NOTE: Scroll down to the bottom for information about up-coming local pro-life events!
I was blessed to be able to attend the international 40 Days for Life Leadership Symposium in Phoenix last month with two wonderful team members, Beth Svirbel and Judy Stump.
We were so inspired to be with hundreds of other team members from campaigns all around the nation and from other countries as well! Here is a group photo of all of us:
We met up with Krunoslav, a friend I met last summer from the Croatia 40 Days for Life team. He had traveled all the way from Croatia by himself for the conference! It was such a joy to see him again!
We were inspired to hear motivating talks from other local and national leaders, including: Elissa Graves of Alliance Defending Freedom ; Alison Centofante of Live Action Ministries ; Sue Thayer, Former Planned Parenthood Director – turned 40 Days for Life local leader ; Rev. Brian Walker and Brian Gibson of Pro Life Action Ministries, along with many others!
We were able to talk with other team members from cities all around our nation and our world, and were blessed to realize that we aren’t fighting this battle alone! There are many dedicated people all around the world fighting this battle for life, and putting Christ first. We are united in our love for HIM!
We enjoyed the Christian fellowship of our fellow pro life brothers and sisters, and were informed and inspired by all the speakers…but I have to say that there were two highlights that were particular moving for me:
As we were gathered together for Friday night’s gala event, a “surprise letter” was put up on the screen. We noticed that the letterhead was from the White House…and the letter began with the words, “Melania and I extend our greeting to those attending the 40 Days for Life bi-annual leadership conference in Phoenix AZ.” At that point, I think my jaw hit the floor. It was a letter from our nation’s PRESIDENT…addressed to US!!! He encouraged us in this battle by writing a letter to us! I kept trying to close my mouth…but it continued to gape. I looked around the table and saw the same expression on everyone else’s face as well. I saw others wiping tears from their eyes, as I was doing the same. “WOW”, is all I can say about that.
Sue Thayer’s personal testimony of her conversion, from being a Planned Parenthood clinic director, to becoming a 40 Days for Life local leader, and then having her Planned Parenthood clinic close following her first campaign was just amazingly inspiring! She was funny and real and honest…and it gave me hope that if it can happen to her, then it can happen to any of the clinic workers! Nothing is impossible with God!
We came away from this conference inspired and ready to begin our fall campaign (Sept. 26 – Nov. 4). We are ready to pray and fast and witness on the sidewalk for 40 days…but we need your help!!! It is time to begin getting the vigil schedule filled! Please let me know if you can sign up to pray for a certain time block…either once during the 40 days, or once a week during the 40 days! Email me at email@example.com if you can help. Together, we can do this!
P.S. I have to share this photo of my newly born grand-babies, Nora and Jensen! They were considerate enough to be born BEFORE the symposium, so that I was able to attend! They are such sweet little things, and are a reminder of how precious life really is:
National Day of Remembrance is Saturday, Sept. 8th!
Memorial Service for Aborted Children at St. Paul Cathedral
On Saturday, September 8, pro-life Americans throughout the country will gather at the gravesites of aborted babies and other memorial sites dedicated in their honor for the sixth annual National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children.
Solemn vigils will be held at these sites to commemorate the more than 59 million children who have lost their lives to legal abortion since 1973, and to remind our society of the humanity of the unborn child. Please join us for the memorial service at the Cathedral:
When: Saturday, September 8, following the noon mass
Where: In front of the memorial for the unborn at the corner of Craig and Fifth Ave.
More Info: Contact Mark Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Together let us remember the victims of abortion and pray for a final end to this injustice in our land during the National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children.
I was inspired to choose HUMILITY as the theme of our next 40 Days for Life (Sept. 26 – Nov. 4), after witnessing a profound witness of humility on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood.
Two weeks ago, at the end of a very sad and discouraging sidewalk advocate shift, we were wrapping it up and preparing to leave. My sidewalk partner knelt to pray before leaving. Now, I have seen many people kneel to pray on the sidewalk before…and I myself have often knelt to pray on the hard brick pavement. So I am not sure why her prayer moved me so much on this particular day…but I felt my eyes well up with tears as I watched her unselfconsciously pray, as if she were all alone in her room. Seemingly oblivious to the many passersby, her face covered with her hands, she poured her heart out to her God…her Father. It was so intimate…so touching. I noticed that others seemed to be moved by her witness as well, as they walked by.
Driving home that morning, it occurred to me that the theme for our next 40 days should encompass what I witnessed on the sidewalk…GENUINE HUMILITY.And I thought that we should ask people to come to kneel for a few minutes of prayer, and to leave a flower on the sidewalk in honor of a child.Not that this is intended to be a “show”, or to be a “ploy” to try to draw emotion from people…but that it will be an HONEST show of respect for the lives of the children that are lost there. The humility of kneeling on the sidewalk is a witness to others, (as well as to ourselves and to God), that we are helpless to save these children…but that we care, and believe that their lives matter. The flowers will speak to the beauty of each life that is created by God. Whether Planned Parenthood allows the flowers to remain as a witness on the sidewalk, or they choose to pick them up and throw them away is irrelevant. The flowers will speak…either from the sidewalk or from the garbage cans inside Planned Parenthood. They will speak for the beautiful babies who cannot.
I realize that this is a very exciting time in the pro-life movement…with Justice Kennedy’s retirement and the promise of a pro-life justice being appointed to the supreme court. There is actually a real chance of Roe Vs. Wade being overturned! That is simply amazing! But I don’t want to get too excited yet. This is not the time to celebrate…it’s the time to pray and fast more than ever before!!! It’s the time to be HUMBLE. The verse from Psalm 131 came to me as I was driving…”But I have calmed and quieted my soul, as a weaned child with its mother…”
Genuine humility does not get angry or impatient.
We have been working hard for many years. We have prayed our hearts out. We have fasted. We have been a public witness for life on the sidewalk…no matter the weather. We have been there with our signs and our fetal models, showing the beauty and truth of life. Hearts and minds are changing in this nation. It’s true that there is an ever-increasing division…but I think that is okay. When the lines are clearly drawn, there is less chance that anyone will be deceived into choosing the wrong side. Everything is out in the open…finally. I can’t seem to walk past the television without hearing the words “abortion” coming from it. That is a big change from 10 years ago. The issue of abortion was hidden, swept under the rug…dressed up in fancy phrases such as “women’s health”. No longer. It is now being called out for what it is. This is all God’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.
But whether or not this will be the time that Roe Vs. Wade is overturned…I don’t know. I plan to pray and fast for this intention, but no matter what happens…the important thing is to continue to humbly fight this battle on our knees. To not give up hope. To not get too excited about the highs and not get too discouraged by the lows. To simply TRUST that God is working. Our prayers are being answered. The harvest is indeed great….and so we need to ask the Master of the Harvest to send more WORKERS!!!
Which, in fact, leads me to the reason for this email. I have been working to prepare for the fall campaign, and our faithful vigil shift managers continue to be the bedrock of our 40 day witness on the sidewalk. Almost all of them have recommitted, although a few have had to take a break. We have a need for some new vigil shift managers. I normally try to personally recruit vigil shift managers, but I would like to put this out there to everyone this time. If you feel God prompting you to become more involved in 40 Days for Life, and to become one of our wonderful team members, please reply to let me know how you can help. There are 3 weekly shifts that I need to find vigil shift managers for. (This will be from September 26 – Nov. 5). They are:
Mondays from 5-7pm
Thursdays from 5-7pm
Fridays from 5-7pm
If any of these shifts would fit into your schedule this coming fall, and if you feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to step out in faith to help us maintain our 40 day prayer vigil in front of Planned Parenthood, please reply to this email to let me know.
I also want to let you know of another opportunity to be a witness for life in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, July 18th. It is called “The Bridge Project”, and is organized by Pro Life Action League. The idea of this project is to provide a witness on bridges over high traffic roads during rush hour. There are no graphic images on the signs, simply the words, “Abortion takes a human life”. The witness will be from 7-9am and then again from 4-6pm. It will be held on the Gerst Way overpass, which goes over Rt. 279 in the north side of Pittsburgh. 4 people are needed for the 7-9am shift, and another 4 people are needed for the afternoon shift. If you are interested in finding out more information about this, contact Peg Donleyat email@example.com or at (412) 303-2064. Now more than ever, it is important to keep the pro-life message visible to as many people as possible! This is one way of reaching thousands of people!
Finally, the Diaper Drive was a huge success! Thanks to all who donated, and thanks to Charlene and Dick for organizing it! Here is what Charlene wrote:
The Diaper Drive was a great success! I knew it would be as soon as I saw all of the escorts scurrying around trying to see our permits. 🤣Thank you to all who contributed..you have helped a lot of families! We got a car full of diapers and wipes..and $340 in cash! Wahoo! It was good to be back on the sidewalk between campaigns and Dick loved organizing the diapers so they all fit! It was a good day…hot but as Tim said, “We will remember this when it is 5 degrees and snowing”.
Thanks for being a part of our 40 Days for Life family!
The sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood will seem empty now that 40 Day for Life is over.
It is always bittersweet when a campaign ends. It is difficult to maintain a 40 day, 12-hour-per-day vigil…and we do need a break…but it is hard to say goodbye. Especially when we know that people will continue to enter those sad doors of death, thinking that the solution to their crisis is to end the life of the child within their womb.
I am very thankful for everyone who sacrificed their time and comfort to come to the vigil, and for those who prayed and fasted! There were 79 churches/groups who officially took part in our vigil, and many individuals who participated. We know of one woman who changed her mind and chose life during our 40 days, and we found out about a baby that was saved because of our witness two years ago, that we never knew about! We believe that God uses our presence on the sidewalk to save lives, change hearts and draw souls to Himself without us ever knowing about it most of the time. The next 40 Days for Life will go from September 26th – November 4th.
However, you don’t need to wait until September to stand up for life! If you feel God tugging on your heart to do more, and feel called to become a regular sidewalk advocate, Kathy L. said that their numbers are getting pretty thin…and they could use some reinforcements! Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information about how to get involved. In addition, Meredith needs more people to pray at Magee Hospital as part of her “Magee Project”. Contact her for more information at email@example.com
This Friday, come to Planned Parenthood at 10 am to pray the Stations of the Cross.
Planned Parenthood does abortions on Good Friday, so we will be there, praying for those who are being led to their deaths…as we honor the passion of our Lord Jesus. (Sponsored by PCUC) Prayer will end before 11am.
On April 28th, a PROTEST PP Rally will be held, as part of the nationwide effort to defund Planned Planned Parenthood. Click the link below to open the flyer to get the details:
The media reported that tens of thousands of people showed up for Pittsburgh’s “March for Our Lives” rally this past Saturday. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if even 100 individuals care enough to show up to defend innocent human life from abortion on April 28th?
Thank you for joining our efforts to save lives and to turn our culture back to one that respects ALL human life!
Scroll down to enjoy some photos from last night’s closing rally.
I made a mess of my life in my younger years, and did a lot of damage to my children’s lives as well. I did not know the Lord as a young person. I bought the culture’s lie of easy love…hook, line and sinker. I have been trying my best to follow Jesus for about 13 years now. I didn’t create my “mess” overnight…so how can I expect healing and restoration to happen instantly? I have been forgiven for my sins. I know this and am very grateful. But there are consequences that still have to be lived with, and many family members that I battle in prayer for on my knees each day.
God has changed me (especially through my work in this pro-life ministry and through the influence of so many wonderful pro-life friends), and I see His blessings beginning to flower in my family as well. But, still I get impatient when dealing with some of the difficult situations with many of our children. How long, O Lord? Patience is difficult for me.
This past Sunday, the Gospel was from John 12. In it, Jesus says that, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” Jesus continues with one of my favorite verses of the Bible, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”
In his homily, my pastor spoke about the need for the seeds of selfishness to die within us. When I thought about those words afterwards, an image began to form in my mind. It was a image of a place…very dark, damp and cold. I imagined a seed, buried in the ground. I thought about the TIME and ENVIRONMENT necessary for that hard shell to soften and break down before it can grow and multiply. It doesn’t happen instantly, and from our perspective, looking at the bare, empty dirt, it doesn’t seem like anything is happening. We see no life, just barrenness, bleakness and abandonment. Neither can the seed see the changes that is happening within it, as it suffers in the damp darkness. But as it feels the slight warmth of the sun above, without it even knowing what is happening… it begins to break down, the hard shell dissolving and dying…as a tender green shoot sprouts forth from its center.
TIME and ENVIRONMENT are necessary for growth and change.
TIME… That is all up to God…we can’t rush him. God works in his time, which is perfect. That is where we need patience. (Continue these 40 day prayer vigils in front of Planned Parenthood!)
As for the ENVIRONMENT…now that is where wecan help. Just as a seed will not break down and dissolve if it is left sitting in a nice dry, comfortable environment…neither will the selfish seeds of our individual souls(or the collective soul of our culture) break down and die if we stay in our nice warm houses, sitting on our nice comfortable couches. We need to have patience, yes…but we also need to provide the necessary environment for change. That environment includes a life of love and obedience to God, regular practice of prayer, faith and good works. If we PERSEVERE in these things, God will…IN HIS TIME…bring forth a bountiful harvest! In my life, in yours…and in our culture!
I believe that our prayers, fasting and presence on the sidewalk has planted more seeds than we know. Lives are saved, hearts are changed, and souls turn back to the Lord…but we…in our darkness…cannot see what is happening.
I watched a beautiful documentary today, that my friend (and Tuesday blog writer), Sue, forwarded to me. I encourage you to watch it too! It is a true documentary of a young man meeting his birth mother and father for the first time. He was raised in a loving adoptive home, but decided when he was 19 that he would like to meet his biological parents. In 1993, they were teenagers who thought abortion was the only answer. As they were being escorted into the clinic, surrounded by abortion clinic escorts, and covered with a blanket…they heard the voice of one woman shout out, “Your baby has 10 fingers and 10 toes…and you’re going to kill it?” The young woman went into the clinic, and was actually on the table when she changed her mind! She said as she left the abortion clinic, those who were outside protesting thought she had done it. They never knew she changed her mind. To watch this inspiring and worthwhile short film (30 minutes), go to:
Even without seeing all the lives saved and hearts converted that probably happen without our knowledge, we have already seen many beautiful buds beginning to open. Here are some that I see:
The buds of seeing timid individuals struggle, but finally get up their courage to come to the vigil.
The blossoms of those who gave up selfishness in order to fast, and to suffer in the cold weather.
The future flowers of families and children who walked by and saw our witness.
Seeing the discouraged faithful being bolstered and strengthened by the unity among believers in our 40 Days for Life family!
So, thank you to all of you who have participated during these 36 days! We still have 4 days to go! Please keep praying for more lives saved! And join us as we officially close the vigil at Planned Parenthood at 6:30 pm this Sunday, followed with a social gathering (pot-luck food) inside Catholic Charities Welcome Center (corner of 9th and Liberty) from 7-8:30.
There are not the usual shift reports today, since the vigil was closed because of the snow…however, one shift manager husband/wife duo DID go for an hour today! Here is what Hank wrote:
We spent about an hour at PP today and although it was snowy it was not too cold. As we expected there was very little street traffic, but we greeted all those passing by and a few people responded with a “thank you” and /or “God bless you.” It was interesting to see the reaction on the faces of those who read the sign that we carried which read “Inside this building, more than 40 children are put to death every week.” People read the sign, look at the building and look back to you in surprise. I think this sign is effective in getting the message out as to exactly what takes place at this location. A young man named David read the sign and stopped to talk. He was unaware of 40 Days For Life and it’s mission and did not know that abortions were being done here. He said that he was a Christian and was against abortion and before he left he asked to pray with me, which we did. Praise be to God for the snow, each flake uniquely made by his hand, just as each one of us is from our conception.
If anyone else happened to go to pray today, feel free to send in your reports and I will post them.
I have to be honest…this is the time when I begin to feel weary and uninspired. Usually I have an idea of what the Lord wants me to write about in my Wednesday blog post, but today…nothing. There seems to be a heaviness…a grayness and a dryness that is hanging all around. Maybe it is because it is day 29, and this is when I realize just how very long 40 days can be. We have been at this prayer/fasting/vigil thing for a long time already. February 14th seems so long ago. And we still have 10 days to go…the finish line is not quite in our sight yet. This is when I get weary. I feel kind of like this guy…
I got an email from a dear friend this morning who was honest about expressing her sense of depression about the election results yesterday. She is very faithful and has a strong love for God in her heart…so she sought out the sacrament of reconciliation this morning to help her to deal with the discouragement of seeing so many “Christians” who have no problem in their consciences with voting for pro-abortion candidates. She actually had an encounter with an older man that goes to her Church every day…who “got in her face” when she questioned why he was voting a certain way, defending his vote because of his fear of losing his medicare coverage if the pro life candidate won.
It is depressing.
It is discouraging.
After reading her heartfelt plea this morning, I knew what God wants me to write about.
Last Tuesday’s blog contained a shift report from Lisa, the 5-7 shift manager. She had a very discouraging shift, with many passersby giving her a hard time. One, in particular, she humorously dubbed “Professor Blueberry”, because he was incensed that we would defend the right to life for something as small as a blueberry. Although he seemed professional, carrying a briefcase…and at first seemed to be trying to sound articulate and intelligent in his arguments…he soon degenerated into hateful, filthy, vile spewing of words. Rather than try to argue with the good professor, Lisa decided to pray. He left soon after that. I read her shift report from last night and was so encouraged to hear her saying that she remembered to pray for this man all week…and last night she had a peaceful shift on the sidewalk.
Yesterday morning it was bitter cold, and I saw the photos of Fr. Brennan and Helen from St. Robert Bellarmine as they braved the freezing weather in order to pray and witness. I had the pleasure of standing on the cold sidewalk later that afternoon with at least 11 individuals who had sacrificed their time and comfort to come out to make sure I wouldn’t be alone.
I spoke to my dear friend Mary Lou after Mass this morning, and witnessed the weariness in her face, and the discouragement about the election results. I also saw the loving way in which she faithfully and obediently cares for her family each day, and serves the Lord in the pro life cause.
The common thread in all of these instances is the BEAUTY that I see coming out of sacrifice and suffering. None of us wants to have to endure suffering. God knows that we are weak. If we were left to choose our own circumstances, we would choose comfort and ease. I know from experience that the more comfortable I am, the weaker and lazier I become. The more I have to struggle, the more progress I make…spiritually and physically. So, I guess what I want to say is that we just need to PERSEVERE. (Duh…why didn’t I think of that before…after all, I am the one who chose that as the theme for this campaign!)
Spring is coming….Easter is coming! A time of new birth and beauty will follow this time of ugliness and struggle. God is in control! He is absolutely perfect and has everything accounted for! Not a single prayer or sacrifice from us goes unnoticed by him! He takes note of it all, and holds it in his heart. He even has all the hairs on our head numbered…and he knows when a sparrow falls from the sky…so what do we have to worry about?
Did you see the encouraging shift report from Jeannie on Monday? During her 5-7 shift, a woman came up to her and told her that she had decided to get an abortion 2 years ago…but when she walked past our vigil, someone handed her information about fetal development, and she changed her mind. There is a little 2-year old boy running around out there because folks were willing to sacrifice their time and come to the vigil. We never knew about it, and would have never known about it…if the woman didn’t come back to tell us. These are the encouragements that God gives us to keep us going.
Beauty in the ashes. Darkest before the dawn. Don’t give up!
Also, mark your calendar to attend our closing event on Sunday, March 25th! At 6:30pm, we will gather for a closing prayer service in front of Planned Parenthood (933 Liberty), led by Pastor Joe Stump of the Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene. At 7pm, we will officially close the vigil, and walk to Catholic Charities Welcome Center (corner of (9th and Liberty) for a fun time of pot-luck food and fellowship. Hope to see you there!
Here are the shift reports from today:
Charlene reports from the 7-9 shift:
“The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for You are at my side
With Your rod and Your staff that give me courage”
We all have heard Psalm 23 and this part of it certainly rings true in front PP…the “dark valley”. I’m sure we all remember our first time on the sidewalk…a little (or a lot) fearful, not knowing what to expect….but knowing we are called to do this, knowing God is at our side with his “rod and staff to give us courage”.
Today we had a first timer from St. Louise de Marillac, Matt, and he quickly found his rhythm praying on the sidewalk. Also from St. Louise de Marillac were Denny, Chris, Janet, and our regular, Peggy. A cold but prayerful day. Charlene
Cathy did the 9-11 shift and writes:
Three men from St. Louise, Denny, Seamus, and Tom, spent all, or part of the shift with me today. It was a quiet time, a few people went into the clinic, but no one wanted any lit. I’ve been offering the resource card tucked into the “Everyone’s Bio” leaflet. A man waiting in his car for his girlfriend did gladly take the flyers I offered him.
We heard, though did not see, the chanting from the CAPA students walkout for gun control. While I agree that something needs to be done about this kind of violence, and not to minimize the value of each student who has been killed, but each abortion day more children are killed at this PP than were killed at any of the schools. Where is the outrage? Each child’s life is sacred!
Hank managed the vigil from 11-1 and writes:
It was a cold and windy day, but it didn’t dampen the turn out or the spirits of the St. Louise de Marillac prolife group. St.Louise de Marillac was signed up to cover from 7 AM to 3 PM and I was with a enthusiastic, joyful, prayerful group from 11-1. Mary, Diane, Seamus, Joe, and Tom were there when I arrived and Randy joined us shortly afterwards and we prayed the rosary. Maryjane from Our Lady of Grace had business in town and joined us around noon as did Bob (works in town) from SLD and we prayed another rosary. Debbie and Rick from SLD arrived early for their 1:00 PM shift so we had good numbers from 11-1. There was not much PP traffic or street traffic, but we received a good number of thumbs up and only a few cold looks. We did engage a young woman who was pro abortion and hopefully gave her some things to think about. Mary gave me her hand warmers when she left which made the last hour more comfortable. Praise be to God who grants man the wisdom to make hand warmers, may He also open minds closed to the sacredness of all life.
Chris was the 1-3 shift manager and writes:
To say it was cold on the street today would be an understatement. The wind blowing down the street was constant. But my heart was warmed by 10 prayer warriors braving the cold to stand witness and pray in front of PP. I was joined, as I have been during most of my Wednesday shifts, by street preacher Bill, along with Mary Jane, Liz, Marie from St. John Neumann, Debbie, Rich, Dianne, Denise, Sister Faith, and Dan. We prayed the Rosary and a Divine Chaplet, saying prayers for the abortion clinic workers and the parents of the unborn children entering PP. We had several “God Bless Yous” from passersby and one man praising abortion. We said we’d pray for him. Thank you again to the half-frozen pray-ers who stood with me today on the street.
Barbara & Richard kept the sidewalk warm from 3-5…even though Barbara is recovering from the flu! She writes:
Chris, surrounded by praying witnesses, greeted us. Everyone was in a good mood.
Saint Paul Cathedral parishioners Regis and Bridget joined us in praying a Sorrowful Mysteries Rosary. Joe arrived and we felt blessed to return to a warm place.
Joe K. is recovering from being sick, but still kept his shift from 5-7. Here is his report:
Blustery – that best seem to describe this evening…
I was greeted by Regis of St. Paul’s who had been there already for about 2 1/2 hrs. After Regis left the beginning of the shift was extremely quiet / prayerful and contemplative – not sure anyone was coming, but just kept saying “God Provides”… and also reflected on some words that I’ve heard actor Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) say multiple times:
“You weren’t made to ‘fit in,’ my brothers and sisters. You were born to stand out”
St. Paul’s came strong for the last half of the shift – we had four prayerful warriors stationed around the “Arc de Death” – One of the biggest, if not the biggest groups that I have had on the late shift…And they were “standout” at standing out!!!
Lots of foot traffic, and folks passing by with musical instrument cases, but zero (0) comments this evening other than one gentleman that asked me to contemplate on “Pro-Life” vs. “Pro-Birth” with a quiz to follow – though he did not return by the end of the shift…
The night ended with Tom flying solo (Diane get better!!!) and the St. Paul’s pit-crew sprung into action to get the 40 DFL mobile packed and ready for tomorrow’s vigil…
There once was a boy…a school-age boy…who was constantly late coming home after school. His parents tried everything to get him to come home on time, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, out of frustration, one morning the father gave his son a stern warning. He looked straight into the boy’s eyes and said, “Son, if you are late today, all you will get for dinner tonight will be a single slice of bread and a glass of water.” He made sure his son understood the warning, and after agreeing to be home on time, the boy ran out the door for school. That same afternoon, the boy came home later than ever. At dinnertime, the family sat down to eat. The boy looked around to see everyone’s plates filled with delicious food…but in front of him was a plate with a single slice of bread…and a small glass of water. The reality of the consequence of his action began to sink in as tears began to well up in his eyes. He knew he had no excuse. His dad had clearly warned him. But, as he was trying to keep from crying, he noticed that his plate was being slid away…and his father’s plate was being set before him. His dad had switched plates with him.
The father would eat the slice of bread for dinner, in place of his son. He would take the punishment upon himself. He would pay the consequences of his son’s action.
When that boy grew up, he used to say that he always knew what God was like, because of the example set by his father.
This was a story told by Fr. Jason Charron, to our 40 Days for Life team during our team mini-retreat on Monday. Fr. Jason began by asking, “Why did God choose such a terrible way to redeem us?” “Why the CROSS?”He is God, after all…he could have chosen any way that he wanted! Why suffer in such a horrible way? It is a question that I often wondered myself. But I think that this story illustrates the reason. After all, if the dad had simply given in to his feeling of compassion for his son and withheld the punishment…if he had just given his son a plate of food…the boy would not have learned the important lesson that actions have consequences…and he would have continued to come home late.But, seeing his FATHER pay the consequence that HE should have paid himself…seeing his father SUFFER because of HIS actions…now THAT taught him a lesson that he never forgot.
God knows our weakness. He knows that we are a lustful, greedy, selfish, prideful and ungrateful bunch. It required something RADICAL to make us change our ways. What could be more radical than the cross?
Fr. Jason also said that people naturally want to follow someone who is doing something radical. He gave the example of the diabolically evil organization of ISIS. As terrible as they are…they are certainly disciplined….and people follow them. So, if an evil organization like ISIS attracts followers because of their radical nature…how many more people would the CHURCH attract if it were living out the RADICAL teachings of Christ?The Gospel is radical…but do we live it? Do we truly love our enemies? Do we truly bless those who hurt us? Are we truly willing to give everything away in order to follow Jesus? Fr. Jason said that whenever someone who has absolutely nothing to gain, gives himself away for the good of someone else…it has a powerful impact!
That is what we do on the sidewalk, he said. The work we do isredemptive. Not that Christ needs any help from us…he explained…mankind’s redemption was completed IN FULL by Jesus’ death on the cross! Nothing can be added to it! However, in Colossians 1:24, Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…” Now Paul certainly was not saying that Jesus’ work of redemption was lacking anything. Fr. Jason explained that what St. Paul meant is that, although the work of redemption was completed on that cross on Calvary 2,000 years ago…what is lacking is the TIME and SPACE of 2,000 years! After all, how are our neighbors to KNOW about it, unless they see us living it HERE and NOW???
So, he went on to say that when a couple enters the doors of Planned Parenthood, forsaking their own flesh and blood…WE are there to claim their child for them.
As they are unwilling to sacrifice 9 months of their time to bring their child to term…WE are willing to sacrifice OUR time to pray on the sidewalk.
As they want to avoid the anger and threats of their family members or boyfriends…WE lovingly endure the occasional (and sometimes frequent) angry rants from people on the sidewalk.
As they are seeking to avoid the shame of an unwanted pregnancy…WE willingly accept the shame and humiliation of being mocked for our witness.
As they try to avoid the pain and discomfort that they fear a child will bring to their lives…WE are there to take on their pain and discomfort by enduring the bitter cold, freezing rain and snow.
They can’t….we can. They won’t…so we will.
Redemptive. Filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.
Now, for today’s reports from the sidewalk…
Charlene was the shift manager from 7-9 and wrote:
Today was rainy and snowy at 7AM. PP looked dark and foreboding…the way we on the sidewalk see it always. A scary place. As we stand and pray, we want to reach those entering. On Tuesday, Fr. Dave Pivoka from Redeemed on Line and Matthew Kelly from Dynamic Catholic both spoke of fear…fear we all feel at times in our lives…the fear the apostles felt in their boat in the storm. The Lord said,”Have no fear. I am with you” Not I will fix it…calm the waters…I am with you. We on the sidewalk know God is with us and that’s what we try to convey to those entering,”God is with you in this storm and he can help you calm the storm…the right way”.
Today I shared the sidewalk with Peggy and Vicki and had a quiet time in prayer… no clients going in…no storms.
Cathy managed the vigil from 9-11 and wrote:
Fr. Chris and Dolores from St. Raphael’s came today to pray and witness, as did Therese from St. Barbara’s, and Bill. It was a fairly quiet shift. However, one man did stop to talk and tell his story. He said he was in agreement with us and had always been prolife. But in his past he had had an affair and the woman got pregnant. While she wanted to have the baby, his first thought was “We can’t have this baby!” The thought lasted just a few minutes and he came around and they had the baby. Now he looks at his little girl and wonders how he could have ever thought that an abortion would have been the right choice.
Hank was in charge from 11-1 and reports:
What a wonderful day! Most of the shift there were 17 people praying. The Guardians For Life were there in full force and praying for the full 2 hours. Theresa from St.Barbara was there for the 11-1 shift warmly greeting people passing by and praying. Also 5 individuals from St.Bernadette did one hour shifts 11-12 and 12-1. While it was cold, it was not snowing or raining and the only thing coming down were the graces from our Good Lord in response to all the prayers being offered to end the sin of abortion. There were only a few individuals that entered PP it was not an abortion day. There did not seem to be the usual street traffic today, but there were a few good encounters. Terri spoke at length to two different couples and gave them literature. We received many good responses to our presence and no negatives. Blessed be the Lord our Savior.
Chris wrote from the 1-3 shift:
What a joy to have so many prayer warriors with me today! Sal, Diane and Sue joined me from St. Bernadette’s; Iris joined me from my parish, St. John Neumann, and Sheila came from Mother of Sorrows parish. Ed prayed during his lunch hour from his job downtown. Father Tony, pastor at St. Bernadette’s, came for the second hour and led us in the Rosary. We had a few positive comments and many passersby looked at the new fetal models. There were two negatives worth mentioning. First, a late-teen woman walked by and said, ”It’s not alive!” I responded that the baby’s heart starts beating around Day 18. She kept on walking. While I wasn’t looking, a man spit on the largest fetal model in the enclosed display. Please pray for both of them.
Barbara and Richard managed the vigil from 3-5
This afternoon Richard and I were joined by Bill, an Evangelist and preacher. Bill has plans to go to DC to see the new Bible museum. He is a long time prolife supporter.
George came just as Joe, shift manager, was getting there. Both are Knights of Columbus in McKeesport. In between times, we stood alone, each choosing a different side of the front door.
It always seems that more people speak to you when you stand praying alone.
One woman saw the unborn baby models and her face fell apart. She looked at me.
“They told me my baby was just a bunch of cells…not a baby. I believed them. The first time I saw these babies, I almost had a nervous breakdown.”
She thinks about this baby every day. She thinks the baby was a girl and decided to call her Elizabeth. She now has a another daughter.
So many people thanked us for being there.
The killing of a baby by abortion is silent and invisible. The dead baby parts are counted and quickly wrapped out of sight.
Killed dead babies did not cry. Only the staff at the abortion site can see the baby body.
I pray that the horror they see and do will break their heart, and that they will ask God for a new one.
Joe K. 5-7
Arrived for the shift and received the usual warm greeting from Barbara. My brother Knight Mike P. was there from St. Patrick’s in McKeesport as well as Jim (who usually stops on his way home from work). I was then blessed as Mary Catherine and her daughter Ann from St. Scholastica joined us. It amazed me that that mother and daughter didn’t flinch at the weather – which the breeze made it feel much colder this evening – two tough customers! Sidewalk Advocate Jim also stopped by on his way home to say hello and lend support…
Overall, the evening was fairly quiet, not even much comment, though most was positive. …and..Hooray! one week without any cigarette incidents!!!
We admired the beautiful new fetal models which were expertly secured / displayed (Thanks Tom, Diane, and Penney) and shared.
Mary Catherine and Ann shared stories of their involvement in the Pro-Life movement – Mary Catherine back to 1969 and how they once met Bernard Nathanson’s (Silent Scream) wife at a trial in Pittsburgh back a few years…
Before the night ended a brief, but beautiful snow squall came through and snow-globed us… It felt very Christmas-y… and what a beautiful way to summarize this evening!
Jesus’ words to his disciples tell us that he is calling his followers to a different way. We are to be DIFFERENT from the rest of the world!
As I was working on a friend/client’s hair a few days ago, we were discussing the reality of abortion having always been a part of human history. She mentioned that she had read about the ancient Roman’s practice of leaving newborn babies to die of exposure on the city walls, and how it was the early Christians who first began to rescue these little ones. Before there were Christians, the only ones to “rescue” these babies were slave traders, who would take them and raise them in order to sell them as slaves or prostitutes. I am no historian, but I know that the roman civilization was very advanced in many ways. Their art, architecture, aqua duct system and roadways were amazingly innovative and sophisticated. Their legal system is the basis for our court and law system today! But as “civilized” and “advanced” as their culture was…they saw nothing wrong with leaving their unwanted infants to die on the wall. They were not lawless people. They took great pride in having just laws and enforcing them fairly, (as long as you were a roman citizen, of course!) Their sense of justice was probably not offended by this practice because they didn’t actually “kill” the children themselves. They didn’t have to watch them die or anything upsetting like that. The wall was far enough away that no one could hear the pitiful cries. All that was needed was a few callous individuals who could do the dirty work of carrying them away and abandoning them on the wall. Does this sound familiar?
But in the midst of this culture…there began a movement that was DIFFERENT. Jesus taught a DIFFERENT WAY. The early Christians in Rome did things that made absolutely no sense. They began to rescue these babies. Not to sell them or to make a profit. But to SAVE them. Why? They had nothing to gain by doing so. It was a completely selfless action.
This conversation with my friend has stayed with me all week. I have been thinking about how people can be “just” and law-abiding…advanced and civilized, and still think abortion is okay. Everyone wants just laws and an orderly society, because we all selfishly want to live in a world where we will be treated fairly. We don’t want be stolen from, defrauded, abused or killed. But, since laws are made by people who are already born…lawmakers have no fear of ever being aborted. Therefore, abortion will always exist in the world. That is the way of the world. Always has been, always will be. But we needn’t be discouraged, because this world is not our home. WE are called to be different from the world! As Jesus reminds us in the Gospel reading today…”It shall not be so among us!”
Recently, I have been really encouraged by the faith, hope and love that our 40 Days for Life blog writers and shift managers express in their blog reflections and shift reports. It is wonderful to see us, as a pro-life family here in Pittsburgh…putting all our trust in the One who can end abortion.Thanks to all of you for putting your FAITH FIRST! This movement is really hard. There is always the danger of pride, self-righteousness, cynicism and discouragement creeping in at every moment. There is the temptation to put our trust in our own abilities and efforts…and to look to politicians and laws to solve this problem.
Just as the early Christians selflessly rescued the roman babies, we stand in front of the “wall” at 933 Liberty Avenue…the place where 3,000 babies are brought to die each year. We go there hoping to rescue some…and hoping others will join this “new Way” that Jesus established 2,000 years ago. It is our love for God and all of his creation that drives us. We put our trust in God alone. We put our faith first. And we know who wins in the end.
Before I go to the shift reports from today, I want to share a link to an important video which was recently put out by Sidewalk Advocates for Life. In it, three former abortion workers talk about their experience with the pro life movement and the impact it had on them while they were inside the industry. The video is 23 minutes long…so just save it and watch when you have time. I share it because I believe it is so tempting for us to trust in our own abilities and actions, and to forget that God is the One in charge. I encourage you to watch this when you can: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2GhKLWPJZs
So, now…here are the shift reports from today:
Marshall subbed as shift manager this morning from 7-9 am. He wrote:
The last day of February, and we are now looking forward to March. With March comes to the newness of Spring. It was a quiet 7 to 9 am shift in front of PP. Peg and I counted two couples that entered. Prayers for the staff, those couples and all those who end up supporting that place merely because of their job such as delivery drivers. Peg and I prayed the Glorious mysteries with Mary who was there early for the 9-11 shift. I also studied some for a midterm tomorrow in Grad. Therapeutic techniques. Thanks for Nikki and Lisa giving Peg a notice as I was late due to some heavy traffic. God bless. Marshall.
Cathy managed the vigil from 9-11. Her parish had adopted that time slot. Here is a photo from her shift:
My fellow parishioner, Mary, and I spent a fairly quiet two hours. A few people went into PP. One couple who came out did accept the resource card and “Everyone’s Biography”. A young passerby took them as well and then said her friends should see it as they were having kids, so she took three more to share.
Hank was the shift manager from 11 am – 1 pm and wrote:
It was a windy but comfortable 11-1 shift and I was joined for the entire time with the Guardians For Life, so the wind might just have been the movement of the Spirit given the power of their prayer. Indeed, Fr.Tim led the group in prayer throughout the shift with the rosary, Divine Mercy, Stations of the Cross and other prayers as well. A considerable amount of literature was distributed and for the most part warmly received and we greeted all by-passers with a smile and a good morning/afternoon. There were no abortions today so most of the traffic was employees entering and exiting. They were all kindly greeted and of course prayed for as well.
Jeannie was the substitute shift manager from 1-3 pm…she wrote:
What a joyful day on the sidewalk — I expected to be alone. BUT Praise be to God I was joined by Mary from Saint Teresa of Avila, Joe from Saint Bernadette in Monroeville and SA Kathy, and during my second hour John and Mimi Joined us. What a crowd!
For the first time ever, I saw a woman with an infant come out of Planned Parenthood. What a joyful site to see new life alive at that threshold. I’m not sure what she was doing there, but hope springs eternal.
Barbara and Richard report from the 3-5 shift:
Jeannie, her friend Mary and two Knights of Columbus, were praying at PP when we arrived. Mimi, stayed for another half hour.
At three we were joined by Joe, McKeesport Knight of Columbus and shift manager for the 5-7. He planned to stay for 4 hours. Another Knight was due at 6.
We have come to recognize and speak with commuters who line up for their bus to go home.
Twice we spoke to a young woman who came out of PP. She declined help. Later she and two other women came out and left.
We had a chance to discuss witnessing for life and volunteering in our parishes. It was a fruitful evening.
Richard and Barbara 3-5 Shift managers
Joe K. 5-7pm…
Pre-shift observation… Had a young women (Ms. Virginia Slim) try to grind-out her cigarette on the 40 DFL Sign – maybe she was confused – and thought this was one of those city garbage cans that have an attached container for cigarette butts… Or, maybe she was just virtue signaling her approval for snuffing things out??? Regardless, wished her a better day, then cleaned off the sign…This is the second week in a row with a cigarette incident – last week’s shift had a young woman slingshot one over my cranium…Maybe we should have tighter cigarette control laws / background checks…
OK, serious shift report stuff… It was in doubt that anyone would show up for the shift, but God provides (as of course He always does)…My brother Knight from Council 955, Mike, joined me for the beginning of the shift and stayed through the end. We were also joined by Ben from Trinity and Brian from St. John Fisher – this in-doubt shift was bountiful, prayerful, and blessed indeed!
Mostly positive comments this evening (except for Ms. Virginia Slim). We shared, and prayed throughout the shift and Ben also led us in prayer near the end of the shift for 933’s leader Kim E. During the shift I noticed that a big make-shift sign had gone up in the door window of 933 and the lights were still on throughout the shift – the hand-written sign said “Gardening Class – Come in”… Seems a bit ironic – “cultivating life”? Made me think of Matthew 13:5-9 “The Parable of the Sower”…
“Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.”
But just on the outside of the 933 golden arch where the 40 DFL takes up residence is where we there is hope (and help)…
“But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
We finished the night as humble and faithful Tom & Diane packed up day 15 for tomorrow – God Bless you 2…!!!
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”…an open letter to those who oppose our sidewalk witness:
Although the primary purpose of our 40 Days for Life blog is to encourage and unite our pro-life community here in Pittsburgh, I feel prompted to direct this post to those who oppose us…and particularly to those who stole our fetal model set from the sidewalk on Monday, and those who attempted to take our large sandwich board sign from the sidewalk on Sunday. In case you are reading this, I speak to you today:
I realize that you think we are against you. But we are not. We are FOR you. Why? Because you are made in the image of God, who loves you. We have no hatred or anger towards you. Why? Because we all are imperfect, flawed human beings, just stumbling through this life the best we can. We have fallen short so many times…and yet our loving God forgives us. And in the Lord’s prayer, which most of us pray every day, we say, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” So, unless we want to be hypocritical, we must forgive.
Do the fetal models anger you?Is it because you think they are not accurate? That we are using propaganda to try to sway people’s opinion about abortion? If you think that is the case, simply look fetal development up for yourself. You will see the truth about human development in the womb.
Do the fetal models upset you because they are a visible reminder to you that abortion is not just about the woman’s body, but also involves the body of another?I understand that you do not think that human fetuses are people. But try to understand…just as you do NOT believe they are people…we DO believe that they are! And so, try to put yourself in our shoes for just a moment. If you truly believed that real, live, human beings were being mercilessly killed at a certain location…day after day…year after year…and everyone else thought it was perfectly acceptable…wouldn’t YOU want to do something to stop it?
I would like to speak to three groups who usually oppose us…perhaps you fall into one of these categories?
You are a young person. It is understandable, that, having grown up in a world where it is legal to dispose of a human life for convenience…that you may not have any concept of the unimaginable worth of every individual. And, I understand that you may never have had the experience of someone loving you sacrificially and unconditionally. Maybe your parents didn’t stay together, and so no one ever modeled sacrificial love and commitment to you. Maybe you were never taught that there is a God who loves you and who knows everything about you. Maybe you have never seen someone who calls themselves a Christian…actually LIVE like a Christian. Maybe you think we are all hypocrites. I’m sorry if that is the case. But, just as we seek to understand and empathize with you…I hope you will do the same for us. We are not perfect. Some of us are hypocrites sometimes…but most of us try not to be. Most of us really just empathize and want to do some good.
You have taken part in abortion…either your own or someone else’s. If this is the case, I understand how painful it must be to see our signs, and especially the fetal models. It is a reminder to you of something you would rather forget. It sears your conscience…which is doing its best to become numb. Please know that you are not alone. So many men and women are living lives of quiet desperation, burying their feelings of guilt and shame from abortion…feeling that they do not deserve to grieve their loss. Or, they are in denial of ever having done anything wrong, and cling to the hope that their abortion was justified. I understand that seeing people praying on the sidewalk is a painful reminder. And I am sorry for your pain. But I also know that you will never know true peace until you make peace with God. He is eager and anxious for you to turn to Him…(as Sue said in her blog reflection yesterday)…even if you make the slightest effort to turn to Him, He will heartily embrace you and rejoice at your homecoming! In fact, He wants to give you such a bear-hug that it will squeeze the breath right out of you! Go to Silent No More to connect with others who have found healing, or consider attending a Rachel’s Vineyard healing retreat.
You came of age during the ’60’s and ’70’s.If you are a woman from this era, chances are you despised the way women were objectified by men in previous times. It angered you to see women treated as mere property…limited to a life of service to husband and children, not respected for her individual talents and abilities…only good for cooking, cleaning and having babies. I can relate. I too came of age in the 70’s. I remember the Helen Reddy song, “I am woman, hear me roar”. I remember the television commercial jingle that went, “I can bring home the bacon…fry it up in a pan…and never, never let you forget you’re a man…“. We all agree that no woman should be objectified and treated as someone else’s property, isn’t that right? So the question I have for you is; is it possible that abortion does just that??? After all, when a woman says, “My body, my choice!”…she is making the claim that she OWNS the second body that resides within her womb, and can do with it as she pleases. I would argue that this is objectifying and subjecting women in the worst possible way. Not only does it kill tiny, pre-born women, who have no right to life…but it also tricks full-grown women into thinking of their own children as their enemies! It sets women against their children, and that only hurts us in the long run…it does not help us. It only weakens us, it does not empower us.
So, this was a long blog reflection, I apologize. If you oppose us and want to comment, although I cannot allow your comments to be visible to others, you can contact me individually, and I welcome the opportunity to dialogue with anyone of good will. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, to our 40 Days for Life community, another set of fetal models has been ordered. PCUC could use help paying for this unexpected expense. The cost of the models is $219.00. If anyone feels led to donate a part of this cost, it would be greatly appreciated! Checks should be made payable to People Concerned for the Unborn Child, and mailed to: PCUC, 3050 Pioneer Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15226.
Now, for the vigil reports from the sidewalk today…
Kathy was our shift manager sub this morning from 7-9am and writes:
Thank you to Dianne and Peggy for their early arrival to set the vigil materials in place. And thank you to our participants, Peggy, Evangelist Bill L,, Therese, and Bill H for stopping by. Most of our time was spent in silent prayer today. One male passerby commented that he “would rather adopt a child than be out here.” I hope he follows through on that. God uses people in different ways.
Cathy managed the vigil from 9-11:
God always provides! Thinking that it would just be a Knight (Bill) and myself for the shift, we were blessed with Therese from St. Barbara, and four ladies from three South Hills parishes, Barbara, Gwen, Molly and Colleen! We prayed, alone and together, passed out baby feet and resource cards. One of the ladies spoke with a man who walked by saying some people need abortion. She had a calm discussion with him for a few minutes down the street. At least gave him something to think about. The same woman went up to a young woman who came out of the clinic. She was seeking BC, had just moved to town for a new job. She didn’t get it today, but G. directed her to her doctor, not to come back to PP. I spoke with a middle aged woman who, as passing by said she didn’t believe in abortion either. She kept walking then stopped and said “Unless – it was incest.” I told her that yes, rape and incest were terrible experiences, but having an abortion does not erase them, only punishes the baby for the sin of his/her father. Again, something to think about. Later, another woman said she had been raped – one of the SH ladies talked with her for a few minutes. The woman asked her what she would have done if she had been raped and she told her that she would have had the baby and possibly put the child for adoption.
Hank held the fort from 11-1 and writes:
It was a relatively quite day, comfortable weather with a short period of rain. No abortions today, so little traffic at PP mostly workers in and out. We had a good group of prayer warriors. My wife Judy and I were joined by Bob and Jim who came down from St.Mary’s Kittaning and Ken, also from St.Mary’s, took time off work to join us. Also, Joan (side walk advocate) came over on her lunch hour and Bill joined us for the last half hour. We greeted many by passers most of whom returned our greetings with supportive comments. Judy enlisted several individuals passing by to pray to end this scourge. We all prayed petitioning the Lord to bring an end to abortion in our land.
Chris managed the vigil from 1-3 and was thankful someone answered the call to stand with him:
The Lord smiled down on us and provided another unseasonably warm day to pray and witness on the sidewalk outside PP. Arleen of St. Maurice Parish answered Nikki’s call to join me so I wouldn’t be alone during my shift. Thank you, Arleen!. Talking and praying with you made the time fly by until Barbara and Richard relieved me. Several “God Bless You for being here” comments made our day. There was only one negative comment, “You’re wasting your time.” I don’t think so! There was minimal traffic in and out of PP.
Barbara and Richard report from the 3-5 shift:
Joe, Knight of Columbus from St. Bernadette Parish, Monroeville, joined Richard and me today. Crispy chill, misty drizzle, choruses of bus traffic…it felt good to be back. After our few years on Liberty Avenue, we are accustomed to the crowd response.
One late teen girl walked by Richard and gave him the finger salute with both her hands. One young man walked by me, then turned around and came back to shake hands saying, “Thank you for being here.”
Offering ourselves for face to face contact in the abortion war in America is never boring. It is sad to note how many middle teens look at us with disgust. We know that God hears and answers our prayers. Together we prayed a Scriptural Rosary, Glorious Mysteries.
Joe K. was the shift manager from 5-7:
Entered my shift greeted by ever-joyous Richard and Barbara along with Joe B. from St. Bernadette’s and Knights of Columbus 4925. Joe’s been to several shifts recently to ensure that no-one “vigils” alone. Joe & I prayed and shared as the sounds of the city at rush hour seemed to disappear quickly into the early evening. Encountered minimal comments / gestures passerby’s, though one young woman flung an extra long cigarette over my mane…
The shift seemed to end quickly and quietly and I was honored to spend it witnessing with a brother Knight.
Vivat Jesus (Jesus Lives!)
P.S. The picture of Joe that is included with the shift report struck me very powerfully – not at the time it was taken, but not until I actually looked at it before I included it in the report.. If you look to the right of Joe it captures a portion of the window sign at 933 Liberty Ave. with an individual in thought and just enough of the top of the caption that reads “What if”, but clips off right there. “What if…” a question pondered by many of us, from many different perspectives – outside, inside, and for those exiting 933…
At the kitchen table this morning, my husband asked me a question.
“Do you know what today is?”
“Yes, ” I answered, “Ash Wednesday.”
He said, “Yes, but what else?”
“The first day of 40 Days for Life, ” was my response.
“Yes, but what else?” He said.
“Andrew’s birthday?” I asked. (Andrew is my 31-year old stepson…and his birthday is actually tomorrow…but I thought maybe my husband thought it was today.)
Finally the light bulb turned on. “Oh yes! It’s Valentines Day!”
With so much going on, I totally forgot!
Before I went to sleep last night, as is my habit, I took a peek at the Gospel reading for the next day. I do this to try to plant the seed of the Gospel in my mind so that it can sink in while I sleep. Anyway, I saw that today’s reading was from Matthew 6:5:
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that others may see them.”
Uh-oh. I knew today was my day to write the blog post…and I usually try to incorporate the day’s Gospel reading into my reflection. How in the world was I going to incorporate THIS one? This is the exact line from the Gospel that so many of our critics use against us! In fact, a few years ago, the former owner of the bookstore that is next to Planned Parenthood actually made a sign with these words and hung it on the pole where we stand to pray! He did this to try to shame us, by using the words of scripture against us…and truthfully…I never really was able to come up with a good rebuttal.
Are we being hypocrites by praying on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood? Many people accuse us of this, could it be true?
So, I asked the Lord to speak to my heart as I meditated on the verse this morning…(remember, I had forgotten it was Valentine’s Day). Wouldn’t you know that the word that jumped out at me was “LOVE“? I realized that Jesus was saying that hypocrites are those who LOVE to stand on the street corners and pray, so that others may see them. When I realized that, I let out a sigh of relief, because that is NOT me! I can honestly say, with every fiber of my being, that I do NOT love…not even in the least little bit...standing on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood when I pray. I would so much rather be in Church, or in my room…or just about ANYWHERE else! And I think I speak for just about all of us when I say that.
If we love something, it will be hard for us to give it up. I am giving up dairy products and sweets for Lent because I love them. I’m able to give them up because I love being healthy more than I love those things that are not good for me. So…if we love two things that cannot abide together, we must choose. We choose the ONE we love the most, and give up the one we love less.
Most of us love physical comfort; getting extra sleep, being warm, getting friendly greetings from people and being loved, accepted and respected by those around us. When we go to the abortion clinic, we give up all these things. There can be only one explanation as to why we do it. It is because we love something (or rather, some ONE, more.)When we love God more than anything else, we will allow him to break our hearts for what breaks his. Abortion breaks God’s Heart.
That is why we are able to do something that we DON’T love…because we are doing it for someone that we do.
Here are today’s stories from those who love Him too…
Jeff was our “engine”. He got our 40 day vigil started at 7am. He was joined by Peg and MaryAnn. He reports that his shift went well. Thanks to those who stood with him during these early morning hours!
Cathy was the shift manager from 9-11…she wrote:
First day of 40 Days Vigil! I took over from Jeff, joined Mary Ann for awhile,until she left, and was joined by Kathy and then Dan from Steubenville. We had a prayerful time in word and song. A couple ladies came out with little bags, one did take some literature. There was a couple who went in, he came out and sat in the car for quite awhile until she came back out, with a bag. Neither of then would take any lit. We had a “Get a life!” comment, but several ‘Thank you”s and smiles. Struck up a conversation with a young man who was looking at the sign in the window for the pill to prevent 90% of HIV. Said he was a counselor from NY and was familiar with the drug, Aids and other related issues.
Hank managed the vigil from 9-11am. He wrote:
It was a good 1st day! Decent weather and lots of friendly smiles and positive comments. Mary from St. Stephen Church in Hazelwood and Judy F. from St. Valentine were present handing out chocolate candy hearts along with literature. Dan from Stubenville was there as well. Several rosarys were prayed.
Chris was the shift manager from 1-3, and writes something that is very appropriate to my blog reflection:
This campaign started with a cold, windy, and rainy shift on Ash Wednesday. But the weather didn’t matter, as I was joined by the Christian warmth of prayer warriors Marie, George, Bill and the husband/wife team, Mike and Kim. During the first hour we received many positive comments from passersby. People weren’t as kind to us the second hour. Two of the memorable comments made to us were, “You’re all going to burn in Hell” and “You should read the Bible”. Please pray for those who made these remarks as they quickly walked by us. One of the highlights of the shift was talking to a man who lost a girlfriend to suicide (in front of him) and has a history of drug and alcohol abuse. He has found God and was holding a Bible while we talked. After each of us said, “God Bless you”, he continued down the street.
Barbara and Richard held the fort from 3-5pm
We are here in front of PP again.
Drizzle and then rain and then drizzle again.
Familiar faces line up for the bus.
On schedule, their carriages arrive and roar away…”home for dinner!”
People walk by and catch our eye and smile and nod. They agree that abortion kills babies and hurts women…at the very least…hurts the mother.
Two walk by, catch our eye and look away, stone faced. These are always women.
What is it that tears us away from warm home and routine?
Our Father is ready with open arms. We want to help our sisters and brothers. Behavior matters. We want to share the key. It is urgent. There is a time limit.
Joe K. finished up the first day from 5-7pm. He wrote:
Everything was wet and busy coming into / out of the city today – so much so that I was a few minutes late for the start of my first shift – thanks Richard & Barbara!
I was so very blessed this evening as though only individual volunteers were slotted in the time slot – 3 wonderful, water-resistant witnessing warriors – John, Eleanor, and Bridgette, showed-up to finish the day proving that pro-lifers are anything but fair-weather when it comes to life…
Thank you to all who came to the vigil today, and to all who prayed and fasted! May God bless our 40 days here in Pittsburgh!
60 million innocent lives lost to abortion in our nation.
The inability to defund an evil and corrupt organization such as Planned Parenthood.
A government that cannot even pass a no-brainer law such as the Pain Capable Act (which would have banned painful dismemberment abortions after 20 weeks).
This is the seemingly hopeless reality that we are living in. The burden seems too heavy to lift, the obstacles too great to overcome…the giant too powerful to defeat.
And the truth is that this burden cannot be carried by just a few of us. The guilt of our nation in God’s eyes is on ALL OF US! Therefore, we all must share in carrying the burden of repentance, fasting and prayer during these 40 days.
The good news is that we aren’t carrying this burden alone!
When we all do our little part…whether it is taking a full day (as St. Thomas More Catholic Church is doing this Friday)…or taking two hours every week, (as Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene is doing)…or just taking one 2-hour slot on one day during the 40 days…
…many hands make for light work!
This work is massive and heavy, that is true. But Jesus said that when we take HIS yoke upon us, HE will make the burden light. (Matt. 11)
In yesterday’s reading from Mark 8:1-10, we read that Jesus felt compassion for the great multitude of people who had followed him. They had been with him in a deserted place for three days, and had no food. He did not want to send them away without feeding them first. His disciples must have been overwhelmed with the seemingly impossible task, and so they asked him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them?” Jesus asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They answered that they had seven loaves. And that was enough.
Jesus fed the multitude. They simply gave what they had.
That is all that God asks of us as well. He doesn’t ask or expect us to end abortion. He doesn’t expect us to close down Planned Parenthood. He doesn’t even expect us to save lives! But he DOES ask us to give him what we have! And what we have is our prayers, fasting and our physical presence at the vigil.
We have an opportunity during these 40 days to allow God to use us to save lives and to bring souls back to him! What a privilege!!! In fact, a baby was just born in Pittsburgh last month that was saved from abortion because there were prayerful witnesses on the sidewalk when her parents came to Planned Parenthood for an abortion last summer. They didn’t want the abortion, but had three children already and the husband didn’t think they could handle another one. He was especially concerned about how his wife would get to her doctors appointments, since she doesn’t drive, and he works long days. The compassionate sidewalk counselors offered to help him with transportation for his wife, and to help provide other resources that the family was in need of. Our pro-life family in Pittsburgh held a baby shower for them this past November, and the beautiful baby girl was born last month. When one of the sidewalk advocates went to visit the family a few weeks ago, she got to hold the baby. The husband looked at her and thanked her for being there that day. He said to her, “If we had done it (the abortion), we would have never been able to be happy again.” The simple truth of those words has remained in my heart and mind. They wouldn’t have ever been able to be happy again. Wow!
This is just one family…one baby…that was saved because of our presence on the sidewalk. There are thousands of others…and many that we will never even know about. But each life saved has an eternal impact! This is a profound opportunity to be used by God to save a life!
Have you signed up for a time slot at the vigil yet? It begins on Wednesday at 7 am, in front of Planned Parenthood in Pittsburgh. There are many empty time slots that still need filled! Please email me at email@example.com if you can help!