You are all invited to join us for a FULL rosary on behalf of the unborn. We will be asking for our Mother’s intercession on behalf of the unborn, specifically for the closing of the Planned Parenthood located at 933 Liberty Avenue. Each Sunday, throughout the month of May, we will be reciting all 20 mysteries. We will be kicking off this devotion on Sunday, May 6th at St. Alexis’ Church, following the 11 AM Mass & Baptism. We anticipate commencing at 1 PM. The 3 remaining Sundays, we will actually pray in front of Planned Parenthood, bright and early, beginning at 7 AM.
We must keep in mind that Mary is the Queen Mother and was bestowed this title virtually at the time of her acceptance of being the Mother of Jesus. A common misconception today is that the Queen is the woman married to the King. For the Jews however, the mother of the King was in the role of the Queen. A prime example is in the Book of Kings, with Bathsheba as the mother of King Solomon. Bathsheba was the wife of King David, but only became queen when David passed on and Solomon became King.
Fast forward to the Book of Revelation, in chapter 12, “A great sign appeared in the sky. It was a woman clothed with the sun, with moon under feet, AND ON HER HEAD, A CROWN OF TWELVE STARS. SHE WAS WITH CHILD AND WAILED ALLOWED IN PAIN AS SHE LABORED TO GIVE BIRTH.” As you can see, she was already wearing the crown, while she was with child. According to Scripture, she was already Queen mother, before she actually gave birth.
What way to better honor our Mother, than to seek her intercession on behalf of the unborn. What better time to ask for her intercession than during the month of Mary.
I hope you are able to make it to at least 1 Sunday if not more. Incidentally, this prayer vigil will be held on one other special Sunday in June since mothers are not the only ones who are impacted by abortion, we will be there to pray on Father’s day, June 17th as well, again at Planned Parenthood, 933 Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh at 7 AM.
So here we are on Day 38, with just two days left to go. We’ll be gathering in front of Planned Parenthood on Sunday evening at 6:30 PM to mark the end of this campaign and to praise God for the many blessings He has bestowed on us during the last 40 days. It has been a long, cold, wet battle. We are tired and Jesus is granting us a time of rest now, as He often did for His apostles. But we know there’s more work to be done to bring about the day that every human being is recognized, respected, and protected as a precious child of God. That means it’s also time for perseverance.
Nikki, guided by the Holy Spirit, named the virtue of perseverance as the theme of this campaign. It’s so fitting. We don’t know God’s timetable for this battle, only the outcome: complete and total victory for the Lord of Life! What a beautiful reason to hope. And hope is the key to rallying ourselves to persevere. Most Reverend Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, spoke of this hope in his keynote address at the 2016 Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Dinner:
“People sometimes ask me if we can be optimistic, those of us who are religious believers, about the future of our country. My answer is always the same. Optimism and pessimism are equally dangerous for the believer because both God and the devil are full of surprises. But the virtue of hope is another matter. We have every reason to hope. Scripture tells us we must live in hope, and hope is a very different creature from optimism. Hope is the grace to trust that God is who he claims to be, and that in serving him, we do something fertile and precious for the renewal of the world.”
So please, have a blessed and joyful Easter, catch up on sleep, thaw out your toes. But then make your way back to the task at hand in a spirit of perseverance and hope. Sidewalk Advocates and their prayer partners stand in solidarity with those who suffer all year through. You can learn more about them by contacting Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if Planned Parenthood is still on Liberty Avenue in September, 40 Days for Life will be there, too.
How is God calling YOU to continue fighting for the cause of Life?
Here are pictures and reports from today’s vigil…please stop back as more are added!
Barbara and Richard, 7-9 AM:
Daylight was already peeking around the building tops and Diane and Tom had the sidewalk furnished. Our last Friday was underway. There was absolutely no rain or breeze.
Al, Bill, Jen, Kim and Ryan arrived. Jen and Ryan are sidewalk preachers. Jen had amazing and repeated success engaging people.
Jeannie came with a bundle of prolife signs she had refurbished. She had flattened, strengthened and refreshed the signs, replaced the strings and inserted grommets. She stoutly refused to enter a conversation about Wallace and Gromit.
Al and I prayed a Sorrowful Mystery Rosary and included Sally’s recovery in our intentions. She is steadily getting better. The sidewalk is much colder without her.
Many people recognized and greeted us. Moms with kids in tow headed for the day care center just down the street, smiling and calling their kids to keep them near.
All of us will probably be here again in the fall. As Joe says, “All to the glory of God.”
Jeannie, 9-11 AM:
What a beautiful collection of the body of Christ we had this morning on the sidewalk. We saw a little bit of the sun, but the devil allowed the cold to persist and we kept each other’s spirits up through prayer. I was blessed to have Jen and Ryan full of The Holy Spirit to deeply engage several passersby with the word. In this picture a gentleman who stopped and started talking to them on the street chose to be included in the middle of the bunch!!!!!
The 10 o’clock hour brought me five fantastic women from St. Mary’s PA Right to Life. I am sorry that my picture of them did not work out. We had several groups of young people come by maybe classroom excursions, and it was great to see them appreciate the Fetal models. It’s funny how the first reaction is that it is something off color or grotesque. Then — once they realize what it is and that each of them was at one time that tiny and that perfect — it’s a different story.
Marie, 11 AM-1 PM
Nancy, 1-3 PM:
Not much traffic in or out of PP. The cold sidewalk was made bearable by the warm hearts of the prayer warriors. Elk County group stayed from 10-2, and West Hills Baptist church were there from 2-5. A few individuals also prayed. It was very encouraging to see the many witnesses for life standing up for the lives of the unborn babies and their families.
Lisa and Family, 3-5 PM
Pat, 5-7 PM:
Well, I signed my parish (St. Regis) up for this time slot, but I was the only member there this evening. Thankfully, I had my faithful prayer partner, Bill from St. Philip’s in Crafton, with me for the entire time. I also had a brother Knight, Paul, along with his wife Pat (St. Ferdinand’s in Cranberry), with me for the first hour. I believe they had already been there for at least an hour before I arrived.
Perhaps it was the cold, but this seemed to be my longest 2-hour shift of this campaign. While the streets and the sidewalks were both very busy, I can’t remember a single negative incident.
Please note: Our vigil will end at 3 PM on Saturday 3/17 and resume at 7 AM on Sunday 3/18.
I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you;
Speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.
From “The Servant Song”
by Richard Gilliard & David Haas
We know that suffering is a part of this earthly life. We know that we are often powerless to prevent or relieve it. But I think we sometimes forget how much good we do simply by being there with the one who is suffering.
My family is going through a difficult time. No one can instantly solve our troubles except God; and I know that, in His divine wisdom, He may have reason to allow it to continue for a while. In the meantime, it gives me so much comfort and peace to know that we’re being held in prayer by so many people, especially those in our 40 Days for Life family.
When we stand on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood, we hope to reach out and save everyone there from suffering. Sadly, we are not always able to. But we are truly doing so much good just by being there for those in their darkest hour—or in the case of the unborn children, at the hour of their death.
Thank you to all who have stood on that sidewalk offering your presence and prayers for those in trouble. You may not always see the results of your sacrifice, but they are real and they are precious. For those of you who have not been to the vigil yet, we prayerfully ask you to join us in this important ministry!
Here are the pictures and reports from today’s vigil!
Barbara and Richard, 7-9 AM:
As soon as the clock turned to 7am, Manordale Valley Council Knights of Columbus began to arrive. Joining us in prayer were Tim, Dennis, Vito, Bob, Anna Marie, David, Sally and Don.
The weather felt frigid, but the company warmed everything else. Beth arrived and took up her position of honor as sidewalk advocate. Together we did our best to let everyone crossing our path know that abortion is not the choice for a crisis pregnancy. We were ready to help in any circumstance they offered.
Regina, 9-11 AM:
What a happy surprise to be greeted by lovely Shift Manager, Beth who had traded shifts with Kathy, to stand in as our Sidewalk Advocate today! Her sincere and caring offer of help to each of the many women entering Planned Parenthood today warmed and inspired my heart on this bitter cold morning! Beth, you are SO good at this!
A lovely couple finished a rosary with Pam, Shalini and Kay, the beautiful, smiling woman of Saint Ferdinand’s in Cranberry, before hopping in their car to warm up. Shortly thereafter, we continued our 5 decades with Dan and Al from Mother of Sorrows in Murrysville. We noted the blessing participation in The 40 Days Vigil provides, uniting us with brothers and sisters from different parishes, dioceses, and denominations! Love always unifies!
Before leaving, Dan and Al led us in an appropriate Lenten Stations of The Cross reflection and Divine Mercy Chaplet, as we huddled together to pray and block the freezing wind.
The elements didn’t stop Terry from Saint Bonaventure, or David from Holy Sepulcher from showing up! They jumped right in to join us on our final Decade of the shift!
These folks were all such inspiring examples of Holy, selfless generosity and love today! Thank you! We are all truly one in the Lord, and Jesus, whose love is ALWAYS victorious!
Marie, 11 AM-1 PM:
The shift was cold but quiet. Even in the cold members of Holy Sepulcher and Girard Alliance churches faithfully prayed as witnesses to life.
Noreen, 1-3 PM:
It was a good day on the sidewalk. We had some parishioners for Holy Sepulcher in Butler, Bob, Rick, Gretchen and Michael. A couple from Erie prayed with us, Sue and Jeff. And Roseann from St. Thomas More came by on her lunch hour. We had some words of encouragement from a few people which is always uplifting.
Pat, 5-7 PM:
Tonight the streets were crowded. And I think that may have contributed to the slight increase in hostility I felt tonight. There were a few comments and eye rolls, and we had one of our signs knocked over into the street by two young women.
But then there was Aquinas Academy who brought down about half a dozen or more young women – along with three adult chaperones – to pray. [Hey Aquinas, why no guys???] This wonderful scene on the sidewalk more than made up for the increased negativity.
And once again I had my faithful sidekick, Bill from St. Philip’s in Crafton. What a great partner for prayer and good conversation. Although I joked with him that I could simply recycle a picture of him from past weeks for the blog, the picture you see is a fresh one.
has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken?
has anyone called upon him and been ignored?
For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
forgives sins and saves in time of trouble.
As we passed the halfway point of the campaign this week, I admit that I was feeling pretty weak and whiny. Three more weeks? Really? And once I gave in to that question, my fallen nature got on a roll. How many more campaigns? Is this ever going to end?
Right about now, I’m extra grateful that Nikki chose “perseverance” for our theme this time around. I could use a good dose of that particular virtue. It seems like I always have to stop and remind myself of some basic points to find motivation to keep going. Just in case you’re in the same boat, I’ll share…
#1: Just because I don’t understand why God is allowing this to take so long doesn’t mean He doesn’t have a reason. And it’s a good reason, whatever it may be. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)I can’t see the end from where I stand, but God can.
#2: Even if I never come to understand God’s reasoning, I can trust Him. He has proven it to me over and over, and I’m ashamed that I still need to be reminded. Every morning, Lisa sends out a beautiful scripture-based reflection to the vigil shift managers. Yesterday, she called out the last part of this verse: “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.’” (Psalm 95: 7b-9) That’s me, out in the desert with the wandering Israelites, questioning and complaining even though the Lord has saved my life. I need to remember all the good I have seen Him do to quiet my thoughts—in particular the good He is doing through the 40 Days for Life campaign!
#3: In His mercy, God has offered us insight into the way He thinks, so I do have some idea of what He is up to. Take His explanation to Jonah, who became irritated with the discomforts he was suffering while delivering God’s message to the Ninevites. God rebuked Jonah’s impatience, saying, “And should I not be concerned over the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot know their right hand from their left, not to mention all the animals?” (Jonah 4:11) God understands how his children can be deceived—how we cannot know our right hand from our left—and he mercifully gives us more time to come to know the Truth. Like Jonah, I start to focus on the relatively minor discomforts and inconveniences I’m asked to suffer while delivering God’s message on the sidewalk or on the blog, and lose sight of the tremendous need that we’re called to address. The fact that I’m still struggling despite already knowing the Truth shows that I need God’s patience as much as anyone and should be grateful for all the extra time He is granting us!
SO…I’m praying that God will help me (and all of us!) to persevere through the rest of this campaign and however many more campaigns He wills us to hold. I’m asking Him to keep reminding me of all these points that make it easier to go on. God is giving us time to turn away from the temptation to abort…time to find healing and forgiveness for a past abortion or participation in one…time to stop dwelling on the sacrifices we make and to start focusing on the reason we’re making them. Blessedly, He is always aware of our limitations and shows us infinite patience, waiting for us to change and grow in His grace. “And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you.” (2Peter 3:15) God bless you all!
And now for reports and pictures from today’s vigil!
Barbara & Richard, 7-9 AM:
I have a cold.
Richard covered our shift today.
It was nice to have the company of all the people from St. Bonaventure Parish.
Mary, 9-11 AM:
Still thawing out from my 2 hour shift. Fr. John and his St Bonaventure parishioners are saints! Close to 20 of them were already frozen when I arrived at 9: Charlene, Fr. John, Rick, David, Rachel, Bob, Gordon, Ed, Jean, Mary Ann, Theresa, Bill, Mario, Frank, David, Dan, John. They started at 7. Charlene greeted me and said that she was supposed to turn things over to me. I believe the 7-9 manager was sick. I took a group picture of them but most of them (bless their heart) stuck it out until 11 (don’t know how they did it). Edith arrived and it was wonderful to have her with me. She said that one of the abortionists went in with probably 2 residents. It seemed fairly busy. Some people going by took literature. I spoke with one man who stopped to look at the little models. I saw Edith talking to a woman who came out. I had 1 negative remark. Some of us prayed the rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet. After I took the first group photo about 5 more came from St Bonaventure so I took another picture later of Sandy, Carol, Clare, James and Terry (he comes every Friday in Lent). Fr John told me that Rose from St Mary’s goes down to stand at PP sometimes. She is the sister of my Pastor, Fr. Vince. Maybe you know her. Finally at 11, a man from North American Martyrs, Tony, came. Then Marie came to take over from 11-1. I don’t know if she was going to take a picture so I took one of her and Tony. As far as I know it was only the 2 of them. He said the priest was coming at 1. I felt bad because everyone left at 11 except them. I think Edith was leaving. St. Bonaventure should have left long before that because some of them were shaking but they were dedicated.
Marie, 11 AM-1 PM:
Noreen, 1-3 PM:
We had a good shift today. Fr. Joe from North American Martyrs prayed with us. He had a booklet specifically for the unborn. The prayers before each decade were so beautiful. He was kind enough to leave it for us so it’s in the big box if anyone wants to use it.
Lisa and Family, 3-5 PM:
Praying for Life with Bob, Lori and Kaylee from Elizabeth, PA, Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Also Tony from St. Bonaventure and faithful Luke and Esther from St. Monica.
Quiet day with some vocal hostility- mild compared to our Lord’s Way of the Cross. We were happy to do it for Him- the Author of all life and Protector of the innocent!
Pat, 5-7 PM:
Thank you to Pastor Matt and his daughter Mayim who stood and prayed on the “supply chest” side of the circle while Bill and I did the same from the far side. We did have one woman who, walking by, cursed at us and let us know (at least the three males there) that we “didn’t even have a uterus.” Pretty sure that this wasn’t news to any of us.
The sad thing about the evening was that, at about 5:30 I saw so many people coming out. Some were couples, some were employees, and others I wasn’t sure about. It just seemed like a lot of people all within a 10-minute span.
The strange thing about the evening was that at about 6:25 I noticed that the guy in the expensive looking SUV, which had been parked on the side where Bill and I were praying, was filming us with his phone. He couldn’t have gotten anything exciting b/c we were pretty much standing where we were the whole evening as was Matt and Mayim. And then, at about 6:50, the Director of PP and the woman I think of as her second command, got into the SUV and left.
I have to admit that I wasn’t very enthusiastic about starting Lent this year. Actually, I was outright dreading it, feeling worn out from many responsibilities, almost resentful of giving up anything else when daily life already requires plenty of self-denial.
I asked God to help me out, to remind me of the many reasons why Lent can be so refreshing and rewarding, and He allowed me to wake up on Ash Wednesday feeling a little more ready and willing than I had been. I decided on a few sacrifices and planned some ways to give God more of my time.
We were just a few days in and I was starting to sink back into that feeling of resentment when I felt this call: “I don’t want you to give Me more of your time, I want you to give Me all of it.”
Excuse me? You’ve blessed me with an incredible life that I absolutely love—wife, mother of five children, and volunteer for a number of organizations that are dear to me—but it’s not easy! We’re talking 18-hour days, with the remaining 6 hours often spent in a sleeping bag on the floor of my nightmare-prone four-year-old. Now You want me to give You the last pathetic shreds of my time?
(Disclaimer: I know many people have very intense and stressful schedules, and are juggling many responsibilities. I’m not trying to compare, and I wouldn’t trade my life for any other. Just explaining how I felt…) 😊
Anyway, after my initial reaction, I started to realize something. All my time is pretty much accounted for already…what God really wants is for me to let go of the idea that it’s MY time in the first place. I was surprised, and then intrigued. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own (that’s a tall order for a self-admitted control freak) so I asked for His help, and He has granted me the grace to try it.
I’ve gotta say…I am blown away by the sense of peace it gives me. My unmet expectations and resentment disappear. The important tasks get done, because God uses time much more wisely than I do. And I’m not beating myself up for things I’m unable to get to, because I don’t feel like it’s all my fault—God is the one in control! I’m also gratefully noticing quiet moments that I might have otherwise missed.
I am not going to have a perfect 40-and-0 record this Lenten season. I drop the ball every day, many times a day, and have to start over again with God’s mercy and grace. But this just might be the best Lent ever in terms of helping me to grow. I really need this!
If you would like to come to our 40 Days for Life vigil but are just too busy, I challenge you to try giving ownership of your time back to God. Ask Him to make it fit into your schedule. It may require stepping out in faith because He may not show you exactly how He’s going to work it out, but you can trust that He will. God will never be outdone in generosity.
“Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Luke 6:38
Here are the pictures and reports from today’s vigil!
Barbara and Richard, 7-9 AM:
Maryann, Christine arrived at 6:30. We got there at 7:02
Our electricity turned off during the night.
Half hour after waking up, we arrived on the sidewalk…dazed and coffee deficient.
Bitter cold, unrelenting wind.
Al and Sally were not with us this morning. 933 Liberty felt even more hostile.
Could that be possible?
We prayed for Sally and Al. If one is hospitalized, both suffer…age old maxim!
I spoke with one of the couples going in to the dirty window, beige, evil site. He insisted, “This is none of your business.”
“She is my sister,” I answered.
Is it really corny to say the truth?
What is it that makes saying that out loud feel corny?
Regina came and we retreated to a warm car.
Regina, 9-11 AM:
My shift began with a warm greeting from Barbara as she waited for Richard to arrive with their car. They both braved the elements this cold, windy morning, as they began today’s vigil with fellow prayer warriors, MaryAnn and Christine.
I was so happy to be joined by Side Walk Advocate, Kathy Laslow who thoughtfuly updated me on SWA news and progress.
We both prayed, made offers of alternatives to PP bound woman and engaged in some discussion with passerbys when approached.
Around 10:00, I was happy to be joined by Dan from Holy Family in Steubenville, and by Parishioners from St. Therese Parish who prayed all 5 decades of the Rosary!
The familiar faces of faithful Marie and Gloria were a welcome invitation to head off to my Adoration hour at the Oratory where I remember The 40 Days Family in prayer every Friday!
Thank you all for your sacrificial witness! To God be the glory!!!
Marie, 11 AM-1 PM:
There were several Holy Spirit parishioners on site for this shift. It was a peaceful day except for the wind which kept trying to take our sandwich board. We prayed around it to keep it from walking away. Several of the pedestrians on the sidewalk gave positive inclinations of our prayer efforts.
Pat, 5-7 PM:
I always smile when I see that the Holy Name Society from Jeanette will be keeping me company on my Friday evening shift. Ed is so good at keeping us focused on praying and away from too much idle talking. Thank you Ed. I was also joined once again, and right from the start, by Bill from Crafton. I really appreciate his company. Later on Bill H. joined us as well.
While we encountered one very strange man (who wanted Ed’s rosary), he didn’t stay long – and wasn’t nearly as annoying as the wind tonight.
Check back later for additional pictures and reports!
You wake up late for work one morning. After rushing around to get ready, you run to the refrigerator to grab something to eat on the way. Only the light doesn’t come on when you open the door, and everything is warm inside. It’s stopped working. Again. It’s going to have to be replaced…along with all this spoiled food.
You jump into the car to head for work. The gas tank is almost empty. The brakes are squealing at every stop. You’ve been dreading taking it to the garage because you know it’s going to cost hundreds of dollars to fix.
Finally, you get to work, but something’s not right. People are huddled in small groups, voices raised, some crying. Your boss calls you in to the office to tell you that the company needs to lay off some of its workers. You are among them.
Can you feel a knot forming in your stomach just picturing—or perhaps remembering—a situation like this? Now imagine that in the midst of it all, you find out that you (or your wife) is pregnant.
This past week brought a number of challenges to my family—nothing as serious as the scenario above, but enough to stress me out. Adding to my anxiety was the fact that my eternal-optimist husband was uncharacteristically affected by it, too. In His grace, God used the situation to remind me of the fear that some people must feel when they discover that a new life is depending on them, and how it must be compounded if the people they rely on for support are also fearful about it.
In that moment, it would be hard to breathe, let alone think. I would be desperate for an answer. I would be surrounded by a culture that celebrates the legal option for me to “control” my own body—going so far as to tell me it’s sometimes the “responsible” thing to do. Without someone to show me that I have another choice, I could easily feel like Planned Parenthood is my only way out.
If this has happened to you, please know that God understands why you made that decision. He still loves you dearly and longs to welcome you back into relationship with Him. Please visit Silent No More or Rachel’s Vineyard to start the healing process.
If you are pregnant right now and in a frightening situation–because of money woes or any other reason–please know that help is available! The organizations listed here provide many forms of assistance that allow you to choose life for your unborn child. Please contact them today to avoid the heartbreak and anguish of abortion.
If you are participating in 40 Days for Life, THANK YOU! God is granting us the awesome privilege of working with Him to reach people who are abortion-bound or have had an abortion in the past. In cooperation with our prayers and fasting, God is softening people’s hearts to be receptive to help. When we stand in front of the doorway to pain and regret at 933 Liberty Avenue, God is using us to show people that there are infinite possibilities and untold blessings that come from choosing life.
If you are still thinking about joining 40 Days for Life, PLEASE DO! It’s not always easy, but it is always a blessing. We welcome you to come any time between 7 AM and 7 PM from now until March 25th, but especially this Sunday from 11-1 with Rich & Roseann and this Monday from 5-7 with Jeannie so that these dear shift managers will not be left standing alone. Click here to see other times that prayer warriors are most in need. You can let us know when you are coming by emailing email@example.com.
May God bless you all!
Here are pictures and reports from today’s vigil!
Barbara & Richard, 7-9 AM:
Friday morning sidewalk is bustling at 7am.
Diane was almost finished setting up our “furniture.”
Mary Ann and Christine arrived at 7 exactly, smiling and ready to witness and pray.
Al and Sally arrived shortly after, smiling and moving a little more slowly.
Our garden of sidewalk witnesses is varied and colorful.
We women are not wearing gownless evening straps and Al did not choose to wear his tux.
If we were wearing those duds, perhaps we would cause a dent in the market.
Nonetheless we are as welcome as flowers in the spring to the little babies whose lives are in the balance as their parents’ hearts elude us and they enter PP, eyes averted.
To quote Joe, our Sunday evening shift manager, “All glory to God.”
Kathy, 9-10 AM:
Thanks to Bill H for filling in for me as I arrived 10 minutes late.
Maryann M and friend Chris greeted me this wet morning. They also were late in arriving due to conversing with a young man named Kurt, who needed to talk. Kurt stayed into my shift giving his opinions to me and SA Edith. He left abruptly after a passerby stopped to ask for bus money. Edith directed the man to Catholic Charities.
We passed out several fetal development brochures with resources included. We briefly spoke to PP patrons but none accepted our literature.
Edith, 10-11 AM:
Not much to report, sadly. Tried unsuccessfully to initiate conversations with two couples who see med to be there for a very sad and terrible reason. On the other side of the Bubble Zone, Claudia (from St. Alexis?) had a good way of approaching folks, and it looked as though some people exiting PP (who hadn’t been inside very long) accepted literature from her; maybe lives will be saved without our ever knowing it in this world! Please God!!
Claudia was accompanied by another Claudia (who seemed very pleasant and prayerful) and a very caring gentleman who called out offers of help when women were in the Bubble Zone and couldn’t be approached any other way. Before I left, another gentleman had arrived, as well as Marie, the next shift manager.
Marie, 11 AM-1 PM:
Shift went well – St. Alexis is pictured. A few other people stopped to pray. One incident: a group of young adults threw the one sandwich board in the street. Sorry for being late but I work the church fish fry on Fridays.
Dave & Noreen, 1-3 PM:
We had a relatively quiet day, however, there are two things I would like to bring up and maybe spread the word to all shift managers. The gentleman who owns the bar next to PP at 931 Penn was unlocking the door as we arrived today. Two of our people were standing in his doorway and he asked them to move. Almost under his breath he said “every day I have to ask you to move, every day”. He wasn’t rude or anything but you could tell he was annoyed. Later he came out to clean the window and I apologized for people being in the doorway every day and I told him I would spread the word and hopefully no one would use the doorway any more. He thanked me and said he understands we have a right to be there but he has to ask us every day. I think we have to respect the business owners.
The other thing is, the chair we have in the other doorway. The mailman also commented that “every day” he tells the people the chair is in the way because he has to get to the mail slot in the door. If no one is using the chair, can we just keep it folded up in the corner of the doorway and if the chair is open, whether someone is using it or not, if we put it at an angle to the left he can still get to the mail slot. Thanks.
Pat, 5-7 PM:
There was a lot of foot-traffic tonight, which I initially thought was due to the weather. But as the evening wore on it dawned on me that there must be some sort of college convention in town b/c I saw so many college-aged people wearing their college gear. This must have been a factor for PP opening their doors this evening to offer free HIV testing (along with pizza and beer while you waited).
I really enjoyed not having to wear gloves in February. Even more, I enjoyed getting to know Barry and Jackie from Living Hope Church in Latrobe, and Bill from St. Philips in Crafton. Bill and I prayed together on one side of the circle while Barry and Jackie prayed on the other.
“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.
Here are stories and pictures from today’s vigil:
7-9: Barbara and Richard
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.
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!
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
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!
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.
“And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child,
how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
Those are the words Mother Teresa of Calcutta spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., in 1994. I’m asking that the individuals who read this blog who either work at Planned Parenthood or who support abortion pay particular attention to them – and perhaps even meditate on them. Because in light of those words, I have to ask what your reaction was to the terrorist attack in New York a few days ago? Or to what happened in Las Vegas a few weeks ago? Surely you saw the injustice of it, and were disgusted, as we were, by the total disregard for human life.
But here’s what I’m truly curious about: On what rational or moral grounds do you object to these mass murders? Yes, people were killed who didn’t want to be killed. We can agree upon that. But, isn’t that also what happens several times a week inside of 933 Liberty Avenue?
You may argue that the babies aborted are not yet “persons” (mental gymnastics that simply escapes me), but you can’t argue with the science which clearly tells us that, biologically speaking, human life begins at conception. Isn’t that “Embryology 101”?
So, whether you’re calling “the product of conception” a “person” or not, there can be no question that what is being snuffed out is a human life.
40 Days for Life will be leaving your doorstep on Sunday evening, and won’t return until Ash Wednesday when (if necessary) we’ll be back again for another campaign. But in the meantime, I urge you, please think about these things.
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love,
but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the
greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta from that same speech
IMPORTANT NOTES FOR TOMORROW, SUNDAY 11/5:
–Due to the EQT 10 Miler race, Liberty Avenue and other streets will have closures and parking restrictions until almost noon. See maps below for helpful information.
–The Fall 2017 Campaign Closing Rally begins with prayer in front of PP at 6:30 PM, followed by a pot-luck social at Catholic Charities just up the block at Liberty and 9th. Please join us!
7-9 AM, Tim:
Saturday morning started as usual, dark and cold but then things it brightened up. The sidewalk advocates Virginia, David and Joe were on post standing vigil along with year round Saturday regulars Stephanie, John M., Bill H. and Bill S. Then two white vans pulled up and Father Tim, the Guardians for Life and the Knights of Columbus poured out. The sidewalk was then filled with the faithful and song and prayers rang out echoing on Liberty Avenue. As my shift was ending a large group of students from Grove City College arrived and began to pray. What an encouraging site to see such a large group of students. What a bright, beautiful, blessed morning it turned out to be.
9-11 AM and 11 AM-1 PM, Sue M. (thank you, Sue!):
Today I pulled a “double”, although it did not feel that long to me as it was full of prayer and just great people. So many prayer warriors today. I arrived to the faithful Guardians for Life, and shortly after that a large group of Grove City College students arrived to pray. Then came folks from St. Maurice in Forest Hills, St. Patrick in Canonsburg, St. Katharine Drexel in Bentleyville, and St. John XXIII on the North Side. These folks meant business — so much prayer was going on. For the second shift, a huge group arrived from St. James in the West End, including a beautiful baby girl “G” who was just an angel!! Bill H. in his Holy-Spirit-led way, was in and out during the two shifts. Regulars Billy and Bob stopped by.
PP seemed today to be a bit busier than usual, unfortunately. We had many remarks from passersby, I’d say about an equal amount of thumbs-up and thumbs-downs. “K” from the PP-supporting side was there, and several of the ladies dialogued peacefully with her. The quality of the thumbs-ups and encouragements more than made up for the negative comments from passersby. One gentleman was waiting for the bus across the street and made a point to cross over to thank us for being there. A young family in town from Syracuse thanked us and took some literature to distribute in their hometown. And a gentleman who was emptying trash cans on the sidewalk suddenly stopped to pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be with us.
God is working. I believe we can now see only a very small percentage of the workings of the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts as we pray on the sidewalk — not even the tip of the proverbial iceberg. If we stay faithful, we will someday see His glory revealed and the end to abortion forever! Come, Lord Jesus!
1-3 PM, Dean:
As this campaign comes to a close, I encourage all of us to recharge over the next few months. Thank all of you for being God’s hands, feet and mouth on the sidewalk. It has and continues to be a pleasure serving alongside such dedicated Christians. Have a memorable Thanksgiving. I plan on serving in the upcoming Lenten Campaign. May the joy and love of Christ be with each and every one of you.
3-5 PM, Kathy:
Beautiful group from St. James was with Dean when I arrived. Ruth was engaging a woman who held a large “I support Planned Parenthood” sign in conversation. When she left the whole group was very pleasant to her. Truly a loving peaceful witness.
My friend, Marian, came with me to pray. It was her first 40 Days shift. She had taken me to my first March for Life in the early 90’s. We were joined by Bill, Marie, Bill, and Ken.
God provided great prayer warriors, prayers, and fellowship. Very grateful!
So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.
-John 21: 3-6
Peter spent several years as one of our Lord’s closest friends, following Him all over and helping with His ministry. He watched as Jesus was executed; then saw the risen Lord. And yet, after all that, he momentarily said to himself, “Hmm…now what? Well, I guess I’ll go back to being a fisherman.”
We’ve spent the past 38 days praying, fasting, and reaching out to those affected by abortion. Yet my calendar going forward shows nothing but the kids’ activities, holiday events, etc. It’s as if I’ve said to myself, “Hmm…now what? Well, I guess I’ll go back to my old life.”
Don’t get me wrong…I truly believe that God is pleased with our sacrifices and efforts in the Fall 2017 campaign. We also know from Scripture that He has ordained a time for every purpose under Heaven, and that Jesus Himself took His disciples off to pray and rest when they needed to refresh. So I think it’s okay for the intensity to go down for awhile after the campaign ends this Sunday.
But I really can’t just go back to the way things were. My brothers and sisters are being hurt and killed at Planned Parenthood year-round, so I need to keep fighting for them year-round.
There are basic ways to keep going. I can pray daily for hearts to be converted and for abortion to end. I can fit fasting into my week, maybe choosing a day when I know abortions are taking place on Liberty Avenue (currently Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday.)
There are also more powerful ways. Sidewalk Advocates for Life, who courageously stand vigil and offer life-affirming alternatives to PP clients on abortion days throughout the year, welcome and train new members regularly. (Next training session: Sunday, November 12th from noon-5 PM. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.) And silent sidewalk prayer partners are also needed to uphold them and to offer them fellowship in their challenging but crucial ministry.
We all know Peter didn’t go back to fishing in the end. Jesus had a lot more planned for him…as He does for us.
Dear Lord, please call us and strengthen us to continue defending your children even after this campaign ends. As we cast our nets to catch up those who are vulnerable, please fill them to overflowing with men, women, and children who have been saved and can sing Your praise!
7-9 AM, Barbara and Richard:
Friday morning, before dawn, felt silent, warm and sweet. People quietly bustled. Rose arrived. Jeff arrived with our daily supplies.
Harry arrived just in time to help us unpack and arrange items for DAY 38 of our 40 DAY, 12 hour witness. Harry is from St. Alphonsus Parish in Wexford. His son (youngest of 5 children) and he are going to a Boy Scout event this weekend.
Al and Sally arrived and took up their prayer stations. Faithful prolife veterans, they have publicly witnessed for life in the Pittsburgh area for decades.
One by one, someone unlocked the PP doors for a worker who went in just as the door closed and locked behind them. At some point the doors remained unlocked. At least 3 couples went in. They looked away as we offered prolife help.
Greeted with, “God bless you,” a young man looked away and said, “Shut up!” Great! I thought. There’s a sign of life.
Actually signs of life flourish in the faces and in the hearts of passersby. So many smile, nod or give us a thumbs up. We are not wasting our time, or theirs.
11 AM-1 PM, Marie:
Today’s 11-1 shift had a good group of faithful prayer warriors. Fr. Frank from St. Margaret Mary was also part of the group. There were both positive and negative responses from those passing on the sidewalk. This group did a good job of faithfully standing in witness for the unborn.
1-3 PM, Pat:
Not being used to this time, it was a little strange to see so many people – both workers and clients – go in and out of PP. I was there with groups who came to pray from faraway places such as Moon Township and Greensburg, which gives some idea of how far our footprint extends. While only there for about 15 minutes, Nikki showed-up since she had some time available. (Now if I had her schedule, and had some “free-time”, well, let’s just say that coming down to the vigil would have even crossed my mind.) This gave me the opportunity to leave a little early and head back to work. Thanks again, Nikki!
But while I was there, I did have an interesting conversation with Theo (not his real name), a young man in his early 20’s, who has been in the U.S. for only a few years and grew-up in the African nation of The Congo. The conversation started because he didn’t understand what my sign meant. It read: “Shouldn’t human rights begin at conception?” This lead to an interesting conversation because he really had no idea that abortions were legal in the U.S. and happening, at a rate of about 3,000/year, right inside the building we were standing next to. He was having a hard time grasping this…as he should.
Please check back throughout the day as more pictures and stories are posted!
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR SUNDAY: Due to the EQT 10 Miler race, Liberty Avenue and other streets will have closures and parking restrictions on Sunday morning, November 5th, until almost noon. See maps below for helpful information (thank you, Pat!)