TUESDAY HOMILY: Holding Fast to the Anchor of Life
commit ourselves anew to the Lord of Life.
It's a day in which we renew our gratitude to our parents, and their parents, and their grandparents, all the way through the generations that they said yes to life, even in difficult circumstances.
It's a day on which we pray and fast for all those who are presently in difficult pregnancies, being tempted to end the life of their unborn baby, and reach out to them with compassion.
It's a day on which we do penance for all those doctors, nurses, judges, politicians and citizens who support abortion.
It's a day on which we pray that all those who have received abortions may come to recognize what they've done, come to God to receive the mercy he wants to give them, and make a resolution to try to help other women in similar circumstances make the right choice.
It's a day on which we commit ourselves even more to fostering a culture of life in which every human being is welcomed, respected, protected and assisted: a culture in which those who are bigger, stronger, more developed, older, smarter, richer can no longer end the lives of those who are just as human - in fact just as human as we were when we were their age and size - but simply smaller, younger and more vulnerable.
That's what we pray for today, together, not only with our lips and hearts but also with our bodies in fasting and penance.
During this Year of Faith, we are called to pray with even greater hope, despite the fact that the last year various developments in the United States' political situation have been discouraging for pro-lifers.
Faith and hope, as Pope Benedict wrote in his 2007 encyclical "Saved in Hope," are almost interchangeable terms in the Bible. Faith in God leads to an awareness that God is with us in the world, the God for whom nothing is impossible, the God who brings good out of evil, the God who is faithful to all his promises.
This type of hope is what the Letter to the Hebrews summons us to live in today's first reading. The words should have a particular resonance for those in the pro-life movement who have been battling discouragement with regard to some recent setbacks.
"God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises."
The letter says that our hope is like an "anchor of the soul, sure and firm" that is thrown into heaven , to keep us properly moored in faith as we encounter the storms of life. It was written to encourage the early Christians in an age of persecution to imitate the great heroes of faith. It's just as relevant to us today, encouraging us to "hold fast to the hope that lies before us."
And so with courage today, we renew our faith and hope in God, the Lord of life, who hasn't abandoned us in this struggle but who is still God-with-us in order to save us and heal us from our sins.
We renew our faith and hope in the power of prayer, fasting, penance and reparation.
We renew our faith and hope in the power of conscience, helping to guide others toward the good, to affirm rather than end it, to see children grow up rather than dead in the womb, to help pregnant women in difficulty become loving mothers rather confused co-conspirators in the deaths of their own children.
We renew our faith and hope that most people, when given the choice between a culture that affirms life and another that pushes death, the culture of life will triumph.
That's the anchor we throw upward today, together with our prayer, penance and fasting.
Father Roger Landry is pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River, MA and national chaplain of Catholic Voices USA. His homilies and articles are found on catholicpreaching.com.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: year of faith, daily homily homilies, roe v wade, abortion, pro-life, culture of life, roger landry
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