With tomorrow's feast of the Baptism of Jesus the Church begins what we call Ordinary Time. It is ordinary in the sense that there are no huge festivities, just the "ordinary" daily worship of God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. The church offers this worship through the Mass and the prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. Morning and Evening Prayer are the two "hinges" of the Liturgy of the Hours. These two "hours" are prayed using two psalms and a "canticle" which is a prayer of praise from different books of the Bible. Sometimes there are canticles from Exodus, or from the letters of St. Paul. Then there is a short Scripture reading, and an antiphon. The antipon is usually one sentence related to the gospel reading of the day. For Morning Prayer the Canticle of Zechariah is prayed. It begins with the words: "Blessed be the Lord, the God, of Israel. He has come to his people and set them free...". (See the Luke 1:68--79). The antipon and canticle are followed by a prayer of petition, and the Lord's Prayer. A closing prayer ends the "hour." Generally the person leading the prayer concludes the prayers with these words: "May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen."
In the evening, the Canticle of Mary, "The Magnificat" from Luke's gospel (Luke 1: 47--55) is prayed after the reading. Then evening prayer ends in a similar way to Morning Prayer.
Since God keeps us in existence every moment of our lives, it is natural to turn to him at certain times of the day to offer him prayer and praise or liturgy. Thus "ordinary time" can be a time of continual grace when we use it well.
In January we Americans celebrate the right to life. Thousands of people come by car, bus or other means of transportation to bear witness to their belief in the sanctity and preciousness of life to Washington, DC.
These people of every age and walk of life, and of various faith denominations join the March for Life.
This year because of the presidential inauguration, the March for Life will be on Friday, January 25. If you are able to join the thousands on the Mall, please do so. You will be a voice for the voiceless unborn who are denied their right to life. Unfortunately 40 years ago, January 22,with the Roe vs. Wade decision, the Supreme Court allowed abortion to be legal in the USA. Until then it was legally a criminal act.
This year will mark the 40th anniversary of a decision which unleashed an evil which deprives unborn babies of life, and it deprives our nation of potential productive and loving citizens. The lives that never saw the light of day number in the millions.
In Philadelphia at a July gathering on the Mall in front of Independence Hall a number of medical doctors reminded us that "pregnancy is not a pathology." And, they added that they had taken the Hippocratic oath "to do no hearm." Abortion is the ultimate harm.
Read the book "Unplanned" by and about a young woman who had abortions herself, but never realized the import of her actions until she saw an ultrasound of an abortion.At that moment she was assisting a doctor during an abortion at a Planned Parenthood facility. We need to pray to end abortion and to support life from conception to natural death. That is the "seamless garment" of the Catholic teaching about life issues. The book Unplanned and a DVD Unplanned are available from Ignatius Press, aswell as at all USA Pauline locations and from the Pauline webstore at www.pauline.org.
A company called Blackstone Films had produced a video promoting the March for Life. Here is a link to the video: http://youtu.be/Opl0jnKbn5Y
If you cannot see the video, find it on my Facebook page Sister Mary Peter Martin.
In the gospel passage used for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord for Year C the voice of God the Father declares "You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22) Because Jesus came to save us we too can remind ourselves this day that "I too am beloved. God was pleased to bring me into existence. He is glad to have me." Let us live as beloved sons and daughters of our loving God.