Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day of Prayer for the Unborn

Prayer for the Unborn
Lord,* Creator of Life,* You have blessed us* with the privilege of bringing new life into the world. Open our hearts and minds* to recognize Your special gift of children* and Your great love for each of us* created in Your image and likeness.* Through love* You sent your Son Jesus* to redeem us and through love* He entered our world as an unborn child in the womb of Mary,* His mother.* We now turn to Mary* for her prayers and intercession* as we struggle to protect* innocent unborn children from decisions that seek to destroy them.* Following Mary's example* as mother and disciple,* let us proclaim the truth of our faith,* assist those in crisis* and protect those most vulnerable, unwanted and unloved. Amen

Prayer for the Unborn Child
Almighty God, our Father,you who have given us lifeand intended us to have it forever, grant us your blessings. Enlighten our minds to an awareness and to a renewed conviction that all human life is sacred because it is created in your image and likeness. Help us to teach by word and the example of our lives that life occupies the first place, that human life is precious because it is the gift of God whose love is infinite. Give us the strength to defend human life against every influence or action that threatens or weakens it, as well as the strength to make every life more human in all its aspects. Give us the grace...When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, to stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life.When a child is described as a burden or is looked upon only as a means to satisfy an emotional need, to stand up and insist that every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift of God,
a gift of God with a right to a loving and united family. When the institution of marriage is abandoned to human selfishness or reduced to a temporary conditional arrangement that can easily be terminated, to stand up and affirm the indissolubility of the marriage bond.When the value of the family is threatened because of social and economic pressure, to stand up and reaffirm that the family is necessary not only for the private good of every person, but also for the common good of every society, nation and state.When freedom is used to dominate the weak, to squander natural resources and energy, to deny basic necessities to people, to stand up and affirm the demands of justice and social love. Almighty Father, give us courage to proclaim the supreme dignity of all human life and to demand that society itself give its protection. We ask this in your name, through the redemptive act of your Son and in the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In February 2002, the Catholic Church established that throughout the United States, January 22nd would be observed as a day of prayer and penance against abortion:

“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 penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass 'For Peace and Justice' (no. 22 of the 'Masses for Various Needs') should be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day.”
– General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 373

Why a Day of Prayer and Penance?
In the U.S., the date of January 22nd as the Day of Prayer and Penance is significant because this date marks the anniversary of the deplorable Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S. throughout all nine months of pregnancy. The Roe v. Wade decision legally established in the U.S. that most laws against abortion in the United States were unconstitutional, for privacy rights reasons, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Because abortion is immoral and intrinsically evil, we as faithful Catholics are obligated to teach against this grave evil. This is to be worked towards certainly through social and political actions; however, as an issue of faith, the weapons of prayer and penance are of significance:
“Filled with this certainty, and moved by profound concern for the destiny of every man and woman, I repeat what I said to those families who carry out their challenging mission amid so many difficulties: a great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer.

Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29).

Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love.” - Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, no. 100.

Ideas for Observing the Day of Prayer and Penance
There are multiple ways of observing this national day of prayer and penance. Of course, as noted above, the Mass for Peace and Justice is to be celebrated on the day of prayer and penance. However, there are many actions in which individuals and groups can engage to observe the day:
· Peacefully praying outside of an abortion clinic
· Fasting
· Praying a rosary or chaplet for the unborn
· Praying for those who have been wounded by abortion
· Visiting and praying before the Blessed Sacrament
· Reading and reflecting on Pope John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae in full
· Becoming involved with the pro-life group in your town or area

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