By Anne McGuire

December 30, 2016

I'll never forget briefly getting to know a friend's son, who was in seminary. Something about his gaze struck me more than anything else: it lacked any trace of trying to obtain something from me. Instead of focusing on achieving personal objectives, he simply befriended me for my own sake. It wasn't a romantic situation, so as I tried to process why I felt so deeply moved, I suddenly realized: I had experienced the gaze of Christ.

That's what being pro-life is about. As Cardinal O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., former chair of the bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, once noted, "we discover our worth when we discover our true identity found in the unchangeable, permanent fact that we are created in God's image and likeness and called to an eternal destiny with him."

Being pro-life means taking a stand against what Pope Francis calls the "throwaway culture," which looks out for its own gains, casting people aside as though their lives are not worth living. It means seeing people as Christ sees and loving them as he loves.

Being pro-life is about cherishing and protecting each person and his or her life at every stage and in every circumstance. That's why the U. S. Catholic bishops are asking us to participate in 9 Days for Life—a digital pilgrimage from January 21-29.

Do you start novenas intending to pray them all the way through, but often forget? There's an app for that! (You can customize reminders to pray the bishops' annual, pro-life novena.) Not into apps? You can join the Facebook event (, download the novena online, or sign up for daily emails or text messages at

As part of 9 Days for Life, the bishops are also asking us to share our story with others. You can post a 5-15 second video of why you are participating in 9 Days for Life, how you participated that day, or what being pro-life means to you. Or, print out the customizable sign, fill it in, and post a selfie with the sign. (Find the sign by clicking on the "Share" button at When sharing the video or picture, use the hashtag #9DaysforLife; if you're posting on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, be sure to tag @USCCB—we might share your post!

Other creative suggestions for participating can be found at For example, consider having an informal Coffee and Conversation ( to discuss some of the topics referenced in the novena, or host a potluck with friends and pray one day of the novena together after the meal.

A leaders' toolkit is available with free, quick, and easy-to-use materials to help parishes, clergy, press, and Catholic high schools share the merciful message of life not only from January 21-29, but also throughout the year. To access, click the "Leaders' Toolkit" button on

Sign up now at to be moved by mercy, and to share with others the joyful truth that every life is worth living. Sometimes all it takes is simply stopping long enough to really see someone. 

Anne McGuire is the Assistant Director of Education and Outreach for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.