That whole “spring-ahead” time change thing is a killer at 7am in the morning! I sat at the vigil by myself this morning from 7-8:15…and I was sleepy! I prayed while sitting in my chair…and I THINK I stayed awake (I MAY have been praying in my sleep, I’m not sure). But at 8:15 Jen arrived. Having a sister in Christ to pray with…and the brightening sky, helped me to wake up! A friendly passer-by offered to take this picture of the two of us:
At 9am Rose showed up to join us and the three of us prayed together:
I am coming to realize more and more how important prayer is. This is a hard realization for a task oriented person like me. When I was first called into the pro-life movement, I just thought that if everyone actually SAW what abortion is….and what it DOES to the mother…that everyone would rise up against it and it would end.
I soon realized the spiritual nature of the battle, and I see the deception that is involved. I see the way the culture has made our society apathetic on this issue. We are so busy and so entertained…who can think about abortion?
The great thing about 40 Days for Life is that it acts as a “magnet” for the holiest people in our city! (Myself NOT included!). The people that come to the vigil, fast and pray are people who are living holy lives. They are people who put God first in their lives. They LOVE God and it SHOWS! He RADIATES from them!
Stale “religion” has lost many a soul. When religion is something you “do”, and not who you ARE…it is does not attract…it repels. On the other hand, when someone loves the Lord with all their heart, and loves what God loves and hates what God hates…and is willing to suffer and sacrifice for Him…it SHOWS! People SEE that! And it makes them stop and think.
If our joy and love of the Lord is witnessed in public on Liberty Avenue…it will spread! If holiness spreads into our culture….and love of our Lord increases…abortion will automatically decrease. Abortion CANNOT survive in a culture of holiness! So lets just keep spreading the LOVE to each other and continue to watch as hearts, souls and lives are saved!
Here is a photo of the ladies that were shining for Jesus on the sidewalk as I left at 11am:
Word and Worship church adopted the second shift today. Shift manager Cecilia (pictured above) took these photos and wrote the following account:
What a wonderful turnout we had today at my shift from 11-1! I was so thankful to have my good friends, Joyce and Margie, join me for the ride down to our vigil.
Shortly after arriving, Bernette, from Word and Worship church, arrived. She stayed for the entire shift and beyond! What a lovely lady! It was beautiful to hear the silent way she prayed and praised God. I thought she was singing and asked if she wanted to sing together but she said that is how she prays.
Word and Worship had a wonderful turnout during my shift! Jimiline arrived with Oliva. Though they could only stay as short while, since Oliva had to get to school, they made an impact. A young girl was dropped off right in front of PP and the van disappeared. She went inside quickly and would not stop for help from us. She had sweats on so I figured she was a client. I tried to catch her when she came out but missed her. As she hurried down the street, talking on her phone, we saw some papers fall out of her pocket. But she kept walking. Jimiline took it as a sign to go help. So she threw off her 40 Days sign, grabbed my pregnancy/abortion flyers, picked up the papers that she dropped and handed everything to her. It was a beautiful gesture and I pray it will bear fruit. Despite the short stay, their prayer was intense.
Jordan, Hazel and Alex were next to arrived. They helped by covering the other side of the sidewalk with prayer. Here is a picture of Bernette with them:
Before leaving, a couple younger girls, Colleen and Hanna arrived from Word & Worship. During the shift we were also joined by some familiar faces: William, Frank, Catherine & Mary. What an inspiration it is to see people come back again and again. Here is a picture of Hanna, Colleen, Bernette, Mary, Frank, Sue, Margie and Joyce.
Speaking about coming back, when we first arrived for the shift, a woman stopped to look at the baby models. It took me a while to realize this was the Maria that I met at the vigil on 2/18 (see her story)…the one who placed her babies for adoption. Nikki told her that it would be so helpful to have her there on an abortion day to witness to the girls going in. So she hopes to make it on a Fri or Sat morning.
Many prayers, rosaries,… were prayed by all there. It was nice to see so many people receptive to receiving information about our vigil. A couple took pregnancy or abortion resources for themselves or to share with others. And some young, single men and women were receptive to receiving chastity information as well.
It was a beautiful day serving the Lord in the city today….
Sue managed part of this shift and took this photo:
As I headed from my downtown office building to serve my lunchtime shift, I was approached on a corner by an enthusiastic young woman holding a clipboard asking if I had 30 seconds to spare for gay rights. Politely declining, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh, if you only knew where I was going right now ….!” Then as I hurried away, of course my next thought to myself was “OK – now WHY did you not tell her where you were actually going?!”
The first thing we did at the shift was pray for Cathy Zuza’s son and for Cathy and her family. We were so shocked and saddened to hear late this morning of his sudden passing. May our Lord hasten his soul to Heaven and may He bless Cathy and her family with His perfect comfort and peace.
Our prayer was followed shortly by a sweet blessing: a young husband and wife stopped by, happily announcing they were pregnant. They asked for some literature on pregnancy resources, which the departing shift manager, Cil, gladly gave them, along with a brochure showing beautiful pictures of in utero babies at various stages of development. They also asked for information about how they could potentially support 40 Days for Life, and Mary Elizabeth handed them a flyer bearing the web address. As they left, the young father assured us that abortion was far from their minds for their baby – as if we hadn’t realized it from their happiness! — then said “God bless” and blew us a kiss! It was a joyful moment.
Shortly thereafter, a young man came by & told us that he’d been forced in his youth by well-meaning teachers to watch gruesome videos about abortion procedures and stated he hoped we were not forcing children to do that. We assured him we are not!
About halfway into the shift, a fire alarm within the Planned Parenthood building went off. In minutes, about 14-17 people filed out onto the sidewalk. They were only out there for about three minutes, and it was not possible for us to determine exactly who were employees and who were clients. My thought was that maybe our Lord was just bringing them out for a quick minute so both “we” and “they” could see each other and be reminded of each other’s presence ….. After they went back in, the Pgh. Fire Department came (which happened to include both the son of one of the vigil participants and a friend of mine!) and did their quick check, then left quietly. An apparent false alarm. Well — perhaps a false alarm for a physical, earthly fire – but it was so ironic just to think that the deadly fire of Satan burns in that building every day …….. an evil fire that only our Lord’s Holy Spirit can extinguish with His own pure fire ……
Pat managed part of the afternoon shift and took these photos:
My short shift, from 3-4, had me busy signing in eight first time pray-ers from three different churches. I was very impressed that someone as young as Josiah was able to organize his church’s effort. At about the half-way point of my shift we prayed together the “Pittsburgh Prays to End Abortion Prayer” on the back of one of the baby signs.
Lisa also managed part of the evening shift. She wrote:
During the hour I was filling in at the vigil today, I was not sure what to expect. It was a different time of day than I am used to, and it was MUCH more chaotic. There were incredibly long lines for buses; some of the lines practically stretched all the way in front of where we were standing and praying. As these people waited for their buses, just standing on the opposite side of the SAME sidewalk as us, I couldn’t help wondering, “What must they be thinking? Are some of them with us, but afraid to say anything as they stand in line? Are others disgusted, but don’t care to make a scene, and would rather just ignore?” However, it seemed to me that it would be hard to “ignore” us. For one thing, there were too many of us to ignore. It just seemed so strange, as though we were both invisible and yet so obviously, glaringly visible at the same time. Fascinating.
One sad moment happened when two ladies stopped to argue with us. Their anger, hurt, and hopelessness were so apparent, and yet they wanted NO help from us, and it was even challenging for us to get a word in. At least one of them (if not both) had had an abortion, and said that we “didn’t know what it was like” to have been addicted to crack and pregnant. I immediately agreed with her. No, I DIDN’T know what that must have been like, and I wasn’t going to pretend like I did. For just a split second, she seemed surprised that I was agreeing. It seemed to soften her a tiny bit, for just a moment.
But then she started getting angry again, when she yelled at us for our “graphic” pictures (which are purposely NOT graphic at all), trying to “keep women out” of PP, when they are offering women “mammograms” (I strongly told her that they do NOT), and implied that we were there to help pregnancy help centers make money!! (Of course, we informed her that all the services on our pass-out sheet were FREE. But these poor women were trapped in their own pain.) Finally, she said in a huff, “Anyway, I’m a lesbian!” and stormed away with the other woman.
So sad. These women do not know their great dignity and worth as women. Some of the ladies at the vigil and I began to pray for them. They passed us again later, and I said, “God bless you.” We must continue to show love and compassion on these poor women who DO NOT WANT help and DO NOT KNOW that they NEED help! The Lord will take care of them, and will guide them in His own way. God bless them.
Then, a strange thing happened. I had parked in a restricted parking space by mistake, and my vehicle was being towed! As I stood there, distraught, some of the DEAR ladies at the vigil wanted to contribute to my costs…. They put it in my coat pockets. I was horrified! I said, “I’ll give it to 40 Days for Life!” The ladies insisted that I use it for getting back the vehicle! How could I accept money from these dear, sweet ladies?? I just couldn’t stop crying. And then, I asked Shift Manager Beth what I should do. How could I take this money from these ladies?? She touched my arm and calmly said, “Take the money, and use it for the vehicle. That’s what they want, and it will make them happy.”
I was so, so touched by their amazing gift. I have rarely been the recipient of such random generosity. It was rather overwhelming. As I reflected upon it later, I realized that this is exactly the kind of generosity that the Lord wants for US sinners. He knows our sins are our fault, just as parking where I parked was my fault. But He also knows that sometimes, MERCY is more important than harsh judgement. And it can actually lead to greater sorrow for sin and more authentic repentance in the recipient of such generous love. Let us shower the passersby with this kind of generous love. Some of them have sinned, and may not feel deserving. But we are ALL worthy of love. We are ALL worthy of God’s generous mercy.
Pray for an end to abortion.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Lisa took these photos:
More photos and stories will be posted as they come in.