On Thursday, March 24th, my parish, Our Lady of Grace, participated in 40 days for Life. I was surprised to find the experience life-changing and exhilarating! On the way there, I thought about Mother Teresa saying that she would never have helped thousands of dying people if she hadn’t helped the first one. I thought, “Well, this is my first abortion clinic…”
We had a wonderful mix of parishioners, members of the Respect Life Committee, friends from Catholic Scripture Study and other St. Winifred parishioners who were thinking about leaving when we arrived but decided to stay longer. There was strength and energy in numbers! We had about 10 people at one time praying the Rosary, 5 street-side and 5 up against the wall, with many people walking through us as we prayed.
I remember feeling a little shy when I realized people were holding signs. The signs all had nice messages but I felt intimidated at first. Then a daring spirit helped me walk over and choose one that said “Pray for the end of abortion.” I held it boldly and with a surprising sense of joy! Something about this experience made me feel like I was in the shoes of St. Joan of Arc and Mother Teresa at the same time!
My newfound sense of adventure was helpful the few times that people reacted with strong negativity with swearing and yelling that we were all going to hell. I remembered Jesus saying that His followers would be persecuted and thought “Wow, I must be doing something right – my first persecution!” Our 40 days person, Lisa, was also helpful in these situations, as she always had a perfect, respectful yet effective response. She is lovely:).
When I learned that we were there on a day that abortions are not performed, I was both disappointed and relieved. I came home with a strong awareness of Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays as the days abortions would be scheduled and a resolution to pray extra hard on those days and a new degree of fervency for the prayer time I had signed up for to support the vigil.
I woke up still exhilarated today and with a new sense of boldness. Bolstered by my awareness of unPlanned, I am energized by the feeling that we were making a difference in the fight against abortion. I was moved to download the book this morning. I read the first chapter describing Abby’s horrific experience watching an abortion via ultrasound. Feeling the need to be consoled by Holy Scripture, I reached for my bible. I opened to Luke 1:26, which begins the story of the Incarnation! This was at first amazing to me in thinking about Jesus in Mary’s womb, just as the baby Abby had seen but also because today is the Solemnity of the Incarnation!
I will definitely participate again in 40 days for Life and will encourage others to participate as well.