Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In Christ we have redemption by his Blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
Ephesians 1:3-4, 7-8a
I remember hearing Johnette Benkovic, of EWTN’s program, “Women of Grace,” speaking at a Magnificat women’s prayer breakfast. She spoke for an unusually long time on ONE of the verses above- Ephesians 1:3. What made her talk so memorable to me was her enthusiasm. Having only seen her on television before this, I was pleasantly surprised at her extreme, childlike JOY in proclaiming this Word of the Lord to us. She brought home the idea that, as He says in His Word, God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens!” What a wondrous gift! However… her point, and my thoughts today, are: then why are we so unhappy? Why do we want what is bad for us? And why do we go in search of false security, rather than God’s grace, that Scripture says He “lavishes” upon us?
I do not know all of these answers to these questions. But I do know that part of what underlies all of this is evil in the world. It cannot be anything but evil when people walk by our beautiful, compassionate signs in disgust; when people are rude to us, just because we are praying; when people feel more confident in a place of killing than in Christ Jesus and the “riches of His grace.”
I will share more thoughts in my report from my shift today. For now, let us read about God’s work among His people:
Shift Manager Marian starts us off every Thursday. Here is her report and photos:
Thursday morning, early shift- 7am- 9am:Thanks once again to Diane (pictured) for the delivery and set up of materials. We couldn’t stand without her support!! Bill (Hey, you!) was on the job as well to help set up and stay to pray publicly.St. Juan Diego Parish was represented by Mary, a mother of eight children and soon to be grandmother, and Cathy. Cathy is also a shift leader. Both women were staying through the 11 am hour. Mary and Cathy are pictured.A few people stopped to talk today, including: Dave- who spoke at length with Cathy and then asked for Project Rachel information; Lloyd who said the Our Father with us; and Brianna, a young woman who just found out she is pregnant- one month!!Marie, shift leader from 9am- 11am, arrived. She loaned me unPlanned, the nationally recognized book written by Abby Johnson, a former PP director in Texas. The quote on the back of the book states: “What I have told people for years, what I believed and taught and defended, is a lie. What if I’d known the truth and what if I’d told all those women?” Mary and I were talking about “what ifs” this morning as in “Do women who have had abortions ask the “what if” question when they see other babies and children?”I have the opportunity to once again enjoy reading novels. I find my books at the best-sellers displays in the Carnegie Library branches in Oakland and in downtown Pittsburgh. It has been my experience in the last several months that each book, with no purposeful intention on my part, hasstory lines which deal with the discussion of abortion, choice, women, and men. Much to my delight, the authors have chosen a pro-life stand in all the books. Choosing life, adoption, and the impact on the women characters as well as the men characters are discussed. In one book, All Fall Down, the following text can be found (page 87):
- “You wouldn’t get an abortion?” he asked. “I don’t know. I was certainly pro-choice in my beliefs. I’d gotten my well woman check-ups and my contraception at PP since I was an undergraduate and I had been supporting them with regular, if modest donations since I had gotten my job, but in my mind it was a baby. Dave’s and mine- and I could no more consider aborting it than I could (consider) hurting myself or hurting him.”Abortion kills the child, and hurts the women and men who are involved. Best-selling authors are writing about the impact of abortion in the lives of their characters and in real life. Abortion is a topic of discussion, as well a topic of prayer.MarianThursday shift manager: 7am- 9am
Next we hear from Shift Manager Marie:
Here are some thoughts from my shift this morning –
I have a confession to make – my first three Thursday shifts of this vigil have been pretty uneventful – which is a blessing in some regards.
It also has the tendency to make one feel complacent about what they are doing. I probably found myself in that position this morning.
First, I want to thank Marian for staying after her 7:00-9:00 a.m. shift until 10:20 – and to Cathy Z. and Mary B. from St. Juan Diego Parish in Sharpsburg for their presence with me.
Most of my shift was fairly quiet, par for the course for a Thursday morning. I was standing by the line near the lamppost with about 40 minutes left in my shift when a young woman, probably in her early to mid-20s, came across the street at the light.
She was walking with her earbuds in, listening to music I presume. As she passed me she loudly said, “Get a job.” Well, I thought that was an interesting thing for her to say – she looked like she was headed to work herself. Of course I didn’t respond – she wouldn’t have heard me anyway with her earbuds in her ears. Her comment made me think, “Well, this is my job!” Not only is it my “job,” it’s all of our jobs – to stand up for life. You see, this young girl thinks we’re just standing there doing nothing.
Well, she couldn’t be more wrong in her thinking. Any time you spend in front of the clinic, or any clinic for that matter, and defend the lives of unborn babies and their mothers, you’re doing your “job.” You’re doing one of the most – if not the most important job that God is calling us to do. Now, I don’t expect to talk a girl out of walking into that clinic and getting an abortion – but I do expect to change hearts of the passersby – a little bit at a time – maybe every Thursday morning from 9:00-11:00 a.m.!
Maybe even the heart of that young woman who thinks I should “get a job!” I think we have to pray for people like her that pass by us every day on the sidewalk on their way to work – that they will see the value of our “work” on the sidewalk.
I also want to thank the five women from St. Thomas a Becket Parish in Jefferson Hills, who came this morning to pray the rosary. Those ladies got right down to work and prayed facing the doors of the clinic. God bless them for their devotion.
Shift Manager Marilyn shared this with us today:
At my shift, I (Lisa) was able to reflect a lot. Allow me to share:
As I may have insinuated in the introductory paragraphs above, I am just bewildered that people– ALL people, myself included– continue to be drawn in, enticed, even comforted (!!) by evil. Why do people deliberately choose evil over good? I saw several young girls- two in particular who looked VERY young- enter the doors of PP today, one of whom looked almost like she was rushing straight into a safe refuge, a place of protection. How UPSIDE DOWN this world is! When I saw her, my thought was, “Why isn’t she running into the arms of Jesus instead??” But we can ALL be like that, can’t we? We ALL forget that only in Him are our souls at rest.
Our campaign theme, HOPE, comes to mind here, however. When we stand on the sidewalk, we are offering those “arms of Jesus” to those who feel that there is no other way to go than the doors to PP. In fact, I was just talking recently to a teenage girl who told me that she didn’t understand why we are there for 40 Days for Life. She said that she would feel judged (by us) if she were a woman going into PP. I explained to her that we MUST be there, especially on abortion days. Women and men may not ever know there was another option- a safe one- if we were not there to tell them, and to offer HOPE to them.
Some remain too blind to see this. An older woman rushing past us this afternoon looked at our models of unborn babies and called out, “DISGUSTING! Why don’t you all just GO HOME??!” Another woman took a look at our signs and walked by, shaking her head. Knowing that she was not on “our side,” I asked her pleasantly, “Would you like some information about why we are here?” She looked me right in the eye and said firmly, “I don’t CARE why you’re here.” I responded with, “Okay. I just saw that you were looking at our signs, and thought you might want to know.” But that’s just it, isn’t it– she DOESN’T want to know. It’s a CHOSEN blindness, a CHOSEN ignorance. Rather than falling into the arms of Jesus and letting Him lavish His grace upon us, some of us choose to reject Him and His GREAT BLESSINGS. What a form of spiritual poverty.
I am so thankful for Seamus and Tony, who spent my shift with me. What blessed soldiers for Christ they are.
Please check back for any additional reports and photos from Day 23 as they come in. Thank you for your patience.