A clean heart create for me, O God;
give me back the joy of your salvation.
Psalm 51:12a, 14a
I don’t know about you, but it seems like for me, a human living in the world, that it is hard to live the life that the Lord wants me to live… all the time. How about you? Don’t we ALL find this challenging? I think that’s why we need Lent. It is a time that brings us back in check. It strips us down, humbles us, and makes us see the great need for conversion that we have.
The above Scripture verses come from today’s (Thursday’s) liturgical Gospel Acclamation. They struck me for two reasons:
- We are in constant need of conversion.
- We need to acknowledge #1 before we can have #2 (the joy of the Lord’s salvation).
Let us continue to repent and change our lives.
When we minister to those in need on the sidewalk, I believe that we MUST acknowledge our own sinfulness, and conquer our own pride. Otherwise, how can we reach out to offer help? How can we speak words of compassion and healing?
The image above depicts the temptation of Our Lord Jesus in the desert (a Gospel many of us heard this past Sunday). Although He never sinned and was therefore NOT in need of conversion as we are, He still denied Himself. Why? So He could forget about what is NOT important and remember what IS.
Our prayer and fasting throughout these 40 Days can be the same for us. Let us forget about what is NOT important and remember what IS. And let us serve those we encounter on the sidewalk with love. Only hearts that are emptied of self through prayer and fasting can empty themselves out for others in love. Let the Lord pour out His love THROUGH US onto His city:
Shift Manager Reports:
I was very blessed at my shift this morning to share the sidewalk with Pastor Win and another man from his church, St. John United Evangelical Protestant (Burry’s) Church. Pastor Win is always a very prayerful witness, and he spends almost the entire time on his knees in quiet prayer. I know God uses his witness to touch hearts…and I know it must touch GOD’s OWN HEART as well! Thank you Pastor Win for making this witness a priority in your busy pastor’s schedule!
Marian was there before I got there at 7am, and another off-duty shift manager, Sue M. arrived shortly after. We had some good prayer time together before Marian took off for work. Sue and I stood and prayed silently on opposite ends of the circle, since it appeared that PP was open for business after the first couple went in around 7:45. They appeared to be abortion-bound. Soon after, Pete from St. Ferdinand showed up to boost our ranks and he and I prayed for a bit. Another couple (appeared to be a father & daughter) went in around 8:15. The thought occurred to me that maybe PP is “prepping” people who are scheduled for late term abortions tomorrow…or maybe Thursday is now an abortion day? It is good that we are there every day during these 40 day campaigns. Thanks to all who are making the time to come to the vigil!
The next shift manager, Bill, arrived early for his shift. At 9 am Chuck and Judy from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene arrived for the 9-11 shift. It was good to see Judy, and to meet Chuck. It is a sad place to be, but you get to meet the nicest, most selfless people when you go. These are people who really love the Lord…and it is a blessing to pray with them!
From Lisa K.:
A moment of humility has arrived. Well, it is Lent after all. Marilyn texted me during her shift to tell me that it might be an abortion day. This thought made me suddenly so afraid and anxious- as though I had never been in front of PP to pray before! It seemed like forever since I had been there on an abortion day. I think that part of my anxiety came from the fact that last Thursday, I was praying with someone who was a Sidewalk Advocate, and I felt intimidated by that. Silly, I know. So this week, all I could feel was what I lacked, instead of what the Lord could do through me.
Suddenly, I had a very encouraging thought: a certain woman would be there during my shift who I KNEW had experience and was unshakeable, in my opinion. She was indeed there, but that was not what ended up helping me. Sandy from St. James was praying with me, when out of “nowhere” came Fr. Tony from WV. We talked for a moment, then he was going to pray by himself, but said, “Before I do that…” and he raised his hands over Sandy and me, and prayed a beautiful blessing over us! Now THAT brought me peace.
Makes me think about what I said earlier, about remembering what is important and denying oneself. Many lessons to learn. Thank God for Lent.
Shift Manager Dee and I had a week’s worth of blessings in two hours. While we stand at 933 Liberty, school students head for home, downtown workers wait for buses headed for faraway places like Monroeville, the Mon Valley and Chippewa, Beaver County.
Today a tall young mom came along with two beautiful babies in their stroller. She said she would like to be part of telling people about how evil abortion is. She used to be an atheist. She met a man from Jamaica, fell in love, and learned from him how good God is. When she got pregnant, her family told her she was too young to have a baby, but she married the man, and they have two beautiful girls and a new baby is on the way.
She learned that people in Jamaica are very poor. They have no welfare, no public assistance, no agencies to offer help, but they DO NOT abort their children. They have beautiful babies who grow in the love of God. She has all of the numbers for help. I could not find the one business card I KNEW I had put in my pocket. While I turned all my pockets inside-out, Dee came along and said, “Your card was over there (near our big box) on the ground.”
Two rosaries later, I looked across the yellow “forbidden area” to Dee. She was being assailed by a very angry woman declaring, “This is National Women’s Day! This is National Women’s Week! You people are so misguided. You are taking away women’s rights to birth control. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING?” The lady was so vociferous that people waiting for the next bus were shaking their heads and smiling at me. To each one I said, “Please pray for that lady.” Each one agreed. Then she came to where I stood and asked the same questions. It had to be grace that made me very happy to talk to her. After, “Do you know what you are doing?” (Yes) and “Do you know the harm you are doing?” (NO) “Do you want all women to have many children?” Then she came in close and said, “How did you lose your teeth? Are you an alcoholic? Did a MAN punch out your teeth?” I told her about the accident that has caused me to lose three (and soon, four) teeth. Then she said she was sorry about that. She had an abortion in the 1980s. She did not want to do that but her boyfriend threatened to haul her into court…
That was my time to tell her that I am reading and writing from a book titled, WOMAN AND THE NEW RACE by Margaret Sanger. She said she knows about Margaret Sanger. I told her that on page 63, Sanger wrote, “The kindest thing a large family does for one of its youngest members is to kill it.” I told her how Sanger worried that the immigrant families would bring diseases, parasites, etc. Then I told her about my mom’s entry at New York in 1921.
The conversation then went into an attack on Christians. She is an atheist. When I told her I would pray for her, she begged me not to do that. Of course Donald Trump was blamed for all that is happening.
I have no doubt that many of our vigil keepers have had similar conversations. I don’t know how long we talked, but her last words to me were, “God bless you.” Dee took a picture of the young mom. My last words for today are that I was blessed to be there.