While the Catholic Church celebrates life every month of the year, the month of January is especially important in the celebration of life, because this is also the month when we are reminded of our challenges. It was on January 22, 1973 when the Supreme Court ruled that the constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion. Since then, countless lives have been lost and ruined. As followers of Christ we can be a place of refuge through our words, the care we provide and by sharing the gospel that brings life. The Church needs to continue to be vocal advocates for the unborn, the immigrant, the refugee and the poor, remembering that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted.
Last March we celebrated the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae: The Gospel of Life.” This message is a message of hope and joy. “The Gospel of Life” is at the heart of Jesus’ saving message to the world. We are called to respect, defend and promote the dignity of all human persons at every moment and in every condition of that person’s life. Within the encyclical, St. John Paul II says that the family is the essential part of the mission of the sanctity of life for society. Abortion and euthanasia are morally toxic for society because they take place within the family.
We need to continue the advancement of human rights by widening the circle of those whose inalienable rights are protected. Pro-life ministries are necessary because the legalization of abortion was an example of our nation narrowing those with protected rights. Just as our founders were blind to the grave evil of slavery, many are blind now to the injustice and mass killing of the unborn.
The Diocese of Providence has many opportunities to come together in solidarity during the month of January to pray for all life:
• The Annual Mass for Life will be celebrated this year on January 23 at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin. This Mass is celebrated each year right before the Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.
• The Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn and the Americas, travels throughout the diocese in January for Holy Hours for Life, rosaries, Masses and presentations. This Image journeys throughout America to convert hearts and save souls from the torrent of materialism, secularism and the contraceptive/abortion/euthanasia mentality that reflects our culture of death. She helps to bring conversions and to build a culture of life and a civilization of love.
Some things that can be done to support a culture of life within the Diocese of Providence include:
• Joining Bishop Tobin’s Human Life Guild and attending pro-life events that the diocese and local parishes hold.
• Financially supporting pro-life ministries like St. Gabriel’s Call, Project Rachael/Rachel’s Vineyard.
• Voting for our biblical values by protecting the sanctity of life.
So, in this month of January, let us ask our Holy Mother to intercede for us and pray with us for a deeper respect for God’s gift of life. May God have mercy on our country, may God have mercy on us.
Lisa Cooley serves as the Coordinator for the Office of Life and Family in the Diocese of Providence.