Today’s First Reading is a long passage from Genesis. But each week, I look at these readings, and see where the Holy Spirit stops me. And He stopped me here, at this first line. This line from Genesis 3 makes me remember that we cannot hear God when we are focused on self.
This holds true for those of us on EITHER side of the abortion issue. For those of us who are pro-life, we must be outward-looking…. focused on the woman or man before us who is in need of our help. For those who are pro-abortion, there also must be the outward focus: What is good for my child? What is good for the rest of my family? What is good for the father/mother of my child? If the focus is on self, then the chances for abortion are certainly higher.
May the Lord enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we can be HUMBLE enough to prostrate ourselves before Him, and listen to what He wants to tell us.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a cold and icy morning, but it was a good shift. My faithful partner Peggy was there the whole time. Vicki came to pray for a while and Bill stopped by briefly. Katie also came to reach out to the abortion bound clients of Planned Parenthood with alternatives to abortion. The sidewalk was very icy and many people were slipping. I was warning people to be careful, but one woman did go down onto her back. We helped her up and she was OK, thankfully. I asked the security guard if he could throw some salt out, but he told me that it was not Planned Parenthood’s problem. He said the ice was in front of the bar and that we should ask them. I told him they were not open but he simply said it wasn’t his problem.
We didn’t get much interaction with passersby; some eye rolls, that is about all. One woman, however, stopped in the middle of the circle and proclaimed the blood of Jesus over that place and prayed and proclaimed that that place would be closed and that the evil would be defeated. She told us that she had had abortions and now realizes that abortion is murder. It was awesome to watch her pray so boldly. I actually got chills listening to her pray, it seemed prophetic. Of course, it may have just been the cold, but I hope it was the Holy Spirit! Thanks, everyone, for your sacrifice this morning!
It was the quietest Thursday of these 40 days as far as clients going in this morning. We only saw one couple go in during our two hours there.
We were a bit distracted by the icy sidewalks as two people fell and lots of others did “ice dances!”
Thank you everyone for coming out to pray during these 40 Days for Life! I hope you’ll come out and bring a friend a time or two before our next 40 days. Your prayers are always needed outside of 933 Liberty Ave.
I hope, too, that you’ll plan to come over to pray at Magee-Womens Hospital, where 500-700 abortions are committed every year. Over half of those abortions are committed in the second trimester. If you’d like to know more about that opportunity, drop me a line at TheMageeProject@gmail.com.
Hope to see you at the closing Sunday evening!
The 11-1 shift today was relatively quiet. I had wonderful companions, including Denise, a Thursday regular, who is not pictured here. I am so grateful for their presence and prayers… especially to Fr. Tom from St. Patrick parish, who came prepared with holy water and blessed salt, which he prayerfully sprinkled around the sidewalk. Thank you, Father, for all of these special blessings!!
We had several words of blessing and thanks from passersby today. Maybe it was the sunshine? But my favorite line came from a black man who, as he passed us, said casually, “God’s got y’alls back.” I loved it.
What a wonderful day! We enjoyed the beauty of two families from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Carnegie. Both families brought five children, all of them prayerful, pleasant, polite and patient. An added bonus is that we also had one more baby in utero and lovely Isabel was celebrating her 12th Birthday.
With the families was a fine blond lady who would make a super Shift Manager. (I’m sorry I’ve forgotten many names, so I won’t try to guess.)
We all sang “Happy Birthday” to Isabel, and then we prayed the rosary. No fidgeting, fussing, or fighting, and the children took turns leading the decades. We also prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet before the families walked into the sunlight.
After they left, we still had two Knights from the parish, and another young lady who came from her office at the other end of the Golden Triangle.
The sidewalk was busy with not just the students and bus lines; we also had the company of many members of the American Society of Black Engineers, who are having gatherings in Pittsburgh.
And let us recall the outward focus of our love.
May our humility allow us to hear the call of the Lord for our lives and our families.
“To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.”
This really seems to be a theme in my life this week… the fact that we can so easily FORGET what the Lord has done for us. Why do we do this?? I think it is mainly because we focus too much on OURSELVES. Any one of us can fall into this selfishness, putting ourselves before others and God.
During each 40 Days for Life campaign, we MUST remember what the Lord has done for us… and what He continues to do. He continues to change people’s minds and hearts about human life. Especially as we enter into the last ten days of this campaign, we must not forget the God who has done great deeds for us. Prayer can help us to remember, because it keeps us connected to Him:
Let us TRUST that He continues to work in us, through us, and with us. He is alongside the abortion-bound couple… alongside the abortion worker… alongside each of us as we pray. Let us trust that He will lead us in ways that are right.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a worthwhile time on the sidewalk this morning. I was very bundled up and stayed fairly warm. There was no wind, which made it nice. I feel so badly for those who had to suffer yesterday in that bitter cold wind.
When I first arrived, Diane was already loading up the materials. Please pray that she gets well soon as she is trying to get over strep throat. We have such dedicated and faithful people on our team, I am so grateful to God for sending so many wonderful people to this movement!
As usual, the first hour was relatively quiet and I was able to pray. Faithful Peggy was my partner and we stayed on opposite sides of the circle. Vickie came and prayed for a while before heading to work; it was good to have her there. A young man named Sean came and stayed for at least an hour before going to work. He belongs to Saint Paul Cathedral but was unable to come with them last night. It was a blessing to have his smiling face added to our little prayer presence. At about 10 minutes before eight customers begin entering. It was clearly an abortion day. I was able to hand out quite a few of the resource cards, and almost everyone who entered heard that there were other options available and that we were happy to help.
One young woman left planned Parenthood and came up to talk to me. I had given her the card when she entered, and she said she still had it, but she was curious to know why we were there. She did not know if we were promoting another abortion clinic or if we were against abortion. She already has four children, and she is 25. She is planning on having an abortion. She said she is 12 weeks pregnant, as she looked at the baby model display. She asked me if that was really the size of a 12 week baby, which I confirmed that it was. She seemed surprised, said she wasn’t sure if that was really correct. I told her to look it up online for herself, that those sizes are accurate.
When she said she had four children, I said, “So, this is your fifth?” She said yes. In my mind, I was encouraged that she was acknowledging that this new life within her was indeed her fifth child. She said that she did not want to keep this child because the child is from a different father, and he is not her boyfriend. I told her in a matter of fact way that none of that will matter in 20 years. When all her children are grown and she is a grandmother, she will simply be grateful for all of them, and will not care about the circumstances that she is worried about now. I told her how she would never regret having this child, but on the other hand, in 20 years she could very well regret having an abortion, always wondering what this child could have been. She seemed open; I think there is a chance she could choose life. She said she was leaving and needed to make another appointment. She said that by the time she has her next appointment she will be 16 weeks pregnant. So, please pray for this young woman, that the Holy Spirit waters the seeds that were planted and that this child will be brought to birth.
It was wonderful to see Judy and Chuck as they arrived to take over. Thank you to everyone for enduring this cold weather for this very important cause! Oh, one last thing, another blessing from this morning. We had many people stop to thank us for being there, and we also had many people scream words of condemnation. But, it was a blessing that I was able to affirm to a young woman who, as she walked by, shouted at me that I was a “f-ing worthless piece of s—-,” that she was loved by God and was very important in his eyes. It is a blessing to get to turn curses into words of love and affirmation. It is a gift to be able to participate in 40 Days for Life, and I am very grateful to God!
The shift from 11-1 was fine, other than the parking problems we had. What a headache for my fellow parishioners, whose day at the vigil was today! I thank all of them who were so faithful in the midst of that difficulty.
There were several good and bad reactions that we received… just like normal. But one group of three young men passed by, and I assumed that they were going to goof off and joke about us or our signs/display, etc. But it was the baby model display that caught their eye. One of them looked at me and said that he was expecting a baby. Another said that he had three kids, and he does NOT believe in abortion. And then the first man said, “I felt my baby kick the other day.” and the second man introduced himself to me, and offered a “God bless you.” It was a BEAUTIFUL moment. So unexpected. It reminded me that we CANNOT presume to know what people are thinking, and who is in agreement with us or not as they simply pass by.
I also really wanted to share about TWO amazing things that happened Tuesday and yesterday because of my little pro-life witness. Tuesday afternoon, I stopped by a grocery store, catching a glimpse of myself in the glass doors as I went in, and realizing that I was wearing my 40 Days for Life button on my coat that says, “Pray for an End to Abortion.” There was a TINY part of me that was mildly bugged by that. I was thinking that other shoppers who saw it would think things like, “Who does she think she is?” or “What makes her think she can tell everyone what to do?” etc.
I went to the checkout line, and the cashier looked at my button and said very solemnly, “Pray to End Abortion….. oh, YES.” I couldn’t believe it. I smiled and thanked her, and she told me about a prayer group at her church she was a part of… and then, after she bagged my items, she came around the counter and HUGGED me. Whaaaat? That was amazing, and DEFINITELY not in my usual realm of experience.
Then yesterday, I was sending several emails to some moms whose kids go to my daughter’s school. These were emails about the school musical. These women and I don’t know each other. Well, I have a “signature line” that appears automatically at the bottom of each of my emails- and it is overtly pro-life and Catholic. One part of it says, “Pray for an end to abortion.” Once again, there was a TINY part of me… maybe even a little bigger than the day before… that made me think, “Maybe I should delete my signature line. After all, do I need to “put it out there” right off the bat that I am pro-life?” and “These women don’t need to feel like I’m this ‘controversial’ person in these otherwise innocuous emails.”
To my surprise, after corresponding with one of the moms several times, I saw this sentence at the end of her final email: “Praying for your request.” I was so touched- and amazed again.
All of this makes me think of the above Scripture passage from the psalm above. How EASY it is to (almost instantly) forget what the Lord has done for us!! I didn’t even last 24 hours without forgetting!! I was having that uncomfortableness get in the way of my pro-life convictions so SOON after my witness had just been beautifully affirmed.
We must NOT be afraid or ashamed. Our pro-life witness will anger some; we all know that. But it will INSPIRE and UNITE others in ways we never imagined. Let us not forget.
I was determined to be early today. I knew Carol would be chilled to the bone. Little did I know that I’d be turned away from four garages and three parking lots, all with signs that read, “Full. No Parking. Leases Only.” When I finally got to PP, Carol and Jack were immediately understanding and sympathetic. They had to park far down on Liberty Avenue, and Jack (from St. John the Baptist) found a space only on 31st Street. The NCAA is in town, and there are only so many places to park. There is also an art exhibit at the gallery just down the street, so there was a lot of sidewalk traffic, too.
A young woman came along and snapped, “Don’t you have anything else to do?” Jack was quick on the draw when he said, “We are doing the most important work in the world.”
I was grateful for the hand warmers, and Nicolas, who is a fourth grader, found room for them in his shoes. I’m sure he was glad his dad told him to wear gloves and a hat that looked like a penguin and had a black scarf attached. Nicholas had good questions for his dad. He won’t soon forget the women who went into Planned Parenthood. The fetal models were a good visual for this wise young man.
Almost out of nowhere, four uniformed Pittsburgh Police officers stopped at the doors of Planned Parenthood and rang the bell. They went inside, and very shortly six or seven individuals whom we presumed are employees, came out and scattered in several directions. About five minutes later, the police officers emerged and gave each other some “questioning” looks. One of them asked those of us standing there, “Did anyone come around here and give you a hard time?” We answered, “No.” They smiled, shrugged and disappeared as quickly as they had arrived.
About 4:40, the next shift manager arrived. He was a pleasant fellow from Our Lady of Fatima Church. He was soon joined by three faithful regulars who undertook their shift with smiles and high spirits. I overheard a man (who is a deacon) tell Chris, who just finished his vigil, that he should be a deacon.
Judging from the brief, special time I spent on the sidewalk with Chris and Nicolas, I happily agreed.
In today’s Gospel, our Lord called John the Baptist a burning and shining lamp. My prayer today was for our people to be that visible light of truth. I was blessed to stand in that light tonight with some faithful members of the parish, in Plum, named after that great saint. The first hour I was joined by Lisa and Tim, and the second hour with Peg. St. John the Baptist, pray for us.
The Lord is at work in the midst of this campaign.
He is at work at every moment!
Let us consider these beautiful forget-me-nots as a REMINDER of all He has done, is doing, and will continue to do.
May WE work alongside Him to contribute toward bringing an END to abortion.
Thus says the LORD: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.
But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day, I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets. Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers. When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you. Say to them: This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.
Jeremiah 7: 23-28
The Lord DOES NOT say that if we walk in His ways, He will make our lives miserable.
NO. He tells us that if we walk in His ways……
…that we will PROSPER.
This means that ALL of the things in life that we need will be provided for by HIM. We will PROSPER.
Of course, we know that we’re not referring to material things- but SPIRITUAL.
This Lent, are we walking in His ways? Are we PROSPERING?
We know of some ways in which we definitely WILL NOT and CANNOT prosper: When we TURN OUR BACKS TO HIM…
… and when we DO NOT LISTEN to Him….
But the Lord wants to give us EVERYTHING that is good. He wants us to prosper.
Have you had an abortion? Participated in any way in helping someone to get one? Supported abortion in any way? Then you may feel like you are in the “misery” photo, above…. lost, alone, and in a moral wasteland.
Wouldn’t we rather live in the place of prosperity, where we will be richly provided for? THIS is what the Lord desires…. for ALL of us.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a quiet and peaceful early morning shift. I had my faithful prayer partner Peggy with me. In the early morning hours, most pedestrians seem to mostly ignore us, just trying to get to work on time and still half asleep. I was able to pray. The first couple, who clearly seemed to be abortion-bound, entered the building around 7:30. The man motioned for the woman to take the information that I was offering, but she refused. They did not come back out. By the end of my shift, couples were starting to enter the clinic. I have a feeling it will be a busy abortion day today. Thanks to God for giving us this opportunity to stand in the gap for these little ones who have no voice, to be a voice and a witness for them!
Bill stopped for a bit, and Chuck came half an hour early for his 9 to 11 shift. Meredith, the substitute shift manager, arrived a little before nine. It was wonderful to see her! The new baby model set looks so beautiful with the sun shining on it. I took a picture. Katie also came to sidewalk counsel, such a joy to have her back! Thank you to everyone who is participating in 40 Days for Life! May God bless you!
When I arrived for my shift, Chuck and Katie! were already there. Katie managed to hold an armload of stuff, prepared to share with passers-by, in spite of needing to wear big mittens today. I opted for yellow cards, but had to look down from time to time to make sure I was still holding them! I attempted to hand literature to a young woman both Katie and I thought to be Planned Parenthood-bound, but when I put my hand out to hand it to her, it was empty! I had dropped it from my mittened fingers! Fortunately, she passed up the doors as did most people. There were far fewer clients going in today, praise the Lord!
The new fetal models are amazing! But although they got some glances, it was a bit too brisk for folks to linger long.
Planned Parenthood was obviously going to have some kind of presence at the International Women’s Day event. Staff and volunteers came and went with materials and signs.
I’m just so blessed to know that 80 and more days of the year, life is represented at the very gates of hell. Keep up the “good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
Meredith and her friends from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene had the sidewalk filled with prayer. As they left, Katie remained and handed out prolife literature.
This was one of the most congenial days. So many of the passersby had much to say about gratitude for our witness.
One man knows Al and Sally and praised them for their years-long history of pro life time spent in outdoor inclement weather.
There was a police-accompanied group of marchers carrying signs. I could not read any of the signs. They were a block away.
Early in the shift, we were joined by students and 3 women with them who had traveled to us from Elk County Catholic High School, a 2 1/2 hour drive away. Their names were Dominic, Anna, Maggie, Josie, Morgan, Gina, Mary, Rena, Catherine, Holly, Emma and Cathy.
The women were Janet, Marilyn and Laurey. Soon after they arrived, they prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet and then the prayers on the back of Jeannie’s baby pictures. Soon, again, they were praying the Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries Rosaries.
No wonder the sidewalk felt so congenial.
Barbara, 11-12 Shift Manager
I arrived at noon and was greeted by Laurey, my friend and St. Vincent College classmate from many years ago. She, along with her sister and two sisters-in-law (I hope I have that right) brought two full car-loads of high school students from Elk County Christian way up there in St. Mary’s PA. [SIDE NOTE: B/c so many of the monks at St. Vincent originally hailed from St. Mary’s, I was taught by these same monks to refer to it as “The Holy City.”] I know their prayerful and happy presence made an impact on many, many people today.
Later on I was joined by Denise from the North Side and three women from PCUC in New Castle. Thank you all for your many sacrifices on a cold March day.
Three lovely ladies from the New Castle chapter of People Concerned for the Unborn Child were almost ready for the long ride home as we began our shift.
Joe and Mike, good buddies from Corpus Christi in McKeesport, were ready with rosaries and the willing, spirited determination of veteran pro-lifers.
Bob and Anna Marie from St. John the Baptist de LaSalle in Delmont are veterans, too. They had been standing and praying since 1:00. They offered assistance to a woman who said she needed money because she was hungry. Bob offered to take her to the nearby Burger King for a hearty meal. She said “no thanks.”
Not a lot of traffic into PP. There was a lady with several bags of decorator items. I had not seen the couple who manage the vegetarian restaurant across the street, and I missed them. Today they were there to head for home with remnants of their day’s work, still smiling and adding to our familiarity of this Pittsburgh landmark.
The clear cover over our new fetal models is a tribute to Nikki’s craftsmanship. The self-explanatory exhibit is a fine teaching tool and a person who is ambivalent about having an abortion will have their doubts reinforced in a healthy way.
Charles came as Shift Manager for the 5:00-7:00 shift just as our Pittsburgh “canyon” filled with the promised flutter of snowflakes.
Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.
Jeremiah 17: 5-8
I see the baby’s hand holding on to a trusted adult. I also see the Lord tell us in Jeremiah, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings.” How can these two be reconciled? How are we to ascertain the times when we should- or should not- trust our fellow human beings?
Certainly, there are times when we need to trust those around us. We trust in humans all the time, from the time we are very young.
We are made for communion with one another. God made us with the knowledge that “it is not good for the man to be alone.” So… why would the Lord say, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh?” Because of the next line: “Whose heart turns away from the Lord.”
Do the abortion-minded couples we encounter seek their strength in what their fellow humans have to offer them, and trust in THAT ALONE? Because if so, then they will surely find themselves “cursed,” right? “Cursed” in the sense that they will not be seeking God’s will. And if not God’s will, then their own or someone else’s. Therefore, they will not have the serenity that HE ALONE can bring. This is why they- and we- must remain close to the Lord at all times, but particularly in times that challenge us to the core. We must remain “planted beside” Him and gaining our strength from HIM.
Let us continue to sincerely PRAY for and have COMPASSION for those who are seeking abortion. May we show Christ’s love to them. May we be witnesses to the world that love for, and trust in, one another matters. It can even save a life. No one needs to feel alone.
We can put our trust in a friend…..
And ultimately, we can put our trust in Christ Jesus, uniting ourselves to Him in prayer….
Shift Manager Reports
It was a quiet 7 to 9 shift, the rain held off and the temperatures were mild. It was very prayerful. Around 7:30, abortion-bound couples began entering the clinic. I did my best to offer assistance, but most of them refused the information.
Sally was on my heart, as I learned last night that she is in the hospital with pneumonia and it is serious. The first two couples who went in were offered information and refused, but they heard our encouragement for them about alternatives and help. I prayed that God would save those first two babies for Sally. Sadly, they never came back out. Please everyone, pray for Sally’s healing! God bless you!
It was a “fine soft mornin'” this morning, over 10 degrees warmer and much less rain than last week!
I shared the sidewalk with faithful Chuck who greets every passerby with a cheery “Good morning! God bless you!” Most people respond in kind.
Sadly, it was a busy day for abortion-bound couples. But I didn’t feel the usual sadness because I felt so strongly that as we were present, and prayed, and handed out resource cards, God Himself was doing the battle.
One young woman came out of PP and received the resource card I gave her. She said that her appointment was rescheduled, and when I told her that she could have a free ultrasound, she was sorry she didn’t know before because she had to pay $100 at PP. Please pray for her, since we’re not sure what her situation is.
Another woman passing by shared that she was told at sixteen that she could not have a child. She has two blessings contrary to that diagnosis and doesn’t understand abortion, since there are so many people who would be glad to have a child.
Chuck and I were leaving the vigil, relieved by Lisa and Pastor Adam when Pastor Adam’s collar caught the attention of a man passing by who requested prayer. Pray for him and his heroin-addicted daughter who may be pregnant.
Keep being light in the darkness and never give up hope!
God bless you,
Today was one of those days that the reality of abortion hit me again. I am so thankful that it happens, because I would never want to become desensitized to that reality.
Nikki had told me about a couple who had gone in this morning, and to keep an eye out for them if they should come out. Well, they DID come out, but it appeared as though the poor woman had an abortion already. SO sad. The couple was with what looked like the woman’s parents. When I approached the four of them as they came out, three of them would not make eye contact with me. Only the woman’s mother looked at me with a sad smile and said, “No, thank you. We’re okay.” They waited another moment for the light to change, and so I said, “We’re here to help- and we’ll be here all day.” She smiled again as they left. JUST. SO. SAD. How does their life go after this? We’ll never know. But it has made mine a little sadder.
One thing that made my shift a little nicer, however, was spending it with Pastor Adam. What a wonderful man. Thank you, Pastor Adam, for manning the other side of the circle. And thank you also to Joan, Bob, Philene, and Denise who joined us as well. God bless you all!
We were with two ladies from SS. Simon and Jude parish. We all stood in the rain and prayed. It was a good shift. I am thankful for the people who came and braved the rain.
(Carolyn also sent a lovely photo of two wonderful prayer volunteers. My apologies for not including their names. I will do so when I find out!)
Three “pre-teens” came to taunt us. They made noise and wrote silly signs, e.g., “I’m not with them.” It was chilly and raining, but they didn’t mind. The girl asked me. “Are you a feminist?” She seemed shocked when I said “no.”
It poured down rain the entire two hours. We were soaked, and there was standing water on the sidewalk. But it was wonderful having Joe with us!
Jim, a Knight from St. Bernadette, came early to relieve our “team.”
Joe and Jim kept vigil on the sidewalk and passersby said, “I pray every day!” It’s as good as sunshine when someone says, “Thank you.”
We were grateful for that little yellow cubbyhole out of the rain–until the drainpipe overflowed and filled our safe space with a cold pond of water.
Joe worked in heavy construction so he was comfortable in a light jacket. Our rosary rose to heaven on raindrops.
Thank you to the Knights of Columbus who braved the elements and stayed during my shift. Bill H. came for a short visit.
I took the opportunity to pass out literature, 40 Days wristbands, and buttons when it stopped raining. All of it went. Some thank yous were given to us from passersby. A few negative glares and comments. God bless them!
The rest of the time was spent praying and talking to one another.
Let us remember to put all of our trust ultimately in the Lord.
The banquet hall was filled. To speak for the occasion, a renowned orator had been brought in. After a wonderful meal, he mesmerized the crowd with his voice as he recited poetry and famous selections of speeches.
Near the end of the program, he asked if anyone had a favorite selection that they would like for him to recite. From the back of the room, an old man stood up and kindly asked if he would mind reciting the 23rd Psalm. The speaker said that he would be glad to do it if, when he was finished, the old man would recite it as well. The old gentleman nodded his head and sat back down.
In a beautifully trained voice that resonated throughout the great room, the speaker began, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…” When he was finished, there was thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
He then looked at the old man and said, “All right sir, it is your turn now.”
In a trembling voice that was cracked by time, the old man began to recite, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” It is said that when he was finished, there was no applause, but neither was there a dry eye in the building.
After the event, someone asked the famous speaker what he thought produced the different responses in the crowd. The speaker paused, thought for a moment and said, “I know the psalm, but that man knows the Shepherd.”
Friends, many of you have heard this story before, and it may be a true story or not. That is of little consequence. The importance of the story is this: Knowing the Shepherd has meaning. It MATTERS. Our relationship with the Lord is what shapes our whole existence.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm helps us to meditate upon the Lord as our Shepherd:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side With your rod and your staff that give me courage.
Do you know anyone who thinks a woman has the “right” to choose an abortion? Of course you do. A question to consider… how would this psalm sound from a pro-abortion perspective?
The LORD is the slaughterer; I shall not want.
In dark abortion facilities he gives me repose;
Beside anxious family members he leads me;
he confuses my soul.
Even though I walk in the sunny life of denial,
I fear no labor and delivery; for you are at my side
With your forceps and your curette
that give my baby death.
NOW…. which of these sounds like the Good Shepherd that I know– that YOU know? Honestly, I don’t believe that even the most pro-abortion advocate would consider this second version acceptable. We KNOW in our heart of hearts that this is not Our God. Our God is one who wants us to have life…. security…. peace…. mercy. He is NOT a God of death. That realm belongs to the enemy.
May we hold up the TRUTH to the abortion-bound men and women seeking what they THINK they want at Planned Parenthood. May we hold up this truth also to the passersby. Not by making a spectacle of ourselves… but by being ambassadors of the One who speaks with His still, small voice in the hearts of His beloved children.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a privilege to pray in the pouring rain this morning with my dear partner Peggy. Seeing our wonderful Diane setting up all of our materials in the pouring rain (she was drenched by the time she left to go to work), I was so inspired at her dedication. The rain and the wind never let up, but it just felt like our prayers and our presence had more impact and more meaning in weather such as this. It becomes clear to me and to those who see us, I think, just how urgent the problem of abortion is, that it warrants such extreme measures. I am probably sounding overly dramatic here; it’s not like I was arrested or went to jail or was martyred. I simply stood in the soaking rain for two hours. Not really that big of a deal. But, it was a small offering that I was grateful to be able to give to God. And I’m very grateful for those who came today as well. At 9 o’clock the ladies from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene arrived to carry-on the vigil from 9 to 11, led by their faithful leader and Shift Manager, Judy. I left the vigil in her capable hands and am looking forward to drying out and warming up. God bless and protect our 40 Days for Life here in Pittsburgh and around the world!
I am so thankful for my prayer partners today. I had three dear ones!! Thank you to Deacon Dan from Holy Angels, who was MORE than prepared to lead us in prayer, as well as being so kind and generous. Thank you also to Denise and Philene!! We made a good team, all!! Thank you!
Thank you to Sheila for her presence and her photos. Gerri welcomed the young man who said, “I’m a Christian. I’ll pray with you.” St. Bernadette’s presence was from 3:00 to 5:00, and at 5:00 two more St. Bernadette faithful arrived. One of the ladies very innocently walked into the “forbidden zone,” and the security guard was at the door in a flash. A woman headed for the “bus line” laughed and called the guard’s move “ridiculous.” She said if she were part of the vigil she would deliberately cross the lines.
By 3:00 the rain ended, but the chill remained. Everything was damp, including our sign-up sheet and penpoints. A family of various ages stopped to take pictures of the Liberty Avenue panorama. I asked the mom if they were visitors. She responded, “No English.” They were from France. I welcomed them to Pittsburgh and pointed out the August Wilson Center and the Federal Building. I wonder what they thought about our signs and prayers.
A big thank you to Shift Manager Sheila, who filled in for an hour today! She was with the dear parishioners of St. Bernadette in Monroeville.
The Thursday 5-7 PM shift was peaceful and prayerful. Special thanks to Sheila & Jim for filling in as Shift Managers from 5-6 PM, and to Peg and Ed from St. Bernadette’s in Monroeville, and Mary from Assumption for their prayers and witness for unborn children and pregnant mothers in need. Thanks also to Diane and Tom for their faithfulness in picking up the posters and signs.
Just as this baby snuggles in his daddy’s protection,
let us recall and KNOW in our hearts
that the Lord is our Shepherd; there is nothing we shall want.
Then [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”
As Christians, during Lent, we usually WANT to “do Lent well.” We have a desire to accomplish our spiritual goals, and have the best of intentions. But temptations creep in at every turn.
Sadly, sometimes the world cries out to us in neon lights. It screams, “DON’T YOU WANT THIS??”
If we say “yes” to the world, are we willing to lose our soul in the process?
It might take everything within us to say “no” to the lures of the world, and to remember that enduring difficulties well -carrying our crosses- will bring us closer to Our Lord and to real joy and life.
And so, we turn again to the only One in Whom the fullness of life is found. We carry our crosses and we follow Him. And sometimes that can seem like walking alone in a desert. Maybe even uphill.
But notice that in the above photo, the man has something really important to help him on his arduous journey. A backpack. What is inside it? We don’t know. But we can assume that it is filled with things to help him on his trek through the desert.
Likewise, Our Lord never leaves us alone. He supplies us with all that we need to “do Lent well,” and to carry our crosses. One of the key aspects of His help is not a backpack, but something even more helpful: His presence. He doesn’t say, ” Take up your cross and…. there ya go! Good luck! Hope that works out for ya!” NO. He says, “Take up your cross and…. FOLLOW ME.” Hmm. Perhaps Jesus is actually ON this journey WITH us. We can FOLLOW Him… and we will not be alone.
Now there is a DIFFERENT kind of journey that some of us are on. This is a journey that involves fear, doubt, and insecurity. This is the journey of a couple who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. In what kind of desert might such people find themselves?
This woman is not in a typical desert, but finds herself in one nonetheless. Even when other people and civilization are all around her, she may feel more alone than ever, and may believe that abortion is her only option.
But Jesus is present for her, too. She just needs to seek Him. He does not want her to be LOST through the desert. He does not want her to die. He wants her to FOLLOW HIM.
And if she does, then a new person, created by God, will make SOMEONE’S life a whole lot brighter.
Shift Manager Reports
I am thanking God for warm weather! It was so comfortable being outside this morning, what a blessing! As always, it was a blessing to share my 7 to 9 shift on Thursday mornings with wonderful Peg. We stayed on opposite sides of the circle, and I sat in the chair for most of my shift because I am not feeling well. I hope I am not getting the flu, I hope it is just a cold.
It was also a huge blessing to have Katie join us for the entire shift. She came to offer hope and options to those entering Planned Parenthood, which she did on many occasions. It seemed as if it may be an abortion day, a few couples went in, the clinic was definitely open for business. She also offered literature to everyone passing by, some took it and smiled, others stared straight ahead as if she wasn’t even there, I heard a few tell her that they support Planned Parenthood or they were pro-choice. Thank God she was there.
Chuck and Judy arrived early for their 9 to 11 shift. I am so thankful for them and it is a treat to get to see them each Thursday! We left the vigil in their capable and loving hands.
Today’s shift was busy, and in a way it felt like we’d never left. I’m sure that others who oppose us don’t feel that way!
We had several newcomers today, which was great! Thank you for coming! New people are always welcome!
I was blessed to have many pray-ers come and go on my shift. I even had two Sidewalk Advocates! That was wonderful. Thank you, ladies!
Several people who passed by said they were thankful for us being there. Always encouraging.
John and Antoinette were at 933 when I arrived. What joy to see John. Antoinette and her husband Tom are a K of C couple from Greensburg.
Tom and Jim were so warm & friendly, the rain was no burden.
Weather was wet but hearts were warm. Old pal John was part of Carolyn’s vigil. What joy to see him! The K of C couple from Greensburg were veteran pro-lifers.
I had just prayed a rosary when a man carrying a flask-like bottle of a clear liquid came along. He took a swig and told me, “I don’t agree with this stuff.” I was not sure if he meant me or PP, and I didn’t ask.
I went around the yellow curve to tell Jim, when along came a lady to talk to us. Jim responded artfully as this somewhat inebriated lady tore into us, telling us we should not be there. She had had an abortion when she was 17, and she was glad. She said that we had no business telling anyone what to do. Her streak of blue language made us assure her that we would pray for her. As we listened to the lady’s rant and pitied her condition, I wondered if she might be a familiar face to others who keep vigil.
By the time Rick arrived, we were well-soaked but happy to have had the privilege of being there. The smiles and greetings from passers-by and our humble presence will make a difference we won’t know until the next world.
The Thursday 5-7 PM shift was quiet, peaceful and rainy. Special thanks to Francis from St. Margaret of Scotland, SS. Simon and Jude Knights of Columbus, and Jim from St. Maurice for their prayers and witness on behalf of unborn children and pregnant mothers in need. Thanks also to Tom and Diane for their faithfulness in picking up all the signs and materials. The 5-7 PM shift ended a little early due to the inclement weather.
One last thought on the season of LENT:
Even though we might sometimes feel like this little guy…. we CAN resist temptation, carry our crosses, and FOLLOW the LORD. Be not afraid!
Lent is GOOD- it brings us closer to the One who loves us most!!!
Christmas caroling, in front of an abortion facility? Why? Well, an article was written last year (2016) in the National Catholic Registerto explain why. Below, I have included some excerpts from that article:
The Christmas caroling, organized in San Bernardino, was part of a wider movement of caroling in front of abortion businesses during this Advent season called “Peace in the Womb.”
Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, which began the singing event in Chicago  years ago, told the Register that the inspiration for the caroling came from a friend who had studied St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Bodycatechesis. Scheidler said she had suggested this perspective: For women facing the trauma of aborting their children at the holidays, hearing Christmas carols might connect them “to God’s healing and mercy.”
“So there was a double purpose: to plant a seed for future healing, so that Christmas becomes a channel for them to overcome the abortions they’re having at Christmastime,” he said, “and on the other side of it, inspiring people with the Christmas story so they don’t go through with those abortions.”
Scheidler said that they have seen both of those things happen.
One Spanish-speaking couple they met said the carols had drawn them outside the abortion center. They opted to go to the local pregnancy center.
The songs resonate with many, helping them to change their minds about abortion. And the carols don’t just reach Christians. [In 2014], another couple that opted not to have an abortion was Muslim, but had admired the Christmas singing, changed their minds — and ultimately left the abortion center’s waiting room.
The singers want people to know that their unborn children are “Christmas babies” and that Jesus came into the world “to give life, that we may have it more abundantly.”
The carolers have touched hearts beyond the women and their family members going into the abortion centers. In Sarasota, Florida, he said, one of the abortion escorts complimented the “Peace in the Womb” carolers on their singing.
Another group in Tempe, Arizona, he added, had 120 people turn out, including a group called “Dancers for Jesus” from nearby St. Margaret Catholic Church.
Overall, the response has been positive.
In San Bernardino, a pro-life ministry saw a total of three women during their carols cancel their appointments and tell the carolers that they chose to keep their unborn children. [One of the participants said that] in pro-life ministry “you struggle to have the right words to say” sometimes to women seeking abortions.
But at this time of the year, approaching the feast of Jesus’s birth, caroling made it “so simple.”
She said, “We didn’t really do anything, other than to sing and pray.”
And that has made a blessed difference for babies and parents alike.
Our group participated here in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning, Dec. 16, from 9-10 AM. We had a nice-sized group. We were happy to have Randy accompanying us on accordion, and Jeannie and Julie provided us with hot chocolate and donuts. Thank you to them, and to all who came! And thanks be to God Who provided us with a bit of “warmer” weather (around 30 degrees)!
Here are some photos we wanted to share from our time:
On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Why would anyone do this? Why help others who have no way of repaying? Why give of ourselves and expect nothing in return?
I think it comes down to one word: LIBERTY.
But 933 Liberty Avenue is a location with a misnomer.
A better address might be “933 Sadness Street,” or “933 Regret Road,” or “933 Prisoner Place.” Being a prisoner of one’s past… being a person filled with sadness or regret… this is NOT what the Lord wants for any of His people. And yet, so many WILLINGLY step through those doors in pursuit of one thing: LIBERTY.
Perhaps they desire liberty from the shackles of parenthood… or from the guilt of an illicit sexual relationship… or from the financial burden that a new life might create. There might be many things they want to “liberate” themselves from, but they don’t know that the very facility they are entering- with that hope of liberty- is the place that will make them forever BOUND (not free) with guilt, regret, avoidance, sadness, pain, and many other things.
At 933 Liberty Avenue, true liberty is a LIE.
Jesus, however, brings us HOPE. He tells us that He has come that we might have LIFE, and have it to the FULL (cf. John 10:10). St. Paul tells us that “it is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).
For generations, Lady Liberty has stood as a sign of hope for those who seek freedom, who seek liberty. So yes, she is one important sign of liberty:
But…. if I may…. I think THIS one is a BETTER sign of true liberty and freedom:
And because we are Christians- those who follow Jesus Christ- we follow Him and His example. So rather than saying to the abortion-bound couple, the abortion worker, or the post-abortive couple, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed!” (cf. James 2:16), instead we must say, as the Gospel above reminds us,
“I INVITE you into true freedom.”
And while 933 remains a killing facility, that liberty will NOT be found on Liberty Avenue.
And so we invite.
Last evening (Sunday), we held our closing rally to close our 40-day vigil. Thank you to all who came all during these 40 days. This was a celebration of life… and several lives (at least three) were saved this vigil alone! Praise God!
Some photos from our prayer on the sidewalk:
Photos from the time of fellowship
at Catholic Charities:
Others who spoke at Catholic Charities:
Thank you again to all who attended this special event, and especially all those who gave of their time to come and join us in prayer. Let us remember what we are about…. PRAYER. And let us remember Whose we are…. HIS. And let us bring others- INVITE others- to know Him too…. especially those on the sidewalk and inside that building. Despite Liberty Avenue’s name, the Lord Jesus is the ONLY one who can make them truly FREE.
Jesus said to the crowds: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”
Can we see what the Lord is saying here? His love is so great for us. He wants NONE of us to be lost. Yet in the world of abortion, there is so much darkness, confusion, and even despair. But Jesus came that none of us would be lost, and that we might all have the opportunity to have eternal LIFE.
Let us pray that the abortion-bound women and men on Liberty Avenue- and around the world- may come to KNOW this, whether through our witness or not. May the Lord work mightily in their lives to bring them to know Him and to have eternal LIFE.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a calm and peaceful early morning shift. The weather was much milder than I thought it would be; it was very pleasant. I had my faithful partner and friend, Peg, with me for my entire shift. We prayed together and separately during our two hours. Towards the end of our shift there were couples entering the clinic, appearing to be abortion bound. One woman came out and started smoking a cigarette. She looked rather distraught, but would not take any information from me. I prayed for her. We got quite a few positive comments, and some negative ones too. One young woman actually shoved her middle finger right in Peg’s face, almost poking her with it. It gave us an opportunity to live out the Beatitudes and we asked God to bless her.
It was a blessing to see Chuck and Judy, as always! The Holy Spirit works powerfully through them with love. Thank you everyone for continuing on this 40 day journey!
What a busy and full shift we had today! When I arrived, Judy and Chuck told me that many people went in to PP this morning. Sad news, to be sure. Then they told me about a woman who had gone in and out a few times, but she had not wanted any information from them. They pointed her out to me as she came outside again, and she didn’t want anything from me either. But then Mary arrived, from St. Juan Diego parish, who had volunteered to pray with me at 11. She was in God’s place at God’s time, because when the woman came out again, Mary was able to listen to her and share some helpful information with her. They talked for a long time. I just prayed for them all the while. The woman’s daughter was in PP for an abortion, so we prayed for her as well.
A little while later, Beth Ann came to join us. The three of us- Mary, Beth Ann, and I, stood in three separate areas, and prayed silently. It was powerful. Regular volunteer, Bob, came for some prayer time and left. Thank you, Bob! Then Kim and Janet joined us, having driven all the way from Wheeling. Then Joan, Megan, and Ginny joined us. Thanks be to God, it was a crowded and prayerful shift. They were all veterans, and so we all sort of took separate “prayer posts” and there was a lot of silent prayer. Amazing. I thought it was beautiful.
After Mary’s hour (and having talked to that woman outside for a long time), she left. But a little while later, she came back. The Holy Spirit was MOVING in Mary!! She asked if the woman and her daughter had come back out; they hadn’t. But as Mary stood there waiting, the woman came out AGAIN, as if on cue. Mary and Sidewalk Advocate Joan went over to talk to her again. So beautiful…. women helping women.
And then, a very bizarre thing happened. As we stood there in silent prayer, a police SUV pulled up right in the middle of the circle. We all watched silently, very attentive. We didn’t know whether some “situation” had happened inside of PP that required police attention. But no…. as we watched, a male officer got out, then a female officer. They opened wide both of the side doors of the vehicle, so they could assist someone. Suddenly, we saw a small, young woman– in handcuffs and legcuffs- both with chains- being escorted out of the vehicle, and into Planned Parenthood. It was such a foreign concept to my brain that I just stood there with my jaw dropped. I had so many questions that we will never know the answers to. It was very disturbing….. Let us pray for that WHOLE situation!!
Ginny cared enough to come. She has sleep apnea, so she doesn’t sleep much at night.
Minnie used the chair that “nobody took.” She and I prayed a rosary and then she had to leave.
A young woman came by and said she prayed for all of us yesterday on All Saints Day. She thinks we will all be going to heaven.
A young couple came by and admired our babies (preborn models). They were happily delighted to see how much development a baby has at such a young gestational age. The young woman thanked us for being here and sharing the images of the babies.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! The Thursday 5-7 PM shift was prayerful and truly a blessing. Thanks so much to Pam from Crossroads Church in Weirton, Noelle from Grandview Church of God in Beechview, Dave from St. Pio Church in Blawnox, and Jim from St. Maurice Church in Forest Hills, for their prayers and faithful witness on behalf of unborn children and pregnant mothers in need. Your commitment to protect and defend life is truly an inspiration. Thanks also to Jeff for filling in for Tom and Diane today.
May the grace and peace of Christ be with each of you. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the closing rally on Sunday. God Bless!
“Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person…. In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman ‘discovers herself through a sincere gift of self’.”
Brothers and sisters: I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature.
For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawlessness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This passage above really made me think of the MANY ways that we can all fall into sin and fall away from God. As Christians, we are continually trying to work out our salvation… trying to continually convert… in so many ways.
Abortion affects so many people, and it ALWAYS brings about sadness and pain. The Lord has better plans for His people than sadness and pain! We shouldn’t have to wait until heaven to receive the joy that He wants to share with us in abundance.
So why do some of us flock to abortion- and to the abortion industry- rather than accept His life and love? I don’t always know those answers… but I DO know that our God is a Lord of great compassion and mercy.
I heard a talk about a year ago, given by a sex-trafficking survivor. This woman, now a woman in her 40’s, is a vibrant Christian woman of great hope and joy. It’s quite amazing, considering the horrors she had dealt with as a young girl. But one thing she said in her talk has stayed with me. She said that she knew that the Lord was speaking to her throughout her life, even in various situations as a sex-trafficking victim. On one of these occasions, when a man was forcing himself upon her, she remembers hearing the Lord clearly say to her heart, “I have a plan for you… and this isn’t it.”
And so, I boldly claim the same words of the Lord to those women and men who are victims of abortion, or who work in the abortion industry. The Lord has a plan for you… and THIS ISN’T IT.
Let us continue to pray for those who need to be reminded of this sacred truth. And let us put our trust in the Lord that He will show them exactly what His plan IS for them.
Shift Manager Reports
I was blessed to share my 7 to 9 shift with Peg as usual. Also we were joined by a man named Joe, from St. John the Baptist church in Plum, whose parish will be coming later today. He couldn’t come during that time so he went out of his way to come early this morning before work. It was a joy to pray and talk with him!
It was definitely an abortion day, we saw many couples going in. Some took information from us, although I am sure it was confiscated as soon as they walked in. A woman named Karen from Hosanna/Word and Worship church came towards the end of my shift, and then we were blessed to get to see faithful Chuck and Judy from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene as they arrived to take over the next shift.
Judy encouraged us with the reminder that when It seems like our enemy continuously places obstacles before us, that we are to simply keep our eyes on Jesus, and that way we will be able to continue! It is truly God’s gift to us, that he gives us each other! There is no place else in the world that I could meet such wonderful people as I do right on the sidewalks in front of Planned Parenthood during 40 Days for Life.
Well, today’s shift flew by. I think it was because I was praying with dear people I know from my parish! Thank you to ALL of the St. John the Baptist parishioners who came to pray with us today!! I was blessed with the presence of the mother-son team of Marlane and Jon, who are so beautiful and endearing.
For my second hour, I had the pleasure of praying with dear Mary from my parish as well. Mary is a joy, and is such a strong and beautiful woman of faith.
We had several positive moments today. A man stopped to tell us how thankful he is for what we are doing, another was when a man passing by in his vehicle shouted out for us to keep up the good work, and another was that a beautiful young woman named Jen stopped by to chat with us. She was beautiful inside and out- and was truly inspiring. She chatted with Mary and me for a while about people that she knew who needed help and resources, and we talked about her church. Jen, if you’re reading this, I hope you come back sometime. It was wonderful meeting you.
As for negative moments, we had one moment where a woman would have engaged us in argument… but we made the conscious decision to remain faithful to our reason for being there these 40 days– to PRAY. Thank You, Lord, for helping us to see that.
A paramedic vehicle was stopped in front of PP for a short time… but with no patient as far as I could tell. I hope that there was not another need for an ambulance just a week after the last one.
The “I support Planned Parenthood” sign was held high when I got to 933, and she held it up for the two hours I was there. Carolyn said she was there for her shift, too. There was a constant rosary rising as the Chippewa, Holiday Park and city bus riders’ line snaked along Liberty Avenue. The occasional “Glad you’re here” or “Thank you for being here” are as good as gold.
The 5-7 PM shift on Thursday was peaceful and prayerful. Special thanks to Tim & Lisa from St. John the Baptist Church, Billy from the Assembly of God Church, and Jim from St. Maurice for their prayers and faithful witness! May God bless pregnant mothers in need and grant protection of the lives of children in the womb.
God has a plan for ALL of us… born and pre-born alike.