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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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Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions: Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter. 
<p>His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." </p><p>At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan. </p><p>They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution. </p><p>They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears. </p><p>The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions. </p><p>In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators. </p><p>The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded. </p><p>In 1987, Blessed John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t have to scrub off our sin so God can love us. Instead, when we allow God’s healing love to touch us, we want to leave sin behind. Growth starts in love, not in guilt.

 
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