Saturday, November 10, 2012


A local church marquee has the following message on its board:  "Live a life that matters."

A question jumped into my mind immediately when I read this:  what actually is a "life that matters"?

First of all, bad lives can truly "matter" in the sense of having great influence.  We don't need to think too far back to think of lives that "mattered" greatly, all for the worst.

But beyond that, what about a life makes it one that "matters"?  I think in part one has to ask, "Matters--to whom?"  And for too many of us, we think the answer to this question involves the quanity of those to whom we might "matter," rather than the quality of our "mattering."

My baby brother died at the age of six months; did he live a life that "mattered"?  If and when you get to heaven, you can ask my Mom and Dad...

When families endure the pain of a misacarriage or a stillbirth, or the death of a child in the first days after his birth, did the life of that unborn (perhaps pre-born) child "matter"?  Ask them, when they've returned from the cemetery after a graveside service...

Does "mattering" mean what one accomplishes on the big stage of the world?  Ask the parents of a child with mental disabilities...

Does it "matter" if you cannot fully function any more?  Perhaps the grandchildren of a man suffering from Parkinson's or Alzheimer's would beg to differ.

The tragedy is that when we see someone whom we think (God help us for our judgments!) cannot make a "contribution to society," we are willing to write off his/her life as not "meaningful." Really?

Catholic social teaching is clear that a person's fundamental dignity (aka, "mattering") has nothing to do with what one can "do," and everything to do with who one "is."  Who are you?

For myself, I don't want to be equated with what I can or cannot do; I want to be loved for who I am.  The Good News of the Gospel is that we are in fact loved by the One to whom we ALL "matter," and matter deeply.  He died for us, after all--out of love.  And if we are in fact truly loved, then we do matter:  in the most important sense of all.

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