Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage

By Tom Grenchik

January 4, 2013

The U.S.Catholic bishops have launched a major pastoral initiative calling for prayer and penance to help build a culture that is favorable to life, marriage and religious liberty.

The call to prayer and penance includes monthly Eucharistic Holy Hours in cathedrals and parishes, a daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and a second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom. Focused on the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith, the initiative emphasizes that life, marriage, and religious liberty are foundational to Catholic social teaching and fundamental to the good of society. Resources from the U.S. Catholic bishops can be found at:

During this call to prayer and the Year of Faith, our nation faces the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children's lives have been lost to abortion and the lives of millions of their parents have been shattered. Whether you choose to participate in the national March for Life or in local rallies, marches or liturgies in your own diocese, please consider participating in the Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage from January 19 to 27, 2013. These nine days, surrounding the Roe v. Wade anniversary and focused on the theme of pilgrimage, are part of the nationwide pastoral initiative noted above.

During the 9-day period between January 19 and 27, a simple novena will be available electronically with daily prayer intentions for the healing and conversion of our nation, for elected officials who support abortion, and for all people whose lives have forever been changed by an abortion. This youth-friendly novena will assist actual pilgrims, as well as those participating from their parishes and homes via social media/text messages/emails, with a web-link to the day's prayers and activities. Each day will include: an intercession; simple prayers; a very brief reflection on the saint of the day or a lesson from the daily readings; suggestions for concrete acts of prayer, penance and charity; and a powerful myth/reality comment related to abortion.

For those traveling to pro-life events during this time period, these educational materials, prayer intentions and suggestions will help make the trip a true pilgrimage. When the Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage conclude on Sunday, January 27, parishes are encouraged to offer a Holy Hour for Reparation and Healing for all those affected by abortion.

To find out more about the Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage, go to Here you can sign up to personally receive the daily prayers and suggestions, and learn how to promote these prayers and activities in your parish or organization.

May we respond to 40 years of the culture of death with great confidence and hope. In addition to our current everyday pro-life efforts, a nation-wide commitment to prayer and penance is essential to ushering in a culture of life.

Tom Grenchik is Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Go to to learn more about the bishops' pro-life activities.