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By Perry West,CNA/EWTN News, Jan 17, 2018
– The US Conference of Catholic Bishops have beefed up their social media presence for the 9 Days for Life novena, calling Catholics not only to prayer but to action within communities, both virtual and local.
The novena takes place Jan. 18-26, and includes the Jan. 22 National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children (the anniversary of Roe v. Wade) and the 44th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19.
“As Catholics we are proud to have our voices heard in support for the protection of life. We welcome every human life,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.
“Please join me and my brother bishops in prayer and action during these nine days for life. Together we can help to build a culture of life in which every human life is cherished,” said the cardinal in a recent video on the People for Life Facebook page.
Cardinal O’Malley then encouraged individuals to join the bishops in a “digital pilgrimage” by downloading the 9 Days for Life smartphone application, which allows its users easily to share on social media the prayers, sacrifices, and other actions conducted in support of life.
The novena also includes a daily reflection, intercession, and challenge to follow throughout the nine days. The application will remind the participant of that day’s prayer schedule, opportunities for sacrifice, and challenges to take the pro-life message even further.
Anne McGuire, the USCCB’s Assistant Director for Education and Outreach for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, encouraged Christians to take action and to engage in this year’s virtual pilgrimage.
“Wherever we are, wherever the Lord places us, we are called to be witnesses to [life]. So many of us are on social media … it can be an incredible opportunity to share that Gospel of life,” McGuire told CNA Jan. 16.
The novena outlines different actions people may take to support life, whether it is through parish or private prayer gatherings, fasting from coffee, or participating in a local march for life. McGuire expressed hope that this year people will share this experience by sharing a selfie or a short video on their social media accounts using #9daysforlife.
McGuire said the 9 Days for Life app also includes pro-life images that easily transfer to the social media platform of the person’s choice or pro-life frames which may be added to an individual’s Facebook profile.
She clarified that the primary goal of 9 Days for Life is an end to abortion, but other pro-life intentions are also encouraged. She said this year’s novena will intercede for “Share the Journey,” an international campaign in support of victims of human trafficking.
However a person decides to support life this year, McGuire said it is responsibility of Christians to aid a culture conducive to human life.
“It’s incumbent upon us to work to protect human life and to cherish it, both in the sense of defending it from the attacks as well as, again, following John Paul II’s call to build a culture of life and a civilization of love,” she said.