40 Days for Life
On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
He said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Why would anyone do this? Why help others who have no way of repaying? Why give of ourselves and expect nothing in return?
I think it comes down to one word: LIBERTY.
But 933 Liberty Avenue is a location with a misnomer.
A better address might be “933 Sadness Street,” or “933 Regret Road,” or “933 Prisoner Place.” Being a prisoner of one’s past… being a person filled with sadness or regret… this is NOT what the Lord wants for any of His people. And yet, so many WILLINGLY step through those doors in pursuit of one thing: LIBERTY.
Perhaps they desire liberty from the shackles of parenthood… or from the guilt of an illicit sexual relationship… or from the financial burden that a new life might create. There might be many things they want to “liberate” themselves from, but they don’t know that the very facility they are entering- with that hope of liberty- is the place that will make them forever BOUND (not free) with guilt, regret, avoidance, sadness, pain, and many other things.
At 933 Liberty Avenue, true liberty is a LIE.
Jesus, however, brings us HOPE. He tells us that He has come that we might have LIFE, and have it to the FULL (cf. John 10:10). St. Paul tells us that “it is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).
For generations, Lady Liberty has stood as a sign of hope for those who seek freedom, who seek liberty. So yes, she is one important sign of liberty:
But…. if I may…. I think THIS one is a BETTER sign of true liberty and freedom:
And because we are Christians- those who follow Jesus Christ- we follow Him and His example. So rather than saying to the abortion-bound couple, the abortion worker, or the post-abortive couple, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed!” (cf. James 2:16), instead we must say, as the Gospel above reminds us,
“I INVITE you into true freedom.”
And while 933 remains a killing facility, that liberty will NOT be found on Liberty Avenue.
And so we invite.
Last evening (Sunday), we held our closing rally to close our 40-day vigil. Thank you to all who came all during these 40 days. This was a celebration of life… and several lives (at least three) were saved this vigil alone! Praise God!
Some photos from our prayer on the sidewalk:
Photos from the time of fellowship
at Catholic Charities:
Others who spoke at Catholic Charities:
Thank you again to all who attended this special event, and especially all those who gave of their time to come and join us in prayer. Let us remember what we are about…. PRAYER. And let us remember Whose we are…. HIS. And let us bring others- INVITE others- to know Him too…. especially those on the sidewalk and inside that building. Despite Liberty Avenue’s name, the Lord Jesus is the ONLY one who can make them truly FREE.
40 Days for Life
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”
Can we see what the Lord is saying here? His love is so great for us. He wants NONE of us to be lost. Yet in the world of abortion, there is so much darkness, confusion, and even despair. But Jesus came that none of us would be lost, and that we might all have the opportunity to have eternal LIFE.
Let us pray that the abortion-bound women and men on Liberty Avenue- and around the world- may come to KNOW this, whether through our witness or not. May the Lord work mightily in their lives to bring them to know Him and to have eternal LIFE.
Shift Manager Reports
What a busy and full shift we had today! When I arrived, Judy and Chuck told me that many people went in to PP this morning. Sad news, to be sure. Then they told me about a woman who had gone in and out a few times, but she had not wanted any information from them. They pointed her out to me as she came outside again, and she didn’t want anything from me either. But then Mary arrived, from St. Juan Diego parish, who had volunteered to pray with me at 11. She was in God’s place at God’s time, because when the woman came out again, Mary was able to listen to her and share some helpful information with her. They talked for a long time. I just prayed for them all the while. The woman’s daughter was in PP for an abortion, so we prayed for her as well.
A little while later, Beth Ann came to join us. The three of us- Mary, Beth Ann, and I, stood in three separate areas, and prayed silently. It was powerful. Regular volunteer, Bob, came for some prayer time and left. Thank you, Bob! Then Kim and Janet joined us, having driven all the way from Wheeling. Then Joan, Megan, and Ginny joined us. Thanks be to God, it was a crowded and prayerful shift. They were all veterans, and so we all sort of took separate “prayer posts” and there was a lot of silent prayer. Amazing. I thought it was beautiful.
After Mary’s hour (and having talked to that woman outside for a long time), she left. But a little while later, she came back. The Holy Spirit was MOVING in Mary!! She asked if the woman and her daughter had come back out; they hadn’t. But as Mary stood there waiting, the woman came out AGAIN, as if on cue. Mary and Sidewalk Advocate Joan went over to talk to her again. So beautiful…. women helping women.
And then, a very bizarre thing happened. As we stood there in silent prayer, a police SUV pulled up right in the middle of the circle. We all watched silently, very attentive. We didn’t know whether some “situation” had happened inside of PP that required police attention. But no…. as we watched, a male officer got out, then a female officer. They opened wide both of the side doors of the vehicle, so they could assist someone. Suddenly, we saw a small, young woman– in handcuffs and legcuffs- both with chains- being escorted out of the vehicle, and into Planned Parenthood. It was such a foreign concept to my brain that I just stood there with my jaw dropped. I had so many questions that we will never know the answers to. It was very disturbing….. Let us pray for that WHOLE situation!!
Ginny cared enough to come. She has sleep apnea, so she doesn’t sleep much at night.
Minnie used the chair that “nobody took.” She and I prayed a rosary and then she had to leave.
A young woman came by and said she prayed for all of us yesterday on All Saints Day. She thinks we will all be going to heaven.
A young couple came by and admired our babies (preborn models). They were happily delighted to see how much development a baby has at such a young gestational age. The young woman thanked us for being here and sharing the images of the babies.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! The Thursday 5-7 PM shift was prayerful and truly a blessing. Thanks so much to Pam from Crossroads Church in Weirton, Noelle from Grandview Church of God in Beechview, Dave from St. Pio Church in Blawnox, and Jim from St. Maurice Church in Forest Hills, for their prayers and faithful witness on behalf of unborn children and pregnant mothers in need. Your commitment to protect and defend life is truly an inspiration. Thanks also to Jeff for filling in for Tom and Diane today.
May the grace and peace of Christ be with each of you. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the closing rally on Sunday. God Bless!
“Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person…. In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman ‘discovers herself through a sincere gift of self’.”
–from Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter On the Dignity of Women (Mulieris Dignitatem)
Suffering with those who suffer…
“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.”
1 Corinthians 12:26
We sure have been reminded of this a lot lately, haven’t we? Still reeling from the Las Vegas shooting, where 58 people were killed, and 546 injured… yesterday we were hit with the senseless tragedy in New York City. These sad events bring us to our collective knees.
The question on many of our minds is, “How do we respond?”
I read a quote from Dorothy Day this morning which seems very relevant to our world today. She wrote:
The stink of the world’s injustice and the world’s indifference is all around us…
Compassion – it is a word meaning to suffer with. If we all carry a little of the burden, it will be lightened. If we share in suffering of the world, then some will not have to endure so heavy an affliction. It evens out. What you do here in New York, in Harrisburg, helps those in China, India, South Africa, Europe, Russia, as well as in the oasis where you are. You may think you are alone. But we are members one of another. We are children of God together.
Did you know that Dorothy Day may one day be recognized by the Catholic Church as being a saint? And… she had an abortion before her conversion. Her’s is a beautiful story of redemption. God wants to use all of us…scars and all.
For the past 36 days, hundreds of individuals have come to our vigil at Planned Parenthood to pray, witness, and suffer in small ways.
During that time, approximately 300 tiny babies have been put to death behind those doors while we were outside praying.
While I was there for my shift on Monday, I watched as a passerby…noticing our signs…stopped for a second in front of the doors of Planned Parenthood, and made the sign of the cross.
As Dorothy Day said…”We are members of one another.”
I was struck by a another quote this past week from Barbara. She wrote in her shift report last Friday, “Thank you God for this opportunity to love you out loud!” I LOVED that! That is exactly what we are doing when we witness and pray publicly…we are loving God OUT LOUD!
So, why should we suffer with those who suffer? Why not avoid suffering when we can? If it doesn’t directly affect me or my loved ones…why should I care? I will answer this with another quote. This one is from St. Catherine of Siena. She wrote:
Then we rise up with immense desire to love what God loves and to hate what God hates. Everything we do we direct to God. We do everything for the glory and praise of His name…this is how we progress from being merely servants to friends. That is how we progress from slavish fear and self-indulgent love for our own consolation to true servanthood, true friendship, true filiality.
I can’t fool God. He knows how much or how little I love Him. It doesn’t matter how much I say it or don’t say it. He knows. When I pray in front of an abortion clinic, there is no other reason for me to be there other than love for God. I can be sure that I have no ulterior motive. I will not get human praise, riches or power. In fact, I will probably get exactly the opposite.
If you worry that your love for God is either slavish…or self-indulgent…come to the vigil. There is nothing selfish about praying in front of an abortion clinic. God already knows how much you love Him, but maybe you need to prove it to yourself. We need someone today (Wednesday) from 6-7 pm so shift manager Joe won’t have to stand alone. On Thursday we need someone from 2-3 so Carolyn won’t be alone. Please let me know if you can come.
And join us this Sunday at 6:30 to officially CLOSE OUT our 40 day vigil at Planned Parenthood! Fr. Jason Charron, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Church in Carnegie will lead us in prayer. Then, join us in the Welcome Center at Catholic Charities (corner of Ninth and Liberty) from 7 – 8:30 for a fun time of pot-luck food and celebration! I hope to see you then!
Now, here are the reports from today:
Kathy L. 7-9
A rainy, dark, and cold morning was brightened and warmed by Dianne’s and Peg’ s cheerful morning greetings. I copied their example to passersby by saying “Good morning, choose life,” which was received with a nod, smile, or silence. Only one negative comment from a young woman. Even the pp security guard said “Good morning.” A gentleman, on his way to mass, said that he would pray for our cause.
Peg and I spent time in quiet prayer for awhile and then together offering up the baby picture prayers provided by Jeannie. Bill H stopped by briefly.
Cathy Z. 9-11
A relatively quiet shift – a few people went in and a couple and individuals came out, no one took the info cards offered or wanted to talk. Many thanks to Kathy who stayed overtime from her 7-9 shift to be with me until someone came. A real sacrifice given the cold and rain! Dave, from St. Bonaventure, came alone as his family was sick, and got right to praying. Shortly before 11 Anna Marie and her husband arrived to share the next shift with Hank.
Hank reported that he had a peaceful shift, spent praying with the wonderful folks from St. Mary and St. John (Export and Delmont). Thanks to everyone who sacrificed and suffered in the miserable weather today!
Tears from Heaven falling on Planned Parenthood. That’s how I chose to view the rain on the sidewalk during my shift. Can we imagine God’s sorrow at what His creations have wrought through abortion? My shift was relatively quiet, with little foot-traffic in and out of PP, just several workers and clients. I was joined by steadfast prayer warriors Bob, his wife Annamarie, and Christina from the combined parishes of St. John/St. Mary’s churches in Delmont and Export. We prayed the Rosary, receiving only positive comments and thumbs-ups from passersby. At the end of the shift, a Lutheran pastor, whose ministry is the college campuses in Oakland, joined us for a final prayer.
Barbara and Richard 3-5
What a sweetly chilly 2 hours Richard and I spent praying downtown this afternoon. The rain misted us continually and felt refreshing.
As we arrived, a couple from Delmont, Saint Mary, John Parish was leaving after their prayer witness since 11am. A Pastor with Lutherans for Life came by to join us in prayer.
Anthony stopped and asked if they did abortions there, indicating PP. I gave him our 40 Days for Life handout. He is caring for his 87 year old mother at his home. How wonderful.
Joe and Mike, Knights of Columbus, arrived and Richard and I left for Mass.
Life is good.
Joe K. 5-7
Last shift of the campaign started with a drive by “big hello” from a
passerby even before I could greet our vigil participants.
This evening, I was truly blessed and surprised as I was supposed to be
by myself, but was covered for the entire shift by Bill, Mike, and Jim –
No other comments the rest of the evening, but there was an unusually
number of sirens and police presence down on Ninth – enough that we
prayed for the responders and all involved…
The night ended with faithful Tom & Diane packing up our setup
to re-deliver tomorrow morning!
Are you the 10th leper? “Were there not 10 cleansed?”
Only 1 leper said “Thank you.” I’m guessing if you are reading this you are the 10th leper. The one who showed gratitude to God for the many blessings you have been given. You went to the vigil and prayed. You didn’t say “oh someone else can do it because they’re …not as busy…better suited…”.
I know it’s not easy sometimes. We all have our leprosies be it laziness, excessive love of the good things or the attachments to the activities or stuff of life but God’s grace has given us the strength to overcome them, to heal us and we show our gratitude by participating in 40 Days For Life.
So, let me also mimic the 10th leper and thank you for making the effort and dealing with the discomfort of going to the vigil. OK, I admit, it was really warm and sunny for awhile, but let’s not forget the wind, rain and dark, chilly mornings and evenings. Those days took a little more effort. Again thank you.
If you haven’t yet been able to make it to the vigil there is still time to say thanks. This is the last week. You don’t need to stay long. Just show up. Stay as long as you want. God will also give you peace and joy in addition to the healing. If you can’t make it please pray. And if you ever hear the call to come back after this campaign ends, know there are some who pray year round. I know there are sidewalk advocates and the “regulars” there most abortion days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Join us.
The only critical need remaining for this week is WEDNESDAY 5-7, so that shift manager Joe K. is not alone! If you can help, please click SCHEDULE above to sign up and to let us know.
In addition, not-so-critical, but still would be helpful…prayer volunteers would be appreciated on today (Monday) at 2pm, Wednesday from 3-5pm, Thursday at 2pm and next Sunday from 11-1.
Again, Thank You. Tim B.
Today at the vigil we had many individual prayer warriors, the faithful from Elk County Right to Life (St. Mary PA) and Round Hill Presbyterian Church
Stop back throughout the day to see pictures and to read stories. Here is from Sue 7-9 am:
“I was greeted by Diane, Tom and beautiful Rose when I arrived this morning. We were all prepared for the gusty weather! It was very nice praying with Rose as she handed out stacks of 40 Days for Life pamphlets. She was very quiet about it, but I never saw such an affinity for people accepting literature!! It seemed quiet on the street and a small handful of workers went into PP today. We offered a rosary, divine mercy and Holy Face chaplet! Two ladies came to pray for the next shift as Ginny arrived and I left the sidewalk in good, faithful hands!” ~Sue
“Four ladies from Elk city pro- life traveled 3 hours to witness and pray
Two sisters from Steubenville came to pray
A young physician, John, came down to pray and witness for life for the first time from Mother of Sorrows in Murrysville. Thank God for all these wonderful people.”
From Nikki 11-1:
“I had a peaceful shift from 11 to 1 and was blessed to share the sidewalk with four faithful sisters in Christ from elk County right to life. These wonderful women sacrifice faithfully every campaign! They drive three hours each way, and witness for four hours! What an inspiration they are! We prayed together, and used Jeanie‘s new baby signs with the wonderful prayers printed on the back, thank you so much Jeannie! We had many positive comments from passersby, thanking us for being there. No negative comments at all today. It was a quiet day at the clinic, not much happening. It was also great to see a new face, a man named John, who is a physician, was there when I arrived. Shift manager Ginny said he had been there since 930. Thanks to all who came and prayed today!” Nikki
From 1 to 3 shift manager Sister duo Beth and Rose (right) Remember last summer, when it wasn’t the heat but the humidity? Well today it wasn’t the cold as much as the wind that made a cold place even colder. Luckily, Rose and I were met by the warm, loving ladies from St. Mary’s in Elk County. We now know that the sound of a mating elk is called a “bugle.” What a wonderful crew. As they were leaving, Colleen and Gwen from St. Winifred’s came and we prayed as the wind howled. It seemed like mostly employees coming and leaving what has to be the coldest place on earth,Planned Parenthood.
and 3-5 Shift Manager Rosalina (left) along with the group from Round Hill Presbyterian Church
From Audrey (on left) 5-7 pm:
“The 5 to 7 pm shift today was cold and quiet. Pastor Matt and his son from Round Hill Presbyterian Church (Elizabeth) graced us with their presence. The end of the 40 Day vigil never feels like the end. We pray, “Oh Lord, give us the strength and the energy to keep fighting the battle for life even when the going gets so tough.” Audrey
Back on Day 20, Shawn Carney’s post from 40DFL headquarters highlighted an event which took place at the vigil in Birmingham, England. In case you missed it, here’s what was reported:
In another instance, a Birmingham volunteer wrote that while she was praying outside the abortion center, a teenage girl who was about to enter stopped to talk. Following their discussion, the girl agreed to visit a pregnancy care center instead.
“No one else knows I’m pregnant and I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “All day yesterday, I was walking around town by myself praying that God would give me a sign if He wanted me to keep my baby, but there was no sign.”
Without the sign she was seeking, she decided to keep her abortion appointment. “But as I came to the entrance … I saw that lady holding a cross and I knew that was my sign to keep my baby.”
This story is even more miraculous when you consider that this young woman — who was inspired by the Cross — was not a Christian.
After reflecting for a bit on the amazing power of the cross, what came to my mind was what reportedly happened to the Roman Emperor Constantine in the year 312. Also in a time of distress, himself was looking and praying for some sort of sign. And then Constantine, who was not then a Christian, saw on the face of the sun a vision of the Cross. And at the same time, written across the sky, were these words: “in hoc signo vinces,” which translates, “in this sign prevail.”
AND NOW, REPORTS AND PICTURES FROM THE SIDEWALK:
Tim B., 7-9
The faithful from Living Hope, coming from the Latrobe area, were at the vigil predawn ready to pray and provide a strong witness to life. What a blessing to have prayer warriors on both sides of the buffer zone. We were blessed to have Betsy and Jill in the Choices mobile sonogram offering an easy alternative to pp and the Saturday morning regulars Dr. Stephanie, Father G, Joe, David, Bill S. and of course always present, Bill H. Peace and Joy.
Sue D., 9-11
People were out in droves when I arrived. Tim had arranged to have the big 40 days banner in place, which brings great awareness! Knights of Columbus, Manordale, was represented and Maria who has become a Saturday regular! Several SA were also present! Shortly into the shift, a local Pro-Life physician and her lovely daughter came along to pray. It was their first time standing vigil. It was so encouraging to speak with them…the good doctor was telling us how she has done abortion pill reversals and about a patient she treated who had a healthy baby boy in September!! She encouraged us to keep getting the phone number out there (877-558-0333). It is on our yellow resource card! Jeff, who is pulling two shifts today, arrived shortly before 11am to take over! Thanks to everyone who came to pray for the many clients entering PP today.
Dean D., 1-3
We’ve been spoiled by so many nice days that today’s weather served as a nice challenge. Thank you Brenda and Marcella for braving the elements with me to pray. Shortly before I left, the mighty prayer warriors of Crestview Presbyterian showed up (nine strong) to carry the prayer torch into the late afternoon. God bless you all.
I was very blessed today. Our God allowed that I could take a small part in the fight for life. And to help he sent a prayerful, joy filled congregation from View Crest Presbyterian Church. A special thanks to pastor Matt and Pastor Shawn. The song, scripture and prayers that you brought with you were uplifting. One young woman in particular stopped to talk about her views on life. I pray that she was touched by what she heard and that her heart will be changed.
Jeff B., 11-1 AND 5-7
40 Days for Life
Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature.
For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity
and to lawlessness for lawlessness,
so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
But what profit did you get then
from the things of which you are now ashamed?
For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This passage above really made me think of the MANY ways that we can all fall into sin and fall away from God. As Christians, we are continually trying to work out our salvation… trying to continually convert… in so many ways.
Abortion affects so many people, and it ALWAYS brings about sadness and pain. The Lord has better plans for His people than sadness and pain! We shouldn’t have to wait until heaven to receive the joy that He wants to share with us in abundance.
So why do some of us flock to abortion- and to the abortion industry- rather than accept His life and love? I don’t always know those answers… but I DO know that our God is a Lord of great compassion and mercy.
I heard a talk about a year ago, given by a sex-trafficking survivor. This woman, now a woman in her 40’s, is a vibrant Christian woman of great hope and joy. It’s quite amazing, considering the horrors she had dealt with as a young girl. But one thing she said in her talk has stayed with me. She said that she knew that the Lord was speaking to her throughout her life, even in various situations as a sex-trafficking victim. On one of these occasions, when a man was forcing himself upon her, she remembers hearing the Lord clearly say to her heart, “I have a plan for you… and this isn’t it.”
And so, I boldly claim the same words of the Lord to those women and men who are victims of abortion, or who work in the abortion industry. The Lord has a plan for you… and THIS ISN’T IT.
Let us continue to pray for those who need to be reminded of this sacred truth. And let us put our trust in the Lord that He will show them exactly what His plan IS for them.
Shift Manager Reports
I was blessed to share my 7 to 9 shift with Peg as usual. Also we were joined by a man named Joe, from St. John the Baptist church in Plum, whose parish will be coming later today. He couldn’t come during that time so he went out of his way to come early this morning before work. It was a joy to pray and talk with him!
It was definitely an abortion day, we saw many couples going in. Some took information from us, although I am sure it was confiscated as soon as they walked in. A woman named Karen from Hosanna/Word and Worship church came towards the end of my shift, and then we were blessed to get to see faithful Chuck and Judy from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene as they arrived to take over the next shift.
Judy encouraged us with the reminder that when It seems like our enemy continuously places obstacles before us, that we are to simply keep our eyes on Jesus, and that way we will be able to continue! It is truly God’s gift to us, that he gives us each other! There is no place else in the world that I could meet such wonderful people as I do right on the sidewalks in front of Planned Parenthood during 40 Days for Life.
Well, today’s shift flew by. I think it was because I was praying with dear people I know from my parish! Thank you to ALL of the St. John the Baptist parishioners who came to pray with us today!! I was blessed with the presence of the mother-son team of Marlane and Jon, who are so beautiful and endearing.
For my second hour, I had the pleasure of praying with dear Mary from my parish as well. Mary is a joy, and is such a strong and beautiful woman of faith.
We had several positive moments today. A man stopped to tell us how thankful he is for what we are doing, another was when a man passing by in his vehicle shouted out for us to keep up the good work, and another was that a beautiful young woman named Jen stopped by to chat with us. She was beautiful inside and out- and was truly inspiring. She chatted with Mary and me for a while about people that she knew who needed help and resources, and we talked about her church. Jen, if you’re reading this, I hope you come back sometime. It was wonderful meeting you.
As for negative moments, we had one moment where a woman would have engaged us in argument… but we made the conscious decision to remain faithful to our reason for being there these 40 days– to PRAY. Thank You, Lord, for helping us to see that.
A paramedic vehicle was stopped in front of PP for a short time… but with no patient as far as I could tell. I hope that there was not another need for an ambulance just a week after the last one.
The “I support Planned Parenthood” sign was held high when I got to 933, and she held it up for the two hours I was there. Carolyn said she was there for her shift, too. There was a constant rosary rising as the Chippewa, Holiday Park and city bus riders’ line snaked along Liberty Avenue. The occasional “Glad you’re here” or “Thank you for being here” are as good as gold.
The 5-7 PM shift on Thursday was peaceful and prayerful. Special thanks to Tim & Lisa from St. John the Baptist Church, Billy from the Assembly of God Church, and Jim from St. Maurice for their prayers and faithful witness! May God bless pregnant mothers in need and grant protection of the lives of children in the womb.
God has a plan for ALL of us… born and pre-born alike.
And His plan will ALWAYS be better than
anything we could have planned for ourselves.
Let us TRUST in Him and His plan for each of us.
“We were rescued like a bird from the fowlers’ snare; Broken was the snare, and we were freed. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 124
This psalm from the Mass readings today is speaking to me in a special way, because we saw a child RESCUED from the snare of abortion at our vigil yesterday!!! Praise God!!! To read the account in shift manager Michael’s report, click HERE.
(Remember…for each life that is saved at the last minute from abortion, an entire BRANCH of a family tree is saved! Think of all the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. that are saved at that moment!!!)
You will also notice in yesterday’s blog (in shift manager Beth’s report) that another baby was brought in those doors to be aborted, but left safely still in his mother’s womb after PP refused to abort him because he was too big! Please pray that the hearts of his mom and dad will be softened and that they will let him come to birth!
The reason that 40 Days for Life has been so successful is that it fights abortion with SPIRITUAL weapons, rather than political ones. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
Our prayers are reaching the ears of God…carried to Him on the wings of our sacrifice of food (while fasting), comfort (while witnessing), and our works of charity. (Read yesterday’s vigil account from Cil, where she mentions that one of our vigil participants left the vigil with a young mom to help her to get food.)
When God first broke my heart over abortion back in 2009, I struggled mightily to get up my courage to go to Planned Parenthood for that first time…and I soon realized how much of a spiritual battle this is! (To read my little “mini-testimony” of how I did this, click HERE).
I remember feeling frustrated that abortion was represented in our culture with this almost noble…self-sacrificial air.
“Every child should be a WANTED child.”
Planned Parenthood was a master at public relations, and had constructed a beautiful facade of being there to HELP women who were in need. It reminded me of a monster wearing a pretty mask. I wasn’t buying it…because GOD had removed the spiritual scales from my eyes. I had forced myself to look at photos and videos from actual abortions. I had pulled away the mask and looked straight into the eyes of the monster. It was painful, but it was necessary.
The thing that we have to remember is that those who are supportive of abortion are blinded spiritually.
The most common cause for this blindness is their own participation in an abortion at some point in their past. When we see people who are extremely angry at our presence…we need to remind ourselves of this reality, and so treat them gently and pray that God’s grace will prevail and penetrate their hardened hearts and minds. It can be frustrating to us that they can’t see what we can see…and it is tempting to try to “argue” our case using reason…but our arguments usually fall on deaf ears. Love and gentleness can penetrate where words cannot.
Last week I watched a debate between the president of Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins, and a so-called “Christian” abortionist, Dr. Willie Parker. Dr. Parker actually believes he is doing “God’s work” by providing abortions. Watching the debate was like watching a fight between a 2-year old and an adult. It was almost embarrassing (intellectually) to see Dr. Parker using the same tired pro-abortion catch phrases and cliche’s in response to Kristan’s intelligent and clear-thinking logic. It just goes to show you why there aren’t very many abortion providers who try to go the “Christian” route. Their arguments completely fall apart when they try to defend them from a Christian point of view. You can watch the debate by clicking HERE.
On the other side of the spectrum are the abortionists who don’t even try to paint a “noble” or “Christian” view of abortion. They callously discuss dismembering the baby’s bodies, and joke about how they “need to go to the gym to build up their biceps”, in order to have the strength to provide late-term abortions (20 weeks). I just watched the newest under-cover video (just released yesterday) by David Daleiden last night. Click HERE to watch it.
They are blind. Either from personal guilt, greed or ignorance. But before you despair, remember that conversions happen! As Pat spoke of in his blog on Saturday, one of the unexpected fruits of 40 Days for Life are the many abortion workers who have converted! (154 so far!) If you want to be encouraged, I recommend reading the conversion stories of these two former abortion workers:
Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s “Hand of God” -Dr. Nathanson was the founder of NARAL and was responsible for the invention of the suction-aspiration method, which allowed abortion to be done in free-standing clinics, making it affordable and wide-spread. He was an atheist Jew when he began, and was a converted Catholic when he died. Click HERE for more info.
Carol Everett’s “Blood Money” – Gives a glimpse of the way in which greed and pride…followed by guilt from an abortion, led Carol to rationalize her job of providing abortions, while still thinking she was a Christian. It tells the beautiful story of her conversion, which she attributes to others praying for her. Click HERE for more info.
So we continue on the remainder of this 40 day journey, lifting each other up and encouraging each other along the way. We are not alone…God is with us, and we have each other. And lives and souls are being saved! Praise God!
Up-coming Vigil needs: This Friday from 3-5pm (Barbara & Richard would appreciate a prayer partner!)
Now, for the stories from the vigil today…
Kathy L. 7-9 am
Faithful Dianne and Peg greeted me upon arrival. After a morning prayer, Dianne went on her way. Shortly afterward, Harry joined us and the three of us read the 40 days devotion. Most of the time was spent in silent prayer.
Peg noted that a regular passerby who usually avoids eye contact with us, gave a friendly greeting to us in passing.
One mother stopped to tell Peggy that she doesn’t bring her four year old son past us anymore because the fetal models scared him. Peggy responded with a polite, “that’s too bad.” Perhaps the woman could have dispelled his fear by telling him that was what he looked like in her tummy when she was pregnant with him. Just a thought.
Bill H came by briefly. Scriptural prayers and hymns were offered.
Cathy Z. 9-11 am
Spent a quiet, prayerful morning with two friends from my parish, St. Juan Diego. There were a fair number of women going inside, staff and patients, one negative comment, “Why don’t you mind your own ******* business?”, but that was offset by “Thank you”s and “I pray for you every day”.
Jeff subbed for the 11 am – 1 pm shift
A faithful parishioner from St. James in Sewickley was there during Jeff’s shift.
Chris 1 – 3 pm
I can’t remember wearing long underwear in October… It was cold and misty during my shift, but my heart was warmed by the three women witnessing with me today. Two of the women, one being a Sidewalk Advocate, used their charm and persistence to hand out several dozen “Life” flyers to passersby. For the first time, I received no negative comments during our prayer time. We even had one man ask permission to take a picture of the fetal models. As I watch the number of glances by passersby of the models during my shifts, I have to believe they’re the most powerful tool for life we have during the campaign. May God plant the truth of unborn human life in all their hearts.
Barbara & Richard 3 – 5 pm
The sidewalk seemed so much warmer than the chilly showers would indicate. As we arrived, Chris (SM) and Ginny and 2 more people flanked both sides of the front door.
Pastor Gary with the members of Word and Worship Church (Hosanna) came just before 3. In time, more people from Word and Worship kept coming. What a team…their fellowship in prayer was compelling. One young woman came out, holding the brown paper bag. “I would never abort my child,” she said. She accepted the folder showing photos of the baby developing before birth.
What do you do when you learn that mothers are tempted to abort? You do the best you can to step out and help. We are grateful for Nikki’s audacious “Yes”.
Joe K. 5 – 7 pm
Word & Worship (Hosanna) came strong this afternoon and stayed strong to the very end of Day #29.
Pastor Gary led his flock into the early evening shift where I was joined by Doug, Bernadette, and Neil, for the first portion of this last shift of the day and still others for the last hour – Thanks and Sorry for all the forgotten names!
The evening was extremely quiet – a couple of positive comments and thanks along with only a single semi-negative mention of “wasting your time” – to which Neil reflected that if we thought we were wasting our time, then we wouldn’t be here…
As the evening faded to night, I was struck how dark it was physically inside the entrance of 933 Liberty Ave. as the last “employee” turned out the lights and left for the evening… but also reminded how spiritually dark it is inside there as well…
Onto the morning of day #30 to make the most of our time peacefully and prayerfully – witnessing to the Truth to turn this darkness into light…
Can you walk on water?
“Then Peter stopped looking at Jesus and began to notice the difficulties around him. Seeing that the wind was so strong, he became fearful. He forgot for a moment that the strength holding him up on the water did not depend on the circumstances, but on the Will of the Lord… Peter began to sink, not because of the waves but because his confidence in him who can do all things wavered. He cried out to Jesus: Lord Save me!” (From ‘In Conversations with God’ Vol. 4 p. 335)
Sure it’s easy at the vigil when people walk by and say “thank you being there” or “God bless you” but how about when someone drives by and gives you the finger? Is that a big wave for you?
Does your confidence wane at times? Do you really believe we can end abortion? Do you find it hard sometimes to go to vigil to pray? Do you find it hard to talk about your pro-life views? The waves around you are sometimes big but you are not alone.
This past Saturday three mature women arrived at the vigil and were signing in and one of them stepped back inside the buffer zone and was quickly rebuked by a pp escort. I reminded them of the line and told them they are just trying to intimidate us and asked if they were upset by it. The three of looked at me all with the same look that said “Really? You think that upset me? Really? We’re a lot stronger than that!” What a great demonstration of Trust and being in the loving hands of Jesus! They didn’t see that incident as a wave. Barely a ripple in the water.
The underlying foundation of 40 DFL isn’t that we will end abortion with our efforts, which are showing great results, rather we are praying for God to intervene. It is by accessing HIS power that we will end abortion.
St. Augustine said “God does not demand the impossible. Instead, when HE makes a request, HE asks that we do what we can do, that we ask for what we cannot do and for His help to carry it out.”
We are in the back half of the campaign and the waves can big and the wind seems strong at times. But we can walk on water. WE ARE NOT AFRAID. We are having a big impact. If you have been to vigil consider coming again. If for any reason you haven’t been able to make it, there is still time.
Be bold. Share the joy. Bring a friend and family member. Help them to do something really important and meaningful. Wouldn’t it be something to say after you are asked “what did you do today?” and you can say “I saved someone’s life”.
If you haven’t yet brought your church group or want to come again, click SCHEDULE above to see the times when we need you most. Or come when it is best for you. Just come to the vigil. Ideally we would like you to sign but if you don’t that’s OK just show up. Stay along as you want.
Come Walk on Water. I know you can do it.
Today at the vigil we had prayer warriors from from several churches from Weirton and St. Alexis in Wexford plus lots of individuals.
Stop back to this site throughout the day as we will be posting pictures and stories from the vigil.
The weather didn’t dampen the courage of these ladies from the Weirton Catholic Churches who stood vigil from 9-11 am.
From Jeff 7-9 am:
I got to the the sidewalk at 6:50am only to find Diane and Maryanne M. waiting for me. Phil and Bill from Reformed Presbyterian Church of North Hills showed up soon after, as well as Phoebe with her three children, Miriam, Esther, and Micaiah. Her husband Charles joined them around 9 as I was leaving. Therese from St Barbara’s joined us around 8:30 and brought the rain with her, and Bill H stopped by to check to see that things were ok.
Phoebe with children Miriam Esther and Micaiah from Reformed Presbyterian church of North hills. Micaiah stood like a soldier in the rain.
From Nikki 11- 1 pm:
What a beautiful witness for life they are!
After they left it was just me and a woman named Theresa from Saint Barbara‘s in Bridgeville. It was her first time there and she had been there for two hours. She left and soon afterwards Beth and came from Saint Alexis in Wexford. It was her and I during most of the shift. We prayed together and separately, received mostly positive remarks. It seemed like the clinic was not Busy. I don’t remember anyone going in except for a delivery of some sort.
From Beth S. 1-3:
“We, Rose and I, began our shift meeting the “award-winning” Nikki: way to go girl! The wonderful folks from St. Alexis, Claudia B., Mary R., Vince P., and Claudia L. helped pray through the rain and an occasional outright downpour. Perhaps the rain kept all the negativity away because there were very few offensive comments but a few “thank yous” and some smiles. It didn’t look like any clients went in, just an employee or two. All shifts should be as peaceful but maybe not so wet. Francis and Rosalind arrived right on time and Vince said he would try to stay with them if necessary. What a great group!”
Shift Manager Sue 5-7:
“It was a dark and stormy night…well not really, but it rained a lot for the first hour that we stood in front of PP! I was joined by my Dad, Diane and Mary Jane and we all had our umbrellas up just like the people passing by. The que for the bus stretched onto the other side of the buffer zone tonight. We were able to say many prayers and witness simply by having the 40 days signs around our necks. We got a lot of positive, supportive comments. The negative ones were mostly muttered quietly. Prayers were offered for the employees that left PP. Bill stopped by briefly and told us the wonderful news that PCUC honored Nikki and Joe with their Founders Award at the banquet held over the weekend! Congratulations to our fearless leaders!!” ~Sue
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
Oscar Wilde 1854-1900
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind; and in the midst of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Francis Thompson 1859-1907
To clone a person, you would have to clone their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, first grade teacher, next door neighbors and so on until you have included all their people.
Lewis Thomas 1913-1993
In our audacity, we witness in prayer to change hearts. We know that heart changes are difficult and painful and take a lifetime.
History gives us a glimpse of the heart of the person who wrote “The Importance of Being Earnest”. Reading it, you can’t stop thinking about Jesus holding his arms wide open on the Cross.
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was baptized as an infant in the local Church of Ireland (Anglican).
Wilde’s mother was a lifelong Irish nationalist. She wrote poetry for the revolutionary “Young Irelanders” and read their poetry to Oscar.
The movement of the “Young Irelanders” may be said to date from the founding of the Nation newspaper, 1842. “Educate that you may be free” was the keynote of the new journal, which was destined to find its way within a year into nearly every household in Ireland. It preached temperance, patience, energy, and resolution. It held up the spirit of the people while it taught them tolerance and union.
Jane Wilde attended Mass with her sons in a chapel where Father Prideaux Fox, a Catholic priest, was the celebrant. Father Fox said, “I am not sure if she ever became a Catholic herself, but it was not long before she asked me to instruct two of her children, one of them being the future erratic genius, Oscar Wilde. After a few weeks I baptized these two children, Lady Wilde herself being present on the occasion.”
Wilde’s father, Sir William Wilde, was a well-known surgeon. Anti-Catholic, he bitterly opposed Oscar’s interest in the Church. “I am sure that if I had become a Catholic at that time he would have cast me off altogether.”
In his student days at Oxford, Wilde met fellow student, Sir David Hunter Blair. Blair became a Catholic, joined the Benedictines, and eventually became Abbot at Dunfermline Abbey.
In his book, Victorian Days, Blair wrote that Wilde asked him many questions which revealed “how genuine were his own sympathies with Catholicism.”
Hunter-Blair’s evangelizing efforts had no immediate effect, and the two men parted, Hunter-Blair taking Holy Orders and Wilde turning to the literary world of London. Wilde was forthright about his motives. “To go over to Rome would be to sacrifice and give up my two great Gods: Money and Ambition.”
“I suffer a great deal from my Romish leanings, in pocket and mind. And now my best friend turns out to be a Papist!” One of his first friends was Robert Ross, a Catholic. Ross was with him at the end.
In October, 1900, Wilde sent a telegram to Ross. “Terribly weak. Please come.”
Ross went and later told how, after he arrived, “he rushed to the Passionist Church in Paris and brought back Father Cuthbert Dunne to attend spiritually” to Wilde. Father Dunne recorded following.
Robert Ross knelt by the bedside, assisting me as best he could while I administered conditional Baptism, and afterwards, answering the responses while I gave Extreme Unction to the prostrate man and recited the prayers for the dying. As the man (Wilde) was in a semi-comatose condition, I did not venture to administer the Holy Viaticum; still I must add that he could be roused and was roused from this state in my presence. When roused, he gave signs of being inwardly conscious… Indeed I was fully satisfied that he understood me when told that I was about to receive him into the Catholic Church and gave him the Last sacraments… And when I repeated close to his ear the Holy Names, the Acts of Contrition , Faith, Hope and Charity, with acts of humble resignation to the Will of God, he tried all through to say the words after me.
The next day Oscar Wilde died.
After he was laid out, Father Dunne “placed a rosary in his hand and put palm branches over him.” Father Dunne said the Requiem Mass at Saint Germain-des-Prés.
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat – and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet –
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!
THE HOUND OF HEAVEN
Lewis Thomas, 1913- 1993. The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher.
Francis Thompson, 1859-1907. The Hound of Heaven. YOUNG IRELAND AND THE FENIANS, Taken from A History of Ireland by Eleanor Hull
NOTES FROM THE SATURDAY SIDEWALK
Barbara 11-1, 3-5 (Saturday) Shift Manager
Holy Wisdom, Saint John XXIII and Saints John and Paul (Wexford) parishes filled the sidewalk with their beauty during these two shifts. Joining us were also people from Saint Michael Parish (Wheeling) and Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Enjoy the photos. These are just some of the people.
Jeannie, Shift Manager Injured reserve
The most important task of EMTs when they reach a head or spine injury victim is to secure the victim’s head, neck and body to prevent further injury. When this happened to me, — when my neck was braced and my cut, bruised, broken body was strapped to a hard board for transport to the trauma center, I could not believe the pain. It felt like there were nails on the board, particularly behind my head.
Just then, I had a glimpse of Jesus on the cross—his beaten, whipped, scourged body would suffer the further insult of being lashed to a hard, unyielding splintered piece of wood. During my 40 minute bumpy ride to the emergency room, every Pittsburgh pothole drew tears. Tears of pain, yes, but of grateful joy for what our Lord endured for me, his precious child. I was able to offer my suffering up because I know His Story! It changed everything.
That is what we are doing on the sidewalk—telling HIS STORY; bringing the redemptive, powerful love of Jesus to each of his beloved children, whether they are vulnerable mothers, scared friends, lonely fathers or misled abortion workers, our knowledge of the vast and enduring love of Jesus is the answer!
I pray we continue to keep telling HIS story!
NOTES FROM THE SUNDAY SIDEWALK
JEN 7-9 SHIFT MANAGER
Diane and Tom beat the sun to the sidewalk this morning, supplying and setting up all our vigil’s needs before dawn. The Bellevue Knights of Columbus were well-represented by Charlie, who also blesses the pro-life effort as a sidewalk advocate.
Devoted despite feeling under the weather, Vince arrived with his beautiful Scripture readings for each mystery of the Rosary, which we all prayed together. Jim, Charlie’s fellow Knight, joined us later and stayed on as Sue came to lead the next shift. She mentioned a woman who appeared nervous and defensive as she protested the vigil the day before. Sue astutely pointed out that the woman’s agitated demeanor may have been a sign that she was troubled by what she was doing, and that her heart may soon be ready to accept the truth. Sue graciously lead us in prayer for the woman’s conversion.
SUE 9-11 SHIFT MANAGER
Yet another beautiful day to be outside. The sidewalk was very quiet this morning, likely due to the later Steeler game today. I was joined by Jim from the Bellevue Knights of Columbus, Regina from St. Clare of Assisi, Mary Jane from St. Francis of Assisi, Kelly from St. John Capistran, and Patty from St. Bernadette.
Patty pointed out that today in the Catholic Church is the Feast of St. John Paul II. We asked his intercession and prayed the Rosary, for saved lives, changed hearts, the closing of PP and Allegheny Reproductive, and the ceasing of abortions at Magee.
At one point a man walked by and said, “You’re here on a Sunday morning? Now that’s persistence!”
YES sir, persistence is what we are all about! We will persist in our vigil until abortion comes to an end in our great city — indeed, in God’s world!!
MAGGIE 1-3 SHIFT MANAGER
Quiet. Peaceful. Prayerful.
Even though we had many travelers passing on their way to the Steelers game I felt calm. I had great people to pray with!
A man from West Africa commented to a fellow prayer that he doesn’t understand how abortion exists in our country when there are so many resources to help women.
A young man yelled to us from his car, “Thank you! Thank you! My mom chose to keep me!” And then, he started to cry.
It was beautiful!!! And, finally, Ann uttered to us “Blessings, blessings, blessings”.
Thank you Jesus for a great shift!
KEN 3-5 SHIFT MANAGER
This is my first shift manager assignment, and I was a little nervous going in. I sent a group text to immediate family for prayer. God is good. It truly was a peaceful, prayerful vigil.
I arrived to a warm greeting from the previous shift manager Maggie.
Father John from Saint John Fisher (Richmond OH), and Megan, from Mother of Sorrows (Murrysville), were my first prayer partners.
JOE W. 5-7 SHIFT MANAGER
I was warmly greeted by our new SM Ken, Fr. Jack, and the women from Catholic Family Land. They were prayerfully singing. It was so
beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. What a blessing.
The Starr family, from Catholic Family Land, arrived for the 5-6 hour, prayed fervently and ended in song.
The men from Catholic Family Land, arrived for the 6-7 hour ready to
serve our Holy Family. They prayed joyfully, sang joyfully and
amazingly( I’m jealous), and after my shift was over, prayed over me
joyfully. I’m grateful.
Catholic Family Land participants traveled from Brookdale, Ohio (a
long way). They came armed with the spirit ready to do battle for the
lives of our brothers and sisters. It was as authentic a witness as I’ve
experienced in my journey with 40 Days for Life.
Soooo, I would like to give yinz a Howard Dean campaign shout out,
“YaaaaaaaaaaHHaaaaaawwoooo awesomely well done.”
Thank you Jesus.
And God saw that it was good.