Respect Life/Social Justice

Creating a culture of life and encounter

‘9 Days for Life’ novena is Jan. 18-26

Each year as our country approaches the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade (1973) it is important for us to take time to consider how to eliminate abortion in our country. Prayer and the sacraments are so important to any action of respect life and social justice, especially when engaging in the struggle to overcome something as evil as abortion.

Prayer brings us into relationship with God and requires of us to humble ourselves before our creator to receive the grace we need as we carry out our mission. This is one reason why the U.S. Catholic bishops promote a “digital pilgrimage” called “9 Days for Life.” It is a novena that can be prayed wherever you are, along with practical actions that you can take to help promote a culture of life.

How then can we help to bring about a culture of life in our country? How can we end abortion, prevent doctor-prescribed suicide, end the death penalty, defend all life from conception to natural death?

Let’s look at the issue of abortion as one example of how we can find success in the struggle for life. It is essential for us to engage in the political process through the many means at our disposal as we are blessed to live in a democracy, including contacting legislators about our opposition to abortion. However, that is not enough. It is important for us to also consider why women have abortions. According to the Guttenmacher Institute (the research wing of Planned Parenthood), a study in 2005 gave several reasons for women choosing abortions. Among them were that lack of financial stability and lack of support from others directly contributed to their decision. This was especially so for single women. There are other reasons as well. Some women are pressured or even forced to get abortions by loved ones, family, friends and/or ­abusers. Women are concerned that having a child will prevent them from achieving progress in their lives or would interfere with their education. Others are afraid of being a single mother.

I believe it is also essential to ending abortion by taking this information to heart and asking ourselves, as a society, “how do we ensure that the fears women described are addressed through social and political change?” “How do we ensure that women and families have access to all of life’s basic necessities and that families have the community support and resources to not only survive but to flourish?” “How do we build a culture of life that encompasses all people at all stages of life, regardless of status, heritage, abilities, health, etc.?”

This same approach is important for other life issues, including doctor-prescribed suicide, ending the death penalty, caring for the poor and marginalized, promoting a just and charitable immigration system, healthcare as a human right and so on. When we discover why people support a culture of death, or why they choose things that we believe to be evil or harmful, we can better work to meet their needs and in doing so we not only create a culture of life but also one of encounter.

This brings me back to “9 Days for Life,” an opportunity for us to pray a novena with people all across the country together. It is a time for us to focus our prayers, not only on ending abortion, but also on building a culture of life that respects all people, from conception to natural death, a culture that promotes the dignity of all, the unborn, the elderly, the sick, the prisoner, the immigrant, the poor, the worker, the migrant, the refugee, the marginalized, the oppressed, the hungry, and establishes social and legal structures to ensure that each has what they need for human flourishing.

Pray for peace. Pray for justice. Pray for love. Pray for life.

For more information go to or check out our Facebook page where we will promote that novena each day along with opportunities for you to get involved from wherever you are.