Whoever, therefore, humbles himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such little child for My sake, receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.Matt. 18: 1-6
See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you, their Angels in heaven always behold the face of My Father in heaven.”Matt. 18:10
I will never forget the very first time I gathered up my courage to come to Planned Parenthood to witness and pray. It was probably the most frightening thing I had ever done in my life up to that point. I wrote about that experience in “My Story”, posted HERE, if you are interested in reading it.
What surprised me the most was that the “witnessing” part did not make me feel nearly as uncomfortable as the PRAYING part did! In fact, standing there, holding a sign, was kind of “emboldening” to me…it gave me a sense that I was finally DOING SOMETHING…you know…standing up for what I believed in! That part was good! But, the first time I closed my eyes to pray…while standing on that sidewalk, I immediately began to feel self-conscious! I was not expecting to feel embarrassed to pray in public because at the time I belonged to an awesome Assembly of God church, that had an amazingly talented worship band.
Every Sunday, with my hands raised high, my eyes squeezed closed…sometimes with tears streaming…I PRAYED IN PUBLIC! So, why was I suddenly ashamed to pray in public in front of Planned Parenthood?
As I reflected on today’s Gospel reading, quoted above, I tried to meditate on what the traits are that little children have, that Jesus asks us to imitate. Of course, I thought of child-like traits such as: innocence, purity, humility, obedience and trust. And I know that God wants us all to strive to grow in these virtues. But as I thought about it, another, less obvious trait came to my mind. How about the trait of “lacking in self-consciousness”? You know what I mean, don’t you? I’m thinking of my little one-year old grand babies. If I even mention “The Wiggles” or “Baby Shark” to my grandson, his chubby little legs start pumping! he loves to dance and I can tell that he already has music in his soul! He will dance anywhere, no matter who is watching! I love to dance also…but I am too embarrassed to do it, say in the grocery store. If a song that I enjoy begins to play while I am shopping, I have to restrain myself from bopping down the aisle…because I am self-conscious of what others may think. I don’t want to embarrass myself by dancing in public…which is a good thing! I am not advocating for dancing in the grocery store, unless you are under the age of seven.
But, I DO think that when we feel self-conscious or embarrassed about praying in public, on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood, that we need to think of being childlike in our innocence of what others may think of us.
I guess when I think about it, the reason that I could pray so boldly “in public” while at church, was because I was in a large group of fellow believers who were doing the same thing. But when I got to the sidewalk for the first time, I was the only one praying among a crowd of busy people going about their lives…and I felt like I was totally out of place.
Lord, please help me to be like a child in my trust and love for you, and in my innocent lack of self-consciousness when it comes to giving you honor and glory in public!
Before I go on to today’s shift reports…I wanted to share a couple photos from a baby shower for a young girl who chose life, which Fran and I attended two weeks ago:
Angel’s mom gave me permission to share these photos. You may remember her story from a blog post last spring. They had come to Planned Parenthood for an abortion, allowed us to talk to them about all the help that was available. Her aunt eventually told us that she had prayed that morning, asking God to send her a sign if they weren’t supposed to do this. She told us that she believed that WE WERE THAT SIGN! We were blessed to take them to Women’s Choice Network in the north side, where we got to go into the ultrasound room and saw her 15 week baby girl moving around on the ultrasound screen! When Angel saw her baby, she courageously chose life for her daughter. Thanks to the generosity of many members of our team, she has been given a good start and has been provided with all the items she needs to welcome this little girl into the world later this month! Thanks to everyone who donated to help her, and thanks to all of you for stepping outside of your comfort zone to be a sign of God’s love and mercy on the sidewalk!
One last thing…before today’s reports from the sidewalk…if you are Catholic and you haven’t yet signed up for an hour of adoration at St. Stanislaus for the 7-day, 24-hour prayer vigil…they are BEGGING for help! Many hours still are not filled! Go HERE to sign up for as many hours as you can! I know that God will send much grace to our city by this prayer vigil of love!
Now…on to the shift reports from today!
Peggy & Carissa, 7-9 am
Cathy & Fran, 9-11 am
It was a pretty quiet morning as far as clients, only a couple or so going in plus some workers. A couple who were stranded here trying to get back to NY were in need of some breakfast. They had been to CC, as suggested by the first shift, but were not able to get anything there and did not know where else to try. She is 6mos pregnant. I gave them 2 Subway cards. They later came back to thank us. They have an appointment with Traveler’s Aid. Those with Fran and me were Beverly, Priscilla, Bill H, Bill, the evangelist, and Debbie. Also St Bernard KoC and the Guardians for Life, from 10 or 11 on.Cathy, 9-11
Hank & Judy, 11 am – 1 pm
WOW!!! What a time on the street! The Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels and 21 Guardians for Life praying for the end of abortion. Wondering how many angels were present with us besides our own personal guarding angel. Is it possible that the guarding angels of all those who lost their life at this abortion mill were there with us? The Guardians for Life most from St. Bernard in Indiana PA included Irene, Rudy, Joe, Lisa, Brian, Tom, Dan, Dave, Bob, Dennis, Ray, Bill, Sr.James Ann, Tom, Theresa, Cheynne, Elsie, Michele, Keith, and Beverly. Fran from St Joseph Verona and Debbie Ephiphany Raudolph St Louise also joined us. Prayer was a constant..rosary, Staions of the Cross, Divine Mercy, litany of the Blessed Mother and joyful noise to the Lord which was called singing! No abortions today…little PP traffic but lots of people passing by. Some nasty looks, but again many ” thanks, God bless you, I’m with you Some good encounters. Judy spoke with two women and hopefully their heart was opened to allow the grace of God to enter in. We pray with St.Bernard of Clairvaux in giving thanks that “heaven denies us nothing that assists us, these celestial spirits (Holy Guardian Angels) have been placed at our sides to protect us, instruct us, and to guide us”.Hank, 11-1
To God be glory for ever and ever!! Amen
Chris & John 1-3 pm
The nice warm weather continued today. God is turning the heat up on PP. I was joined by Joan, John, Carole, Louise, and Jerry. We prayed several Rosaries, the Sorrowful Mysteries. Given where we’re standing, I feel that’s the appropriate Mystery to pray.Chris, 1-3
About halfway through my shift, Jeannie, the next shift manager, stopped by to give us daisies from her yard, both to hand out to passersby and to adorn the “half-circle” on the sidewalk. There was very little traffic going in and out of PP, more than a few friendly comments, and two angry people shouting at us, one from across the street and one from a passing car. On the positive side, it always makes me smile inside when I notice passersby glancing at and reading the fetal development sandwich board and looking at the fetal model display.
Jeannie & Virginia, 3-5 pm
I’ve ventured to the sidewalk to stay knowing I might well be by myself but I am a Catholic and today is the feast of guardian angels and they did not disappoint! John was here when I came and Marilyn and Rose came as well. And before my shift ended Pat and Celeste came to join forces. It was very active and inspiring day on the sidewalk. Many people stopped and thanked us for being there, and for the first time in a while the school kids were interested in having a little bit of a conversation. We even had support from a person in wheelchair who stopped right in front of the door pointed to us and clapped. Astonishing! Taking a cue from my sister who did the same I put a few of our baby pictures against the Planned Parenthood outer wall with some flowers in front as you would for victims of crime. It is very very effective, as three people stopped to ask what happened to the baby. I explained that children are killed in that clinic every week and we are memorializing those lost lives. What an afternoon! No nasty comments whatsoever and tons of inklings of changing hearts and minds. The angels certainly were Watching over us!Jeannie 3-5
Joe K. 5-7 pm
St. Paul’s Church Grouping came strong this evening from beginning to end…Joe, 5-7
Initially, I was joined initially by Jackie and Joe from St. Paul’s, then Mary from St. Stephen’s, then Diane and Mark from St. Paul’s, and finally my brother Knight Mike from St.Patrick’s in McKeesport. Oops, forgot that Jim from St. Maurice’s stopped by on his way home from work too…
A lot of sirens, buses, and foot traffic filled the muggy evening, but there ended up being very little interaction with passersby… Most of the evening consisted of sharing and prayer – It was great to pray the rosary as one big group – witnessing to all the passersby…