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40 Days for Life

Source: St. Anthony Messenger
Published: Tuesday, December 28, 2010
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The Church celebrates 40 days of Christmas, ending with the Presentation of the Lord on February 2. This feast recalls the visit of Mary and Joseph to the Temple to give thanks for Jesus’ birth (see Luke 2:22-38).

This January, the 38th annual March for Life will occur in Washington, D.C., seeking legal protection for human life from conception to natural death.

The U.S. bishops have designated January 22, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, as a day of penance for “violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.”

According to a May 2009 Gallup poll, 51 percent of people in the United States describedthemselves as “prolife” regarding abortion, as compared to 42 percent who called themselves “pro-choice.” Gallup’s Values and Beliefs poll has been conducted annually since 1995. In that year, 56 percent of respondents self-identified as “pro-choice” and 33 percent described themselves as “pro-life.”

A May 2010 poll by the Virginia Commonwealth University Life Sciences Survey of 1,001 U.S. adults yielded these results: abortion should be legal only in certain circumstances (44%), available no matter what the reason (37%), illegal in all circumstances (15%), and unsure or refused to answer (5%).

There is general support for some restrictions on abortions but no agreement currently on specifics about how to restrict them.

In November 2003, the U.S. Congress approved and President George W. Bush signed a federal ban on partial-birth abortions when a substantial portion of a living child is delivered outside the mother’s body. In April 2007 this ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart.

Several states have passed parental notification laws that have withstood court challenges.

The first local 40 Days for Life campaign of prayer at abortion clinics was conducted in the fall of 2004 at Bryan/College Station, Texas. The September 22-October 31, 2010, campaign of prayer, fasting, vigil and outreach was held at 238 locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Northern Ireland and Denmark. Another campaign is scheduled for March 9 (Ash Wednesday) to April 17, 2011.

Recalling the birth of Jesus always moves us. When he was presented in the Temple 40 days later, Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus and his great mission.

Unborn children are the most vulnerable people in the world. Respecting their right to life prepares us to respect the right to life of sick people, the aged, those with developmental disabilities and anyone else who can easily be considered marginal in a results-oriented society, one in danger of forgetting that its Declaration of Independence speaks of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as “inalienable rights.” They are “inalienable” because they come from God, not from an agreement among society’s members.

Life is a spectrum of stages. We cannot deny respect for unborn life without jeopardizing respect for all of life. And that touches each of us—born or unborn.

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Marie-Rose Durocher: Canada was one diocese from coast to coast during the first eight years of Marie-Rose Durocher’s life. Its half-million Catholics had received civil and religious liberty from the English only 44 years before. When Marie-Rose was 29, Bishop Ignace Bourget became bishop of Montreal. He would be a decisive influence in her life. 
<p>He faced a shortage of priests and sisters and a rural population that had been largely deprived of education. Like his counterparts in the United States, he scoured Europe for help and himself founded four communities, one of which was the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Its first sister and reluctant co-foundress was Marie-Rose. </p><p>She was born in a little village near Montreal in 1811, the 10th of 11 children. She had a good education, was something of a tomboy, rode a horse named Caesar and could have married well. At 16, she felt the desire to become a religious but was forced to abandon the idea because of her weak constitution. At 18, when her mother died, her priest brother invited her and her father to come to his parish in Beloeil, not far from Montreal. For 13 years she served as housekeeper, hostess and parish worker. She became well known for her graciousness, courtesy, leadership and tact; she was, in fact, called “the saint of Beloeil.” Perhaps she was too tactful during two years when her brother treated her coldly. </p><p>As a young woman she had hoped there would someday be a community of teaching sisters in every parish, never thinking she would found one. But her spiritual director, Father Pierre Telmon, O.M.I., after thoroughly (and severely) leading her in the spiritual life, urged her to found a community herself. Bishop Bourget concurred, but Marie-Rose shrank from the prospect. She was in poor health and her father and her brother needed her. </p><p>She finally agreed and, with two friends, Melodie Dufresne and Henriette Cere, entered a little home in Longueuil, across the Saint Lawrence River from Montreal. With them were 13 young girls already assembled for boarding school. Longueuil became successively her Bethlehem, Nazareth and Gethsemani. She was 32 and would live only six more years—years filled with poverty, trials, sickness and slander. The qualities she had nurtured in her “hidden” life came forward—a strong will, intelligence and common sense, great inner courage and yet a great deference to directors. Thus was born an international congregation of women religious dedicated to education in the faith. </p><p>She was severe with herself and by today’s standards quite strict with her sisters. Beneath it all, of course, was an unshakable love of her crucified Savior. </p><p>On her deathbed the prayers most frequently on her lips were “Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Sweet Jesus, I love you. Jesus, be to me Jesus!” Before she died, she smiled and said to the sister with her, “Your prayers are keeping me here—let me go.” </p><p>She was beatified in 1982.</p> American Catholic Blog It is in them [the saints] that Christian love becomes credible; they are the poor sinners’ guiding stars. But every one of them wishes to point completely away from himself and toward love…. The genuine saints desired nothing but the greater glory of God’s love… <br />—Hans Urs von Balthasar

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