9 Days for Life: join the novena

Beginning today, you can join others in a focused nine-day program of prayer and reading for the protection of human life at all its stages. 9 Days for Life is about praying and reflecting together, even when we’re not gathered in one place.

I won’t be in Washington for this week’s March for Life, even though the march marks two significant events: the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and last June’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe. The bishop in my diocese decided some weeks ago not to sponsor buses to the 2023 march, despite having done so in earlier years, in order to underscore the Supreme Court’s decision to return abortion policy to the states.

Parishes are instead holding events of their own: specially-scheduled Masses, Eucharistic Adoration, life-issue films, and so forth. Our state march for life, held last weekend, was preceded by a Mass and followed by a reception and conference at the church hall. It’s safe to say that the local Catholics aren’t making the mistake of thinking that abortion is some kind of settled issue.

Still, there’s something missing as I skip this year’s trip to Washington: the overwhelming mutual support and combined voices of my sisters and brothers in faith from all over the country. The March for Life claims no religious affiliation, and all who come in peace are welcomed to it. All I have to do is look around the National Mall and the march route, though, to find students from Catholic colleges and parishioners from many states. I’ve been to pre-March Masses at different churches in D.C., packed with travelers fresh off their chartered buses. There’s a unity and common faith that overcomes – for awhile, anyway – the sense of dislocation that can go along with being pro-life in an abortion-friendly community.

9 Days for Life can remind us of that unity and faith. I don’t need to travel to Washington to participate.

I’ll miss the trip to D.C., the interesting company, even the Washington street vendors with their hot pretzels that have always sustained me on cold mornings before marches in past years. That’s okay. I can probably find hot pretzels here in New Hampshire if I put my mind to it.

I’ll go find the pretzels after I register via text for the novena, which will result in my getting a daily text with a theme and prayer. Text 9DAYS (no spaces) to 84576 to sign up. You can also find all the information about the novena at the 9 Days for Life website.

A week of observances

Today is a federal holiday, honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Later this week will be the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

This is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an ecumenical project promoted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The year’s theme is “Do Good; Seek Justice.” We included prayers for that intention at Mass at my parish over the weekend.

I perceive a common theme.

Dr. King strove for the recognition – not the creation, but recognition – of the inherent rights of all human beings. Whatever civil rights might mean to the politicians making speeches today, I can’t see that any rights make sense unless the right to life is recognized first.

I couldn’t look anyone in the eye and say that I support that human being’s right to vote but only after someone else allows that human being to live.

Honoring Dr. King, recalling Roe, seeking justice: defending the right to life does all three.

How does a landfill figure into New Hampshire’s march for life?

At 9 a.m. tomorrow, January 14, people will gather at the gate outside Concord, New Hampshire’s transfer station. They will pray and hold signs. They will park their cars along the roadside, since no one builds parking lots at landfills to accommodate demonstrations. It seems an odd place for a gathering, especially since there’s a March for Life later in the day a mile or so away, in more conventional surroundings. Why pray at a landfill?

Because it’s a burial ground. The remains of between fifty and eighty aborted children were discovered there in 1988. It didn’t take long to identify the abortion provider. He was scolded for improperly disposing of medical waste, and he promised to do the job right (incineration?) in the future.  

Thirty-five years later, the dump is now the transfer station, and human remains are still in the former landfill. Each January since 1989, visitors have gathered to honor the memory of the children.

A 2015 post at Leaven for the Loaf provides more history about the discovery of the human remains.