I’m a little late (okay, really late) promoting this, but recently a couple of people started a special novena celebrating the 20th Anniversary of St. JP II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) — which is this coming March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.
The novena started on March 16 (so we are on day five) and includes daily prayers and meditations from the encyclical itself accompanied by the following daily prayer:
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, of men and women 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.
To catch you up:
Day 1: Monday, March 16, 2015 – For an end to the contraceptive mentality.
As the domestic church, the family is summoned to proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life. This is a responsibility which first concerns married couples, called to be givers of life, on the basis of an ever greater awareness of the meaning of procreation as a unique event which clearly reveals that human life is a gift received in order then to be given as a gift. In giving origin to new life, parents recognise that the child, “as the fruit of their mutual gift of love, is, in turn, a gift for both of them, a gift which flows from them.” EV 92
Heavenly Father, please grant all women the grace to acknowledge the awe-inspiring potential of their bodies to bear new life through your creative power. Allow a greater communication between men and women in order to help them use their creative potential wisely and to be open to life within the institution of marriage. AMEN
Day 2: March 17 – For an end to abortion.
The pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the church’s teaching on contraception is rejected …. The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion become the only possible decisive response to failed contraception. EV13
Heavenly Father, you intended the family to be the sanctuary of life. But throughout the world today, the family has become the author of the death sentence for its youngest and most vulnerable members. Please bestow your gift of courage on all parents facing an unplanned pregnancy, and raise up more people of goodwill to assist mothers in their time of need. AMEN
Day 3: March 18 – For an end to euthanasia of the elderly and disabled.
When the prevailing tendency is to value life only to the extent that it brings pleasure and well-being, suffering seems like an unbearable setback, something from which one must be freed at all costs. Death is considered ‘senseless’ if it suddenly interrupts a life still open to a future of new and interesting experiences. But it becomes a ‘rightful liberation’ once life is held to be no longer meaningful because it is filled with pain and inexorably doomed to even greater suffering. EV 64.
Heavenly Father, we ask for an end to the utilitarianism that obsesses the world and has led to the devaluation of lives which are no longer deemed to be productive. Please grant Your grace of gratitude for the elderly and the disabled and relieve them of the fear that they are a burden to their families and carers. AMEN
Day 4: March 19 – For an end to the commodification of unborn children and mothers.
This moral condemnation also regards procedures that exploit living human embryos and foetuses – sometimes specifically ‘produced’ for this purpose by in vitro fertilization- either to be used as ‘biological material’ or as providers of organs or tissue for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act. EV 63.
Heavenly Father, You designed conception to take place within the conjugal context of marriage. Please grant your grace of fortitude to all medical professionals who seek solutions to the problems of infertility. May they reject using immoral techniques when assisting with the creation of new life. We also pray that unborn human beings will no longer be used for experimentation and that existing frozen embryos will be treated with dignity. Father, please enlighten the world to see that surrogacy is not part of Your plan for motherhood, and help us to end all industries that commodify Your children. AMEN
Day 5: March 20 – For an end to the sex industry.
In the materialistic perspective described so far, interpersonal relations are seriously impoverished. The first to be harmed are women, children …… The criterion of personal dignity – which demands respect, generosity and service – is replaced by the criterion of efficiency, functionality and usefulness: others are considered not for what they ‘are’, but for what they ‘have, do and produce.’ This is the supremacy of the strong over the weak. EV 23.
Heavenly Father, the sex-industry is an ‘unfruitful work of darkness’ which many Christians would prefer to ignore. Please grant your grace of understanding to assist us in exposing this great evil. Help us to provide dignified work and physical support for sex-workers, and grant freedom to those who are held against their wills. We ask that all people will begin to nurture only those true and loving relationships which value the other over self, which promote mutual respect and which maintain the dignity of all persons involved. AMEN
The rest of the Daily Meditations will be:
Day 6: March 21 – For Legislators.
Day 7: March 22 – For a stronger witness from the clergy.
Day 8: March 23 – For a stronger witness from the laity.
Day 9: March 24 – For an increase in the virtue of chastity.
Closing reflection: March 25 – The Feast of the Annunciation.
Thanks to Birgit Jones, Kathy Clubb and Father Vincent Edward Mark Bertrand, MA, MDiv, JCLFounder/Director of Marian Advocates for Life for putting this together. You can keep up with the prayers on Birgit’s website or at the novena Facebook Page or click here for a full list of the prayers.
Of course, these are prayers we can and should be saying everyday — especially day four. Unfortunately this is a threat that far too many Catholics and pro-lifers either aren’t aware of or don’t fully understand and, as a result, are less proactive in this area as they are on abortion and euthanasia. Meanwhile, we are on a threshold here that could forever change the course of humanity.
This anniversary is a good time for Catholic pro-lifers to start getting serious about these issues! At the very least, they should be more regularly included in our pro-life prayers.
In his homily for “Evangelium Vitae Sunday” two years ago, Pope Francis said that “All too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the ‘Gospel of Life’ but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life.” Such ideologies, he said, “are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others.”
That is why it is important for us to never cease preaching the Gospel of Life, and, perhaps more importantly, living it in our own lives, as well.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us look to God as the God of Life, let us look to his law, to the Gospel message, as the way to freedom and life. The Living God sets us free! Let us say “Yes” to love and not selfishness. Let us say “Yes” to life and not death. Let us say “Yes” to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time. In a word, let us say “Yes” to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints (cf. 1 Jn 4:8; Jn 11:2; Jn 8:32); let us say “Yes” to the God who is the Living One and the Merciful One. Only faith in the Living God saves us: in the God who in Jesus Christ has given us his own life by the gift of the Holy Spirit and has made it possible to live as true sons and daughters of God through his mercy. This faith brings us freedom and happiness. Let us ask Mary, Mother of Life, to help us receive and bear constant witness to the “Gospel of Life”. Amen.