Practices and Prayers for a Pro-life Lent

Practices and Prayers for a Pro-life Lent


Click here for a link to this weekend’s readings.

shutterstock_99487574“The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” Although the scripture readings this week will go on to speak about original sin, personal sin, and the grace of Redemption, we begin with this important line about God as the author of life. On Ash Wednesday, we were reminded with the imposition of ashes on our foreheads that “dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.” The dust exists only because of God, and, being formed into a human person, it has life only because of God. Every Lent, therefore, is a pro-life event. We turn from sin and towards God, who is Life itself!

In our age, the dignity of every human person from conception until natural death is under attack in what St. Pope John Paul II called a “veritable ‘culture of death’” [Evangelium Vitae/The Gospel of Life, #12]. Human life is valued according to a person’s status or usefulness to society, not according to their inherent dignity as beloved sons and daughters of God, who breathed into them the gift of life from the very heart of the Trinity. Perhaps, then, this Lent we might consider bringing this pro-life aspect of the season to the forefront. We could imbue our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving with a very intentional pro-life message and meaning. Here are ten suggestions:

1-Pray for women in crisis situations or who have unwanted pregnancies, that they will recognize the wonderful position they are in as mothers of new and unique human lives, cooperators with God the Mother who brings all life into the world (see last week’s reading from Isaiah where God is described as a Mother never abandoning her child).


2-Help them to experience their situation as wonderful by refraining from all judgment and stigma, and offering only love and support no matter what the circumstances.

3-Donate to charities that provide direct assistance to women in difficult situations, taking care of the medical, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of pregnant women and their families.

4-If you are a man and you get a woman pregnant, stand by her. Be responsible and don’t leave her on her own. Support her. For all of us, let’s encourage a culture of men who are responsible and unselfish.

5-Don’t judge women who have had an abortion. God’s mercy and understanding are perfect. Pope Francis emphasized this during the Year of Mercy by extending the sacramental power to forgive abortions to all priests, a power which he has extended indefinitely. Instead of judging, support ministries like Project Rachel that assist women who have chosen abortion and regret it.

6-Continue to support and defend the dignity of every life after birth, whether wealthy or on welfare; whether gay or straight; whether black or white, Latino or Asian or Middle Eastern; whether long-time resident or recent immigrant; whether fully functional or having special needs; whether able to work or requiring assistance; whether Catholic or Muslim or Jew or atheist; whether old and sick or young and healthy. Pro-life means ALL life.

7-Be a voice and a vote for life by opposing the death penalty, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. Be present to those who are sick and dying, and who may feel useless and a burden. Show them there is no such thing. They matter to the end. They matter eternally.

8-Take steps to protect the dignity of every person, including supporting workers and unions; visiting prisoners and agitating for prison reform so that we lock up only those we truly need behind bars to protect society, and never imposing inhumane punishments such as solitary confinement; caring for people in other countries who are enduring the scourge of war and violence, poverty, famine, and natural disasters.

9-Teach children about the God-given dignity of every person, be involved in their lives and teach them good moral values, and support (and provide for your own children) age-appropriate sex education based on good science, medicine, and morals.shutterstock_347698670

10-Continue to take care of people’s needs directly (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give medical care to the sick, shelter the homeless, welcome the immigrant and the refugee, etc.) and also indirectly (protect the natural environment as a gift from the God of Life for the sustenance of life, work against racism and sexism, campaign and vote for candidates who reflect these pro-life values).


Lent should be a time of conversion. Our culture needs to be converted desperately, and each of us needs conversion as well. We move the culture best when we turn away from sin in our own lives and turn to Christ more perfectly. Let’s see if we can do better. Then, by Easter, by the grace of God working in us and with us, we may become more credible witnesses to the Gospel of Life.

  • Marion Collins
    Posted at 19:38h, 11 March

    Kevin, as I said in my previous comment to you- you give us so many areas to work on during Lent-where do we begin? I totally believe in the Dignity of Life from womb to tomb-cliché but true.
    So I have prayed during the week to examine where I could be or have been involved,by the grace of God.
    I list some of these areas, not to bring attention to the opportunities I have been given, but to show how easy it is to step up and become a Lenten Person.

    My first Career was that of a General Welfare Social Worker in a rural area where I often worked with unwed mothers. My first line of defense was to encourage these women to give birth to their babies while deciding to try to keep the child or allow him/her to be adopted by loving parents who longed to have a child. I must admit that I visited these young women far more often than was required and through the intercession of Mary and Jesus, we had a fairly good rate of adoptions. I wish I had your words, “that these sons and daughters of God had Life from the very heart of the Trinity”.

    I often pray for a couple of cousins who were faced with prejudice and shame and were coerced to give their baby up for adoption, and even many years later, still desire to see or touch that child from their womb. They have since married and had other children but there is still an emptiness. They and so many others deserve our prayers and compassion, never judgement!

    I have also done Nursing Home Social Work and worked with residents, but even more so with staff, trying to get them to see the real person in the bed-not just a patient to treat but a person with rich stories of life, love, sorrows and happiness. It means slowing down to listen and treat them with dignity and praise for the lives they have lived. We can learn so much from our elderly!

    Our Religious Education Students visit the Veterans at Soldiers On, bringing them hats, gloves and personal hygiene items. They too are encouraged to listen to the stories, and praise and thank these men and women for their sacrifices for us.

    As you know, I have black grandchildren and an Asian daughter so I cannot count that as a Lenten exercise. They are a part of my enriched life and a true joy!
    So you can see I cannot claim any one or two suggested disciplines to follow during Lent, but have been absolutely blessed by the varied opportunities to bring Jesus and His Mother to others.
    I didn’t start out to consciously do any of these things but was directed and pushed by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we have to just be quiet to hear God’s voice directing our next move! That is one of the beauties of Lent- to take time to listen.

    Kevin, thank you for all your suggestions as I still need that Conversion and extra nudge to reach out to our brothers and sisters during the rest of Lent and beyond.

    Bayard, thank you, and my prayers that you all have a wonder-filled Lent and glorious Easter because of your commitment to spreading the Good News of the Lord.

    • Kevin Dowd
      Posted at 16:32h, 12 March


      Thank you for your extensive comment detailing the many ways in which the Lord leads us to serve one another as the pro-life people we are. I hope the witness of your life continues to Inspire just as your teaching has inspired so many young people over the years.

      Lenten blessings,