“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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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…