Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Sunday, Oct. 14, begins the "Rosary Novena for Life and Liberty" proposed by the U.S. bishops. The novena ends on Monday, Oct. 22.
The Church celebrates October as the month of the holy Rosary, and it is an apt time for Rosary campaigns.
For months, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has urged a strong prayer effort for religious freedom. The USCCB has said October “seems an appropriate time to ask for Our Lady's intercession for these intentions.”
The novena is jointly offered by the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities and the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
In the novena booklet’s introduction, the bishops write:
"This year, believers have faced an unprecedented new threat. In the two centuries since the Bill of Rights was ratified, Americans had the assurance that the U.S. Constitution secured their God-given rights to religious liberty and freedom of conscience. But in 2011, a federal agency mandated that virtually all employers would be required to include sterilization, abortifacient drugs and contraceptives among the benefits covered in the health-care plans they offer employees."
The bishops’ novena comes with a short reflection that ties each day’s saint into the novena with specific intentions for that day regarding respecting life and religious freedom.
The reflections-intentions take only two minutes to read before praying the Rosary. Notably, some old and new American saints are included.
Among them are the first North American martyrs — St. Isaac Jogues and his companions, who included René Goupil and John Lalande — memorialized on Friday, Oct. 19.
A few after these martyrs planted the seeds of the faith, a young maiden Mohawk who was born in what’s now Auriesville, N.Y., where the martyrs lost their lives, converted to Catholicism. She is St. Kateri Tekakwitha, first Native American saint; she will be canonized on Oct. 21, along with Mother Marianne Cope from Syracuse, N.Y.
Their courage in the faith are inspiring examples for Catholics in America to witness to the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death and the right to religious liberty.
This novena is so timely because we're in a Lepanto moment.
In addition, the bishops are doing what our Blessed Mother in each apparition at Fatima told us we must do when she identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary.