The Lord said: “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.” Luke 11:42-44
Does praying and showing your faith publicly make you feel self-conscious or embarrassed?
I remember having to overcome much fear and anxiety the first time I went to Planned Parenthood to pray and witness. I KNEW it would be scary for me to drive into Pittsburgh, find a place to park and to stand with a sign, publicly witnessing against abortion, but I never even gave a thought about the “praying” part. So I was surprised at my feeling of self-consciousness and embarrassment when I first closed my eyes and visibly prayed on the sidewalk, while people were walking by. I guess I had never thought about it before because I had never DONE it! Really…think about it. How often do you PRAY in a public place? Usually, we pray at home, in church, in our cars, or other private places. So it can feel very different when we pray in public, where others can see us…in a non-religious setting.
In fact, the former owners of the bookstore right next to Planned Parenthood always posted a sign in front of their door during our 40 Days for Life campaigns. The sign quoted Jesus’ condemnation of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees when they prayed in public (from Matt. 6:5). Obviously the bookstore owners wanted to get across the point to us that they thought we were hypocrites by showing our faith in public.
So how do you feel about praying in public? Could it be that we are being hypocrites? Maybe….if we are doing it so that others will notice us and praise us for it. I think that if our focus is on OURSELVES, then yes…it could be wrong to pray in public. If I am using OTHERS as a mirror to look at MYSELF…and looking for praise…(as the Pharisees were looking for praise in today’s Gospel reading)…then I could be like those Pharisees that Jesus condemned. If this is the case, when others praise me I will be happy and pleased with myself, and when they criticize me I will be angry and upset.
However…if I am focusing on OTHERS…and allowing MYSELF to BE THE MIRROR…reflecting CHRIST to others...then if they praise me, I won’t feel embarrassed or self conscious, because I will know it is Christ IN ME that is receiving the praise. And at the same time, if I receive criticism or persecution, I won’t be upset because I will know that it is really Jesus that they are criticizing…and He can take it.
Really, in our day and age, and in our culture…I think it is very rare for someone to pray in public in order to receive praise. They are much more likely to be persecuted than praised for their public display of faith. So let’s continue for the remainder of these 40 days as a mirror to our culture…allowing Jesus to reflect in our faces, our words and our actions…AND IN OUR PRAYERS.
Read on for stories and photos from today’s vigil at Planned Parenthood:
Early morning shift manager, Charlene wrote:
The Lord really looked out for us today…as always. It was pouring rain as we were preparing to head downtown for our 7AM-10AM shift. As we stopped outside to get in the car, it stopped and stayed dry throughout. It was quiet on the sidewalk today but there were many “business looking” people heading into PP…must have been meetings for the organization…maybe plans for closing? That would be a wonderful day! But until then…we will keep our post.. Dick and I were joined first thing by Bill and Diane….Susan jouned us before work and we prayed a rosary and gave out literature. We were joined at 8am by Zelionople United Methodist Church. DONNA, PAT, Phil, and Pastor John were a friendly presence and they were joined by Faith at 9. Bill came back with Holy Water to sprinkle on PP and the sidewalk…added armour for our Crusade.
Cathy managed the vigil from 9:30am – noon and wrote:
When I arrived the pastor and several parishioners from Harmony-Zelienople Methodist Church were there, and had been since 7. They were with me until 11. It was a quiet time and we were able to pass out some 40 Days flyers. A student from Point Park stopped and wanted to do a survey on the governor’s race. A couple people talked to him, and afterwards mentioned that he didn’t ask about the abortion issue. Maybe he thought he knew the answer to that. Faithful Bill stopped by several times, and during the 12:00 hour Angela from St Louise de Marillac came for a short time. We were able to do a decade of the rosary before her ride came.
I (Nikki) arrived for my noon – 4pm shift with members of my own Church, St. Irenaeus in Oakmont.
We were also joined by faithful “regular” and off-duty shift manager, Bill:
We were soon joined by a group from Our Lady of Grace in Greensburg’s St. Gianna Respect Life group. The were a welcomed addition to our prayer vigil. They prayed on one side of the door while the St. Irenaeus group prayed on the other. We made a prayer sandwich!
At one point during our prayer shift a young couple exited the clinic. The girl looked to be in her late teens and had her hand over her abdomen. I approached her with the information about our local crisis pregnancy centers, but she refused and continued walking. Carole and I got back to praying, but about 5 minutes later the couple returned and asked me to give them the information! She told us she had just had a pregnancy test in PP and it was positive, but she was worried because they told her it may be a tubal pregnancy. She said they had not done an ultrasound, only a urine test. I told her to go right to Women’s Choice Network and get an ultrasound to be sure. We also prayed with them. Please pray for “R” and “A” that the pregnancy will be viable, and if it isn’t, for “R” to receive the medical care that she needs.
At 2pm we were blessed with two more members from my church, Cathy and Joan:
At about 3pm the St. Anne’s Catholic Men’s Fellowship began arriving. We had a lot of prayer happening on the sidewalk today!
It was truly an honor and a privilege to pray with so many wonderful and holy people today! Thank you to everyone who came!
At 4pm I was relieved by shift manager duo, Barbara and Richard. Barbara took this photo:
40 Days for Life Pittsburgh stakes out a small cement pavement parcel in front of an abortion site, Planned Parenthood. Tonight Richard and I were joined by gentlemen from St. Anne in Castle Shannon and parishioners from two other parishes. A young woman from PP handed me a brochure. Another young woman requested a Rosary and then walked away. A man came to pray but declined to be photographed or give his name. John led the Scriptural Rosary. The neighborhood was blessed.
Pittsburgh 40 Days numbers just about 46 people as core workers. Add to our number the hundreds who come to pray from churches and prolife groups. Some of us call the people who pray “prayer warriors.” This is war. The human soul is the battle field. Dinish D’Souza and the Bible offer light.
It is chiefly because of sex that most contemporary atheists have chosen to break with Christianity. If sex is unhooked from the old moral restraints, there are going to be unwanted pregnancies.
The first step is to get rid of God. Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz stated, “A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death – the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders, we are not going to be judged.”
The second step is to define the fetus as not really human. The real horror of abortion is not that a woman kills an unborn child but that the woman kills her own unborn child. The guilt in doing this, for all morally healthy persons, can only be tremendous. So it is necessary…to pave the way for abortion with a clear conscience.
Bioethicist Peter Singer … argues that humans should be denied some of the protections they now have on the grounds that they are not fundamentally different from animals.
Steven Pinker advised parents, if a “newborn is sickly or if its survival is not promising,” to “cut their losses and favor the healthiest in the litter or try again later on.”
It may seem strange to see all this callousness toward human life in a society whose primary social value is compassion. But the paradox is resolved when you see that it is precisely because we are so awful in our private lives that we need to pretend to be virtuous in our public lives.
What’s So Great About Christianity. Dinesh D’Souza. pp 271, 273, 274, 275, 276
I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may Live by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. Deuteronomy 30:19-20
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong doing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1: 9-10
Tomorrow we have St. Juan Diego in Sharpsburg, St. Richard in Gibsonia and many dedicated individuals holding vigil. The numbers will be light, and extra prayer warriors are always appreciated…so please stop by if you can!
On Friday, there is one empty hour at 10am…and it is an abortion day. Shift manager Sally would love it if someone came to pray with her at 10am. Please let us know if you can do that! You can sign yourself up at http://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/pittsburgh/ or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
May God bless you,
Your sister in Christ,