Today was rather COLD at the vigil. When my pastor arrived at the vigil, his first good-natured words to me were, “You had to pick the COLDEST DAY for this, didn’t you?” And although it was not really the coldest day, it certainly WAS cold, especially the wind. But enough about those details. The point is, we are not a people who are afraid to brave the elements. And why? I’m sure that the Planned Parenthood employees and other local workers on Liberty Avenue must wonder that all the time. They must be confused about why we are there, day in and day out for these 40 days.
In fact, I remember one time hearing a passerby say about one of our participants who was explaining the Word of God to a man on the sidewalk, “Get a job.” And my thought at the time was something like, “He is DOING his job right now!!” We are not worried about weather. We are not concerned with comments stemming from ignorance. We are not even bothered by persecution, angry women, obscene hand gestures, annoyed business owners, pro-abortion escorts, or anything else. And again, the question: WHY?
It is because He that is in us is greater than He that is in the world.
Allow me to insert the context from which that passage comes:
Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God,
and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.
You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them.
We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.
(1 John 4:1-6)
Rev. John filled in today as a Shift Manager! We are so thankful to him for being there in the EARLY morning hours today! He shares this thought with us:
It was cold this morning but the instruments of death inside PP are much colder and cruel. May Christ bless all the participants in 40 Days.
He also shared this photo:
One of our faithful Shift Managers, Marilyn, shared her inspiring story from today:
So grateful for all the people who were praying at the vigil today! Just during the short time I was there we had representatives from St. John the Baptist, Mother of Sorrows, and a father/daughter team, Jeff and Emily (pictured separately), from Erie First Alliance and Providence Presbyterian Church. Thank you, God!!
I’ll be honest here — today I did not feel up to being at the vigil. I even thought of finding a sub as I’m fighting a cough/cold and am just tired. Well, I didn’t do it. I went to Mass, prayed, asked the priest for a blessing and off I went. God, in His infinite goodness, gave me a glimmer of what my small sacrifice could potentially mean.
I met an abortion-bound couple. For whatever reason, they said PP would not help them (I’m guessing financial). They seemed to really listen to what I had to say about abortion. They willingly took the free resource sheet and literature. More importantly, I was able to talk to them about adoption. I was grateful that Shari, a vigil participant, also joined in talking to them with me. I was thankful too that Tony stopped by the vigil — Tony the coffee guy! He brings hot coffee to the vigil participants! So grateful for that pick-me-up — but more importantly, he ran down the sidewalk to catch up to the couple after they left as I had wanted to give them one more pamphlet. Pray for “J,” the young pregnant woman. Pray that her male companion/spouse/boyfriend will be open to choosing life and maybe adoption.
The world is a hurting place. Today a woman with a young child passed by and boldly told us she was an atheist and that there was no God. We met a homeless man, who despite his circumstances was grateful – especially to the selfless gesture of vigil participant, Fritz, who gave him his gloves. He was in search of a church that was giving boots away today. I sent him to Catholic Charities. (So grateful to Catholic Charities for opening up their offices to 40 Days folks this campaign too!) Our vigil participants also ministered to a woman in need.
The local 40 Days for Life community is so alive in Pittsburgh! God clearly showed me today that our sacrifice does make a difference. God bless everyone.
During my (Lisa’s) shift, I was overwhelmed by the nature of our team and volunteers. The fact that these good, holy, amazing people are living, working, and serving among us in the world can almost bring me to humble tears of gratitude.
I was able to spend a short time with Shari, Jeff, and Emily. Shari and I are related, and Jeff and Emily are related! This becomes a real family affair sometimes! What good and sweet people to spend time with. Shift Manager Pat even stopped by in case he might be needed to pray with anyone who might be there alone.
Then, Bill (an every day participant– and I DO mean EVERY DAY– he’s great!) came to pray with me. And I watched him place his hand in quiet prayer against the side of the bricks of the PP building. What a beautiful moment. Then, Mimi joined us… another regular… who was immediately ready to pray. Then came my pastor, Fr. Tom! Thank GOD for our faithful clergy, unafraid to stand on the sidewalk and witness to the Gospel of Life! Eventually, we were joined by others, John and Tony (regulars as well!), Colleen and Terry, two sweet-souled women of God, and seminarian Dan, who has become another “regular” during my shift!
It was a JOY to be with them, and pray with them. These are the people who are the REAL heroes of the world. The REAL movers and shakers. Remember that soap opera years ago, called “The Bold and the Beautiful?” Well…. these faithful ones are the REAL Bold and Beautiful ones!! They belong to Jesus Christ- and have come to stand and witness in His name, and for the sake of His children.
THANK YOU ALL.
Shift Manager Dee shared a bit from her shift this afternoon:
The 3 to 5 shift was mostly calm, but, we did get a visit from the one fellow who harrasses us about one thing or another. My sign was a photo of a Black baby, and he ranted over this and wanted to know why we did not have a Caucasian baby. He has some very warped ideas of the Scriptures. I did not respond. This does not do any good.
A young man called JP stopped by twice. The second time he hugged both Peggy (a volunteer) and myself.
It was a very cold day, but, all is well that ends well. Thank God for God.
Barbara took these photos from the last shift today:
Barbara wrote this reflection about her time at the vigil this evening:
“Increase your desire,” Michael Casey quoted Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153) in A Thirst For God. “Are you kidding?” was my knee-jerk response. Don’t Catholics live according to “less is more?” What did he mean? How would I do that? Respecting his authority, I decided to try. That decision put me right on the path to agony. But there is so much more. Accepting Bernard’s invitation gave me a place at the table for the sumptuous feast of conversation with our Beloved Father.
So, here I stand downtown beside PP in the company of our beloved prayer volunteers. We greeted passersby. Essentially, if we had our druthers, the conversation would go as follows:
“Hello. Let’s talk about you, your baby, your life and our Father who is ready to fill your life with abundance and joy. Where would you like to begin?” Realistically, a conversation with a person in crisis is fragile, unique, and requires careful listening. A freezing cold, bus-screeched street is an unlikely setting, but not an impossible one.
St. John the Baptist parish had signed up to cover our shift: Chris, Amber, Debbie, Noreen and Dave. Also joining us were Richard, Jim, Bill and Mary Jane.
Incidentally, Bob and Caitlyn joined us late Wednesday and led us in the Divine Mercy Chaplet. They are members of Rose’s family, one of our shift managers.
Although our presence invites a lot of interaction with passersby, the camaraderie among those of us who stand together and witness brings me a joy I hadn’t expected. Each person has a story to tell. Last evening, Chris talked about his wife, newly converted to Catholicism. They have a little boy who will be 4 this summer, a younger girl and a baby due soon. He teaches CCD at his parish. He is trying to find time to read Pope Emeritus Benedict’s second volume of the life of Jesus. A prayer volunteer talked about her abortion, about how it shrouded her life with darkness for more than 15 years and how she is grateful to serve God today.
As we agreed to say the Rosary together, so many of us admitted that we are not sure about the mysteries and we felt reluctant to be the leader. More people seemed confident about joining to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Divine Mercy.