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Like many people, I've often been struck by injustices in our society and have felt the desire to do something to make a difference. I've also felt helpless, as though there was nothing I could do to make any significant difference. I believe in the power of prayer, but I sometimes find myself almost brushing it into the background, wanting to do something else that will "really" have an impact.
However, Rachel's story is a powerful reminder of the very real impact of prayer. It was not a coincidence that she felt as if hundreds of people were praying for her at the same time. January 19th was the first day of the bishops' novena marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage, and the day's intention emailed to subscribers that morning was for "the mother who awakens each morning with the memory of abortion fresh in her mind."
Rachel continued: "…if it had not been for that email I might have been swallowed whole by despair. If you are currently participating in the nine days of prayer and happened to pray today for post-abortive women to find healing I want to extend my thanks to you. Your prayers were felt and very much needed."
The rest of her post is a heartbreaking reminder of the suffering caused by abortion. It is also a call to action. It reminds us that we are being sold a bill of goods which promises freedom and happiness, but is as deceptive as it is tragic. Instead of liberated women, we find many women who feel trapped, as though there is no way out. We must act now.
In this Year of Faith, the U.S. Catholic bishops have called for a focused time of prayer from the feast of the Holy Family (December 30, 2012) until the feast of Christ the King (November 24, 2013) for the sake of renewing a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty in our country. The five components of the Call to Prayer (www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty) include monthly Holy Hours, a daily rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful, abstinence from meat and fasting on Fridays, and a Fortnight for Freedom in June/July. Like the Nine Days prayer campaign, you can sign up to receive email or text messages with a new intention, reflection, and "Did you know?" section each week. Text "fast" to 99000 or visit www.usccb.org/fast (where you can also pledge to fast for life, marriage, and religious liberty).
Please consider how you, your family and friends can participate in the bishops' Call to Prayer, and encourage others to do the same. It is an opportunity to respond in solidarity as the Body of Christ to the threats we face. It is a chance to fight for Rachel and all who have been so hurt by false and empty promises of happiness. It is a time to stand together.
Let us never forget the power of prayer, the most effective thing we can do. For in prayer, we remember and acknowledge our dependence on God. He is bigger than anything we face.
Anne McGuire is a staff assistant for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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