I. Respect Life Sunday: Churches recognizes the third Sunday in January as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. January 22, 1973, was the day the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand in all 50 states. Churches around the our country use January 22 to celebrate God’s gift of life, commemorate the many lives lost to abortion, and commit themselves to protecting human life at every stage, from the womb to natural death. This is the 36th year designated as a Day of a Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.
Though abortions have declined over the last 10 years, we must re-double our efforts and be relentless in educating and communicating reconciliation for women who have had abortions, and men who have facilitated abortions. Pope Francis and the US Bishops call us to pray for healing for all those who have been part of an abortion. Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat is a wonderful place to begin the healing process. For more information visit HopeAfterAbortionKY.com or call Debbie 270/570-4717 or Jennifer at 931/242-5506.
I ask for each of you (who are able) to make Friday, January 22, a Day of Prayer and Fasting for the Sanctity of Human Life. I invite everyone to participate in Mass at 7:00AM or 12 noon (you can participate in this noon Mass through live streaming) at the Cathedral of Saint Stephen. Bishop Medley will preside and preach at the noon Mass.
II. Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins Monday, January 18th through Thursday, January 25th, The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, “Abide in my love…you shall bear much fruit,” is from the Gospel of John 15. What fruit can you plant, nurture and grow for God’s glory? Let’s join hands and hearts together in praying for a greater understanding and respect for Christians of different denominations. The divisions in Christianity continue to be a scandal; let’s pray for unity among us.
III. Prayer Partner: more than any other year, this coronavirus season makes it even more important to be more conscientious about praying for the prayer partner whose name you received in a letter before the new year. I would also suggest to find a way of letting them know that you are “holding them in prayer” during 2021. Prayer is lifting up our heart, mind and soul to God. Prayer is listening as well as talking with God.
IV. First Reconciliation will be celebrated next Sunday, January 24th at 2:00 p.m. Is there anything more essential to our Christian life than the act of forgiveness? Let’s celebrate God’s magnificent and generous mercy! Pray for those preparing for this powerful Sacrament; pick up a prayer partner card at the church doors. Our candidates for First Reconciliation will be treated to a virtual Prayer Day on Saturday, January 23. Is not learning how to forgive one of the essential elements in growing as a follower of Jesus Christ?
V. Spiritual New Year’s Resolution (Recommended by a Bishop Robert Barron): Instead of a diet or a new exercise routine, focus on these three areas—improve your prayer life, forgive an enemy, and reach out to comfort someone who is afflicted. An examination of conscience: Do you pray every day? Do you just squeeze it in? Do you crawl into bed and say, “I’ll do extra praying tomorrow.” If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy! Take time to pray! Make time! Put it in your schedule. You make dinner plans with a friend; make prayer plans with Jesus.
If you go to Mass a couple of times a month (prior to COVID-19), that’s not enough. You need to experience the celebration of the Mass weekly (especially now that it is livestreamed daily, for those with internet and smart phones). If you go to Mass every Sunday, add one (or possibly two) daily Masses to your spiritual health meter. Just as an athlete practices daily, you need to practice your faith daily through prayer. Practice makes perfect. A deep prayer life keeps your spiritual health intact; prayer is the line of communication with your heavenly Father. Resolve to schedule prayer; the benefits will outnumber any other thing in your life.
VI. Come and See! John the Baptist diminishes in today’s Gospel. After he Baptizes Jesus, he tells the “two disciples” (Andrew being one of the two) “Behold, the Lamb of God” referring to Jesus. They went straight away to follow Jesus and asked where he was staying. Instead of answering directly, Jesus challenged them to find out for themselves. Jesus is “staying” in each of us! Andrew knew Jesus was like no other. He was much more than the Baptist so he invites his brother, Simon, to come and meet the Messiah. If we reside with Christ and He with us, we can invite others to “come and see” (John 1:35-42). Have I/you introduced anyone to Jesus lately? Why not invite someone and accompany them to RCIA?