A Pro-Life Lenten Journey
Brought to you by the Culture of Life Studies Program
Written by Susan Ciancio
Welcome to Holy Week!
Christ died for our sins and rose to save us. What will you do for Him and His children?
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You aspire to great things? Begin with little ones. – St. Augustine of Hippo
No one starts out as an Olympic athlete. You have to train and work hard day after day after day. So it is with building a culture of life where all people are respected and valued. We must work at it every day. We must do little things every moment that we can, for these will eventually build to bigger and greater things. Just as a seed planted will grow into a beautiful blooming flower, so will the seeds you plant as you take action to build a culture of life. Begin with your children. Teach them about God’s mercy and love, then teach them how to show it to others. Talk about situations at school and at home where they must respond with this mercy and love. Let them see you practice what you teach. Plant these same seeds in your office, at the gym, in church, in your neighborhood, and among your friends. The little things you do today will blossom into bigger things tomorrow.
Identify one little thing you can do today that will help someone feel valued as a child of God. Then build on this list. Tomorrow, identify two things. The next day, identify three. Soon, doing little things will be second nature and you won’t even have to think about it.
One earns paradise with one’s daily task. – St. Gianna Molla
We know that our ultimate goal is to attain heaven. Just like we must work daily to perfect a skill or a talent, so too must we work daily to ensure that we spend eternity with God. And this is work—the most important work we will ever do! Our daily task may not be to do something big like eradicate abortion entirely or protect all people from things like euthanasia or assisted suicide. Those are wonderful goals, but goals we cannot accomplish without other people. However, our personal daily task does include speaking out against these things, attempting to save preborn babies by praying in front of an abortion facility, posting that thoughtful religious article on social media, and acting as a servant of Christ here on earth. Building a culture of life takes many different people with many different talents. And we all have a role to play. But we must take that role seriously. And we must do so every day. We can take a holiday from our jobs, but we can never take a holiday from building a culture of life.
Create an action plan for a week, and then see how long you can keep it going afterward. List some things that you can do every day to help build a culture of life.
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. – Catechism of the Catholic Church
We cannot build a culture of life if we deny the humanity of a preborn baby. Every person, from the very first moment of existence, is a unique and unrepeatable human being, with his own DNA, a soul, and as much right to life as you and I have. We live in a culture where people don’t care about the science. They don’t care about the facts. They simply want to do what they want with their own bodies. If we are ever to change the culture, we must educate and equip our children, our students, our family, our friends, and our society with the knowledge and tools to help them see a baby’s humanity. This may be explaining the science behind a preborn baby’s development. It may involve showing sonogram pictures. Or it may even involve shocking that stubborn friend by showing him a picture of an aborted baby. If we want to change hearts and minds and convince people of the truth—that a baby is a human being from the moment of conception—then we must take action. Babies are dying at an alarming rate. It’s our job to do something about it.
Do you know someone who believes that abortion should be a “right”? Do you shy away from talking about it? Practice what you will say. Then speak kindly and gently to this person as you tell him the truth.
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True charity consists in doing good to those who do us evil, and in thus winning them over. – St. Alphonsus Liguori
While it’s important to be kind to everyone, it’s incredibly easy to be kind to our friends. What’s difficult is being kind to those who scoff at us, who deride us for our faith or our values, or who hurt us in some way. God didn’t say that building a culture of life would be easy. In fact, it’s often very taxing. But He did promise that He would be with us every step of the way and that we would find our reward in heaven. Just as Christ told His Apostles to go forth to the nations and tell them the truth, so must we become evangelizers and teach the truth, especially to those who don’t want to hear it. We cannot succeed in changing hearts and minds or turning the culture back to life if we never speak up and talk about God’s mercy, about His love, and about how all people deserve dignity and respect. It’s just not possible! God has entrusted us with this knowledge. We must use it to go out and proclaim His teachings and show others how to respect human life.
Speaking up when you know you could get shot down or ridiculed is very difficult. Pray for the courage to defend life from creation until death.
April 9: Holy Thursday
Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done. – Luke 22:42
Christ must have been scared as He grew closer to facing His earthly death. As He prayed in the garden, He asked His Father to take away this cup—this difficult series of events He knew He would have to endure. Yet at the same time, He knew it was a cup that could not be passed. He understood that God’s will had to be done. And so it was. Building a culture of life can often be a difficult cup to drink from, yet we know that this is the kind of life God wants for us. We know it’s His will, so we must persist. Maybe the cup for you is summoning the courage to pray in front of an abortion facility. Maybe your cup is making amends with a family member or friend. Maybe your cup is caring for a sick child or parent. We may pray that God takes these cups from us, but we understand that He has a plan and He knows better than we do. And we know that these things we dread or fear are things that will make us stronger and things that will help us learn mercy, love, patience, or forgiveness. If we never had struggles in life, we would never be able to help ourselves or others work toward a life that respects the dignity of all people. So give your life to God. Tell Him that you want to do His will, not yours.
Pray today for all those suffering. Say a decade of the Rosary for people who struggle with caring for a loved one or struggle with forgiveness.
April 10: Good Friday
Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last. – Luke 23:46
As we reflect on the events of Good Friday and the agonizing pain that Christ went through as He endured the mocking, the beatings, being crowned with thorns, and then nailed to a cross, let us remember why we work so diligently to build a culture of life here on earth. Christ’s life on earth began as all of ours did—as a tiny preborn baby. He grew up, preached, and died for us. We did nothing to deserve this. It was a perfect act of love on His part. As His children, it is our duty and our responsibility to continue His mission on earth. He gave us the Commandments, the Catechism, and His teachings, and we must use these to preach the dignity of each and every person. We must use them to teach about His love. He gave His life for us so that we could live with Him in heaven. But first, we must give of ourselves—we must give parts of our lives—in service to other people. That is how we build a culture of life.
Apologize to God today for the sins you have committed. Thank Him for giving Himself to us for our salvation. Promise Him that you will work harder to build a culture that respects the dignity of all people.
April 11: Holy Saturday
Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. – St. Teresa of Calcutta
Imagine the peace exuded when you are the living expression of God’s kindness. Picture the face of someone who mirrors the mercy and the generosity of our Creator. It’s an awesome image, isn’t it? So, what can we do to be like this? How do we come to express God’s kindness in our demeanor? It stands to reason that we cannot express it unless we feel it. And we cannot feel it unless we truly know Him. Once we know God and allow Him to fill our hearts and our minds, that joy will spill over into how we look at others and how we interact with them. When we are so overjoyed with love for Christ, we cannot help but show that love to others. And that goes a long way to building a culture of life. When even our eyes, our smile, and our face show others that they are loved, that they have dignity, and that they are respected as human beings, they too will be filled with joy. This joy translates to self-respect and happiness, and of course will flow from them toward others. It’s the proverbial ripple effect.
We all need prayers to help foster a culture of life. Pray for yourself today. Ask God to fill you with joy and love so that you can share that with others.
April 12: Easter Sunday
Alleluia! He is Risen!
Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32
Happy Easter! He is alive! We should feel unparalleled joy today because today is the day that Christ triumphed over evil. The two men on the road to Emmaus met Christ after the Resurrection, but they didn’t recognize Him right away. It was only when He broke the bread and gave a blessing that they realized it was He. Sometimes we are like those men. We don’t recognize Christ in our lives, or we are so focused on our own lives that we just don’t see Him. But when we hear His words, our hearts burn, too. Lent is over, but building a culture of life never ends. It’s not on the Liturgical Calendar. There is no special time of the year dedicated to building a culture of life. It is something we must do every day. Christ died and rose for us so that we could be with Him forever. Our job here on earth is to make sure that others know Him as well. Our job is to mirror His love, His mercy, His tenderness, His kindness, and His teachings. Our job is to create an environment where people will know Him without seeing Him and feel Him without touching Him. Our job is to create a culture of life. Rejoice, for today we celebrate our salvation!
Say a prayer of thanks to God for giving us His Son. Make a promise to Him, to yourself, to your family, and your community that building a culture of life will be an integral part of your life from today on.
Thank you for taking this pro-life Lenten journey with us. We hope you have had a very blessed Lent and that you have grown a little closer to God, your family, and your fellow man. Please consider becoming part of the Culture of Life Studies Program family. We have so much to offer you, your family, and your students. Sign up below to receive updates and free materials!
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