(CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

As the nation marks nearly five decades of legalized abortion, Archbishop Nelson Pérez is inviting faithful to join two national prayer initiatives to protect human life.

The Jan. 21-29 “9 Days for Life” effort will center on prayer and calls for an end to abortion, as well as a renewed respect for human dignity.

Sponsored the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the novena (from the Latin word for “nine”) combines intercessions, brief reflections and suggested acts of reparation.

Materials are available in both English and Spanish through the “9 Days for Life” website, where livestreamed prayer events in dioceses around the country can also be accessed. Participants can choose to receive the novena prayers via email, text message, print format or through a free mobile app (with customizable reminders) in English or Spanish.


A second observance, the Jan. 22 “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children,” commemorates the two 1973 Supreme Court decisions that to date have resulted in a total of more than 61 million abortions in the U.S., an average of 2,000 per day.

The Roe v. Wade ruling defined the fetus as not a person but a “potential life” without constitutional rights of its own, while limiting state regulation of abortions according to each trimester.

Through Doe v. Bolton, state regulation of abortion was prohibited during all trimesters if the procedure was sought for reasons of maternal health, including “physical, emotional, psychological, familial” factors or the woman’s age.

In all U.S. dioceses, faithful are asked to pray on Jan. 22 for the full restoration of the legal guarantee to the right to life, while undertaking some form of penance (such as abstaining from meat) for the violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.

Priests may also celebrate a “Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life” or “Mass for the Presentation of Peace and Justice” that day.

Additional information about and resources for the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn” can be found on the USCCB’s website.