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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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Apollonia: The persecution of Christians began in Alexandria during the reign of the Emperor Philip. The first victim of the pagan mob was an old man named Metrius, who was tortured and then stoned to death. The second person who refused to worship their false idols was a Christian woman named Quinta. Her words infuriated the mob and she was scourged and stoned. 
<p>While most of the Christians were fleeing the city, abandoning all their worldly possessions, an old deaconess, Apollonia, was seized. The crowds beat her, knocking out all of her teeth. Then they lit a large fire and threatened to throw her in it if she did not curse her God. She begged them to wait a moment, acting as if she was considering their requests. Instead, she jumped willingly into the flames and so suffered martyrdom.</p><p>There were many churches and altars dedicated to her. Apollonia is the patroness of dentists, and people suffering from toothache and other dental diseases often ask her intercession. She is pictured with a pair of pincers holding a tooth or with a golden tooth suspended from her necklace. St. Augustine explained her voluntary martyrdom as a special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, since no one is allowed to cause his or her own death.</p> American Catholic Blog We can find Christ among the despised, voiceless, and forgotten of the world. We have to move beyond that which we wish to ignore and forget about: embrace the seemingly un-embraceable, love the unlovable, and dare to know what we most fear and wish to leave unknowable.

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