This makes me think… how futile it is to rely on my own power, when God’s power is so abundant…

[Describing the parable of the mustard seed, Benedict XVI preaches… ] it breaks open to give life to a sprout that can break through the ground, coming out into the sunlight and growing until it becomes ‘the greatest of all shrubs': the seed’s weakness is its strength, its break open is its power. Thus the Kingdom of God is… made up of those.. who do not rely on their own power but on the love of God…; and yet it is through them that Christ’s power bursts in and transforms what is seemingly insignificant…. If our own small strength, apparently powerless in the face of the world’s problems, is inserted in that of God… victory is guaranteed.

–Benedict XVI, Angelus message, June 17, 2012.

Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #9 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 4.13.04 PMEven though this is the last day of the Nine Days, if you’ve missed out on joining in, you can start your own nine day novena for life right now! There’s no limit to how and when this novena gets prayed. Learn more about the Nine Days initiative and find PDF’s with the prayers, as well as more links here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For repentance, healing and peace, in every heart and every nation.

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

Reflection: Today is the memorial of St. Angela Merici, foundress of the religious community now known as the Ursuline nuns. Living in northern Italy in the early 1500s, she was moved by the needs of young girls in the community, who were poor and uneducated. She responded to the girls’ needs by educating them in the Gospel. Her example reminds us that to share Christ with those in need is to share news of great joy. “…for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10) We hear these words proclaimed in today’s first reading. The message of the Gospel of Life is one of great joy! Our call to live this Gospel is not marked with sadness and despair, but with hope, expectation and exuberant joy. “It is up to you, young followers of Christ, to show the world that faith brings happiness and a joy which is true, full and enduring.… The Gospel is the “good news” that God loves us and that each of us is important to him. Show the world that this is true!” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 27th World Youth Day, March 15, 2012).

 

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Spend quality time with a family member or friend; ask them if they would like to help out at a local charity with you.
  • Say three Hail Mary’s for your parish priest. Without our priests, we could not have the sacraments.
  • Make a “quiet hour” today, turning off all electronic devices (cell phone, iPod, computer, television, radio, video game system), and retreat to your room.

Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #8 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 4.15.16 PMGet caught up on the Nine Days initiative here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For an end to legal abortion in our nation and for the conversion of all hearts, so that the inherent rights of every human being—especially those most at risk of abuse and rejection—will be upheld.

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

Reflection: On this memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, we hear St. Paul’s words to them: “do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.” These words ring true for us today, especially as we speak the truth that life is worth living, and that every person, without exception, deserves the chance to live his or her life, and experience its beauty and goodness. Blessed John Paul II reminds us that our first step in giving our testimony is to have an outlook of wonder on the beauty of life, “discovering in all things the reflection of the Creator and seeing in every person his living image” (Evangelium Vitae, 83).

 

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Read about a Church teaching you don’t understand in the Catechism.
  • Make an honest assessment of your “giving finances” – are you giving too little? Make a resolution to give a set weekly or monthly donation to your parish or favorite local charity.
  • Do you love your cup of tea or coffee in the morning? Fast from caffeine today or try your coffee black.

Podcasts with Pro-Life Themes… share these!

Screen Shot 2012-10-19 at 6.55.00 PMHere’s a quick review of some of the Among Women podcasts that may interest you as we conclude this year’s March for Life.

(Click on the links for each show and find valuable resources related to the subject matter.)

Among Women 121: Pro-life advocate Leticia Velasquez combats the culture of death and discusses her book about families with children with Downs Syndrome.

Among Women 120: A compelling story of a birth mother and an adoptive mother who discuss the decisions they made, the prayers they prayed, and the daughter they share via an open adoption… 14 years after the child was placed for adoption.

Among Women 75: Guest Dr Theresa Burke, an international expert on post-abortion stress and healing, as well as a clinical psychiatrist, discusses healing after an abortion, and the ministry of Rachel’s Vineyard. Pass this information on to your friends and churches. Everyone should know of this important ministry.

Among Women 74: Pro-life teen Jessica Schacle discusses her reasons behind her pro-life advocacy. This episode also features teaching on the Church’s profound understanding of the dignity of the human person.

Among Women 29: Guest Kathleen Fitzpatrick chronicles her journey of becoming pregnant during college, and her decision to give birth to a son and raise him. Women in their college years are among the highest statistics for abortion rates in this country. Share Kathleen’s story with someone you know!

Among Women 155: This most recent podcast talks about the genius of women, my latest article in the Washington Post, and the Nine Day novena that you can pray for life.

 

Why the Canticle of Zechariah is my new go-to pro-life prayer

Why the Canticle of Zechariah is my new go-to pro-life prayer

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has visited and redeemed his people,

and has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David,

as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

that we should be saved from our enemies,

and from the hand of all who hate us;

to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,

and to remember his holy covenant,

the oath which he swore to our father Abraham,

to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,

might serve him without fear

 in holiness and righteousness before him

all the days of our life.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

through the tender mercy of our God,

when the day shall dawn upon us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

(The Canticle of Zechariah, Luke 1: 68-79 rsv)

In Morning Prayer from the Divine Office (aka the Liturgy of the Hours), the Canticle of Zechariah is prayed aloud every day. The Canticle, or song, is Zechariah’s prophetic exhortation about the greatness of God in sending his son, John the Baptist, as the Forerunner to announce the coming of Christ.There are many words and themes in this canticle prayer that can prepare our hearts and minds for the work of evangelization, and the bringing of the Gospel of Life to our society in a positive, loving, and peace-filled way.

Here’s my take on it, line by line, for it stirs my heart.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has visited and redeemed his people,

The first line blesses God. We must keep God first in all things, in all that we do, including pro-life activities. Everything must start with prayer, continue with prayer, and end with prayer. We work for the God who came to His People, as one like them — first, as an unborn baby in the womb, then as man who walked among us. This is a God that is personally involved with us – as persons. And he increases our dignity as persons through redemption. Jesus’ birth is still one of the biggest celebrations our world has ever known – Christmas is the joy of the Incarnation – that God is with us.

and has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David,

Horns, or trumpets, in the bible, announce things, like victory. They sing of victory marches, royal strength and power. David was renown as the king who brought all the tribes of Israel together under his leadership. Jesus, from the Davidic line, is King of the Universe. He is ever the Victor over sin and death, the source of our salvation. The New Testament (1 Thes 4:16) says that Christ’s second coming will be accompanied by the blast of the trumpet.

as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

For centuries, Jesus’ coming was announced by the Prophets. Christians come from a long line of God-worshippers, freedom fighters, and justice seekers. The holy prophets of old knew what it was like to face down a society that was hostile to their message, even among their own people. Yet the stood bravely and delivered the truth all the same.

Our baptism, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, links us to every single person who has ever borne the name of God on their lips and lived and announced this faith in their respective cultures. The Prophets of old are standing with the prophetic voice of new generations… in and through Christ.

that we should be saved from our enemies,

and from the hand of all who hate us;

The enemies of life and truth are the denial of human personhood as sacred from conception to natural death, and the institutions in our society that destroy or degrade life. The people who hold those views should be treated with respect, as they, as persons, are not our true enemies but, ultimately, our brothers and sisters in need of the Gospel. Their ideology – what Blessed John Paul II labeled as the culture of death –is what leads people to ruin. The tricky part for us in the pro-life cause is to delivers a message of love and life even in the face of powerful opposition without degrading the personhood of those opposing us. See the earlier paragraph about praying all the time. We cannot do this without the import of grace.

Our model for this is always Jesus, who asks that we pick up our own cross to follow him. This is not easy to do. Remember what Jesus did; on the way to Calvary, many people lined the streets and hated him, mocking his message. Still, he carried on, with love and fortitude. He was pained and burdened but did not lift a hand in violence to them nor did he shout anyone down. He loved people, even his detractors and persecutors. Jesus, with the prophets and martyrs, teaches us that even being put to death for one’s beliefs is still a “win”, for it leads to eternal life.

to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,

and to remember his holy covenant,

the oath which he swore to our father Abraham,

Jesus = mercy. That’s the equation we must bring to all pro-life work. The love of God for us in Jesus is fantastic, forgiving, mind-blowing, redeeming, deep mercy.

Notice the twice-mentioned fatherhood language in these verses. The life of the family, of nations, is ever under the mercy of God. We are God’s children by virtue of our baptism, born into the family of God, besides our families of origin. It also means, though it seems very distant, we are the children of Abraham, too.

to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,

might serve him without fear,

Again, the canticle lifts the concern of being delivered from enemies. Just in case we didn’t get it the first time, the prayer repeats this strength of conviction. We must need this reminding and assurance.

Let’s face it; we live in a feel-good society. We prefer pleasure to pain, and prize being liked, loved, and well thought of by others. But as Christians, our life of redemption begins by standing in the shadow of the cross, like Mary did. Even the most sinless, perfect human person on earth, Mary, still had heartaches and difficulties to endure.

Jesus’ mission to save, as Zechariah points out, includes deliverance from our enemies. If that is the case, we should not fear our own mission, as Christians in imitation of Jesus, to offer to the world a path to peace, healing, freedom, and justice in His Name. Mary had perfect grace to assist her to endure the imperfections of life. We, too, through the graces of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation, have the graces to serve Christ without fear, or, if we are fearful, to do the right thing in spite of it.

in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.

This is the call to holiness for all of us. God longs for us to be holy, to be saints, all the days of our life. That’s a tall order isn’t it? In pro-life work, we must be strong, loving, and secure. We must radiate all manner of decency to those we meet – people within our cause, and the people we hope to win over.

That word “life” stands out now, doesn’t it? How grateful we must be for our own lives. Our righteousness must spring from that deep awareness and gratitude of being alive, that each human life is a gift to be received and celebrated.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

A father’s love is exemplified in Zechariah’s words to John. He already knows, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that his son is destined to announce God’s message.

If we read these verses as God’s Word to us, we see God the Father handing on a mission to us, in imitation of his Son, Jesus. Again, our own baptismal call includes the Church’s mission to evangelize, to help make disciples. Praying this prayer every morning in Morning Prayer is a reminder for all the People of God — priests, religious, and laity — to live their Christian vocation to spread the Gospel with love.

through the tender mercy of our God,

when the day shall dawn upon us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

God tenderly loves us. With deep compassion for our weaknesses and sin, He illuminates our ways and lifts us out of the shadows. That tender mercy that He extends to us is what we must extend in our pro-life work. We must be characterized by tender compassion as we attempt to shine as lights in the darkness with the light of the Gospel of Life.

Those final words about guiding “our feet into the way of peace” merit our reflection.

When we follow the ways of the Lord, there is great peace, despite the challenges and demands of standing against a culture of death. St Paul said it best, I think, in the Letter to the Philippians, that God’s peace is the hallmark of the presence of the Spirit that “keeps” us, that affirms and protects us, that unites us with Jesus.

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4: 6-7.

Let our feet, our ways, be guided mercy, that we may know such peace.

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Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #7 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

We’re on Day 7 of a 9-day novena! The home stretch!

Get caught up on the Nine Days initiative here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For elected leaders who oppose any restriction on the abortion license: may God allow them to grasp the brutal violence of abortion and the reality of post-abortion suffering experienced by countless women and men.

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

Reflection: Today’s reading from Acts tells the story of St. Paul’s conversion. Before, he was “breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord.” After encountering Christ, Paul became a “chosen instrument,” filled with the Holy Spirit, and ready to suffer for Jesus’ name. There is absolutely nothing and no one outside of the power of God’s loving embrace. Today we remember the children, the mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all those who have been involved in or affected by abortion. We entrust them to the unfathomable healing mercy of God, recalling the words of Jesus to St. Faustina: “The greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy” (Diary, 1182).

 

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Go to Confession—today, if possible—or during this week.
  • Fast from snacking today. Eat three meals only.
  • Today, go visit an adoration chapel and spend an hour with Jesus.

Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #6 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

Pray to support life initiatives in this country –especially the events taking place in Washington DC over this weekend. Are you late to this novena? No problem! Start today. Any and all prayer counts.

Get caught up on the Nine Days initiative here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For those whose work involves promoting abortion and contraceptive use:may God help them understand that the casual sex they foster undermines the capacity for the self-giving, faithful and enduring love that is the longing of every heart.

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

Reflection: On this feast of St. Francis de Sales, let us consider these words of the great saint: “All that we do must be motivated by love and not force. We must love to obey rather than fear to disobey.” St. Francis reminds us that all of our actions must be borne of a spirit of love, and that we find our freedom in living the truth. As we defend the dignity of human life, let us ask St. Francis to pray for us so that everything we say and do for unborn children and their grieving parents is imbued with both compassion and truth.

 

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Learn how to pray the Angelus. . . prayer, and get into the habit of saying it every day—at noon or 6 pm or on awakening (or all three times).
  • Today ignore your sweet tooth. Make healthy eating choices.
  • Clean a room in your house without being asked or without telling anyone. Pray for your family members while you clean, “and your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matthew 6:6).

Among Women 155: Woman, you are a gift! A look at the feminine genius…

Screen Shot 2012-10-19 at 6.55.00 PM

This week Among Women looks at the amazing dignity of woman and the gift of physical and spiritual maternity. This is one of those programs that is really foundational — theologically — to the mission of Among Women. I’m so happy to share some of the “feminine genius” that you will find in the writings of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (also known as St Edith Stein), and the writings of my guest, faith and culture writer Rebecca Ryskind Teti. Come listen as she shares about her conversion to the Catholic faith and the beauty of her intellect as she unpacks a chapter that she wrote on the subject of the Feminine Genius in Hallie Lord’s book from last year, Style, Sex, and Substance.

Also, as we mark the 40th anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision in the United States,  and we anticipate the March for Life this Friday, I shared my debut piece in the Washington Post. There’s also my interview with Sheila Liaugminas of Relevant Radio regarding the same.

Finally, we also pray part of the Nine Days novena for life.

Take three minutes and pray with me today, for life. Day #5 of the USCCB’s Nine Days of Prayer novena to build a culture of life (Prayers & links here)

IMG_1087Pray with Americans from all over the country  in support of life! Get caught up on the Nine Days initiative here.

This is from the USCCB website...

Intercession: For scientists and pharmaceutical employees who help create and manufacture contraceptive and abortifacient drugs: that the Lord will open their eyes to the moral danger and health risks these drugs pose for women and prompt them to work only on medications that benefit human life.

 

 

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

 

 

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, we hear how Jesus grieved the hardness of heart of the Pharisees, as he heals the man with the withered hand. Let us open our hearts in faith, entrusting our culture to the healing power of Christ, the One who has overcome sin and the power of evil. We recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI, having faith that “this God exists, and hence that this power to ‘take away the sin of the world’ (Jn 1:29) is present in the world” (Saved in Hope [Spe Salvi], 36).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Gratitude helps us love God and neighbor. Today try to not complain or be negative. Say a prayer of thanksgiving instead.
  • Sometimes we forget to quiet ourselves and spend quality time with God. Fast from Facebook or Twitter today. Spend that extra time meditating on a Gospel passage.
  • Don’t push the snooze button. Get right out of bed and offer your day in prayer to God. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14).
The bodacious message of a woman’s dignity and gifts — my interview on Relevant Radio today. Links to listen!

The bodacious message of a woman’s dignity and gifts — my interview on Relevant Radio today. Links to listen!

Okay, being a former radio deejay myself, I really appreciate a smooth delivery and articulation of a clear message…. would that I might have been describing me! But today I held my own and relaxed because I was in the hands of a real pro — an Emmy Award-winner, a great writer, and media host, Sheila Liaugminas, over at Relevant Radio’s “A Closer Look”.  God bless Sheila’s intellect, her timing and pacing, and her deep grasp of the news of the day when it came to the talking about the 40th anniversary of Roe vs Wade. I was honored to be in the lineup between Lila Rose of Live Action and John Morales, producer/director of The 40 Film.

You can listen to the show online here and my interview begins around 31:30 into the show, or you can download the mp3 here, and look the Jan 22 show on the chart.

Of course, the whole reason I got to be on the show was because of my debut in the Washington Post on “Respecting Women is Respecting Life.”