The most important thing…

baby

“Get a job!” 
“Why don’t you do something useful!” 
“Why aren’t you taking care of the babies who are already born?”

If you have spent much time witnessing in front of Planned Parenthood, you most likely have had words like these shouted to you.  Sadly, it seems that most people do not understand the importance, or the VALUE of each and every human life.

If we were standing on the sidewalk handing out sandwiches to the homeless, I don’t think we would hear a critical word…in fact we would probably be commended.  Yet, when we stand and pray to end abortion, we are often criticized.

Why do most people believe that killing a child by abortion is not that big of a deal?  Even if half of Americans say they are pro-life…it is a very small percentage of them who are willing to be a WITNESS to life!

It is easy to see those who are hungry, homeless and needy…we can see them with our physical eyes.  However, in order to see the suffering of the unborn…(which is hidden)…we need to see with SPIRITUAL eyes. It takes spiritual eyes to understand just how much God is offended when one of his precious, unique, one-of-a-kind masterpieces is desecrated by abortion.  If we could see God knitting together all the individual parts of each child within his mother’s womb… giving each child his own personality, abilities and talents…and then in the middle of this creation…this genius symphony…it is brought to a screeching halt by the clumsy and cruel hands of an abortionist…we would understand just how terrible abortion is.

Of course, I am not saying that God is angry with those who have had abortions and repented.  To him, their sins are as far as the east is from the west.  But our nation has NOT repented of the sin of abortion.  Today marks the 45th anniversary of legalized abortion, and sadly, the killing of 60 million unborn babies.

It is up to those of us who have spiritual eyes to repent FOR our nation.  It is up to us to stand in the gap between our guilty nation and our righteous God…and to plead with him to bring an end to this atrocity.  It is up to us to pray and fast, and peacefully show our neighbors that every human life is precious, through our suffering on the cold sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood.

Our presence on the sidewalk…ESPECIALLY in cold weather…speaks more about the importance of every human life than any amount of words ever could!

We need YOU to help us to fill this 40 day vigil!  As of now, we are less than half filled.  33 churches have signed up so far…will you please choose an empty time slot for yours?  Go to http://40daysforlifepittsburgh.com/vigil-schedule/ to see the schedule, and then reply to this email to get your church signed up.

Or, sign yourself up as an individual for as many hours as you can by going to https://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/pittsburgh/

Consider helping us to make sure at least two people are fasting each day from food by signing up to fast at https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/2171451/true#/invitation

And order these flyers and bulletin inserts for your church http://40daysforlifepittsburgh.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Lent-18-flyer-40-Days-for-Life.pdf

40 Days for Life is uniting Christians all around the world!  13,998 lives have been saved, 170 abortion workers have converted and 90 abortion clinics have closed for good!  Together we are strong.  United in our faith in Jesus Christ, we can do all things through him who strengthens us!  Please join us!

Your grateful sister in Christ,

Nikki Bruni
40 Days for Life Pittsburgh
412-926-9413
nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com

I’m Back! Are you with me?

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!   

It’s me again!  I am joyfully “back in the saddle” as the campaign director for Pittsburgh’s 40 Days for Life!  Humbled and contrite…but joyful!  Humbled and contrite, because I am ashamed that I tried to get out of doing what God called me to do.  Joyful, because I learned an important lesson.   

This may surprise you, but I used to be a heavy drinker.  When God was preparing me to lead my first campaign, back in 2010, He asked me to give up alcohol.  He knew there was no way I could do this if I was drinking.  It was a terrifying moment when I told him “Yes”.  I remember mentally consoling myself by saying that if Roe vs. Wade were ever overturned, then I could go back to drinking.  I laugh now when I think back at that.

I used the same mental crutch with my commitment to lead the 40 Days for Life.  I remember thinking that I would lead 12 campaigns…and then be done.  Then I could go back to leading a “normal” life.  (By normal, I guess I mean selfish.)

I don’t know why I chose the number 12…it seemed like a good number.  I guess I just needed a goal to strive towards…to keep me from giving up.  The problem was…I got to the 12th campaign, and Planned Parenthood in Pittsburgh was still killing almost 3,000 babies each year!  How could I quit?

I continued leading, but inside I was grumbling a bit, wondering if this work would ever end.  So, I began asking around for someone to take over.  A beautiful, kind, humble member of our team agreed.  May God bless Sue for her “YES” to God! But, seeing her struggle with working full-time, and trying to do all that leading 40 Days for Life entails, made me realize that I had made a mistake.  I had hurt her…a dear sister in Christ… but more importantly, I had disappointed God…

…God, who has been so loving and generous to me, who has changed my life so much during these past 10 years.  He asks such a small thing in return.  A very simple thing.  A very specific and narrow thing:

To gather the Body of Christ in and around Pittsburgh,  to pray and fast and peacefully witness to the sanctity of human life in front of Planned Parenthood for 40 days, twice a year.

That’s all.  No big deal really.  And do you know what?  I CAN DO THIS! For Him!  Just as I never want to go back to drinking, I never want to go back to living life selfishly either.  I have come to learn a lesson.  There is no “coasting” in the spiritual life.  There is either sinking or swimming.  If I am not striving to live a life that honors God, I will be backsliding.

So I am JOYFULLY writing this letter to you, once again, to ask you to please consider helping us to fill our 40 day prayer vigil in front of Planned Parenthood in Pittsburgh!  From Wednesday, February 14th (Ash Wednesday) through Sunday, March 25th, we need faithful prayer warriors on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood!  Will you help us?  

Please spread the word at your church by using our beautifully printed flyer and bulletin announcement (Click HERE to view the flyer, and HERE to view the bulletin announcement).  Reply to this email if you would like us to send you the flyers or half-page bulletin inserts ($4.00 per hundred).

Take a look at our vigil schedule by clicking HERE to see which time slots still need to be filled, then email me at nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com to get your church on the schedule!

Finally, begin to pray about how the Lord is calling you to fast and sacrifice comforts during these 40 days.  Our fasting calendar is posted at:  https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/2171451/true#/invitation.

We are in this together!  Thank you for joining us in this spiritual battle to end abortion!  May God bless you this new year, and may we see God move in a powerful way in 2018!

Your grateful sister in Christ,

Nikki Bruni
40 Days for Life Campaign Director
412-926-9413
nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com
www.40daysforlifepittsburgh.com

Day 36…Thanks to St. John in Delmont, St. Mary in Export and many faithful individuals!

Suffering with those who suffer…

praying

“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.”  

1 Corinthians 12:26


We sure have been reminded of this a lot lately, haven’t we?  Still reeling from the Las Vegas shooting, where 58 people were killed, and 546 injured… yesterday we were hit with the senseless tragedy in New York City. These sad events bring us to our collective knees.

The question on many of our minds is, “How do we respond?”

I read a quote from Dorothy Day this morning which seems very relevant to our world today.  She wrote:

The stink of the world’s injustice and the world’s indifference is all around us…

Compassion – it is a word meaning to suffer with.  If we all carry a little of the burden, it will be lightened.  If we share in suffering of the world, then some will not have to endure so heavy an affliction.  It evens out.  What you do here in New York, in Harrisburg, helps those in China, India, South Africa, Europe, Russia, as well as in the oasis where you are.  You may think you are alone.  But we are members one of another.  We are children of God together.

Did you know that Dorothy Day may one day be recognized by the Catholic Church as being a saint?  And… she had an abortion before her conversion.  Her’s is a beautiful story of redemption.  God wants to use all of us…scars and all.

baby hand

For the past 36 days, hundreds of individuals have come to our vigil at Planned Parenthood to pray, witness, and suffer in small ways.

During that time, approximately 300 tiny babies have been put to death behind those doors while we were outside praying.  

While I was there for my shift on Monday, I watched as a passerby…noticing our signs…stopped for a second in front of the doors of Planned Parenthood, and made the sign of the cross.

As Dorothy Day said…”We are members of one another.”

I was struck by a another quote this past week from Barbara.  She wrote in her shift report last Friday, “Thank you God for this opportunity to love you out loud!”  I LOVED that!  That is exactly what we are doing when we witness and pray publicly…we are loving God OUT LOUD!

So, why should we suffer with those who suffer?  Why not avoid suffering when we can?  If it doesn’t directly affect me or my loved ones…why should I care?  I will answer this with another quote.  This one is from St. Catherine of Siena.  She wrote:

Then we rise up with immense desire to love what God loves and to hate what God hates.  Everything we do we direct to God.  We do everything for the glory and praise of His name…this is how we progress from being merely servants to friends.  That is how we progress from slavish fear and self-indulgent love for our own consolation to true servanthood, true friendship, true filiality.

I can’t fool God.  He knows how much or how little I love Him.  It doesn’t matter how much I say it or don’t say it.  He knows.  When I pray in front of an abortion clinic, there is no other reason for me to be there other than love for God.  I can be sure that I have no ulterior motive.  I will not get human praise, riches or power.  In fact, I will probably get exactly the opposite.

If you worry that your love for God is either slavish…or self-indulgent…come to the vigil.  There is nothing selfish about praying in front of an abortion clinic.  God already knows how much you love Him, but maybe you need to prove it to yourself.  We need someone today (Wednesday) from 6-7 pm so shift manager Joe won’t have to stand alone.  On Thursday we need someone from 2-3 so Carolyn won’t be alone.  Please let me know if you can come.

And join us this Sunday at 6:30 to officially CLOSE OUT our 40 day vigil at Planned Parenthood!  Fr. Jason Charron, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Church in Carnegie will lead us in prayer. Then, join us in the Welcome Center at Catholic Charities (corner of Ninth and Liberty) from 7 – 8:30 for a fun time of pot-luck food and celebration!  I hope to see you then!

Now, here are the reports from today:

Kathy L. 7-9

A rainy, dark, and cold morning was brightened and warmed by Dianne’s and Peg’ s cheerful morning greetings.  I copied their example to passersby by saying “Good morning, choose life,” which was received with a nod, smile, or silence.  Only one negative comment from a young woman.  Even the pp security guard said “Good morning.” A gentleman, on his way to mass, said that he would pray for our cause.

Peg and I spent time in quiet prayer for awhile and then together offering up the baby picture prayers provided by Jeannie.  Bill H stopped by briefly.

Cathy Z. 9-11

A relatively quiet shift  – a few people went in and a couple and individuals came out, no one took the info cards offered or wanted to talk.  Many thanks to Kathy who stayed overtime from her 7-9 shift to be with me until someone came.  A real sacrifice given the cold and rain!  Dave, from St. Bonaventure, came alone as his family was sick, and got right to praying.  Shortly before 11 Anna Marie and her husband arrived to share the next shift with Hank. 

Hank 11-1

Hank reported that he had a peaceful shift, spent praying with the wonderful folks from St. Mary and St. John (Export and Delmont).  Thanks to everyone who sacrificed and suffered in the miserable weather today!

Christine, Anna Marie, Bob and Dennis came all the way from Export/Delmont to witness and pray for FOUR hours on this cold and rainy day! May God bless them for their faithful sacrifice!
Christine, Anna Marie, Bob and Dennis came all the way from Export/Delmont to witness and pray for FOUR hours on this cold and rainy day! May God bless them for their faithful sacrifice!

Chris 1-3

Tears from Heaven falling on Planned Parenthood.  That’s how I chose to view the rain on the sidewalk during my shift.  Can we imagine God’s sorrow at what His creations have wrought through abortion?  My shift was relatively quiet, with little foot-traffic in and out of PP, just several workers and clients.  I was joined by steadfast prayer warriors Bob, his wife Annamarie, and Christina from the combined parishes of St. John/St. Mary’s churches in Delmont and Export.  We prayed the Rosary, receiving only positive comments and thumbs-ups from passersby.  At the end of the shift, a Lutheran pastor, whose ministry is the college campuses in Oakland, joined us for a final prayer.

Barbara and Richard 3-5

What a sweetly chilly 2 hours Richard and I spent praying downtown this afternoon.  The rain misted us continually and felt refreshing.

As we arrived, a couple from Delmont, Saint Mary, John Parish was leaving after their prayer witness since 11am.  A Pastor with Lutherans for Life came by to join us in prayer.

Anthony stopped and asked if they did abortions there, indicating PP.  I gave him our 40 Days for Life handout.  He is caring for his 87 year old mother at his home.  How wonderful.

Joe and Mike, Knights of Columbus, arrived and Richard and I left for Mass.

Life is good.

Close of the 1-3 shift, SM Chris with the faithful couple from Delmont and Lutherans for Life pastor
Close of the 1-3 shift, SM Chris with the faithful couple from Delmont and Lutherans for Life pastor

Joe K. 5-7

Last shift of the campaign started with a drive by  “big hello” from a
passerby even before I could greet our vigil participants.

This evening, I was truly blessed and surprised as I was supposed to be
by myself, but was covered for the entire shift by Bill, Mike, and Jim –
thanks guys!

No other comments the rest of the evening, but there was an unusually
number of sirens and police presence down on Ninth – enough that we
prayed for the responders and all involved…

The night ended with faithful Tom & Diane packing up our setup
to re-deliver tomorrow morning!

Day 29…St. Juan Diego (Sharpsburg), St. James (Sewickley) & Hosanna Church (Bellvue) bring the warmth of Christ to the chilly sidewalk today!

rescued

“We were rescued like a bird from the fowlers’ snare; Broken was the snare, and we were freed.  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  Psalm 124

This psalm from the Mass readings today is speaking to me in a special way, because we saw a child RESCUED from the snare of abortion at our vigil yesterday!!!  Praise God!!!  To read the account in shift manager Michael’s report, click HERE.

tree(Remember…for each life that is saved at the last minute from abortion, an entire BRANCH of a family tree is saved!  Think of all the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. that are saved at that moment!!!)

You will also notice in yesterday’s blog (in shift manager Beth’s report) that another baby was brought in those doors to be aborted, but left safely still in his mother’s womb after PP refused to abort him because he was too big!  Please pray that the hearts of his mom and dad will be softened and that they will let him come to birth!

 

The reason that 40 Days for Life has been so successful is that it fights abortion with SPIRITUAL weapons, rather than political ones.  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth! 

Our prayers are reaching the ears of God…carried to Him on the wings of our sacrifice of food (while fasting), comfort (while witnessing), and our works of charity.  (Read yesterday’s vigil account from Cil, where she mentions that one of our vigil participants left the vigil with a young mom to help her to get food.)

When God first broke my heart over abortion back in 2009, I struggled mightily to get up my courage to go to Planned Parenthood for that first time…and I soon realized how much of a spiritual battle this is!  (To read my little “mini-testimony” of how I did this, click HERE).

I remember feeling frustrated that abortion was represented in our culture with this almost noble…self-sacrificial air.

“Every child should be a WANTED child.” 

monster

Planned Parenthood was a master at public relations, and had constructed a beautiful facade of being there to HELP women who were in need.  It reminded me of a monster wearing a pretty mask.  I wasn’t buying it…because GOD had removed the spiritual scales from my eyes.  I had forced myself to look at photos and videos from actual abortions.  I had pulled away the mask and looked straight into the eyes of the monster.  It was painful, but it was necessary.

The thing that we have to remember is that those who are supportive of abortion are blinded spiritually.blind

The most common cause for this blindness is their own participation in an abortion at some point in their past.  When we see people who are extremely angry at our presence…we need to remind ourselves of this reality, and so treat them gently and pray that God’s grace will prevail and penetrate their hardened hearts and minds.  It can be frustrating to us that they can’t see what we can see…and it is tempting to try to “argue” our case using reason…but our arguments usually fall on deaf ears.  Love and gentleness can penetrate where words cannot.

Last week I watched a debate between the president of Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins, and a so-called “Christian” abortionist, Dr. Willie Parker.  Dr. Parker actually believes he is doing “God’s work” by providing abortions.  Watching the debate was like watching a fight between a 2-year old and an adult.  It was almost embarrassing (intellectually) to see Dr. Parker using the same tired pro-abortion catch phrases and cliche’s in response to Kristan’s intelligent and clear-thinking logic. It just goes to show you why there aren’t very many abortion providers who try to go the “Christian” route.  Their arguments completely fall apart when they try to defend them from a Christian point of view.  You can watch the debate by clicking HERE.

On the other side of the spectrum are the abortionists who don’t even try to paint a “noble” or “Christian” view of abortion.  They callously discuss dismembering the baby’s bodies, and joke about how they “need to go to the gym to build up their biceps”, in order to have the strength to provide late-term abortions (20 weeks).  I just watched the newest under-cover video (just released yesterday) by David Daleiden last night.  Click HERE to watch it.

They are blind.  Either from personal guilt, greed or ignorance.  But before you despair, remember that conversions happen!  As Pat spoke of in his blog on Saturday, one of the unexpected fruits of 40 Days for Life are the many abortion workers who have converted! (154 so far!) If you want to be encouraged, I recommend reading the conversion stories of these two former abortion workers:

Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s “Hand of God” -Dr. Nathanson was the founder of NARAL and was responsible for the invention of the suction-aspiration method, which allowed abortion to be done in free-standing clinics, making it affordable and wide-spread.  He was an atheist Jew when he began, and was a converted Catholic when he died. Click HERE for more info.

Carol Everett’s “Blood Money” – Gives a glimpse of the way in which greed and pride…followed by guilt from an abortion, led Carol to rationalize her job of providing abortions, while still thinking she was a Christian.  It tells the beautiful story of her conversion, which she attributes to others praying for her. Click HERE for more info.

So we continue on the remainder of this 40 day journey, lifting each other up and encouraging each other along the way.  We are not alone…God is with us, and we have each other.  And lives and souls are being saved!  Praise God!

Up-coming Vigil needs:  This Friday from 3-5pm (Barbara & Richard would appreciate a prayer partner!)

Now, for the stories from the vigil today…

Kathy L. 7-9 am

day 29, 1st shift diane and peg

Faithful Dianne and Peg greeted me upon arrival.  After a morning prayer, Dianne went on her way.  Shortly afterward, Harry joined us and the three of us read the 40 days devotion.  Most of the time was spent in silent prayer.

Peg noted that a regular passerby who usually avoids eye contact with us, gave a friendly greeting to us in passing.

One mother stopped to tell Peggy that she doesn’t bring her four year old son past us anymore because the fetal models scared him.  Peggy responded with a polite, “that’s too bad.”  Perhaps the woman could have dispelled his fear by telling him that was what he looked like in her tummy when she was pregnant with him.  Just a thought.

Bill H came by briefly.  Scriptural prayers and hymns were offered.

Cathy Z. 9-11 am

Shift manager Cathy and friends from St. Juan Diego parish
Shift manager Cathy and friends from St. Juan Diego parish

Spent a quiet, prayerful morning with two friends from my parish, St. Juan Diego.  There were a fair number of women going inside, staff and patients, one negative comment, “Why don’t you mind your own ******* business?”, but that was offset by “Thank you”s and “I pray for you every day”.

Jeff subbed for the 11 am – 1 pm shift  

A faithful parishioner from St. James in Sewickley was there during Jeff’s shift.

day 29, 3rd shift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris 1 – 3 pm

I can’t remember wearing long underwear in October… It was cold and misty during my shift, but my heart was warmed by the three women witnessing with me today.  Two of the women, one being a Sidewalk Advocate, used their charm and persistence to hand out several dozen “Life” flyers to passersby.  For the first time, I received no negative comments during our prayer time.  We even had one man ask permission to take a picture of the fetal models.  As I watch the number of glances by passersby of the models during my shifts, I have to believe they’re the most powerful tool for life we have during the campaign.  May God plant the truth of unborn human life in all their hearts.

Faithful Ginny is a regular participant during 40 days!
Faithful Ginny is a regular participant during 40 days!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara & Richard 3 – 5 pm

The sidewalk seemed so much warmer than the chilly showers would indicate.  As we arrived, Chris (SM) and Ginny and 2 more  people flanked both sides of the front door.

Pastor Gary with the members of Word and Worship Church (Hosanna) came just before 3.   In time, more people from Word and Worship kept coming.  What a team…their fellowship in prayer was compelling.  One young woman came out, holding the brown paper bag.  “I would never abort my child,” she said.  She accepted the folder showing photos of the baby developing before birth.

What do you do when you learn that mothers are tempted to abort?  You do the best you can to step out and help.  We are grateful for Nikki’s audacious “Yes”.  

 

Pastor Gary and his faithful crew from Hosanna Church!
Pastor Gary and his faithful crew from Hosanna Church!

.

Joe K. 5 – 7 pm

Hosanna / Word & Worship Church provides a faithful witness for life!
Hosanna / Word & Worship Church provides a faithful witness for life!

Word & Worship (Hosanna) came strong this afternoon and stayed strong to the very end of Day #29.

Pastor Gary led his flock into the early evening shift where I was joined by Doug, Bernadette, and Neil, for the first portion of this last shift of the day and still others for the last hour – Thanks and Sorry for all the forgotten names!

The evening was extremely quiet – a couple of positive comments and thanks along with only a single semi-negative mention of “wasting your time” – to which Neil reflected that if we thought we were wasting our time, then we wouldn’t be here…

As the evening faded to night, I was struck how dark it was physically inside the entrance of 933 Liberty Ave. as the last “employee” turned out the lights and left for the evening…  but also reminded how spiritually dark it is inside there as well…

Onto the morning of day #30 to make the most of our time peacefully and prayerfully – witnessing to the Truth to turn this darkness into light…

Day 22…Thank you to dedicated members of St. Louise de Marillac (Upper St. Clair), Guardians for Life, and individuals!

lukewarm

Satan’s elite fighting force…Lukewarm Christians!

Here we are on day 22…more than halfway there.  The weather has been beautiful and our witness for life and for Christ on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood has been going strong!  Our numbers are sometimes small, but as Sue wrote so beautifully in her post from yesterday…we are to “dream small“!  I LOVED that reflection!  However, today, with the faithful prayer warriors from St. Louise de Marillac in Upper St. Clair, Guardians for Life and many dedicated individuals…our numbers were anything but small!  AND A BABY WAS HOPEFULLY SAVED TODAY!  (Read about it in shift manager Hank’s report at the bottom of this post.)

Last week I watched a video of Abby Johnson, pouring out her heart and her frustration over the fact that 40 Days for Life leaders all around the world are having a hard time filling the vigil hours.  In the video, she says, through tear filled eyes, “I just don’t understand why it is so hard for CHRISTIANS to PRAY for an hour!”  It was the 8 year anniversary of her conversion…8 years from the day that she was asked to assist in an ultra-sound guided abortion…and she watched with her own eyes, a tiny 13 week baby boy struggle to move away from the abortionist’s device…and ultimately lose his struggle.  As you probably know, she had a conversion and is now a pro-life advocate…assisting other abortion workers to leave the industry.  You can watch the video yourself by clicking HERE.

But, after I watched the video…I have to admit that it had the effect of making me feel sorry for myself!  And I felt a slight bitterness creeping in.  Especially when I don’t get response from my emails asking for help when we have empty hours at the vigil. It is then that my little interior pity party begins…and I start thinking, “Why doesn’t anyone else care?”  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I KNOW that there are MANY people who DO care…and who are praying, fasting and coming to the vigil if and when they can.  And  I KNOW that we are making a difference through these 40 day campaigns!  I stand there and see the expression of folks walking by, especially when they look at the fetal models.  I see many young people looking…and I BELIEVE that we are planting seeds that will reap a harvest some day.  But still…I wonder whey there aren’t MORE of us??? 

I read something last week that has really stayed with me…Fr. Richard Heilman posted on his blog:

Satan’s most powerful force; his “Elite Fighting Force” are the indifferent, the dispassionate, the halfhearted … it is the lukewarm. These are Satan’s “Special Forces” because they are the most effective in winning over a multitude of souls for the devil. Why? Because many are easily swayed by their “version of lukewarm religion.” One that sets every other thing, noble or not, ahead of participating in building the kingdom of God. And, lukewarm church-goers are the elite among the elite in Satan’s fighting force, because they “set a powerful trend” of this empty religiosity, with no urgency to go much beyond church attendance. This is VERY contagious!!

I always thought it was interesting that God speaks so harshly about the lukewarm…saying He will spit them out! I mean, being lukewarm is better than being cold…isn’t it?  Isn’t a little of something better than none at all?  But, after reading this refection above, I can begin to see why being lukewarm is so dangerous.  Because it is like thinking we can have our cake and eat it too.  We can be Christians and still be comfortable.  We can live like the world, as long as our “mouths” say the right words.  That reminds me of a joke that I heard a priest tell a few weeks ago.  He said,

“There was a woman who wanted St. Peter to give her a tour of Heaven, so she could check it out.  St. Peter agreed, and as he was showing her around, she noticed a large hole…it was full of tongues.  She asked St. Peter what that was all about.  St. Peter answered, ‘Oh, that is for those whom only their tongues made it to Heaven.'”

If there was no suffering in the world…if no one was hungry or homeless…if helpless babies weren’t being killed by abortion…then maybe we could get away with being lukewarm.  But we are in a battle here.  Satan is fighting hard for souls.  So we have to fight hard also.  And we know that our side wins in the end, so we can be encouraged to persevere!  And speaking of encouragement…I want to share with you a couple updates on babies that were saved from abortion at Pittsburgh’s Planned Parenthood.  We believe that many lives are saved from abortion through our prayers and witness…but it doesn’t happen very often that we actually get to find out, or to follow up on those lives.  Here are two that I do keep in touch with:

Carita, with her daughter Adrial.
Carita, with her daughter Adrial, celebrating her first birthday last January
Recent photo of Adrial
Recent photo of Adrial

I met Carita at Planned Parenthood when she came to have an abortion.  Confused and fearful, she thought she had to do it.  God used our pro-life family in Pittsburgh to help her choose life.  We had a baby shower for her and also collected money to help her to buy a car.  Her little girl, Adrial, is the light of her life, and her relationship with God is stronger than ever!  I asked Carita to write a little message to our 40 Days for Life family for this blog.  She wrote:

I just want to say God is good all the time and I just want to give him thanks for everything that he is doing for me and for everything that he did for my daughter. I want to specially thank the 40 day for life team for being there for me throughout my pregnancy. Thanks a lot to you too Nikki. Word of encouragement… life is preciously given from God, so we should preserve it.

Carita is also asking for prayers. She is living in a neighborhood that is not safe for her kids, and is going to look at another house to buy this Saturday.  Please remember to pray for this intention for her.

Rowan and Wyatt celebrated their first birthday on October 6th!
Rowan and Wyatt celebrated their first birthday on October 6th!

These two little cuties were also scheduled to be aborted at Pittsburgh’s Planned Parenthood…but because of our caring pro-life community, we were able to help their mom choose life.  A baby shower was held and money was raised to help their family.

So, I hope you are now encouraged to continue these next 18 days!  We have some empty vigil hours coming up that I hope we can fill!  This Sunday from 1-3, shift manager Maggie will be all alone if no one signs up! Monday morning, from 7-9am shift manager Jeff will be alone.  Monday from 5-7pm shift manager Sue will be alone.  I hope I will get some responses to help fill these hours!

The final thought I want to share with you is this;  Yesterday I got to talk to a woman who has been coming to our vigil regularly to “support Planned Parenthood“.  She is upset that we want to “take away women’s healthcare” by closing down Planned Parenthood.  When I answered her by saying that I am just one person and that I don’t have the power to close Planned Parenthood, I believe that the Holy Spirit spoke through her when she said in reply: “Yes, you do have the power to close Planned Parenthood!  One person is powerful!

So there you have it…straight from an opponent’s mouth…we DO have the power! It is not OUR power, of course.  It is the power of GOD working IN us!  Thanks be to God!!!

Now for today’s reports from the sidewalk…

Kathy L. 7-9am:

Thank you to St. Louise de Marillac Church members who came today and prayed.  Dennis and Chris arrived first.  We read today’s devotional together and then took our posts.  Dennis greeted many passersby and most responded back with a friendly greeting.   Chris left at 8 but then Brad joined us. He and Dennis prayed the rosary and then Maryann, Karen, and SM Cathy arrived to cover the next prayer shift.

Dennis and Chris were the early morning prayer warriors from St. Louise this morning!
Dennis and Chris were the early morning prayer warriors from St. Louise this morning!
MaryAnn from St. Louise
MaryAnn from St. Louise
Wonderful witnesses on the sidewalk today!
Wonderful witnesses on the sidewalk today!

Cathy 9-11am

St. Louise de Marillac pray-ers continued on….Karen and Denny were there when I arrived and stayed til around 10, when Seamus, Mary, Diane and Jason came –  great group!  The clinic was not very busy, we got some smiles and positive comments from passers-by.  Just before 11 the faithful Guardians of Life began to arrive.

Faithful group from St. Louise
Faithful group from St. Louise

Hank 9-11am (Reports of a possible baby saved!!!)

What a beautiful day the Lord gave us today. We had a lot of prayer warriors out for the 11-1 shift and pray we did.  I was expecting the building to shake from the power of the prayers.  The Guardians for Life with Fr.Tim and the K of C were out in force and St.Louise DeMarillac was very well represented along with Bill from 1st Presbyterian and Ken from Greenburg.  Among the group were two side walk counselors.  Terri, one of the counselors, encountered a young woman  who was on here way to PP.  She is in her second month of pregnancy and her boy friend wanted her to have an abortion.  Terri was able to direct her to another facility for a sonogram and the young lady was grateful and asked for Terri to be in contact with her.  Please pray for A.  We were warmly greeted by many people….so encouraging!!  We distributed a good number of Precious Feet pins.

Guardians for Life and other prayer warriors filled the sidewalk today!
Guardians for Life and other prayer warriors filled the sidewalk today!
Fr. Tim with his fellow Knights are faithful participants of 40 Days for Life!
Fr. Tim with his fellow Knights are faithful participants of 40 Days for Life!
Bob and Seamus from St. Louise
Bob and Seamus from St. Louise

Chris 1-3pm

When I arrived for my shift, I was told the great news that there had been 23 prayer warriors on the sidewalk during the previous shift.  Wow!  I was joined by John, George, Ginny, and Andy during most of the time.  Later, Claire and Jim joined us.  Jim, a visitor from New Jersey, spent part of his birthday praying with us.  What a blessing!  There was very little foot traffic in and out of PP.  One angry young man, who I’d seen walk by during previous shifts, spewed profanities and tried to engage us in an argument for about 10 minutes.  He believed we were harassing women just by being there and that the developing baby was just a single cell.  Andy calmly tried to reason with him and told him, yes, we all started out as a single cell, with unique DNA, DNA that is different from the mother, a unique individual.  The man continued to rant and it was clear that trying to reason with him was futile.  Thankfully, he went on his way.  We received several “God Bless Yous” from passersby and we prayed multiple Rosaries in the beautiful weather.

St. Louise de Marillac comes out in force today!
St. Louise de Marillac comes out in force today!

Barbara & Richard 3-5pm

Sunny and warm described the sidewalk today.  It also described the people walking by on the way to the bus, on the way home.  After all this time, we recognize familiar faces.  One woman, Mary, stopped to congratulate Ginny for coming to pray  noting that she took extra effort due to her wheel chair.  

Another woman noted, “I have all  my kids!”  How many?  She raised 4 fingers, smiling happily.

One man looked quizzically at my 40 Days for Life sign.  “They do abortions here,” I said.  He looked away.

It is never a waste of time to stand downtown in front of PP to call attention to the outrage perpetrated behind these glass, usually locked, doors.  They say the doors are locked and a fob is needed for access to keep us violent people outside.

Babies are methodically torn to shreds by appointment in there.  How do you define “violent?”

Joe, Claire, Ginny and Chris stood for life today!
Joe, Claire, Ginny and Chris stood for life today!
prayer warriors from St. Louise
prayer warriors from St. Louise
Mother and son from St. Louise, Claire and Ken
Mother and son from St. Louise, Claire and Ken

Joe K. 5-7

A special thanks to Barbara and Richard for holding down the fort as I was a few minutes late today…

Beautiful evening and eerily quite…  Didn’t seem to be that much vehicle / foot traffic…  and no long lines of folks waiting for their bus…

I was surprisingly joined for the entire shift by my fellow Knight of Columbus, Mike, who shared his strong pro-life story – adoption and teen pregnancy…

Minimal reactions from passerby’s, other than one young man stopped briefly to indicate his support for us and how terrible it is for Planned Parenthood to sell baby parts…

The fetal models got many looks-n-glances today…

The shift did end with a woman questioning the “truth” of what we do and how we do it…  which did jog my memory of an article I read earlier in the day that essentially stated – “…a minority of truth will prevail as long as it is heard…”

My brothers and sisters, let us continue to be “heard” through our truthful witness…

Day 15…St. Raymond of the Mountain (Donegal), Corpus Christi (McKeesport) & Individual Volunteers keep the prayer vigil going today!

fish

So, you may be wondering what is up with the picture of the big fish…

All week long, during the daily readings at Mass, we have been following the story of the prophet Jonah…how he tried to run away from God’s command to preach repentance to the wicked Ninevites…and we read today how it all turned out for him.

This past spring, I was blessed to travel to Lancaster with a friend, to see the Sight & Sound musical production, JONAH.  You wouldn’t think that a musical production of this story would bring tears…and maybe I am more sensitive than most…but I cried my eyes out during the entire second half of the show!  What brought me to tears?  It was seeing the people of Ninevah REPENT!  I found myself wishing that I would see that same scene FOR REAL right here in Pittsburgh and in our nation!  These formerly proud, corrupt, selfish and immoral people were able to SEE their mistakes, when faced with impending disaster!  Instead of getting angry at Jonah…they HUMBLED themselves…dropping to their knees and pouring dirt over their heads…begging God to forgive them!  What a beautiful sight!  Oh, how I wish it would happen here and now!!!

repentance

I had a strange memory pop into my head when I woke up this morning. It was a recollection of a certain sin that I ALMOST committed when I was young.  I had no idea of right or wrong back then…and it was only God’s grace that kept me from it.  It occurred to me how LOST I was then, without God’s light, I was completely in the dark…just being pushed around by whatever wind happened to be blowing at the time.  This random memory made me think of the young people of today…how lost many of them are.  We need to pray for them…that they will open themselves to God’s truth so that his light can shine into their darkness.

The responsorial psalm today was, “Lord, you are merciful and gracious.”  Just as God forgave the people of Ninevah…and just as he forgave me…I believe he will forgive our nation…WHEN we humble ourselves and repent.  But before we can repent, we need to SEE the error of our ways.  That is what our presence in front of Planned Parenthood is doing. It is showing our neighbors the error of abortion.

From a meditation that I read yesterday by Sr. Wendy Beckett, my prayer is that we will, “Ask God to transform us, holding our helplessness up to him constantly”…and that “We will see, open-eyed, our weakness, and turn with constant TRUST to him…”

Here are the reports from the sidewalk today:

PLEASE NOTE: We need prayer volunteers from 5-7pm tomorrow, so that shift manager Rick doesn’t have to stand alone!  Please let me know if you can help!!!

Kathy managed the vigil from 7-9am and writes:

Tom and Diane faithfully deliver the vigil materials each day, pictured with regular participants, Peg and Terri
Tom and Diane faithfully deliver the vigil materials each day, pictured with regular participants, Peg and Terri

Rain didn’t disrupt Dianne’ s faithful delivery of 40 days materials.  Husband Tom accompanied Dianne today.  Thank you both.

Also thank you to Peggy, Terri, and Bill H for coming and praying today.  During the morning rush, we passed out some “precious feet” pins to some young men on their way to school.  Some “hellos” and “good mornings” were given and received.  

Peg, Bill and Terri
Peg, Bill and Terri

Time was spent in silent prayer and group prayer-a litany of the Precious Blood and other scripted prayers.  Terri helped lead us in singing hymns.  S M Cathy arrived to take the next two hours

Cathy managed the vigil from 9-11am and writes:

It was a quiet morning spent with Julie.  There were a few clients going in, as well as staff and others (meeting?).  We had quite a few pleasant greetings, smiles, and “thank you”s, no negatives.  A man stopped to get another “feet” pin and mentioned that his girlfriend had had an abortion, gave him the flyer for men.  While praying I looked up at the semi-circle above the door- from the left side it looks white.  I imagined the “Pieta” picture there.

Sheila was on-duty from 11-1 and was blessed to pray with the faithful group from St. Raymond in Donegal!  Thanks to them for driving such a distance to witness and pray!  Sheila writes:

Great group from St. Raymond of the Mountain in Donegal
Great group from St. Raymond of the Mountain in Donegal

I was joined by four prayerful parishioners from St. Raymond’s, along with Helen and Jeff.  Also, a young lady who was passing by prayed with us briefly as we said the rosary.  Thankfully, the rain stayed away during this very busy Wednesday afternoon.  The PP security guard was very friendly and a police cruiser was parked next to us for a good 15 minutes.  We were blessed by numerous passers by who thanked us for being there.  One man in particular was grateful for what we do, as his daughter was born at 30 weeks.

Chris reports from the 1-3 pm shift:

 

Chris wasn't alone!
Chris wasn’t alone!

Earlier in the week, Nikki posted a request for people to join me on the sidewalk during my second hour, as it looked like  I was going to be alone. As you can see from the picture, seven prayer warriors joined me.  God bless them!  We prayed the Rosary, a Divine Chaplet, and sang hymns.  There was little foot traffic in and out of PP, but two things are stuck in my mind from today’s shift- a nurse came outside in her scrubs with her surgical gloves still on… and while we were praying aloud, a man in his 20’s walked by and said, “Hail Satan!”.  Rachel immediately responded with, “We’ll pray for you.”.  He retorted, “Don’t bother.”  Well, we did bother, saying several prayers that God would touch his soul and come into his life. 

Barbara reports from the 3-5 shift:

As we arrived for our shift, Chris, 1-3 Shift Manager, greeted us. Father Steven, Pastor of Corpus Christie Parish, McKeesport, was already deep in conversation with a man who had stopped by.  Later, he generously led us in the Rosary; Glorious, then Sorrowful Mysteries.

Claire, sister of our recovering beloved Jeannie, had already arrived and planned to stay as we were leaving.

A large Greyhound sized bus was parked in the street in front of us, on the bookstore side of PP, with the motor running for our first hour and a half.

Who would have thought that Liberty Avenue could get even louder!

It was a challenge to keep together as we prayed. We endured.

Life is good.

Peace.

Richard and Barbara

Joe, Mike and Fr. Steve from Corpus Christi, with faithful prayer warrior Ginny
Joe, Mike and Fr. Steve from Corpus Christi, with faithful prayer warrior Ginny
Claire and Linda answer the call for empty hours!
Claire and Linda answer the call for empty hours!

Joe K. wrote about the 5-7 shift:

Started the shift with my brothers and sisters in life from Corpus Christi along with Claire who carried-over from the 3-5 shift.  Jim stopped by (as usual) on his way home from work.

The shift was very calm and positive, though the streets were busy with foot traffic and the Acro Cats (circus cats) Tour Bus parked and continued to run directly in front of us.  It made it difficult to pray together / talk, but not impossible.  In fact, during the end of the prior shift as Fr. Steve began to lead us in prayer the Tour Bus pulled out and left us to finish in quiet – divine intervention 🙂 ?

It’s also worth noting the synergy between Acro Cats and our movement as they encourage and support fostering, rescue, and adoption as we do, though they do it for felines.  I just couldn’t but help thinking of all of the excitement and interest of folks seeing the splashy tour bus and awaiting their show in the nearby theater if some of that could just be shared with our littlest and most vulnerable brothers and sisters???

The fetal models got a bit more looks today and I was able to hand out a few of the “Watch Me Grow” pamphlets to the interested.

The night ended quietly and dry – a beautiful evening vigil – and we had even been spared the rain that we all had been braced for…

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Day 8…St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Indiana), Clarks Mills United Methodist Church and faithful individuals provide the witness today!

“He will command his angels concerning you, and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

angels-2332987_960_720

This world is getting scary, isn’t it?  We see how the lack of respect for human life and the lack of knowledge of God has led to mass killings, such as happened Sunday night in Las Vegas. 

In our prayerful witnessing in front of Planned Parenthood, we are vulnerable.  We are putting ourselves in the public eye…standing as a sign that ALL human life is precious and valuable and WORTH our sacrifice.

Yesterday, our dear Sally was knocked over intentionally by a passerby.  She fell flat on her back on the sidewalk, but miraculously…(she is in her 80’s and frail) she was not hurt a bit!  I spoke to her this morning, and not only was she not hurting, but she was in excellent spirits!  She says that her angel cushioned her fall…and I don’t doubt that for a minute!  You see, Sally and her husband Al have devoted their lives for the past 3o years to defending unborn human life.  If you call their house phone and get their voicemail, Al’s voice will inform you that every day in this nation, thousands of little babies are killed by abortion, and urge you to do something about it.  Their car has many pro life bumper stickers on it, they witness in front of Magee Hospital every-other month, take part in Face the Truth tours…and come to Planned Parenthood twice a week EVERY week, ALL YEAR ROUND.  They, along with Bob Newman, were the very first pro-life people I ever met.  When Sally informed me that she had given birth to 11 children, I was flabbergasted!  I never even knew it was POSSIBLE for someone to have that many children and still be able to walk around and be active!  But the word “active” is an understatement when describing Sally.  She is smart…no, more than just smart…the word to describe her is WISE.  She is so wise.  She and Al are a TEAM!  In fact, I used to get their names mixed up and refer them as “Sal and Ally”…they are so united in their marriage, their faith and their cause.  I have never seen a trace of bitterness or resentment in Sally…just peace.  She has an incredible  peace about her, that I guess is what comes from living a life faithful to God and having no regrets in her past.  It makes me a little envious…but not really…because I can still STRIVE to end up like Sally someday.  With God’s grace, maybe I can get there.

There was an incident last week at the vigil where a very hurting woman screamed and ranted for 45 minutes.  Our hearts and prayers go out to her that she will find healing.  But here is what Sally wrote to our team about it:

So many of these young people have been lied to all their lives by teachers, the media,  and often by their family members. They  have little or no faith in God, no idea about right and wrong, and no clue about how they should be living.  So when they mess up their lives they have nowhere to turn for help.  That’s why they drink too much, take drugs, sleep around, and kill themselves.  We know someone who has lost 20 friends to death, half  of them by suicide. These young people do not understand our campaign motto of TRUST. It might as well be in a foreign language. Isn’t that sad?  They need the help that big time prayer can give them.  Please, all of you, pray every day for all the lost ones who are out there.  They are SO NEEDY.  Thanks. Sally

So let us thank God for protecting Sally yesterday, and let’s continue to step out in faith and TRUST God to protect us during our peaceful witness on Liberty Avenue!  As WE are there to protect the most vulnerable…the babies…I have confidence that God’s angels are surrounding US as well!

baby-feet-402844_960_720

Sally and Al...Sally was my sponsor as I entered the Catholic Church in 2013
Sally has touched many lives with her selfless witness for unborn life. She has made a big impact in my life personally…in fact she was my sponsor as I entered the Catholic Church in 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for today’s shift reports…

Kathy wrote from the early morning shift (7-9):

Pleasant weather is always a positive when standing on the sidewalk.  Many passersby smiled.  Many glances at our signs and the fetal baby models.  One young woman engaged in conversation on her phone approached the display and told her listener that the models “scare her.”  I would have liked to ask her why they did.

Thank you to those who stopped by before going to work or starting their daily routine:

Vicky from Hosanna church, Bill H , Pat M , Tom, and Robert.  Thank you to Eloisa who comes weekly and filled the 9 to 10 prayer need for S M Cathy.

day 8, 1st shift

Cathy Z. was the 9-11am shift manager and was going to have to stand alone for her first hour, but thanks to Eloisa, she had company!

Eloisa and SM Cathy
Eloisa and SM Cathy

Cathy wrote:

Eloisa and I had a fairly quiet shift. We prayed together and separately, and gave out a few cards. She stayed until 10 when St. Bernard’s and Assumption arrived, with Ken arriving about the same time.  Many people were nice, with “God Bless you” or “Thank you” , one couple was not when I offered them a card as they were going into the clinic.  A pickup went by and the man passenger yelled “prochoice!”  An interesting statement was made while I was waiting at the bus stop to go home.  A woman strode past me and yelled across the street “God loves the abortion doctors too!”  Of course He does, He just doesn’t love what they are doing.  Some people must think we (and God) don’t love them because of what they do, when that is farthest from the truth.  God loves us all, so much He doesn’t want us to stay in our sin.

Jim filled in for Hank for the 11-1 shift and took this photo:

Attached is photo of vigil participants from Kathy Zuza and my shifts….Ray, Dennis, Michele, and Bill from St. Bernard in Indiana, PA, Mary from St. Monica in Chippewa, and Ken (Ken works downtown, not sure of church affiliation).
vigil participants from the 9-11 and 11-1 shifts….Ray, Dennis, Michele, and Bill from St. Bernard in Indiana, PA, Mary from St. Monica in Chippewa, and Ken

Chris managed the vigil from 1-3 and wrote:

I walked to the vigil site today trying to be more aware of my surroundings and saying a prayer for Sally.  Everything was fine during my shift; in fact, there was not one critical word spoken by a passerby.  When I arrived I was greeted by the prayers words of a Rosary being led by Jim, the shift manager, and prayer warriors from Indiana and Chippewa.  Shortly thereafter I was joined by Pastor Adam and Ginny.  It was great to have company on the sidewalk.  There were the usual comings and goings of the PP staff and just a handful of “clients” entering PP.  The highlight of the shift came when Pastor Adam greeted a woman walking by us with her boyfriend.  When he asked if she would like a resource card for someone who might be pregnant, she said, yes, that she was pregnant with her second child.  Pastor Adam then asked her if he could pray with her, which he did, for her, her unborn child, and her boyfriend.  She gladly took the resource card and thanked Pastor Adam.

Pastor Adam from Clarks Mills United Methodist Church and Ginny
Pastor Adam from Clarks Mills United Methodist Church and Ginny

Barbara and Richard report from the 3-5 shift:

We half expected an ice cream truck to pull over to the curb, with kiddie music playing.  Today felt like a summer day in the burbs.  By the grace of God, Wednesday is not an abortion day.

We were joined by Pastor Adam, Fran, Benson and Bill.  We were book ended by Chris and Joe, shift managers.  We tried to be vigilant to avoid any shoves or other unpleasant items.  But we are people persons and more watching for a friendly face and someone to talk with. Every passer by was pleasant, nodded or gave thumbs up.  At least 3 people stopped to thank us for being there.

We are there because there is nowhere else we would want to be during Pittsburgh 40 Days. It is impossible to explain.  I know I have always been opinionated and declined to be budged.

God is generous.

We are so grateful for the people who stand up in our group and help guide and keep us on track.

Ginny, Pastor Adam and Chris
Ginny, Pastor Adam and Chris
Bill and Benson
Bill and Benson

Joe wrote about his 5-7 shift report…

Probably best way to describe today’s shift – weather, vibe, folks… is “Peaceful Easy Feeling” – just refreshing after a “hectic” first week for the campaign…

Overall, “seemed” like less than normal foot and street traffic / noise.  Not much activity for folks exiting 933 Liberty Avenue.  Really minimal reaction from the passerby’s – seemed like everyone wanted to get “somewhere”…

I was joined for the entirety of my shift by individual volunteers Christopher and Nadine – the talk and prayer came easy, we just soaked up the weather / enjoying the comfortable temps and gentle breeze against an Indian Summer-like background of sun splashed building tops – Thanks Guys!

Found out that both Christopher (who was in town from Milwaukee) and Nadine are both proud parents of young men serving our country – one in the Army, the other in Marines – God Bless them and God Bless America…

…and God Bless our vigil and those that participate, help out, lead, pray, and just care so much and our mission.  Let us not be deterred….

A deacon stopped by to wish us well and to indicate that his group would be coming to witness later in the campaign and a young man stopped by and asked for material, but didn’t really want to talk.  …and of course, the mother and children that always pass by before the shift ends made their appearance… and the shift faded to black…

Christopher answered the call to stand with shift manager Joe!
Christopher answered the call to stand with shift manager Joe!

Day 1…Memorial Park Church, Inglesia Zion Church, Guardians for Life & McKeesport K of C show their TRUST in God today!

child holding hand

Last Friday I was standing on the bustling city sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood during my weekly sidewalk advocate shift.  There was the usual noise and confusion as pedestrians, cars and people rushed by on their way to work and school.  I was struck by the sight of a little boy, probably two or three, who was confidently walking with his mom and younger sibling in a stroller.  His tiny hand was gripping the metal bar of the stroller as his mom led him to cross Smithfield Street.  I though about how intimidating and confusing the city can be, yet this little boy looked totally at ease.  He didn’t let go of that stroller though!  He knew that as long as his mom was leading him, he would be okay.

That image of his tiny hand gripping that stroller has stuck with me all week long.  I think it is an image of what WE are doing during these 40 Days for Life.  As you know, the theme for these 40 days in Pittsburgh is TRUST.  The world right now seems to be going crazy.  There is so much division, anger and hatred…not to mention the many natural disasters!  It is easy to be overwhelmed and to lose our focus in times like these.  But God has called us to TRUST that HE is at work, through our prayers and sacrifice…through our peaceful witness on the sidewalk.

I was actually really encouraged when I watched the news last week.  Even though there were three very sad stories that day, I got a lump in my throat because of the GOODNESS that I saw in the people who came to the aid of those who were hurting:  Rescuers working non-stop to dig out the victims of the earthquake in Mexico; A group of students and teachers spontaneously joining hands in an impromptu prayer circle in the parking lot of their high school after a gunman was apprehended; Professional baseball players with tears in their eyes after a stray ball hit a toddler in the face.

Watching this was a REMINDER that there is still much GOODNESS in the world!  Most people do still recognize the inherent dignity of human life!  Maybe seeing our prayerful witness on the sidewalk will be a much needed reminder to those who may have forgotten…or who have lost hope.

There are now 87 churches/groups who have adopted time slots at our 40 Days for Life vigil at Planned Parenthood!  The vigil is more than three-fourths filled!  It is so encouraging to see that there are still many selfless individuals and church leaders who are willing to come to the sidewalk to be a sign to the world that THIS MATTERS!  THIS IS NOT OKAY!

Here are the shift reports and stories from those who showed their TRUST in God today:

7-9am shift manager Kathy wrote:

Diane TRUSTS that her sacrifice of delivering and picking up the vigil materials each day helps to SAVE lives! Thank you Diane!!!
Diane TRUSTS that her sacrifice of delivering and picking up the vigil materials each day helps to SAVE lives! Thank you Diane!!!

Our vigil began with Dianne, Marian, and Peg preparing the site when I arrived. Shortly thereafter, we were joined by Pastor Frank and Eloisa from Inglesia Sion church (Spanish speaking congregation).  Harry came too.  We prayed as a group, sang, and prayed silently.

Kathy with Eloisa from Inglesia Zion Church
Kathy with Eloisa from Inglesia Zion Church

I had the honor of escorting a pregnant woman, “N”, to Catholic Charities to meet Leeann for an emergency food need and resources.  Passed out literature to some pp patrons.  One young mother and daughter stopped to admire the fetal baby display.  They were grateful to receive a “baby” model and “precious feet” pins. 

We prayed for the workers as they arrived.  Yep, we’re back.

9-11am shift manager Cathy
9-11am shift manager Cathy

Cathy wrote from her 9-11am shift:

Kathy L. and Eloisa, from Iglesia Zion, (til 9:30) from  were there to stand and pray with me this morning.  Kathy was representing her church, Memorial Park. It was relatively quiet, did not appear to be an abortion day.  We were able to give out a few cards,.  A young mom came up to us asking where she could get food.  Turns out she is two months pregnant, and has two other little ones.  Family/dad support is ?  Kathy took her down to Catholic Charities and they told her about some nearby places she could get food, and she was told about, and encouraged to be part of, the parenting class at CC as it would provide her with a support group.  Another young mother accompanied by her little daughter, was just walking by and noticed the baby models and said “that’s what my baby looks like now!”  They stopped and we gave them a development flyer, and a pencil for the little girl. 

We had a number of positive greetings, maybe one negative, and of course the “stare straight ahead” ones.  Since it was a nice day and not breezy, we laid out a few flyers on the top of the big trunk hoping to catch someone’s attention as they walked by.

11am – 1pm shift manager Hank reports:

day 1, 3rd shift, k of c

day 1, 3rd shift, guardians

 

It was a time filled almost entirely with prayer and song lead by Fr.Tim and the Guardians for Life from the Greensburg Diocese.  The Guardians included: Irene (Resurrection), Rudy (St.Vincent), Brian and Lisa (St.Brernard) and the K of C 1275 guys Tom, Tom, Danny, and________(missed the 4th guy in the pic).  Terri, a sidewalk advocate, was very active in distributing literature. Judy from St.Valentine in Bethel Park was also with us. A good number of people greeted us and thanked us for our presence. 

Chris managed the vigil from 1-3pm and writes:

Ginny and Hank
Ginny and Hank

day 1, 4th shift, john

Yes, it was a hot one.  I think God was reminding us to keep the heat on PP.   I was joined in prayer by Ginny, Ken, Peggy, and John.  We said several Rosaries and kept both sides of “the circle” occupied.  Almost all of the people entering PP seemed to be workers, not clients.  We receivd more than several “God Bless Yous” and “Thank Yous” from passersby and a few less-than-friendly comments, too.  We handed out Pregnancy Resource cards to as many people would accept them.

Barbara and Richard reported from the 3-5pm shift:

John and Richard
John and Richard

 

Joe, Chris and Ginny
Joe, Chris and Ginny

day 1, 5th shift, joe

Downtown Pittsburgh sidewalk looks pretty much the same since last spring… although I am ready to discuss this with anyone who knows the name of the philosopher who said you never enter the same river twice..rarely a boring conversation.

The weather was hot.  The traffic was expertly, persistently loud.

Chris (1-3 shift manager) greeted us and finished his Rosary.

The crowd of witnesses arrived and prayed and entered the give and take with other people coming and going.

A trio of students standing by, eating gyros, donated a person ready to pray.  His friends stood off, quietly.

As the hours waxed and waned, we enjoyed the company of John (St. Kilian), Ginny (St. Bernard), Benson (St. Anne), Jim (Knight of Columbus) who responded to Nikki’s email, and Joe (McKeesport Knights of Columbus) who came to pray for his parish and then stayed as shift manager for 5-7.

Pittsburgh 40 Days for Life people are an irreplaceable presence in our life.  Richard and I feel blessed to know them.

Joe reported from the 5-7 shift:

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The Life-Signal was put out for this shift and whoa and behold it was filled by some lovely souls for life – guess     I needed to trust more that He always provides!      Jim and Mike heard the Life-Signal and came out and joined Mike P. from St. Patrick’s / McKeesport Knights of Columbus  and Benson from St. Anne’s.   “K” stopped by to talk and we prayed with her.  It’s great to see some of the regulars –  Jim stopped by on his way home  from work and the mother and family that always passes by late in the shift came by with the kids never tiring of the fetal models.

All of the comments from passerby’s were positive!   I was blessed to hear 3 different pro-life experiences during the shift…

A woman stopped by to ask for any / all literature we had and proceeded to tell us how her mother got pregnant young with her and the father insisted she get an abortion – courageously, she chose life!

Jim told us of how his wife, pregnant with their 5th child – was told by their doctor of some potential complications with the pregnancy and was recommended to abort (deja vu if you were at the Kick-Off and heard Kurt K.’s talk) – again, courageously, they chose life!

Mike shared with us how he and his wife were having trouble conceiving and were blessed to be able to adopt their daughter and are now enjoying their 1st grandchild.

Faithful servants Tom and Diane came to gather-up the display to start anew for day #2 – thanks guys for all that “yunz” do!!!

Also, someone left this booklet at the vigil today…it is in the bin:

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Thanks to everyone for coming to shine a light in the darkness today!  Thank you God for a good first day!

PLEASE NOTE THESE UP-COMING VIGIL NEEDS:

Saturday from 11am-1pm

Monday from 7-9am AND 1-5pm

Tuesday from 3-5pm

Wednesday from 3-5pm

Email nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com or sign up yourself at https://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/pittsburgh/

What NOT to do…

Have you ever found yourself witnessing a tragedy before your very eyes?  If so, did you struggle with how to respond?

About a year ago, I was walking towards the exit inside the Penn Hills Giant Eagle, after having done my banking.  Right in front of me, blocking my exit, was a teenage girl laying flat on her back.  Her eyes were open and rolled back, her mouth was open and foaming, and she was convulsing.  It didn’t look like she was breathing, but I hope she was.  There was already the store manager kneeling beside her, and he was calling 911.  Many shoppers gathered around in silence, watching the scene unfold before them.  As the minutes went by…and the ambulance had not yet arrived…people began to leave.   I struggled with what to do.  It just didn’t seem right to walk right past her and leave…but I couldn’t do anything for her and I didn’t feel right about standing there gawking.  So, not knowing what else to do, I knelt down on the linoleum and began to pray for her, with my hand extended towards her.  I have to admit that I felt pretty foolish…being the only one doing this.  Within a few more minutes, the paramedics arrived, put her on a stretcher and carried her out.  I got up and left.  I never heard any news about her, I hope she was okay.

I write about this experience because I believe it can be related to our mission to pray and witness in front of Planned Parenthood during this next 40 Days for Life (Sept. 27 – Nov. 5).

Allow me to explain.  You see, I have to admit that I get pretty discouraged after 14 consecutive vigils held in front of that place at 933 Liberty.  After so many years of fervent prayer, witnessing through all kinds of weather and putting up with persecutions…they are STILL ending the lives of approximately 3,000 human beings each year.  It doesn’t seem like our efforts are doing any good, does it?

When I feel weak in my faith, as I do right now…maybe even lukewarm in my love for God…and I don’t know what to do…I think of it in reverse and I ask myself, what should I NOT do?

I read the Gospel today from Matthew 13, where it says that Jesus was not able to do many mighty deeds in his hometown because of their lack of faith.  I found myself wondering, is that why he hasn’t ended abortion yet in our nation?  Do we lack faith?  Is that why God isn’t doing many miracles here?

So what do we do when we lack faith?

We should ACT like we have faith!  DO the deeds that we would do if we had faith!

Do we not want to fast?  FAST ANYWAY!!!  Not want to witness?  WITNESS ANYWAY!!!

So, every time I begin to think of giving up…I think about the alternative.  I think about those sidewalks in front of Planned Parenthood being EMPTY, while we went about our life as if we didn’t care.  I think about how that would look to the world.  It would LOOK as if we (Christians) didn’t care!  Just as I was afraid that if I had walked past that young girl in Giant Eagle, and had walked out those doors…it would have looked as if I didn’t care. So my strategy is…when I don’t know what it is that I should do, or how it is that I should respond…I like to think of it in reverse.  So, I ask myself…”What is it that I should NOT do?”  And then, I do the opposite.  Even if I make a fool of myself.

Would you consider being foolish with me?  Even if we cannot stop the killing of the innocents at 933 Liberty Avenue (God WILL do this in HIS TIME!!!)…we can be there to show that we care.  We can show that THIS MATTERS!  It matters to God, and it matters to us.

It is time to sign up to pray at the up-coming vigil…let’s get those 480 hours filled!  

Please email me at nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com to commit for your time slot.  (Check the schedule first at  http://40daysforlifepittsburgh.com/vigil-schedule/    ).

Also, please help us in our efforts to close Planned Parenthood and to bring an end to abortion in Pittsburgh by signing up for our rosary campaign.  We would like every hour (from 7am – 11pm) during the 40 days to be covered with at least one person praying the rosary for this intention.  Go to  https://signup.com/client/invitation/6775657374/1930757/false#!1930757/false/false    to sign up.  (40 Days for Life is an ecumenical movement, and we are not trying to exclude non-Catholics who may not wish to pray the rosary…so if you are Protestant and would like to pledge to pray for certain hours, we welcome your prayers!  Please just contact Rick Thimons at rpthimons@comcast.net, who is in charge of the prayer campaign, and let him know.

And of course, we need your help to fill our fasting calendar during the 40 days!  We strive to have at least two people fasting every day during the 40 days.  Go to  https://signup.com/client/invitation/6775657374/1942419/false#!1942419/false/false        to sign up.

Also, don’t forget to “LIKE” our Facebook page and follow us!  You will be able to follow the national 40 Days for Life devotional prayers at https://www.facebook.com/40daysforlifepgh/

Finally, mark your calendar for Katie’s next Diaper Drive, to benefit local crisis pregnancy centers!  It will be held on Saturday, September 2nd from 7am – 7pm in front of Planned Parenthood.  More information will be posted soon.

Thank you for your help!

God bless you!

Your sister in Christ,

Nikki

P.S.  I hope I am not confusing you with this blog post…Sue David IS the new campaign director!  As the vigil coordinator, I am just writing to try to help us to fill the vigil.  🙂

Nikki’s Reflection on 40 Days for Life in Croatia

Lisa K. and I returned home last night from our 10 day journey to Croatia and Medjugorje, where we had the joy of meeting so many of our 40 Days for Life family and saw the Holy Spirit working powerfully through their campaigns.  Marian asked us each to write a little reflection of our trip, which I am happy to do.

I think I need to start from the beginning, in order to let you all know how God is working so mightily for us through 40 Days for Life!

Last summer a customer of mine gave me a wooden rosary from Medjugorje in Boznia-Herzegovina.  I had heard of the place as a pilgrimage site, but had never really had a desire to go there myself.  I began using that rosary daily and on the third day was suddenly overcome with a desire to go to there!  This happened while I was taking a shower of all things!  I actually began to whine like a little kid (out loud…in the shower!)…asking for God to make a way for me to go.  As soon as I got out of the shower, I ran downstairs to ask my husband if he would mind, (if I could save up my own money) if I went to Medjugorje!  He said it would be fine, (he probably thought I would never be able to save up the money, so he figured he would be safe, LOL!)  Anyway, that was going to be my plan….no matter how long it took…I would save the money and go on a group pilgrimage to Medjugorje.

Three weeks later, I went to the 40 Days for Life international symposium in Orlando, along with Lisa K., Marian and Beth.  40 Days for Life leaders from all around the world attended this conference and I had the privilege of being one of the presenters.  Right after I spoke, I met the leader from Croatia in the lobby of the hotel.  She asked me if I would come to Croatia to speak at their national meeting.  I really didn’t know where Croatia was, and didn’t know anything about the country…and was confused as to why she would want me to come there to speak!  I said to her, “Why would you want me to come?  I don’t speak Croatian, am not a speaker, and have never even traveled outside of the USA!”  But then, something clicked in my mind, and I asked, “Wait a minute…isn’t Croatia near Medjugorje?”  She answered that it was only a 2-hour drive from Croatia, and said that if I came to Croatia, she would take me to Medjugorje!  At that point I think my jaw hit the floor, and I told her the story of how I had suddenly got the desire to go, and had just prayed for a way to go!

So, God is the One who arranged this trip…and I now see why!  It was a life-changing experience to see how the Holy Spirit is alive and working in the hearts of the people in Croatia!  There are only about 40 campaigns in all of Europe…and 26 of them are in Croatia!  They are incredibly organized, with the 26 local leaders reporting to the regional coordinators (Petra, Lidija and Marija), who then report to the national leader (Ante).  They begin and end EVERYTHING with prayer.  They put God before everything else.  We had Mass everyday, Eucharistic adoration and a visit to a shrine…along with many informative presentations and discussions.  Watching the joy and the unity among them made me feel as though God had plucked me up and set me down right into the middle of the early Church in Jerusalem, where all the believers were selling their belongings and sharing with one another.  These people traveled from their own towns to be together for FOUR DAYS!  I felt like such a part of them, that I cried when the conference ended…knowing that I had to leave and may never see them again.  It was a truly beautiful experience.  As a “spoiled” American, accustomed to comfort and affluence…to see these committed believers, who have suffered so much from the war in the 90’s and have just recently been freed from Communism….was a truly humbling and inspiring experience.  Through this experience, God reminded me of the IMPORTANCE of this battle to end abortion.  God REALLY cares about this!  This issue goes right to His Heart…and so we cannot give up or become complacent.  It also helped me to realize how united the family of God is.  Even though we didn’t speak the same language, and came from totally different cultures…we had a strong bond in our love from the Lord.  I felt more at home among them than I do when I am among non-believers of my own culture.  It was beautiful, (or as they say in Croatian…”Lijepo”).

lisa climbing cross mountain

And as for our three days in Medjugorje…it was a gift from God.  I carried the prayers for my family and friends to the top of apparition hill and cross mountain…and through the difficulties of climbing in the heat and on the sharp rocks…thanked the Lord for the opportunity to share in a tiny way with His suffering.  Being immersed for three days with believers from all around the world, speaking so many different languages…but united in our love for God, was wonderful!

lisa and nikki cross mountain

So thank you dear 40 Days for Life family, for reading about my experience.  I hope we can once again unite in prayer, fasting and peaceful witness to bring an end to abortion in Pittsburgh!  The campaign begins on September 27th and ends November 5th.  The schedule is posted and I am ready to sign groups up, so let me know if you are ready to choose your time slot at the vigil at Planned Parenthood.  Email me at nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com

May God bless you throughout the summer!

Your sister in Christ,

Nikki