Bishop Malooly has announced the diocese will conduct monthly Eucharistic Holy Hours beginning Jan. 27 through November as part of the U.S. bishops’ Call to Prayer movement during the Year of Faith.
The bishops initiated Call to Prayer at their November meeting in Baltimore to help build a culture in the United States that’s favorable to life, marriage and increased protections for religious liberty.
Bishop Malooly said the holy hours in the Diocese of Wilmington will be conducted in a different church each month. The first, which will be led by the bishop, is scheduled for Jan. 27, 4 p.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Wilmington.
Additional dates and locations will be announced in coming weeks.
The Call to Prayer has been “prompted by the rapid social movements and policy changes currently underway, such as the mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that coerces employers, including heads of religious agencies, to pay for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives, as well as increased efforts to redefine marriage,” the U.S. bishops said in a December news release.
Three bishops who are U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ leaders in pro-life, pro-marriage and religious liberty efforts announced the Call to Prayer movement last month:
• Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities;
• Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; and
• Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
For the good of society
The aim of Call to Prayer is to encourage Catholics to prayer and sacrifice; “it’s meant to be simple,” said Archbishop Cordileone. It’s part of a movement for “life, marriage, and religious liberty, which engages the New Evangelization and can be incorporated into the Year of Faith. Life, marriage, and religious liberty are not only foundational to Catholic social teaching but also fundamental to the good of society.”
Pope Benedict has called the Year of Faith, which began last Oct. 11 on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and ends next November, “a year to acquire a more conscious and vigorous adherence to the Gospel, especially at a time of profound change such as humanity is currently experiencing.”
The Call to Prayer in the United States during the Year of Faith addresses the recent changes in American attitudes on life issues, traditional marriage and religious liberty that have arisen as a result of such issues as the HHS mandate for contraception and initiatives on same-sex marriage.
The Call to Prayer has five components, according to the U.S. bishops’ plan. They include:
• Establishing monthly holy hours for life, marriage and religious liberty.
• Encouraging Catholics to pray a daily rosary for the preservation of life, marriage and religious liberty in the nation.
The rosary, long a favorite devotion of pro-life activists, is an appropriate prayer for life, family and religious liberty because it invokes Mary, the mother of evangelization, to lead all to Christ. It’s also a prayer that strengthens family life and its Hail Marys recall Mary’s acceptance of God’s will in becoming the mother of God.
• Including specific intentions in Sunday and daily Prayers of the Faithful for respect for all human life from conception to natural death, the strengthening of marriage and family life, and the preservation of religious liberty at all levels of government, both at home and abroad.
• Encouraging abstinence from meat and fasting on Fridays for the intention of the protection of life, marriage, and religious liberty, thereby recognizing the importance of spiritual and bodily sacrifice in the life of the church.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, said during the bishops’ November meeting that the task of evangelizing American culture should begin with bishops first recognizing their sins and experiencing “the grace of repentance.” The cardinal also called all Catholics to re-embrace Friday as a day of penance and consider abstaining from meat as a prayerful sacrifice.
• Observing a second Fortnight for Freedom at the end of June and beginning of July. The fortnight would emphasize faith and marriage in a particular way in the face of the potential Supreme Court rulings during this time. The Fortnight would also emphasize the need for conscience protection in light of the Aug.1 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, as well as religious freedom concerns in other areas, such as immigration, adoption, and humanitarian services.
Stamina and courage
“With the challenges this country is facing, it is hoped that this call to prayer and penance will help build awareness among the faithful as well as spiritual stamina and courage for effective witness. We also hope that it will encourage solidarity with all people who are standing for the precious gifts of life, marriage, and religious liberty,” Archbishop Cordileone said.
A website with resources for the Call to Prayer from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is available at: www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty.