40 Days for Life
Do you think people want FREEDOM? How about JOY? I tend to think that most, if not all, people, desire these good things. And actually, the Lord Jesus Christ desires these things FOR us:
Galatians 5:1a tells us, “For freedom Christ set us free.”
In John 15:11, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”
These are just a couple examples. But here’s an interesting thing about the freedom and joy God wants for us. These mean something very DIFFERENT from the meanings of freedom and joy that the “world” gives us.
Today’s First Reading (Oct. 3) is from Nehemiah 8, roughly vv. 1-12. Here I offer you an edited version of that passage:
The whole people gathered as one…
and they called upon Ezra the scribe
to bring forth the book of the law of Moses
which the LORD prescribed for Israel... and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God,
interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.
Then Nehemiah… said to all the people:
“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep”–
for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “…Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”
And the Levites quieted all the people, saying,
“Hush, for today is holy, and you must not be saddened.”
Then all the people went to eat and drink… and to celebrate with great joy,
for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.
Why were the people crying when they heard the words of God’s Law? Because they were saddened that they had not been living it out. They wanted to live according to the plan of God.
And what does Nehemiah tell the people? “Go and be miserable, because now you have a whole bunch of boring, restrictive laws to follow, and your life is going to be a drag.” UH, NO. He tells them (in a manner of speaking), “Rejoice and don’t be sad!” He tells them that this is GOOD NEWS, because now they know what to do– and how to live!!
Imagine a home in which the parents never gave the children any rules to live by, We all know that chaos, and ultimately, despair, would ensue. We see it all the time. Good parents teach their children how to live, not to restrict them- but precisely for their genuine FREEDOM and their lasting JOY.
One more thing (sorry for the length). In the passages I cited above from Galatians and John, guess what the adjoining passages say?
The whole verse of Galatians 5:1 actually says, “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
In other words, this tells us to not go back to the way we were living before, because THAT was SLAVERY. We become slaves to our temptations, passions, addictions, and sins ALL TOO EASILY; it happens to us ALL. So this is a great reminder to us to embrace the true FREEDOM that Christ has for us.
And as for that passage in John, the verse I cited is found within this context:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
So according to the Lord Jesus, JOY is COMPLETE when we follow His commandments- particularly His commandment to love.
But AGAIN– we can fall into a “worldly” definition of love. Love has often been defined as “To desire the ultimate good for another person.” If that is the case, then we can find true and complete joy in giving of ourselves in love.
Now. What about 40 Days for Life? How are we experiencing true freedom and joy in our own lives? If we’re not, it might be because we are following those worldly definitions. And if we want the women and men who enter Planned Parenthood to ALSO know this true freedom and joy, we have to be living it ourselves. We can’t give what we don’t have.
Let’s LIVE it so that we can then GIVE it. May the abortion-vulnerable people entering Planned Parenthood be touched by our true desire for their ultimate good. May the workers know this love as well. Many of them may not know that this kind of freedom and joy are possible. But I can guarantee that NO ONE who lets their baby live will EVER regret it. Abortion, on the other hand, will lead to a lifetime of regret, often in ways that might not even be conscious. Many of us have seen, heard, and known post-abortive people who tell us this. And it is a sad reality that DOES NOT HAVE TO BE.
Let us continue to PRAY and FAST, that all might know the life-giving love, freedom, and joy that comes from following the will of our great life-affirming God.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a warm, muggy morning. Not much rain, and by the end of my shift the skies were blue and the sun was shining. I was blessed to have my husband, Joe, accompany me. And, it was great to see my sidewalk buddy Peg, who I haven’t seen since last campaign! I got to meet Larry, who is a fairly new participant. Diane had our materials all set up and stayed to pray a little while with us.
It was a very quiet morning, with only one potentially abortion-bound couple who entered. They would not take any information. Dolores, representing the City Center Parishes, arrived for the second half of my shift. All was peaceful until the very end.
As I was getting ready to leave, after greeting the next shift, Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene, Judy, Chuck and Meredith, a hurting young man stopped and was visibly upset with us. He was upset about the fetal models. He was trying to control himself, but he was visibly shaking and almost looked like he was trying to hold back tears. He was telling us that we give Christians a bad name, that we are there to shame people who are going in, and that Planned Parenthood does all sorts of good things for women. As I suspected, he told us that he had been there three times himself to abort his own children.
I tried to have a reasonable conversation with him. I honestly felt only love and compassion in my heart for this poor young man, whom Satan obviously has bound through his own participation in abortion. Unfortunately, he would not let anyone else get a word in. I tried to talk, and ended up raising my voice, just in an effort to be heard, but it probably sounded like I was arguing. Please pray for this poor young man. Obviously, the fact that he is so bothered by us means that his conscience is still alive and there is hope! Abortion is so terrible, it is Satan‘s best tool to enslave God’s children. Please remember to pray for him.
I have just told many stories from today to my husband… so I hope I can adequately convey them the same way here. Perhaps I will share only a couple things. First, THANK YOU to my wonderful OPV family (the grouping from Oakmont, Plum, and Verona parishes)!! It was a delight to pray with my parish family! It struck me more than a few times while we prayed… these people I was praying with were the real deal. Our time today was spent in so much prayer, many times of silence, and with many sacramentals!! So beautiful! So again, I thank this group of wonderful, prayerful people.
There were a few angry people, but that’s to be expected. But– one of our participants (Marilyn) commented on how many people said “God bless you” as they passed her. She was so encouraged and touched by that!
One very powerful story I wanted to share: A woman approached me saying, “Can I ask you a question?” I said, “Sure.” She asked whether any of us have ever adopted or fostered children. I said that yes, I have. She was happy to hear that. She seemed quiet and thoughtful. I thanked her for having a heart that cared about the children. A few moments later, she came back. She said, “I had this done a long time ago (she motioned toward Planned Parenthood), and I’m not over it.” I said, “I’m so sorry…. that’s a big wound in your heart that takes so much time to heal.” She said, “So much TIME? That wound is for the REST of your LIFE. This happened 30 years ago, and it NEVER goes away.” It was so sad to hear her. I happened to have a brochure in my hand for Rachel’s Vineyard (and I almost NEVER have one of those on me…. even though I should). But I briefly told her about it and offered her the brochure and also the yellow card, which also offers help with post-abortion healing. She was so touched and thankful. It was an amazing moment. God bless her and help her to heal.
These gentlemen from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Council were at 40 Days for Life for part of the 1-3, all of 3-5 and some of them stayed for 5-7. They all prayed a beautiful rosary.
Liberty Avenue was busy with school students, commuters and early Pens fans.
A young woman, maybe junior high, disagreed with our effort. We explained to her that there are many people who would want a baby unwanted by his/her mother or father. She said she was unwanted. We told her that there are people who want any baby, even a baby with disabilities. She just listened.
Another woman looked at our models, turned to us and said, “What about rape?” We explained that rape is a crime, and someone should go to jail for rape, but a baby should not have to die because he came into the world via a crime. As she left, she said, “The Lord bless you.”
It’s always tough when someone needs, not a meal, but money. I offered to take the young man to Catholic Charities, but one of the Knights gave him $1 and another gave him $5. He offered to return the $1 because it was more than he needed.
I believe our prayer touches everyone who passes us on the street. No one truly ignores us.
It was a holy day at PP today.
The 5-7 shift was a great shift to work because I was surrounded by a wonderful group of people from the grouping of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Sts. Simon and Jude, and St. Margaret of Scotland, including some Knights of Columbus. Some of the group were there from a previous shift and stayed on to pray with all of us. Very uneventful, some positive comments and a few, but very few, negative ones. Many prayers were sent up from this marvelous group of people.
I was told by someone coming out of the gallery next door that I could not stand in front of the gallery (I stood alongside the door, not in front of it) and I let him know that we are free to assemble anywhere outside of the yellow line. I’ve been told that before by people associated with the gallery, so I’m putting out a plea that while it is perfectly okay to stand alongside the gallery door, please always be careful not to block the door or anyone coming or going from the gallery.