In preparation for Day for Life celebrated in England and Wales on 18th June, the new Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Edward Adams has relayed the following message to the people of England and Wales
'Pope Francis invokes the protection of Our Lady, and entrusts to her, the Mother of the Living, the cause of life. He begs her intercession that those who believe in her Son may continue to bear witness to life and, together with all people of good will, contribute to a culture of truth and love.
'The Holy Father, to the praise and glory of the Creator and Lord of Life, gives assurance of his prayers and imparts to the organisers and participants of the Day for Life his apostolic blessing.'
In October 2017 it will be 50 years since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed in England, Scotland and Wales. This year’s Day for Life provides us with an opportunity to pray for and remember all lives lost before birth and to offer practical and emotional support to women and men who are worried and concerned about an unexpected pregnancy.
Pope Francis has said that he is well aware of the pressures that lead women to believe that abortion is their only option. The Pope explained that he has met ‘so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope’. Understanding the truth of such situations with mercy has led Pope Francis to remind people that abortion is a grave sin but that ‘there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father’.
In his Angelus address on the Italian Day for Life in February this year, Pope Francis said to thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square, ‘May no one be left alone and may love defend the sense of life’. Citing the words of St Teresa of Calcutta, he continued: ‘Life is beauty, admire it. Life is life, fight for it… Each life is sacred. Let’s pray together for those children who are in danger of interruption of pregnancy and for those who are nearing the end of life.’ These words can help us rediscover a spirit of awe towards the gift of human life and stir our hearts to the wonder of this gift.
In the Sunday readings for the Day for Life, Moses reminds the people that God guides them through the vast and dreadful wilderness. In waterless places God can bring water from the hardest rock. There is always hope even in difficult situations and many mothers have spoken of the joy that an initially unwanted child has brought them. Moreover, our small acts of kindness can help change people’s lives.
Pope Francis also points out that we have not done enough to support and accompany pregnant women in desperate circumstances. This anniversary year of the Abortion Act provides us with an opportunity to reflect, to pray and to offer practical and emotional support to those in need.
We pray especially for those who have lost a child and for those who are concerned about their pregnancy. We also remember all unborn children. When Jesus speaks of his flesh as real food and his blood as real drink, his words suggest a close connection between the Eucharist and the Incarnation: the Word made flesh. Some nine months before his birth in Bethlehem, at the Incarnation, the new adventure of Jesus’s life on earth as a human being began. In his mother’s womb Jesus lived the invisible life of the tiny unborn child and so every human life from its very beginning is sanctified.
Day for Life is the day in the Church’s year dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. The Church teaches that life is to be nurtured from conception to natural death.
A Vigil for Life will take place at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 17th June, the eve of the Day for Life, with Mass at 6pm, celebrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop John Sherrington, and a prayer vigil at 7pm. All are welcome.
Prayer to Mary, Mother of the Life Within
O Mary, Mother of the Life Within,
all life we entrust to you;
the life of every expectant mother
and the child within her womb:
the life of every human body,
the life of every human soul;
the life of every newborn child
and the life of all grown old.
You held the Lord to your own heart
and drew him so close in.
So draw us now in all our needs,
O Mother of the Life Within.
Additional information and resources about the Day for Life can be found at dayforlife.org.