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

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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

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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.”

We have a loving and generous God

9 Days for Life — Day 5
Hope After Abortion

1 888-456-HOPE

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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

 

First and foremost, I am

9 Days for Life Day 4

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USCCB Novena for Day 4

Intercession: May all people embrace the truth that every life is a good and perfect gift, and is worth living.

Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Our culture is obsessed with perfection—a superficial perfection. Photos are edited, and social media sites depict seemingly perfect lives. God calls us to seek perfection, too. He does not call us, however, to perfection of appearance or abilities, but to perfection in love.

In “A Perfect Gift” one parent shares about the experience of raising a child with Down syndrome, contrasting it with what onlookers might perceive: “It’s like looking at a stained-glass window from the outside: The colors look dark, and you can’t quite make out the figures. From the inside, however, with the sun shining through it, the effect can be brilliant. From inside our family, love illuminates our life with Charlie.* What may seem dreary to others, perhaps even unbearable, is actually filled with beauty and color.”

May each of us experience the power of God’s transforming love, that our eyes may be opened to the incredible beauty of the people the Lord places in our lives.

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Pray the short prayer “Every Life is Worth Living,” reflecting on how you can bring Christ’s love to others today.
  • Read “Supporting Families Who Receive a Prenatal Diagnosis,” then spend some time praying for babies who have been given an adverse prenatal diagnosis and for their families.
  • We can sometimes forget how blessed we are to have many of our daily comforts. Give up sleeping on your pillow tonight.

One Step Further

Charlie’s mother shares in “A Perfect Gift” that when people say, “I could never handle a child with a disability,” she explains to them, “[Y]ou aren’t given a child with a disability. You are given your child with a disability. …You are not called to ‘handle’ a disability. You are called to love a particular person, and caring for him or her grows out of that love. …Our [family’s] hearts…have become larger [by caring for Charlie].”

She also talks about the “secret” that is the fundamental truth of our existence, which she and other parents of children with Down syndrome share.

*Name changed for privacy.