You may have noticed that the "slogan" at the top of the webpage has changed. It used to contain a "warning" and now says "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray." These words come from Jesus Christ. It was what he said to his disciples on the night before he was arrested and handed over to the Roman authorities to be tried and eventually crucified.
Christ asked his followers to maintain a prayerful vigil through the night. They claimed to be full of zeal, but at the hour of truth they were overcome by sleep.
This coming Sunday, November 28, marks the beginning of Advent in the Catholic Church liturgical calendar. In fact this marks the beginning of a new liturgical year.
On Saturday, November 27, the eve of the new liturgical year, Pope Benedict XVI has called for a worldwide "Vigil for All Nascent Human Life". Boston Archdiocesan Pro Life Office Director, Marianne Luthin, explained the purpose of the worldwide Vigil this way.
“The fact that the Holy Father has requested every diocesan bishop to celebrate this Vigil for Nascent Life at the start of Advent is unprecedented. “Nascent” is a word we don’t frequently use anymore. While it clearly refers to unborn human life, its other meanings include “promising”, “growing”, and “hopeful”. As we enter into Advent, our thoughts naturally focus on the hope and expectation of the coming of Christ. Christ came to us first as an unborn child, tiny, vulnerable and needing the protection and care of his mother. By calling for this worldwide prayer vigil as we begin the season of Advent, I think the Holy Father is calling us to focus both on the hope and promise of new life in Christ that we celebrate at Christmas but also to acknowledge the sad fact that world-wide there are an estimated 50 million abortions performed each year. We need a renewal of hope about the meaning of life as the reflection of God. Here in the US, the Vigil falls on Thanksgiving weekend when families traditionally come together. The timing is a happy coincidence that reminds us of the great gift from God that each and every human life represents.”Non-Catholics are invited to participate by joining us in prayer for the unborn. Here is some artwork I have collected from various dioceses that are taking part in this unprecedented vigil.
The Pope understands that the enemy in the battle for the lives of the unborn is not a political enemy. This is a spiritual battle and requires a spiritual response. There is no more powerful spiritual weapon than prayer.
Jesus spent the night before his arrest in prayer. We have a chance to reach out to God as a unified body in imitation of Christ, and let Him know that we have not forgotten these least among us.
Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, "Pray that you may not undergo the test."
After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." (And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.)
When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test."
While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him.
Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"
– Luke 22:39-48