Prayer and Penance

Here in the Diocese of Joliet, Bishop J. Peter Sartain has called for a day of prayer and penance in reparation for the massive new abortuary that Planned Parenthood will be opening in Aurora.

The proposed opening of the new clinic is a troubling development. For everyone concerned, abortion is a source of great suffering and sorrow. As Catholics, we hope in the Lord of Life. Made in his image and likeness, we know that human life is sacred. At times like this, it is important to remember that our lives are not our own. Each of us belongs to Christ, and he asks us to serve him in one another and to show particular concern for the most vulnerable among us.

As Catholics, we will stand proudly and consistently “For Life” in our diocese. Rather than collapsing in negativity, we call on all people of good will to respond with positive action. Every step we take must be peaceful.


Please join me on Friday, September 7 in a day of prayer and penance for the promotion of a Culture of Life and an end to abortion. Pray in the manner of your choosing – perhaps attend Mass that day, pray the rosary or other favorite prayers, for the intention of an increased respect for the sacredness of life. Choose a simple penance in keeping with your health and daily duties – abstain from meat or sweets that day, or refrain from television or other entertainment. Such simple efforts on our part can be a powerful witness to our neighbors and a sign to our Heavenly Father that we love the life – the lives – he has given us.

As for our family, we will be abstaining from meat today. In addition to attending Mass this morning, I will personally be engaging in some other small food-related penances: no snacks between meals, and drinking supermarket canned coffee rather than the nice whole bean stuff I prefer. Another easy thing is to make many silent acts of atonement. These prayers don’t have to be elaborate or even lengthy; my favorite is simply miserere nobis (“have mercy on us”). I’ve been trying to say it many times today, each time imagining that I’m lobbing that prayer toward the abortuary’s construction site.

Why do Catholics do this sort of thing? It’s a natural application of what St. Paul told the Colossians: “I find joy in the sufferings I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church” (Col. 1:24). What is lacking in the sufferings of Christ? The continuing, ongoing embrace of those sufferings by his followers — in reparation for their own sins and the sins of others.

As St Josemaria Escriva put it:
In the Holy Mass we find the perfect opportunity to atone for our sins and the sins of all men, so as to be able to say with Saint Paul that we are completing in our flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. No one is an isolated individual in this world; no one can consider himself completely free from blame for the evil that is done on earth, which is the result of original sin and the sum total of many Personal sins. Let us love sacrifice; let us seek atonement. How? By uniting ourselves in the Mass to Christ, who is Priest and Victim. He is always the one who bears the tremendous weight of the infidelities of men — your infidelities and mine.

Today, we’re seeking out a few extra little sufferings in order to do a little more to make up for the many offenses against human life being perpetrated at that new clinic. I hope you’re able to join us in whatever way you can.

One thought on “Prayer and Penance

  1. Chris;Is there a college close by to the location of the new PP? The reason I ask is that I have a theory that within a block or two of any university is a PP death mill. Just curious.


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