(LifeSiteNews) — A few days ago, the largest ever 40 Days for Life fall campaign kicked off around the globe. This international campaign of prayer, fasting, and pro-life witness has been used by Almighty God to save countless babies, assist thousands of moms and dads, close abortion mills, and help bring conversion to many abortion supporters and abortion industry employees! Deo gratias!
I first became involved in 40 Days for Life (DFL) very early on in Madison, Wisconsin, just as the national campaign plan was being initiated, and as these important coordinated prayer efforts were about to proliferate outside of where they started in Bryan and College Station, Texas.
After this, I was then blessed to be able to help several local pro-life groups start their own 40 DFL campaigns in about 10 different cities in three different states. Through the years I’ve been honored to participate in fall and spring campaigns all across the United States as a prayer warrior, sidewalk counselor, speaker, community educator, and volunteer organizer.
In my travels as a full-time pro-lifer over the many years since 40 DFL began, I’ve traveled coast to coast joining the faithful praying under the cool blue skies of Tacoma, Washington, in sweltering hot temperatures in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the bone-chilling cold of Duluth, Minnesota, in many quiet small towns dotting the nation’s heartland, and in the noisy streets of Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C.
Today as I write this, October 1, is Respect Life Sunday – the first day of Respect Life Month – dedicated to remembering the sacred gift of all human life and the sacred responsibility of defending each human person.
This first Sunday of October is also the traditional Life Chain Sunday, in which countless American pro-lifers have for many decades kept silent vigil on the main streets and thoroughfares of their cities and towns holding up pro-life signs in a human chain stretching for blocks… even miles!
It has been a privilege to join so many of the brave faithful in this mission, too. Together we’ve held white rectangular signs saying “Abortion Kills Children” in furious blizzards in Gillette, Wyoming. We have carried signs testifying that “Abortion Hurts Women” in the soggy fall rains in Champaign, Illinois. We embraced signs in the warm St. Louis, Missouri, sun witnessing that “Jesus Heals and Saves.” And last year I joined Hispanics in Yonkers, New York, with signs stating the message of hope, “Adoption the Loving Option,” in both English and Spanish.
Right now, across the country and around the world pro-lifers are united in one focused spiritual mission. Today and throughout this entire month of October we are gathered together near and far in dedicated prayer plus action, ora et labora (prayer and work) as St. Benedict would counsel, for a complete and utter end to the terrible destruction of the Lord’s smallest children.
We also pray and work for the true good of the abortion-tempted mothers and fathers, as well as for every last abortion supporter or abortion industry employee. Together we beg Almighty God for all hearts, including our own, to be transformed so that a new culture of life and love might be established everywhere upon the earth.
But this 40 Days for Life, and Respect Life and Life Chain Sunday, is decidedly different for me.
I am not able to hold a sign. I am not able to take an hour of prayer at the closest abortuary. I am unable to speak, help organize, or sidewalk counsel.
Yes. This year is different. Very, very different indeed.
I write this meditation as I sit in my cramped and chilly cell on the fifth floor of the Alexandria Adult Detention Center in Virginia.
The crime: peacefully kneeling down inside the waiting room of an extremely late-term child killing facility in Washington, D.C., and then silently praying there as a witness to the value of each human being. A witness of conscience, charity, truth.
As this witness continues, it is presently day 33 of my imprisonment.
I’m locked down here along with seven other peaceful rescuers who are awaiting federal sentencing for our non-violent direct action, i.e., a simple “sit-in” style protest, or rather, a rescue mission that we had at the D.C. facility which commits “live birth” abortions.
We may be here until December or January before even being sentenced.
Why is this happening? Due to a very unjust and manipulative Department of Justice indictment, we were all unfairly convicted of not one but TWO “violent” federal felonies. (!?!) The radical support of baby killing by some in our federal government have brought all of us to this point whereby we are presently awaiting the potential of being sentenced up to an unprecedented ELVEN years in federal prison!
Yet, despite all of their abusive power and malice, the Department of Justice cannot stop us from participating in 40 Days for Life or Respect Life Month!
We are joining with all of you in the important threefold mission of 40 DFL to pray, fast, and witness for life!
In a more radical spiritual participation, we will pray from jail. We will fast in jail. And our pro-life witness continues from jail.
By Christ Jesus’ grace, our united solidarity is made real.
When it’s cold in the jail, we unite our prayers and small sacrifices to those in 40 DFL suffering outside in the cold weather of Montana and Maine as they pray at their local abortion mill.
When it’s noisy in the cell block, we unite our prayers and small sacrifices to those sidewalk counselors working in the urban noise of Los Angeles or Atlanta. When the guards rudely awaken us in the middle of the night or early in the morning before sunrise, we can unite our prayers and small sacrifices to those prayer warriors waking up to man the very late and very early hours scheduled in the ongoing vigil.
In jail we shall unite our fasting with yours. We have an imposed fast every day from good, healthy food. We continually fast from our freedom. In pain we fast from being with our family and friends. As a Catholic, I find the most difficult fast is from receiving Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist at Holy Mass. We all fast together because it is a powerful weapon when united to Christ.
The global abortion holocaust is at heart a spiritual battle against diabolical powers. In 40 Days for Life, we remember Jesus’ words teaching that some demons “cannot be cast out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21)
In this spiritual combat, we jailed rescuers also have the privilege of joining other powerful pro-lifers who, due to their unique circumstances, cannot be outside praying and counseling at the abortuaries, but are nonetheless a very essential part of the 40 Days for Life campaign team.
We intentionally join prayers alongside the bedridden sick and those who lovingly care for them. We pray with those powerful elderly prayer warriors who are confined in nursing homes. We join mothers or fathers who are at home with sick or disabled children, and the loved ones who must stay inside caring for elderly parents or spouses.
It is interesting to note that 2023’s Respect Life Sunday falls on October 1, which is the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux! This amazing saint has a lot to teach us regarding the power and efficacy of secluded love, prayer, and sacrifice. So spiritually powerful was her life, that while this devout young religious woman known affectionately as the “Little Flower” never left her Carmelite convent, she is nevertheless one of the Church’s co-patrons of the missions!
As the Church’s other co-patron, St. Francis Xavier, traveled throughout the world as an active missionary, so too St. Thérèse was fruitful in God’s mission work through her contemplative life of prayer and sacrifice.
In some ways, those who are actively participating in the fall campaign of 40 DFL by sidewalk counseling, praying and witnessing at the killing centers, or doing pro-life educational outreach in the community, are like the active missionary Jesuit St. Francis Xavier.
In different ways, we who are restricted from the outward active life can also participate spiritually in a more strictly contemplative dimension of the 40 DFL campaign effort by following the holy example of the cloistered Carmelite St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
Like the Church, we as pro-lifers should recognize and rejoice over the beautiful complementarity of both the active and contemplative pro-life labors to replace the culture of death with a flourishing culture of life.
Whoever you are and wherever you are: YOU can be an essential part of this year’s fall campaign to defend the innocent.
Even if you happen to be thrown behind bars.
This year, the Lord blesses me with a contemplative 40 Days of Life (and then some!) in the “monastery of hard knocks” on a “state sponsored retreat.” For us all the key to victory is simple: uniting all our prayer, fasting, and witness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ whose own prayer, fasting, and sacrificial witness of love rescued the world!
I’m reminded of this all-important truth as I meditate in my cell on the Scriptural words of the Communion Antiphon for Sunday, October 1:
“By this we came to know the love of God: that Christ laid down His life for us; so, we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” (1 John 3:16)
Will Goodman was found guilty (with four others) of “conspiracy against rights” and violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act for blocking access to late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo’s Washington Surgi-Clinic in downtown Washington, D.C. in October 2020. He is currently awaiting sentencing, imprisoned at the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia.