WASHINGTON — On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion throughout the United States in companion decisions Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Since that time, millions of children have lost their lives and millions of women and families have been wounded by abortion.
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.” The Church directs: “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.”
As individuals, Catholics are called to observe the day through the penitential practices of prayer, fasting or almsgiving. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops provides resources to help parishes, schools, families, ministries and individual Catholics participate in this important day of prayer and penance.
In addition, the USCCB also sponsors an annual, nationwide novena called “9 Days for Life,” which surrounds the liturgical observance of the Day of Prayer. Each day for nine days, a different intention is featured, accompanied by a short reflection, suggested actions, and related information as prayers are said for the respect and protection of every human life. This year’s novena will take place Tuesday, Jan. 21, to Wednesday, Jan. 29. Find the novena at www.9daysforlife.com.
Here is a list of simple steps that can be used in parishes, schools, ministries or at home to assist efforts to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and participate in the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. These steps offer ideas on how to use the provided resources. Each step may not apply to everyone’s specific circumstances, but most can be adapted to suit different needs. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Pray for the protection of human life
Sample intercessions are provided for use in the Prayer of the Faithful during Masses the weekend of Jan. 18-19 and on Jan. 22. Families can include these intercessions in their regular prayers in the morning, evening or before or after a family meal.
Share what you’re doing.
Use social media to share the daily 9 Days for Life prayer intentions with the hashtag #9DaysforLife. Highlight parts of each day’s reflection that stuck out to you. Other tools will be made available to help engage others in building a culture of life. If a group from your parish is praying the novena together, share that on parish social media pages and invite others to join in.
Invite others to participate
Announce 9 Days for Life during a regularly scheduled ministry or faith gathering. During the weekend of Jan. 18-19, share about the Church’s observance of the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, and encourage others to participate by taking up a personal act of prayer or penance.
Share your efforts
The USCCB wants to see how individuals, families, parishes and schools participate in 9 Days for Life. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tag @peopleoflife on Facebook or @usccbprolife on Twitter.
Information provided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
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