Here's what you can do to promote the dignity of life.
As we gear up for the March for Life on January 27, here are seven ways to spiritually and materially increase your commitment to the sacredness of life:
1. Pray the Novena for Life
The US bishops offer a 9 Day Novena for Life that started Jan. 21. You can access the novena in numerous forms, in English and Spanish. Besides prayers, the bishops provide reflections and “One Step Further” suggestions on steps such as reading “How to Talk to a Friend Who Has Had An Abortion,” or “Seven Considerations While Navigating Infertility,” or “Caring for Loved Ones at Life’s End.”
January is a special month for my family because we just celebrated the first birthday of our nephew, John Paul Francis, who has Down syndrome. When JP was born, a religious sister I know – who had a brother with Down syndrome who lived a very long life – said to me, “They should never call it downs; they should always call it ups.” Everyone who has a loved one with Down syndrome knows how right she is.
This is a good month to reach out to a mom or dad who might need a little help with a special needs child, visit someone who is lonely, or comfort someone who has recently experienced a miscarriage.
3. Pray for your deceased loved ones and pass on what they taught you about life
I used to think of January as a dreary, long winter month, but I don’t anymore. Both of my parents died in January and went on to their new life with Our Lord. Now, I treasure the memories of their pro-life witness. From the time I was a child I remember my father – an inner city high school teacher and coach — talking about the rights of the unborn and activating people in our parish to defend life.
And my mom, even in her retirement, would pray outside the abortion clinic and support the works of a nearby pregnancy resource center. She encouraged her eight children and friends to take the moments presented by God in their everyday lives and use them for Him. As Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.”
4. Attend the March for Life in DC or a state or local rally
Each year, I look forward to going to the March for Life with a group of college students; they get energized seeing the thousands of other young people also standing up for life. This year’s theme is “The Power of One,” drawn from the J.R.R. Tolkien quote, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
5. If you can’t go to the March or rally, “offer it up”
Perhaps you can’t attend any pro-life rallies, but your prayers are huge. Find something that is difficult for you, say “Jesus,” and unite your suffering with Him, for the unborn, disabled and those in need. This has enormous value!
More to read: On dealing with difficult things, teenage edition
I recently ran into a mother with whom I’ve volunteered at a pregnancy resource center. We’ve attended the March for Life together in the past. She now has an infant and we laughed about how this year she will be “marching around the house” (juggling baby, diapers and all!).
Not attending the March for Life may be a sacrifice for you, but standing up for life can begin right at home.
6. Take to social media
7. Get educated
There are many good non-profit organizations promoting pro-life and pro-family values. It takes a little effort to do the research, but it’s a good month to find out which organizations promote the dignity of life, and to discern how you can get involved, and support them monetarily.