June 10, 2016
once a four-year-old girl who had some delays with speech development. Her
doctor and parents agreed that she should work with a speech-language pathologist
to correct this difficulty. There were times during the sessions when it was
frustrating, not being able to form her mouth or move her tongue the right way to
make sounds which came so easily for everyone else. There were also those rare,
joyful moments when suddenly she was able to speak more clearly and pronounce the
word exactly as she had intended. After several years, the speech difficulties
were corrected, the sessions came to an end, and the girl continued on with her
little girl was me. When I look back at those years, I remember the speech
therapist as a woman who tirelessly encouraged me to try again and again as I
worked to overcome my difficulties. I no longer remember her name, but she is
one of those special teachers I will always remember from my early childhood. I
wonder how many other young children benefited from her gentle reassurance and guidance.
is easy for me to take for granted what I can do with my incredible power of
speech. We live in a world which takes delight in wit, quick "comebacks," and
clever wordplay in political discourse, entertainment, and, of course, in
everyday conversation. It is easy to forget the power of words to either tear
down or to affirm others, and even easier to take for granted the ability to
speak at all.
that respects life seeks to accompany others in various life circumstances,
reminding them of their worth and dignity, which cannot be taken away. When we
encounter fragility and brokenness, especially in those who are struggling or
suffering in some way, we each have the capacity to guide others to the light
of God's love through our attentiveness and tender encouragement—especially through
It is in
concrete circumstances that we can each be a ray of light to another,
reflecting back his or her dignity through the words we choose. The person may
be facing a terminal illness, wondering whether life is worth living; living
with a disability and questioning her value; or struggling with depression, lacking
the hope to continue on. God has a purpose for every life he creates, and it is
amazing to know that each one of us has been loved from all eternity.
have each been created with a tremendous capacity to love. Let us be attentive
to the daily opportunities to speak to others of their sacredness in God's
eyes. How much are we willing to gently guide others—sometimes out of very dark places—closer to the light of God's love? However brief the
encounter, you never know how much your loving, affirming words can positively
impact one life.
Baker is Programs and Projects Coordinator for the Secretariat of Pro-Life
Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the
bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.