Day 29…Hopes Dashed…

Our Kick-off Mass with 40 priests on Feb. 25th began with hope of God doing something BIG!

Today was the day that we had planned to have a Eucharistic Procession to Planned Parenthood, led by Bishop Waltersheid. It was to be an amazing time to bring Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament to defeat the evil that has a stronghold at 933 Liberty Avenue. Obviously, that is not going to happen.

We started out 29 days ago with the most powerful kick-off event that we have ever had, and my expectations were high that God was going to do something really big during these 40 days! I honestly worked harder than I had since we began this thing…back in 2010! So, did God disappoint? Did I do something wrong? Is He not all powerful, and with Him, are not all things possible?

Those thoughts are just my own pride and weakness tempting me. I have always struggled with the feeling that everything depends on ME, and MY actions. Too much “Martha“, and not enough “Mary“. I remember when I began leading 40 Days for Life. My heart was so broken after God opened my eyes to the tragedy of abortion, that I just had to DO something! All I could focus on was getting churches to wake up and see the horror that I saw, and to get people to stand in front of Planned Parenthood, so as to wake up the rest of our city. Prayer? Well…sure…we could pray too. As long as it didn’t interfere with the actual WORK of pulling off these 40 day campaigns.

You may be surprised to hear me say that. I didn’t let anyone else know that I didn’t really think prayer was that important. I could talk a good game…

But, over the years, and as I have seen more and more of the spiritual battle that is going on under the surface of our day to day life, I have come to understand that prayer, united WITH action, is the most powerful weapon against evil. However, it seems that we no longer have the option of “action“…and are left with prayer only. So, my old “Martha” started to raise her ugly head. I was feeling guilty about not having anyone on the sidewalks, as Planned Parenthood is busier than ever, with scared and desperate women thinking they need to kill their babies to solve their problems. Then, as I was typing an email to my team on Monday, a Bible verse randomly popped into my head. I even typed it into the email. It was the following verse:

Are there not just twelve hours of daylight? A man can walk in the day-time without stumbling, with this world’s light to see by; He only stumbles if he walks by night, because then the light cannot reach him.

John 11:9,10

The confirmation that God was speaking to me through this verse came after I sent the email and went to bed. I pulled out the book that I am currently reading, Fulton Sheen’s “Life of Christ“. I opened the book to my bookmarked page and began to read. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this very verse right there in the chapter that I was reading! I felt such comfort knowing that it is okay that we are not there right now. We worked very hard, and we were pleasing to the Lord with our sacrifices and prayers. But now is not the time for work. It is the time for more prayer…and more sacrifices. After all, we were asking God to do something big, weren’t we? And look around you! Doesn’t it look like something big is happening?

There are no drag queen story hours happening in public libraries right now. Preschoolers are not having “My Two Dads” read to them as part of the indoctrination process. Life as we know it has come to a screeching halt. And maybe it is God’s mercy that has stopped us in our tracks…because maybe we were running full steam towards a cliff.

Now the busy-ness has stopped. The noise and distractions are gone. It is time to be quiet and still…and wait for God.

I have read that some theologians believe that the Church, since she is Christ’s Bride, follows the pattern of His life. He was born in a stable, and the Church was born on Pentecost. He taught and sent out his disciples to teach, and the Church had her great missionary time. He had his betrayal by Judas, and she has been betrayed by wicked men in the hierarchy. He endured humiliation by the scourging and crowning with thorns, and She has been humiliated by the sex abuse scandal. He hung on the cross and died…and was laid in the darkness of the tomb. His disciples shut themselves away in fear in the upper room…and prayed. Now, it appears that our beloved Church has died. The buildings are closed and we are denied holy communion with Him. We must wait and pray.

Our Blessed Mother, Mary also waited. Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The day in which we celebrate the coming of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, to announce that she would conceive of the Holy Spirit and would give birth to a Son. She didn’t understand fully what God’s plan was. There surely was fear of the unknown…would Joseph understand and accept her? Would she be stoned for adultery? She said “YES” anyway. In complete humility. Then she waited for nine months to give birth to the Savior.

So, even though we don’t understand fully what God’s plan is, we do know that He is allowing this to happen for a reason. Let’s trust and accept His Holy Will, while we wait and pray…and look forward to seeing Him again in the resurrection!

Here is today’s message from Shawn Carney, President & CEO of 40 Days for Life…featuring some events and pictures from our Pittsburgh campaign! Check out our own Nikki and Joe in the opening shot below!

Our team members are keeping their regular shifts that they would have had at Planned Parenthood, but are praying from wherever they can. I encourage everyone who was signed up to pray for an end to abortion during those times.

Today, Hank and Judy, who have the 11-1 shift on Wednesday, went to Planned Parenthood to pray.

Even though the vigil is officially cancelled, that couldn’t keep Hank and Judy from praying in front of Planned Parenthood today!

Judy and I went down to PP for part of the 11-1 shift and prayed the scriptural rosary. The guard came out and told us we were not allowed to be there, to which Judy responded, “If you are still doing business, we’ll be here!” Several Pittsburgh police officers walked by us, but did not say a word. If evil exists, how much more grace abounds.

Hank & Judy

Parishioners of Holy Redeemer prayed from 11 AM-3 PM today.

Holy Redeemer (comprised of St. Mary’s and St. James’) had our shift today from 11AM-3PM.  With everything SO “off kilter” these days and kids needing to do schoolwork on all the family electronics, I did not manage until late last night to send out an email requesting fellow parishioners to pray from home for the babies and their parents today.  Nevertheless, wonderful Friends of Life responded right away, promising to pray at specific intervals so no one would be required to pray for four hours straight (although we ARE supposed to “pray ceaselessly,” right?)
Divine Redeemer prayer warriors included Mary Beth (joined from a distance by two friends from Saints John and Paul), Jim (a member of Assumption but a “fellow traveler” with our Respect Life group), Ibie, Mary, Sandy, Betsy, Christian, and Charlene.                                       
  I noticed (surprise!) that it is  a lot more comfortable and less stressful to pray at home than outside a death mill, but it is dreadful to contemplate vulnerable, misled mothers approaching Pittsburgh’s Auschwitz with NO human being outside it to offer a last-minute plea (whether silent or spoken) to reconsider.  SO WHEN THE KIDS FINISHED USING THE IPAD TONIGHT AND I SAW THE PHOTO OF HANK AND JUDY OUTSIDE PP TODAY, I KNEW THEY WERE AN ANSWER TO PRAYER.  Thank you, Hank and Judy, for risking your own lives to be a sign of contradiction in this culture of death and a sign of Hope to a frightened young mother.


Chris prayed from 1-3 PM.

It was a quiet shift in my family room, with the only passerby being the occasional cat wandering through.  I prayed the Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary using my Rosary of the Unborn (pictured above).  Within each bead is the image of a 1-month old unborn baby.  I prayed with increased focus compared to praying on a noisy Pittsburgh street.  I’ve found it helps me concentrate on Jesus’ suffering if I try to visualize the scenes from The Passion of the Christ.  While my prayer–time went well, I missed the fellowship of prayer warriors standing with me in defense of the unborn.


And Joe kept his 5-7 PM vigil slot to pray for the end of abortion.

From the front yard of the church where Joe went to pray today, although it turned out to be closed. His vigil occurred at home instead.

Guess I got “home schooled” by God today!  My vigil occurred from home…

A couple of things: “God woke” me today – Nikki’s beautiful outpouring in today’s blog post, and Hank & Judy’s witnessing today.

In today’s scripture readings the Responsorial Psalm:  “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” I must accept that it is his will that this vigil is done elsewhere today.

Fr. Robert Barron’s homily during Mass today: he contrasted Ahaz from the first reading and the Gospel reading of Mary’s Annunciation as “dreaming small” (Ahaz) vs. “dreaming big” (Mary) – “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Sometimes I must admit of “dreaming small.”

We must not fear “dreaming big” and to ask God for the “big dream” -not just closing 933 Liberty Ave., but an end to abortion in our state, country, and in the world!!!

Another thought – in these troubled / uncertain times that we are dealing with… In a 2006 Stephen A. Smith interview of (recently deceased) NBA’s Kobe Bryant, Smith asked Kobe Bryant what he learned after one of the lowest points of his life – to which he replied “God is great.” Pressed further on how he knows this, Kobe responded: “You can know it all you want, but until you have to pick up that cross that you can’t carry and He picks it up for you and carries you and the cross, then you know.”

I “know” God is carrying our crosses during these troubling times – “GOD IS GREAT” my brother and sisters!


I also want to let everyone know about the virtual rosary congress which began today. Go to to sign up to pray the rosary for one hour, to help fill the week-long, 24 hour prayer vigil…to bring grace and healing to our land!

2 thoughts on “Day 29…Hopes Dashed…

  • March 25, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    Remember that God does not want holocausts, sacrifices but rather He wants our hearts. Our hearts are in this fight, He sees that, and so do not worry. We must keep up the good fight, the main fight- which is our prayers. Pray harder, more often, with your heart. GOD will be victorious in this fight against evil.

  • March 25, 2020 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you, Hank and Judy. You are heroes. We who stay at home can continue our prayers. There is great encouragement when you realize today celebrates the day when Jesus came down from heaven to live with us. There was no doubt in God’s mind when he sent his angel to speak to Mary. She was in his plans from the day when He sent Adam and Eve out of Eden.
    Let us take our prayers with us wherever we go. Keep a rosary in every pocket and in every room of your house so you pick them up whenever you have a few minutes to sit or walk or kneel for a quiet moment. We are together in our love for the babies, even though we are– at the moment–far apart.


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