“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. …Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that the power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many…the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life.
~ Pope John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, n. 100
The Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities tells us: “Prayer is the foundation of all that we do in defense of human life. Our efforts—whether educational, pastoral, or legislative—will be less than fully fruitful if we do not change hearts and if we do not ourselves overcome our own spiritual blindness. Only with prayer—prayer that storms the heavens for justice and mercy, prayer that cleanses our hearts and our souls—will the culture of death that surrounds us today be replaced with a culture of life.”
Prayer is something everyone can do to promote the Culture of Life. Through continued efforts of both personal and communal prayer, and participation in the sacramental life of the Church, hearts and minds are transformed and we are drawn ever deeper into union with Christ.
Special Days for Life
Respect Life Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday of October each year, setting the tone for October as “Respect Life Month”. In preparation for our re-affirmation to uphold the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death on Respect Life Sunday,all parishes and Catholic schools in the Diocese of Worcester receive copies of the annual
Respect Life Program resource packet which can be utilized in many areas of parish life and ministry throughout the year.
January 22 – A Day of Penance and Prayer
In November, 2001, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the following adaptation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:
Following confirmation by the Holy See in February, 2002, the following became particular law for the dioceses of the United States of America: "In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when the 22nd 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. 21 from ‘Masses for Various Needs') should be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day."
As an "Optional Memorial," the Mass celebrated that day may be the Mass "For Peace and Justice" or follow the normal weekday Mass readings and prayers for the day found in the Ordo, with or without optional prayers related to St. Vincent of Saragossa whose Feast Day falls on January 22.
This particular law became mandatory in the dioceses of the U.S. for the first time on January 22, 2003.
All the faithful are encouraged to make special efforts to offer their prayers and sacrifices, whether personal and/or communal, for these intentions in regard
to this observance of the January 22nd Day of Penance and Prayer.
Suggested resources for prayer and worship can be found below.)
Feast of the Annunciation
The Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) is a feast day with special theological significance for the pro-life cause, since it celebrates the moment when God the Son assumed human nature in Mary’s womb. We find the biblical account of the Annunciation in the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 1. Here we recall the announcement from the Archangel Gabriel of the good new to Mary that she has been chosen to be the Mother of the Lord, and Mary’s affirming response to the will of God, “Let it be done to me according to Your word.”
Each year the Diocese of Worcester celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord with a special Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul. All the faithful are welcome and join with students from our Catholic Schools on this important feast day. At this time, the diocese presents the annual pro-life awards, given to individuals who have shown heroic witness to the intrinsic value of each human life. Nomination forms should be submitted to the Respect Life Office by the designated February deadline.
The 2016 Mass for Life will be held on MONDAY, APRIL 4 (The Feast of the Annunciation is transferred to this date this year because March 25 falls during Holy Week.)
Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Robert J. McManus at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Paul, 38 High St., Worcester. Students from our Catholic schools will be special guests. All are welcome to attend this celebration of Life!
The annual Pro-Life Awards will also be presented at this Mass. To submit a nomination (deadline Feb. 19) CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A NOMINATION FORM.
A novena for the Feast of the Annunciation can be found here.
Resources for Communal and Personal Pr
Word of Life:
This resource of the USCCB is provided monthly to all parishes in the diocese. It includes a series of suggested intercessions for inclusion in each Sunday’s Prayer of the Faithful, as well as simple quotes providing thoughtful pro-life reflections for use in parish bulletins. This series can also be downloaded here.
As resources in the annual Respect Life Program, the Liturgy Guides include intercessions and homily aids for occasions such as Respect Life Sunday and the January 22 Day of Prayer and Penance, and prayers for other liturgical celebrations and devotions such as Holy Hours, novenas, and rosaries for life. Both the current year’s guide and archives of past years’ guides can be accessed here.
Prayer from Evangelium Vitae:
O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life. Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy. Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of Life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives, and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life. Amen.
- Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, no. 105