WYOMING CATHOLIC REGISTER
Spring Deanery Tour highlights work of Priests for Life and Lectio
By Paula Glover
Special to the Register
TORRINGTON - Women throughout Wyoming heard a pro-life message and learned a
way of deepening their faith called Lectio Divina during the annual
Spring Deanery Tour that spanned the diocese.
The tour for the Wyoming Council of Catholic Women ended on March 23 with
nearly 200 women meeting at the St. Rose of Lima Church in Torrington. The tour
featured Bishop David Ricken and Father Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for
Life. Along the way, priests also had a chance to meet with Father Pavone for
training on how to be more active in pro-life issues.
The women also learned about a new opportunity to serve in a pro-life cause,
through Gabriel's Closet, a Priests for Life program to counsel and provide
layette items for unwed mothers. (See related column on page 19.)
"We are all called to do something about the tragedy of abortion," Pavone
told the women. "This is the largest single act of violence and the largest
group of victims, with an abortion being performed every 20 seconds.
"We are winning and people are coming from pro-abortion to pro-life; they are
not going the other way," he told the women.
In a call to action, he said that while praying for an end to abortion is
good, "prayer is not an alternative to action."
He said when we pray the Our Father and say "thy will be done," we
need to realize that part of God's will is that it will be done through
He said as one prays about an end to abortion, prayer should include the
victims, mothers who get abortions because they feel no freedom or choice, for
fathers, those who have had abortions, for judges and politicians, and for the
medical community "hijacked by the pro-choice community and using hard-earned
medical skills to end life, rather than support life."
He said people should pray that lawmakers recognize their responsibility to
write legitimate laws based on the authentic validity of God's laws; that
priests preach the sanctity of life "to be pastoral and clear in their
preaching, not to hold back on truth, that nothing get in the way of
preaching the word of God.
He also suggested that an end to abortion be brought up in any prayer
context, whether it is small groups, Holy Hours or during rosaries.
"When we are done in prayer, we should not feel rested, we should feel
restless, not that we have done our duty, but that we have been given our duty,"
Pavone was ordained a priest in 1988 by Cardinal John O'Connor, and by 1993
he received permission to become the national director for Priests for Life.
Pavone told the story of his involvement in bringing Norma McCorvey - the "Jane
Roe" of Roe v. Wade - into the Catholic Church. He said the story of how
McCorvey changed from an unwitting tool for the pro-abortionists to Christianity
through the love and acceptance shown to her by pro-life activists indicates how
Christian love can change lives.
"There is a difference between thinking what a person does is evil
and that the
person is evil," he said. "The dignity of a person doesn't depend on
their size, dependency, or how they look; it also doesn't depend on whether they
have the wrong ideas."
Pavone frequently appears on EWTN and has addressed the House of
Representatives Pro-Life Lobby, along with speaking to priests in India at the
invitation of Mother Teresa. He speaks at schools, connects with people through
the Internet, and provided a wealth of written material and tapes for those at
Through his examples of bringing prayer to abortionists, he told the group
that abortionists participate in abortion because they lack a respect for their
"The only way many will come to a pro-life position is when they recognize
the dignity of their own lives," he said. He works with a group of former
abortion providers, called The Prodigal Project, who are now reaching out to
abortionists, and who also are apologizing to former patients for the abortion.
Following Father Pavone's talk. Bishop Ricken provided an experiential
seminar on Lectio Divina, a process of praying the Bible.
"The Bible is the living word of God," he said. "The words will strike you
and ask you to pay attention." In the Lectio, people take the time to pay
attention to the words of God.
There are four basic stages to Lectio Divina, lectio or reading,
meditatio or meditation, oratio or prayer, and contemplatio or
In our modem world of hurry, work and distractions, he said it is important
to take quiet time to focus on God. He said to handle internal distractions by
"just noticing them, then let them go out; don't fight them; just let it go."
Bishop Ricken said in the first stage, people should calmly and carefully
read the daily verses. He recommended coordinating the private reading with the
liturgical cycle of Sunday readings, saying it would increase one's
understanding of the readings and homily.
In the meditation phase, he suggested a method to "picture yourself as one of
the people in the story. It is an incredibly powerful way of using the
He also suggested writing down a scripture verse and keeping it with you,
looking at it during the day. "That way, work becomes permeated with prayer and
prayer is our work."
In the prayer portion, Bishop Ricken said it is time to speak to God about
the reading or experience in meditation. A prayer might include "help me to see
if there are people I need to bring healing to," after a daily reading about
healing. Then, listen.
"God will speak in different ways, depending on your state of life and the
ways you listen," he said. "We need to spend time with our best friend - Christ
In the contemplation session he said, "we rest with God, empowered by the
Holy Spirit in a restful and peaceful way."
The most important portion of the Lectio is not keeping each phase to
10 minutes, or keeping the stages in order - the most important is fidelity to
the prayer. "If you get distracted, just go back to the text," he advised.
"People have trouble letting God love them, just be receptive and let God
love you," he said. Part of the afternoon session included a chance to try the
Lectio and learn to develop an improved relationship with God.
"To be ignorant of the sacred scriptures is to be ignorant of Christ," he