Upcoming events to honor millions lost in 41 years of legal abortion

On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States. Since that ruling 41 years ago, it is estimated 56.9 million babies have died nationwide through abortion. To commemorate the anniversary, there will be events in the Denver Archdiocese for the faithful to memorialize lives lost, witness publicly, get educated, and pray for an end to abortion.

Mass of Remembrance
At 12:10 p.m. Jan. 18, all are invited to an annual Mass of Remembrance to be celebrated by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 1530 Logan St. in Denver.

March for Life Denver
Colorado Right To Life has organized the annual March for Life Denver beginning at 1 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Colorado State Capitol in downtown Denver. The solemn rally, which will include pro-life speakers, will begin on the west side of the Capitol building. For more information, visit www.coloradorighttolife.org, call 303-753-9394 or email office@ColoradoRTL.org.

41-Year Remembrance Event
Archbishop Aquila will preside at a gathering 3 p.m. Jan. 18 to memorialize aborted children: 41-Year Remembrance: Honoring Denver’s Children Lost to Abortion. The event will be held at Lighthouse Women’s Center at 3894 Olive St. in Denver, a block from the Denver headquarters of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. This is the second largest Planned Parenthood facility nationwide, the country’s largest provider of abortions.

The remembrance will begin with song and prayer, followed by words from the archbishop, who will then bless area pilgrims headed to the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 22. For more information on the national march, visit www.marchforlife.org.

The Lighthouse event will conclude with a procession to Planned Parenthood. There, participants will place flowers along the fence that surrounds the facility and pray for children who lost their lives at that location. Attendees are asked to bring flowers.

Pro-Life Boot Camp
Lynn Grandon, program director of Respect Life Resources of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, will conduct the third annual Pro-Life Boot Camp for eighth- through 12th-graders 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at St. Thomas More Church at 8035 S. Quebec St. in Centennial. The boot camp will empower youth with “sound reasoning to impact future generations,” according to Grandon, who will educate attendees on the medical and Catholic perspectives on conception and abortion. The boot camp will include lessons on embryology, as illustrated with soft fetal models and 3-D ultrasound imaging. Attendees are invited to stay for the parish’s Life Teen Mass at 5:30 p.m. To sign up, call St. Thomas More’s youth office at 303-220-3388.

For questions about these events, contact Respect Life Resources at 303-742-0828 or visit www.ccdenver.org/RespectLife.


COMING UP: On Fathers and Christian Masculinity

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The Year of St. Joseph points us to Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, as the essential model for fathers. Joseph not only manifests genuine masculinity, he also images God’s own fatherhood, as Pope Francis makes clear in his apostolic letter, Patris Corde: “In his relationship to Jesus, Joseph was the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father: he watched over him and protected him, never leaving him to go his own way.” Jesus, though the Son of God, obeyed Joseph, learned from him, and worked with him, acknowledging Joseph as a true expression of God’s own fatherhood.  

God does not just use fatherhood as an image of himself, because he himself is Father, even within his own triune life. Earthly fatherhood comes forth from him and should manifest his life and love. St. Paul speaks of honoring the “Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15). God wants everyone to be able to see his own fatherly love and called certain men to share in his own paternal gift of bringing forth life and caring for others. Every father is called to be liked Joseph, “an earthly shadow of the heavenly Father” for his own family. 

Our culture, however, often denigrates masculinity, sometimes viewing even its proper expressions as toxic. We too often see maleness in its fallenness — dominating and selfish — rather than showing self-sacrificial service. In fact, later in Ephesians, Paul speaks of the true vocation of the husband and father: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). He also speaks of the role of fatherhood: “Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Paul shows us the goal of fatherhood — sacrificing himself for the flourishing of the family by putting the good of his wife and children before his own desires.   

No matter what the contrary voices of our culture say, we need strong men and fathers. God created man and woman in complementarity, and they need each other to thrive, helping the other in relation to their own strengths and weaknesses. Children need the strong presence of a father to discipline and teach, as Paul reminds us. Study after study has shown that fathers have the largest impact on the faith of their children. Christian Smith explains in his sociological study, Young Catholic America, that “the faith of Catholic fathers is powerfully determinative of the future faith of their children (125). The same can be said for general wellbeing and success. When fathers are absent or refuse to exercise their role, a moral and spiritual vacuum appears. A strong majority of felons, for instance, grew up without fathers in the home.  

St. Joseph helps us to understand the strength of Christian fatherhood. First, like any good husband, Joseph listened — not just to his wife but also to God. Woken up frequently by angels, he demonstrated obedience and trust, quickly leaving everything behind to follow God’s instructions and to protect his family. We also know Joseph for his work as a carpenter and builder, content to live simply and to work hard. Importantly, he also taught Jesus how to work, showing that fathers model and teach by drawing their children into their life and work. And we can also learn from Joseph’s humility, serving the Incarnate God and his Mother without even a single recorded word in the Gospels.  

This humility points us to the essence of Christian fatherhood. Although living with two perfect people, Joseph was still called to lead. He quietly and humbly did what was needed for his family and taught his own maker how to share in his work. Fathers do not lead in order to be in charge or to get their own way. They lead because God asks them to care for and protect their families. Fathers and mothers share in the great and beautiful partnership of family life, although fathers cannot simply sit back and let mom take the lead in the spiritual life, as they are often tempted to do. Like Joseph, fathers should act firmly and lovingly to put God and the family before self, obeying God and leading the family in the right direction. They are called to model faith, work, and sacrifice to their children. 

On Father’s Day we can affirm that masculinity and fatherhood are not just good — they are essential to understanding God and his plan for human flourishing. If our culture turns around, it will be because, in large part, Christian men stand up and fight. As Christians, we cannot give in to the culture’s attempt to denigrate masculinity and fatherhood or to pit men and women against each other. We can use this celebration to affirm the essential role that our fathers play, leading their families like St. Joseph.