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The power of fasting and prayer
A dear Sister of Life friend had a significant birthday recently, but she didn’t celebrate until days later. Her 70th birthday was on a Friday, and Fridays are days of fasting and silence for prayer. And it’s become more intense lately, as her community has focused much of its prayer and fasting on the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi abortion case that will be heard at the Supreme Court on Dec. 1.
The power of fasting and prayer is something we don’t take full advantage of. We, on our own, can’t do much of anything. When Jesus speaks of the poor, I think he is often reminding us of our poverty. That keeps us close to him, clinging to him, recognizing that we are nothing without God. Surely, we wouldn’t even exist without him, so why pretend everything — or anything — is truly in our hands?
The Sisters of Life dedicate themselves to the work of building up a culture of life and civilization of love, as Pope St. John Paul II put it. And from that position, they know their poverty all too well. I get tastes of that unmistakable awareness every time I pray outside of an abortion clinic. I cringe whenever I hear anyone in the pro-life community talk about “saves” as if this is something to keep score about. Yes, it’s amazing if an abortion-minded woman walks away and goes to the Sisters of Life Visitation Mission or another pro-life ministry. But it’s God’s save.
She’s his daughter. It is the Eternal Father’s love we want her to know. She’s going to know when we are loving her in her poverty, letting God fill our poverty. It is in realizing that we are the poor, too, that we can better love. A man or woman on a city street could be us in other circumstances. The saying “There but by the grace of God go I” is all about humility, knowing our poverty.
In one of the many briefs filed in the Dobbs case, Good Counsel, a network of maternity homes in the New York City area, tells the story of a woman in her late 20s who had spent her adult life addicted to drugs. When she became pregnant, she wanted to get clean.
“I never thought anything good could come out of my body,” she told Christopher Bell, co-founder of Good Counsel, which gave her a room, helped her get to a 12-step program and addiction counseling. She got some of the same life-skills training all the women in their maternity homes do — child growth and development, cooking, job readiness and spirituality. She gave birth to a boy, got a job and eventually was not only able to live on her own with her son, but make a donation to support Good Counsel’s work to help women and their babies. This is what America needs to do more of.
Law professors Mary Ann Glendon and Helen Alvaré are among the many who weighed in to the Supreme Court. Alvaré was joined by 240 women scholars, professionals and pro-life feminist organizations. They presented data that show how women have been hurt by abortion.
Glendon, with Carter Snead from Notre Dame, writes: “American abortion jurisprudence is deeply misguided and dangerous in yet another way. It entrenches in our nation’s founding document, and by extension, the laws of our nation, a concept of human identity and flourishing that is false, pernicious, and obstructive of needed care for vulnerable mothers, babies, and families.”
Pray that Roe can be undone in our law. And, yes, fast for Dobbs. For the wisdom of the court. That lives are helped and saved by the court finally telling the truth nearly 50 years on from its deadly disastrous decision in Roe. v. Wade.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review.