Even though 40 Days for Life involves a lot of hard work, it’s always worth it — especially when faithful people are determined to carry out the mission despite hardships and challenges.
That’s certainly the case in Toms River, New Jersey … a community that’s currently conducting its fourth 40 Days for Life campaign.
“Over 460 people have signed up for at least an hour to participate in this spring’s vigil,” said Sandy in Toms River. “This year is well over double the number of commitments from our very first campaign in the fall of 2008.”
And that number does NOT include many more people who are praying and fasting on their own, or helping the local effort in other ways.
Vigil participants have seen firsthand what “choice” is all about. They recently met a woman who was arriving for an abortion appointment — in tears.
She already had a 15-month-old baby. She and her husband were having financial problems. She’d had mental health issues after the birth of her last child and “could not handle another baby.”
As the group was assuring her that all the necessary resources would be available, she admitted she didn’t want to have the abortion. But as she started to walk toward the parking lot, one of the abortion center workers intercepted her and steered her towards the building.
Vigil participants prayed even more intensely, some even dropping to their knees.
One of the prayer volunteers then found the woman behind the abortion center. She assured him that she was just calling her husband to have him pick her up.
She said, “Those people in there do not care about me. They only care about my money and taking my baby from me.” She said she would be back to show the abortion center workers her new baby — and to join the vigil.
As a testimony to the fact that 40 Days for Life is making a huge impact in Toms River, vigil participants have recently been joined by two women with “keep abortion legal” signs.
“It is so difficult to understand how they could possibly rationalize and justify the taking of a totally defenseless life, let alone promote this killing so passionately,” Sandy noted. “It becomes even more apparent the spiritual battle we are up against.”
It’s also telling that these two have only been on the sidewalk on warmer, sunny days. “Not surprisingly,” said Sandy, “they decided not to join us on a cold and rainy day while at least 30 people sacrificed their comfort for the cause of life.”
Yes, it’s a sacrifice. It’s hard. But it’s important. It’s necessary. And it works! Thank you for all you’re doing in response to God’s call.
Today’s devotional is from Fr. Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life.
DAY 33 INTENTION
Let us affirm the unborn children by our language.
Anyone who says to his brother, “Raca,” is answerable to the Sanhedrin… anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.
– Matthew 5:22
REFLECTION by Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life
Before the schoolyard bully beats up his victim, he calls him names. This is a way to dehumanize the victim, and therefore make it easier to justify attacking him.
In this verse from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that using dehumanizing language is sinful. “Raca” was an Aramaic term of contempt.
The respect and love we are called to have for other human lives is not limited to action alone; it also has to manifest itself in language.
Professor William Brennan, in his book “Dehumanizing the Vulnerable: When Word Games Take Lives,” traces the dehumanizing language used to oppress various groups of people in history, such as our African-American brothers and sisters, or our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Holocaust.
He then shows that the same kind of dehumanizing language is used against the unborn, who have been called “parasites,” “tissue,” and “medical waste,” among other things.
What are we to do instead? We are to affirm one another, including the unborn, with ennobling language that inspires respect and love.
The unborn are precious children, they are our brothers and sisters, they are the image of God. Let us multiply the language of affirmation, as we hasten to the day of their protection!
Lord, we ask your forgiveness for any times our words have dehumanized our brothers and sisters.
We also ask you to send your grace to those who speak and write in degrading terms about the children in the womb. Convert those who do not see the dignity of these children.
Loosen the tongues of those who do not know how to acknowledge the humanity and sacredness of these tiny lives.
Keep us all aware of the power of language, and help us to use it rightly in the cause of life and justice. We pray through Christ our Lord, Amen.
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Yours for Life,
40 Days for Life
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