Day for Life is celebrated annually by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition.
This year’s Day for Life will be celebrated in Ireland this Sunday 4th October and will focus on the theme: ‘Choose Life’.
There were 6,666 abortions in the Republic of Ireland in 2019 and over two hundred thousand in Great Britain, including significant numbers from the island of Ireland. We, the Catholic Church, have a message of hope and a story of love; together, we can promote a culture of life.
We grieve the loss of life due to abortion. We seek a change of minds and hearts about the innate dignity of the child in the womb and the care of pregnant women. Pope Francis writes, ‘The gift of a new child, entrusted by the Lord to a father and a mother, begins with acceptance, continues with lifelong protection and has as its final goal the joy of eternal life … For God allows parents to choose the name by which He himself will call their child for all eternity’ (Amoris Laetita – The Joy of Love, 166).
How can Catholic parishes and communities be places of welcome, assistance and support?
On this twenty-fifth anniversary of St John Paul II’s letter Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), we renew the call for respect and celebration of all life.
The parish is a ‘family of families’ (Amoris Laetita, 87). We ask our parishes to be places of welcome, where we can support pregnant women and celebrate the precious gift entrusted to them. We recognise that family is often ‘a challenging mosaic made up of many different realities, with all their joys, hopes and problems’ (Amoris Laetitia, 57).
We want to provide support for women and men who face difficult circumstances, as well as those who have experienced abortion and seek comfort in the Lord and their community.
‘As a Catholic, I promise to foster a culture of welcome and acceptance of new life. I will pray and work for better legal protections for pregnant women and the child in the womb.’
Hope and Healing after Abortion
God does not withhold his forgiveness from those who seek it with a sincere heart. But, even when we confess our sins and receive absolution, we are not always ready to forgive ourselves. There are many women and men still living, years later, with the emotional and spiritual scars of abortion. Our mission to promote a culture of life must include helping these women and men to be reconciled with themselves, with their lost child, and with the God who has never stopped loving them.
In the Lord we can find peace: ‘Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us’ (Romans 5:5).
‘My name is Caitlin* and I am twenty-eight years old. When I became pregnant for the first time five years ago, I had an abortion. I have carried the pain from this experience, as well as feelings of loss, confusion and loneliness. When attending a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, I was given the time and space to name the child that I lost and to find healing and forgiveness in the Lord.’
To learn more about Rachel’s Vineyard, go to www.rachelsvineyard.ie
Access the Day for Life Resources on www.councilforlife.ie
*The name has been changed to protect the identity of the mother.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
On this day, when we celebrate the gift of life, we turn to God our Father and ask him for all that we need to life that life in all its fullness
For Pope Francis and for all who share with him the responsibility of proclaiming the Gospel of Life – that they may be guided by the Holy Spirit to speak the truth in love. Lord hear us.
For women who are expecting the birth of a baby – we ask God’s blessing for a joy-filled pregnancy and a safe delivery. Lord hear us.
For children who are born into situations of poverty and uncertainty – that their urgent needs may become a priority for our society. Lord hear us.
For our parents through whom we received the gift of life – that, in their own lives, they may experience the power of God’s love. Lord hear us.
For those who have lost family members and friends during the present pandemic and for those whose health or livelihood has been undermined – that they may experience the love of God in the solidarity of the Christian community. Lord hear us.
For doctors, nurses and pharmacists – that they may have the courage in every circumstance to be advocates for life. Lord hear us.
For those who make our laws – that their work may draw inspiration from the Holy Spirit who is the Lord and giver of life. Lord hear us.
For those who have gone before us on the path of life, especially our parents, our grandparents and our children who have died – that they may experience the fullness of life in the kingdom of God. Lord hear us.
Guide our actions we pray, O Lord, and through the power of your Holy Spirit, bring to fulfilment in our lives the plan that you have for our good, from the first moment of our conception. We make this prayer through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
It is not intended that all of the above Intercessions would necessarily be used at the same time, but these are intended to address both the theme of this year’s Day for Life and the life-changing Pandemic, which was not even on the horizon when that theme was chosen.
Day for Life prayer
Holy Mary, Mother of Love, holding in your arms, the fruit of your womb, graciously look upon our earth and remove from it all that hardens our hearts and dims our eyes to the preciousness of human life, from the moment of conception to natural death.
Through the example of your tenderness teach us the ways of compassion and love that we may build up the civilisation of love among us and a society that is truly worthy of the human person.
Help us to reject all that contributes to a culture of death, and to work with others of goodwill in promoting the culture of life.
Bring us ever closer to your Son, so that we may know the fullness of life that he offers us and come to know that life more perfectly, with you, and all the angels and saints, in the eternal life of Heaven.
Choose Life: Prayer for the Child in the Womb Lord Jesus, you are the source and lover of life. Reawaken in us respect for every human life. Help us to see in each child the marvellous work of our Creator. Open our hearts to welcome every child as a unique and wonderful gift. Guide the work of doctors, nurses and midwives. May the life of a mother and her baby in the womb be equally cherished and respected. Help those who make our laws to uphold the uniqueness and sacredness of every human life, from the first moment of conception to natural death. Give us wisdom and generosity to build a society that cares for all. Together with Mary, your Mother, in whose womb you took on our human nature, Help us to choose life in every decision we take. We ask this in the joyful hope of eternal life with you, and in the communion of the Blessed Trinity. Amen. Our Lady of Knock, pray for us. All the Saints of Ireland, pray for us.