The Lazy River of God…

The Texas-shaped lazy river that we enjoyed during our time in Houston…read on to find out how this compares to participating in 40 Days for Life!

I wish to write about my experience of attending this past weekend’s 40 Days for Life symposium in Houston, so that all of our 40 Days for Life family in Pittsburgh can, in a small way, share some of the blessings that we received by attending this wonderful symposium.

This symposium was special because of two amazing trips that we were taken on…read on to hear about them:

First, when we arrived in Houston on Friday, the very first thing we did was load all 200+ leaders into four large buses and drove to the mega-Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Houston, which is the largest freestanding abortion clinic in the world.

I had seen pictures of it many times before, but I was surprised at the emotional reaction that I experienced when I actually saw it in person. I took a picture of my face, and as a remedy to my own vanity and pride, I will post it to show you my initial reaction to this monstrosity of evil:

Here is a photo of the people sitting behind me on the bus, you will see in many faces the same look of sadness and horror:

The temperature outdoors was about 3 degrees cooler than hell, as one leader aptly put it. I tried to offer my suffering in the heat for those whose lives have and are being lost in that building, but it was tough.

Pro-lifers poured from the buses onto the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood
Dr. Noreen (center) is a former abortionist, now pro-life. Pictured with two local 40 Days for Life leaders, Kathy and Jane.

Although the heat was intense…especially for us Yankees…It was the perfect way to begin our symposium. Standing in front of the largest abortion facility in the world was the stark reminder that I needed to remember why I was at the symposium in the first place.

Members of the national and international team spoke during the rally in front of Planned Parenthood

I want to share one thought that I had, as our bus stopped in front of this terrible building: While I was still in my seat, feeling so overwhelmed and discouraged…I looked out the window to see many men who are leaders in this movement. They were all busy organizing and directing the gathering crowd. These men included; Shawn Carney, Matt Britain, Steve Karlen, Robert Colquhoun, Brian Wilson and Rev. Brian Walker (among others). As I sat there, wanting to find a hole to crawl into…looking at these strong male leaders, I sensed that they were our warriors. I had the feeling that I was on the front lines of a very dangerous battle and I did not have the strength to fight, but I was so thankful for the leadership of these godly men. I had the thought that fighting abortion is like being in a war, and men are the ones that God equipped to really fight the hard battle on the front line. Me, as a woman, can fight behind the scenes, Through prayer and fasting and organizing people to show up on the sidewalk… which I know, is also on the front lines… and we women also do battle. But still, I really have a sense of gratitude for these spiritually strong men who have answered the call to lead us! I just wanted to say this. I realize that it may sound old-fashioned and not politically correct these days.

After our time at Planned Parenthood we had a gala event with a wonderful dinner and many great speakers which motivated and inspired us, including Ante, whom we met here in Pittsburgh.

40 Days for Life leaders and team members gathered at the Houston Marriott Marquis for a wonderful evening Gala on Friday

The following day, on Saturday, was an all day symposium with many speakers, including testimonies of those who chose Life and also those who suffered from abortion. One of the most powerful speaker panels included two former abortionists, one former abortion clinic manager, and a post abortive women. As they role played a scene from how an abortion would take place, they were unexpectedly brought to tears as they reenacted the scene.

In the above photo, two former abortion doctors, along with a former Planned Parenthood clinic manager, re-enact an actual abortion appointment with a post-abortive participant. It was more emotional than they expected.
This woman gave a powerfully inspiring testimony of being pressured by her doctor to abort her daughter (the young woman seated beside her), who is a beautiful young woman who loves the Lord and who also shares her story with people all around the country.

Saturday night was such a fun time, as we were fed a Texas style barbecue and had the opportunity to learn how to country line dance, which I enjoyed!

Judy and Nikki, having a blast line dancing to country music! I discovered that flip flops are not the ideal footwear for country dancing…next time I will bring my boots!
Pittsburgh team: Beth, Judy, Nikki and Lisa

On Sunday those of us who are Catholic went to Mass together at a beautiful 150-year-old city parish called “Church of the Annunciation”. The church was PACKED and we heard a wonderful sermon about the importance of praying in front of abortion clinics!

Historic 150-year old Church of the Annunciation in Houston was packed with pro-lifers on Sunday!

After Mass, all of us had the life-changing and profound experience of taking a two hour bus trip (four buses packed full of 40 days for life leaders), to Brian/College Station, to visit the former Planned Parenthood building, which is now the site of the International 40 Days for Life headquarters!!! This was truly the icing on the cake of a magnificent weekend!

Group photo of everyone in front of 40 Days for Life headquarters
Dr. Haywood Robinson spoke in front of the former Planned Parenthood where he used to do abortions. Now he works there providing medical care to women who are being assisted in choosing LIFE for their babies! Only God could write a story like this one!

Dr. Haywood Robinson stood in front of that building and told us that he used to do abortions in that same Planned Parenthood…before he met Jesus Christ and was transformed by grace. I was moved to tears to see God‘s power and His Hand in this movement! To see that man standing there speaking to us… to see the transformation in his life and in the lives of so many other former abortionists and workers who were there… brought me to tears. This time they were tears of joy.

Haywood made the analogy of 40 Days for Life being like a lazy river of God. When you stand there, looking at that former abortion clinic, which now serves as the headquarters of 40 Days for Life …and all those former abortion-workers who are now on the side of LIFE… you can’t help but see how 40 days for life is a movement completely of God! With that knowledge, we can feel safe and comfortable (as in the lazy river), because we know that we are in the center of God’s will… as we float along in this movement. It is a wonderful analogy, although I must admit that sometimes I don’t feel like I am floating. I feel more like I am paddling upstream, but that is just because I have the continual fight against my own weak human nature and my own laziness and selfishness! But really, we are in the lazy river of God when we participate in 40 days for life!

Shawn Carney, President of 40 Days for Life, welcomed us to their headquarters in College Station
Pittsburgh girls…Judy, Nikki, Beth and Lisa
Kruno and Ante join us for a team photo…we will miss these guys!

Dr. Robinson made the analogy of 40 days for life being like a lazy river of God.

He probably came up with this analogy because we had a really cool lazy river at the Marriott Marquis, where our 40 days conference was held. This lazy river is in the shape of Texas! (Texans are mighty proud of their state!)

Ante, along with many 40 Days for Life leaders enjoy a Texas barbecue in front of the 40 Days for Life headquarters.

The 40 Days for Life national team had a delicious Texas-style barbecue lunch for us. They truly treated us like kings and queens all weekend! I am so grateful to all of their generous donors who made this weekend possible!

It was amazing to walk through those same doors that Abby Johnson walked through every day to work at Planned Parenthood.

We were given a tour of the building, including one of the rooms in which abortions were performed. Unlike the experience of being in front of the mega-Planned Parenthood in Houston…which was so dark and unsettling…inside of this former abortion facility…which has since been exorcised and blessed…I felt nothing but gratitude and joy.

This is the reception desk, where thousands of women paid for their abortions. This desk has now been redeemed. Notice the iconic photo on the wall behind the glass…the now famous photo of the Planned Parenthood sign being torn down!
We were told that before the interior of the building was painted, but after the exorcism, church congregations were invited to come in and pray…and the entire wall area was COVERED with scripture verses, which members of those churches wrote on the walls. So this space is now LITERALLY covered with the Word of God! This photo was taken of the inside of a closet, which still has a verse of scripture visible.

We went into the very room where the abortions took place, which still contained the table that the women would lay on, (now covered with roses)…but the darkness was not there. Only redemption.

Dr. Haywood Robinson, standing in the very room in which he used to do abortions.
Former bed of pain, now redeemed.

They also showed us the plans for a memorial which they are going to build in the backyard, which will be a large granite wall with 6,400 gold crosses… to memorialize the lives that were lost there.

Plans for the memorial…
This plaque and angel statues will be part of the memorial.
Dr. Haywood and Dr. Noreen…two former abortion doctors, now working to save lives from abortion!
The very hallway where Abby Johnson walked, and so many poor women and babies were destroyed.
I just had to take a picture of the sky as we were standing on that holy ground…God is with us!!!
Photos hanging in the reception area…

This beautiful figurine of Mary, pregnant with Jesus is displayed in the board room

So what are you waiting for? The lazy river of God is waiting for you to JUMP IN!!! Sign up here for the fall campaign:

https://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/pittsburgh/

Inspiring events this week! Croatia Pro-Life Leaders in Pittsburgh!

This has been a whirlwind week with the funny, energetic and passionately pro-life 40 Days for Life leaders from Croatia! From the minute I picked Kruno and Ante up at the Pittsburgh airport (last Friday), through today, I have enjoyed these two wonderful young leaders as they speak and show their inspiring new documentary, “40 Days…”. They stayed with Joe and I for their first three nights and it was like having two new sons in my home. They even started calling me “Mom”. Their film has inspired many people and will undoubtedly save many lives! You can watch it for free on You Tube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAzm0ftoqsg&t=115s

Here are some photos from this week’s events:

SATURDAY

On Saturday, Ante and Kruno spoke and screened their film after 5pm Mass at St. Nicholas Croatian Church in Millvale. During the event in the church hall, Bishop William Waltersheid blessed our event and added his inspiring thoughts on the importance of the pro life movement by Christians. We are grateful to St. Nicholas parish and Bishop Waltersheid for a heart-changing evening! Bishop Waltersheid was presented with a DVD copy of the film in gratitude for his attendance.
Saturday night showing at Saint Nicholas
Lisa and her daughters brought Kruno and Ante to see our Vigil site
Saturday in front of Planned Parenthood

Ante
Kruno and Bill
Our protection and our hope

SUNDAY

Fr. Jason Charron, from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Carnegie hosted Kruno and Ante at his church on Sunday with a showing of the film following the 11am Divine Liturgy. It was a beautiful afternoon of pro-life fellowship and many were inspired by Ante and Kruno’s enthusiasm and their love for the Lord!
Many people came to watch the film, from Holy Trinity Church and elsewhere.
At Fr. Jason‘s church, everyone watching the film attentively
A nice showing at Fr. Jason‘s church
Lisa, Kruno, Ante, Nikki
After we left Fr. Jason’s Church, I took Kruno and Ante to meet two of my heroes, who also happen to be my mentors in the pro-life movement and in my walk with God…Sally and Al Brunn. Although they are in a nursing home now, since Al had a stroke in December, their minds are sharp as pins and they are full of peace and joy. Kruno and Ante were very inspired by their visit with Sally and Al.

MONDAY

Pizza-Man Joe…making his homemade pizza at Monday’s cook-out at the Bruni’s!
It was a fun time of food and fellowship at our home. Everyone enjoyed Joe’s pizza and other goodies on the backyard pavilion.
Everyone’s attention was focused on the film. Even the children did not take their eyes off of this moving and inspiring documentary!

TUESDAY

Many pro lifers gathered inside of Catholic Charities Welcome Center on Tuesday to see the screening of “40 Days” and to hear Ante and Kruno’s inspiring message of 40 Days for Life in Croatia!
Ante’s enthusiasm for saving lives is contagious!
Kruno and Ante meet another Pittsburgh pro-life legend, Helen Cindrich, Executive Director of People Concerned for the Unborn Child…PCUC, the OLDEST pro-life organization in the USA!
Lisa took them to the Croatian Federation in Monroeville

WEDNESDAY

Pastor Joe Stump and the wonderful worship team at Lincoln Place Nazarene led us in a beautiful time of song.
Kruno with hands raised to the Lord.
Kruno opened the event with a short presentation on Croatia…its natural beauty, history and people.
Ante inspired many with his passion for saving lives through 40 Days for Life in Croatia!
Joe and Ante say goodbye…Joe was full of emotion…these young men really got into his heart during our time together. He will miss them.
Saying goodbye to daddy Joe
Saying goodbye…
This pro-life mom will miss her “sons”. This old German lady is taken by surprise by these Europeans ready display of affection…but in a good way!
Ante loves to clown around…and he loved his American “Coke”
After staying at the Bruni’s house for their first three nights in Pittsburgh…Ante and Kruno left for the Koslosky’s for the following two nights. Here they are, clowning around at Lisa’s house. It looks like they are having fun…yes?

THURSDAY

Pastor Joe and Judy Stump hosted Kruno and Ante for their final two nights in Pittsburgh. Here are some photos of their sight-seeing!

The dynamic duo with Pastor Joe and Judy Stump
At the Carnegie Museum with the Stumps
With the dinosaurs
Ante-saurus
Ante and Kruno had a great day with Pastor Joe and Judy

On Friday, we will all fly out to Houston for the International 40 Days for Life Symposium. Check back next week for a blog post about that event.

Open Letter to Rep. Brian Sims

Dear Rep. Brian Sims,

Although I have not fed or clothed any poor children yet today...I am responding to the video you recently posted that shows you harassing the “old white woman” in front of Planned Parenthood. As a grandmother of four, and one who prays weekly in front of Planned Parenthood in Pittsburgh, I think I am qualified to write this letter.

You may think that, as a young, affluent, influential person, you can intimidate us “old white ladies” to just go away. I mean, how difficult can it be to scare us old ladies? How can we possibly endure pressure from politicians who give us a hard time? We will certainly succumb in fear and trepidation and slink back to our kitchens where we belong…to bake cookies or something.

NOT!!!

The mistake you are making is your assumption that we so-called “pseudo-Christians” will be deterred by humiliation and intimidation from other people, even from those who are supposedly in a position of human authority. You see, as TRUE Christians…we have already humbled ourselves to the authority of GOD…as He has given us to know Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ! HE is our example, and HE is our authority. As he willingly suffered from the “authorities” in his day, so we also count it a privilege to suffer for him…if he asks us to.

Actually, It is understandable that you would make such a mistake. After all, people tend to assume that others are just like they are. If somebody is a liar, they never trust anything that anyone says to them. A husband who cheats on his wife is always suspicious of her, thinking she is doing the same. The same thing goes for a person who is proud and arrogant…one who desires the respect and esteem of other people. A person such as that assumes that others can be manipulated in a way that they themselves could be.

It always amazes me how two people can sometimes look at the same thing, yet see two totally different realities. For example, surely you have seen photos of abortion. When I first saw the torn, mutilated corpses of abortion victims…it broke my heart! I cried and sobbed after viewing those photos. But what do you see? A woman’s choice? When I hold a newborn baby…such a tiny, fragile life…I am moved to compassion and the desire to tenderly care for that child. I am amazed and in awe of the miracle of new life! But what do you see? A burden to be eliminated?

You stated in your video how important it is for you to be involved in this great “civil rights” movement…which is very ironic that you would say that, because it IS in fact a civil rights movement…just in the OPPOSITE way that you think! The unborn human is the one being killed and oppressed here…NOT the pregnant moms!

Did you see the faces of the parents in Colorado, as they frantically searched for their children, following this week’s tragic school shooting? The expressions of anxiety and grief in their faces brought tears to my eyes and reminded me that there is truly no greater bond (humanly speaking), than that of a parent for their child! In fact, I would bet that if you randomly polled 100 people on the streets, and asked them what the worst possible thing they could imagine happening to them would be…I would bet that most of them would say experiencing the death of a child. Yet, you think it is a good thing for women to walk into Planned Parenthood and pay money to bring about that same result! The ONE thing that everyone fears most…in your eyes is somehow good, and should be applauded. In fact, you think it is SUCH a good thing that you are willing to rant and rave and try to intimidate those who are trying to save parents who are in danger of experiencing that grief.

Just look at the faces of those parents in Colorado.

Sadly, maybe you will never personally experience the joy that comes from having a child, created by God, through a loving union of man and woman. But those of us who have been blessed with children understand what a treasure our children are! They are a gift from God! Even now, although my children are grown and have children of their own…if any sort of physical injury befalls them, when I learn about it, I experience an actual physical pain…like a twinge…in the innermost part of my body. There is still a connection. You cannot separate a child from the mother. There is an eternal bond. God it made it that way in order to show us the same bond that exists between Him and all of his children.

So, Rep. Sims…I ask you…just who are you trying to intimidate? Those of us who are already bowed down as low as we can be? We are already face down on the ground (spiritually speaking)…and you want to trample on us? We count it an honor to be trampled on for our Lord. So, if you thought that you could intimidate us by your call for increased persecution….you have made a fatal mistake..

You see, you may think you are only fighting against “old white women“…when in fact, you are actually fighting against GOD.

Good luck with that!

Nikki Bruni


Thanks for a great response on the sidewalk last weekend! Diaper Drive and “Stand with Abby”!

Last week, in response to the harassment of an elderly pro-life woman by PA State Rep. Brian Simms, (CLICK HERE to read my open letter to him)…thousands of pro-lifers showed up in Philadelphia to make the statement that we will not be bullied! Thanks to the many people who showed up here in Pittsburgh, in solidarity to those in Philadelphia! Here are some pictures from last Friday:

Faithful early morning prayer warriors Rose, Mary and Fran
Woman from Steubenville made a powerful witness praying on her knees.
Nancy, me and Fran
Walt, Charlie and Ken pray for vulnerable human life to be protected.
Rain didn’t keep the pro life witness away!
Many prayers said for the babies
Great witness for life!

Charlene reports that the Diaper Drive was a success! Thank you for all who donated! She wrote:


Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Diaper Drive! We had the car almost full of diapers, wipes, toys and baby items. We also had cash donations which I am sure Catholic Charities will find good use for!  And this does not include the Friday contributions.  Some passers by commented on the contrast between a diaper Drive and an abortion clinic. I hope that sunk into many heads!!! Thank you again!!! Charlene

Charlene

Although the 40 Days for Life is over for the summer, year-round sidewalk advocates continue to reach out to abortion-bound couples to offer life-saving alternatives! Sue McGrath will be holding a sidewalk advocate training on Saturday, June 1st at the Bellvue Knights of Columbus Hall. It is not too late to register! If you are interested in attending this one-time, four-hour DVD training, contact Sue at susanmcgrath526@comcast.net

It is true that for many of us Sidewalk Advocates, we often are discouraged by our seemingly fruitless efforts in front of Planned Parenthood. We lovingly reach out to couples who are walking in to Planned Parenthood in those final moments while their child is still alive, to offer them life and hope…but it is rare that we see someone actually change their mind.

I just have to share this photo with you. It is an ultrasound photo of a baby that was saved a few weeks ago, when his or her mom came to PP for an abortion. The family member who accompanied this young woman told us that she had prayed to God for a sign if they weren’t supposed to do this. She told me that she believed that we were that sign. I had the privilege of going in with them to see the ultrasound at Women’s Choice Network, after we left Planned Parenthood. I watched this precious 13 week old baby moving around, waving little arms and legs…which would have been mercilessly torn off by Planned Parenthood’s abortionist, if not for our presence on the sidewalk.

Why does God choose to save some, while he seemingly allows others to be killed by abortion? I don’t know. That is why he is God and I am not. All I know is that WHEN he decides to save a child, it is through US that he does it! And what an amazing privilege it is to be used by him in this way!

As Fr. Thomas More Sikora said, at a Mass that he had for our 40 Days for Life team last fall…he said:

I believe that the babies saved from abortion will be the future saints of the Church!

Fr. Thomas More Sikora

I wonder what plans he has for this child? I thank him and praise him for all that he is doing through our pro-life prayers and witness!

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, July 31st!

You may remember that two years ago I was invited by the 40 Days for Life leaders in Croatia to come and visit during their national conference, which I did…accompanied by our dear Lisa K.! It was a life-changing experience, to be able to see first-hand how God is using 40 Days for Life in Croatia, and to meet such wonderful people who have suffered so much from communism, but who are now using their new freedoms to fight for unborn life! 40 Days for Life is exploding in Croatia, with 26 cities taking part in that small country! Ante, who is Croatia’s “Shawn Carney”, along with our dear friend Krunoslav, will be visiting Pittsburgh on July 31st! Pastor Joe and Judy Stump will be hosting a screening of the Croatian 40 Days for Life film that they have produced, along with a reception for Ante and Kruno, at their church, Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene.

I hope you will come and give a warm Pittsburgh pro-life welcome to these two courageous pro-life warriors who are travelling all the way here to meet us! Here are the details:

WHAT: 40 Days for Life in Croatia Film screening and reception for Croatian 40 Days for Life leaders, Ante and Kruno!

WHEN: Wednesday, July 31st at 6:30 pm

WHERE: Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene, 5604 Interboro Ave., Pittsburgh PA

Thanks to all of you for keeping our pro-life community vibrant and alive here in Pittsburgh! May God bless you this summer! Hope to see you soon!

In Christ,

Nikki

Day 36…Thanks to St. Louise de Marillac (Upper St. Clair), St. James (Sewickley), PCUC (New Castle) and many faithful volunteers!

Why are all the blog posts about God???

If you are new to this blog, you may have perused the daily reflections and noticed that…for a pro-life blog…we mainly write about GOD. If you are new to the pro-life movement…maybe motivated by the Unplanned movie…you may be wondering why we don’t write more about abortion! After all, our entire mission of 40 Days for Life is to END ABORTION. So, why don’t we talk more about it in our blog? Why don’t we speak more of the horrors and the injustices? Wouldn’t it make more sense to do our best to get our readers all riled up so that they will be motivated to show up on the sidewalk?

There is a good reason for this focus on God…and I will soon tell you what it is. But first, I want to tell you about my reputation within my family. Everyone in my family thinks I am a “religious fanatic”. Don’t believe me? Here are just a few of the gifts that I have been given in the past few years:

I guess when you think your mom is crazy about the whole Jesus thing…when you have to get her a gift, you go to the Christian store! Actually, one of my most treasured moments with my grand daughter happened while my daughter and her family were visiting last summer. It was the day before they had to return home to Oklahoma, and my (then) 5-year old grand daughter was sitting on my lap. We were sitting on the back porch, enjoying the beautiful summer evening…getting some cuddle time in before she had to leave. Suddenly, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “Mamaw…why do you love God so much?” We hadn’t been talking about anything, so this was a totally random question. It must have been on her mind. I had the opportunity to tell her how good our God is and how much he loves her. I tell you, no matter how many mistakes I have made…and will make in the future…I consider this memory one of my SUCCESSES!

So, back to the question of why we tend to focus on God instead of abortion. Well, the reason is that the battle to end abortion is no ordinary battle, and praying in front of an abortion clinic is different than other sorts of pro life activity. It is different than going to the March for Life in DC…different than volunteering for a pregnancy resource center…different than holding or attending pro life fundraisers or lobbying for pro life politicians. Not to scare off our “newbies“…but praying at an abortion facility is serious spiritual warfare. It involves going physically to the devil’s most “holy ground“. Abortion is his most treasured “sacrament” if you will. It is like entering the belly of the beast. There is nothing that makes him angrier (and also nothing that causes him the most harm!) than praying in front of an abortion clinic.

Thinking we can end abortion without God is naive! It would be like jumping off this cliff and expecting to fly!

It would be naive of us to think that we could just simply show up on the sidewalk and be able to change people’s minds and hearts. Only God can do that. Unless we have a strong, solid base…rooted in prayer and self-sacrifice, we will soon give up out of fear and discouragement. Again, I am not saying this to scare away the “newbies”…but to ENCOURAGE them (and all of us!) to bump up our prayer lives!

We have to be fit, spiritually…lean and trim with fasting…ready to return love for hatred at any moment. If we do this, God will be with us always. He will fight the battle for us. Stay in his Word daily. Have a set time for prayer every day. Be strong and courageous! And be the “religious fanatic” of your family! 🙂

…and come join with your fellow pro life prayer warriors THIS SUNDAY at 6 pm in front of Planned Parenthood to close out the final hour of our 40 Days for Life vigil! Closing prayers will be lead by Fr. Thomas More Sikora, followed at 7pm with a pot-luck celebration inside Catholic Charities welcome center (corner of 9th and Liberty). Come join the fun!

Read on for today’s stories from the sidewalk…

Peggy writes from the 7-9 am shift…

It was a quiet morning. The witnesses from St. Louise were there with me all morning, and some were still there when I left, going to be there till noon!

Fr. Jeremiah came from the Forest Hills parishes. The others are from St. Louise
Amy joins the group, she is from St. Boniface in the north side
Faithful witnesses from St. Louise de Marillac in Upper St. Clair
Witnesses from St. Louise are joined by a passerby who stopped to pray on his way to work.

Cathy managed the vigil from 9-11 am…

The vigil. was blessed with the prayerful presence of many parishioners from St Louise and one from the Presbyterian Church.
There may have been some from another church besides St Benedict the Abbot and St Joan of Arc who began arriving around 10:30, but not sure. There were so many pray-ers we ran out of log sheets and began writing on the backs. Couldn’t find any more.)

Cathy

Seamus, Matt and Joe, strong men of God from St. Louise!
Great crew of prayer warriors from St. Louise de Marillac!

Hank and Judy had the 11-1 shift…

We have been blessed to have good numbers of prayer warriors for the 11-1 shift throughout the 40 Days and today was no exception.  There was a gang from St.Benedict the Abbott, and St.Louise de Marrillac, a couple of individuals from St.James Sewickley, and several individuals (Chrystal, Elsie, Bill joined us for short times. We prayed the Rosary, the Divine Mercy and the Stations of the Cross.  Elsie especially distributed a good bit of literature.  We received honks from three different trucks passing by and several thumbs-up, thank you and God bless you from passers-by.  Only a few negative comments or gestures.  Praised be Jesus Christ.  

Hank and Judy
Sandy and Suzanne from St. James in Sewickley
Sandy and Angela
Crystal
Angela from St. Louise
Linda, Diane and Mary from St. Louise
Nina, Joan and Mary from St. Joan of Arc parish, with shift manager Judy
Great gang from St. Benedict of the Abbott

Rosalina and Francis were the shift managers from 1-3 pm…

Faithful volunteers from PCUC (People Concerned for the Unborn Child), New Castle Chapter, and shift manager Francis in the background

Jeannie wrote from the 3-5 shift…

What a fabulous way to sign off on my last shift for this 40 days for life vigil. I was blessed to be with a wonderful folks from PCUC in Newcastle. We had a young woman stop by and engage us in a very spirited conversation. She was respectful but Had been sold all the typical abortion lies. Claudia and Raymonda were amazing and patient and sincere talking to her and she really appreciated a chance to dialogue. I am sure we planted seeds in her searching heart. Next I was joined by not one but two separate first timers who came down to pray because they had seen the movie unplanned. First tim came he is in the process of moving to Philadelphia but is determined to join whatever group is in Philly doing the same pro life work. Then came Ken who had never been on the sidewalk before but felt compelled after seeing unplanned. What a joyful day to be part of the 40 days for LIFE vigil.

Jeannie
Raymonda, Claudia and Tim from PCUC New Castle prayed and witnessed to the truth!
abandoned beauty…

Joe K. closed us out for the day from 5-7…

First, a big THANK YOU and BLESSINGS to all that make this happen – it has been an honor!!!
Shift Buddies are pretty important for the end-of-day shifts so a special shout-out to all of mine, especially Lori throughout the vigil, Ken today, and all the others (I have forgotten in name, but remember warmly in my heart!).
What a beautiful day, as the wonderful 3-5 group retired I was joined by my brother Knight, Mike and Ken.  It was Ken’s first time and he was inspired after seeing Unplanned and saw that no one was scheduled – Much appreciated my brothers – making sure that I would not stand alone.
It was relatively quiet – mostly positive feedback.  One man in Pittsburgh on business from San Francisco stopped briefly to give us support as well as a few passersby.
We shared, talking quite a bit about the Unplanned movie…
The shift concluded with the ever joyful Tom, Diane, and Penney packing
it all up until tomorrow…

Joe

Mike, Raymonda, Claudia, Tim, and Ken

Day 29…Thanks to St. Bernard of Clairvaux Knights of Columbus (Indiana, PA), Catholic Men’s Fellowship (Mother of Sorrows, Murrysville) and St. Paul Cathedral!

My creation…I shall call him “Rock-head”

So you may be wondering…”What’s up with the head full of rocks? Don’t worry…I will explain. But first, I want to tell you about my prayer time from this morning. I read a beautiful quote in my daily devotional magazine, “Magnificat” by a man named Jacques Fesch (now named a “servant of God”). He was a murderer who experienced a profound conversion before his execution in 1957. The quote is rather long, but worth reprinting here. he wrote:

…”It will soon be one year since the Lord called me in his mercy. As for the exact date of my conversion, I can’t put my finger on it. It happened progressively, as I moved from atheism to a very marked, sincere faith, but when I look back I can no longer discern the landmarks along the way. I had been completely indifferent, but one day I realized that I had new eyes, and a view of reality which I had never anticipated was given to me.

Before that, the true God was an indifferent tradition as far as I was concerned. Now, he is all that matters. he is at the center of the world, he rises above my being. he invades me totally, and my spirit cannot escape from him. A powerful hand has seized me. Where is it? What has it done to me? I do not know, for his action is not like the action of men, it is unknowable and effective, it constrains me, and I am free. It transforms my being, yet I do not cease to be what I am.

Then comes the struggle-silent, tragic-between what I was and what I have become. For the new creature who has been planted within me calls for a response which I am free to refuse. I have received the principle; I must go on to the consequences…

I am amazed and surprised at the change which grace has effected in me. Claudel once described the ‘state of a man who has been pulled out of his own skin with one yank to be thrust into a strange body in the middle of an unknown world.’ This is the only comparison I can find to describe my state of complete disarray. I have found peace, but at the same time war. It is a perpetual struggle in which I do gain ground, yet the further I advance the more I perceive my misery and the infinite distance ahead which I must cover. To stand still would be to fall back.

Servant of God Jacques Fesch

As I read this beautiful account of a soul transformed by God’s grace, I thought about Abby Johnson’s conversion, and wondered how it is possible for someone to have such a radical conversion. How did she go from being a Planned Parenthood clinic director to someone who helps abortion workers to get out?

This is where “Rock-Head” comes in. You will notice that He is jam-packed full of sinful vices. There is no room in Him for grace or truth. Even if he WANTED to….he would be unable to care about anyone other than himself. He is blinded by his own selfishness. God just needs a tiny little foothold for his grace to take root. Maybe if old Rock-Head here got rid of just one of those rocks…God could plant a seed. Once grace begins to grow in his soul, he will become aware of the other rocks and he will begin to desire their removal as well. And the hard work of conversion begins. I am speaking from experience, as I used to be a rock-head myself…and am still fighting the battle to root out rocks in my own soul. One great tool that helped me in the beginning is the Litany of Humility. You can find it HERE.

The season of Lent is such a wonderful opportunity for us to become more open to God’s grace in our soul…and to make us more fit to be used by him in this important battle to end abortion! We root out the rocks of selfishness when we overcome our fear and desire for comfort, to stand publicly in witness to the sanctity of all human life in front of Planned Parenthood. We are all at different stages of conversion. And we praise God for the work that he is doing in so many souls…especially in Abby’s and the other 185 abortion workers that have left the industry following 40 Days for Life campaigns!

I will close by saying that my husband and I went to see Unplanned for the second time tonight. We first saw it last Thursday at a private showing that I hosted. Since I was in charge of the event and was so overly-busy that day, I really didn’t get to absorb the movie as I wanted to…so I decided to go back and see it again. I was AMAZED to see that the theater was PACKED tonight! Imagine, a TUESDAY night…and a PRO-LIFE film…was FILLED! I really thought we would be sitting in the theater with about 5 other people. After the show, the audience applauded! I am so moved and encouraged to see that our culture is WAKING UP to the reality of abortion! We have spent so many years, praying, fasting and working. The rocks of sin are being removed and the grace of God is beginning to take root! God is on the move and it is wonderful to see! He is answering our prayers! I praise and thank him!

Read on for today’s sidewalk stories…

Charlene and Peg had the 7-9am shift:

Pansies in the daffodils!

“What can I do for You today, Lord?” “Pray, witness, and be counted” And so we were…Beth,Peg, and I. Praying together and individually . Thanking God it was not an abortion day. Thanking God for the sun, warmth, and pansies in with the daffodils! “ Today is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.”
Amen!! Charlene

Charlene
Thanks to Beth from St. John XXIII for answering the call to stand with Peg and Charlene!

Cathy and Elsie managed the 9-11am shift:

Cathy and Elsie had lots of prayer partners this morning! Thanks to Roberto, Irene, Bill and Kevin from St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Thomas More in Indiana, and Marie and Diane from St. John Neumann in Franklin Park

Fairly quiet morning – a few ladies went in.  One, L,  pushing a stroller, came out a little while later and talked to Elsie and Beth.  Turns out she had been here a few years ago when two months pregnant with the little girl in the stroller, who looked about 3.  She had talked to Nikki who got her connected to Fr. Jason in Carnegie.  She said that that church family is “now her family” – they really helped her out.  The child’s father had left early on.  She has since met a good man who loves this little girl and they are getting married in a few weeks.  She had come to PP to get birth control, but for whatever reason did not get it.  Elsie told her about the abortifacient properties of BC  and gave her some info on natural family planning.

Cathy

Hank & Judy were the 11-1 managers:

Once again there were good numbers of prayer warriors for the 11-1 shift, 24 in all.  The group included the ever faithful Guardians of Life,  Indiana Knights of Columbus, St.Bernard of Clairvaux, MaryAnne and her daughter from St.Catherine of Sweden, and a regular Dan from Steubenville. Among the Guardians were Jerome and his son Mark and Sr.James Anne.  As the weather has warmed the traffic appears to have picked up and with that the good and the bad.  The bad….more hecklers/angry people than I’ve experienced.  (I wonder if the movie Unplanned has satan worked up).  The good….lots of prayers and song lifted up to Our Lord and Savior who will ultimately give us victory in this struggle.  More good….lots of thumbs-up, thank you, God bless you comments from passers-by and Terri had a banner day distributing literature and engaging many young people in conversation over the issue.  As the weeks of Spring have passed the sun has progressed closer and closer to PP.  We pray that soon the SON will shine fully on PP and the hearts of the nation will repent for the evil perpetrated on God’s children!

Guardians for Life
Shift buddy Judy, with Sister James Ann OFM with Guardians for Life
Mary Anne and daughter Monica, from St. Catherine of Siena
Dan from Steubenville, with Terri with Guardians for Life
Fr. Tim, a faithful pro-life leader!
Guardians for Life
Jerome with son, Mark

Rosalina & Mary were there for the 1-3 shift:

Mary reported that they had to call an ambulance for a passerby who fell in the street and was not getting up. Mary did what she could to help the man until the paramedics got there. It may have been drug related. Other than that, it was a good shift, with Rosalina, Mary, Dan and John as the prayer warriors on the sidewalk.

Jeannie & Missy were the 3-5 shift managers:

Joe and Janet from Saint Pauls with Missy from the north side. The Holy Spirit was really active today —in the wind. All our beautiful rose petals found their way upward and we can only hope that they take with them the sentiments of our prolife Hearts.
 

Jeannie
Veteran prayer warrior Vince brought  down first timer Judy both from Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. How amazing that members of this 40 days for LIFE community respond and show up. I was blessed.  Jeannie
 

Charlie & Amy closed out the day with the 5-7pm shift:

It was a quiet night on the sidewalk and we also got quiet a few positive responses over the negative. Just want to thank all the people that came from St John’s tonight.

Charlie & Amy

Day 22…Thanks to St. Juan Diego (Sharpsburg), St. Joseph in Cabot, St. Raymond of the Mountain (Donegal), McKeesport Knights of Columbus and dedicated individuals!

What do you see?

What do you see when you look at this photo? My heart was deeply moved by the sincerity on this little boy’s face, as he prayed at our vigil with his family last week! Others were obviously touched by it as well, because since we shared it on our Facebook page, it has seemingly gone “viral“, being viewed by 31,000 people, shared by 631 and commented on by 195 people! That is a first for our humble little Facebook page! But the thing that struck me were the comments. You see, for me…looking at this beautiful child…all I can see is beauty. All I can feel is gratitude. From my perspective, and from my vision…I can’t imagine that anyone could see anything else. So I was surprised by some of the comments. One in particular grabbed my attention. A woman commented, saying the parents should be ashamed of themselves, for “using” a child to make a political statement. She looked at this photo and saw no beauty. She felt no gratitude. How can that be? How can two people look at the same thing and see something completely different?


But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matt. 6:23

This is the verse that came to my mind when I pondered how it can be that one person can look at truth and see beauty…and another can see the same thing and think it is something bad. As I was reflecting on this, I checked the Gospel reading for today in the Church (the Gospel reading for today’s traditional Latin Mass), and wouldn’t you know…they apply!

Let them alone; they are blind guides of blind men. But if a blind man guide a blind man, both fall into a pit.

Matt. 15

As I thought about this, I was reminded of the character of “Uncle Andrew” from C. S. Lewis’ “The Magician’s Nephew“, in his “Chronicles of Narnia” series. In this wonderful story, C. S. Lewis lets us witness Aslan creating the world. We watch it being born.

With his imaginative writing, we see Aslan literally “singing” into existence all creation…from the sky and the earth, to the plants and animals.

The children who are witnessing this spectacular show are awestruck with amazement. They cannot believe the beauty that is before their eyes. However, young Digory’s evil Uncle Andrew had stowed away on their adventure…and although he was witnessing the same beauty that the children were, from his perception it was quite different. He was terrified of the animals and especially of the Lion. When the animals talked to the children, although they could understand them and have delightful conversation…Uncle Andrew only heard ferocious growls coming from the animals mouths…and he tried his best to kill them.

Anyone who could look at the photo of this little boy praying, and see anything other than beauty and goodness…innocence and purity…has the eyes of darkness that Jesus spoke of. They are the blind guides from today’s readings.

Why am I reflecting on this? I guess it’s because we see this very thing playing out in this battle for life. Those who are against us are SURE that we are wrong. We are bad people, who are trying to take away women’s rights. We tell them that unborn babies are human beings with just as much worth as born humans…and they don’t understand. They don’t get it. There is no reasoning or arguing with them. They don’t see what we see, and there is no way we can make them see it.

Abby Johnson didn’t see it. For so many years, working for Planned Parenthood, thinking she was helping women. No one could change her mind. But then God intervened. Conversion is a work of the Holy Spirit. We can’t do it. But we can pray, and we can plant seeds. God will make them grow, in His time. We just have to be faithful and obedient to our calling to witness to the sanctity of all human life. He will do the rest.

I hope you can get out to see the movie about her conversion, “Unplanned“, this weekend! To find a theater, click here:
https://unplannedtickets.com/

Read on to find out what went on at the vigil today….

NOTE TO ALL WHO PRAY AT THE VIGIL: It is the policy of 40 Days for Life in Pittsburgh to recommend to all vigil participants that they NOT bring cash to the vigil, and to PLEASE not give cash to ANYONE who may ask! This distracts us from our mission and our focus of praying to end abortion, and the word gets out fast that people are getting money from us. If you want to give cash to anyone who asks, please do not do it while at the vigil. Thank you!

Also…one of our shift managers, David, has passed on request from one of our vigil participants…to please pray for her son, “J” who is having suicidal thoughts. Please pray for “J” to be delivered! Thank you!

Peg and Mary had the 7-9am shift:

Peg and Mary were the early morning prayer warriors. Peg reported it was a quiet shift, but very cold.

It was a very chilly morning, before 7 AM, when Tom arrived. He said that Diane is feeling better. It was nice to see and chat with Tom and Peg while we set up on the sidewalk. It is day 22 already. Peg and I prayed the devotion for today which was about Job. Our world is full of Jobs. There are so many people hurting, dealing with trials and tribulations and ,yes, unplanned pregnancies. We must have faith and trust that no matter what we face,God, in His Mercy and Wisdom, will redeem it. After Job prayed for his friends, God restored all that he lost. The Lord will bless us as He blessed Job. However, today ,so many people feel independent and don’t acknowledge their need for God.Let’s pray for them to realize that we can do nothing without God and that nothing is impossible with God. The sun was a blessing when it rose above the buildings about 8:30 AM. It felt so good after being chilled to the bone.The rest of our shift was cold but mostly peaceful. There were some thank yous and some dirty looks or snide remarks.Just as kathy arrived there was a young man who stopped to argue for Planned Parenthood. Peg and Kathy  did a good job of challenging him and he listened but couldn’t accept what they said. He thought that he knew everything and just stormed away. Maybe some day their words will help him see clearly.

Mary

Cathy managed the 9-11am:

Mary and I represented St. Juan Diego parish this morning. (Thank you to Peg who waited til Mary, whose bus was late, arrived.)  It was a quiet am, with not very many going into the clinic.
 

Cathy
Mary and Cathy represented St. Juan Diego parish today

Hank & Judy report from the 11-1 shift:

Wow,  what a day!!  There were 30 prayer warriors today for the 11-1 shift.  Fr.Tim and the Guardians of Life, Rachael and her gang from Donegal-Latrobe area, Gloria and Marie from St. Mary Glenshaw, and a group from St. Joseph in Cabot.  As always there is lots of prayer when the Guardians of Life are present.  We prayed the rosary, the Divine Mercy, Stations of the cross and made a joyful noise to the Lord in song.  Terri and Cil distributed lots of literature and engaged a few individual in conversation and Joyce and Rachael had a great conversation with 2 young men.  Once again there was not much traffic going into PP.  We had mostly positive reactions from the by-passers.  Blessed be the Lord , my rock and my redeemer!

Cil brings a great group from St. Joes in Cabot!
Gloria and Marie
Fr. Tim and the Guardians for Life always fill the sidewalk with prayer
Large group of faithful from St. Raymond of the Mountain in Donegal

Rosalina is back! She took over for Chris…(please pray for a successful surgery for him today!)  Check back for news from the 1-3 shift…

The people praying we’re Rosalina, myself , Carolina, and a woman from Penn Hills named Karen.
A little after 2 David R and Marilyn came. It was uneventful except that a young man walked up to me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and said he bought them for the babies!!! Karen and I decided to take each flower and say a prayer as we placed them on the sidewalk.
David had an interesting talk with a man who wanted to know more about what we were doing. I heard only a small part but The man realized that it was not about judgement.. it was about love..missy

Missy

Jeannie writes from the 3-5 shift:

We had a beautiful afternoon of prayer and conversation. Only positive comments on this sunny day. Terry from Conneat Lake stopped by to thank us for being there. She worked as a chaplain in the hospital and was in the city visiting her daughter who was in for a convention. It’s wonderful how the pro-life movement brings us all together as one family in Christ.

Jeannie
Lots of petals and flowers on the sidewalk today!
Jeannie wrote that this was her favorite picture…she titled it, “Look mom, no coats!!!” Beautiful, Beautiful, wonderful sunshine!

Joe closes out the vigil from 5-7:

What a spectacular sun-splashed truly spring day on Liberty…
 
The area around Arch was tinged with flowers and rose petals –
and even the flower pots had flowers “in-m”…
 
I was blessed once again to be joined by my shift buddy, Lori.  We shared, and prayed, and even “listened” to a gentleman who stopped
by to discuss his view of our vigil…  and his self-described view
of being on the other side of the line from us…  He was very respectful
and Lori shared with him and brought-up some excellent points that I
thought brought him closer to that line – Job well-done Lori!!!  It
was the first healthy dialogue that I’ve seen in long while…
 
Jim stopped by on his way home from work – it was nice to see him
since I haven’t run into him since the Fall Vigil…
 
There was lots of noise, foot and auto-traffic, but it did not deter
Lori and I from getting in a Rosary before Tom, Diane, and yes, Penney
showed-up and packed us all up for tomorrow…
 

Joe K.

Day 15…Thanks to faithful individuals from Steubenville, St. Joe’s in Cabot, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Carnegie, and other dedicated individuals!

Forgiven and set free!

“None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him…”

Ezekiel 18

As I meditated on this verse from Ezekiel last week, I was struck by the word, “crimes”.

A CRIME is something very serious, and it always deserves punishment.

So I was struck by the absolute GOODNESS of Almighty God, to give us a COMPLETE PARDON from our just punishment! Imagine going from this dark, dank cell to the beautiful scene pictured above. Imagine the FREEDOM and the GRATITUDE of being completely washed clean and set free from bondage! While I thought of this, one of my favorite verses came to mind…

I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.

Luke 7:47

As I thought about the truth of Jesus’ words…(knowing this from personal experience!)…I thought about Abby Johnson and the movie that is coming out next week, “Unplanned“, which tells the story of her conversion.

Can you imagine being in her shoes? Having had two abortions herself, and helping thousands of other women to abort their children as well…the FREEDOM and GRATITUDE that she must feel for having been forgiven of her crimes? In fact, not only has she been FORGIVEN…but her crimes are not even REMEMBERED by God! It is as if they never even happened in His eyes.

Her hands…which once pieced together the broken bodies of aborted babies…are the the very same hands which now reach out to help others escape.

This movie opens on March 29th in theaters all across the nation! Go to https://unplannedtickets.com/ to find one near you! Don’t be afraid to bring your teenage children…even though the movie has an “R” rating. This rating was given to try to discourage people from going. There is absolutely no bad language, nudity or sex, and the only “violence” that is shown is the violence of abortion. This film shows the truth about abortion, and I believe it has the potential to change many hearts and to inspire many to participate in the ending of abortion.

Wear your gear to the theater!Unplanned features 40 Days for Life gear throughout the movie. Our store is running a movie special, so order now to get your gear in time for the March 29 release!

God is working MIRACLES through 40 Days for Life! Isn’t it an amazing privilege that we get to be a part of it? We are seeing lives saved and transformed through the mercy and forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ! I praise and thank Him for forgiving MY sins, and out of gratitude and love…I happily will continue to be His Hands and His Feet on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood! I hope to see you there!

To watch a short video showing Abby Johnson DESTROYING the argument for abortion during a recent court hearing, click here: https://youtu.be/hCnZOvjJgwo

To read an article about the spiritual warfare they faced as they filmed “Un Planned”, go here: https://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2019/03/20/making-pro-life-film-unplanned-was-spiritual-warfare-say-directors/

Scroll down to read the stories from the sidewalk today!

Charlene and Peg were there from 7-9 am

Sidewalk Buddy Peg, with Tracy, Beth and Shawn from Weirton

I refer a lot to Matthew Kelly and Dynamic Catholic. I was introduced to his writing several years ago and just connected. One of his central themes is becoming the best version of yourself. You do that by practicing virtue…that gets you closer to God…and the closer you get to God, the better version of yourself you become. Like Tracy, Shawn, and Beth did. Traveling from Steubenville to stand in the cold for 4 hours. That’s virtue.. Like Peg coming two days a week…that’s virtue. Praying for the babies, greeting strangers, ignoring insults, blessing smiling faces. We practice all these virtues just doing what God asks…we are getting closer to Him…becoming the best version of ourselves we can be.
 

Charlene

Cathy had the 9-11 am shift

Lots of pray-ers this morning!  In addition to 3 from Steubenville who came at 7 and stayed til 11, 5 came from Elk County RTL, plus  2 individuals. There were not a lot of people going into the clinic, but the Urban Pathways school around the corner had a fire drill.  Students lined the sidewalk by us.  Some of the girls were attracted to the baby models.  Some unexpected education for the kids!

Hank and Judy managed the 11-1 shift

Today was quiet and peaceful for the most part.  When we arrived there were people from Stubenville, OH, St Mary PA, and Therese from St, Barbara along with Cathy the shift manager. Good to see Cathy back with us.  As those from Stubenville departed the crew from St.Joseph in Cabot arrived so along with the St.Mary witnesses for life we had a good contingent of prayer warriors for the11-1 shift.  Dan from Stubenville joined us at noon. While the traffic was again light we received warm smiles, thumbs up, thank you, God bless you, I’m with you, comments from a significant percentage of by-passers.  We prayed rosaries and sang the Divine Mercy and Cil distributed literature.  When Chris arrived for the next shift we prayed with him for the success of his surgery and upcoming neurological evaluation.  Blessed be Jesus our Savior and His Blessed Mother Mary Immaculate. 

Shift Manager Judy with dedicated prayer warriors from Elk County Right to Life
Dan from Steubenville, with shift manager Judy
Great group from St. Joseph parish in Cabot, led by our own wonderful Cil! We miss you Cil! Glad to see you are getting better!

Chris wrote from the 1-3 shift:

And then there were 11…I was expecting to be praying with only one other person, Mary.  What a gift from Heaven when nine other prayer warriors joined us.  And five of them had driven a long way, being from the three Catholic parishes in St. Mary’s, PA.  What a commitment by them to pray for those that have no voice!   While praying on both sides of “the half-circle”, we were thanked for being there more than a few times.  Toward the end of the shift, two memorable events happened- first, a seminarian arrived on his bicycle to pray with us (and for Jeannie’s shift) and a man saw us from across the street and walked over to us.  We didn’t quite know what to expect.  He said he knew why we were there and knew he had to cross the street to pray over us.   What a wonderful moment as we gathered in a circle to receive his prayer.

Chris
Bob and Joe
Janet and Amy
Mary, Gretchen and Mary Bea from Elk County Right to Life
Shift Buddy Mary

Jeannie wrote from the 3-5 shift:

Jeannie titled this photo: “When I think I’m too busy…”

Welcome spring. What a joy to stand with all these lovely people on the 3 to 5 shift. We decided that officially spring came at five, but the Good Will and the prayers that were lifted up during those two hours were amazing. I spent some time with L., a woman who asked me about having a baby after a rape. I learned from her that she had been raped years ago & had an abortion Although she went on to have four other children, she still grieved the baby that she aborted.. How beautiful that I had Project Rachel materials to give to her. She picked up one of the roses and said she loved roses and I happily gave it to her she and I shared a hug and a little bit of a cry and she went off knowing that there was someone to talk to who knew exactly how she felt. God is so good.

Jeannie
Wonderful Pro Life witness!
“From the mouths of babes” God hears the prayers of his children.
Tess joins us

Joe was the 5-7 shift manager:

I was surprisingly greeted to a large group of vigil attendees that carried over from the previous shift(s).  They were all from the Carnegie/Green Tree/Scott Parish Groupings of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Margaret, and Saints Simon and Jude.

Some of the names that I can remember include Vince, Bob, Nancy, Al, Pat, Audrey… My sincere apologies to those I omitted…but Thank You All!  My biggest group ever for an evening shift!!!  We were also joined by Mary Jane, Bill H., and Jim who regularly stops by on his way around “tahn”.

Started the shift by praying the prayers for today’s vigil that Vince had kindly printed out for everyone.  A little bit of sharing, then the group distributed themselves around the “Arch de Désespoir” to continue sharing / praying…

Not much interaction with passersby except one gentleman, Steve, who stopped by to “talk”…  Steve has lived a hard life and is desperately in need of prayers, hope, and love!!!  Matthew 11:28 comes to mind – “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Public Service Announcments were dished-out to remind about an upcoming showing of Unplanned – Behind the Scenes tonight at 11:00 PM on EWTN as well as a plug for Relevant Radio – thanks gang!

The first evening of spring shift ended quietly as faithful and always cheery Tom picked up the goods for tomorrow…

Joe

Day 8…Thanks to Dedicated Individuals from Steubenville, St. Bernadette Church (Monroeville) & St. Scholastica/St. Joes (Aspinwall & Ohara)

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, for I am gracious and merciful.

What sort of emotion do you feel when you look at this photo? Does it make you smile or feel fearful? If we are looking at it in a practical way…of course, we should be afraid. A vulnerable baby, playing innocently right in front of a lion, who if he wanted to, could kill him with one swipe of his ferocious paw. But if we look at it through eyes of faith, we can see the beauty of the protectiveness of God for those who are weak and vulnerable and who put their trust in Him.

This photo reminds me of one of my favorite works of fiction; C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. In “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, one of the children, (Edmund), is seduced by the White Witch to betray his siblings, all for promises of power and prestige. He realizes too late that he has been used as a pawn, and she has no intentions of honoring her promises to him. By this time however, he is trapped and there is no way to escape. Although Edmund gives up in despair, there is One who has not given up on him. Aslan, the majestic lion, (who represents Christ)…saves Edmund from death, just as the witch’s blade is poised to slice his throat. After this dramatic scene, Edmund and Aslan went for a walk, alone. When they came back, Edmund was a totally different sort of boy. He was humbled, contrite and grateful. Where before he had been afraid of Aslan, now he loved Him and pledged his undying loyalty to serving Him.

It’s funny how our perspective changes after we see the evil we have done and feel sorry for it.

Until that happens, instead of trusting in the goodness of God, we fear Him. That is probably why preachers such as Joel Osteen are so popular, (sorry to pick on Joel)…because they portray God as a nice guy who really doesn’t care too much about sin. (Especially if you are willing to send money!) The fact that the god they preach bears little resemblance to the God of the Bible doesn’t seem to matter much. The important thing is that their god is comfortable…not intimidating…and doesn’t ask much from us.

But when, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we are given the gift of true repentance…we understand how BIG and POWERFUL this God of ours is…and how SMALL and PUNY we are in comparison. We understand just WHO we have offended by our sin! We…a tiny little gnat…have offended the creator of all the universe…from the largest galaxy, to the most tiniest, most fragile flower! When, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, this happens…unless we understand his GOODNESS…we would totally despair and flee in fright. But, since he has come to our rescue, and has fought off the evil one on our behalf…even to the point of laying down his own life…we can trust him. We can become like the vulnerable little child in the photo above…and snuggle right up to His Strength.

This is the state that we must be in, in order to fight this battle to end abortion. It is such an over-whelming foe. If we look at it in a practical way, we should be afraid. But, if we look at it with the eyes of faith, we can see the beauty of God’s protectiveness for those who trust in Him.

If God is with us, who can be against us?

Scroll down to read the accounts from the sidewalk today, written by our fearless and trusting shift managers, and to see photos of those who came to the vigil today.

Peg and Mary were the shift managers from 7-9 this morning:

Shift Manager Mary with the wonderful group from Steubenville
Shift Manager Peg with Tracy and Beth from Steubenville

Rose wrote from the 9-11 shift:

Thanks to Rose who subbed for Cathy during the 9-11am shift. Feel better soon Cathy!!!


Filling in for Cathy again this Wed. and so grateful for the warmer weather!  We had many affirmations today and just a few criticisms.  A young girl, “K”, was very impressed with the fetal models and had many questions.  I gave her some info and she talked extensively with Tracy and Beth.  They said she was appalled that she wasn’t taught this info in schools. She left very grateful for all the info we gave her!  It was a delight to see her face light up – what a blessing for all of us.Theresa and I prayed the pro-life intentions and it seemed that whevever we prayed one someone came by to talk to us.  Fr. Tim’s group came early, and they are always to enthusiastic to be there.  I was very blessed to pray for Life today!!!
 

Vigil participant Tracy wrote:


To add to Rose’s report about Beth and my interaction with a young lady, “K”, at PP this morning: What I failed to add was how shocked she was that in all her 27 years of life the truth had evaded her. 27 years! It is pretty amazing! But, we know full well there are many others who have bought the “Blob of Tissue” lie who are even older than she is!
Keep on Marchin’!
Tracy 🙂

Hank and Judy had the 11-1 shift:



The weather was much better today than a week ago, but there was the usual storm of prayer  when the Guardians of Life are present to petition our good Lord to bring an end to the scourge of abortion.  There were 15 people with the Guardians including Fr. Tim.  We were joined also for part of the shift by Therese from St. Barbara Bridgeville and Lisa and Ed from St.Bernadette. There was a good amount of foot traffic especially during the lunch hour, but not many individuals going into PP.  Several of those passing by gave us a thumbs up, a fist bump, a warm smile, a thank you or a God bless you.  We had the occasional glaring look and one man on a bicycle screamed that we were going to hell for our efforts.  We prayed two rosaries, the Divine Mercy, the Stations of the Cross and made a joyful noise (we sang) throughout the shift.  Terri distributed a good bit of literature an engaged several individuals in conversation that hopefully will have planted the seed that causes them see abortion for its harmful effects, morally and emotionally, over and above the death of an innocent child.  Praised be Jesus Christ, God-hero, Wonder-counselor, Prince of Peace.

Ed from St. Bernadette
Fr. Tim leading the rosary
Lisa from St. Bernadette with shift manager Judy
Theresa from St. Barbara, Judy and Terri with Guardians for Life
Knights of Columbus

Chris managed the vigil from 1-3 and wrote:


The warmer weather was very much appreciated on the sidewalk.  As always, I was joyfully greeted by Hank, the previous Shift Manager, and Father Tim’s Guardians for Life.  As I greeted Hank, we were told by a young woman walking by, “I wish your Moms had aborted you!”.  Not five minutes later, another young woman yelled, “It’s my *$* $ # body!”  Unperturbed, we prayed Rosary after Rosary and prayed for the two women.  I was joined by non-stop Rosary pray-ers Jerri, Winnie, and Dee, all from St. Bernadette’s, and Marilyn from St. Bernard’s.  Several passersby thanked us for being there.  I also wore what I call “The Sign of Truth” (pictured) that states the number of children, on average, killed each week at PP.  It was good to see people reading the words as they walked by.  There wasn’t much client traffic, but a noticeable number of PP workers going in and out.

Chris wore “the sign of truth”
Three angels from St. Bernadette!
Marilyn

Jeannie was the shift manager from 3-5:


We had a lovely day on the sidewalk today. Lots of positive encouragement and very little negative. We had a couple interesting experiences too. Krista told me that one of the kid on a skateboard had taken one of the roses so I was on the lookout when a young man holding a skateboard came up to me and said he wanted to pray with me. He was a typical teen. He had shaved his head on both sides and had a ponytail in the middle. I was ready for him to begin a verbal assault on us instead of praying with us. Boy was I wrong! The young man whose name is Isaac lead us in a beautiful prayer invoking Jesus mercy and love to end abortion in our country. He even prayed for the workers in the clinic and for each of us standing on the sidewalk!!! Don’t judge a book by its cover! And another beautiful event, the crazy guy came down the sidewalk and was banging Into things and came over to try to push our display over. Out of the bookstore ran a young man who scared off the crazy fellow. The young man said to us “that guy was in my shop yesterday I had to throw him out”. How kind of this young man to come out to try to help us when he saw trouble. Hope is in the air!!
 

Another great afternoon for my women’s movement. Love it Marilyn  from Saint Bernard’s and Mary Catherine and Ann from Saint Scholastica

A beautiful rose, laying forgotten on the pavement. Just like the beautiful children being forgotten inside this terrible place.

Joe stood vigil for the final shift of the day from 5-7 PM:

Overall a very quiet, actually eerily quiet, shift.

I was blessed once again to be be joined by my shift buddy Lori.
We shared with Jim who stopped by and prayed – thanks Jim & Lori!

Not much car / bus traffic and limited foot traffic today.

933 had a lot of folks entering / exiting this evening – must’ve been
some kind-o-meeting???

Another highlight – a little girl stopped by to look at the fetal models and
eagerly took 2 of the take-home ones with her, but not before picking up
one of the flowers and picking off all the petals before catching back up
with her group…

Day 1… Guardians for Life, along with many faithful Christians brave the cold to pray at PP today!

When someone asks you to pray for them, what do you do? Do you stop what you are doing, close your eyes and say a quick prayer? Maybe you even get down on your knees for a moment. Truthfully, the sort of prayer that most of us mean when we say we will pray for someone does not cost us much. But what if someone was asking for prayer because they were in very grave danger? What if instead of just closing our eyes and saying a quick prayer, we got in our car and drove to where they were and prayed for them in person? How much more would that mean to the one asking for prayer? Has this ever happened to you?

How many people have prayed for you during your lifetime? I would guess that there are so many, that you have no idea of the number. But, imagine if you truly were all alone in this world…and had NO ONE to pray for you. Having others pray for us is so natural and normal, that we simply take it for granted…but this is not the case for everyone.

While I was at Planned Parenthood last week, I offered life-affirming resources to five abortion-bound couples. But sadly, all five refused and walked through those doors anyway. For each of the five, I knelt and said a prayer for that little one. I laid a tiny cross on the sidewalk for each. As I looked at the pitiful sight of those tiny crosses, it occurred to me that each one represented a PERSON who had NO ONE to pray for them! No one except me, that is. If I hadn’t been there, they truly would have been all alone. Abandoned.

I imagined each baby being carried gently in the arms of God’s Angels to Heaven. And I imagined God showing each of them the person who had prayed for them…who had interceded for them on their behalf. I realized what an incredible privilege it was, to be the ONE PERSON that prayed for them and I wondered if they prayed for me in return? I hope so.

So we begin our 40 Days for Life today. We pray for the babies, the moms and dads, the grandparents, and for each other. We pray that we may not fall victim to fear or discouragement from seeing so much darkness and sadness. We remember that we are not meant to be at peace with the world, but that we ARE meant to be at peace with one another. Our joyful Christian fellowship is a gift from God, to help us to persevere…in LOVE.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor. 13:7

Thanks to all who fasted today, to start us off with a spiritual “bang”! In closing I just want to share a prayer from Mass today that really confirmed to me why we have to fast:

Grant us, O Lord, to take up our duty as soldiers of Christ by holy fasting that we, who are going to struggle with the evil spirits, may be protected by the help of self-restraint. Through Christ our Lord.

We are indeed struggling with evil spirits when we pray and witness at abortion clinics! Isn’t it helpful to know that our fasting can actually help us to fight against them?

Scroll down to read the stories from those who began our 40 Days for LOVE today…and see photos from our kick-off prayer procession from last night!

Charlene was the first shift manager of the campaign, and she writes:


First shift of the Spring Campaign. I’ll have to admit I had mixed feelings. Last night’s Mass had me “ready for the challenge”…but this morning’s weather had me ready to huddle back under the covers. God is good…I was dressed in so many layers I could barely move…the Lord held the wind down…and thank the Lord and Diane for hand warmers. My attitude got a positive adjustment again. And Praying with Peg and having Mary join us certainly brought warmth.
 
Last Sunday, the first reading had a sentence that stayed with me. “As a test of what the potter molds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just.” The country has gone to a place so sinful we can’t fathom it…but it has become part of what God wants us here for. He wants us to be ready for more “tribulation” than just the weather…this campaign may be the “test of the just”…the test of us!!
Charlene
First shift of the Spring campaign…notice anything missing?
Faithful shift buddy Peg bundled up against temps in the low teens this morning!

Cathy was sick today, so Rose W. kindly agreed to sub for her from 9-11. She wrote:

I arrived a little after 9 this morning and prayed several rosaries with Mary.  Elsie was there and stood on the other side of the circle distributing her pamphlets. Theresa came around 10 as Mary left,and prayed with Elsie.  After Mary left, I walked back and forth with my sign in hand, to keep warm.  I went as far as the Gyro place and the man inside gave me a thumbs up and so did I.  Several other people gave a thumbs up as I was walking and said ” thanks for doing this” which really blessed me!  I was so grateful when Fr. Tim’s group arrived 10 minutes early so I could go home and thaw out. It was a privilege for me to be among the frozen today 🙂

Hank was the shift manager from 11-1 and wrote:  

Cold and quiet for the first of 40 Days.  Very little foot traffic, but plenty of prayer warriors.  The Guardians of Life were there in full force, 16 in all including Fr.Tim.   There was vocal prayer and song the entire 2 hour shift, the Rosary, Divine Mercy, Stations of the Cross and many other devotions as well. Theresa from the Salvation Army was there with us from 11 until noon, both she and Elsie covered the 9 to 11 shift.  The sun was progressing down the street toward us as I left so I’m hoping Chris got some reflected warmth for his shift.  God is good, praise be His holy name for wind and rain, snow and ice, warmth and cold!

The bitter cold didn’t keep the faithful prayer warriors from Guardians for Life away!
Christian joy overcomes the sadness of abortion!
Theresa from the Salvation Army joined the frozen prayer warriors!

Chris wrote from the 1-3 shift:

It was a cold and brisk shift on the sidewalk today, but very rewarding.  I believe that prayer warriors witnessing for the unborn in the bitter cold make more of an impression on people walking and driving by than when the weather is warm and pleasant.  When I arrived, I was greeted by the dozen praying Guardians for Life.  What a joyous sight!  During my shift, I was joined in silent prayer by Dan from Steubenville and Missy from Butler.  Missy is a first-time participant.  I asked her what encouraged her to come and pray on the sidewalk as part of 40 Days for Life.  She replied that she’s been pro-life her whole life, but that she was so upset with the recently-passed NY State law allowing abortions throughout pregnancy that she felt she had to get involved, get off the sidelines, and do something.  I gave her a big hug and welcomed her.  Not much traffic in and out of PP, several “God Bless Yous”, a “Special Blessings on this special day (Ash Wednesday)”, and a few negative comments.  I also noticed that the barriers on the street in front of PP, that were there last Fall, are gone.

Thanks to Dan and first-timer, Missy, for coming out to the freezing sidewalk today!

Jeannie had the 3-5 shift and wrote:

It was a great-  if freezing – 3-5 shift on the sidewalk this afternoon. I was joined by Marilyn from Saint Bernard , Annie from Amplify and Edith from Saint Nicholas.  At one point we were walking back-and-forth like we were doing a civil rights protest or a worker strike. It reminded me of the women’s garment workers  .  We received a whole lot of affirmation This afternoon and really just one or two negative comments. At one point someone yelled “ you go ladies” – and we all smiled.  Sun came out now and then and the snow was pretty— all in all a peaceful, prayerful start!

Marilyn, Jeannie, Annie and Edith. My kind of women’s movement!
We had lovely orange roses all along the yellow line.

Joe K. finished out the first day from 5-7.  He wrote:

Thanks to Shift Manager Joe and Shift Buddy Lori for praying in the cold tonight!

Best way to set the scene for this inaugural shift – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”? Or maybe the Dante’s Inferno icy Ninth Circle of Hell (Treachery) – which may be more befitting of doors of 933 Liberty Ave. outside of which we pray and witness.

The cold faded away a bit as I settled in and started to join in sharing with my new shift buddy, Lori.  We were almost immediately stopped by a women who passed the vigil, did a double take on the fetal models and doubled back to discuss…  This woman was hurting, she indicated that she had multiple abortions and that one day she would have to answer to God.  Lori jumped right in talking to her and told her that our presence is about L-O-V-E and gave her a big hug…

 Love & prayers for this woman please!
 In sharing with Lori, I found out that she is a ATTWN (And Then There Were None) member and knows Abby Johnson.  Lori shared that she left her job upon finding out that a project she was assigned involved tissue from aborted babies – how courageous!  ATTWN helped her in her transition to a new job.
 
During the last half of the shift, John stopped by to witness and indicated he would be back throughout the campaign. Not long after John joined us, Jeff stopped by and was extremely supportive of our cause and shared that he had lost his child to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
and discussed abortion in the context of folks that wanted children, but for whatever reason, are childless…  Jeff asked to pray with us and in a powerful moment, all 4 of us joined hands as he led us in prayer.  Jeff indicated that he would try to get back to vigil again!
 
Jim (my old Sidewalk Advocate compadre) stopped by after work to say hey and share some fun and seriousness…  
Tom sans Diane (get better!) hauled away our gear for a warmer tomorrow!
 
P.S. Sharing a thought on our current campaign’s theme and the current
liturgical period that we just entered into (Lent)…  
I heard a speaker once suggest that a common / causal perspective of
what we see / have of Jesus upon the Cross is one of pain and suffering,…
but from the Cross what is Jesus’ perspective looking out at us?
 
Of course, it’s LOVE!
 

Last night’s Kick-off Mass and prayer procession was a beautiful event and a perfect way to kick off our 40 Days for Life! Thanks to Fr. Chris Donley, Fr. Thomas More Sikora and Fr. Jeremy Mohler! I would also like to thank Noah for providing the beautiful, spiritual music. Thanks to everyone who came! The church was packed with faithful pro-life Christians and many braved the bitter cold for the one-mile walk to Planned Parenthood, where we concluded with a prayer service, led by Fr. Chris. Scroll down for photos from this event:

Making a joyful noise inside the walls of St. Patrick Church!

It was a night of warm Christian fellowship inside the Church.
Noah blessed us with his beautiful musical talent!
Fr. Chris Donley gave a powerful sermon about Mary’s “un-planned” pregnancy and prayed that all woman who are in this situation will allow God to work through them to bring their child to birth.
Three holy priests, offering the sacrifice of the Mass for the intentions of 40 Days for Life. What a blessing!

Prayer procession along Liberty Avenue
Prayers in front of Planned Parenthood