Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.
(Luke 9: 7-9)
You know, there are some in our city who may have thought we were gone and not coming back. But lo and behold, what happened?? How could this be?? Are these crazy people still here?? For another FORTY DAYS???
In a word, YES. Herod and the people of his time thought that once John the Baptist was executed, the world would have its “silence” back. No more of that one who would cry out in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord!” “Repent!” “Change your lives!” Ah, but they were mistaken. When John was no more, there was still the ONE who was meant to keep the momentum going to its fever pitch… a momentum that would lead to the Cross and Resurrection. And eternal life.
I do not mean to equate OUR sidewalk presence to that of Christ’s presence in the world, and yet, the idea is true that we cannot be gotten rid of that easily. Yes, we are back, but all because we are doing something GOOD, something in the name of the Lord.
Interesting, isn’t it, that the lectionary reading for today was this Gospel, the same day that St. John the Baptist parish members were coming to the vigil to pray. But the Lord has all of that planned out so well every day. He knows who is going to be there on that sidewalk, and whose hearts they will touch. A negative reaction in someone’s heart, by the way, does not mean that the Lord is not at work there; on the contrary, sometimes He does His best work with those who need Him the most.
Shift Manager reports:
We welcome and thank new Shift Manager Marian, who was out on the sidewalk in the early morning! Here is her report:
On Tuesday night, we were on the mountaintop with like minded people regarding abortion. But Jesus never allowed his followers to stay on the mountaintop. Instead he sent his disciples out two by two into the community. Today’s early shift from 7 to 9 included two then three then two followers! I was joined by Susan from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish; Bill H. who is an ever present source of inspiration and dedication; and Peter from St. Ferdinand Parish.
When we are on the street and people give us the thumbs up or graciously take the materials and tell us they are active, we are talking to the choir. Those are the easy ones. But, Jesus knew that off the mountaintop, his followers would meet with resistance. We are to persevere and respond with grace and peace.
Susan shared that there is an app for smart phones through OnlineProlife. This is a site which people can go to when researching facilities which offer clinical services. Susan shared that the site has pop up advertising which would lead people to pro-life clinics. I have not had an opportunity to search it but others may want to in order to determine what the site has to offer.
Today a young man approached Susan and me for information. He was interested and asked questions. He asked us if we would stand in front of a terrorist camp as well and do we pray regarding other violent issues. We said we do pray to end the terrorist threats and regarding other violent causes. When I started to explain the purpose of 40 Days for Life, he became defensive. He was now being challenged. He ended the conversation abruptly and said that he would pray for us in order to help with our ignorance. I couldn’t help but think of those who walked away from the truth of Jesus and later were sad.
A little later, Peter and I were standing there and a man walked by with his dog. He was a bit in front of his dog, a young dog, which then lifted its leg and urinated on one of the signs- right on the picture of the baby in utero. When I said to the man to stop his dog as I walked over to move the dog, the man said to us that the behavior was apropos. He thought it was good that the dog peed on the picture. A while later the same man walked by with the dog from the other direction. I moved over to stand in front of the signs as I saw him approach again. I asked the owner of the dog if he would like some information. He told me no and said, “I think you are all nuts.” ‘What would he do to protect the dog?’ was a question that came to my mind (although not expressed out loud).
Most people will walk by and say nothing or nod, give the thumbs up, or give some level of support. It is the ones who avoid eye contact, tense up and those who respond with negative comments or actions for whom we are witnessing. The “choir’s” hearts have already been changed. It is those others we need to reach.
Early in the shift, the staff were walking into the clinic. As we approached the 9:00 hour we saw some couples walk in. One couple was confused as to the exact location. We offered information for other resources but they refused. There were some clients with the usual clothing of sweat pants or loose clothing. Today may have been an alternate day for abortion.
Two young co-workers of mine also walked by on their way to work. We work in the health care industry. It will be interesting to see if they ask me about 40 Days for Life.
I have St. John the Baptist Parish written in my notes for this morning. St. John the Baptist knows what it means to be out in the desert being a voice. Thanks to 40 Days for Life- for the support. The desert isn’t so lonely when there are fellow disciples witnessing together.
Kudos to Diane once again for timely arrival, great organization and overall knowing that as a former teacher, “You do not need a classroom to teach.”
With thankfulness for allowing me to be part of this.
Thursday 7am -9am shift manager
Thank you to Shift Manager Marie, who was there from 9-11 today! Below are two photos from her shift:
Marilyn was our Shift Manager from 11-1. Thank you! Here is what Marilyn had to share:
We’re back at it again. With each campaign, I keep thinking this time will be the last time we have to have a vigil at Planned Parenthood on Liberty Avenue. I was blessed to meet two newbies to the 40 Day vigil during my shift. So grateful to see new folks join in praying for the unborn. All was pretty quiet for my 11-1pm shift. Passersby were receptive to receiving literature about 40 Days for Life. A new mom with a three week old baby in a stroller stopped to look over our display. She said her baby was a miracle baby and for so many reasons shouldn’t be here. She and her friend were very supportive of our presence and the baby display on the sidewalk.The odd thing that struck me was the newly painted ORANGE façade of the neighboring gay bar. Orange. (In Europe and America, orange is commonly associated with amusement, the unconventional, extroverts, fire, activity, danger, taste and aroma…) Then, there’s the relatively newly painted YELLOW semi circle around Planned Parenthood reminding us that we are not to go inside that circle and engage in any discussions with anyone. Yellow – caution. (During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, yellow became firmly established as the color of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Christ, even though the Bible never describes his clothing. From this connection, yellow also took on associations with envy, jealousy and duplicity.) Finally, there are the RED bricks that make up 933 Liberty Avenue, where indoors the blood of innocent babies is shed. (Red is the color of blood, and because of this it has historically been associated with sacrifice, danger and courage. In western countries red is a symbol of martyrs and sacrifice, particularly because of its association with blood. Beginning in the Middle Ages, the pope and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church wore red to symbolize the blood of Christ and the Christian martyrs. The banner of the Christian soldiers in the First Crusade was a red cross on a white field, the St. George’s Cross. According to Christian tradition, Saint George was a Roman soldier who was a member of the guards of the Emperor Diocletian, who refused to renounce his Christian faith and was martyred…)Not that you wanted to read a Wikipedia history lesson on colors, but when I think of the babies who will never experience the beauty of this world, I realize that we must persevere and continue praying, no matter how many campaigns it takes to shut down 933 Liberty Avenue. Today was an easy day to pray, a beautiful, sunny day, unlike the cold, bitter days we had last campaign. For me it was God’s gift, telling me that LIFE is good. LIFE goes on. LIFE is precious. Stand up for those who cannot. Never forget the cost of being silent. No more. It is time to wake up Pittsburgh and LET OUR LIGHT SHINE in the darkness, no matter how many campaigns it takes! March onward, Christian soldiers!!!
I (Lisa) was Shift Manager from 1-3.
Today, we had St. John the Baptist parish in Plum join us for the afternoon hours. We THANK YOU for your presence on the sidewalk! And thank you in a particular way to Fr. Tom, who was a Godly and cheerful presence to those who passed by.
Let me tell you something that I witnessed today. When a clergyman is present on the sidewalk, dressed in a very “official” and “clerical” way, oh my, does that cause surprising reactions! And I mean this in BOTH positive and negative ways. Father came over to me at one point and noted how people had been reacting negatively upon seeing his collar. But my response was different, because I saw moments that were so positive! Father would cheerfully greet passersby- male, female, young and old alike, and many of them smiled and responded in kind. In fact, one woman seemed so comfortable with him that I asked Father whether he knew the woman- and he did not! But to have people seeing a priest, minister, brother, sister, etc., wearing distinctive clothing that identifies them as such, is a BEAUTIFUL and POWERFUL witness to what we are about at 40 Days for Life. We, like St. John the Baptist, are about doing the work of God. Thank you to all of those in ministry who show that and remind us of that.
Shift Manager Jeannie held down the fort from 3-5. Go, Jeanie, GO! Here is a photo from her shift:
And thank you to another new Shift Manager, Bethany, who brought it all home for us…and wrote:
Several really nice people thanked us for standing on the sidewalk. I had four great volunteers with me during the two hour shift.
One young man’s chin hit the ground when he saw the fetal models. He happily took a Stages of Development brochure. Another young man shared how he and his girlfriend had tried to have a baby for five years, and a month after they broke up she got pregnant with another guy who blocked her number after finding out. This man told us that he wasn’t pro-life or pro-choice so he answered his ex-girlfriend’s call for help to go get an abortion. She told him she experienced the worst pain ever from the pills doing their damage. I gave him a post abortive help sheet to give to her whenever he saw her again.
Another person had such a happy story to tell. 20 yrs ago she had been advised to abort her “fetus” because there was a tumor that was growing in the baby’s chest that would end up separating the lungs from the heart causing suffocation. The tumor grew all the way until the 26th wk, then it began to shrink. By the time the baby was born the lesion was only the size of a quarter and yrs later in was removed via surgery. This mommy’s prayer was first “God give me a healthy baby”, then it turned to “God give me a live baby”, which ended up being “God give me whatever you want me to have”. The mother of the pregnant lady was an Atheist. After seeing the outcome she exclaimed “The combined energy of the prayers must have done something!” The lady with the healthy child then asked her mother, “So does that mean you believe in God?” Her mother’s reply was “Well, I wouldn’t go that far”.
Looking forward to next week,
And let us all remember: The LORD is in charge. And because of HIM,
More stories and photos from today will be posted as they are received. Thank you for your patience.