By Marian Friedrichs (Nov 6, 2008)
When Barack Obama was riding the campaign trail, he vowed in a speech to Planned Parenthood that his first move in office would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. This act is designed to remove every restriction on abortion, including the restrictions that the Roe v. Wade decision itself stipulated, such as protection against lawsuits for medical personnel and health care centers (i.e., Catholic hospitals) that object to performing abortions.
During the nine final days before the election, Fr. John Corapi asked Catholics to pray a Novena to Our Lady of Victory. In 1571, when Europeans prayed this novena at the request of Pope Pius V, the outnumbered European army was able to defeat the Islamic invading forces. Those of us who prayed the novena for Obama's defeat in the race for the White House may be tempted to believe that our prayers went unheeded, but our Mother in Heaven always hears the prayers of her children, and I believe that we need to cling to her and to trust in her Son more strongly now than ever.
While I was praying the novena, it occurred to me that it was not enough to pray for Obama to lose the election; I must pray that his heart and the hearts of all who agree with him about abortion will be changed, regardless of the outcome of the election. Barack Obama is not an evil man, and I fervently hope that all of the good things his supporters expect him to do for our nation come to pass. I hope he is able to end the war and to provide good health care to every citizen. Still, as Mother Teresa said, "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants." We don't want our nation to teach that, and neither does Obama.
Therefore, I would like to ask, humbly yet urgently, that my fellow Christians join me in prayer for our new leader. On the night of the election, I lay in bed praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy over and over again; I did so again the next day, and I imagined Jesus hovering over the White House and embracing it with the red and pale rays from His chest. Saint Faustina used the chaplet for every intention, from saving her loved ones from mortal sin, to attaining salvation for a dying soul outside the state of grace, to bringing down rain during a drought. "The Lord let me know," she wrote, "that everything can be obtained through means of this prayer" (Diary of St. Faustina, 1128).
I will, of course, continue to pray the chaplet for President-elect Obama, but I also plan to continue the Novena to Our Lady of Victory (the text of which is included down below). In the image associated with that title, Our Lady is shown crushing the serpent under her feet, assuring us that there is nothing her intercession cannot attain. In fact, our Mother Mary personally reminded St. Faustina of the great need for prayer when the world turns from God: "What I demand from you is prayer, prayer, and once again prayer, for the world and especially for your country ... Always and everywhere, at all times and places, day or night, whenever you wake up, pray in the spirit" (Diary, 325). Finally, I plan to say the Litany of St. Thomas More, the patron saint of politicians, who served as chancellor of England but was martyred for refusing to recognize the divorce and remarriage of King Henry the VIII that caused the breach between England and the Catholic Church that our world is still reeling from.
I'm not asking anyone to use the exact prayers I plan to use, although I believe it would be very powerful to have that additional unity. In the end, however, what matters most is not how we pray but that we pray and that we influence others to pray in whatever form their souls are ready for. While we do this, we must also make sure to steep our lives in the sacraments, receiving Holy Communion and going to confession often so that we have the graces we need to be the effective intercessors God wants to make us.
Jesus promised, "If two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven" (Mt 18:19). The supporters of Planned Parenthood trust in the promise Obama made to them. How much more we should trust in the promise Jesus made to us and pray with complete confidence for the healing and salvation of His beloved son, our new president.
Here are the prayers that I mentioned.
Marian Tascio is a freelance writer who lives in Yonkers, N.Y.