Whether or not you make it to Washington, D.C., the U.S. Catholic bishops hope you’ll join in a digital pilgrimage of prayer and action from January 16-24. This novena, entitled 9 Days for Life, is an annual event in which we gather as a community of faith to pray for the protection of every person’s life, from babies in the womb to those who are nearing the end of their lives. This year, we have the opportunity to reflect on the witness of Pope Francis’s visit to the United States, where he so profoundly demonstrated the love we should express to each person we encounter.
It can be easy to reduce being pro-life to a cliché. But there is more to respecting the sanctity of all life than any one action. In the words of Pope Francis, “All life has inestimable value even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect” (Annual Day for Life, 2013).
How has a respect for life changed your life or changed the lives of those you love? Perhaps you were in difficult circumstances, but decided to give your baby the gift of life. Maybe a neighbor or community helped you with food or clothing when you needed it most. It’s possible you were greatly affected by seeing a parent or another relative embrace each moment of life even as they approached the end of their life.
Being pro-life changes the lives of so many people every day. During these upcoming 9 Days for Life, our bishops are challenging us to “pray, gather, and share” about what being pro-life means to us. Here are just a few ideas for living out this powerful novena:
- Pray the novena with resources available by app, email, text message, social media, or a printable version.
- Post a 5-15 second video or a selfie of you with your customized sign, sharing what being pro-life means to you. Use the hashtag #9DaysforLife, and tag @USCCB on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. They’ll pick from the best posts to share!
- Commit to trying a new life-giving activity, such as helping at a soup kitchen, donating time, money or clothing to a crisis pregnancy center, or visiting those who are ill or have no one to visit them.
- Spend time in a life-affirming community by gathering with friends and family together. For example, host a potluck other families, and pray one day of the novena together. Or invite friends to join you at a local coffee shop for Coffee & Conversation.
Being pro-life can change the world, one prayer, one loving action at a time. Join us in 9 Days for Life by visiting www.9daysforlife.com!
About the author: Caitlin Bootsma is the editor of Human Life International’s Truth and Charity Forum. Mrs. Bootsma received a Licentiate in Catholic Social Communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome as well as a Master’s of Systematic Theology from Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and two sons.