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9 Days for Life Novena, Day 9


May we treat others with the love & respect that is due to each person as a “masterpiece of God’s creation.”


Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be


logoWhen God created each of us, He did so with precision and purpose, and He looks on each of us with love that cannot be outdone in intensity or tenderness. Moreover, the Lord invites each of us to behold ourselves and each other with the same wonder and awe. “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” — Pope Francis’ Day for Life Greeting

Excerpt from Pope Francis’ “Day for Life Greeting.” © 2013 Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Acts of Reparation (choose one)
  • Say three Hail Marys for your parish priest. Without our priests, we could not have the Mass or the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Pray for your deceased relatives and those who have no one to pray for them.
  • Spend quality time with a family member or friend; offer to help them with something with which they need assistance.
One Step Further

Read the brief 2014 Respect Life Program flyer, from which today’s reflection was taken, at

Find a printable version of this document at

9 Days for Life Novena, Day 8


For an end to all domestic violence.


Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be


logo“A correct reading of Scripture leads people to an understanding of the equal dignity of men and women and to relationships based on mutuality and love. Beginning with Genesis, Scripture teaches that women and men are created in God’s image.” (“When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women,” USCCB 2002. See:

Acts of Reparation (choose one)
  • Do you love your cup of tea or coffee in the morning? Fast from caffeine today, or try your coffee black.
  • Learn how to pray the Angelus prayer and consider saying it every day— on awakening, at noon or at 6 p.m. (or all three times).
  • Give up your favorite form (or all forms) of social media for the day. Spend some of the extra time meditating upon a Scripture verse or passage.
One Step Further

Three in four Americans are reported to know a victim of domestic violence. Learn to recognize some of the signs in “Life Matters: Domestic Violence,” which discusses the painful assault on human dignity that is domestic violence. Read the article at (See also: “Domestic Violence” at Other resources are available at

If you believe someone you know may be in a troubled situation, you should call a hotline number for assistance, or encourage the person to do so themselves (911, the local hotline, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline []: 1-800-799-7233/ TTY 1-800-787- 3224).

Find a printable version of this document at

9 Days for Life Novena, Day 7


For an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.


Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be


logoAs Catholics, we believe and put our hope in a merciful and loving God. We are conscious of our own brokenness and need for redemption. Our Lord calls us to imitate him more perfectly by witnessing to the inherent dignity of every human being, including those whose actions have been despicable. Our faith and hope is in the mercy of God who says to us, "Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy (Mt 5:7) and "I desire mercy, not sacrifices" (Mt 9:13). As Christians we are called to oppose the culture of death by witnessing to something greater and more perfect: a gospel of life, hope and mercy.

Acts of Reparation (choose one)
  • Clean a room in your house without being asked or without telling anyone. Pray for your family members while you clean, “and your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matthew 6:6).
  • Read about a Church teaching you don’t understand in the Catechism.
  • Make an honest assessment of your “giving finances” – are you giving too little? Make a resolution to give a set weekly or monthly donation to your parish or favorite local charity.
One Step Further

Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, summed up the case against the death penalty in these words: "As children of God, we're better than this, and we need to start acting like it. We need to end the death penalty now." Find out why in “Life Matters: A Catholic Response to the Death Penalty” at

Find a printable version of this document at

Liz Hoefferle: Those in consecrated life point us toward eternal life

By Liz Hoefferle
Handing on the Faith

“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21).

With these words, Jesus calls the rich young man to a more perfect love. It’s not that the things of the world are bad, but a renunciation of them allows one to follow Jesus Christ more freely and to love more perfectly.

Consecrated life

Pope Francis has declared this year the “Year of Consecrated Life,” coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II document, “Perfectae Caritatis” (“Perfect Charity”).

This year is meant to draw focus on the beauty and necessity of consecrated life within the church. Each one of the baptized is set aside for God’s service and is to be a sign of his presence in the world. However, some are called to a life of consecration in a special way.

There are many forms of consecrated life, but all consist of dedicating oneself to God and offering oneself to bear greater fruit through one’s baptismal graces. Most forms of consecration are characterized by permanent vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Hermits live a solitary life, offering prayer and penance on behalf of the church. Religious brothers and sisters belong to a community with others who have taken the same vows, sharing a common way of life. Consecrated virgins and members of secular institutes usually live in the midst of the world, being “leaven” and “light” to those around them.

Those in religious communities live according to a certain “charism,” which is associated with their founder and is a gift from God for the building up of the church. Such charisms manifest themselves through the prayer, community and apostolic life of a particular religious order, such as the Benedictines, Dominicans or Franciscans. Religious communities may engage in works of charity, teaching or service to the people of God. Some are devoted entirely to prayer.

Evangelical counsels

The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are called the “evangelical counsels.” Simply explained, the evangelical counsels are ways of living the Gospel more fully.

In a culture that glorifies the accumulation of possessions, encourages unrestrained sexual activity and promotes “personal choice,” why would anyone want to be poor, chaste and obedient? Because Jesus was. Living these vows allows one to become more closely conformed to Jesus Christ.

In one sense, we are all called to poverty, chastity and obedience in virtue of our baptism. Jesus instructs us that the kingdom of God is for those who are poor (cf. Luke 6:20). We are to be pure in our thoughts and actions (cf. Matthew 5:27-28). And our love for God is manifested by our obedience to his commandments (cf. John 14:15).

However, “it is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God” (CCC 915). Some persons formally commit to living these counsels in a specific and permanent way.

The evangelical counsels are a means to an end. Living up to these vows each day disposes a person to a pure heart, spiritual freedom and a life of fervent charity (cf. Lumen Gentium, 46). It helps the person become more like Christ and is an inspiration for all Christians to live up to our own baptismal consecration.

A sign of the kingdom

Consecrated life is a sign of God’s kingdom, here on earth. When persons freely give up earthly attachments, which are not bad in themselves, in order to focus on heavenly realities, they point to the eternal life that awaits us.

On more than one occasion I’ve been in a public place, such as a gas station or restaurant, with a religious sister. It was amazing to see total strangers come up to them and ask for their prayers. Simply by their presence, people’s hearts and minds were turned to God and heaven.

At the same time, consecrated persons do have earthly concerns, as they serve their brothers and sisters and offer prayers for the needs of the church and the world.

Through consecrated men and women, Jesus Christ becomes manifest to believers and non-believers each day. The world comes to see Jesus “in contemplation on the mountain, in His proclamation of the kingdom of God to the multitudes, in His healing of the sick and maimed, in His work of converting sinners to a better life, in His solicitude for youth and His goodness to all men, always obedient to the will of the Father who sent Him” (LG 46).

Throughout this Year of Consecrated Life, we are asked to reflect upon consecrated life and the special gift it is to the church. We can give thanks to the many consecrated men and women who have revealed the love of Jesus Christ within our own diocese for more than 125 years. We can get to know those who live a consecrated life.

Liz Hoefferle is director of religious education for the Diocese of Duluth.

Editorial: It’s January, and it’s that time again

Every January we do our thing, marking the vigil that began Jan. 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out numerous state laws and invented a constitutional right to abortion — a right to take with violence the most innocent of human lives — through all nine months of pregnancy, one of the most radical abortion regimes in the world.

For 42 years now Catholics across the country have prayed, have fasted, have marched, have supported mothers and their babies, have spoken out, have written letters, have called their representatives and grilled candidates, have funded various pro-life apostolates, have begged, have pleaded.

For the whole history of the church we have recognized a way of life and way of death and made the insistent call to choose life.

There will be numerous opportunities to do so again this January and all throughout the year. The effort to give voice to the voiceless carries on, and will carry on, as long as it is needed.

Maybe it’s just as important a ritual in January to strengthen our resolve. If we are weary of marching, hoarse from making our voices heard, we must remember why we’re doing it, and recommit to carrying it on whether the going is easy or difficult until every child is protected in law and no mother learns of a pregnancy with dread because no one is there to help.

Then we must put that resolve into action. Here are some concrete things we can do during the month of January to make a difference for life:

  • Pray. The rosary, in particular, is a powerful prayer for life. Offer your rosaries this month for an end to abortion.
  • Make your voice heard. Write an email or letter to an elected official, participate in one of the many marches to show your support for life (the March for Life in the Twin Cities begins with a 10:30 a.m. prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Paul followed by a noon march at the State Capitol grounds) or pen a letter to the editor of your local paper.
  • Fast. You can offer up meat on Fridays for respect for life in January, or any other penance you like.
  • Offer support. Can you volunteer for a pro-life organization? Can you get baby supplies to an organiztion that supports mothers? Can you write out a check to a pro-life organization or attend Guiding Star Duluth’s annual Together for Life Banquet Jan. 25 that supports a whole host of such organizations?

There are many ways to support life. Please find one or more this month.

‘We shall overcome’ in fight against abortion, says Cardinal O’Malley

By Mark Pattison/Catholic News Service — Evoking a phrase long associated with the civil rights movement, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston told an overflow crowd in Washington that “we shall overcome” in the fight against abortion.

Quoting Pope Francis in his homily Jan. 21 during the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life, Cardinal O’Malley said, “The church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for a better world.”

Woman prays rosary at pro-life vigil
A young woman prays the rosary during the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 21. The all-night vigil is held before the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

He added, “In our country, people have come together in the fight to overcome racism” and other social ills. “The quest for human rights and solidarity brought together people of faith to ‘repair the world,’ to use the Jewish expression.”

Now, Cardinal O’Malley said, the fight is for the right to life, “and we shall overcome,” he said to applause from a crowd of more than 11,000 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Without saying so directly, Cardinal O’Malley’s use of the phrase as the linchpin for his homily might have come from a phone call from Oprah Winfrey.

The cardinal and some priests were eating dinner at a diner near the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston when the call came. “I presumed it was a telemarketer,” Cardinal O’Malley said, but Winfrey called to thank him for some comments he had made in an earlier blog posting about the movie “Selma,” of which she was one of the producers and had a featured role.

The comment focused on “how every person was made in the image and likeness of God,” Cardinal O’Malley said, a point often made in the pro-life movement.

The cardinal, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, used his sermon to take apart some “American mythology” about abortion. The three biggest myths, he said, are that abortion is a woman’s issue, that most Americans “are pro-choice, pro-abortion,” and that “young people are overwhelmingly in favor of the pro-abortion position.”

But polling over the past 20 years, according to Cardinal O’Malley, shows “women have consistently been more pro-life than men.” By supporting abortion, he said, “men rationalize their irresponsibility” and push women to abort their unborn child, “threatening to abandon her if she ‘chooses’ to gives birth. ... An abortion is a bargain compared to monthly child-support payments.”

On the second myth, Cardinal O’Malley quoted outgoing NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keegan said “there is a large intensity gap” among supporters of legal abortion and their foes.

And young people, the cardinal added to applause, “are the most pro-life segment of the American people.” Five years ago, the Gallup organization “declared pro-life is the new normal,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “Congratulations, young people — you’re normal.”

“We shall overcome indifference only by love,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “We must press on with the full assurance that we shall overcome.”

Worshippers did not seem to be bothered by the mixture of light rain and fluffy snowflakes that descended on Washington the afternoon of the Mass. Nor did they seem thrown by the Mass starting a half-hour earlier than in past years. The shrine was filled to the brim; even an hour before the scheduled 6:30 p.m. starting time, an usher asked a worshipper as he left the shrine’s vestibule to enter the church, “Do you have a seat, sir?”

More than 1,000 bishops, priests, seminarians, novices and servers took part in the 42-minute entrance procession. And they all had a chair on which to sit in the shrine’s massive sanctuary — which itself has the interior space of a medium-sized suburban church. There also was sufficient seating space in the sanctuary for several dozen nuns and select laypeople.

After the Mass, confession was offered from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. in Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel in the lower level of the national shrine.

Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik led those who stayed on in the National Rosary for Life in the Crypt Church. Bishop Kurt R. Burnette of the Byzantine Eparchy of Passaic, New Jersey, led a night prayer in the church with Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, as homilist.

9 Days for Life Novena, Day 6


May each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion find hope & healing in Christ.


Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be


Today, on this 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we consider the past four decades in which our society has legally permitted abortion. Since that tragic decision, many children’s lives have been lost, and many suffer that loss—often in silence. Yet God’s greatest desire is to forgive. No matter how far we have each strayed from his side, he says to us, “Don’t be afraid. Draw close to my heart.”

“In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also called confession, we meet the Lord, who wants to grant forgiveness and the grace to live a renewed life in him. ... We bishops and priests are eager to help you if you experience difficulty, hesitation, or uncertainty about approaching the Lord in this sacrament. If you have not received this healing sacrament in a long time, we are ready to welcome you” (“God’s Gift of Forgiveness”: Let us run into the arms of Jesus, who is love and mercy.

Acts of Reparation (choose one)
  • Today, go visit an adoration chapel and spend some time with Jesus.
  • Go to Confession — today, if possible — or during this week. Before you go, look up St. Faustina and learn a little about the message of Divine Mercy she shared during her life.
  • Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for those who are suffering the loss of a child through abortion, asking that they find healing and peace.
One Step Further

Find a printable version of this document at

Kyle Eller: Message of the popes: We are all in this together, so let’s leave no one behind

I’m not aware of any theological principle that grants to popes a charism of coining pithy phrases that sum up profound issues in just a few words, but the three popes in my life as a Catholic have all had a knack for it.

When we think of our beloved St. John Paul II, phrases like “be not afraid!” and “Culture of Life” come instantly to mind.

Kyle Eller
Mere Catholicism

Professorial Pope Benedict XVI, just before he was elected, gave us “dictatorship of relativism,” still one of the most apt descriptions of modern society you’re likely to find. The brilliant theologian also gave us “hermeneutic of continuity,” and while some might find that doesn’t trip off the tongue as easily as the others, it’s an indispensable principle for our faith.

These phrases are prophetic and remain meaningful and valid for us today.

And then there is Pope Francis, who is a font of pithy phrases and memorable images, like “to the margins.”

One that’s been on my mind a lot is “throwaway culture,” a phrase Pope Francis has used in reference to a whole host of issues, including abortion, euthanasia, immigration and the economy.

The idea Pope Francis is playing off of here is one of those strange things that’s at the same time widely known and widely ignored. It’s the consumer goods we buy so often that are disposable, meant to be used once and thrown in the trash, like bottled water. It’s the “planned obsolescence” — things deliberately designed to go out of fashion, break down, wear out, fall behind or otherwise become ready for the trash relatively quickly, creating the need to buy a replacement.

I suspect most of us feel a bit queasy about that reality, both because it doesn’t seem like it could possibly be a good thing and because changing it or even thinking about it seriously would require confronting some pretty basic ideas in our lives, both in the personal realm of our actual practice and in the realm of ideas and our economic orthodoxies.

It’s easier just to go with the flow.

Disposable human beings?

Maybe that is partly why Pope Francis’ application has so much force behind it. Instead of applying it just to things, the pope says we’re applying it to persons too. When they become inconvenient or sick or costly or unproductive or otherwise unwelcome, we toss them out like that empty Coke bottle or that last-generation gadget.

If the pope is right, implicit in this mentality is a vision of the human person, one that is in direct conflict with the vision Christianity has proposed to the world for 2,000 years. Christianity views each person as an unrepeatable creation made in the image and likeness of God, loved by God all the way to the cross and sought by God for an unspeakably blessed eternity.

The opposing vision casts the human person as something akin to a product, a commodity, a thing.

Isn’t that exactly what we’re seeing, more and more, in the conflicts and challenges of our time? Aren’t little unborn babies treated as mere objects to be disposed of if they present a hardship to parents or, on the other hand, to be manufactured if they are desperately wanted or useful for medical research?

When someone gets too old or too sick or has to suffer in a way that makes the people around her uncomfortable and we argue for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide as a response, aren’t we treating a person in the language of the spreadsheet, the cost-benefit analysis?

We have seen over the past months a conflict over race and appropriate use of force by police, with shocking scenes of violence and despair and the feeling that we’re coming apart at the seams. Did you notice the competing social media hashtags, #blacklivesmatter and #coplivesmatter? We don’t feel the need to make assertions like those unless we feel the value of those lives has been called into question.

The same sorts of things play a significant role in our debates over immigration, poverty, education, foreign policy and war. Isn’t it also behind the “hook-up culture” and our debates over just wages and in many other places we could name?

A call for peacemakers

Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace, highlighting human trafficking and modern day slavery, touches a similar theme, that in the light of Christ we are “no longer slaves, but brothers and sisters.”

Whatever the preferred phrasing, with the term “solidarity” used so often by St. John Paul II or the scriptural “fraternity” to which Pope Francis appeals here or Catholic social doctrine’s “preferential option for the poor,” this is the Christian view of social life, that we are all in it together, that absolutely no one is disposable or left behind, and that we have to pay particularly close attention to those who are most vulnerable, those most likely to be victims of the “throwaway culture.”

If we are to be peacemakers in the new year, that is the vision we have to reclaim.

Kyle Eller is editor of The Northern Cross. Reach him at [email protected].

9 Days for Life Novena, Day 5


May all people reject pornography and discover the true meaning of love through an encounter and relationship with Christ.


Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be


logoToday we honor the life of St. Agnes, a 12-year old girl martyred in Rome in 304 AD. Agnes never wavered in her commitment to remain a virgin and to give her whole life to the Lord, refusing proposals to marry. Her innocence and heroism facing death helped bring an end to the persecutions of Christians in Rome. Following the example of St. Agnes, let us remain steadfast in recognizing Christ, who is Love Incarnate, as the source and summit of our lives. May his love give us the determination and courage to live for him and for others, especially the most vulnerable among us. St. Agnes, pray for us!

Acts of Reparation (choose one)
  • Don’t push the snooze button. Get right out of bed and offer your day in prayer to God. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14).
  • Fast from snacking today. Eat three meals only.
  • It’s easy to put our headphones on and ignore our siblings or parents. Instead, enjoy the opportunity you have to talk to them; ask them how they are doing.
One Step Further

Did you know that pornography addiction can numb the brain’s ability to experience pleasure? Learn more by reading “Life Matters: Pornography and Our Call to Love” at

Find a printable version of this document at

Thousands expected for March for Life at State Capitol Thursday

Jan. 22 marks the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Minnesota has lost more than 600,000 lives to abortion since these 1973 court decisions, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life will hold the 2015 MCCL March for Life at the State Capitol on Thursday, Jan. 22. The purpose of the march is to commemorate the 57 million unborn babies’ lives lost to abortion and to call for legislation to protect all innocent human life, including pregnant women and their unborn children.

Pro-life state lawmakers are expected to participate in the brief MCCL program that begins at 12:30 p.m. on the lower Capitol Mall steps. MCCL will announce its 2015 legislative agenda at the event. Media kits will be available at the march, and a news release will be issued shortly afterward.

Organizers say the MCCL March for Life is the largest annual event held at the Capitol, regularly attracting thousands of people.

Date: Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.

Time: March begins at 12 noon; program begins at 12:30 p.m. on lower Capitol Mall steps.

Place: State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul.