of Compassion’. Day for Life is celebrated annually by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales as a day dedicated to raising awareness of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition.
Commenting on the theme chosen for this year’s Day for Life message, Bishop Kevin Doran, chair of the Bishops’ Council for Life said, “In the context of the recent proposal to introduce assisted suicide, both in Ireland and the UK, this year’s Day for Life message invites Catholics to consider a more positive and compassionate response to the care of people who are in the final stages of life.
“The Catholic Church’s approach to end of life care is well articulated in the recent Vatican document Samaritanus bonuson the care of persons in the critical and terminal phases of life.
“In that document we are reminded that Jesus gave us the image of the good Samaritan as the model for our compassion and our solidarity with those who find themselves vulnerable and who fear being abandoned in their final illness. The Good Samaritan is one who “crosses over”, who “binds up wounds” and who, most important of all “stays with” the person for as long as is required.
“There is much that we can do to foster a culture of life. We can begin by overcoming our fear of talking honestly about death and dying. Dying is as natural and universal as living and breathing yet our society can make it difficult for people to talk about it. As Christians, of course, our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus will stand to us. For some, if not for all, the support of prayer, and the opportunity to share faith can be of great help.
“I invite parishes to share this year’s Day for Life message as an important contribution to discussions on the issue of end of life care.”
Day for Life celebrated in Ireland since 2001
Day for Life has been celebrated in Ireland since 2001. The Day for Life was initiated by Pope John Paul II, to encourage the Catholic Church worldwide to promote and celebrate the sacredness of life. In his 1995 Encyclical Letter ‘Evangelium Vitae’ (‘The Gospel of Life’), the late Pope proposed that “a day for life be celebrated each year in every country.” The primary purpose of this day should be “to foster in individual consciences, in families, in the Church, and in civil society, recognition of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition” (EV #85). Day for Life is the Church’s special day dedicated to celebrating the dignity of life from conception to natural death. Since 2001, the following themes have been chosen to celebrate the annual Day for Life:
2001: Proclaiming the Gospel of Life; 2002: End of Life Care – Ethical and Pastoral Issues; 2003: The Wonder of Life, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II; 2004: Life is for Living – A Reflection on suicide; 2005: Cherishing the Evening of Life; 2006: Celebrating the life and presence of people with disabilities in the Church and in society; 2007: Blessed is the fruit of your womb – dedicated to protecting all human life; 2008: Mental Health – mental ill-health can happen to anyone; 2009: Focus on suicide, particularly the pastoral dimensions of this difficult and sensitive subject; 2010: The meaning of Christian death and care for those who are dying; 2011: A call to solidarity and hope in difficult times; 2012: Choose Life!; 2013: Care for Life: It’s Worth It; 2014: Protect and Cherish Life #Livelife; 2015: Cherishing Life: Accepting Death’; 2016: Everything is Connected; 2017: Fostering a Culture that Protects Life and Respects Women; 2018: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery; 2019: The Scourge of Domestic Abuse; and 2020: Choose Life.
The Council for Life website www.councilforlife.ie has this year’s Day for Life message as well as additional resources including prayers, as well as web and social media visuals promoting this year’s theme.