|From the icon-blessing ceremony|
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Dramatic Call from Czestochowa
This icon will embark on a pro-life pilgrimage from “ocean to ocean" from Vladivostok to Fatima.
"We stand before you, Mother of Our Redeemer, fully aware that alone we are unable to win this global struggle. Stand at the forefront of the defense of pro-life movements and lead us. Protect life! Save the family! Strengthen us!”
On Saturday, January 28 in the Jasna Gora monastery leaders of the pro-life movements of 16 European and Asian countries: Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, UK, USA and Poland came together. They made an "Act of Trust and Consecration" to the Black Madonna icon of Jasna Gora placing into Our Lady’s hands the protection of life and the civilization of love. Fr. Peter West, Vice President for Missions of Human Life International (HLI), the largest international pro-life organization, read the text in English. Galina Maslennikova, Head of the Family Center at the Catholic Cathedral in Moscow, read the act of Trust and Consecration in Russian. Ewa Kowalewska, representing the Club of Friends of Human Life and HLI-Poland presented the text in Polish.
This solemn celebration in the icon chapel of Jasna Gora was led by Czestochowa Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak along with two other bishops and numerous Polish and foreign priests. Also present were Orthodox priests from Ukraine and Belarus and the pro-life leaders from these countries.
During the ceremony, Archbishop Nowak blessed a copy of the icon of Czestochowa. According to an ancient tradition of the Pauline Fathers, the copy was touched to the original which the Orthodox Church also recognizes as a significant gesture. Archbishop Nowak called it the “kiss of love.” During the evening televised and radio transmitted “Jasna Gora Appeal” Fr Isidore Matuszewski, prior of the monastery, turned to the Orthodox priests present and welcomed them in the Russian language. They will be entrusted with the copy of the icon as it travels through Russia and the East.
This icon was made using traditional egg tempera and mineral pigments and 23 carat gold on wood of the same size as the original.
The celebrations at Jasna Gora were preceded by a pro-life leaders' meeting consisting mainly of HLI representatives from different countries.They discussed the planning of this ocean to ocean pilgrimage. Fr. Zacharias Jablonski explained the tradition sending icons on pilgrimages and even on the frontlines of battles, with a request to God for help, where there is the greatest threat to life. He spoke about the Polish experience of pilgrim icons of Our Lady of Czestochowa and its fruits.
Dr. Igor Beloborodov of Russia shared the experience of organizing car rallies for life in Russia and Ukraine. He also pointed out the real possibility of an icon pilgrimage from the Far East of Russia, through Central/Eastern Europe and on to Fatima-from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
An organizing committee was formed with representatives of 16 countries including Orthodox movements. Each member of the international committee will create a national committee responsible for the national pilgrimage of the icon. The exact timing and route of the pilgrimage will be determined by the Orthodox movements from Moscow.
"The number of victims already exceeds two billion human beings. Each day an additional 50 thousand children die in their mother’s womb. Many people do not want to have any children at all. Means of destroying fertility and life are becoming more and more common.”
“Infertility of married couples is increasing. The human child is a becoming a product of modern technology, a donor cells and organs.
Children ‘are produced’ with designated attributes, subject to selection. Hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos are preserved between life and death in liquid nitrogen.”
“International man-made law denies legal protection for the life of the unborn child. More and more countries are legalizing euthanasia.
There is a growing attack on marriage and family." (from the act Trust and Consecration)
Defenders of human life take note of these dramatic facts and are convinced that with God's help, through the intercession of the Mother of God, the civilization of life shall prevail. They declare that; "every effort will be made to defend human life, especially the lives of the smallest and most vulnerable.” This new icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa will now begin to create its own history. On Sunday, January 29 it travels to Minsk, Belarus on her way to the East.
Ewa Kowalewska- Club of Friends of Human Life - Human Life International
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