20th Anniversary of Evangelium Vitae.
March 25th marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Saint John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae, and I’m honoured to be part of a project to celebrate the occasion: The Evangelium Vitae Novena.
Fr. Vincent E Bertrand Jcl has kindly written this preface to the novena:
Dear friends in LIFE,
It is an honor to join you in celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the beautiful Encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”) issued by the great St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord March 25, 1995! This document is a powerful reminder from our late Holy Father that we as Catholic Christians must continue to do all we can to protect the right to life of all God’s People from conception through natural death in our times. Before writing Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II surveyed every Catholic bishop in the world asking whether they agreed that murder, directly willed abortion, and euthanasia were immoral, and they all agreed that they were. To make this connection clear, the pope concluded each of the passages in Evangelium Vitae with a reference to the “ordinary and universal magisterium”. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that these teachings in Evangelium Vitae are infallible in its “Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fidei”, published in 1998.
“Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God.”
Beginning with an overview of threats to human life both past and present, the encyclical gives a brief history of the many Biblical prohibitions against killing. The encyclical then addresses specific actions in light of these passages, including abortion (quoting Tertullian, who called abortion “anticipated murder to prevent someone from being born”), euthanasia (which John Paul II calls “a disturbing perversion of mercy”), and the death penalty. According to John Paul II and the magisterium the only potentially acceptable use of the death penalty is when it would not otherwise be possible to defend society, a situation that is rare if not non-existent today (§ 56). The encyclical then addresses social and ecological factors, stressing the importance of a society which is built around the family rather than a wish to improve efficiency, and emphasizing the duty to care for the poor and the sick.The encyclical also deals with the proper uses of sex and the implementation of knowledge on adolescent teens of these behaviors.
I want to extend my sincere and heartfelt appreciation to those who have prepared this wonderful Novena for the 20th Anniversary of this central document that still guides all our prayers and work for LIFE here in the 21st century. Thanks be to God, much progress was made in the latter decades of the 20th century to promote great respect for all human life from the moment of conception. Still, we all know there is still much work to be done to end threats to the right to and dignity of every human life in this new century. After nearly 40 years of leadership in the pro-life movement, I have no doubt that it is prayer that sustains, guides, and strengthens us in all our work for LIFE. I also have no doubt that prayer is the most important effort we can share as pro-life warriors, for ultimately it is the magnificent grace of our dear Lord that will protect all LIFE and bring about an end to abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and other serious threats to LIFE in our times.
I will look forward to praying this beautiful Novena with local pro-life friends beginning March 16, and join you in enthusiastically encouraging all our pro-life friends around the world to pray this Novena at home, at Church, and with your local pro-life friends. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, Mary, our Mother and Mother of all God’s People, St. John Paul II, our wonderful “Pope of Life”, pray for us and bless this Novena in a powerful way as we unite in prayer for LIFE!
Your friend in Christ and in LIFE,
Father Vincent Edward Mark Bertrand, MA, MDiv, JCL
Founder/Director of Marian Advocates for Life
Our novena includes the daily recitation of a prayer written by St. John Paul to Our Lady for a Culture of Life, and an extract from the encyclical for each day.
My online friend, Birgit Atherton-Jones, has created the beautiful graphics that accompany each day’s meditation. You can see more of Birgit’s work here on her website. Apart from creating her lovely graphics, Birgit posts about living an authentic Catholic lifestyle and her site includes some remarkable testimonies, which you may want to read and share with pro-choice friends: Birgit’s daughter Erika had chemotherapy while pregnant, there is a story about abortion regret and Birgit’s own testimony , which is a powerful witness to the right to life of all children, regardless of the circumstances of their conception.
Please join with us in sending up this ‘great prayer for life’ for the nine days leading up the to Feast of the Annunciation. Become part of our Facebook event or click here to use the prayers directly from this website. You may like to email your friends to tell them about the novena, or invite them through Facebook. Birgit has designed a Facebook cover and profile picture which you can download and use on your profile!
For those wanting to know more about the encyclical, Priests for Life have many resources to help in the study of Evangelium Vitae and will be using the hashtag #EvangeliumVitae during the celebrations. There has never been a better time to familiarise yourself with this outstanding encyclical ‘on the value and inviolability of human life’; the Gospel of Life.