The instruction that Mary gives to the “servers” in today’s Gospel should be heeded by any Christian desiring to do God’s will. It represents the answer that any young person who is discerning a vocation to the priesthood, consecrated life or marriage will receive from praying to Mary. As we observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it represents the attitude which the participants in ecumenical dialogues should bring to the table. With the March for Life in Washington, DC, this past Friday, it represents the conviction of all who have the courage to speak for and defend the God-given right to life and dignity of every human being. To paraphrase today’s First Reading: “For the sake of the unborn I will not be silent; for the sake of the right to life I will not be quiet.”
Today’s Second Reading reminds us that God has enriched his Church with a variety of gifts, charisms, vocations and ministries. All should be used to build up the unity of the Body of Christ and to carry out the Church’s mission. Each of us has a part to play in that. For some it is to speak out; for others it is to do penance and to pray. No good gift that comes from God fails to bear fruit. Let us offer our gifts to the Lord.
JANUARY 22 DAY OF PENANCE AND PRAYER
The Catholic Bishops of the United States have decreed that January 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, is to be observed annually as a 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. Texts appropriate for this observance will be used in Tuesday’s Mass.
The destruction of the unborn child has always been particularly abhorrent in the eyes of the Church and, until recently, to all of humanity. Physicians, taking the classical Hippocratic Oath, swore not to give a woman a drug to induce an abortion. The ecumenical consensus among Christians prior to 1973 was to oppose abortion. Canon law reinforces the Catholic Church’s disdain for abortion by attaching an excommunication to all involved in a completed abortion. Lost in all pro-abortion rhetoric and legislation is the humanity of the unborn child. More recent scientific knowledge has affirmed that the unborn child can feel pain, and can respond to sounds from outside the womb such as music or his or her parents’ voices. One of the best abortion deterrents is the ultrasound,where the unborn child can be seen as a living, moving human being. I find reprehensible legislation that blocks such information from being made known, as though it is all right to conceal the true nature of abortion in order to make it easier for a woman to go through with it. Perhaps the most fundamental reason abortion remains as acceptable as it is is the denial of the reality of what it actually is. The truth remains: “Abortion stops a beating heart.”
The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity concludes this Friday, January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. This year’s theme is taken from Deuteronomy 16:20, “Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue.” This year marks the 111th anniversary of what began in 1908 as the “Church Unity Octave.” Again this year we pray that the scandal of a divided Christendom may be overcome, a stated priority of Pope Francis.
Next Sunday we will begin Catholic Schools Week. Our Catholic schools are helping parents instill Catholic faith and values in their children. Students from our schools will be present at both parishes next Sunday morning featuring their singing skills.
Pray the Rosary this week for an end to legalized abortion and the many other crimes against human life and dignity, for all who are involved in Catholic education, for the unity of Christians and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.