Peace for the adopted, and their birth parents

9 Days for Life — Day 9

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USCCB Novena

Intercession: For God’s peace to fill the hearts of all who travel upon the path of adoption.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection

The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us to “hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm” (Heb 6:18-19). We pray that all who are involved in the adoption process would be filled with the hope of Christ and “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7). We also remember that we too can cling fast to this anchor of hope, for we have received “a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!'” (Rom 8:15). May our loving Father envelop each of us in his love today and open our eyes in faith that we may see and rejoice in his love.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Fast from snacking today. Eat three meals only.
  • In “An Adoption Love Story,” “Jenny” shares her and her husband’s story of adopting their son, Andrew. Read about some of the challenges, concerns, and joys on their journey, and spend some extra time in prayer for all who are involved in the adoption process.

One Step Further

Accompanying Expectant Mothers Considering Adoption” suggests nine ways to offer ongoing support to a woman who is considering placing her unborn child for adoption. Many of the tips given are also helpful for supporting a friend who is experiencing a challenging unexpected pregnancy, even if adoption has not been brought up.

Coming in March:
I Lived on Parker Avenue

 

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The human dignity of the guilty

9 Days for Life — Day 8

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USCCB Novena

Intercession: For an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection 

As Catholics, we believe and put our hope in a merciful and loving God. We are conscious of our own brokenness and need for redemption. Our Lord calls us to imitate him more perfectly by witnessing to the inherent dignity of every person, including those whose actions have been despicable. Our faith and hope is in the mercy of God who says to us, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt 5:7) and “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). As Christians, we are called to oppose the culture of death by witnessing to something greater and more perfect: a gospel of life, hope and mercy.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Do something kind for someone else without being asked or telling anyone. Pray for him or her while you do so.
  • Smile. Ask God today for the grace to be extra joyful and share Christ’s love with those who need encouragement the most today.
  • Read about the life of a modern saint. You might be surprised by how much you have in common with him or her.

One Step Further

For some people who are committed to upholding the sanctity of human life, the death penalty can present a challenge. Properly understood, however, Catholic teaching against the death penalty is both persuasive and eminently pro-life. Learn about the death penalty within the context of respect for God’s gift of human life in “Death Penalty: Catholic Q & A.

From the Catechism
Part Three, Life in Christ
Section Two, The Ten Commandments
Chapter Two, You shall love your neighbor as yourself
Article 5, The Fifth Commandment

2258

Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being”
— introduction (section 5) to the Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin, Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith

2265

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

2266

The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people’s safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.

2267

Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” (Evangelium vitae 56)

 

Be fruitful and multiply

9 Days for Life — Day 7

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USCCB Novena

Intercession: May those who long for a child of their own be filled with trust in God’s loving plan.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection

It can be very difficult and painful when the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers the way we hope. We may have many doubts and questions, wondering why we face the challenges that we do. Yet even though our suffering is often shrouded in a sense of mystery, we believe that the Lord loves us with great tenderness and compassion that is beyond our imagination. Knowing this, we can trust that “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Give up your favorite form (or all forms) of social media for the day. Spend some of the extra time meditating upon Romans 8:28 or another Scripture verse or passage.
  • Learn how to pray the Angelus prayer and consider saying it every day for the next week— on awakening, at noon, or at 6 p.m. (or all three times).
  • Spend quality time with a family member or friend; offer to help them in some way.

One Step Further

Seven Considerations While Navigating Infertility” seeks to provide compassionate guidance that is both practical and informative for married couples who are walking on this road. Although geared to such couples, the article is also helpful for anyone to read, offering insight into the experience of infertility and giving awareness of the need for sensitivity in our relationships with those who may be affected.

Human rights at life’s end

9 Days for Life — Day 6

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USCCB Novena

Intercession: May those near the end of their lives receive medical care that respects their dignity and protects their lives.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection 

When Maggie’s active father suffered an accident that eventually led to his passing, he taught her that pain and loss of autonomy doesn’t diminish our human dignity, and that life—however much is left—is worth living.

As a 50-year-old wife and mother of three, Maggie needed this message when she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Instead of giving up hope, she embraced her father’s legacy: “[M]y life is, always has been, and always will be, worth living.”

Meet Maggie in a 3-minute video, and read the brief article it inspired: “Maggie’s Story: Living like Dad.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

One Step Further 

Proponents of doctor-assisted suicide try to draw a sharp (and tragic) distinction between those with a mental illness who want to end their lives and those already nearing death who express the same wish. Although polls indicate the public is receptive to the general concept of assisted suicide, when people understand the associated dangers, they are less likely to support the practice.

Learn seven compelling reasons you can share for opposing assisted suicide: “Top Reasons to Oppose Assisted Suicide.

Every Suicide is Tragic

John: I relish every opportunity I have to step into life.

Luke

Jeanette: “I’m here for the pills. Two years ago I voted for Oregon’s assisted suicide law.”

National Sanctity of Human Life Day

From the President

Today, we focus our attention on the love and protection each person, born and unborn, deserves regardless of disability, gender, appearance, or ethnicity. Much of the greatest suffering in our Nation’s history — and, indeed, our planet’s history — has been the result of disgracefully misguided attempts to dehumanize whole classes of people based on these immutable characteristics. We cannot let this shameful history repeat itself in new forms, and we must be particularly vigilant to safeguard the most vulnerable lives among us. This is why we observe National Sanctity of Human Life Day: to affirm the truth that all life is sacred, that every person has inherent dignity and worth, and that no class of people should ever be discarded as “non-human.”

Science continues to support and build the case for life. Medical technologies allow us to see images of the unborn children moving their newly formed fingers and toes, yawning, and even smiling. Those images present us with irrefutable evidence that babies are growing within their mothers’ wombs — precious, unique lives, each deserving a future filled with promise and hope. We can also now operate on babies in utero to stave off life-threatening diseases. These important medical advances give us an even greater appreciation for the humanity of the unborn.

Today, citizens throughout our great country are working for the cause of life and fighting for the unborn, driven by love and supported by both science and philosophy. These compassionate Americans are volunteers who assist women through difficult pregnancies, facilitate adoptions, and offer hope to those considering or recovering from abortions. They are medical providers who, often at the risk of their livelihood, conscientiously refuse to participate in abortions. And they are legislators who support health and safety standards, informed consent, parental notification, and bans on late-term abortions, when babies can feel pain. These undeterred warriors, many of whom travel to Washington, D.C., every year for the March for Life, are changing hearts and saving lives through their passionate defense of and loving care for all human lives. Thankfully, the number of abortions, which has been in steady decline since 1980, is now at a historic low. Though the fight to protect life is not yet over, we commit to advocating each day for all who cannot speak for themselves.

— President Donald Trump, January 19, 2018

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Collect for Mass

God our Creator,
we give thanks to you,
who alone have the power to impart the breath of life
as you form each of us in our mother’s womb;
grant, we pray,
that we, whom you have made stewards of creation,
may remain faithful to this sacred trust
and constant in safeguarding the dignity
of every human life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

Psalm 139

For the leader. A psalm of David.

Lord, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
You sift through my travels and my rest;
with all my ways you are familiar.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
LORD, you know it all.
Behind and before you encircle me
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
far too lofty for me to reach.
Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence, where can I flee?
If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;
if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.
If I take the wings of dawn
and dwell beyond the sea,
Even there your hand guides me,
your right hand holds me fast.
If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”—
Darkness is not dark for you,
and night shines as the day.
Darkness and light are but one.

You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.
My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.

How precious to me are your designs, O God;
how vast the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands;
when I complete them, still you are with me.
When you would destroy the wicked, O God,
the bloodthirsty depart from me!
Your foes who conspire a plot against you
are exalted in vain.

Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you?
Those who rise against you, do I not loatheWith fierce hatred I hate them,
enemies I count as my own.
Probe me, God, know my heart;
try me, know my thoughts.
See if there is a wicked path in me;
lead me along an ancient path.

Abortion Poisons Human Society

In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbor of every person without exception and of actively helping him when he comes across our path, whether he be an old person abandoned by all, a foreign laborer unjustly looked down upon, a refugee, a child born of an unlawful union and wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a hungry person who disturbs our conscience by recalling the voice of the Lord, “As long as you did it for one of these the least of my brethren, you did it for me” (Matt. 25:40).

Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.

— Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes, 27, December 7, 1965

We have a loving and generous God

9 Days for Life — Day 5
Hope After Abortion

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USCCB Prayer for Trust in God’s Mercy

Gracious Father,
I thank you for the mercy you have shown in forgiving my sins and for the peace that comes from being reconciled with you and with your Church.
O God, you are faithful, and you never abandon those who hope in you. I know that my redemption from sin and death has been purchased at the cost of your Son’s blood. In return for this priceless gift, I resolve today to renew my trust in your unfailing mercy.
In times of doubt, when painful memories of past sins threaten to destroy the peace you have given, let the power of your Holy Spirit cast out all self-condemnation and give me greater confidence in your word of pardon.
Teach me to encourage others so they, too, may seek your tender compassion and come to know your peace, which nothing can take away.
I pray this in the name of Jesus, your Son, in whom you have restored me to life. Amen.

 

USCCB Novena

Intercession: May each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion find hope & healing in Christ.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection

Today, on this 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we consider the past four decades in which our society has legally permitted abortion. Since that tragic decision, many children’s lives have been lost, and many suffer that loss—often in silence. Yet God’s greatest desire is to forgive. No matter how far we have each strayed from his side, he says to us, “Don’t be afraid. Draw close to my heart.”

“In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also called confession, we meet the Lord, who wants to grant forgiveness and the grace to live a renewed life in him. … We bishops and priests are eager to help you if you experience difficulty, hesitation, or uncertainty about approaching the Lord in this sacrament. …we are ready to welcome you.”*

Let us run into the arms of Jesus, who is love and mercy.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Go to confession today or this week. Before you go, look up St. Faustina and learn a little about the message of Divine Mercy that she shared during her life.
  • Do you know how to help women and men suffering after abortion? Consider the suggestions in “Bridges of Mercy for Post-Abortion Healing.”
  • Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for those who are suffering the loss of a child through abortion, asking that they find healing and peace.

One Step Further 

If a friend confided in you tomorrow that she had an abortion, would you be able to respond in a way that brings her closer to healing? Learn what to do and say in “How to Talk to a Friend Who’s Had an Abortion.”

Three Stories of Hope and Healing After Abortion