UPDATED — WASHINGTON (CNS) — For the second year in a row, the U.S. Catholic bishops are sponsoring “Nine Days for Life: Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage,” planned for Jan. 18-26 this year, as part of several events marking the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion virtually on demand in the U.S.

“Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children’s lives have been lost to abortion, and many suffer that loss — often in silence,” says a posting on the website www.9daysforlife.com.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said Jan. 15 that the number of abortions since the 1973 decision reflects “with heartbreaking magnitude” what Pope Francis means by a “throwaway culture.”

“Yet our society relegates abortion to a matter of personal choice, often denying the integrity and even the recognition of the personhood of unborn children,” he said in a statement. “However, we have great trust in God’s providence.”

Cardinal O’Malley urged all Catholics to participate in nine-day pro-life novena, whether they planned to travel to Washington or not for this year’s March for Life Jan. 22.

The 9daysforlife website offers participants several ways to sign up to receive directly a daily simple novena with different intercessions, brief reflections and suggested acts of reparation via email or text message or by using an app for smartphones.

Several resources for prayer and activities — as well as the full reflections for each of the nine days — are available online in the “Pro-Life Activities” section of the U.S. bishops’ website, www.usccb.org.

By participating in the pro-life novena and calling “upon the Lord for the healing and conversion of our nation and those impacted by the culture of death,” Cardinal O’Malley said, “we are also reminded — through the very act of prayer — of our beautiful dependence on God and his deep love for each of us.”

On Jan. 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Roe decision, the National Mall in Washington will once again be site of the annual March for Life. Thousands of pro-lifers are expected to descend on the nation’s capital for the rally and march to the Supreme Court.

The March for Life — which has adoption as its theme this year — will be held Jan. 22 once again on the National Mall in Washington. A pre-rally event with live music beginning at 11:30 a.m. will be followed by a noon rally. The march begins immediately afterward, with participants walking from the Mall to Constitution Avenue and ending up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

On the eve of the annual march, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities and The Catholic University of America’s Office of Campus Ministry will sponsor the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life at the national shrine.

It will open Jan. 21 with a 6:30 p.m. Mass to be celebrated in the Washington shrine’s Great Upper Church. Cardinal O’Malley will be the principal celebrant and homilist.

The vigil will continue in the shrine’s Crypt Church with the National Rosary for Life at 10 p.m., followed by night prayer at 11 p.m. The vigil continues overnight in the Crypt Church, with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Hours every hour on the hour starting at midnight and continuing through 6 a.m.

After morning prayer, Benediction and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:30 a.m., Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput will be the celebrant and homilist at the vigil’s closing Mass at 7:30 a.m. Mass in the national shrine’s Great Upper Church. Last year, more than 20,000 pro-life pilgrims attended the vigil.

Read about plans under way in the Philadelphia Archdiocese to witness to the sanctity of life at the march in Washington and locally.