In the Bible some of the most important happenings are associated with the number 40. For example, in the flood that destroyed the world, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. When the Jews escaped from slavery in Egypt, they wandered in the desert for 40 years before reaching the Promised Land. When Jesus began His public ministry, he first went out into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights of prayer, fasting and struggle against the Devil. For centuries, that tradition has been carried on in the Church with the forty days of Lent during which we prepare for the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.
Today, the Church has a new and very difficult task of faithfully preaching the Gospel of Life, which is all about the promotion of human dignity and the protection of innocent human life. It is a task that calls for the same kind of commitment that marked those crucial moments in the Bible.
Our Bishop Felipe Estévez is rallying us to that commitment by giving full diocesan support to a forty-day initiative that through prayer, fasting, public witness and loving outreach has the goal of welcoming and taking care of each child in the womb with tenderness and hope, so that no child in the womb is ever again at risk of having the beauty of its life cut short by abortion.
That initiative is called “Forty Days for Life.” It will begin in our Church, in our Diocese and around the country on September 28 and will last until November 6. The initiative has many aspects, so many that all of us at St. Francis can take part in different ways. Each day we can pray, alone or together in groups, for those whose lives are affected by abortion: the unborn first of all, then women who are with child, fathers, medical professionals, religious leaders and government officials. Then we can fast or sacrifice for the healing of sorrowful situations. More visibly, we can keep vigil at abortion facilities to show women in crisis that there are other solutions and that healing is at hand. St. Francis has already committed to a vigil every Tuesday from 10am to 12 noon at A Woman’s Choice of Jacksonville during the campaign. More broadly we can reach out to the media, to other religious congregations and to schools, colleges and universities, raising awareness of the sorrow that abortion causes and of the loving support that is available to those facing crisis.
We ask you please to not let this opportunity for Christian witness pass you by. The days from September 28 through November 6 will be days of grace for us all, and you can join with this great initiative by contacting either Beverly Crowley or myself at email@example.com or go directly to the diocesan website at 40daysforlife.com/jacksonville. Please stop by our Respect Life exhibit in the narthex where you can fill out a spiritual bouquet card and find more information about the campaign.
Thank you very much.