At the kitchen table this morning, my husband asked me a question.
“Do you know what today is?”
“Yes, ” I answered, “Ash Wednesday.”
He said, “Yes, but what else?”
“The first day of 40 Days for Life, ” was my response.
“Yes, but what else?” He said.
“Andrew’s birthday?” I asked. (Andrew is my 31-year old stepson…and his birthday is actually tomorrow…but I thought maybe my husband thought it was today.)
Finally the light bulb turned on. “Oh yes! It’s Valentines Day!”
With so much going on, I totally forgot!
Before I went to sleep last night, as is my habit, I took a peek at the Gospel reading for the next day. I do this to try to plant the seed of the Gospel in my mind so that it can sink in while I sleep. Anyway, I saw that today’s reading was from Matthew 6:5:
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that others may see them.”
Uh-oh. I knew today was my day to write the blog post…and I usually try to incorporate the day’s Gospel reading into my reflection. How in the world was I going to incorporate THIS one? This is the exact line from the Gospel that so many of our critics use against us! In fact, a few years ago, the former owner of the bookstore that is next to Planned Parenthood actually made a sign with these words and hung it on the pole where we stand to pray! He did this to try to shame us, by using the words of scripture against us…and truthfully…I never really was able to come up with a good rebuttal.
Are we being hypocrites by praying on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood? Many people accuse us of this, could it be true?
So, I asked the Lord to speak to my heart as I meditated on the verse this morning…(remember, I had forgotten it was Valentine’s Day). Wouldn’t you know that the word that jumped out at me was “LOVE“? I realized that Jesus was saying that hypocrites are those who LOVE to stand on the street corners and pray, so that others may see them. When I realized that, I let out a sigh of relief, because that is NOT me! I can honestly say, with every fiber of my being, that I do NOT love…not even in the least little bit...standing on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood when I pray. I would so much rather be in Church, or in my room…or just about ANYWHERE else! And I think I speak for just about all of us when I say that.
If we love something, it will be hard for us to give it up. I am giving up dairy products and sweets for Lent because I love them. I’m able to give them up because I love being healthy more than I love those things that are not good for me. So…if we love two things that cannot abide together, we must choose. We choose the ONE we love the most, and give up the one we love less.
Most of us love physical comfort; getting extra sleep, being warm, getting friendly greetings from people and being loved, accepted and respected by those around us. When we go to the abortion clinic, we give up all these things. There can be only one explanation as to why we do it. It is because we love something (or rather, some ONE, more.) When we love God more than anything else, we will allow him to break our hearts for what breaks his. Abortion breaks God’s Heart.
That is why we are able to do something that we DON’T love…because we are doing it for someone that we do.
Here are today’s stories from those who love Him too…
Jeff was our “engine”. He got our 40 day vigil started at 7am. He was joined by Peg and MaryAnn. He reports that his shift went well. Thanks to those who stood with him during these early morning hours!
Cathy was the shift manager from 9-11…she wrote:
First day of 40 Days Vigil! I took over from Jeff, joined Mary Ann for awhile,until she left, and was joined by Kathy and then Dan from Steubenville. We had a prayerful time in word and song. A couple ladies came out with little bags, one did take some literature. There was a couple who went in, he came out and sat in the car for quite awhile until she came back out, with a bag. Neither of then would take any lit. We had a “Get a life!” comment, but several ‘Thank you”s and smiles. Struck up a conversation with a young man who was looking at the sign in the window for the pill to prevent 90% of HIV. Said he was a counselor from NY and was familiar with the drug, Aids and other related issues.
Hank managed the vigil from 9-11am. He wrote:
It was a good 1st day! Decent weather and lots of friendly smiles and positive comments. Mary from St. Stephen Church in Hazelwood and Judy F. from St. Valentine were present handing out chocolate candy hearts along with literature. Dan from Stubenville was there as well. Several rosarys were prayed.
Chris was the shift manager from 1-3, and writes something that is very appropriate to my blog reflection:
This campaign started with a cold, windy, and rainy shift on Ash Wednesday. But the weather didn’t matter, as I was joined by the Christian warmth of prayer warriors Marie, George, Bill and the husband/wife team, Mike and Kim. During the first hour we received many positive comments from passersby. People weren’t as kind to us the second hour. Two of the memorable comments made to us were, “You’re all going to burn in Hell” and “You should read the Bible”. Please pray for those who made these remarks as they quickly walked by us. One of the highlights of the shift was talking to a man who lost a girlfriend to suicide (in front of him) and has a history of drug and alcohol abuse. He has found God and was holding a Bible while we talked. After each of us said, “God Bless you”, he continued down the street.
Barbara and Richard held the fort from 3-5pm
We are here in front of PP again.
Drizzle and then rain and then drizzle again.
Familiar faces line up for the bus.
On schedule, their carriages arrive and roar away…”home for dinner!”
People walk by and catch our eye and smile and nod. They agree that abortion kills babies and hurts women…at the very least…hurts the mother.
Two walk by, catch our eye and look away, stone faced. These are always women.
What is it that tears us away from warm home and routine?
Our Father is ready with open arms. We want to help our sisters and brothers. Behavior matters. We want to share the key. It is urgent. There is a time limit.
Joe K. finished up the first day from 5-7pm. He wrote:
Everything was wet and busy coming into / out of the city today – so much so that I was a few minutes late for the start of my first shift – thanks Richard & Barbara!
I was so very blessed this evening as though only individual volunteers were slotted in the time slot – 3 wonderful, water-resistant witnessing warriors – John, Eleanor, and Bridgette, showed-up to finish the day proving that pro-lifers are anything but fair-weather when it comes to life…
Thank you to all who came to the vigil today, and to all who prayed and fasted! May God bless our 40 days here in Pittsburgh!