Today is the Day for Life in England and Wales, the Church's annual celebration of the sacredness of human life, instigated by Pope John Paul II to celebrate the sanctity of human life from its very beginning to its natural end.
According to the leaflet we were given at Mass this morning, "Its primary purpose is to foster in individual consciences, in families, in the Church and in civil society a recognition of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition."
The theme for this year's Day for Life is "Blessed is the fruit of your womb", as we remember that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act in the UK.
We are also reminded today that the Catholic Church is a pro-life Church: "For us, being pro-life is not an optional extra - it is at the heart of what we believe. 'We believe in one God ... maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen'."
We are invited today to pray the following prayer:
We thank you, Lord, for the gift of life.
Every human life is your gift to the world.
Each person is unique,
with a task you have entrusted to them alone.
Help us always to promote the basic rights of all,
and to recognise that
we are all parts of one body,
dependent on one another,
and called to share a common life.