For the Christian, John Lennon’s song “Imagine” certainly had some serious flaws, but I think part of its great popularity, even among Christians, is the ability it has to let the mind step back for a moment from the world we presently know – and the future we reasonably expect to see -to contemplate a vision of the world as it could be. It gives us a chance to consider that just because our world seems to be headed in certain direction, doesn’t mean that this is our inevitable collective destiny.
Now, take a look at the picture below.
That sign is coming down, not going up. This is a picture taken just two month ago in front of the Planned Parenthood in Bryan/College Station, Texas. Yes, the very same Planned Parenthood which inspired the very first 40 Days for Life campaign in 2004. Who could have imagined the real power of what was begun then?
And that’s not all. This picture found its way onto the internet because it was tweeted by one Abby Johnson. Yes, the former manager of that very same Planned Parenthood who had a profound conversion experience because of 40 Days. Here’s what she had to say as she tweeted it: “The Planned Parenthood sign at my former clinic has come down!! It is really closed. I don’t think it has become real for me yet. No more women will walk into that facility to be harmed again. No more children will die inside those walls.” Imagine that.
Take a good moment or two to let all of that sink in. As you do, thank our merciful God for his answering so many of the prayers of our now world-wide 40 Days for Life family.
Now, after taking that moment, let your imagination wonder. Imagine how you will react when one of the PP employees finally gets up the courage to approach you on the street and confides that she just can’t take it anymore — and then asks you to pray for her. Imagine what that feeling will be like inside of you when first hear the news that the Planned Parenthood on 933 Liberty Ave. has permanently closed it’s doors.
All of this seems a little hard to believe – to imagine. But I think we all need to do it anyway – and to see these things as a real possibility. Such imagining will be seen by our God as an act of faith offered to him. And as we do so, perhaps we can have these words the angel spoke to Mary as our “background music”:
“for nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)
OK, now it’s back to the present. Here’s what Shift Manager Sally reported from the morning shift:
What a prayerful Saturday morning. We had St. Maria Goretti parish and other local churches, but most of the people who filled 3 pages of our vigil attendance log came from far away places. Father Tim’s wonderful group arrived early, prayed the entire morning, and were still there when I left a little before 11 a.m. About a dozen great people came from Johnstown Church of the Brethern, and 3 came from St. Mary Orthodox Church in WV.
There were 7 P.P. escorts, who stayed around until almost 10 a.m., but very few customers went in. We still wonder if they are going in the back way. Emil came to “visit” as usual, but aside from that, it was a very peaceful morning, with only one quick passing shower which did not even make the street very wet.
An African-American Heritage parade was scheduled for late morning, so all bus and car traffic was rerouted from Liberty Avenue. Humidity was very high, and I was starting to feel sick because of it when thankfully, Julie arrived early. I had to walk through the alley and a little ways on Penn Avenue to catch my bus. Thanks to Julie, I caught it.
Hello,This is Julie. I was shift manager today from 11am to 2pm. I arrived at quarter till 11 to find 40 or 50 people representing 4 different churches! Wow what a crowd! It was great to see this ecumenical gathering, of non-denominational, catholic, protestant and orthodox brothers and sisters. After a few groups left who had been there since 9am or earlier, I was there still with the church from Somerset, St Joseph’s in Verona, Holy Family Church in Steubenville, St. Malachy in Kennedy Twp. We prayed and watched the African American heritage parade go by! We waved at kids and smiling people in the parade and they took photos of us with our 40 days for life signs. We joined in the chants of a group that supports single mothers as they chanted “We Say Mother you say Son!” I have to say I felt a little overwhelmed with the number of people everywhere, praying for inspiration of who to talk to and pray for. I also prayed that more African American churches in Pittsburgh could get involved in 40 days for life.I gave out a few 40days for life flyers to parade goers who noticed our signs and smiled at us, asking them to pray with us. After the parade was over around 1pm then there seemed to be lots of couples going in and out of PP. Tim and I were left alone around 1:30 or so and we witnessed all of these couples. Again, haven’t gotten up the courage to approach people yet, but we did pray fervently for them as they went in and out. Mary Jane from St. Pius X (a silent no more witness) showed up with a great story. She was walking toward PP with her sign that said said something about adoption, when a woman named Patty stopped her and told her the story that she gave her daughter up for adoption. Patty, a 50 year old woman showed Mary Jane a photo of her daughter at high school graduation and explained that she’s only met her daughter once. It seems that the adoptive parents aren’t too willing to let Patty see her daughter. We prayed for Patty, her daughter and and the adoptive parents.Here are some photos of the African American Heritage Parade and the 40 days for life volunteers.“Jesus, You are the the Star that leads me on.”St. Therese, The Little Flower
Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts – our days don’t go quiet as we had envisioned them. When that happens, we still have two basic choices. We can either panic or put our trust in God that all will be well. Here’s SM Barbara’s story:
I asked for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn to humbly obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for power that I might have the great praise of men; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
(Seen in the Pittsburgh Catholic years ago.)
We were getting ready to leave for the 40 Days Vigil when I accidentally noticed that we had been due for the 1 – 3 shift not the 3 – 5 shift. I was horrified and held my Rosary all the way into town.
I was ashamed but not crushed. Sure enough, standing vigil, saying the Rosary were Timothy Farenholz, Mary Jane and Mimi. Our Vigil was intact.
We finished the Sorrowful Mysteries and moved on to the Glorious Mysteries. Some passers by smiled, others frowned.
A beautiful young woman and a young man holding her hand, came out of PP and walked by, looking away. We quietly offered God’s blessings. A man who had prayed with us in the Spring walked by with his wife and 2 small sons and stopped to offer their support.
I let the 1 – 3 Shift Manager down. God held us in the palm of His hand.
It was good to be back praying for Life today at PP. Bernie from Word of God prayed with me almost the whole time, and Marci and Marge from Shiloh Intercession Ministries in Grove City came as well as Pastor Adam and his wife Jana and little Wyatt from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene. Pastor Adam was wearing a clerical collar and I called him Father. He got a chuckle out of it and says he gets a lot of respect when he wears it.We had several folks encourage us as they walked by and just one or two negatives. We did notice a few girls going in and out of PP as well as workers. We are blessed to be a witness to those pass by, and to be a part of a team of people who are on fire with love for God and pray fervently and with power to end abortion. What joy!
When we arrived Pastor Adam Stump, his wife Jana and their beautiful son Wyatt were there and they stayed with us until 6:00 p.m. Then at 6:00 two more prayer warriors, Kathy and Susan, came to stand with us. We had a heavy downpour and luckily we had extra umbrellas in the car. We had a women come by and scream at us and said she wished she had been aborted. She was very angry. I understand that this was not the first time she has approached 40 days participants. We prayed that she could overcome all the anger and hurt that she was experiencing. Other than that it was uneventful.
Roseann and Richard