Marking the 45th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade
Each January 22, the tragic anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, dioceses throughout the United States observe a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n. 373) states that “this day 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.”
One of the most visible ways we observe commitment to protection of the unborn is in the annual March for Life held in Washington, DC. This year, on the 45th anniversary of Roe, over 500,000 people – many of them young people – are expected to descend again on our nation’s capitol to joyfully proclaim every life matters.
“Each of us is willed”
The theme for this year’s March for Life is “Love Saves Lives”. How very true it is! When we ponder the extraordinary fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God, that He willed us into being, that He loves us infinitely, that He has created us for a purpose, we can never exhaust the mystery. Our hearts are filled with gratitude and we are compelled to share this life-saving love of Christ with others, to let them know their life has meaning, infinite worth, and dignity. After all, if we want to know what true love is, we only need to spend some time meditating on Christ crucified. He laid down His life for each one of us out of love, and we must strive to follow His example.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
–Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Inauguration in 2005)
The Prayer Component
Consider the many “unsung heroes” who have worked for Life over past decades; ordinary people who day after day for the past 45 years have been praying for an end to abortion. Whether those prayers invoking protection of the unborn originate at adoration, from one’s living room, or while standing across from the abortion clinic in the freezing cold, each and every prayer and sacrifice makes a difference.
There are also the dedicated volunteers at crisis pregnancy centers, providing sidewalk counseling outside abortion clinics, and staffing maternity homes for unwed mothers. The women have served witness that love really does saves lives. Also recall all those who attend the March for Life in 2018 may receive a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions. Those who cannot attend because they are homebound may also obtain the indulgence under certain conditions. Some reflections and the conditions are given here.
In praying for protection of the unborn, we must not forget to pray for those wounded by abortion. The grief and remorse of so many women and men is real and painful. The Catholic Church’s ministry of Project Rachel is available to offer the compassionate, non-judgmental response of healing and reconciliation to those suffering from past abortion. Hope abides and God’s mercy is infinite and available to all who seek Him.
Whether we take part in the March for Life in person or virtually via television or internet, and in whatever way we observe the January 22nd Day of Prayer – by going to Mass, participating in a particular devotion, offering personal sacrifice, etc. – let us never forget that each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary, and that love really does save lives.
Note: You can also unite your prayers this January with thousands across the nation by joining the USCCB’s national novena “9 Days for Life” at www.9daysforlife.com.
Allison LeDoux contributed this report.