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August 26, 2009
New Gabriel House a source of Christian love, pastor says
The Aug. 8 blessing of Gabriel House, the Archdiocese of Denver’s Catholic ministry and support center for pregnant women located at 1341 Oneida St., drew a crowd of 350 people. Father Felix P. Medina-Algaba, pastor of St. James Church, who made the house available to the service of the Gabriel Project, welcomed the crowd gathered at the blessing with the words: “Please feel at home. This is your house.” Below is an adapted version of Father Medina-Algaba’s introduction before Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., blessed the home.
“I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’ At last our feet are standing at your gates, O Jerusalem!,” says the Psalmist (Psalm 122).
I also rejoiced when they said to me: “The Catholic Church is a Mother, who truly cares for, nourishes, and forgives you, as if you were her own child.” I rejoiced when I discovered that it was true: there was a place within the parish where I could be unconditionally accepted, personally welcomed, honestly told the truth, mercifully healed of all my deadly wounds, and slowly introduced into the beauty of God’s wonderful life. I rejoice because the Church has never despised me for my many sins; but has reached out to me, been patient, accompanied me, and shown me the truth of life.
Today, we also rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for bringing us to his house, his Church, our Mother, through this Gabriel House, in order to give us, together with everyone who knocks at these doors, true peace, authentic reconciliation, and abundance of life.
Pope Benedict has repeatedly emphasized that the root of all human wretchedness is “loneliness,” the absence of authentic love—the fact that our personal existence is not embraced, welcomed, and cherished by the kind of love that makes it crucial, fundamental, and “necessary.”
Our misery arises when we don’t see a love powerful enough to allow us to love life just as it is, with all its sufferings and limitations. “God is love,” and we all are looking for that divine and absolute love in whose image and likeness we are created. Everyone is longing for a true companion, a real friend, a faithful angel—as the Gabriel Project calls the volunteers who support the pregnant mothers in need—in whose love we experience how truly beautiful and great our life, and the life of every human person, is.
The Gabriel House will provide that true charity, that companionship, that “communion of life and love,” and that Christian witness so necessary in our lonely and individualistic society.
This Catholic pregnancy center is a visible sign announcing to the world that the men and women of our society don’t ever have to be alone, abandoned and confused, in facing the fears and sufferings of a new human life, because Christ and his Church, Christ and his people have joined their path, their resources, and their lives to them forever.
The Gabriel House is meant to be that source of Christian love, generous care and emotional, material and spiritual support that many pregnant women struggling to give birth to their children need.
As Pope Benedict XVI has recently told us in his last encyclical letter “Charity in Truth,” “Love—caritas—is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine. Every responsibility and every commitment … is derived from charity. … For the Church … charity is everything. … Everything has its origin in God’s love, everything is shaped by it, everything is directed towards it” (No. 2).
But charity is real charity if it “rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). Caritas always in veritate. Charity always in truth. Charity needs the ultimate and eternal truth of life, the truth of morality, the truth of the human soul.
“Without truth,” says the Holy Father, “charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary” and selfish “way” (No. 3).
The Gabriel House will show us the power of “charity in truth,” by providing education to volunteers and pregnant women on topics such as the virtue of chastity, the meaning of human sexuality, the theology of the body, the genius of women, the evils of contraception, and the truth of marriage and the family, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Charles (Chaput) has reminded us in “Render unto Caesar” that “deliberately killing innocent human life, or standing by and allowing it, dwarfs all other social issues.” This house will address the most important social issue of our time.
For Pope Benedict XVI in “Charity in Truth,” “Openness to life is at the center of the integral development” of every person and of all humanity.
“When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens the moral fiber” of society (No. 28).
The lofty ideals, values, hopes and dreams of a society are diluted and almost destroyed when there is no regard for the whole human life, physical and spiritual, and for every human life.
May the Gabriel House help us to become courageous lovers of life in all its conditions! With that intention, today, we entrust the work of this center to St. Gianna Beretta Molla, patroness of this Gabriel House, who chose to save the life of the child she was carrying, sacrificing her own life. May St. Gianna remove from us the fear of life that our current culture of death imposes on us! May she help us to sacrifice our lives for the (lives) of others in order to bring many children of God into Heaven!
May St. Gabriel make us bold witnesses of the Gospel of Life: that Christ comes among us with every single human life in order to save us from sin and death!