THE FATHER’S MERCY
NEEDED BY ALL
Sometime before Lent ends, I really need to set aside some time, find a nice quiet, solitary place, and then read again the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15: 11-32). And when I’ve come to the end I’d like to meditate on the story while gazing at Rembrandt’s The Prodigal Son, which you see above. Put together, there’s probably no better illustration of the Father’s mercy.
All of us have seen ourselves at times as that younger son – and probably the older son as well. The Father, as can be seen in Luke, desires to shower his merciful love on both. But it can’t happen until we first recognize our need for it, and then be bold enough to ask the Father to wrap his forgiving arms around us.
Pope Francis’ Prayer for the Year of Mercy he recently declared opens with these lines:
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”
We all desperately need God’s mercy. So today, let’s first pray for all of our brothers and sisters in this wonderful 40 Days for Life community. May each of us be made more aware of our own need for the Father’s mercy, and avoid the attitude of the righteous older son. And then, let’s pray for our “younger brothers” – those who go inside or work inside those PP doors. May they be granted clear insight into not just their need for mercy, but the Father’s deep, deep desire to lavish it upon them. And may we all find our way home.
AND NOW FOR OUR REPORTS…
The prayer warriors from St Alphonsus, St Killian, and Good Samaritan had a quiet morning with little street traffic, although there were more than the usual number of clinic escorts out. Some of the escorts seemed new and I noticed one young woman looking at the fetal monitor. Perhaps we planted a seed. We were blessed to have the Choices Pregnancy Services mobile.
Marian filled in for part of Jeannie’s shift and also subbed for Julie’s shift today. She wrote:
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I thought of this saying as I was preparing the notes I took today. We stand in front of an ugly building which performs ugly deeds because PP does not see the beauty in life.
A husband, and father of two children, escorted his frightened wife into PP today. He came out for a cigarette a while later and willingly spoke with me, taking the pink resource sheet. Later in the afternoon I saw them come out no less frightened then when they went in. There was doubt in their hearts and minds to abort their third child, but fear of the future drove them. I had told him he was giving up on the future and the hope of something better. When I offered follow up information (Project Rachel) after they exited PP, he refused it. He came back shortly thereafter without his wife because he could not find his car. PP was busy today as it is on any Saturday (a scheduled abortion day), driving fear deeper into the hearts, minds and souls of their clients. Making people feel hopeless.
The clients walking into PP did not see the signs of hope offered to them through the wonderful prayer warriors who took the time to witness. The escorts and clients didn’t see the people from Good Samaritan, St. Alexis, St John of Baden, Gretchen, Lisa, Katie, Natalie, or Lisa on the sidewalk. The fearful clients did not see the young man with his mom and dad praying for the lives of others when he could have been playing basketball with his friends. Deaf and blind to Joe and Judy, Sidewalk Advocates for Life, clients walked into the death chambers when real, healthy alternatives were being offered. PP saw the Jericho Walkers but did not see the 80 (plus) year old man who did the walk. They did not see a man who had turned back to God at the age of 35, nor the friendship he had with a sister in Christ.
They didn’t get to hear a young woman proudly talk about her child, Riley, who is nine. The mother, though young when she became pregnant, said she chose life and that nine year old Riley is the joy of her life. The clients did not see how God brought a young couple traveling (by bus) from D.C to Ohio to the sidewalk today. On a lay-over, the two young people walked along Liberty Ave. and found us. They prayed a decade of the Rosary with Katie and St Alexis members. Little did PP know that Cassidy is a seminarian and his friend, Sierra, a student at Catholic University of America. But prayer warrior Rose saw the beauty in these young witnesses. Cassidy is a seminarian at the same seminary where her son is. This was Cassidy’s first trip to Pittsburgh and God placed him on the street with 40 Days for Life at a time Rose was there.
Anita and so many travelers from Wheeling, WV, came to downtown Pittsburgh to help the many people who think there is not help or think that others do not care. Anita took information on Sidewalk Advocates for Life. This group and more prayer warriors are coming back on March 19th. The clients did not hear another fellow prayer warrior with his megaphone plead for their lives.
Some pedestrians did see the beauty of Rose as she walked to our post today carrying her sign. She did get some thumbs up and one military man told her he could not understand how people can abort a baby. God also rewarded her with the encounter with Cassidy. PP does not see how God will not be outdone in generosity.
PP workers and clients did not see how a grandmother and grandfather (long term sidewalk prayers) came today because their children and grandchildren from St. Alexis could not come because preparations were being made for First Communion. Clients did not know these two grandparents witnessed on Tuesday with their own church, St. Teresa of Avila.
Many others, though, did see the beauty of the baby models, the life pins, and the prayers of intercession. Many did see the beauty in the signs and demonstrated appreciation through saying thank you. There was beauty in the young girl, 11, who is probably considered “handicapped” by some, and her mother as they talked about the gestational stages of pregnancy while looking at the baby models. The young girl was happy to receive a “baby”, the life pins and candy that someone donated. The local pizza shop knows the beauty of our witness. The hungry man who received a gift card saw the beauty in Lindsey today. And I saw the beauty of the team work that goes on to make the witness possible.
But most of all, God knows the beauty of each and every life.
Thank you to all the people who helped make this day a beautiful day.
Marian, 9-11 (with Jeannie) and 1-3
Kathy managed the vigil from 3-5 and wrote:
Received both sunshine and a warm greeting from Marian, shift manager. With her was Lisa from Squirrel Hill, and Natalie, a first timer. She is 17 and I applauded her for coming. Several prayer warriors from St Anne’s came and immediately started praying. It was very powerful. Several girls, women, came out of PP. Some accepted healing the hurt booklet. Some didn’t. All were in a hurry to leave.
Joe managed the 5-7 shift and wrote:
A big shout out to St. Anne’s Parish, way to represent Brothers and Sisters. I arrived to my shift and immediately jumped into a LIFE raft paddled by members of St. Anne’s. And what holy waters (in spite of standing in front of that human slaughterhouse). They guided us through in our quest to permanently shut the doors at 933 Liberty. I couldn’t join a more capable army of Christians to join arms with and wage war (through heartfelt prayer) against the culture of death. Thank ya’ll for your witness on this chilly evening. It was truly inspiring!!!