Whether you’re a longtime March for Life participant, a witness for life on public squares, or someone who prays for pro-life intentions at home, late January offers a variety of ways to promote and pray for a culture of life.
A number of activities and days of prayer fill the calendar through the end of the month. Some offerings are in person, and others are virtual – but all of these occasions for prayer and reflection, coinciding with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion.
Diocesan Respect Life Mass
In the Diocese of Harrisburg, Bishop Ronald Gainer will celebrate the Diocese’s annual Respect Life Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg on Jan. 24 at 9:30 a.m. The Mass is taking place on the fourth day of the national 9 Days for Life Novena, for the protection of human life. The Mass will be available via livestream at www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtctCqUbXkM and is organized by the Diocesan Office of Family and Respect Life Ministries.
Also locally, several parishes and pro-life organizations are planning special Masses and Rosary rallies coinciding with the March for Life on Jan. 29. Parishioners can check with their local parish to inquire about any planned events, several of which are included on the Diocesan Notebook section of this week’s Witness.
Virtual March for Life
Organizers of the national March for Life announced last week the event will take place virtually this year, and the U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chair is calling Catholics to prayer.
“Peaceful prayer and witness must and will continue this year—just in a different format,” said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City.
Those who originally planned to attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 29, are invited to unite in prayer beginning on Thursday, Jan. 21, the eve of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.
Organizers for the March announced on Jan. 15 the decision to confine attendance to a small group of pro-life leaders, citing safety precautions surrounding COVID-19 and the recent breach of rioters into the Capitol.
The March for Life Virtual Rally will be shown live on EWTN and online at https://marchforlife.org/2021-virtual-events. Coverage begins at 11 a.m. on Jan. 29 and will include inspiring speeches from pro-life leaders, information on how to stay involved in the pro-life movement all year long, and a performance by Christian singer and songwriter Matthew West.
Along with the March for Life, the National Prayer Vigil for Life will be closed to the public, but will be televised by EWTN so millions can participate remotely. The Mass will begin at 10 a.m., and will transition to live coverage of the March for Life.
Day of Prayer
More than 60 million babies’ lives have been lost – and countless women and men involved have suffered deep wounds – since the 1973 decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. However, we have great trust in God’s providence. We are reminded time and again in Scripture to seek the Lord’s help, and as people of faith, we believe that our prayers are heard.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 373, designates Jan. 22 as a particular day of prayer and penance, called the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”: “In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.”
This day provides an opportunity for the penitential practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, for the intentions for a culture of life, and in reparation for the lives lost to abortion.
9 Days for Life Novena
In preparation for the virtual March for Life, and in observance of the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children on Jan. 22, faithful are invited to join in a nationwide novena from Thursday, Jan. 21 through Friday, Jan. 29.
The 9 Days for Life Novena is an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Those who participate in the novena can receive daily intentions, brief reflections, and suggested actions by signing up online at 9 Days for Life.
The overarching intention of the novena is the end to abortion. Participants can share their pro-life witness and invite their social networks to pray on social media with the hashtag #9DaysforLife.
Sponsored by the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 9 Days for Life began in 2013.
For more information on these and other events, connect with the Diocese of Harrisburg and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on their social media platforms, or visit www.hbgdiocese.org or www.usccb.org.
(Photo by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness