On March 30, 2005, Terri Schiavo had her last full day of life on this earth. I spent her last night by her side, praying with her, reading Scripture to her, and assuring her of the love of so many of you. Terri had not received a drop of water in nearly two weeks. As I reached out my hand to touch hers, I could also reach it out to touch the vase of flowers that was next to her, and that vase was filled with water. The flowers were nourished; Terri was deprived of nourishment. Court orders saw to it that none of us could give her some of the water that nourished the flowers. In a culture of death, law is divorced from humanity, and we are all victimized in the process.
In chapter four of John’s Gospel, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that He will give her water which will become an eternal spring of life within her. He urges her, in fact, to ask for it, and then shows her that the gift of life also requires a way of life marked by repenting of all that is evil.
This passage again affirms that Jesus is Life, and that all the efforts of His ministry and the ministry of the Church are about giving life. It also affirms that proclaiming life and proclaiming repentance go hand in hand. As we invite the world to the eternal life of Jesus, let’s not be afraid to challenge the world to repent of all those actions that destroy life, starting with abortion.
In the season of Lent, meditation on the Seven Last Words of Jesus can give us profound insight into His mission and teaching, and about the intersection of the Passion of Christ and the pro-life efforts of the Church. These words from the Cross enlighten us about the power of forgiveness, the promise of Paradise, and the victory over death which Christ obtains for us by dying and rising again. The words from the Cross teach us of the thirst we should have for the new heavens and the new earth where justice will reside and life will be respected. Reflections I’ve given on the Seven Last Words of Christ can be obtained by visiting our online store.
Priests for Life is proud to have helped organize the Rallies for Religious Freedom which occurred in some 140 different cities across America on Friday, March 23. I thank my friends and colleagues Eric Scheidler (Pro-life Action League) and Monica Miller (Citizens for a Pro-life Society) for spearheading this effort, and my Priests for Life team for coordinating the New York City rally. The word we are hearing from around the country is that the rallies were well-attended, determined, and inspiring.
I am grateful also for the support we received from the Vatican. For instance, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, wrote to me, “[T]he HHS mandates is a serious threat to the rights of Catholics and to religious liberty in the United States. As the United States often sets a precedent for the rest of the world, the potentially devastating impact of this mandate is felt worldwide. The universal Church remains in prayerful solidarity with the Church in the United States during this critical time” (Letter of February 29, 2012).
Where do we go from here? May I recommend three things:
a) The prayer campaign that accompanied these nationwide rallies must continue. The bishops have designated March 30 as a special day of prayer for religious freedom, and we urge you to join the ongoing novena we have prepared at PrayerCampaign.org. On March 30 and beyond, let’s offer these prayers in every parish, school, and family!
b) Nine lawsuits, including the one launched by Priests for Life, have been filed against this unconstitutional mandate. Inform yourself of the arguments in these cases, follow and publicize their progress, and support them. Learn about these lawsuits here and sign our “Citizens’ Amicus Brief” at RepealTheAbortionMandate.com.
c) Join upcoming educational efforts, webcasts, lobbying efforts, and rallies. This week, for instance, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments against Obamacare, and Priests for Life is helping to organize prayer vigils and press conferences at the Court through the Capitol Hill effort we co-sponsor called the National Pro-life Center (NationalProLifeCenter.org)!
Of this much I am confident: the unjust and unconstitutional mandate imposed on Americans by President Obama and his HHS will not stand!
It will be defeated, because people of conscience are standing up, taking to the streets, uniting with each other, and breaking the silence!
It will be defeated, because the Constitution of the United States is stronger than any Presidential administration!
It will be defeated, because people of faith know how to oppose injustice and to suffer any sacrifice rather than to let evil triumph!
It will be defeated, because on November 6 of this year, the people of America will go to the voting booths, and those elections will bring about real change!
The right to religious freedom, like the right to life, is rooted in the dignity of the human person. The right to life is more fundamental, of course, because one must be alive in order to be free. Together, let’s defend life and liberty!
Today, the Church throughout the world celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation.
This solemnity marks the moment when God Himself became an unborn child. At that moment He also began redeeming the unborn child — and all of us who once were unborn children. Never can the unborn be considered too small to be significant or to possess rights, for God Himself was that small.
In many countries, today’s Feast is observed as a special Day of Life, even by decree of the government.
At priestsforlife.org, you will find special prayers you can use in your homes and Churches as you observe this feast.
Let us all renew our commitment to the lives of the unborn, and to Jesus, whose image is in each one of them.
New York, NY — Fr. Frank, who became known as the “Terri Schiavo Priest” because of his involvement in the case back in 2005, issued the following statement in preparation for the seventh anniversary of her death on March 31:
“None of us who were in Terri’s room during her final weeks and hours will ever forget the intense spiritual and emotional impact of that experience. Terri’s death was not a dignified, peaceful, beautiful event, like the proponents of euthanasia want to paint it. Instead, it was violent, ugly, and offensive to the dignity that Terri and every human person, whether disabled or not, possesses.
“During Terri’s fight, some asked, ‘Why so much commotion over one person?’ Our answer is twofold. First, every single person is worth every effort it takes to stand up for them. And second, Terri’s fight is our fight. If she is not safe, neither are we. If she can be discarded, so can millions of others.
“That’s why I’m so grateful to see how God’s grace sustains Terri’s family to fight for all the other Terris of our world. That’s why our Priests for Life team is honored to have co-founded with them this annual International Day of Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo and All of our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters.
“As I said when I preached at Terri’s funeral Mass, let us take hold of the mission that is given to us now, to move forward with resolve, creativity, and boldness to protect human life and build a culture of life.”
For information on observing Terri’s Day on March 31, see TerrisDay.org.
Seventh Anniversary of her death will be March 31
March 31 will mark seven years since Terri Schindler Schiavo died after being deliberately dehydrated, with the consent of a Florida court. The International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters (“Terri’s Day”) was established in 2007 by the Schindler family and Priests for Life, and is observed each year.
As in previous years, Father Frank asks those who celebrate the sanctity of life to join him in a Novena currently underway that will conclude on Terri’s Day. The “Prayer in Remembrance of Terri Schiavo” can be found in English and Spanish at PrayerCampaign.org.
“As I said when I preached at Terri’s funeral Mass, the tragedy of what happened to her is meant to bring us all together, galvanized to help all the other Terris of the world,” Father Pavone said. “Let us not miss this opportunity to educate and inspire one another, and let’s all continue to support Terri’s family and the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.”
Father Pavone noted that there is a new urgency for prayer and pro-life activism this year.
“As certain aspects of health care law pose more and more of a threat to human life, we have to be more vigilant than ever to protect the Terris of today and tomorrow,” he said.
The annual National Mass for Terri’s Day at the Ave Maria Oratory at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida, will take place at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 30. This year, Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, Associate Director of Priests for Life, will deliver the homily.
“Terri’s Day” was established to foster education, prayer, and activism to counter discrimination against the disabled. We urge Churches, schools, organizations, families, and individuals to observe this day. Suggested prayers and activities are at TerrisDay.org.
Tomorrow Priests for Life will launch a prayer novena in remembrance of Terri Schiavo, the brain-injured woman who was killed in Florida in 2005 by being deprived of all food and water. We invite you to join this novena by visiting our web site and downloading the special prayer we have prepared. The prayer reminds us that life is always a good, even when beset by disability, and that it is precisely in its vulnerability that life shows forth the glory of God.
The novena concludes on March 31, the date of Terri’s death, and a day that has been designated as the International Day of Remembrance of Terri Schiavo and all the Vulnerable. Please join our novena and invite your parish, school, pro-life group and family to participate as well.
NEW YORK, NY — Friday’s Rally for Religious Freedom, taking place in more than 100 cities across the country, will mark the second anniversary of the passage of the abortion-friendly Patient Protection Affordable Care Act.
But Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, notes the rallies will take place just one day after another infamous anniversary: March 22, 1972, marks 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized contraception for unmarried people.
“It’s taken 40 years, but we finally have a president with the audacity to violate the First Amendment and call for free contraception for all Americans,” said Mrs. Morana, who will offer a keynote address at the noon rally tomorrow at the Federal Hall National Memorial. “We have to stand up and say ‘We will not surrender our freedom of religion in favor of a blister pack full of carcinogens.’”
The rallies have been organized in protest of the Health and Human Services Mandate that calls on all employers to provide contraception, sterilization services and abortion-inducing drugs to their workers free of charge, even if they have religious objections.
Priests for Life, which is organizing the New York City rally, filed the fourth of nine lawsuits against the Obama administration over the contraception/abortifacient mandate.
Father Frank urged all Americans who treasure the rights guaranteed them in the U.S. Constitution to attend one of the rallies.
“Please join thousands of your fellow citizens as they gather in prayer and public witness in cities and towns all across the US to oppose this mandate,” Father Pavone said.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, will send a representative to read a letter at the rally. Also speaking at the bilingual rally in Manhattan will be Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life; Father Victor Salomon, Director of Hispanic Outreach for Priests for Life; Father Agustino Torres of the Franciscan Friars; Chris Slattery, founder of Expectant Mother Care; Monsignor Philip Reilly of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants; Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera; Chris Bell, founder of Good Counsel Homes, and Dr. Anne Nolte of the St. Gianna Center for Women’s Health.
The lawsuits and rallies are accompanied by a prayer campaign to reverse the mandate; prayers for each day can be found here.
Federal Hall National Memorial is at 26 Wall Street. For information, visit StandUpForReligiousFreedom.com, email Rally@PriestsForLife.org or call 347-286-7250.
Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit priestsforlife.org.
I don’t recommend many movies, but on Friday, March 23, one that you really should see is coming into theaters nationwide. It’s called October Baby, and it deals in a masterful way with a difficult topic, abortion.
Abortion is not and should not be an abstract debate. When I’m asked how the pro-life battle has evolved over the decades that I’ve been in leadership in the movement, I often respond that the ‘issue’ of abortion has gotten more and more of a face. This is both desirable and inevitable.
The face of abortion is marked by both beauty and pain, hope and despair, tears and the joy of knowing the Savior.
The face of abortion is revealed in the photos of the babies — the primary victims — and in the faces and voices of our Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which mobilizes women and men who have lost children to abortion and speak out about their pain and forgiveness.
And the face of abortion is increasingly revealed by its survivors, not only because more and more of them speak out, but also because filmmakers are using their talents to bring these faces before millions.
This Friday, that will happen again.
The movie October Baby is a fabulous, moving, powerful encounter with the reality of abortion survivors, and the pain and healing they experience. It is the story of a beautiful young woman who, on finding out she was adopted after her biological mother’s attempt to abort her failed, goes on a journey in search of that mother. In the process, she journeys just as much into her own soul, to find the grace to do what she doesn’t think she has the power to do.
Research has uncovered the wounds of those who have abortions, as well as the wounds abortion inflicts on marriages and families. And among the most fascinating research, still not as widely known as it should be, is that on abortion survivors. October Baby makes use of some of this research, done primarily by my friend and colleague Dr. Philip Ney, Canadian psychiatrist. Dr. Ney identifies ten different categories of “abortion survivors,” one of which, as with the central character of October Baby, is the survivor who is actually a victim of the abortion procedure but is not killed by it.
But that doesn’t mean that something doesn’t die.
Abortion survivors feel guilty and anxious about living, confused about their identity, and unsure of their psychological footing in a world where love, parenthood, and even God seem to have betrayed them.
These dynamics take on another dimension when the survivor, as in October Baby, is a twin survivor, and lives with the knowledge that her companion in the womb was killed in an attempt that was aimed also at her.
To love, educate, and serve our youth, we need to understand abortion survivors better. October Baby is an important step toward that goal, and Priests for Life is proud to co-sponsor its promotion. Don’t miss it!