40 Days for Life Energized by New Life

Aaron Lambert

40 Days for Life is nearing its end, but that doesn’t mean advocacy for life has to.

That’s what Morgan Rosand, program coordinator to the respect life office at Catholic Charities, hopes for. The pro-life campaign recently reached its mid-way point and celebrated the occasion by holding a candlelight vigil at Lighthouse Women’s Center across the street from Planned Parenthood in Stapleton.

The campaign has been a truly concerted effort by the Archdiocese this year, Rosand said. Twenty seven different parishes and organizations will have sponsored 12-hour prayer days by the end of the campaign on Nov. 1, and 50% of those are parishes and organizations that are participating for the first time.

“It’s been really neat to see new life being involved in it,” Rosand said.

By the end of it, they’ll have also celebrated a total of 23 masses in the lot across from Planned Parenthood, a new record for them, Rosand said. Additionally, in an effort to engage the Hispanic community more, eight of those masses have been said entirely in Spanish or in English and Spanish, she said.

Roland said it can sometimes be disheartening for people when they don’t see the immediate effects of the campaign, but as “people who believe that prayer actually does change things and convert minds and hearts,” she was delighted to share that in the first 20 days of the campaign, there had been two known redirections from Planned Parenthood, and there could have been more, she said.

“That’s two that we know of, [but] you never know where the other graces and prayers could apply,” Rosand said.

For the second half of 40 Days for Life, Rosand’s hope is to keep the parishes and parish leaders energized and motivated, she said. She also hopes that parishes uses the 40 Days campaign to get excited and mobilized to come together in the biggest way: the March For Life in January.

“This is kind of the warm-up to the rest of the year,” Rosand said.

40 Days for Life still needs volunteers to cover prayer hours at Planned Parenthood for the remaining days of the campaign. Go to 40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/denver/ to sign up.

Prayer Hours Needed
Mon., Oct. 19: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Thurs., Oct 22: 7 a.m. – 9 a.m., 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 23: 7 a.m. – 1 p.m., 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 1: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.

COMING UP: 500 years later, who was Luther?

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Hero, villain, heretic, saint, reformer, corrupter, man of integrity, bombastic glutton. Which image of Luther should we believe? Because Luther primarily sought not to reform abuses in the Church but to reform the Church’s beliefs, Catholics cannot recognize him as a true reformer or a holy man. Nonetheless, it is widely agreed that Luther played a major role in shaping the modern world. With the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant movement he initiated approaching on October 31st, we have been given a number of new books to assess his legacy.

Paul Hacker, Luther’s Faith: Martin Luther and the Origin of Anthropocentric Religion, preface by Pope Benedict XVI (Emmaus, 2017).

Hacker’s book provides an in-depth, theological analysis of the issue that stands at the heart of the Reformation: Luther’s teaching on salvation by faith alone. Pope Benedict’s preface tells us that the Reformation dispute fundamentally concerned Luther’s “turning away from the center of the Gospel” (xxii). Emmaus released a new edition of Hacker’s book for the anniversary this year. It was published originally in 1970 (in English translation), the fruit of Hacker’s own intense study of Luther’s teaching on faith that led him into the Catholic Church from German Lutheranism.

Catholics agree with Protestants that salvation comes only through faith. The key issue of dispute, which Hacker reveals, is Luther’s subjective emphasis of absolute, personal certainty, which cannot be undermined even by serious sin. Hacker describes Luther’s faith as reflexive, that is turned back on oneself, by emphasizing subjective experience and personal surety more than anything else. He describes how Luther differs from the Catholic position: “Faith is the way to, or the perquisite of, salvation, but Luther makes it coincide with salvation itself. This becomes possible because he has first identified salvation with the consciousness of being saved or the certitude of salvation, and then he equates this consciousness with faith” (71). Hacker shows us how this view of faith negated the Church’s authority, the sacraments, and even the need to love God.

Brad Gregory, Rebel in the Ranks: Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Conflicts that Continue to Shape Our World (HarperOne, 2017).

For those looking for a more general and accessible book, Brad Gregory gives us a broader narrative of how Luther’s troubled conscience exploded into the crisis that tore Christendom in two. The first section looks at Luther’s own story, tracing step by step his conflict with Church authority. The second section explains how Luther’s teaching spawned a multitude of new sects and divisions, all interpreting the Bible in their own fashion. Greggory explains: “What the early Reformation shows so clearly is that scripture and the Spirt can be interpreted and applied in radically divergent ways. Once the papacy and the Catholic Church are thrown off, there are no shared authorities to adjudicate disagreements” (137). The final section looks at how the Reformation set the tone for the development of a secular culture. Though not intending these consequences, Gregory argues that the Protestant Reformers “led indirectly to a profound diminishing of Christianity’s public influence in Western societies. The religious disagreements and conflicts that followed the Reformation set the stage for religion’s eventual separation from the rest of life” (2).

Eric Metaxas, Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (Viking, 2017).

Metaxas, who wrote a monumental biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, provides us with a different perspective on Luther. His book seems poised to capture the largest audience for the anniversary this year. While I can’t agree with his view of Luther as a hero of faith, I can appreciate his presentation of a more sympathetic and thorough look at a man who has inspired many Protestant Christians. It is helpful to recognize why Luther is such an important figure for so many people. This book definitely provides many more details on the life of Luther (with over 450 pages). However, I would exercise caution, because it unfortunately also contains many gross misrepresentations of the state of the Church at the time of the Reformation.

For instance, even though Metaxas shows us many ways that Luther encountered the Bible in his early life, he still claims that the Bible and Church had no connection in the early 1500s and that “the study of the Bible per se was simply unheard of” (52). Luther himself was a theology professor and throughout the Middle Ages the Bible was the primary text for teaching theology. Brad Gregory makes clear in his book on Luther that there were even “twenty-two editions of the complete vernacular Bible . . . published in German . . . by 1518” (29). Metaxas presents a false picture of Catholics as ignorant, afraid to pray to Christ, and thinking they must earn their salvation through works. Good historical research could easily dispel these myths, such as the books of Eamon Duffy, but we see Protestants continue to project Luther’s own scruples (hating God and spending six hours in Confession, 47) onto the Church of his time.

Jerome K. Williams, True Reformers: Saints of the Catholic Reformation (Augustine Institute, 2017).

What could have Luther been if he had chosen faithful reform? The answer is a saint. There is no doubt that the Church was in need of serious reform in the 1500s. We have a number of great saints who show us that fidelity to God does not contradict fidelity to His Church. They stood against corruption and initiated deep and abiding reform. The Augustine Institute has release both a book and video series on true reformers, who boldly spoke out against abuses and led to a deeper realization of the truth found in the Bible, read in harmony with the Church. These figures—Teresa of Avila, Thomas More, Ignatius of Loyola, and Charles Borromeo, for instance—continue to inspire us to take up the task of genuine reform today.