On June 2, something remarkable happened. For the first time ever, there was a kind of universal Holy Hour, with Catholics the world over praying for the intentions of Pope Francis. As we say in the OSV office, "It was a Holy Spirit moment." In front of the Blessed Sacrament, in Rome and in churches everywhere, Catholics prayed for Church unity and for the many victims of exploitation and violence.
In a few days, we will have another occasion to demonstrate our unity as Catholics while at the same time praying for and reflecting on the Church's message of the sacredness of human life at every stage and everywhere.
As part of the Year of Faith celebrations, Pope Francis is leading a series of events in Rome titled Faithful to Life — conferences, liturgies, processions and more — on June 15-16 to celebrate the great encyclical of Blessed John Paul II: Evangelium Vitae
("The Gospel of Life").
As Blessed John Paul wrote in that encyclical, "The Church knows that this Gospel of life, which she has received from her Lord, has a profound and persuasive echo in the heart of every person." In a world in which the utilitarian is trumping human dignity and the "silent scream," to use the pope's words, of the poor and marginalized goes unheard by so many, this Year of Faith celebration is reminding us that no one is without value in the eyes of God.
At Our Sunday Visitor we think this is a great opportunity for all Catholics to read "The Gospel of Life" in solidarity with the Holy Father and open our hearts to its message of hope and service on behalf of all those who need our care — the aged, sick and dying, the unborn, the physically and mentally challenged, the unwanted and the despised.
So what if we start a grass roots movement to join with Pope Francis in this celebration?
In parishes and in families, in small groups and in solitary reflection, we can prayerfully read "The Gospel of Life" and ask the Spirit to help us find opportunities to care and to serve.
You can find links to the encyclical itself as well as a study guide by Archbishop J. Michael Miller on our Faithful to Life
webpage. There you will also find additional information, reflections, tributes and other resources to share with your friends, family and parish. We ask for your reflections and ideas as well, and we will be adding to the site in the coming days.
We also encourage you to share your thoughts about "The Gospel of Life" using the hashtag #FaithfultoLife on Twitter. Help us to spread the word, so that on June 15 and 16, Catholics throughout our country will be spiritually united with Pope Francis and the celebration in Rome.
In a stroke of Providence, this celebration also precedes the Fortnight for Freedom. A campaign by the U.S. bishops, the Fortnight for Freedom, June 21-July 4, consists of two weeks of prayer, fasting and reflection on current threats to our religious freedom. The Church in this country is facing serious challenges because of its teachings on human dignity and its commitment to the sacredness of all life. Using this time to reflect on "The Gospel of Life" will remind Catholic Americans why the fight for religious freedom is so important.
Let's spread the word so this becomes an occasion to renew our own zealous commitment to the sacred value of all life, inspiring us to testify to this zeal in our actions and in our fervent prayer.
Greg Erlandson is OSV president and publisher.