January 22nd marks the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized the murder of children in the womb (and, in the case of "botched" abortions, outside of the womb too). As a way to memorialize this day, the Catholic Church (according to The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), no. 373) designates January 22 as a particular day of prayer and penance for abortion, called the "Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children."
373. Masses for Various Needs and Occasions are used in certain situations either as occasion arises or at fixed times.
Days or periods of prayer for the fruits of the earth, prayer for human rights and equality, prayer for world justice and peace, and penitential observances outside Lent are to be observed in the Dioceses of the United States of America at times to be designated by the Diocesan Bishop.
In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.
Catholics are therefore called to pray and fast today. There are many Masses and prayer services going on today and this weekend: rosaries are being said throughout the day in front of the Orlando Women's Center at 1031 S. Lucerne Terrace; there is a memorial prayer vigil starting at 10:30 AM in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic at 726 S. Tampa Ave followed by a march to the Orange County Courthouse (425 N Orange Ave) that concludes at 1PM; this Sunday, Jan. 26, St. Maximilian Kolbe's Respect Life ministry has organized a rosary procession in Avalon Park starting at 2 pm and meeting at the town center lake at the corner near Avalon Perks. All of these are ways in which we may live out our faith through prayer, fasting, and active evangelization.
Catholics celebrate some events and Saints and memorialize many other occasions, but this day is particularly sad. In some ways, the Roe v. Wade anniversary is even more sad than Good Friday, the day our Blessed Lord died on the cross. At least with Good Friday, we know the rest of the story: three days later, He rose from the dead and fifty days later, He sent His Holy Spirit to be our comforter and guide and to strengthen His disciples and form them into The Church.
This day, we do not yet see the end of this tunnel of death. We can only hope that God will hear our petitions of prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29) so that the curse of abortion will one day be cast out of our nation and the world. We pray, not only so that women will not kill their children, but also for the abortionists - the modern-day priests of Moloch who offer human sacrifices for future prosperity and "easy" lives - that they will repent and be saved as well.
There is another hope that we especially should remember today. It is the hope that every Catholic professes, in faith, at every Mass: that when Christ comes again, he will usher in the resurrection of the dead, including those of the more than 55 million souls who have been aborted over these past 41 years.
Will we be able to look them in the eye and say that we did all we could to prevent their deaths? Will many of us even be able to say that we did what was easy or convenient to do, such as praying in our house (rather than on a sidewalk in front of a clinic) or giving money to organizations like the American Life League so that we might have a share in the evangelization that others do?
Or will we try to rationalize our lack of action to the millions of victims of the new "Massacre of the Innocents"?