By Father Alex Fry
Special to The Texas Catholic
Every October, as Catholics, we celebrate Respect Life Month. This month-long campaign of prayer and advocacy began in October of 1972, the year before Roe v. Wade. Fifty years later, and following the historic overruling of Roe last year, the Church continues to pray for the protection of every human life, to defend it from conception to natural death, and to witness to the dignity of each and every human person.
We also celebrate during this month the Holy Rosary. The practice of dedicating the entire month of October to the Rosary began at the end of the nineteenth century. Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) was a tireless advocate of the Rosary, writing a total of 12 encyclicals and five apostolic letters on the subject. In his first encyclical on the devotion to the rosary, Supremi Apostolatus Officio (1883), he writes “we also desire that the whole of the month of October in this year should be consecrated to the Holy Queen of the Rosary.”
Combining meditation on the mysteries of salvation and recitation of the angel’s words to Mary and the Our Father, the rosary is a most effective form of prayer and intercession and has been described as both a “school of faith” and a “school of charity.”
How fitting that these two causes should coincide during the month of October? What better patroness do we have for the protection of life than Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the mother of all the living?
It was Eve, of course, who first held that title. “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Gen. 3:20) In Hebrew, the name Eve closely resembles the word for “living.” And yet, from the very beginning of the Church, the Fathers have come to identify Mary as the “New Eve.”
Justin Martyr, writing in the second century, was one of the first theologians to draw this connection between our two mothers. Through Eve’s free “yes” evil entered the world; through Mary’s free “yes” salvation entered the world. St. Irenaeus, another Father of the Church, writes: “As Eve was seduced by the word of an angel and so fled from God after disobeying his word, Mary in her turn was given the good news by the word of an angel, and bore God in obedience to his word.”
Mary then is rightly called the New Eve and the Mother of all the Living. Her freely given fiat was made for all humanity, that all generations would know and receive from her Son the life that only He can give. As we continue to work for the cause of life and to defend the dignity of all persons, let us entrust our efforts, through the Most Holy Rosary, to the intercession of Mary, Mother of all Living.
Father Alex Fry is a priest of the Diocese of Diocese.