Sanctity of Life Sunday falls two days after the annual March for Life, which is set to take place on Friday, January 19, 2024. This date marks the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the United States of America. The March will include the participation of members from the Holy Synod of Bishops, representatives from the stavropegial seminaries, and other Orthodox Christians from around the country.
The Orthodox gathering for the March for Life will begin by assembling at the National Mall at 11:30am where the March for Life Rally will begin at Noon. His Beatitude will lead the other Orthodox hierarchs and faithful in a Service of Supplication for an End to Abortion. The March to the Supreme Court is from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM.
The Friday events will conclude with a concert of the Archdiocesan Choir of Washington, DC, at 7:30pm, Sts. Peter & Paul Church in Potomac, MD.
You are invited to join His Beatitude and other Orthodox faithful from across the nation in commemorating the victims of abortion and to stand in witness to the sanctity of life.
More information, location addresses, and a full schedule of events can be found at the Orthodox Christians for Life website.
To the Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
My Beloved Children in the Lord,
As we mark Sanctity of Life Sunday this year, there will be much discussion of the “right to life.” Of course, we Orthodox Christians believe that certain rights, the right to life among them, should be respected, enshrined in law, and protected by civil authority. But human life is something even more precious than a mere right: it is a divine gift.
“Lo, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward,” as the Psalmist says (Ps. 126:3). We are called to recognize every human life, from conception to natural death, as a gift of the Lord. This means protecting the unborn, but in a broader sense this means helping our broken society and broken world to view our fellow human beings not as mere mouths to feed or potential threats or problems to be solved or subjects to be controlled, but as blessings from above. The unborn are a blessing; children are a blessing; the elderly are a blessing; the difficult people in our lives are a blessing; even our enemies—perhaps especially our enemies—are a blessing.
Moreover, we speak of the sanctity of life for two reasons: because life comes from the Lord, and because it should be offered back to the Lord through service to him and to others, resulting in sanctity. If we understand that we are merely servants, doing as we have been bidden (Lk. 17:10), and if we recognize that the greatest and holiest is the one who became a servant of all through his Incarnation, his ministry, and his Passion and Rising (Mt. 23:11), then we are in the best position of all to treat each human being as a blessing, not in an abstract sense, but in the sense of someone whom we are privileged to serve.
Living in this way, we also better understand our own life as a blessing, a blessing because it is an opportunity to attain to holiness. If we truly live according to our belief in the profound sanctity of life, then we will naturally “commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God,” sending up thanksgiving and blessing his holy Name on account of the incalculably precious gift of human life and for every man who comes into the world (Jn. 1:9).
On this Sanctity of Life Sunday, we pray that all people of North America and throughout the world would come to recognize the good and perfect gift (Jam. 1:17) that is human life and learn to cherish that gift and render glory unto the Giver, the benevolent Creator of all things, one God in Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, unto the never-ending ages.
Yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada