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Catholic Focus: 40 Days for Life

March 18, 2009
Last Sunday I was across the street from 960 Lawrence Ave. W., a medical centre in Toronto, at the 40 Days for Life Campaign. I had participated in the Campaign last year in Houston, outside the Planned Parenthood facility at 3601 Fannin St. and have been intrigued by this initiative ever since.
The 40 Days for Life is the most successful pro-life campaign in the last 40 years. Put simply, it is a prayer vigil, where the participants stand in a silent prayer outside a particular abortion facility and hold vigil for 40 days. So, for 40 days, uninterrupted, there is someone standing there, praying.
I found out recently part of the symbolism of the number 40. In the Hebrew language, every character has a number value. We know that seven is the number of perfection and we hear that 12 and 40 are “Biblical” numbers, but don’t know why. I learned that 40 represents 5 x 8. Five is the number of the Hebrew letter “He” ? and that character is the symbol for “mercy.” Eight is the number that goes with the Hebrew letter “Het” ?, which is also the symbol for “a new creation”. Seven is the number for perfection, so eight, is even better than seven: a new creation. 40 stands for the mercy of God, that when received, leads to a new creation. When you think about it, that’s what Lent is about. That’s what the flood during the time of Noah was about. That’s what the Israelite’s 40 years in the wilderness was all about. That’s why Jesus went into the desert for 40 days.
And, in a way, that is what the 40 Days for Life is about. It is not a surprise that this year’s Spring campaign is from February 25 to April 5th. It’s exactly the 40 days of Lent. Since Ash Wednesday, thousands of people across Canada, the U.S. and in some cities in Australia and Ireland, have been holding prayer vigils against abortion. In Canada it’s taking place in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
The Campaign has three components: prayer and fasting, constant vigil and community outreach. But most of us are only called to prayer, fasting and vigil. The community outreach part sounds a bit more daunting, but you know, all it requires is that you tell someone about it. Writing this blog entry, for me, is community outreach. Anyone can do that. And the prayer and fasting – we don’t need to be outside an abortion facility to do that. You can do it anywhere and anytime.
You can listen to the March 7, 2009 edition of Salt + Light Radio (HERE) for an interview with Nicole Campbell, coordinator of the Toronto Campaign and the Ottawa Fall Campaign in 2008.
For a more in-depth interview with Nicole, join me this Wednesday, March 18th, at 7pm or 11pm ET for Catholic Focus: 40 Days for Life. You can catch an encore presentation on Sunday, March 22nd at the same times too.
And if I can just end by saying that the Campaigns are always looking for people. You can just show up. Check for locations or sign up for a shift (in one-hour slots) HERE.
At the risk of sounding apocalyptic, in Matthew 17:21 the disciples ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out a demon and Jesus answers that some evil spirits can only be cast out through prayer and fasting. There is no question that abortion is a great evil and sometimes all we need to do is pray and fast.

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