Thank God for life: Pope calls upon all Catholics to pray for all human life Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler, editor   
Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010 -- 1:00 AM

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Thanksgiving is a time when we give thanks for all the blessings we have received. First among those blessings is the gift of life. Without life, we could not enjoy everything else God has given us.

Thanksgiving also comes just before the beginning of the Church season of Advent, a time when we prepare spiritually for the celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas. Christ, the son of God, took on the challenges of life — and eventually death on a cross — to bring us all the possibility of salvation.

Prayer of Pope John Paul II

O Mary, bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers
of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love to the people
of our time.
Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it
resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.
Evangelium Vitae, 105

Vigil for life

It is fitting that Pope Benedict XVI has chosen this time of the year to call upon Catholics around the world to join together in a prayer vigil for life, particularly the lives of babies in the womb.

The pope has encouraged Catholics around the world to participate in this prayer vigil on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, either in St. Peter’s Basilica, where the Holy Father will preside, or in their local parishes.

In the Diocese of Madison, Bishop Robert C. Morlino will preside at a vigil at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27, at St. Patrick Church in Madison. People are invited to attend this vigil or to check with their local parishes for vigil plans.

Thanking God for the gift of life

Speaking November 14 after reciting the Angelus, the pope said, “The season of preparation for Christmas is an appropriate time for invoking divine protection over every human being called into existence and for thanking God for the gift of life we received from our parents.”

The pope called for the vigil to pray for the unborn and their parents, for an end to abortion and research that destroys embryos, and recognition of the dignity of every human life. The Vigil for All Nascent Human Life will include prayers for overturning of laws that permit the destruction of innocent lives and for the healing of those who have acted against innocent human life.

Resources available

Given the importance of the Holy Father’s request, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Divine Worship and the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities have collaborated in developing vigil prayer aids for dioceses and parishes (for more information, go to

Four different options are provided. All options for the vigil include exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, and each of the worship aids follows the directives given by the Vatican.

I encourage people to participate in this vigil if possible, or at the very least, offer special prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of life we have received and pray that life will be better protected in our society from womb to tomb.

A prayer by Pope John Paul II is published with this editorial from his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae. This prayer is included in the materials suggested for the vigil and is a wonderful prayer for all of us to say on a regular basis.