Catholics across the country were encouraged by members of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to observe a nationwide prayer vigil from Thursday, Jan. 19 to Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, to pray for an end to abortion and a greater respect for all human life in post-Roe America.
At the request of representatives from the USCCB, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades hosted a Holy Hour on Thursday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne as part of the National Prayer Vigil for Life.
Here is the homily given by Bishop Rhoades:
Thank you for coming here to our cathedral for this Holy Hour for Life. Every year, the Church in the United States has a National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. to pray for an end to abortion and a greater respect for all human life. The prayer vigil is also conducted in dioceses throughout our nation. And so tonight, we join in this vigil during this Holy Hour, to pray for life before Our Lord, the Author of Life, present before us in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Throughout the Bible, we read passages which respectfully and lovingly speak of conception, the forming of life in the mother’s womb, as the action of God our Creator. We heard in the reading tonight from the prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.” The life of every individual, from its very beginning, is part of God’s plan. Through the wise and loving action of our Creator, life unfolds in the womb in a marvelous process. How many of us know of the joy of expectant parents as they see ultrasounds of their unborn baby in various stages of growth? We believe in the value of life from its very beginning.
During this Holy Hour, we praise and adore our Lord. We thank God who knitted us together in our mother’s womb, and who saw and loved us while we grew in that womb. Life is something beautiful. In every child who is conceived, we see the hand of our Creator. Human life is the pinnacle, the greatest marvel, of creation. We celebrate in every human being the glory of God since every human being is created in His image and likeness.
In our prayer tonight, we give thanks for the Dobbs decision of our Supreme Court, the decision that reversed the unjust and immoral Roe v. Wade decision 50 years ago. But we know that abortion continues in our nation and that many states have enacted laws allowing legal abortion, while others, like Indiana, have enacted laws prohibiting abortion. Such laws protecting life have not yet been enacted due to judicial interventions, like here in Indiana. So, we continue to pray for legal protection for the unborn. At the same time, we need to pray for a new culture of life in our nation. Just legislation and just judicial rulings are important, however, we also know that the fundamental problem goes deeper. When so many of the electorate favor abortion, evident in the outcry this past summer against the Dobbs decision, we know that abortions will continue, even if they diminish in numbers. So, our pro-life efforts and our prayers must continue, especially for a change in culture. The great Pope John Paul II wrote and spoke often about the need to build a culture of life, one in which people come to see the incomparable and inviolable worth of every human life. This will require a real transformation in the way of thinking of millions of people in our country. This is a huge task for us as Christians. It involves not only political activity, but also education, formation of consciences, and, most of all, our witness to the dignity of every human person. It involves our witness of love for pregnant women. It includes the many programs and works that support women in crisis situations, like we have here in our own diocese with Catholic Charities, Women’s Care Centers, Hannah’s House, and A Mother’s Hope. The transformation of culture through the service of the Gospel of Life also includes prayer. Here before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament tonight, as we adore the Lord of life, we ask Him to pour out His grace upon us and upon our nation and world, the grace to change hearts and minds so that people will recognize the sanctity of life and the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. Given the powerful resources of those promoting the culture of death, we should not be discouraged, because we have other means at our disposal to build a culture of life and love. We have prayer and the sacraments. We know we can rely on the help of God, for whom nothing is impossible. In silent prayer and adoration, we present to the Lord tonight our petitions for life, for expectant mothers and fathers, for our legislatures and courts, and for our nation. We pray for a new culture of life, a new culture of love and solidarity, for the true good of our society and nation.
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