Day 9: Thank you to Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene, Holy Angels Catholic Church (Hayes), St. Bernadette Catholic Church (Monroeville), and all other prayer volunteers!

40 Days for Life

 

 

The banquet hall was filled. To speak for the occasion, a renowned orator had been brought in. After a wonderful meal, he mesmerized the crowd with his voice as he recited poetry and famous selections of speeches.

Near the end of the program, he asked if anyone had a favorite selection that they would like for him to recite. From the back of the room, an old man stood up and kindly asked if he would mind reciting the 23rd Psalm. The speaker said that he would be glad to do it if, when he was finished, the old man would recite it as well. The old gentleman nodded his head and sat back down.

In a beautifully trained voice that resonated throughout the great room, the speaker began, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…” When he was finished, there was thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

He then looked at the old man and said, “All right sir, it is your turn now.”
In a trembling voice that was cracked by time, the old man began to recite, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” It is said that when he was finished, there was no applause, but neither was there a dry eye in the building.

After the event, someone asked the famous speaker what he thought produced the different responses in the crowd. The speaker paused, thought for a moment and said, “I know the psalm, but that man knows the Shepherd.”

 

Friends, many of you have heard this story before, and it may be a true story or not.  That is of little consequence.  The importance of the story is this:  Knowing the Shepherd has meaning.  It MATTERS.  Our relationship with the Lord is what shapes our whole existence.

 

 

Today’s Responsorial Psalm helps us to meditate upon the Lord as our Shepherd:

 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

Psalm 23:1-4

 

 

 

Do you know anyone who thinks a woman has the “right” to choose an abortion?  Of course you do.  A question to consider… how would this psalm sound from a pro-abortion perspective?

 

The LORD is the slaughterer; I shall not want.
In dark abortion facilities he gives me repose;
Beside anxious family members he leads me;
he confuses my soul.

Even though I walk in the sunny life of denial,
I fear no labor and delivery; for you are at my side
With your forceps and your curette
that give my baby death.

 

 

NOW…. which of these sounds like the Good Shepherd that I know– that YOU know?  Honestly, I don’t believe that even the most pro-abortion advocate would consider this second version acceptable.  We KNOW in our heart of hearts that this is not Our God.  Our God is one who wants us to have life…. security…. peace…. mercy.  He is NOT a God of death.  That realm belongs to the enemy.

May we hold up the TRUTH to the abortion-bound men and women seeking what they THINK they want at Planned Parenthood.  May we hold up this truth also to the passersby.  Not by making a spectacle of ourselves… but by being ambassadors of the One who speaks with His still, small voice in the hearts of His beloved children.

 

Shift Manager Reports

 

Nikki:

It was a privilege to pray in the pouring rain this morning with my dear partner Peggy.  Seeing our wonderful Diane setting up all of our materials in the pouring rain (she was drenched by the time she left to go to work), I was so inspired at her dedication. The rain and the wind never let up, but it just felt like our prayers and our presence had more impact and more meaning in weather such as this.  It becomes clear to me and to those who see us, I think, just how urgent the problem of abortion is, that it warrants such extreme measures. I am probably sounding overly dramatic here; it’s not like I was arrested or went to jail or was martyred. I simply stood in the soaking rain for two hours.  Not really that big of a deal. But, it was a small offering that I was grateful to be able to give to God. And I’m very grateful for those who came today as well. At 9 o’clock the ladies from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene arrived to carry-on the vigil from 9 to 11, led by their faithful  leader and Shift Manager, Judy.  I left the vigil in her capable hands and am looking forward to drying out and warming up. God bless and protect our 40 Days for Life here in Pittsburgh and around the world!

Nikki 

 

Peggy praying in the rain. A somber yet beautiful photo by Nikki.

 

Thank you to Shift Manager Judy (the only one with NO umbrella!), and to her three friends from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene. And thank you to Meredith, (on the right, next to Judy)! Always good to have you with us!

 

Thank you to Valerie (L), a first-timer! And thank you again, Amy from Lincoln Place!!

 

Nikki called these little baby models “pitiful” as they are now caged in…. What a crazy world, where people would steal such things….

 

 

Lisa K.:

I am so thankful for my prayer partners today.  I had three dear ones!!  Thank you to Deacon Dan from Holy Angels, who was MORE than prepared to lead us in prayer, as well as being so kind and generous.  Thank you also to Denise and Philene!!  We made a good team, all!!  Thank you!  

Thank you to Deacon Dan, Denise, and Philene!!

 

Helen:

Thank you to Sheila for her presence and her photos. Gerri welcomed the young man who said, “I’m a Christian. I’ll pray with you.” St. Bernadette’s presence was from 3:00 to 5:00, and at 5:00 two more St. Bernadette faithful arrived. One of the ladies very innocently walked into the “forbidden zone,” and the security guard was at the door in a flash. A woman headed for the “bus line” laughed and called the guard’s move “ridiculous.” She said if she were part of the vigil she would deliberately cross the lines.

By 3:00 the rain ended, but the chill remained. Everything was damp, including our sign-up sheet and penpoints.
A family of various ages stopped to take pictures of the Liberty Avenue panorama.
I asked the mom if they were visitors. She responded, “No English.” They were from France. I welcomed them to Pittsburgh and pointed out the August Wilson Center and the Federal Building. I wonder what they thought about our signs and prayers.

 

Sheila:

A big thank you to Shift Manager Sheila, who filled in for an hour today!  She was with the dear parishioners of St. Bernadette in Monroeville.

Thank you to Gerri, Chris, and Winnie, from St. Bernadette, for coming out in the rainy weather today!!

 

A passerby (L) stopped to talk with Andy (R). Thank you, Andy, for coming to stand with our lone Shift Manager!!

 

Rick:

The Thursday 5-7 PM shift was peaceful and prayerful.  Special thanks to Sheila & Jim for filling in as Shift Managers from 5-6 PM, and to Peg and Ed from St. Bernadette’s in Monroeville, and Mary from Assumption for their prayers and witness for unborn children and pregnant mothers in need.  Thanks also to Diane and Tom for their faithfulness in picking up the posters and signs.

God bless!

Rick

 

 

Just as this baby snuggles in his daddy’s protection,

let us recall and KNOW in our hearts

that the Lord is our Shepherd; there is nothing we shall want.

Day 8…Thanks to the many individual volunteers who covered the vigil hours today!

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”an open letter to those who oppose our sidewalk witness:


Although the primary purpose of our 40 Days for Life blog is to encourage and unite our pro-life community here in Pittsburgh, I feel prompted to direct this post to those who oppose us…and particularly to those who stole our fetal model set from the sidewalk on Monday, and those who attempted to take our large sandwich board sign from the sidewalk on Sunday.  In case you are reading this, I speak to you today:

I realize that you think we are against you.  But we are not.  We are FOR you.  Why?  Because you are made in the image of God, who loves you.  We have no hatred or anger towards you.  Why?  Because we all are imperfect, flawed human beings, just stumbling through this life the best we can. We have fallen short so many times…and yet our loving God forgives us.  And in the Lord’s prayer, which most of us pray every day, we say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  So, unless we want to be hypocritical, we must forgive.

Do the fetal models anger you?  Is it because you think they are not accurate?  That we are using propaganda to try to sway people’s opinion about abortion? If you think that is the case, simply look fetal development up for yourself.  You will see the truth about human development in the womb.

Do the fetal models upset you because they are a visible reminder to you that abortion is not just about the woman’s body, but also involves the body of another?  I understand that you do not think that human fetuses are people.  But try to understand…just as you do NOT believe they are people…we DO believe that they are!  And so, try to put yourself in our shoes for just a moment.  If you truly believed that real, live, human beings were being mercilessly killed at a certain location…day after day…year after year…and everyone else thought it was perfectly acceptable…wouldn’t YOU want to do something to stop it?

I would like to speak to three groups who usually oppose us…perhaps you fall into one of these categories?

  1.  You are a young person.  It is understandable, that, having grown up in a world where it is legal to dispose of a human life for convenience…that you may not have any concept of the unimaginable worth of every individual.  And, I understand that you may never have had the experience of someone loving you sacrificially and unconditionally.  Maybe your parents didn’t stay together, and so no one ever modeled sacrificial love and commitment to you.  Maybe you were never taught that there is a God who loves you and who knows everything about you.  Maybe you have never seen someone who calls themselves a Christian…actually LIVE like a Christian.  Maybe you think we are all hypocrites.  I’m sorry if that is the case. But, just as we seek to understand and empathize with you…I hope you will do the same for us.  We are not perfect.  Some of us are hypocrites sometimes…but most of us try not to be.  Most of us really just empathize and want to do some good.

  2. You have taken part in abortion…either your own or someone else’s If this is the case, I understand how painful it must be to see our signs, and especially the fetal models.  It is a reminder to you of something you would rather forget.  It sears your conscience…which is doing its best to become numb.  Please know that you are not alone.  So many men and women are living lives of quiet desperation, burying their feelings of guilt and shame from abortion…feeling that they do not deserve to grieve their loss.  Or, they are in denial of ever having done anything wrong, and cling to the hope that their abortion was justified.  I understand that seeing people praying on the sidewalk is a painful reminder.  And I am sorry for your pain.  But I also know that you will never know true peace until you make peace with God.  He is eager and anxious for you to turn to Him…(as Sue said in her blog reflection yesterday)…even if you make the slightest effort to turn to Him, He will heartily embrace you and rejoice at your homecoming!  In fact, He wants to give you such a bear-hug that it will squeeze the breath right out of you!  Go to Silent No More to connect with others who have found healing, or consider attending a Rachel’s Vineyard healing retreat.

  3. You came of age during the ’60’s and ’70’s.  If you are a woman from this era, chances are you despised the way women were objectified by men in previous times.  It angered you to see women treated as mere property…limited to a life of service to husband and children, not respected for her individual talents and abilities…only good for cooking, cleaning and having babies.  I can relate.  I too came of age in the 70’s.  I remember the Helen Reddy song, “I am woman, hear me roar”.  I remember the television commercial jingle that went, “I can bring home the bacon…fry it up in a pan…and never, never let you forget you’re a man…“.  We all agree that no woman should be objectified and treated as someone else’s property, isn’t that right?  So the question I have for you is; is it possible that abortion does just that???  After all, when a woman says, “My body, my choice!”…she is making the claim that she OWNS the second body that resides within her womb, and can do with it as she pleases.  I would argue that this is objectifying and subjecting women in the worst possible way.  Not only does it kill tiny, pre-born women, who have no right to life…but it also tricks full-grown women into thinking of their own children as their enemies!  It sets women against their children, and that only hurts us in the long run…it does not help us.  It only weakens us, it does not empower us.

So, this was a long blog reflection, I apologize.  If you oppose us and want to comment, although I cannot allow your comments to be visible to others, you can contact me individually, and I welcome the opportunity to dialogue with anyone of good will.  You can email me at nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com.


And, to our 40 Days for Life community, another set of fetal models has been ordered.  PCUC could use help paying for this unexpected expense.  The cost of the models is $219.00.  If anyone feels led to donate a part of this cost, it would be greatly appreciated!  Checks should be made payable to People Concerned for the Unborn Child, and mailed to: PCUC, 3050 Pioneer Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15226.

Now, for the vigil reports from the sidewalk today…

Kathy was our shift manager sub this morning from 7-9am and writes:

Thank you to Dianne and Peggy for their early arrival to set  the vigil materials in place.  And thank you to our participants, Peggy, Evangelist Bill L,, Therese, and Bill H for stopping by.  Most of our time was spent in silent prayer today.  One male passerby commented that he “would rather adopt a child than be out here.”  I hope he follows through on that.  God uses people in different ways.

Bill, Therese and Peg were the early morning prayer witnesses today!

Cathy managed the vigil from 9-11:

God always provides!  Thinking that it would just be a Knight (Bill) and myself for the shift, we were blessed with Therese from St. Barbara, and four ladies from three South Hills parishes, Barbara, Gwen, Molly and Colleen!  We prayed, alone and together, passed out baby feet and resource cards.  One of the ladies spoke with a man who walked by saying some people need abortion.  She had a calm discussion with him for a few minutes down the street.  At least gave him something to think about.  The same woman went up to a young woman who came out of the clinic.  She was seeking BC, had just moved to town for a new job.  She didn’t get it today, but G. directed her to her doctor, not to come back to PP.  I spoke with a middle aged woman who, as passing by said  she didn’t believe in abortion either.  She kept walking then stopped and said “Unless – it was incest.”  I told her that yes, rape and incest were terrible experiences, but having an abortion does not erase them, only punishes the baby for the sin of his/her father. Again, something to think about.  Later, another woman said she had been raped – one of the SH ladies talked with her for a few minutes.  The woman asked her what she would have done if she had been raped and she told her that she would have had the baby and possibly put the child for adoption.

Hank held the fort from 11-1 and writes:

It was a relatively quite day, comfortable weather with a short period of rain. No abortions today, so little traffic at PP mostly workers in and out.  We had a good group of prayer warriors. My wife Judy and I were joined by Bob and Jim who came down from St.Mary’s Kittaning and Ken, also from St.Mary’s, took time off work to join us.  Also, Joan (side walk advocate) came over on her lunch hour and Bill joined us for the last half hour.  We greeted many by passers most of whom returned our greetings with supportive comments.  Judy enlisted several individuals passing by to pray to end this scourge.  We all prayed petitioning the Lord to bring an end to abortion in our land.

 

Bob, Ken and Jim came from Kittanning to witness and pray!
Judy and Bill

Chris managed the vigil from 1-3 and was thankful someone answered the call to stand with him:

The Lord smiled down on us and provided another unseasonably warm day to pray and witness on the sidewalk outside PP.  Arleen of St. Maurice Parish answered Nikki’s call to join me so I wouldn’t be alone during my shift.  Thank you, Arleen!.   Talking and praying with you made the time fly by until Barbara and Richard relieved me.  Several “God Bless You for being here” comments made our day.  There was only one negative comment, “You’re wasting your time.”  I don’t think so!  There was minimal traffic in and out of PP.

Thanks to Arleen from St. Maurice in Forest Hills for coming to make sure shift manager Chris didn’t have to stand alone!

Barbara and Richard report from the 3-5 shift:

Joe, Knight of Columbus from St. Bernadette Parish, Monroeville, joined Richard and me today.  Crispy chill, misty drizzle, choruses of bus traffic…it felt good to be back.  After our few years on Liberty Avenue, we are accustomed to the crowd response.

One late teen girl walked by Richard and gave him the finger salute with both her hands.  One young man walked by me, then turned around and came back to shake hands saying, “Thank you for being here.”

Offering ourselves for face to face contact in the abortion war in America is never boring.  It is sad to note how many middle teens look at us with disgust.  We know that God hears and answers our prayers.  Together we prayed a Scriptural Rosary, Glorious Mysteries.

Shift manager Richard, with K of C Joe, who answered the call to make sure shift managers aren’t alone! Thanks Joe!
Our new sandwich board sign makes an impact…thanks Diane!

Joe K. was the shift manager from 5-7:

Entered my shift greeted by ever-joyous Richard and Barbara along with Joe B. from St. Bernadette’s and Knights of Columbus 4925.  Joe’s been to several shifts recently to ensure that no-one “vigils” alone.  Joe & I prayed and shared as the sounds of the city at rush hour seemed to disappear quickly into the early evening.  Encountered minimal comments / gestures passerby’s, though one young woman flung an extra long cigarette over my mane…

The shift seemed to end quickly and quietly and I was honored to spend it witnessing with a brother Knight.

Vivat Jesus (Jesus Lives!)

Knight of Columbus volunteer, Joe, has been a faithful shift manager guardian! Thanks Joe!

P.S.     The picture of Joe that is  included with the shift report struck me  very powerfully – not at the time it was taken, but not until I actually looked at it before I included it in the report..  If you look to the right of Joe it captures a portion of the window sign at 933 Liberty Ave. with an individual in thought and just   enough of the top of the caption that reads “What if”, but clips off right there.  “What if…” a question pondered by many of us, from many  different perspectives – outside, inside, and for those exiting 933…

 

 

Day 7: St. Peter Catholic Church (Steubenville OH); St. Joseph Church (Cabot); K of C (St. Margaret of Scotland & SS. Simon and Jude)

IMPOSSIBLE.

With a little help, a little support,  maybe a woman can come to see her situation a little differently….help her see her situation go from

Impossible to I’m possible.

I was struck by a refrain I heard at church this past weekend:

Turn to God and He will turn to YOU in Delight            

It made me think how, if we make the slightest movement towards God, He recognizes that and turns fully around with a huge smile on His face, thrilled that we are seeking Him in the slightest way! I feel that way about the people entering PP…we just want them to make a slight movement towards any of the 40 Days for Life witnesses on the sidewalk…and We will be delighted….to talk, to empathize and to offer practical help!

1-800-712 HELP

We would love to be given the chance to help someone go from IMPOSSIBLE to I’m Possible

to her BABY is possible, a possibility and a promise! It just takes a slight movement towards LIFE!

heart-951873__340

The play on words reminded me of a song from my childhood, but I could only remember the first 3 lines, so I looked up the lyrics:

I am a promise, I am a possibility
I am a promise with a capital “P”
I can be anything, anything God wants me to be

You are a promise, You are a possibility
You are a promise with a capital “P”
You are a great big bundle of potentiality
And if you’ll listen, you’ll hear God’s voice
And if you’re trying, He’ll help you make the right choices
You’re a promise to be anything He wants you to be

You can go anywhere that He wants you to go
You can be anything that He wants you to be
You can climb the high mountain
You can cross the wide sea
You’re a great big promise you see

I am a promise, I am a possibility
I am a promise with a capital “P”
I am a great big bundle of potentiality
And I am learning to hear God’s voice
And I am trying to make the right choices
I’m a promise to be anything God wants me to be

So keep on listening, you’ll hear God’s voice
And keep on trying, He’ll help you make the right choices
You’re a promise to be anything He wants you to be
I’m a promise to be anything God wants me to be
You’re a promise to be anything He wants you to be

Words & Music : Bill & Gloria Gaither

7-9: David

The Grace of God was in abundance this morning because, prayer warriors Tracy, Beth, and Shawn from St Peter Catholic Church in Steubenville, Ohio were with me. Their church has had perpetual adoration since April 1997 !!!

Tracy, Beth and Shawn
Sally and Al

Al and Sally were here for an hour. Bill stopped by. Sidewalk advocate Jackie was here. Susan was here. Vickie was here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vicky

A young lady and her brother hesitated at the entrance of pp then, walked on by. They wouldn’t take any information. Vickie and Beth talked to them a while but, they still wouldn’t take any info. At 8:00, the same girl and two others went into pp. One was dropped off from a van. Jackie bravely spoke to her at the door of the van but, she went in. We prayed for them and their babies.
Several men who walked by took some information, two said, in no uncertain terms, they keep their babies! Thank God !

9-11: Beth and Rose

What a wonderful group of 40 Days for Life people at PP today for the 9-11 a.m. shift.  From Steubenville, Tracy, David, Beth and Shawn stood as pray-ers and witnesses for the entire morning.  Coming from Butler, Jacky was there doing a remarkable job of talking the pro-life talk with quite a few people.  And Ed from St. James is now the favorite of Oddie the dog from the Bricolage theater.  Bill H. stopped by and in spite of our tragic circumstances, lots of clients today, we enjoyed each other’s cheerful display of perseverance and enjoyed the almost tropic weather (hope that continues!).  A million thanks Cil and Company who came early so I could catch the bus on time. Laurie came with her great kids also from St. Peters in Steubenville : Aletheia, Augustine, Faith Hope, George and Charity

And….dear 40 Days family, due to the generosity of our members, People Concerned for the Unborn Child has lots of kids clothing, ages newborn to 4 or 5T.  Would you please ask your local pregnancy resource agency, or food bank or church, if they need anything and if you let me know, bsvirbel@hotmail.com  what you need (sizes) and when you’ll be at 40 Days downtown, we’ll have everything ready for you to take back home with you. Thanks from PCUC.

11-1: Cecilia

For my first shift of the campaign I was blessed with beautiful people on a beautiful day!  I’d like to say I brought the nice weather back from Myrtle Beach with me yesterday but the truth is it was colder there than it was here today.  It is good to be back to work trying to save lives and make a difference.

Thank you to my friends Joyce, Barb and Sandi from St Joes and Holy Sep who made the trip to Pittsburgh with me.  We dropped off church donations to the Catholic Charities Welcome Center before arriving.  They got right to “work” praying the Rosary:

Beth was surrounded by a nice group of people.  The “S.” children were there for a short while but could not stay because their Mom was struggling to find a place to park their large van.  Even their short stay had to make an impact.  They will try again another day.  From Beth’s shift, I got a picture of David (St Marys), Tracy, Shawn & Beth (St Peters), Ed (St James) and Suzanne (Bellefield EPC) I think!:

It was nice to meet Beth from St. Alexis who comes often to the vigil.  She lifted up many prayers on “the other side” during my shift.  Here she is with Joe:

Joe arrive early with a big smile and hug for us.  We stayed with him until Pat arrived to keep him company.  Unfortunately Nikki is still sick and could not make it.  Here they are:

Here are some of the ways we made a difference today:

Prayed 3 Rosaries and 2 Divine MerciesGave out 5 Rosaries, 1 Feet Pin, granola bars and literature

Directed 3 people “in need”… to Catholic Charities, etc…

Gave a Resource card to a girl going in with her Mom and then spoke with her Mom when she came out later to smoke.  Unfortunately the Mom said it was her daughter’s choice to make and told us to leave her alone.  We prayed that she would choose life.

Gave Chastity info to two young single girls who work at a local hospital.  They said they weren’t pregnant “yet” when I gave them the Resource card so I thought the Chastity info would be helpful.  They seemed glad to receive it.

Listened to a lady and her daughter who were from Africa and were shocked that abortion is allowed in our country.

Spoke with a young man just out of college.  He is Catholic, attended LaRoche for undergrad and Duquesne for his Masters degree.  Yet he supports abortion in some cases and campaigned for Hillary.  He gave the usual comments about life of the mother and overpopulation.  Thankfully I had flyers to give him on that.  Also he questioned if we adopted children or supported women who do choose life for their child.  We were glad to be able to share examples of the good that we do to help those in need and tell of friends that have adopted.  I hope he left thinking better of us.  We REALLY need to change public perception.  My son who is a freshman in college told me the same thing over the weekend…people think we are there to “shame” yet not “help”.

Not only are we there to help others but sometimes someone comes by and helps us.  Today I was blessed by a man maybe my age who was walking by with a friend.  They were well dressed and my guess heading back to the Convention Center.  This man stepped back to me, reached out, put his hand on my left shoulder and prayed over me for some time.  It was the greatest experience I must say and brought me to tears that he would take time to do that.  Thank you Lord Jesus for giving us strength for our journey!

1-3: Nikki

(Joe took Nikki’s shift): When I was a child, I always had thoughts of a child.  I remember the nuns telling us about the passion of Jesus, how he was tied to the posts and whipped with metal on the end of the whips.  I remember how they told us that they brought him up the mountain to nail him to the cross.  In my mind, I imagined myself going in and rescuing Jesus, so he wouldn’t have to die.  Now, here I am , 65 years old, sitting in front of the abortion clinic in downtown Pittsburgh, looking up at that 5 story building on an abortion day.  I am thinking like a child again.  In my mind, I see the abortionist aborting the babies, and I see the angels catching them, and they have wings…taking them up to heaven.

Those are just some of the thoughts that I had while I was sitting in front of the clinic.  But then a woman caught my eye, she was standing on the side of the building, in distress.  Some of the others told me that her daughter was in there having an abortion. That place is just filled with anger, hatred, sadness and grief.  That woman outside was feeling it all.  I went up to her, and I explained to her that I was with the 40 days for life, and could I do anything to help her, but she told me to get away from her, so I did.  I walked away and I felt sorry for her, that she was in such pain.

I saw Patty on the other end of the circle, she was crying as she was praying, and I felt her pain.  Many people walked by.  Some took pamphlets, most of them saying they were with us.  Some said they were against us.  But this one young man walked by, in a jovial mood, and he was saying “they shouldn’t be killing those kids up there”, kind of making a spectacle of himself, as he passed through the circle.  I told Patty that he is on our side.  She smiled.

It was a beautiful day outside, sunshine, and warm weather.  I would like to share it with everyone.

God bless,

Joe

3-5: Michael

What a beautiful day!  Almost 80 degrees and sunny. Didn’t the groundhog see his shadow?  I thought I may be alone, but instead I was pleasantly surprised by so many awesome people. Three wonderful ladies came from Immaculate Conception Parish in Washington, PA: Pat, Cecilia and Renee and they met their friend Bernadette from Cranberry. They are members of the Immaculate Secular Franciscans. We were also joined by Jim from Chippewa, Beaver County. Nothing negative to report. These people are so tremendous and humbly carry their torches for the unborn and their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  They are truly an inspiration to me and I am certain to many others.

5-7: Lisa

What a day with the unusual, beautiful weather tonight. My ever faithful pal, Johanna had arrived early to stand with Mike. Jim answered the call to be with Mike and stayed for an additional hour with us. Jim and Fran, Knights of Columbus of the Greentree Council #12355 arrived and we had a very prayerful two hours.
We engaged in a short, respectful conversation with a young woman and I believe we may have changed a heart as she stated, “I never thought about it like that”!

Jim, Fran, Jim and Johanna

Day 6: Reformed Presbyterian Church of the North Hills

“Here I am, Lord…”

Here Word Press versionThis is one of my favorite songs. It truly speaks to my heart.  Maybe many of you hear it the same way and can relate to it. Specifically the line “I have heard you calling in the night… I will go Lord, if you lead me…” Do the ears of your heart tell you that God is talking to you when you hear it?  Or how about the line “Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?” Well it did for me, despite me trying to ignore it for awhile.

Give the song a read, if you know the tune, sing it. And if you feel that twinge in your heart and want to say “Here I am Lord” well, consider adding more time to your commitment to pray to end abortion, fast and almsgiving (which can be giving your time to witnessing at the 40 DFL vigil).  OK, that was the “ASK”. We could use help this Wednesday on EMPTY HOURS from 11-12 ;  1-3  and from 3-4

We are thankful today that prayer warriors from the Reformed Presbyterian Church of the North Hills who heard the call and signed up to witness at the vigil along with many individual prayer warriors.

Today we will have pics and stories “from the street” from these dedicated shift managers, so stop back throughout the day:

7-9: Sue D.:

“I was joined this morning by Rose, who I met during the fall campaign, Vicky 

Derrick, Paul and Charles
Derrick, Paul and Charles

who came to pray for a
couple minutes before work and the men of North Hills Reformed Presbyterian Church. We were blessed with warm weather, no wind and only a slight drizzle in the last 15 minutes! The street was kinda quiet today, I guess because of the President’s Day Holiday. PP was

Rose and Bill
Rose and Bill

open and quite a few employees went in. Rose handed out a lot of literature and had to come back to the bin 3-4 times to get more! Me and “the guys” also handed out a lot of resource cards and Precious feet pins on our side too! ” Sue

9-11: Billy L.

“My shift was 9 am to 11 am with the North Hills Presbyterian Reformed Church. I stood out with a David, Charles, a Phoebe and their little ones, Miriam, Micaiah, and baby Esther, along with a Vita and a Charity and her children.

Thanks for all the assistance from the North Hills Reformed Presbyterian church
Thanks for all the assistance from the North Hills Reformed Presbyterian church

It was so wonderful to have this many volunteers standing out in the rain. It was pretty clear not much went on today the traffic of passersbies was kind of empty and we sang Psalm 146 to the tune of What A Friend We Have in Jesus.” Billy

11-1: Ginny D.:

“Five of my grandkids prayed with me today at PP. It was very wet. They did a lot of offering up for the babies.
Some of them , it was their first time.
IMG_1825They had loads of questions. I do believe they will become lifetime pro-lifers. They prayed two rosaries and two Devine Mercy Chaplets. A lady from Steubenville Ohio was there with her son to pray with us.”   Ginny

NOTE from Tim: “Ginny thank you for hearing the call and sharing it with your family. God bless you all.”

From Beth S. 1-3:

“When we arrived this afternoon, Ginny was there, soggy and leading her five beautiful grand kids in the pro-life cause. They made it through torrential downpours as did Anthony and Maggie V. from Greensburg. As we signed in, Maggie was helping a young man, struggling with a girlfriend’s past abortion. He took all the literature that Maggie gave him and after praying with him, he said he was going to try Rachel’s Vineyard. Hopefully, one more heart healed. Good work< Maggie.
Got thumb’s-up from a bus driver, a Muslim woman stopped to remind us that her religion condemns abortion, two women, one 18 weeks and one 19 weeks pregnant, took our yellow help cards, just in case.
And by this time Bill H. and Bill D. both came by and the rain stopped and the sun came out. Shift manager, Francis arrived and Bill D. said he would stay awhile and keep him company. Many all our shifts have the Son shine on them as He did on us today.” Beth

From Francis 3-5:

“Roselee is coming down with something. So I took the reigns. It was a lonely shift. Gave me private time to think and pray. Thank you for putting this event together. Compared to you and so many others, I do very little. In any event, it’s my gift to our Lord each lent.
I Spoke with one lady for about 20 minutes. She has four children and is due in June with her fifth. Highlight of my otherwise lonely shift.” Francis

DAY 5: THANK YOU! SAINT REGIS; SAINT COLMAN, TURTLE CREEK; INDIVIDUAL PRAYER VOLUNTEERS

BABY LOVE

blog1sjp, caroline

blog1s jp, joe

BROTHER, SISTER, BROTHER STORY

New baby brother is resting in his sister’s lap.  His brother takes his turn.  Their mother had been strongly advised to “terminate the pregnancy”… that is to say, their little brother. Sharing these pictures with me, she said, “I’m always available to share my experience with anyone who wants to hear.  Life is something given and taken by God.  We are not intended to interfere, at any point.”

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TOMMY’S STORY

Dad, all his grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles were gathered about, quietly talking in the warm sunny room.  Mom sat in the chair by the window quietly holding him.  He was wrapped in the blue and white blanket Granny knit for him.

“Tommy” had just come home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He was sleeping.  Everyone knew their little boy was expected to live only a few more days.  They chose to bring him home.

At home they could dress comfortably, receive visitors and rest.  Together they loved Tommy, treasuring this interlude with all their strength.

I was a nurse on their hospice team.

A few days later, Tommy died.  My team mate, “Jeannie,” was much more experienced in hospice care.  She and I made this visit together.

Mom asked me to put a new outfit on her little son.  She stayed with me as I washed his face and hands.  She put lotion on his arms and legs.  I dressed him and wrapped him in his little blanket.  Tommy’s Mother went back to the chair by the window and sat down, keeping him in her arms.

Jeannie called the funeral director and gave him specific instructions.

“When you get here, take your time.  Let the family help the mother hand you her baby.  This will be agony for her.  Leave the baby face uncovered, unless the family requests otherwise.  Carry the baby gently in your arms when you take him from the house.”

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THE TWINS’ STORY

Elvira Parravicini, M.D., wrote “Aspects of Beauty: The Medical Care of Terminally Ill Newborns.” During med school, I decided to become a neonatologist.  I had been participating in the meetings for prenatal diagnosis in my hospital.  I stopped going to these meetings. It was just too painful.  The proposal was always for termination of pregnancy.  There was no space for me as neonatologist.  I believe that any medical condition can be treated, whether the estimated length of life is ninety years or seven minutes.

One day, I did go to the meeting.

The doctor presented the cases of two women expecting babies with a life-limiting condition. These women did not want to terminate. Who is going to take care of these babies?  I raised my hand and said, “We can do comfort care.”

Comfort care is not a matter of trying to be kind to the patient, and not doing anything medical because there is nothing we can do. Because there is no recovery possible, the patient’s comfort becomes the main goal of treatment.   Comfort care is a medical and a nursing treatment. To be comfortable a newborn baby needs to be welcomed, clean and warm.  The baby should not be thirsty, hungry or in pain.

“Kangaroo care” is a good example of comfort care.  These babies get cold easily. In an incubator, the baby cannot be close to parents.   Kangaroo care is skin-to-skin contact. Mom and Dad alternately hold baby on their chest. Family can visit.  Spending time together the family celebrates the joy of having their baby close.

BABY SIAMESE TWINS

The teenaged parents had tattoos and piercing.  Many staff suggested that they should “terminate the pregnancy.” They refused. “These are our babies.”

The babies shared a single heart with severe anomalies. They had to be delivered prematurely because Mom had high blood pressure.

I felt sad in the delivery room.  People were saying that this Mom was crazy to bring the babies to term. “She is going to get a cesarean section. This wound will mark all her life.  She will possibly have problems having other children.” Some young physicians in training were ready with their cameras to take pictures of the “rare case.”

Finally, here they are! The two beautiful little girls were embracing each other because they had been united by their chest their entire life.

The Father asked me if he could hold them. “Of course,” I said. The babies were just gasping a little bit.  Their heart was beating very slowly.  Their Father kept reassuring his children.  “Don’t worry. Daddy is here!”

I wondered, “Who knows what grades this teenager gets at school?  He is a great Father!”

The atmosphere in the delivery room had completely changed. I saw tears.  People were embracing this young Father.  The cameras were no longer around. The people were the same, but completely changed.

http://humanumreview.com/articles/aspects-of-beauty-the-medical-care-of-terminally-ill-newborns

Edited for space

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Today, the little brother  is 2 years old and keeping his family busy as “he gets into everything.”

The story of the other two families ends differently.

During their short time, the other three babies were surrounded by family, cherished, held, warmed, cuddled, breathed on, smiled at, kissed, hugged, loved … and loved some more.

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The dying of the frail babies targeted for termination and the anguish of their parents progresses quite  differently.  Abortion tears a ghastly hole through which a terrible darkness enters the human heart. It bloodies the baby body.  It bloodies the hands of everyone who consents.

God continues to love each and every person guilty of this horror. Fear not little flock.  Run to your Father. Tell him about your sin and your anguish. Repent.  Run to safety…to the open loving arms of your Father. He knows what to do.

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 * NOTES FROM THE SIDEWALK *

PAT 7-9 SHIFT MANAGER

I question my sanity on only two mornings each winter.  The first is when I wake up and realize that it’s the day of the March for Life.  It then hits me that I’m about to face 10 hours in a bus and lots of time outdoors in potentially cold weather in a sea of people.  The second is when I wake up and remember that I’ve agreed to take the 7-9 AM 40 DFL shift on a cold Sunday morning.  Yet shortly after that realization hit me this morning, I started to reflect on what Nikki wrote in her blog on Wednesday.  And it helped.  Basically she said that we don’t do what we do because we love doing it.  In fact, we’d rather be almost anywhere else.  But we do do it because of love.

Today my parish, St. Regis in Trafford, did our part by taking the first of two 2-hour shifts this campaign.  And my fears that I might be alone (which I have each time) were put to rest when Rose from the North Hills arrived early.  She was followed by my most faithful couple from St. Regis, Yolanda and Albert, who is a brother Knight of Columbus.  Then Bill, the Grand Knight for our council, arrived and took his maiden voyage out in front of PP.  Shortly after that, we were joined by one of the best prayers 40 DFL has, Vince, also from the North Hills.  [Sorry Rose and Vince, but I forgot your respective parishes.]  All stayed for the entire two hours as we alternated praying with good conversation.

Bill, Rose, Vince
Bill, Rose, Vince

 

Bill, Rose, Albert and Yolanda
Bill, Rose, Albert and Yolanda

__________________________________

SUE 9-11 SHIFT MANAGER

My first shift of the vigil was a peaceful blessing.  As we prayed, Arlene, Bill, Lisa, and I experienced no negative reactions to our sidewalk presence and many positive ones. Many families with young children were walking by us; there must have been an event in town today geared to families (auto show?). I wonder how many conversations were initiated in those young families by our presence and signs.  I hope lots of good ones!

Sue, Shift Manager Arlene and Bill St. Colman
Sue, Shift Manager
Arlene and Bill
St. Colman
Arlene and Bill Lise, Shift Manager another day Saint Colman Parish
Arlene and Bill
Lisa, Shift Manager another day
Saint Colman Parish

___________________________________

RICHARD AND ROSEANN 11-1 SHIFT MANAGERS

It was cold!  Two prayer volunteers joined us for about 11/2 hours.  We have been with 40 Days since the beginning.  We are glad.

___________________________________

MAGGIE 1-3 SHIFT MANAGER

We had a couple of oddities.  However, everything came out well.

On a positive note I had 5 amazing prayers with me and we prayed 3 scriptural rosaries! It was a grand time of prayer!

blog1smaggiejoejail

blog1smaggie4

_________________________________

KEN 3-5 SHIFT MANAGER 

I was blessed with plenty of prayer partners at my shift today.

Joe and Kim who prayed on the previous shift with SM Maggie stayed with me well into my first hour. Joe and Karen and their beautiful family from St. Monica Parish responded to the SOS for SM standing alone and prayed with me the entire time.  Joining us was our regular Pat from St. Bernadette’s.  Also Steve and Denise came from St. Joseph’s  and regular Kathy.

There were a few unfriendly remarks or gestures but plenty of hope too. There was a family who stopped for pictures of the fetal models. A young man, Joe came by to say thank you to a SM who answered all his questions in a previous encounter and helped him to see the good in the work that we do at 40 days for life.

Joe and Karen, parents of this lovely family. Saint Monica Parish
Joe and Karen, parents of this lovely family.
Saint Monica Parish

 

Steve and Denise Saint Joseph Parish
Steve and Denise
Saint Joseph Parish

_________________________

JOE 5-7 SHIFT MANAGER

Shared my entire shift with Jim and Cathy from Saint Gregory’s parish in
Zelienople.

It was a peaceful shift with peaceful, virtuous company. 40 days seems
to be filled with these wonderful Christians. I hope and pray those
virtues infiltrate my hardened heart.

All glory and praise be to God.

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AND GOD SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD

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Day 4: Thanks to Guardians for Life and SS John & Paul Parish

LOVE SAVES LIVES

I am one of the lucky ones — one of those folks who was able to travel to Washington, DC to join the 2018 March for Life. For those new to the movement, this yearly demonstration of support for Life challenges a 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing widescale abortion  in our country.  This year (2018) was the 45th occurrence of the January gathering. The theme this year was a beautiful one; LOVE SAVES LIVES. This is was language under which we came together… women and men, young adults, couples and singles, teens, babies in strollers, folks in wheelchairs, and those struggling to complete the 1 mile march for a variety of reasons.  there were all ages, all races, all reasons for being there.

Some of my favorites-- Handmade & heartfelt!
Some of my favorites– Handmade & heartfelt!

The day started with a rally on the National Mall with VIPs on stage showing diversity but union in our endeavor. I was delighted to see and hear a marching band from an all male high school in New Orleans (St. Augustine) playing great music in front of one of the Smithsonian museums – these young men had been on a field trip exploring the underground railroad and their teachers had planned for them to witness for the vulnerable – in this case unborn children- as part of their education in Christ!

I traveled to the 2018 March for Life by car with 3 other women. And lest you think the pro-life movement is homogenous, know this: There were 2 Democrats in the car; Our ages spanned 25 years. One woman was a single mother, another, a naturalized citizen. There were 2 empty nesters, and one woman is actively parenting grade schoolers. 2 of us work full time, one part time, and the other volunteers in the community. For one woman, it was her first trip to the March; another had been over 30 times!  We did not all know each other as we set out for Washington early Friday morning, but like what happens in the faith community on cross-1517094_640the sidewalk at PP, we have became recommitted to work together to end abortion in our country because

THE LOVE OF THE LORD SAVED OUR LIVES!  and…

LOVE SAVED a LIFE at PP TODAY 

SHIFT REPORTS:

7-11 am  Tim and Terri

Early Morning Crew Virginia Dave & Joe take the baton from the Deeleys!
Early Morning Crew Virginia Dave & Joe take the baton from the Diane & Tom

The year round early Saturday morning sidewalk advocates Virginia, Joe and David were in place as the sun rose to help, love and offer options.  Diane and Tom were right on time to drop off all the great resources to draw attention to our witness.  Regulars Bill H. and Jericho walker Chuck offered prayers and powerful witness.  

day 4-2

 

 

 

We were so blessed to have Betsy and Jill in the Choices Pregnancy Services mobile sonogram join us and give us a close alternative to pp

 

day 4-4Father Tim and the numerous Guardians for life arrived en masse and filled the street with prayer, song and hope. 

Grove City Students joined in
Grove City Students joined in

 

 

 

 

At the end of my shift a several car loads of Grove City College students arrived early after their long drive to offer prayer in defense

They have a prolife group on campus and it is always a blessing to see our youth stand up for life.

Terri and Judy Advocate for LIFE
Terri and Judy Advocate for LIFE

 

Their presence today brought a  ray of sunshine to the cold sidewalk. A group of parishioners from Saint Johns and Paul Catholic Church also came to witness with us. They have been with us on the sidewalk in the past

of life. .day 4-5 ANDWe had a great moment of hope and joy.  A young woman approached pp, accepted literature and the resource card and then went into pp.  A little while later she came out, said something to us but wouldn’t engage.  She crossed the street and encountered the loving gaze of Terri who took her by the arm into the mobile sonogram until.    From Terri: Thank God that the mobile unit was there and she allowed me to take her to it. The girls in the mobile unit were wonderful. I went back to speak to “S” after the sonogram and we saw her baby. She is eight weeks pregnant. I feel very confident that she will choose life because of something that she said to me before we parted ways. We exchanged phone numbers and I will keep in touch with her. Please pray for this beautiful woman and her child.  

SM Dean with Larry, Keith and Julie of SS John & Paul
SM Dean with Larry, Keith and Julie of SS John & Paul

Shift Report 11-1 Reported by Dean:

 There wasn’t much to report today as traffic at P.P. was light. When I arrived, the Mobile Ultra Sound van had been across the street for a few hours and that is always encouraging to see.

SM Billy with Eric

SM Billy with Eric

Billy wrote from his 1-3pm shift:

I was shift manager from 1 to 3. With me today was a man named Eric, a mother and daughter named Lisa and Greta who came to pray with us.  We also had Patty with us.  A woman came to up to Patty, who was standing on the other side and said she stands in front of planned parenthood at Miami Florida..  She said thanks for standing up for women and life. 

A gentleman came up to me and asked what we doing there, and if a clinic was near us I said yes it is planned parenthood. He noted that the advertising by them was not good.

After we prayed Lisa and Greta left us. Patti came back and we had some great conversations. Eric left at 2. A woman in a car honked at us for supporting life. A young man came up and asked to take our picture saying it was great to see people standing for life in the modern age. 

Finally before we left, a gentleman walked up and asked about the size of the babies and asked for a Picture of the baby and a fetal model, and  Patty gave them to him. 

God really blessed us. 

Shift 3-5 from Kathy:  Seven lovely women and one husband answered the call to fill this shift with me. I praise God for His faithfulness in filling our 2 hours.   Prayer and sharing testimonies made time pass fast with the snow- rain. One woman had chosen adoption and her daughter is 22 now. Another moved here in September and had 40 days experience in a different setting.   

Prayer Warriors late Saturday
Prayer Warriors late Saturday

Our hearts were touched when an elderly couple fell across the street. Two of my sisterrs ran across to help. Before they reached them, 5 young  teens helped the couple to their feet and proceeded down the street hding their arms. In our world of racial tension, the barrier was broken. The couple was white, the teens were not .  Donna and Rochelle arrivedfrom Steubenville answered the call forvthe 5-7 , which was cancelled. Standing graciouly and prayed in the snow because they heard God’s call.

Steubenville sweetie came to pray
Steubenville sweetie came to pray

With the inclement weather building, and a beautiful SAVE in our experience today, we closed our vigil at 5pm.

Please be sure to check the Schedule for needs on Monday and Tuesday, and remember:

 

LOVE SAVES LIVES!

Day 3: Thank you to St. Thomas More Catholic Church (Bethel Park)!

earth…For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Gen 3:19

“Hey!  Who you callin’ dust?”  These words from Scripture, spoken to us just a few days ago on Ash Wednesday, can sometimes make our egos bristle.  Remembering our humble beginning and ending can feel uncomfortable.

Every one of us started as a powerless, vulnerable child in the womb.  And every one of us will die someday.  The only reason that we are able to do anything in between is because God wills it. 

It’s probably part of our fallen nature to want to gloss over that.  We would much rather give ourselves credit for anything that we accomplish.  It’s definitely a part of the humanistic culture of our world today not to acknowledge any power apart from our own.  We see ourselves as in control, and anything contrary to that idea is threatening.

That denial of God’s sovereignty lies at the root of abortion and is arguably our biggest hurdle to ending it.  40 Days for Life is so effective because it tackles the problem head-on with its first two facets, prayer and fasting.  The third facet, outreach, helps to reassure people that it’s “safe” to relinquish control over every detail and to trust God to provide for us.  When we offer concrete assistance to those in crisis, we allow God to reach through us and embrace His beloved children, born and unborn.

Thank you for being part of this 40 Days for Life campaign–let’s give it all we’ve got this time around!  And together, let’s ask God to soften the hearts of all His children so that we can let go of our illusion of control, humbly recognize His Fatherhood, and allow ourselves to be loved and cared for by Him in all circumstances–especially when facing an unplanned pregnancy. 

~Jen M.

Here are stories and pictures from today’s vigil:

7-9: Barbara and Richard

Richard, Patty, Sally, Al, Bob
Richard, Patty, Sally, Al, Bob

It was a rainy, cold, blustery morning but did not stop the great prayer warriors from St. Thomas More Church in Bethel Park, led by Bob H. and Jeannie.  Sally and Al boosted the group, and Bill H. and Vickie also stopped by amidst the raindrops.  It was very quiet in the weather, and we were happily inclined to pray “robustly” with our appeals ringing off the buildings downtown.   We worked our way through the Intercessions on the back of the baby photo posters – they cover a lot of intentions!  Quiet on the streets, lots of smiles and support.

 

9-11: Jeannie

Jack, Marilyn, Jerry, Patty
Jack, Marilyn, Jerry, Patty

Things picked up for the St. Thomas More Group, and on the sidewalk.  Marilyn, Patty and Jeannie were joined by Superstar prayer warriors Jack and Jerry who stayed until 2pm in the rain and wind!!!     This group was a real presence on the sidewalk, and at one point had a “human hug” going as we stationed ourselves just on the life -affirming side of the yellow line!

 

11-1: Marie

Kathy and Terry
Kathy and Terry

More members of St. Thomas More (with children, too) joined the prayer vigil:  Carolyn and Karen and Terry completed a group when Sweet Mimi came from uptown with her friendly demeanor and her grateful heart.   Sidewalk advocate Kathy and Terry joined the vigil, too.
1-3: Dave and Noreen

saville 1
Terry, David, Jack and Caroline

Other than being cold our first shift went well.  We had quite a few positive comments, a few God Bless Yous and a good amount of nods and smiles.
We did have one person who spit on our display.  But other than that, it was a good day filled with love and lots of prayers.
We were relieved by Lisa and family and it was lovely to see young people coming to pray for an end to abortion!!!  



3-5: Lisa and family

First-timer Steve from St. Thomas More joined in here.  A beautiful thing happened during these afternoon hours!  Every weekday during this shift, a line of commuters lines the street waiting for a bus to Beaver County—this happens 2 times a day and the commuters generally stand a foot in on the sidewalk listening to music or using their phones.  In the several years I have been down during these shifts, I have always tried to get our message to these folks- never.any.luck.  NOT TODAY!!!!!!!  One of the would-be commuters asked if he could pray with us for a few minutes! Steve from STM had a nice, welcoming conversation with him and we watched him get into the line.  YAY for public witness, Yay for friendly Christians.  Yay for LIFE!

 

 5-7: Pat

Jeannie F., who coordinated her parish, St. Thomas Moore to be there ALL DAY, along with former SM Julie C. 
Jeannie F., who coordinated her parish, St. Thomas Moore to be there ALL DAY, along with former SM Julie C.
Benson and Julie
Benson and Julie

Unlike yesterday’s unfortunate SMs, I was able to enjoy more traditional February weather out there on the sidewalk this evening.  I was joined by good friend, SM, and now blogger, Jeannie, who made sure that the whole day was covered by her parish.  Then former SM and good friend Julie joined me, allowing Jeannie to go home and thaw-out.  Benson came near the end (and straight from high school baseball practice!).  It was a nice mix of prayer and conversation with just one, very mild, negative comment the whole evening.

Day 2: Thank you to Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene, the Knights of Columbus volunteers, and other individual volunteers!

40 Days for Life

2-15-18 baby eyes

 

 

Then [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”

Luke 9:23-25

 

2-14-18 Jesus carrying cross

 

As Christians, during Lent, we usually WANT to “do Lent well.”  We have a desire to accomplish our spiritual goals, and have the best of intentions.  But temptations creep in at every turn.

Sadly, sometimes the world cries out to us in neon lights.  It screams, “DON’T YOU WANT THIS??”

 

2-14-18 gain world (800x533)

 

If we say “yes” to the world, are we willing to lose our soul in the process?

 

2-14-18 lose soul no face (1024x681)

 

It might take everything within us to say “no” to the lures of the world, and to remember that enduring difficulties well -carrying our crosses- will bring us closer to Our Lord and to real joy and life.

 

2-14-18 joyful prayer (1024x683)

 

 

And so, we turn again to the only One in Whom the fullness of life is found.  We carry our crosses and we follow Him.  And sometimes that can seem like walking alone in a desert.  Maybe even uphill.

 

2-14-18 desert

 

But notice that in the above photo, the man has something really important to help him on his arduous journey.  A backpack.  What is inside it?  We don’t know.  But we can assume that it is filled with things to help him on his trek through the desert.

Likewise, Our Lord never leaves us alone.  He supplies us with all that we need to “do Lent well,” and to carry our crosses.  One of the key aspects of His help is not a backpack, but something even more helpful: His presence.  He doesn’t say, ” Take up your cross and…. there ya go!  Good luck!  Hope that works out for ya!”  NO.  He says, “Take up your cross and…. FOLLOW ME.”  Hmm.  Perhaps Jesus is actually ON this journey WITH us.  We can FOLLOW Him… and we will not be alone.

 

2-14-18 footprints to follow

 

Now there is a DIFFERENT kind of journey that some of us are on.  This is a journey that involves fear, doubt, and insecurity.  This is the journey of a couple who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy.  In what kind of desert might such people find themselves?

 

2-14-18 woman sad and alone (683x1024)

 

This woman is not in a typical desert, but finds herself in one nonetheless.  Even when other people and civilization are all around her, she may feel more alone than ever, and may believe that abortion is her only option.

But Jesus is present for her, too.  She just needs to seek Him.  He does not want her to be LOST through the desert.  He does not want her to die.  He wants her to FOLLOW HIM.

And if she does, then a new person, created by God, will make SOMEONE’S life a whole lot brighter.

 

2-14-18 dad with baby

 

Shift Manager Reports

 

Nikki:

I am thanking God for warm weather! It was so comfortable being outside this morning, what a blessing! As always, it was a blessing to share my 7 to 9 shift on Thursday mornings with wonderful Peg. We stayed on opposite sides of the circle, and I sat in the chair for most of my shift because I am not feeling well. I hope I am not getting the flu, I hope it is just a cold.

It was also a huge blessing to have Katie join us for the entire shift. She came to offer hope and options to those entering Planned Parenthood, which she did on many occasions. It seemed as if it may be an abortion day, a few couples went in, the clinic was definitely open for business.  She also offered literature to everyone passing by, some took it and smiled, others stared straight ahead as if she wasn’t even there, I heard a few tell her that they support Planned Parenthood or they were pro-choice. Thank God she was there.

Chuck and Judy arrived early for their 9 to 11 shift. I am so thankful  for them and it is a treat to get to see them each Thursday! We left the vigil in their capable and loving hands.

Thank you to Sidewalk Advocate Katie, Shift Manager Nikki, and Peg!
Thank you to Sidewalk Advocate Katie, Shift Manager Nikki, and Peg!

 

Thank you to Shift Managers Judy and Chuck (left and right) and again, Katie in the center. What a team!
Thank you to Shift Managers Judy and Chuck (left and right) and again, Katie in the center. What a team!

 

Lisa K.:

Today’s shift was busy, and in a way it felt like we’d never left.  I’m sure that others who oppose us don’t feel that way!

We had several newcomers today, which was great!  Thank you for coming!  New people are always welcome!

I was blessed to have many pray-ers come and go on my shift.  I even had two Sidewalk Advocates!  That was wonderful.  Thank you, ladies!

Several people who passed by said they were thankful for us being there.  Always encouraging.

John, Beverly, and Joan. Thank you all for being there today!!
John, Beverly, and Joan. Thank you all for being there today!!

 

Joan, Denise, Filene, Shift Manager Lisa, and John. Thank you all so much!!
Joan, Denise, Philene, Shift Manager Lisa, and John. Thank you all so much!!

 

Helen:

John and Antoinette were at 933 when I arrived. What joy to see John. Antoinette and her husband Tom are a K of C couple from Greensburg.

Tom and Jim were so warm & friendly, the rain was no burden.

Weather was wet but hearts were warm.  Old pal John was part of Carolyn’s vigil. What joy to see him! The K of C couple from Greensburg were veteran pro-lifers.

I had just prayed a rosary when a man carrying a flask-like bottle of a clear liquid came along. He took a swig and told me, “I don’t agree with this stuff.” I was not sure if he meant me or PP, and I didn’t ask.

I went around the yellow curve to tell Jim, when along came a lady to talk to us. Jim responded artfully as this somewhat inebriated lady tore into us, telling us we should not be there. She had had an abortion when she was 17, and she was glad. She said that we had no business telling anyone what to do. Her streak of blue language made us assure her that we would pray for her.  As we listened to the lady’s rant and pitied her condition, I wondered if she might be a familiar face to others who  keep vigil.

By the time Rick arrived, we were well-soaked but happy to have had the privilege of being there. The smiles and greetings from passers-by and our humble presence will make a difference we won’t know until the next world.

Thank you, Tom, Jim, and all others who came out in the rain today!
Thank you, Tom, Jim, and all others who came out in the rain today!

 

Rick:

The Thursday 5-7 PM shift was quiet, peaceful and rainy.  Special thanks to Francis from St. Margaret of Scotland, SS. Simon and Jude Knights of Columbus, and Jim from St. Maurice for their prayers and witness on behalf of unborn children and pregnant mothers in need.  Thanks also to Tom and Diane for their faithfulness in picking up all the signs and materials.  The 5-7 PM shift ended a little early due to the inclement weather.

God Bless!

 

One last thought on the season of LENT:

2-14-18 dog with pie (868x1024)

Even though we might sometimes feel like this little guy…. we CAN resist temptation, carry our crosses, and FOLLOW the LORD.  Be not afraid! 

Lent is GOOD- it brings us closer to the One who loves us most!!!

Day 1…Faithful Individuals filled the vigil today to show WHO they love!

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At the kitchen table this morning, my husband asked me a question.

Do you know what today is?”

Yes, ” I answered, “Ash Wednesday.” 

He said, “Yes, but what else?

The first day of 40 Days for Life, ” was my response.

Yes, but what else?”  He said.

Andrew’s birthday?”  I asked. (Andrew is my 31-year old stepson…and his birthday is actually tomorrow…but I thought maybe my husband thought it was today.)

Finally the light bulb turned on.  Oh yes!  It’s Valentines Day!”

With so much going on, I totally forgot!


Before I went to sleep last night, as is my habit, I took a peek at the Gospel reading for the next day.  I do this to try to plant the seed of the Gospel in my mind so that it can sink in while I sleep.  Anyway, I saw that today’s reading was from Matthew 6:5:

“When you  pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that others may see them.”

Uh-oh.  I knew today was my day to write the blog post…and I usually try to incorporate the day’s Gospel reading into my reflection.  How in the world was I going to incorporate THIS one?  This is the exact line from the Gospel that so many of our critics use against us!  In fact, a few years ago, the former owner of the bookstore that is next to Planned Parenthood actually made a sign with these words and hung it on the pole where we stand to pray! He did this to try to shame us, by using the words of scripture against us…and truthfully…I never really was able to come up with a good rebuttal.

Are we being hypocrites by praying on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood?  Many people accuse us of this, could it be true?

So, I asked the Lord to speak to my heart as I meditated on the verse this morning…(remember, I had forgotten it was Valentine’s Day).  Wouldn’t you know that the word that jumped out at me was LOVE?  I realized that Jesus was saying that hypocrites are those who LOVE to stand on the street corners and pray, so that others may see them.  When I realized that, I let out a sigh of relief, because that is NOT me!  I can honestly say, with every fiber of my being, that I do NOT love…not even in the least little bit...standing on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood when I pray.  I would so much rather be in Church, or in my room…or just about ANYWHERE else!  And I think I speak for just about all of us when I say that.

If we love something, it will be hard for us to give it up.  I am giving up dairy products and sweets for Lent because I love them.  I’m able to give them up because I love being healthy more than I love those things that are not good for me.  So…if we love two things that cannot abide together, we must choose.  We choose the ONE we love the most, and give up the one we love less.

Most of us love physical comfort;  getting extra sleep, being warm, getting friendly greetings from people and being loved, accepted and respected by those around us.  When we go to the abortion clinic, we give up all these things.  There can be only one explanation as to why we do it.  It is because we love something (or rather, some ONE, more.)  When we love God more than anything else, we will allow him to break our hearts for what breaks his.  Abortion breaks God’s Heart.

That is why we are able to do something that we DON’T love…because we are doing it for someone that we do.


Here are today’s stories from those who love Him too…

Jeff was our “engine”.  He got our 40 day vigil started at 7am.  He was joined by Peg and MaryAnn.  He reports that his shift went well.  Thanks to those who stood with him during these early morning hours!

Cathy was the shift manager from 9-11…she wrote:

First day of 40 Days Vigil!  I took over from Jeff, joined Mary Ann for awhile,until she left,  and was joined by Kathy and then Dan from Steubenville. We had a prayerful time in word and song. A couple ladies came out with little bags, one did take some literature.  There was a couple who went in, he came out and sat in the car for quite awhile until she came back out, with a bag.  Neither of then would take any lit.  We had a “Get a life!” comment, but several ‘Thank you”s and smiles.  Struck up a conversation with a young man who was looking at the sign in the window for the pill to prevent 90% of HIV.  Said he was a counselor from NY and was familiar with the drug, Aids and other related issues.

Hank managed the vigil from 9-11am.  He wrote:

It was a good  1st day!  Decent weather and lots of friendly smiles and positive comments.  Mary from St. Stephen Church in Hazelwood and Judy F. from St. Valentine were present handing out chocolate candy hearts along with literature.  Dan from Stubenville was there as well.  Several rosarys were prayed.

Judy and Dan spread the love of Jesus this morning!
Judy and Dan spread the love of Jesus this morning!
Mary signed up to fill empty hours, and Dan from Stuebenville was a welcome suprise!
Mary signed up to fill empty hours, and Dan from Stuebenville was a welcome suprise!

Chris was the shift manager from 1-3, and writes something that is very appropriate to my blog reflection:

This campaign started with a cold, windy, and rainy shift on Ash Wednesday.  But the weather didn’t matter, as I was joined by the Christian warmth of prayer warriors Marie, George, Bill and the husband/wife team, Mike and Kim.  During the first hour we received many positive comments from passersby.  People weren’t as kind to us the second hour.  Two of the memorable comments made to us were, “You’re all going to burn in Hell” and “You should read the Bible”.  Please pray for those who made these remarks as they quickly walked by us.  One of the highlights of the shift was talking to a man who lost a girlfriend to suicide (in front of him) and has a history of drug and alcohol abuse.  He has found God and was holding a Bible while we talked.  After each of us said, “God Bless you”, he continued down the street.

Bill, Marie and George joined Chris during the 1-3 shift
Bill, Marie and George joined Chris during the 1-3 shift
Kim and MIke are always very prayerful witnesses, travelling all the way from Waynesburg
Kim and MIke are always very prayerful witnesses, travelling all the way from Waynesburg

Barbara and Richard held the fort from 3-5pm

We are here in front of PP again.

Drizzle and then rain and then drizzle again.

Familiar faces line up for the bus.

On schedule, their carriages arrive and roar away…”home for dinner!”

People walk by and catch our eye and smile and nod.  They agree that abortion kills babies and hurts women…at the very least…hurts the mother.

Two walk by, catch our eye and look away, stone faced.  These are always women.

What is it that tears us away from warm home and routine?

Our Father is ready with open arms.  We want to help our sisters and brothers.  Behavior matters. We want to share the key.  It is urgent.  There is a time limit.

Joe K. finished up the first day from 5-7pm.  He wrote:

Everything was wet and busy coming into / out of the city today – so much so that I was a few minutes late for the start of my first shift – thanks Richard & Barbara!

I was so very blessed this evening as though only individual volunteers were slotted in the time slot – 3 wonderful, water-resistant witnessing warriors – John, Eleanor, and Bridgette, showed-up to finish the day proving that pro-lifers are anything but fair-weather when it comes to life…

Thank you to all who came to the vigil today, and to all who prayed and fasted!  May God bless our 40 days here in Pittsburgh!

 

Sharing the Burden…

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Many hands make light work… 

  • 60 million innocent lives lost to abortion in our nation.
  • The inability to defund an evil and corrupt organization such as Planned Parenthood.
  • A government that cannot even pass a no-brainer law such as the Pain Capable Act (which would have banned painful dismemberment abortions after 20 weeks).

This is the seemingly hopeless reality that we are living in.  The burden seems too heavy to lift, the obstacles too great to overcome…the giant too powerful to defeat.

And the truth is that this burden cannot be carried by just a few of us.  The guilt of our nation in God’s eyes is on ALL OF US!  Therefore, we all must share in carrying the burden of repentance, fasting and prayer during these 40 days.

The good news is that we aren’t carrying this burden alone!

There are now 70 churches that have signed up for a time slot at the vigil.
Go to http://40daysforlifepittsburgh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Click-here-to-view-schedule-of-participating-churches-for-Lent-2018-campaign-66.pdf to see the schedule as it stands so far.

When we all do our little part…whether it is taking a full day (as St. Thomas More Catholic Church is doing this Friday)…or taking two hours every week, (as Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene is doing)…or just taking one 2-hour slot on one day during the 40 days…

…many hands make for light work!

This work is massive and heavy, that is true.  But Jesus said that when we take HIS yoke upon us, HE will make the burden light.  (Matt. 11)

In yesterday’s reading from Mark 8:1-10, we read that Jesus felt compassion for the great multitude of people who had followed him.  They had been with him in a deserted place for three days, and had no food.  He did not want to send them away without feeding them first.  His disciples must have been overwhelmed with the seemingly impossible task, and so they asked him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them?”  Jesus asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”  They answered that they had seven loaves.  And that was enough.

Jesus fed the multitude.  They simply gave what they had.

That is all that God asks of us as well.  He doesn’t ask or expect us to end abortion.  He doesn’t expect us to close down Planned Parenthood.  He doesn’t even expect us to save lives!  But he DOES ask us to give him what we have!  And what we have is our prayers, fasting and our physical presence at the vigil.

We have an opportunity during these 40 days to allow God to use us to save lives and to bring souls back to him!  What a privilege!!! In fact, a baby was just born in Pittsburgh last month that was saved from abortion because there were prayerful witnesses on the sidewalk when her parents came to Planned Parenthood for an abortion last summer.  They didn’t want the abortion, but had three children already and the husband didn’t think they could handle another one.  He was especially concerned about how his wife would get to her doctors appointments, since she doesn’t drive, and he works long days.  The compassionate sidewalk counselors offered to help him with transportation for his wife, and to help provide other resources that the family was in need of.  Our pro-life family in Pittsburgh held a baby shower for them this past November, and the beautiful baby girl was born last month.  When one of the sidewalk advocates went to visit the family a few weeks ago, she got to hold the baby.  The husband looked at her and thanked her for being there that day.  He said to her, “If we had done it (the abortion), we would have never been able to be happy again.”  The simple truth of those words has remained in my heart and mind.  They wouldn’t have ever been able to be happy again.  Wow!

This is just one family…one baby…that was saved because of our presence on the sidewalk.  There are thousands of others…and many that we will never even know about.  But each life saved has an eternal impact!  This is a profound opportunity to be used by God to save a life!

Have you signed up for a time slot at the vigil yet?  It begins on Wednesday at 7 am, in front of Planned Parenthood in Pittsburgh.  There are many empty time slots that still need filled!  Please email me at nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com if you can help!

You can also sign up to fast during these forty days by going to https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/2171451/true#/invitation

When we all share the burden…the burden is light!

Hope to see you on the sidewalk!

Your sister in Christ,

Nikki