January 4th EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
For every Catholic family in our nation:
that they might be formed each day
in the image of the Holy Family,
and consecrated to the Gospel of Life;
We pray to the Lord:
January 11th THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
For every little child,
that through their Baptism we may recommit ourselves
to defend their life
and nurture them in Christ;
We pray to the Lord:
January 18th SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
That the day of penance and prayer we will observe this week
on the anniversary of the legalization of abortion in the United States,
might help to end and heal the sins against the Gospel of Life
committed each day in our country;
We pray to the Lord:
January 25th THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
For our President, members of Congress, and the Supreme Court,
that they might renounce the death of the unborn,
and imbue within our laws respect for all life
from conception to natural death;
We pray to the Lord:
This week we are called to remember the terrible ways in which the culture of death is at work in our society. Beginning with a reflection on the horror of taking the life of a little baby before it is born, we are called to unequivocally proclaim the Gospel of Life in the face of the shameful abuse of the little child, the old man, the prisoner, the sick, the suffering, and all those who are too weak to defend themselves against the selfishness of our age.
Three brief reflections are provided here to assist homilists as they celebrate a Mass for Peace and Justice on January 22nd and the Sunday Masses of January 18th and 25th. The message we proclaim these days is not a political one, but profoundly spiritual. What we proclaim is not a debatable political contention, but the undeniable truth that all human life is sacred from conception to natural death. It is, quite literally, a matter of life and death.
January 18, 2004 SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Is 62:1-5/ 1 Cor 12:4-11/ Jn 2:1-11 (66)
Today we begin ordinary time, but there is little about our times we can call ordinary. We live under the threat of terrorism and in a state of war. The violence of our culture extends even into the womb that nurtures an unborn child, into the home of an abused spouse, the lonely halls of a nursing home, or the cell of the prisoner condemned to die.
It is so easy for those who work for the Gospel of Life to become discouraged or to heed the many voices who tell us we're on a fool's errand. The light of the Gospel of Life which we seek to spread sometimes seems weak and small amidst the overwhelming darkness of violence, sin, selfishness, and confusion.
Discouraged, perhaps a little hopeless, is probably how the newlyweds' families felt at the wedding feast at Cana. Can you imagine anything more embarrassing than running out of wine at a wedding banquet? And yet when they had run out, they went to Mary and asked her to go to Jesus, who took simple, ordinary water and with a word transformed it into the finest of wines.
When we become discouraged, let us remember that this is not our work. It is the work of God. Each time it seems we've run out of strength for the work, let us go to Mary and heed her words to those standing around with empty wine jars: "Do whatever he tells you." And he will meet our every need.
January 22, 2004 DAY OF PENANCE AND PRAYER FOR LIFE (Saint Vincent)
Is 62:1-5/ 1 Cor 12:4-11/ Jn 2:1-11 (66) Pss II
Today the Church in the United States calls on us to celebrate a Votive Mass for Peace and Justice and to observe this "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." (General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the dioceses of the United States of America, no. 373)
Today is also, quite appropriately, the feast of Saint Vincent of Saragossa, Spain. He was a deacon during the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Valerian at the beginning of the fourth century. In the face of awful tortures, he maintained such a sense of Christian joy that the soldiers who guarded him venerated his body as the holy relic of a saint soon after his death.
So clearly did the presence of God shine through this lowly deacon that God was honored in the care they gave to his body, even in death. How much do we respect the body of the unseen child in its mother's womb? How much do we honor God in his temple when it has become old and wizened? How much do we keep in mind that the spark of life and the body in which the soul of each human person resides is a gift of infinite value and worthy of our care and respect?
Today we hear how Saul intended to kill David out of jealousy. By his act, we hear, he would "become guilty of shedding innocent blood." By contrast, Jesus gathers strangers to himself to cure their diseases and cast out unclean spirits. May Christ heal this country of the selfishness which causes us to embrace death in its many forms. May He drive out those spirits of sin and conceit which keep us, in our individual lives and our common life as a nation, from living the Gospel of Life.
January 25, 2004 THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10/ 1 Cor 12:12-30/ Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21 (69) This past week we commemorated the anniversary of the legalization of abortion in this country by celebrating 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." (General Instruction of the Roman Missal for the dioceses of the United States of America, no. 373) But after January 22nd has come and gone, after all the signs from the March for Life have been put away, after the words of all the speeches have faded from memory, what do we do then?
Each one of us has a responsibility to proclaim and live the Gospel of Life every day, every hour, every minute of our lives. Saint Paul understands that when he tells us about the Body of Christ. There are many parts to this Church, he tells us, and each of them are equal and indispensable to doing the will of God. Certainly the parts are different. You who sit before me today are as different from each other as the foot is from the eye, or the hand from head. But different though you may be, each of you been made just as you are to fulfill God's plan for this world of ours. Each of you has a role in the living out of the Gospel of Life.
You who are very old, you have an indispensable role! With your hard won wisdom you can teach us how to walk in God's ways. With the example of your fidelity to him in good times and in bad, you can form us in God's image.
You who are unborn, who cannot understand my words. From your mother's womb you are the little child who will lead us back to the innocence, the purity and the truth which this jaded world has helped us to forget.
You children, sacred to us all, each day help us to return to rekindle the joy which God wants us to know. You teens, brimming with unbridled enthusiasm for all the possibilities God puts before us, driven by unequaled energy for the tasks of life. You inspire us and urge us on to do the work of God!
You young adults, who struggle to discern God's plan for you, call us to the same search in our own lives. You who have reached middle age, looking back with a critical eye at what you've accomplished and seeking to trim your sails for the years to come, draw us more deeply into the conversion of life God offers us.
Each one of you sitting before me, most of all those who suffer, who are wracked with fear, whose poverty makes them feel empty, or whose confusion makes them afraid---each of you is more precious in God's sight than we can ever know, and each of you is called to preach the Gospel of Life in your own particular way.
Throughout each day of the coming year, may every one of us use the gifts of their age, of their state of life, of mind, heart, and soul to proclaim the Gospel of Life and to seek God's will in everything that they do.
January 2004: Bulletin Briefs
Roe must be reversed to restore integrity to the Court, meaning to the Constitution, political rights to the people and their elected representatives, and most importantly, the right to life to children in the womb.
— "Ten Legal Reasons to Reject Roe," 2003 Respect Life Program.
By wresting the issue of abortion from the people and their elected representatives, the Roe Court undermined the principle of self-government and our constitutional framework of separation of powers. Roe has deeply divided the country, causing three decades of social unrest and loss of respect for the Court and for the law.
Never has a "private" choice had such a public impact, undermining American culture and institutions and harming millions of individuals. Roe v. Wade violates the axiom that the first duty of government is to safeguard human life, especially the lives of those who are vulnerable. It has eroded the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded: the sanctity of life, the equal dignity of all, and impartial justice.
The matter of human cloning that involves the creation of human embryos is the story of the beginning of human life — a life that is not just a local issue, not a national issue, not a regional issue. It is above all a universal issue, because an embryo is a human being regardless of its geography. — Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, "International Convention Against the Cloning of Human Beings" (address to U.N., Oct. 21, 2003).
Roe continues to exist, but only in the way a storefront on a western movie set exists: a mere façade to give the illusion of reality. ... But behind the façade, an entirely new method of analysis, without any roots in constitutional law, is imported to decide the constitutionality of state laws regulating abortion. Neither stare decisis nor "legitimacy" are truly served by such an effort. — Chief Justice Rehnquist, dissenting opinion of the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision (as quoted in "Ten Legal Reasons to Reject Roe," 2003 Respect Life Program).
Prepared by the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities