Day 40: A glimpse of heaven on the sidewalk

Thank you today to St. Joan of Arc parish in Bethel Park, St. Bernard parish in Mt. Lebanon and St. Alexis parish in Wexford for keeping the vigil going on the 40th day and finishing strong!  Also thanks to Northway Christian Community for sending a group to help us end our vigil on a strong note!

Here’s the report from the 7am-10am shift manager, Sue:

Day 40!  And it dawned quite beautifully!  We had a few passing drops of rain, but other than that, it was pretty much downright balmy.  (Did anyone think they would ever use the word “balmy” again?!?!!)  I was joined by Robina, Mary, JoAnn, Nina, and Ian & Erin (expecting their second child!), all from St. Joan of Arc Parish, and Bill also came by on his way to church, completing his goal of at least stopping by the vigil each of the 40 Days.  Our shift was prayerful and not too eventful otherwise.  Bill left us with an interesting thought and something certainly to look forward to:  he said not to forget that when we get to Heaven, we will be wonderfully overwhelmed by all of the babies who have ever been aborted, hugging us and thanking us for our efforts to promote respect for Life while here on earth.  What a beautiful thought!!
I would like to personally thank Nikki and Diane, as well as all of the shift managers, for your undying dedication to 40 Days and to Life.  Of course my tiny “thank you” is woefully inadequate to acknowledge your amazingness.  What an inspiration you are to all of us.  I am SO BLESSED to know and be associated with all of you for such a holy purpose!  May God bless you all!
Sincerely,
Sue McGrath
day 40, first shift, st. joan of arc
First shift– St. Joan of Arc parish group
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witnesses from St Alexis in Wexford!

Jeff stood the 1-4 shift and reports:

Thanks to everyone from St Bernard’s and St Alexis’ churches for standing with me today, and answering Christ’s question to us all, What more can I do?  Ok, I stole that from the Catholic Men’s Conference from yesterday, but the question remains for each and every one of us.

Maybe your church or group would like to adopt a 2 hour shift during the next vigil.  It is a six week commitment in exchange for  a life-changing event for you, for like-minded people such as yourselves, and for the babies we will never see in this life.

The final half hour of prayer on the sidewalk:

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Rev. Bryan is holding an Old Testament style horn (shofar) that signifies the fall of Jericho ( Joshua 6:20)
day 40, closing
The group fills up the sidewalk!

 

A family from Steubenville came to pray
A family from Steubenville came to pray
Jen from Women's Choice Network, with her wonderful family
Jen from Women’s Choice Network, with her wonderful family

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many witnesses from St. Alexis and other churches
many witnesses from St. Alexis and other churches

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Pastor Bryan was there during the final hours of the vigil and wrote about a break-through in post abortive healing that happened on the sidewalk:

A young lady stopped by and started talking stridently to me “Do you know what it’s like to be raped?  And at 3 years old?” and we were off and running, from god is light and dark and all over the map, an animated and not too quiet discussion.  I think some there were thinking this is disrupting our group – which it was – but God was telling me that this woman was different from those who come and only want to argue.   It was while discussing agape love, I think, it came out that she had also been raped after puberty and aborted the baby.  Shortly after that revelation, one of our women (I’m sorry, I don’t know her name) came over, talked softly to her (I backed off then), and then picked up one of the fetus in utero models to show her what her baby had looked like.  A great breakthrough came with tears and submission and release, and she fell into our worker’s arms.  After at time of that comfort and release, she and I continued to talk and she apologized for the abrasive way she had treated me, but I told her that it had been the hurt little girl inside that had been crying in despair.   During our initial dialog one of the many things I had mentioned to her was how I read peoples’ faces when counseling.  I then noted that she was now smiling (which she didn’t realize); that when she arrived her face was defiant and hard …. and now her face is soft – and beautiful! — that she was a beautiful woman, and kept marveling at her smile and beauty.  And it was truly a beautiful and wonderful change that God had brought in releasing her from all the rage that had been torturing her.   I gave her some literature to take along explaining more about God and salvation.

  Two footnotes.  We aren’t in this alone, and I’m used to team ministry where the Lord can work through more than one person, as He did last night — it’s not about us, it’s about Him.  The other note I discovered  while riding Paul D home after the festivities – he said he had been praying for the Lord to help me while the dialog was going on.  We need to do this when we see any of us counseling with someone while out there on the sidewalk.  OK one other footnote – we never know what the person is like inside their exterior of bluff, defense, anger, or whatever, but God does.  A when we seek to see what He sees in the person we can be strong – yes, strong – in love and respect countering the Devil’s lies even when that person’s coating over God’ image disrespects us.  But for the grace of God, there goes I.

 

The final day of the 40 Days for Life campaign also included an evening of reflection and fellowship at Catholic Charities downtown.

There were a few points points made this evening by Pastor Adam,  Jen from Womens Choice Network, Al and Nikki  that I would like to share:

 day 31, our signs

We can add the word   “diverse” to the description of 40 Days for Life:  Diverse, Christ-like , Prayerful, Peaceful vigil.  95 Churches and about 1000 participants is not a homogeneous group.  Many came to pray from  at least 2 different states, several different Christian denominations and a few different generations.  In fact, it’s like a glimpse of heaven right there on the sidewalk.

day 40, pastor adam
Pastor Adam gave an encouraging speech emphasizing the peaceful, joyful presence of prayer volunteers that attracts a diversity of passersby to join in prayer.

The 40 Days campaign saves lives:  Jen from  Women’s Choice Network Oakland center enthusiastically shared her experience of meeting clients who have been directly and positively impacted by the prayerful presence at Planned Parenthood and the resource flyers that are handed out to passersby at the vigil.

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Jen speaking to the group at the closing event at the Catholic Charities welcome center.

Even though the 40 Days is over, abortion is still a threat to the vulnerable unborn, so we must continue to pray and pray unceasingly.  We are called to be “doers” of the word and not just hearers.  We must be a united Christian community and do what has been asked of us:   “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

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Fellowship at the closing event at Catholic Charities welcome centerday 40, closing6
Fellowship among a community often includes donuts, and this time was no exception!

4-3-14 #5

As Christians united in prayer and fasting for an end to abortion–we are on the winning team:

The proper perspective to maintain is that we are here for only one purpose— to be captives marching in the procession of Christ’s triumphs. We are not on display in God’s showcase— we are here to exhibit only one thing— the “captivity [of our lives] to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)    We should belong so completely to the Victor that it is always His victory, and “we are more than conquerors through Him . . .” (Romans 8:37). –excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest  By Oswald Chambers

day 40, nikki and jen
On behalf of Jen and Nikki — Thank you for your faithfulness to prayer and reading the 40 Days for life blog!

Final Prayer (from today’s devotional):   Father, you are the God of hope. Your word fills us with the vision of the world to come, when every tear will be wiped away, and death will be no more. Father, how we need that hope, how we are strengthened by that vision! Keep our hearts focused on heaven, and diligent in the labors of earth. As we struggle against the culture of death, root our souls in the assurance of victory. We pray through Christ our Lord, Amen.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” — Revelation 21:4-5

Yours, in Christ, Julie C.

Day 33: St. Mary’s (Herman, PA), St. Sebastian and St. Fidelis (Butler)

From Today’s Devotional:

As we pray for the end of abortion, let us pray for the expansion of the pregnancy help center movement worldwide.

O God, from generation to generation, you have called your people to be the very aroma of life a midst a culture of death.  Now it is our turn. Prepare me. Send me. Use me. I am eager to do my part. Stir your people  everywhere to take up this great work.  Amen.

Thanks to  four church families that kept vigil today outside of Planned  Parenthood:

The first shift from 7-10:  St. Mary’s in Herman.  

 Sue, the shift manager writes her account of the morning and explains the photo that follows:

 

When Larry and Margie arrived at the vigil this morning, the first thing Larry said was, “Does it ever get warm in Pittsburgh?!”  It couldn’t have been very far (if at all!) out of the 20’s through the first hour of the vigil!  Nikki was already there when I got there — in addition to the pleasure of seeing Nikki (always a blessing in itself), it was a double blessing as I arrived a little late this morning.  THANK YOU, Nikki!  I am starting to think she can read my mind or something.  Creepy!    🙂
As I pulled up I saw a huge inflatable finish-line marker for the Pittsburgh Marathon set up, spanning the width of Liberty Ave., as well as guys setting up barricades, including some barricades right in front of 933.  I was surprised, thinking the Marathon was not to occur until later in the spring, and Nikki confirmed my confusion by telling us that they were just doing a dry run for the setup for the actual date, which will be in May.  They left two of the barricades in front of the building.  We had the fetal models set up on top of 40 Days’ fabulous new industrial-grade rolling tote.  As I was praying, I noticed that the way they were positioned, it looked like the barricades were blocking off the fetal models, as though protecting them.  How ironic.
The vigil was quiet and prayerful, with few passersby and only one employee entering the building.  When the sun finally began to shine its rays on us around 8:45, it was like a long-awaited embrace from the Lord.
Getting back to Larry …… please pray for his brother Francis, who is currently in hospice care; as of this morning, Larry was unsure whether Francis would make it through the night.  May God bless him, and Larry & Margie and their entire family.

 

day 33, first shift, babies being protected
day 33, first shift, babies being protected
Day 33, first shift, St. Mary in Herman and shift manager Sue
Day 33, first shift, members of St. Mary in Herman and shift manager Sue

 

The second shift  10-3: St. Sebastian in Ross Twp.  and Good Shepherd Parish.  

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(not in order) Mike Sr, Mike Jr, Sharon, Jacob, Joshua, Morgan, Claire, Anna, Jenna, and Theresa from Good Shepherd

Here is a report from Roseann, the 10 – 1  shift manager:

What a beautiful day in the ‘Burgh’ !!  Judy and Rege  from St. Mary in Herman joined us at 10:00.  At 11:00 prayer warriors from St. Sebastian’s started coming and 3 lovely Ladies of Charity from Good Shephard Parish joined us also.  In response to Pat’s comments on our numbers increasing, I would like to say that this is the first time I have filled my Vigil Attendance Log. A good sign I must say. It was a quiet Sunday shift and I am pleased to say we didn’t have any negativity during this shift even with the convention in town and the many people passing by.   — Roseann

 

sebastian
Kelli, Gloria, Mary, Gaetano, Vince, Fr John, Dot and Linda from St Sebastian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third shift: 3-7  St. Fidelis in Butler.

Trish sent in these photos from the 3-7pm shift:

day 33, third shift, whole gang

Trish
Trish

 

Johnny and Mary Ellen
Johnny and Mary Ellen
Shift managers Jim and Cathy
Shift managers Jim and Cathy
Cathy and Bernadette
Cathy and Bernadette

 

 

 

Thanks for reading, check back later, there’s more to follow about reports on Sunday’s vigil!

Quote of the day:

“I am at once a physician, a citizen and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged and the planned have the right to live.”

Dr. Mildred Jefferson ( Past president of the National Right to Life Committee and the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School)

 

Peace,

Julie C.

Day 26: Covenant Community Church, Life Runners, Ascension Parish of Ingram

7am – 10am

All was quiet except for the birds chirping and the gusts of wind!  It was a privilege to pray with the Pastor John Price and Paul the first hour.  Then some more members of  Covenant Community Church switched in/out each of the two hours following.  One participant  mentioned that she was stepping out of her comfort zone in being on the sidewalk, and Sunday is a good day to start the experience of praying on the sidewalk.   We covered everything and everyone in prayer very thoroughly.  I was inspired to spend the morning with young people who love the Lord!    –Julie

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Chris and Jennifer from Covenant Community with Julie, Shift manager. (Pastor John Price took the photo)

 

 

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Jessica N., Jessica M, Jillian and Jon spent the hour of 9am-10am in prayer.

 

10am-1pm

Just when we thought we might be able to put away all those cumbersome winter clothes, we see that winter will not release its grip on us.  But I found if you dress warm enough, it’s not so bad.  Just needed some help to get rolled out of the car.
We had Lindsay, Sabriyah, Erin and Tracy from Covenant Community Church come at 10:00 to pray with us.  Bill H. also stopped by.  Life Runners began coming at 11:00 (Dan, Owen and the Doyles).  As usual, Sunday was quiet. A couple of people noticed the fetal models.  One man called back his friend to see the actual size of the unborn baby.  So those models do not sit there unnoticed.  A woman in a car yelled out “You guys are awesome” and proceeded to take a picture.  As I had my head bowed down, I noticed the yellow line drawn (for Planned Parenthood’s protection from us) is wearing off by all the traffic on the sidewalk.  I prayed that our presence would begin to wear away  the hardness of the hearts of those who refuse to see the evil of abortion.   — Roseann

1-4pm
Thanks to Judi, Amy, Paulette, and Nicole from Transfiguration in Russelton

Thanks to Maggie P from St Philip, Philene from St Bernard

4-7 pm

Thanks to Acension  Parish from Ingram!!!!

Ascension ALSO had about 10 people who signed up to pray in church in solidarity with those  praying in front of PP downtown today.  Trish wrote:

It was a peaceful day other than the girl who spit on Jim.  We prayed and chatted for the three hours and enjoyed each others fellowship.  We like the prayers on the back of some of the signs and start with them.  Those prayers pray for all officials and abortion people and end with the beatitudes.  It wasn’t quite as cold as previous weeks either.

Blessings,

Trish

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Jeff, his wife Christine,Emily, Judi, Maggie, Chuck and Father Welding from Acension Parish

day 26, third shift

day 26, third shift3

Ascension parish
Ascension parish

 

many faithful prayer warriors from Ascension
many faithful prayer warriors from Ascension
these wonderful fetal models from our "anonymous donor" sure do attract attention and touch hearts!
these wonderful fetal models from our “anonymous donor” sure do attract attention and touch hearts!

Peace, Julie C.

Day 19: Thank you: St. Regis of Trafford and Washington Alliance Church

Hello,

First, I’d like to ask you to reflect on the prayer intention and the scripture verse for Day 19 of the 40 Days for Life campaign.

Prayer intention: Pray that when those representing Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups see volunteers for 40 Days for Life, they see ambassadors of Christ, and may each volunteer be consciously aware at all times of Whom we represent. 

Scripture: I beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness, and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.   — Ephesians 4:1b-2

After you read Pat Malley’s reflections on this morning’s shift you will realize why I want to reflect on the above.  As we approach the halfway point of our 40 Days, I want to stress the extreme importance of our faithfulness to praying out of Love for the Pittsburgh abortion clinic workers. I may have said this before in a blog, but it’s worth saying again.  I am strongly convicted to say this.  As Mother Theresa has said in the past “Jesus thirsts for souls.”   As we stand on the sidewalk, may our presence, our demeanor, our words be a loving embodiment of the Love of Christ for the Planned Parenthood workers and volunteers.  Come Holy Spirit!

7am-11am Shift— Pat Malley writes:

For the last few weeks I’d been a little worried that when it came time for my own parish to take it’s turn on the streets, that the coverage would resemble Swiss cheese.  But once again, God came through and I was never alone at anytime from 7 to 11 this Sunday morning.  I want to thank my wife, Steph, who remained with me for that first hour, and my brother Knights of Columbus:  George B., Mike C., Jack. K, and Gene S. who was accompanied by his beautiful wife, Louise.  I also want to thank SM Sue M. who came at 7 but stayed for a while and lead us in the rosary.  And finally, thanks to Rich and Rosann for being there at 10 (even though they didn’t have to be) and staying with us.  It was really great getting to know the both of you.  You’re both an inspiration.

One member of our group asked for prayers for a woman named Beth.  She’s had an abortion before.  She’s got lots of physical and emotional problems and is living with her parents, who want her to abort the baby she’s carrying. She’s also said that she feels tempted to abort.

The morning was cold, but not bitterly so.  Nevertheless, at about 10 I felt the need for a short break so I was grateful that Rich and Roseann were there to stay with the St. Regis people while I went up the street to get out of the cold and get a coffee.  At about 10:55 one of the administrators of PP (blonde hair, mid 40’s, and often drives up in her Mini Cooper) left the building.  When I’d seen her go in earlier in the morning I took out the copy of 40 Days for Life book which is in the plastic container which holds the fetal models.  I thought that when she came out I might offer it to her.  This was something I had been thinking of doing for some time now, but the timing never seemed right.  Well, today, the situation seemed ideal.  No other coworkers were around and my group was not even paying attention to her as they were praying the Divine Mercy chaplet.  When I approached her (very cautiously) with the book in my hand and tried to talk to her, she completely ignored me.  I tried it one more time a few seconds later and was again ignored as though I was not there at all.  She would not even look near me let alone at me.  That was my coldest moment of the morning.  These are the people hardest to pray for – but I don’t think it’s optional.

Pat Malley

 

St. Regis Parish: Mike C., Louise S., Gene S., Jack K., and Shift Manager Pat M.
St. Regis Parish: Mike C., Louise S., Gene S., Jack K., and Shift Manager Pat M.
Steph M. (Pat's wife) and George B.
Steph M. (Pat’s wife) and George B.
Shift Managers Roseann and Rich King
Shift Managers Roseann and Rich King

 

 As for a reflection on the rest of the day from 11am – 7pm:  Thank you Washington Alliance Church!   If anyone who was there today wants to respond to the blog, please give us a comment!!!  Thanks!

This photo of a family from Washington Alliance Church was sent in by Trish from St. Gregory:

Lovely family from Washington Alliance shows they have warm hearts by witnessing in the cold!
Lovely family from Washington Alliance shows they have warm hearts by witnessing in the cold!

So, I looked up Washington Alliance Church online.  They have  posted  reflections from the previous fall campaign their members were involved in. Very impactful!!!!    Here’s the link to read them!   http://www.washingtoncma.org/ministries/impact_ministries/impact.php

 Here are some photos from the 4-7pm shift, sent in by Trish:

Trish from St. Gregory...thanks for the photos Trish!
Trish from St. Gregory…thanks for the photos Trish!
Shift Manager husband-wife duo...the Shantz' with Susan and another prayer volunteer
Shift Manager husband-wife duo…the Shantz’ with Susan and another prayer volunteer
Sunday evening shift managers Jim and Cathy, and their friends, Johnny and Mary Ellen
Sunday evening shift managers Jim and Cathy, and their friends, Johnny and Mary Ellen

 

 

I now leave you with:    Wisdom from Oswald Chambers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 12: People of God, St. Michael of Wheeling, Holy Trinity Ukranian

Faith, joy, optimism.  But not the folly of closing our eyes to reality.  

I believe that as we continue to pray and do spiritual battle, we must not become grumpy about the state of our society, but continue in persevering prayer, hope, faith and love.   Paul writes in Second Corinthians:

God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”  has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 4: 6

 

We must remember that  we carry the light of Christ while our eyes are open to the reality that abortion ends a life and hurts mothers very deeply.  The light of Christ is the source of our JOY that surpasses all understanding.  Our perseverance in prayer is our response to the reality of the lie that abortion is a safe healthcare option for women.    The Silent No More witnesses are brave and courageous witnesses to the terrible after effects of abortion.  They also remind me of the above scripture.

Now– onto the blog reports:

Also carrying the Light of Christ today were The People of God Community that prayed this morning,  The faithful of St. Michael parish in Wheeling, WV that kept vigil this afternoon and the faithful of Holy Trinity Ukranian Catholic Church praying this evening.    I am impressed by God’s plan to move in the hearts of so many so that the vigil continues even when Planned Parenthood is closed on a Sunday!

Wow!  That is amazing.  It is not something to take pride in for ourselves, but it is this:

 We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us…… For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.       2 Corinthians 4:7, 11

Please read the shift manager reports that we have so far for today:

              Jeff’s Report: 7am- 10am

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People of God group from Bridgeville area

When I pulled up at 7am to start the day, 4 folks from People of God Covenant Community were already there.  Just when I think I’m going to be all alone, God did not forget me.  Thanks to Pat S. (second from left) for the music and the prayers.  His wife and two boys stopped and helped cover the second hour of my shift.  We kept re-positioning ourselves to stand in the sunlight as it made its way across the sidewalk, only to disappear again behind the buildings.  It may have been the only time I stood a shift first thing Sunday morning.  What a great way to start a Sunday before going to church!

 Roseann’s Report: 10am-1pm

The Sunday 10 – 1 shift was very prayerful.  Almost 3 hours of continuous prayer. We were joined by People of God and St. Michaels, Wheeling.  I hope God answers our prayers sooner than later as he changes hearts and minds to respect life enough to shut down the killing machine at 933 Liberty Ave.

 Julie’s Report 1pm-4pm

Praying with people who have been faithful to praying for the unborn for many years before 40 Days for Life began always encourages me.  The ladies of Wheeling, WV told me about the closing of the abortion mill there.  And now that Wheeling is free of the oppression of an abortion business, they have moved on to Pittsburgh!  We are blessed.  I thank Janet, Anita and Kerry for bringing their joy and optimism today and lighting up the cold gray sidewalk with the presence of Christ that they carry.  Also thanks to Philene of St. Bernard and Fran of Risen Lord and John of St. Bernard, our little group huddled together in prayer was a witness touched hearts.   Here’s some examples:

A woman walking by stopped to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with us.   She just joined our semi-circle and started to pray.  When we were done with the prayer she told us that when she was 21 years old she was pregnant and scared because she and her first boyfriend didn’t feel ready to have a baby.  Thankfully, she says, the doctor she went to said “you don’t want to do this.”  and because of that good doctor, her son is now alive and 25 years old!  She thanked us for praying and mentioned that she has a business down the street.  We encouraged her to come back at the end her work day and join the group again!  Anita told her we are here 7 days a week from 7 am to 7 pm until April 13th.  She had no idea we were standing in front of an abortion clinic.  She also said that she had heard of the 40 days for Life.

 

And because it is Sunday– let’s end with a Psalm of praise to God!

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose love endures forever!  Let that be the prayer of the Lord’s redeemed, those redeemed from the hand of the foe.  Those gathered from east and west, from north and south.

Psalm 107