A NOVENA FOR LIFE

by Father James Moroney, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for the Liturgy

Daily Schedule:
1. Beginning Prayer
2. Meditation
3. Scripture Reading
4. Ending Prayers

Beginning Prayer
+God, come to my assistance
+Lord, make haste to help me

Readings:
1. Luke 7: 11-15
2. Matthew 1:18-23
3. John 19:25-27
4. Luke 2:33-35
5. Hebrews 5:7-9
6. Col 3:12-17
7. Psalm 31:2-6.
8. Phil 2:6-11
9. Psalm 31-15-16, 20

Ending Prayers
Holy Mother of God, hear the prayers of the Church for all mothers, especially those wearied by life and overcome by the suffering they bear for their children.
Hail Mary...
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, intercede for them from your place in heaven, that the mercy of your divine Son might lighten their burden and give them strength.
Hail Mary...
Glory to the Father...

Meditations
1. Day 1, Sept 7
Pray for the Suffering Women of the World
Labor Day usually brings to mind images of factory workers, farmers or heavy equipment operators. Yet we also use labor to describe the first work which brought each one of us to birth: those first hours of maternal sacrifice which brought us into the world. It's too easy to forget that and all the other sacrifices which the vocation of motherhood entails. Pray for the mothers "in labor" today. Those who give birth. Those who work two jobs to support a child. Those who "go without" so that their child's needs are met. Those whose patient endurance is a sign of God's love upon the cross.

2. Sept 8
The Birth of the Virgin Mary
Pray for the mothers who will give birth today.
"At first I was scared," Sarah told me. "I was scared, excited and filled with the most incredible expectation. It was like those words we hear at Mass: we wait in joyful hope. I thought of all those women who feel the first kick, the stirrings of life deep within them. I prayed for them, that they would love their child, cherish their little baby and know that in being a mother they are involved in something so much bigger than themselves. They have been chosen by God to be custodians of the mystery of life. At first I was scared, and then I just cried... with joy."

Day 3. Sept. 9
Pray for Fathers at the Birth of their child.
"At first I was petrified," Jon told me. "petrified that I would faint or get in the way or not know what to do to help Sarah. But then I prayed to Mary. I know, praying to Mary is something you'd think a mother would be doing. But somehow, I think Mary understood Saint Joseph more than anyone else. She probably saw the fear in his eyes and sensed the restlessness of his heart. She probably spent a lot of time praying for him as well. And when I prayed to Mary for my child about to be born, I knew she understood and heard me and prayed for me to her Son. At first I was petrified, and then I put everything into God's hands.

Day 4, Sept. 10
Pray for all children
The eyes of a child are an infinite well of life, hope and goodness. If you doubt the value of life, look into the eyes of a child. If you are worn by life's worries, look into the eyes of a child. If you want to see tomorrow, look into the eyes of a child. And what you will see is the divine spark which brought beauty out of chaos, the infinite beauty, which is the presence of the creator in his creation.

Day 5, Sept. 11
Pray for families
I know of a family which prays each night. Since the kids were little they are gathered from their games and their grumbling to the couch in the living room. There they pray for those whom they love and those they have a hard time loving. They pray for the unborn and for little babies. They pray for the sick and the dying. They pray for the Church and for their priest. Many a night it was the knowledge of those prayers that gave me hope and peace and a good night's sleep.

Day 6, Sept. 12
Prayer for life begins in the home
I know of another family which used to pray for unborn children every Friday night. They chose Friday because what's when Christ, innocent and without sin, was sent to the cross. There's no prayer more powerful than that said over little folded hands asking God to "take care of all the babies who you've made."

Day 7, Sept. 13
24th Sunday in Ordinary time
Sunday is a time to take stock. We look all around us at Church and see them: all the people whose kids never seem to scream and who look like they haven't a problem in the world! But what if we really knew them? We would see the "secret sufferings" that mirror our own. That's the meaning of Sunday, after all. It is the gathering of those who have looked at their own brokenness through the lens of the cross, and live? Sunday is the perfect day to pray for all God's broken children and especially those who are tempted to break the lives of others.

Day 8, Sept. 14
The Holy Cross
Each time I pray, I am called to join my prayer with Christ's perfect prayer upon the cross. It is easy from the vantage of the cross to see the world clearly. To see how easy it is to join the suffering of the innocent to the suffering of him who is without sin. We should work for an end to all the forms of violence which threaten life. That is a wonderful good. But it is even more important to stand with the Virgin Mother and to beg her Son to come to our aid.

Day 9, Sept. 15
Our Lady of Sorrows
We end as we began nine days ago: with Mary, weeping silently beside the cross. Weeping for the nation which has let him die. Weeping for her child and for our own, we place them both in her arms.