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: Navigating major cultural challenges

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We’re navigating through a true rock and a hard place right now: moral relativism and the oversaturation of technology. In fact, they are related. Moral relativism leaves us without a compass to discern the proper use of technology. And technological oversaturation leads to a decreased ability to think clearly about what matters most and how to achieve it.

Fortunately, we have some Odysseus-like heroes to guide our navigation. Edward Sri’s book Who Am I to Judge?: Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love (Augustine Institute, 2017) provides a practical guide for thinking through the moral life and how to communicate to others the truth in love. Christopher Blum and Joshua Hochschild take on the second challenge with their book A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction (Sophia, 2017).

Sri’s book describes conversations that have become quite common. When discussing moral issues, we hear too often, “this is true for me,” “I feel this is right,” or “who am I to judge?” We are losing our ability both to think about and discuss moral problems in a coherent fashion. Morality has become an expression of individual and subjective feeling, rather than clear reasoning based on the truth. In fact, many, or even most, young people would say there is no clear truth when it comes to morality—the very definition of relativism.

Beyond this inability to reason clearly, Christians also face pressure to remain silent in the face of immoral action, shamed into a corner with the label of bigotry. In response to our moral crisis, Sri encourages us to learn more about our own great tradition of morality focused on virtue and happiness. He also provides excellent guidance on how to engage others in a loving conversation to help them consider that our actions relate not only to our own fulfillment, but to our relationships with others.

Sri points out that it’s hard to “win” an argument with relativists, because “relativistic tendencies are rooted in various assumptions they have absorbed from the culture an in habits of thinking and living they have formed over a lifetime” (13). Rather than “winning,” Sri advises us to accompany others through moral and spiritual growth with seven keys, described in the second half of the book. These keys help us to see others through the heart of Christ, with mercy, and to reframe discussions about morality, turning more toward love and addressing underlying wounds. Ultimately, he asks us, “will you be Jesus?” to those struggling with relativism. (155).

Blum and Hochschild’s book complements Sri’s by focusing on the virtues we need to address our cultural challenges. They point to another common concern we all face: a “crisis of attention” as our minds wander, preoccupied with social media (2). More positively, they encourage us to “be consoled” as “there are remedies” to help us “regain an ordered and peaceful mind, which thinks more clearly and attends more steadily” (ibid.). The path they point out can be found in a virtuous and ordered life guided by wisdom.

To achieve peace, we need virtues and other good habits, which create order within us. “With order, our attention is focused, directed, clear, trustworthy, and fruitful” (10). The book encourages us to rediscover fundamental realities of life, such as being attune to our senses and to aspire to higher and noble things. The authors, with the help of the saints, provide a guidebook to forming important dispositions to overcome the addiction and distraction that come with the omnipresence of media and technology.

The book’s chapters address topics such as self-awareness, steadfastness, resilience, watchfulness, creativity, purposefulness, and decisiveness.  These dispositions will create order in how we use our tools and within our inner faculties. They will help us to be more intentional in our action so that we do not succumb to passivity and distraction.  Overall, the book leads us to consider how we can rediscover simple and profound realities, such as a good conversation, periods of silence, and a rightly ordered imagination.

Both books help us to navigate our culture, equipping us to respond more intentionally to the interior and exterior challenges we face.