The U.S. bishops are inviting the faithful to participate in nine days of prayer, fasting and pilgrimage surrounding the 41st anniversary of legalized abortion throughout the nation.

"We're all called to pray for the cause of life," said Deirdre McQuade, assistant director of policy and communication for the U.S. Bishops'  Pro-Life Secretariat.

"It's a beautiful effort," she told CNA, stressing that "those sacrifices and prayers make a difference" in building a culture of life and changing hearts.

This is the second year that the bishops have held a 9 Days for Life campaign. The initiative runs from Jan. 18-26 and will overlap with the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that mandated legal abortion throughout the U.S. in 1973.

All people – regardless of whether they are able to attend the March for Life – are welcome to participate in a nine-day novena for life through their prayers and sacrifices, McQuade explained.

The bishops' conference has set up an online platform,, which includes email and text alerts as well as a phone application. The social media hashtag #9daysforlife is being promoted during the campaign.

Dioceses across the country will also host events such as Masses and Holy Hours for those affected by abortion, as well as for pilgrims attending pro-life demonstrations.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee, encouraged participation in the novena in a Jan. 16 statement.

He observed that modern American society "relegates abortion to a matter of personal choice, often denying the integrity and even the recognition of the personhood of unborn children."

This tendency, he said, is reflected in the 55 million abortions performed in the past 40 years and demonstrates what Pope Francis calls a "throwaway culture."

"However, we have great trust in God's providence," the cardinal reflected.

"By our participation in these 9 Days for Life, as we call upon the Lord for the healing and conversion of our nation and those impacted by the culture of death, we are also reminded – through the very act of prayer – of our beautiful dependence on God and His deep love for each of us," he said.