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Facing death and respecting life

October is the Month of Mission in the worldwide Church, but November turns our attention from this life to the next and is dedicated to the faithful departed. It is a month when people are encouraged to remember their deceased loved ones in their prayer and to also pray with the whole communion of saints.
 
However, tradition tells us that it is always a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they be loosed from their sins, as the sin of the whole community fetters both the living and the dead, and we all need to be loosed from the effects of sin.
 
The Church in Hong Kong has given a new twist to this by designating May 31, the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Pro-Life Day. This year, the Diocesan Pastoral Commission for Marriage and the Family organised a Mass for unborn babies at St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery in Happy Valley, which was combined with the prayer, Let Children Come to Me.
 
It followed up in September with a prayer weekend at the Precious Blood Retreat House for the healing of the trauma of the loss of an unborn child either through abortion or miscarriage.
 
An experienced counsellor was invited to bring expertise in trauma counselling for parents and families that have suffered these losses. The ambit also covers the support of women with unplanned pregnancies.
 
There is a need to respect life in society. There is also a need to learn to face death by praying for those who never saw the light of day. Every human life is a gift from God and the loss of any life is a loss for all.
 
A graveside service running under the theme of the Journey of Life has been introduced to guide this prayer.
 
The ongoing confrontation with the culture of death, which has seen an increase in abortion, in vitro fertilisation and artificial insemination, can gradually erode the respect the community holds for life.
 
The respect for both the dead and the living reminds us that when we are faced with life or death choices, we must remember that the dignity of every life is inviolable.
 
Life should always be protected, as should the right to die with dignity. A proper burial for the unborn is of crucial importance in building a culture of life. Earlier this year, a couple won the right to give a proper burial to their miscarried child, which reflects progress in the struggle to sustain the dignity of all life. SE