Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
Goals are hard. Setting them is hard. Striving toward them is hard. Reaching them? Hard again. I have a difficult time with all of these. I wish I didn’t. But I do. But here’s the thing about goals. We COULD decide to do away with them. That might make procrastinators like me think we are in the clear. “Nothing to worry about now!” But the problem is… without those goals, our progress would most likely not happen NEARLY as much or as often… if at all. I speak from LOADS of frustrating experiences. Amidst them all, I can say that the goals that motivated me were important and absolutely necessary.
In this spiritual battle against abortion, we must have goals as well. It might take a LONG time to reach them, but we need those goals to at least be in place. In 40 Days for Life in particular, we don’t pray merely that abortions will slow down or decrease (although that would be good). We set our sights HIGH, and pray that abortion will END. Without striving toward this goal, we may never get there.
But you know what? We are NOT giving up. Our prayer, fasting, and other sacrifices continue. May we trust. And then trust more. And NOT GIVE UP.
Today’s message from Shawn Carney:
Shift Manager Reports:
Poor Nikki was not feeling well this morning, and was unable to pray during that early shift time. But her faithful sidekick Peggy did!! Thanks, Peggy!! And let’s keep Nikki in our prayers!
The Knights of Columbus Manordale Valley Council 4226 from Murrysville also prayed from 7-9, honoring the commitment they made before the sidewalk portion of the vigil was cancelled. We are so grateful to them and to all who continue to pray from a distance!
I was able to pray the rosary for the first part of my shift. Once again, I prayed (the Luminous Mysteries) along with WAOB radio. One of the lines from the Scriptural Rosary was about when the Father’s voice is heard at the Mount of Transfiguration and He speaks of Jesus, saying, “Listen to Him.” It struck me that SO many times, we don’t. We just DON’T listen to Our Lord. And when we don’t, we get a whole lot of sin in our lives and in the world at large. Abortion is one of those sins. I was then praying for people’s conversions from this sin.
The next part of my shift was prayed on a walk outside through my neighborhood again. Very windy, but beautiful. I prayed another rosary… the Joyful Mysteries this time. I was praying that people would see the GIFT of their children (born and unborn), and of course, praying for the abortion workers as well.
For the last part of the shift, Shift Buddy Beth Ann and I had a video call via Facebook. We prayed a couple litanies, the 40 Days devotional for today, and a few other prayers. It was good. It’s times like this that technology is such a gift. Thanks, Beth Ann!
Mary M and Barbara K.:
Today during my shift I prayed the Glorious Mysteries, very slowly, as I was also thinking of my former father-in-law, who is in hospice with only days to live. A staunch Protestant and a good man, he had some trouble accepting a Catholic daughter-in-law, but I never forgot something he once said- that he had to admire Catholics, because they were firm in their belief that abortion is wrong, and were willing to put themselves out there. Of course we know that many people of all faiths, even of no faith, see abortion for the egregious sin that it is, and some are willing to join in the fight, and it’s true that more and more hearts and minds are changing. It is so good to know people who have sacrificed their time and their comforts to confront the abortion mills and call it what it is, remembering that it is our Creator who gives us the strength to persevere and who hears our pleas. I thank God for all of you!
Today is my last day praying at my assigned time for the vigil. But my prayers for the protection of life in the womb and the conversion of hearts of all those involved in the abortion holocaust will continue. I am in awe of the wonderful people I met during this campaign, their holiness and dedication. I fear that abortions will continue for quite some time, but rest assured that God has heard our prayers. It’s not time yet. I cry at nights knowing that babies were torn to shreds at 933 Liberty Avenue. Please God, save the babies! It’s not time yet.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple because it was not his time yet. However, now is our time to choose. Whose side are we on? Well friends, we have shouted loud and clear to our Lord that we are on His side! We have planted seeds of hope in all who have seen our presence. We HAVE changed hearts. We have SAVED babies, maybe more than we know! I am reminded of 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” And Mathew 25:23, “Well done good and faithful servant…” I think God is pleased with our work. Blessings to all of you as we approach “virtual” Holy Week.
Sometimes, things look insurmountable.
But we must trust in God and NOT give up.
God is the One who will win this battle.
We just have to show up and do what we can to reach the goal.
Please read to the end, to learn about national 40 Days for Life news about Planned Parenthood in Pittsburgh.
40 Days for Life
Here we are… praying from home (or elsewhere) again today!
Thank you all for hanging in there with us as we continue to pray. You are all amazing. God is with us, and He continues to be on the move! A worldwide pandemic cannot stop our God!
The LORD said to Moses, “Go down at once to your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved. They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ The LORD said to Moses, “I see how stiff-necked this people is. Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.”
But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying, “Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent he brought them out, that he might kill them in the mountains and exterminate them from the face of the earth’? Let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.’“ So the LORD relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.
Exodus 32:7-13ab, 14
What can we take away from this powerful passage? God sees the sins of His people, and STILL has mercy. God sees our depravity, and STILL gives us another chance. We humans tend to mess things up quite a lot, don’t we? And yet, Our Lord STILL says, “I love you. You are valuable and precious to me. I will help you.”
And so it is with abortion. Our world has permitted abortion for far too long. But our God knows that we are in a battle! It is HIS battle. And He trusts us to be willing to fight this spiritual battle of Life v. Death… with PRAYER.
Our ancient enemy, the devil, may think he can win, because he may assume we are weak and useless. And yet- he also knows the great POWER of prayer. He will ultimately be defeated. The killing of our unborn children cannot continue forever. It WILL be stopped. And PRAYER can help to STOP IT.
Shawn Carney’s message for Day 30:
Shift Manager Reports:
Peggy and I met at the Oratory and prayed for two hours, although we did 8-10 instead of 7-9, since the Oratory does not open until eight. We had a very peaceful, prayerful shift. We didn’t get rained on, we didn’t get the middle finger, and we didn’t get yelled at!
I prayed my first hour as part of the Rosary Congress. I had signed up for the 8 AM hour today. So I prayed all three mysteries of the rosary for an end to the pandemic and for a return and belief in the Eucharist, and an end to abortion. For the second hour, I continued to pray and meditate on Scripture. The epistle reading for today was the story of Elijah raising the widow’s son. In that account, he actually lays his body on the dead boy, with his mouth on the boy’s mouth, and his hands on the boy’s hands. In this time of social distancing, I’ve thought about what a close and intimate encounter that was, that Elijah breathed his own life into that boy and raised him from the dead. I thought about how we all need that intimate encounter with Christ as well, to heal us from the death of sin.
We (Meredith, Chuck, Carol and myself) began with a texting prayer among ourselves at the beginning and at different times during our shift. Meredith, Carol and I prayed at our homes and Chuck prayed in front of Planned Parenthood. Chuck said he only noticed one lady going into PP and she came out a few minutes later. As Meredith was praying this morning, she was reminded of a vision she had had while praying one day. What she saw in the vision was intense light that filled the building housing PP. Those big windows in the front were bright with light and it seemed like all that the building was filled with was light, from the front to the back.
I got really excited when I heard that!!! That is a mighty vision in light of all of our praying and fasting, especially when we think of Jesus as the Light of the World, and to imagine that entire building filled with the Presence and the Light of Jesus. This is symbolic of so many powerful things that are going on in the unseen spiritual world since we truly believe that God answers prayer, such as the spirit of darkness dispelled by Jesus the Light, the spirit of death dispelled by Jesus who is Life, the Spirit of Truth piercing the veil of deception that has blinded so many, and 933 Liberty Avenue being the LIGHTHOUSE that shines brightly into the City of Pittsburgh. It’s all good and all of God! We thank Him for glimpses as we wait on the Lord. He is faithful.
My prayer time consisted of praying the rosary with those who were praying on the radio. And I’m not sure, but I think I recognized the voices of two of our Shift Managers, Marie and Ginny! It made me really feel like I was praying with our team!
Then, I went for a walk around my neighborhood and prayed another rosary. I came home, and for the last half hour or so, I sat outside in the gorgeous weather, and prayed some pro-life prayers I found online. All in all, it was a beautiful time of prayer.
One thing struck me as I was walking and praying. We have all been praying for PP to close its doors for a long time. The dangers and damages done to families in that facility are incalculable. But how deliberate are we in our praying? We try to be- but there are often typical city distractions that can pull us away from our primary purpose. MAYBE- just MAYBE- the Lord is enabling us to become more focused in our prayer time for the end of this campaign. I’m NOT saying that that’s what the pandemic is about. Not at all. Just saying that it might be a convenient side effect for us to be able to pray in a more deliberate and focused way. COME, HOLY SPIRIT, and flood that building with Your PRESENCE!!!
It’s sad not to be at PP tonight, praying with faithful prayer buddy Barb and other 40 Days friends. I so loved reading that Hank and Judy kept their shift yesterday and bravely stood outside PP, praying as usual for the innocent lives that would abruptly and painfully end in that place. It inspired me to stop by PP today to say a few prayers, though I feel much braver with 40 Days friends by my side! Barb emailed me last night with the suggestion of prayer and scripture reading during our shift, so that’s what we did. Barb was struck while reading John 17, where Jesus prays for His apostles, and she feels He is praying with just as much love for the babies in the womb and their mothers. I also believe He has so much love for the abortionists and their staff, and will welcome them with open arms when they are ready to renounce the sin of abortion and turn to Him.
LET. US. PRAY.
Lastly…40 Days for Life National team mentions Pittsburgh’s Planned Parenthood worker who coughed on one of our volunteers during the current pandemic.
Most of you probably saw that Shawn Carney will be on EWTN tonight at 10pm EST. One of the things he will discuss is the circumstance where a Pittsburgh PP worker intentionally coughed on one of our prayer volunteers in the midst of the Coronavirus. Hope you can watch tonight, or if not, he may have a video link on the national blog tomorrow at 40daysforlife.com. The recent blog post that mentions the Pittsburgh incident can be found here:
In addition, Shawn also recently included in his blog a link to an article by Sue Thayer, former abortion worker and current National 40 Days for Life team member. She discusses the situation in Pittsburgh in her article as well. You can read Sue’s article here:
Today, many of us are celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary.
Part of today’s Gospel passage is included here:
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
One thing I have recently read is this interesting interpretation of the above passage, known as the “reverence theory.” Perhaps St. Joseph did NOT want to “divorce” his wife at all. In this theory, “he does not doubt her purity and innocence. Instead, he doubts his worthiness and ability to take care of Mary and the child. A just man, he knows that Mary belongs to God and he considers himself unworthy of living with Mary. He decides to separate himself from her quietly out of justice to God and reverence for Mary. He is willing to leave the picture so as not to reveal her mystery.” (Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of our Spiritual Father, p. 143.)
What I find especially interesting– and relevant to 40 Days for Life– is that at the news of this new life in the womb of his betrothed, St. Joseph had the appropriate response: REVERENCE. This is ALWAYS the appropriate response to the miracle of life– whether the woman houses the Son of God in her womb, or any other newly conceived little one. Conception, pregnancy, gestation, birth….. these are absolute MIRACLES. Let us hope that all men– all the fathers of newly conceived little ones in the womb– respond to their children (and to the mothers of their children) with a manly REVERENCE that desires only to love and protect these women and children. And thanks be to God for an example of such a Godly man in St. Joseph.
Shift Manager Reports:
It was such a quiet and peaceful shift this morning! It was just Peggy and I along with Samuel. Peggy and I prayed on our knees, one on either side of the circle. It was so peaceful and quiet without the usual passersby. Many employees going in today, but praise God, no clients! I feel like everything has been stripped away, all the fluff, and we are down to the nitty-gritty, real reason for us being there. It is just us and them at this point. The workers and our prayers. They look at us as they walk in, trying to pretend like they don’t see us, but I think our silent prayers are very loud in their ears.
While I was praying I felt such gratitude for our faithful team members who have been doing this for so long, I thought about how we have been able to do this for so long because we have so many dedicated people that it distributes the work and nobody gets overwhelmed by having to do too much themselves. An analogy came to mind of a funeral, where the pallbearers carry the weight of the casket. Any one of them would not be able to carry that casket alone, but with six or eight of them, it is doable.
Then I started to think about how much weight we are carrying in that casket that is holding the remains of all of the babies who have been aborted at this Planned Parenthood since we have started in 2010. With 3000 being killed every year, that would be 30,000 tiny babies. How much weight would that amount to? Actually, I just did the math, a 12 week fetus weighs 1 ounce, multiply that times 30,000 and you have a combined weight of 1875 pounds. We need all of us, our entire team, to carry this weight.
Near the end of our shift, Katie arrived and began writing messages of hope on the sidewalk with chalk. It was such a blessing to have her there. And as always on Thursday mornings, it was a joy to see the smiling faces of the Lincoln Pl. Nazarene group! Sorry, no pictures. Thank you everybody for your faithfulness!
Thank you to the faithful volunteers who joined us in prayer today. A strange week to be downtown, for sure. No one going inside PP except workers. So that- plus the fact that we were keeping distance from each other- really allowed for some good quiet prayer time. SO much to pray for, and SO many different ways to pray while we are there. Thank you all for ALL that you do.
Not only did today’s vigil feel like spring, we had flowers and even a dose of “spring cleaning” from an unusual source. The flower petals were plentiful. Everyone had a smile.
Today the yellow arc seemed to be keeping the evil “in” while we prayed for everyone trapped in its clutches. We saw no customers going in and only a few employees coming out. Someone said it was a “training day,” whatever that means.
When the PP guard came out with a little bucket of water and a broom and used them to obliterate the pro-life slogans on the street, Sam reminded him that he was washing a public street and not the property of PP.
He did not use his “tools” on the words and phone number on the sidewalk closest to PP’s door.
We started our vigil with a rosary and Divine Mercy prayers on the left side of the line. Almost right away we moved to the right side for another rosary. When we returned to the left side, it was 4:00 and time for the rosary and another Divine Mercy, as requested by Pope Francis in honor of St. Joseph on his Feast Day.
As we prayed, a lovely lady came and admired our precious models. She said her daughter was awaiting the birth of her son. This was Grandma, so happy that the baby was still coming, since her daughter had tried to rid herself of her baby. She said, “You know how women can get so mad at their men.” She said her daughter is now in the hospital and being taken care of while her baby grows.
When I arrived, the earlier group had just finished some intense praying, just what is needed, with a prominently displayed crucifix. Faithful prayer warrior Barb was already there and we were soon joined by Lisa M., praying on her knees and then covering every side of PP with prayer. Our protector Samuel was present; it’s always a joy to see him. Apparently today was a “training day” at PP, and hearing that made me wonder if anyone can look at a sonogram and not see a precious, helpless human being. I was told the security guard at PP, under orders from the employees, doused Katie’s beautifully written “Where there’s life, there’s hope” from the street. More willful destruction from PP. All I know is, no one ever looks happy entering or exiting PP. I feel very blessed to have such wonderful vigil partners!
People are being killed at Planned Parenthood ALL THE TIME. And yet… and YET… we cannot forget HOPE. The hope is NOT that the children who were killed can ever come back. The hope is for the LIVING. Those who can still choose life. Those who can still choose family. And those who can change. THEY can have hope. And so can we.
As long as the post-abortive father or mother is still alive, there is HOPE that he or she may be healed.
As long as the abortion worker is still alive, there is HOPE that he or she might turn away from a job that profits from killing.
As long as we who pray on that sidewalk are still alive, there is HOPE that 933 Liberty will CLOSE for good, and that it might become a place of life and joy.
We are Christians. Jesus rose from the dead. We can’t be like the rest of the world, those who have no hope. As long as we remain close to the Lord, there is ALWAYS hope.
Shift Manager Reports
There are many things I am thankful for during this morning’s shift. First of all, it was not a busy clinic day! Thankfully not many people going in. Secondly, the weather was mild and pleasant, and thirdly, I had wonderful prayer partners, Amy and Peggy with me for the whole shift. It was a peaceful and quiet time, which I spent praying on my knees, which is how I have felt led to spend my sidewalk time lately. Thanks to everybody who is praying and coming along on this 40 day journey through the desert. God will use it for good!
Thank you to Nikki for taking a picture of our crew, Chuck, Carol and myself from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene. We were joined before long by Bill, who brought the sunshine with him!
My impression was that they were not killing babies there yesterday. There seemed to be some kind of presentation going on. A man hauled in huge duffle bags (I mistook him for a homeless person at first!) and was followed in by a woman who was apparently the presenter. A couple of people came out of Planned Parenthood who must have gone in before our shift, but hardly any going in stopped at the window. (Apparently employees.) We were blessed to be joined by Mike and first time attendee, Hannah. Very grateful for a quiet day.
Well, thanks be to God for the beautiful weather today…. even though I still had my thermal layers on! (Better safe than sorry!) One crazy thing I want to apologize for– I don’t know why, but most of my photos I had taken at the vigil were NOT on my phone when I got home! I’m so sorry, but only ONE photo remained! But we had some awesome people praying with us today! Thank you to Chris, Bob, Ken, Mike and his niece Hannah, Denise and her daughter Rachel, and first-timers Sandy and her son Marty. God bless you all!
Nikki mentioned in her report that there was not a lot of foot traffic into PP today. She was right. Perhaps there were some meetings going on, who knows. But it was nice to NOT have clients going in.
One passerby, on seeing our sign that says “Women DO Regret Abortion,” “cheerfully” called out to us the reasons she did NOT regret her abortion. Sigh. Such a “drive-by” comment cannot possibly be addressed in the moment. There are so many multi-layered issues there. I simply responded with a kind “God bless you.” Sometimes, that’s the most charitable thing we can do in that moment.
However, the BEST thing that happened was this. A young couple approached the resource table and started picking up brochures. Volunteer Mike called me over to talk with them. I asked if they needed help. The woman said, “I just don’t know what to do.” I asked if she was expecting, congratulated her, and asked how far along she was. I then showed her, via the fetal models, the “rough” size of her baby now in the womb.
The couple was worried about their ability to care for the child financially. We talked about that a little, and I offered her one of the cards and explained about the services she could receive. They both were so sweet and receptive. They thanked me and left.
A little while later, they came back from the other direction. I had just been praying for them, and was HOPING they were not going into PP. They didn’t. The woman asked me, “Can you pray for me?” I smiled and said, “I already have been.” Then she said, “But I mean, right now, out loud?” I said, “Absolutely.” I prayed for this sweet couple and their baby. And she thanked me, gave me a hug, looked at us and smiled and said, “Nice people.” And they left. Oh…. God is amazing. Let us continue to pray for this couple who is sincerely searching and desiring GOOD.
Carolyn (with report by Beverly):
I myself was only there from about 1 to 2:20. It was Carolyn, Kathy (a first timer), myself and Bill and then about 2 o’clock, Anita and Cathy came and the other new lady Kathy had to leave. We didn’t get any negative remarks. A couple people said thank you, and we were able to pass out brochures to people, but as usual most people were hardened and didn’t look our way. But I pray for the ones that did receive the literature, that they would read it and be touched by it.
Toward the end of my shift, two young ladies walked by but would not take the literature, but they waited for a bus across the street. Kathy, the new lady, as she was leaving, crossed the street and engaged them in some conversation. I’m not sure how that ended, but at least she was able to say something to them.
As far as PP was concerned, there weren’t many going in or coming out. However, my personal prayer was that the babies went without pain directly into the arms of Jesus, and that the women would change their minds and not go through with it, and that the workers would be convicted and quit their jobs there. I’m sure that’s something we all can agree with and continue to pray for.
While we were on the sidewalk, I saw only one person go into PP. She was inside for a brief time and back out within 15 minutes or so. We did see employees leaving for the day. Thank God, it was not another Tuesday.
While we prayed, we had the usual passers-by who aimed gestures and words of contempt toward us. I think the “thank yous” and “God bless yous” were welcomed as much or more. The “different” gesture for today was a man who, as he walked past us, leaned over and coughed at us – twice.
Traffic on the sidewalks and at crossings seemed to be a whole lot less than we expect at these hours. Even the usual long line for buses was absent today.
It was warm enough to take off our coats.
Two ladies came along, saying they had not eaten for two days. They said they were from out of town, but when we offered to take them to Catholic Charities, one of them said “all they had was noodles.” Our belief in her experience dimmed when she said they were from “someplace else.”
Mary Jane pulled out her card and said, “Come on, ladies. We’ll go over to McDonald’s and you can get a hamburger.” At that, the lady said, “Never mind.” She walked away and the young woman with her shrugged and followed her. Apparently, they wanted cash.
By 4:30, our numbers increased. Rose L. and the 5:00-7:00 group filed in, along with a man who joined us for our final rosary. It felt good to see nine smiling 40 Days veterans.
A little footnote: shortly after the ladies who refused the hamburgers left, a man who was ready to cross the street in front of PP asked if we would be there “tomorrow.” I told him we are there from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm. He said, “Tomorrow I’ll bring hoagies. I sell hoagies, and I’ll bring them.” He said he went on the March for Life every year in what sounded like his teens. He was probably 20 years beyond that. It will be good to see him, no matter who is at the vigil tomorrow.
When I arrived, faithful Shift Buddy Barb was already there, and we prayed a rosary with Rose from St. John Capistran, who had joined an earlier shift and stayed for ours. Helen and Mary Jane from the earlier shift joined us, and Patti and her friend John from St. Titus in Aliquippa arrived for our shift and also joined us. We then split up so we could be on both sides of the circle, and we had some encouraging words from passers-by.
One man, who has previously approached the group asking for money, told us a story about being released from the hospital and needing money to get home, and although Barb was very kind and explained that we don’t carry money, he stalked off. He has been seen before and will probably approach people again.
We were blessed with great weather and a mostly uneventful shift, until the end when the materials were being loaded into the car and someone (from the yellow bar?) approached Barb and Patti and asked why we weren’t home, doing “something good.” Barb answered tactfully that we were there to save lives because we love babies; the questioner replied that she also loved babies, but “that” wasn’t a baby. She was applauded by her friends standing outside the bar. She didn’t care to stay and have a real discussion, just wanted to make her point. Unfortunately that’s what we face every day–people who believe a real, live, created child is a blob that can be easily removed, and that we are trampling on women’s rights when we show up to witness for the unborn. It’s discouraging, but we see evidence of changing hearts, a little at a time. I am blessed to have such wonderful people to pray with.
Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Who needs help on that sidewalk?
1. Women and men in crisis.
2. The preborn children in danger.
3. The abortion workers.
4. Those of us who pray on the sidewalk.
5. The passersby.
So, EVERYONE on Liberty Avenue, at any given time, is in need of help. How can I say this with such certainty? Because we are all human. And we all have needs. As we pray on the sidewalk each of these 40 days, let us consider: HOW does this person need my help– or ultimately, God’s help– right now? And then if we can pray for them, let us pray. If we can do more, let us do more. But let it NEVER be said that when someone is in need, that God (possibly through someone else) didn’t answer or help.
Shift Manager Reports:
Thank the Lord for sunshine and blue skies, and for faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who are praying and sacrificing for an end to abortion! Faithful Thao was praying on her knees this morning for the first hour, along with Peggy and me. Thao is sick but is still coming out in the cold. Please pray for her healing as well as for her other intentions which she has asked us to pray for.
As we were all three on our knees praying, a young confused-looking couple headed towards the door. We offered them information, which they refused, but they walked past and did not go in. I began to pray for them and offered up the pain in my knees for them and their child. They eventually did come back about half an hour later. I was still on my knees, and I told them that I was continuing to pray for them specifically and the man told me to keep praying. They walked by a second time, but eventually they did come back and they went in. That baby was prayed for and had an advocate, and I believe that when he or she is taken in the arms of the angel to heaven, he or she will be thankful that we were there for them.
Unfortunately, it was a very busy abortion morning. At least eight couples that we saw went in. I felt led to stay on my knees for most of my shift. Hearts seem very hard, but we do not know of all of those who never even show up for their appointments because of our prayers and witness. We only see those who stubbornly persist on the path to destroy themselves and their child. It is discouraging, but I have faith that God is using us for good. Thanks to Carissa for coming to be a Sidewalk Advocate and to Judy and her faithful crew from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene for coming at nine for their shift.
It was good to be with Meredith, Chuck, and Carol from Lincoln Place Nazarene. We were joined by Bill for a while. We appreciated the sunshine today, even though it didn’t reach Liberty Avenue LOL, and we were thankful we did not have a repeat of last week’s wind. There was a fair amount of people going in and coming out of PP. Most of them were cold and resistant to any conversation/information/literature. There was a lady with a young child, possibly 18 months, who went in and waited for her husband/boyfriend to come in. I was able to intercept him before he went in and he was willing to listen for a short while.… until the lady inside called him and instructed him to come in. He did reveal that neither one of them wanted the abortion, but they could not financially afford another baby. They had the little one they brought with them today, and he said he also had one or two of his own and she had a couple of her own. We tried desperately to convince him, but his partner would not permit him to speak with us any longer. Lord, have mercy on this young family that has been deluded to kill their baby.
Thank you to those who came to pray today. It is always so important. Families’ lives were totally broken inside that building today. Generations severed. Futures lost. And this kind of destruction happens “in the moment.” If only more conversations could be had with those couples before they go inside. And when presented with the opportunity to have such a discussion, we MUST hear them out. We MUST listen with an empathetic and compassionate heart. Many of these people either do not know what else to do– or they don’t even REALIZE the gravity of what is taking place. May we always listen with love.
Vince said the weather was so lovely, it was almost like spring. Mary Catherine brought Ann and the four of them made a fine parish team. Mary Jean always has a happy hello for everyone.
We prayed the Joyful Mysteries with the beautiful LIFE rosary together, and another group rosary rang in the concrete canyons of downtown Pittsburgh.
Only one really crude remark was spat at us. Mostly the “waiting for the bus” crowd and the “little ones going home from daycare” were the major sidewalk traffic.
Several ladies from the 5:00-7:00 shift arrived in time to pray with us. That was a real bonus.
Barb K. and I were fortunate enough to arrive early and spend a little prayer time with Anita and the previous shift group. We were blessed to be joined by Judi D., then Soad V. and Carolina G., all beautiful souls and love-filled pray-ers. We were joined for a short while by Ericson V., who was on his way to the Greyhound station but wanted to share his prolife views with us, and Peg K., who prayed with us. We were also blessed with very reasonable weather!
We had a few negative drive-by comments and vigorous headshakes, and if only the nay-sayers/headshakers had stopped by to speak with us, they would learn the truth of what really happens inside PP, and why we are there to try to save the precious lives of the unborn. I noticed a sign in the upper window of the PP building, saying “We Support Your Choice” but nothing could be further from the truth. I know that if a young woman goes through the door of PP because she needs help with a pregnancy, she will be strongly encouraged to have an abortion. We know that the motivation behind this is the money PP receives for abortions, but it’s clear that while they are pretending to support these vulnerable women, they are treating them with total disrespect. They are telling these women that their babies are not worth bringing to life. They have seemingly judged these woman to be poor and ignorant, and incapable of loving and raising their children. These women are not given the truth about the dangers of abortion, nor information about adoption; they are just processed through the system and are left empty, and too bad if they have regrets later.
We did, on the positive side, receive many thank you’s and I agree with you’s and God bless you’s, so that always helps to reinforce the determination. It’s always uplifting to pray with those we were blessed to be with!
Additional comment from Mary:
Forgot to add something-while we were at PP this evening a young woman, an employee or patron of the bar, came over to ask us to pray for her mother, Alice, who is very ill in the hospital. We prayed for her and I said that I would ask everyone else to pray for her too. Thanks!
“Not only is the fact of the destruction of so many human lives still to be born or in their final stage extremely grave and disturbing, but no less grave and disturbing is the fact that conscience itself, darkened as it were by such widespread conditioning, is finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the basic value of human life.” (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995)
Every day, I’m sure, there has to be at least one high-level official of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania reviewing what we write in this blog. Assuming that’s correct, I’d respectfully ask that individual to take at least a few minutes to take what John Paul II has written to a personal level. Do this by asking yourself this: Have I found it increasingly difficult to distinguish between good and evil?
Shift Manager Reports
The morning started out sort of pretty, although it was very cold. The light snowfall and the calm air made it sort of peaceful and serene. Peggy and I prayed the rosary on our knees while Thao prayed on the other side of the circle. As the morning progressed, the wind picked up and it seemed like the temperature dropped. It got to be very bitterly cold and things were beginning to blow around the sidewalk. We were grateful to have Amy as a Sidewalk Advocate, and then also Katie and Claire came.
It was a very busy abortion day; sadly many couples entered those doors as Amy and Katie valiantly tried to intercede on behalf of those who were being led to the slaughter. There was one couple who looked very young who, although they refused the information and went in, left again after about 10 minutes. They had not come back as of the time I left. Let’s pray that they will have a change of heart and will not come back!
It was almost time for my shift to be over and I was just getting up to take down my large artwork display, when a big gust of wind blew it off of its place and right into the sidewalk into the path of a passerby! Luckily I was right there and grabbed it immediately, and nobody was hurt; it is very light. But, I had a scare when I tried to carry it down the sidewalk. The wind was so strong, and the artwork acted like a sail. I literally could not stop myself, the wind was pushing me where it wanted me to go and I had absolutely no control! It was the scariest sensation! Luckily Amy came to my rescue and saved me! She helped me to bring the sign to where it needed to go. This reminds me of one time when Sally was participating in Face the Truth and she was holding a large sign. She was much smaller and lighter than I am, and she had the same experience of being carried away with the wind blowing her large sign! One good thing- I was tired and sleepy before that happened, but after the adrenaline rush, I am wide awake now! Thank you Lord for protection today!
We arrived on the scene this morning just about the time Nikki was literally being swept away by the wind. During our shift, we had numerous encounters with people coming in and going out of PP today. Even though we approached them, they were not interested in looking at us, talking to us, or much less interested in taking our lit. We continue to pray that God will soften hearts of abortion-minded people and that they will be receptive to receive help to save their babies.
Although it was cold today (so cold I couldn’t move my lips to speak properly after my shift), it was VERY warming to my heart that five of us women were out there to pray. I couldn’t help thinking that OUR feminism– the authentic feminism that says that it is GOOD for women to be women– is SO much more beautiful than a radical feminism that supports the killing of unborn children who grow in our wombs. Thank you to all of the authentically FEMININE women out there, who see the beauty of their womanhood….. and thank you to all of the good men in their lives who honor them.
It was a busy time at PP during my shift. Sad to see that. Why are so many young people attracted to PP? One reason might be– because it offers a quick “solution” to end one’s dilemmas. Maybe we should be teaching our young people about true love and the meaning of their bodies instead.
When I arrived at PP, Mary Jane was already there, and Carolyn was ready to leave. I had no idea how cold it was, even though Nikki called the office to say we might want to close the vigil early because of the weather. Anita and her northern friends (meaning Butler) and Edith were busy handing out brochures, and Mary Jane was lively and smiling. Thank goodness for fingers and toes because it was too cold to feel the rosary beads in my pocket. The hand warmers were a pleasant bonus.
As 4:00 approached, I called Nikki, who called Diane. I was amazed at how quickly she came. Diane has a methodical, practiced routine for getting all the signs, the tent, the brochures, the salt bucket and the weights into her car. She asks that we refrain from bringing extra “stuff” because it just won’t fit into her vehicle. I have several very good signs that I will take to the PCUC office for whoever wants to take them downtown again. Michele arrived for her first vigil, and she was disappointed that it was so brief. Even when I left, Bernadette wanted to stay and finish her rosary. Thank God for the generous hearts of those who keep the 40 Days for Life vigil.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Taste and see how good the LORD is; blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
This passage made me think of all of the women and men who might feel that they have no other alternative than abortion. The passage seems to call ALL of us to TRUST in God and in the refuge that He is. If we look to the world for our solutions, we will never find fulfillment. But when we look to HIM… and we taste and see how good HE is… we are “radiant with joy.” May all abortion-vulnerable couples KNOW THIS TRUTH as well.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a dark, slightly rainy and windy time on the sidewalk, but the gloom was very much brightened by the cheerful faces of Diane and Peggy! Diane is simply amazing at the way she problem-solves with the vigil materials! She has everything arranged so it stays organized and protected, and she even added a 26-week fetal model that people can hold if they want to, but is still chained down so it cannot be stolen. Thank you for all that you do, Diane!
We had a great showing from the Manordale Knights of Columbus! They stood in witness for life for our entire shift. Also, Dolores from City Center Parishes came. We did see two obviously abortion-bound couples enter. One was a young woman with her boyfriend and father, another was a young man and woman. We prayed for them and their babies. May God bring an end to this in his time!
Lincoln Place Naz was represented by Chuck, Meredith, and Judy. We were prepared for whatever weather came our way. I felt premature wearing soooo much outerwear, but when the shift was over I had not suffered any weather damage LOL.
There were a number of abortion-bound people today. A very few of them gave us the opportunity to talk with them. I was able to speak to one young lady and tell her about the number of babies PP kills every year. She said they provide other services too. I said “Very few…abortion is what they are about.” She seemed to be interested and “take in” everything I was talking about and took the card with women’s services, but it did not change her mind…at least while she was on the street. We prayed that all the women/men who went in would have their minds changed by the Holy Spirit’s prompting. It is so devastating to know that those preborn little ones are being killed as we stand on the street. I prayed all morning for them, shedding many tears. My husband reminds me that we are called to be obedient: to pray, fast and do the vigils. The battle is still the Lord’s.
Let me tell you, today was coooold. Wow, toward the end I was having a hard time- but I was trying to not let my crazy weaknesses get the best of me! Thank you to everyone who was able to join us for this little “reminder of winter!”
Although some people had gone in prior to my shift, traffic entering PP was rather light between 1-3. But the tragedies inside were happening nonetheless. The gloomy weather actually matched the mood of what goes on inside an abortion facility. Even if a woman is not there for an abortion, we know that the overall mindset of Planned Parenthood is NOT to have true concern for the woman’s life…. emotions…. fears. It is NOT a place that cares for women in the WHOLE of their womanhood. That’s what I love about Pregnancy Care Centers…. they are all about helping the woman in many overlapping aspects of her life and concerns. THANK YOU to all who assist women and men in Pregnancy Care Centers!!
One interesting thing happened. Probably a divinely orchestrated meeting. A beautiful young woman stood near us on the sidewalk, and was confused about where to go, because she had gotten off her bus at the wrong stop. She was then waiting for a ride, and was on her way to a job interview. She asked Fran and me what we were doing, and we told her. She was generally in pleasant agreement about our mission– to pray for an end to abortion. And she told us about her three young children. We had a lovely and friendly conversation. Fran and I discussed later that perhaps the Holy Spirit brought her there for some reason we know nothing about. God is so cool like that.
Edith (filling in for Carolyn):
Our parish grouping (St. Mary/St. James) was represented today by Maureen, Mary Alice, and myself, joined by Crystal, a highly dedicated pro-lifer from West Virginia who attends Christ Church at Grove Farm. Transportation glitches made us late, so when we arrived Shift Manager Carolyn was already praying for the mothers and babies with Jim from Assumption. Soon we were joined by Cil and her parish priest from Butler County, who had helped a man in need (and been encouraged by his faith) on their walk through Downtown from their parking spot.
It is sad and discouraging standing on the Coldest Patch of Sidewalk in Pittsburgh, and always I know I could have done much better, could have tried much harder to offer life-saving help and information to the suffering moms and dads walking in and out of the death mill. But we know God hears every prayer, and it truly seemed that some of the folks accepting literature from us VERY MUCH WANTED THE INFORMATION, perhaps to pass on to a friend in a crisis pregnancy.
By 3:00, Helen, Fran, and Anita had arrived, along with Mary Kay and at least one other prayer warrior. As my dear, sainted father used to remark, “EVERYBODY you meet in the pro-life movement is such a nice person!!” It is a humbling privilege for me to know you all.
Everyone was glad they wore a coat. Gust blew our display, including our baby. Passersby left generous donations. Lots of good prayer time. 😉
Thao (filling in for Mary):
It was yet another quiet evening on the sidewalk with people busy getting home. Some stopped to express their support. Some spared us a passing thought that we should feel ashamed of ourselves. I don’t think standing for what we believe in should be something to be ashamed of.
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
The Lord God is our Heavenly Father, who not only WANTS what is best for us, but GIVES it to us. Even when we don’t realize it or understand it.
Jesus tells us in the above passage that human fathers know how to give good gifts to their children. MOST of the time, this is true. Just look at these examples in the images below. We can imagine little ones asking their loving dads to help them, to teach them, to love them.
What is so beautiful about human fathers is that they are meant to be images of God our Heavenly Father. Even when they fail to do so, they are still called to that in their very being. And if all of these human fathers shown above can do so many loving things for their children, Jesus reminds us how much MORE Our Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
During 40 Days for Life, we too can ASK and PRAY that the Holy Spirit come into our lives anew. When we do this, we not only have the power of God working mighty deeds in OUR LIVES as pro-life advocates, but He can work mighty deeds in the lives of all passersby on the sidewalk, all of the abortion workers for whom we pray, and all of the abortion-vulnerable men and women who enter Planned Parenthood. God CAN and DOES do mighty works! Let us continue to ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK. May we TRUST that God in His goodness will work powerfully to do what is BEST for ALL of His children, and bring them to FREEDOM, JOY, and LIFE.
Shift Manager Reports
Diane, Peg, Cathy, Mar, and Richard expertly set up the sidewalk for our Thursday vigil. Cathy and Mary belong to the newly organizing Catholic parish, Lower Allegheny Valley Catholic Churches. The sun came out, the sky was blue and a gentle breeze refreshed us all. Bill came. It was great to see him. This is the first time we have seen him this fall.
Very soon after, Suzanne joined us. Her preschool granddaughter lives with her and she took her to preschool this morning. Today is her first witness day with us. She felt the Holy Spirit suggest that she join us. Talking with her we learned that she is not new to prolife. “I learn things from the internet,” she said. Reporting that she does not belong to an organized religion, Suzanne and we prayed the Lord’s Prayer.
Today is an abortion day at Planned Parenthood. It is hard to realize that people schedule a visit here and leave their legally killed baby behind. All of the workers appear normal before they go into the building. All of the parents appear normal before they go into the building. When the people come out of Planned Parenthood, they appear unchanged. Loving each and every person, God searches each heart, hoping for a whisper of an opening. He longs to return them to the path of LIFE. “More tortuous than all else is the human heart.” Jeremiah 17:9
Thursday 9-11 shift – Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene, joined by other friends and a couple of God’s creatures.
I didn’t get last week’s blog report done, so I’m including it in this week’s (I will keep it short). So, just so you don’t lose interest before you start, I thought these pics might hold your interest. Last week Meredith, Chuck and I held down the vigil. We had a lot of positive, affirming people pass by, which was encouraging. We were later joined by Priscilla from St. John the Baptist Ukrainian, who stopped by to pray the rosary before continuing on her errands. We were also joined by Daniel from St. Joseph to pray the rosary as well. In the beginning of the shift, there was a young man who was extremely agitated and was hurling verbal abuse at us. In the midst of his rantings, he disclosed that he had aborted 3 babies of his own. That explained his angry and abusive spirit. Join us in praying for God’s mercy on his life.
We were able to engage two couples that day who seemed to be on the fence and were willing to listen to information about other options and reasons for not having the abortion. But sadly, we did not see them change their minds before the end of our shift. We still see their faces and each time they come to our minds we will pray for them. Side Note: towards the end of the shift the mounted police came down the street. It was a blessing to see them; they were so beautiful. The officer on the last horse is Shannon, a friend of mine.
Today, we had Meredith, Pastor Joe, Kathy, Lynn, and myself. We engaged a couple who got out of the car in front of us. A very tragic situation. They were seeking an abortion. Long story short we were able to talk with them at length and pray with them a couple of times. We saw them head through the doors. We don’t know the outcome, but she did not come back out during our shift.
Shortly after we arrived, a large butterfly flew up to me, landed on my leg and proceeded to crawl upward along the zipper of my coat. I’m assuming it was the color of the coat that attracted it??? I love nature because it’s so close to God’s heart. The butterfly is the symbol of life…new life. And we are speaking LIFE in the Name of Jesus over the culture of death at PP and in the City of Pittsburgh!!!! And I believe the butterfly was God’s message to us…the culture is shifting to LIFE!!!! Hallelujah!!!
It was a sad day at Planned Parenthood, as many days are. For me, it was mostly sad because I met and spoke with (and hopefully consoled) a father whose child was killed there today (it was the man Judy spoke about in the report above). It’s a terrible thing, that reality. And there are no perfect words to say to make things better. But he seemed to genuinely appreciate the kindness and concern he received. But his life will never be the same. And of course, neither will it be the same for the mother or their family. I pray that he allows himself to grieve.
Some other people walked past with their “one-liners” they like to cast out toward us. My husband mentioned some ideas for responding to one person in particular who passes every week and says the same disgusting line. But in response to that line, I simply replied, “Have a nice day.” I told my husband that it does not seem prudent to engage someone in a discussion who is so angry. But I also told him, “There are SO many hurting people out there.” And this person is one. I pray that that hurt can be healed.
Lastly, there was another woman who talked to me who is post-abortive. She first was confused about why we were there– whether we were promoting abortion or not. When we told her that we are there to pray for an end to abortion, her tough demeanor seemed to soften. She said that she had had an abortion a long time ago, and that she had been forced into it. She said she had been far enough along in her pregnancy to find out that the baby was a boy. She said her son would have been twelve this year. I was able to give her some post-abortive information, and she seemed really thankful.
So much sadness. So many people living with this pain. But we can help. We can talk to them and give them resources. We can pray. We can love.
Cecilia (sending on behalf of Carolyn):
The weather was just beautiful today. It was nice to see Shift Manager, Carolyn, and her smiling face. We thought that we might be alone a few days ago, but several heard the call and joined us. Praise God!
Thank you to Beth from Precious Blood Church for signing up to let us know that she would be there. A young man, Marcus, who spoke with us was impressed to see her reading her Bible. I was blessed to have members from my Parish family, St Joseph in Cabot, with me. Thanks again to our priest, Father Jim, for coming down a second time to the vigil. And thanks to my good friends, Joyce and Patti for making the trip with me too! Mike was there with us from the beginning and joined right in with my parish in praying the rosary. He even stayed into the next shift. Cletus, from St Anne, stopped by since she was in the area, and spoke with us for a while. She talked about the garbage being taught to our kids in school in Health class, etc., and the other immoral stuff that is pushed on us in the world today. She planned to return to catch Helen. Donna from St. Kilian and Marianne from St. Alphonsus stopped by for a short while, then decided to go to St. Stanislaus to continue to pray.
PP had too much traffic today. One young couple came out and stopped by the bookstore. I was able to speak with the man at first. He said that the time was just not right for them. But you could see the sadness in his eyes. I gave him a Rachel’s Vineyard pamphlet and he asked if they helped men too. The girlfriend came over and seemed to appreciate the resource. I told her that she would probably have a lot of emotions going through her after this and RV may be able to help her. Prayers for repentance and healing for this couple.
Another lady that exited PP was waiting for her husband. She went in for an ultrasound because she was told she was pregnant, but PP informed her that she wasn’t pregnant, so she was confused. So I gave her our yellow card and said she could go to one of the CPC nearby for free help. She said she was on the pill, so I gave her info about that and suggested NFP.
Many other encounters today. I should write them down but then this report would be too long. I am thankful for all the pray-ers that come to the vigil. The support is there as we reach out to those passing by. God hears, and we pray hearts will be changed and lives saved because of the faithfulness of so many.
A beautiful day in the city! Mike from the 1:00-3:00 shift stayed an extra hour to pray. Paula, Vicky, Mary Catherine and Ann came from Aspinwall. Mary Catherine and Ann are truly an “extra effort” mother-daughter team. Mary Catherine has to park the van so that Ann can scoot out and onto the sidewalk in her wheelchair. Then Mary Catherine has to leave and park the van. At the end of the shift it’s the same pattern in reverse.
Nothing is sweeter than the prayers of the rosary as we see PP employees leaving for the the day. I wonder how many of the people in those long lines waiting for the buses to eastern and western suburbs pray with us, even if we don’t see them.
As we got close to the end of our shift, a poor lady spat her dislike for us on the sidewalk where it barely missed Mary Catherine. We’ll pray for her, too.
The evening shift began with Mary Catherine and her daughter Ann of St. Scholastica, and Sharon of Epiphany. After Mary Catherine and Ann left, we were joined by Jim from Holy Child in Bridgeville.
The evening was busy with passersby but quiet for us; some people walked by with a smile and some with a frown or shake of the head. I’ve noticed how so many people walk by with earbuds or headphones, oblivious to us and to what’s happening on this street, in this place that we stand vigil before, day after day.
I recall also being oblivious, for too long, to what was going on in abortion mills all over the country. I was always prolife but didn’t feel there was much I could do about stopping abortion. But one day several years ago while I was downtown, waiting for an event at the library, I went for a walk and discovered people standing, holding signs, and a prolife display. I realized that this was Planned Parenthood and these people were there to protect the rights of the unborn. I had always shied away from this kind of conflict, but in talking with these people, I realized they were peaceful and loving, open to answering questions and dispensing information to anyone who needed help. They asked me to join them but I still didn’t think I could be “out there,” in full view of the world, aligning myself with a very unpopular cause. However, the thought stayed with me and it seemed unfair to let other people do all the work, so before long I got the courage to join them, sign and all, in public prayer and peaceful protest-and it seemed right. We may not be able to stop abortion today, or next week, but knowing the lives of some children will be saved, and maybe the truth will get through to just some people, is worth being there.
May we remember to trust in the care of our Heavenly Father,
and to see His love reflected in our human fathers.
God bless all fathers, all mothers, and all families.
Do you think people want FREEDOM? How about JOY? I tend to think that most, if not all, people, desire these good things. And actually, the Lord Jesus Christ desires these things FOR us:
Galatians 5:1a tells us, “For freedom Christ set us free.”
In John 15:11, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”
These are just a couple examples. But here’s an interesting thing about the freedom and joy God wants for us. These mean something very DIFFERENT from the meanings of freedom and joy that the “world” gives us.
Today’s First Reading (Oct. 3) is from Nehemiah 8, roughly vv. 1-12. Here I offer you an edited version of that passage:
The whole people gathered as one… and they called upon Ezra the scribe to bring forth the book of the law of Moses which the LORD prescribed for Israel... and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read. Then Nehemiah… said to all the people: “Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep”– for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further: “…Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!” And the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Hush, for today is holy, and you must not be saddened.” Then all the people went to eat and drink… and to celebrate with great joy, for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.
Why were the people crying when they heard the words of God’s Law? Because they were saddened that they had not been living it out. They wanted to live according to the plan of God.
And what does Nehemiah tell the people? “Go and be miserable, because now you have a whole bunch of boring, restrictive laws to follow, and your life is going to be a drag.” UH, NO. He tells them (in a manner of speaking), “Rejoice and don’t be sad!” He tells them that this is GOOD NEWS, because now they know what to do– and how to live!!
Imagine a home in which the parents never gave the children any rules to live by, We all know that chaos, and ultimately, despair, would ensue. We see it all the time. Good parents teach their children how to live, not to restrict them- but precisely for their genuine FREEDOM and their lasting JOY.
One more thing (sorry for the length). In the passages I cited above from Galatians and John, guess what the adjoining passages say?
The whole verse of Galatians 5:1 actually says, “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
In other words, this tells us to not go back to the way we were living before, because THAT was SLAVERY. We become slaves to our temptations, passions, addictions, and sins ALL TOO EASILY; it happens to us ALL. So this is a great reminder to us to embrace the true FREEDOM that Christ has for us.
And as for that passage in John, the verse I cited is found within this context:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
So according to the Lord Jesus, JOY is COMPLETE when we follow His commandments- particularly His commandment to love.
But AGAIN– we can fall into a “worldly” definition of love. Love has often been defined as “To desire the ultimate good for another person.” If that is the case, then we can find true and complete joy in giving of ourselves in love.
Now. What about 40 Days for Life? How are we experiencing true freedom and joy in our own lives? If we’re not, it might be because we are following those worldly definitions. And if we want the women and men who enter Planned Parenthood to ALSO know this true freedom and joy, we have to be living it ourselves. We can’t give what we don’t have.
Let’s LIVE it so that we can then GIVE it. May the abortion-vulnerable people entering Planned Parenthood be touched by our true desire for their ultimate good. May the workers know this love as well. Many of them may not know that this kind of freedom and joy are possible. But I can guarantee that NO ONE who lets their baby live will EVER regret it. Abortion, on the other hand, will lead to a lifetime of regret, often in ways that might not even be conscious. Many of us have seen, heard, and known post-abortive people who tell us this. And it is a sad reality that DOES NOT HAVE TO BE.
Let us continue to PRAY and FAST, that all might know the life-giving love, freedom, and joy that comes from following the will of our great life-affirming God.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a warm, muggy morning. Not much rain, and by the end of my shift the skies were blue and the sun was shining. I was blessed to have my husband, Joe, accompany me. And, it was great to see my sidewalk buddy Peg, who I haven’t seen since last campaign! I got to meet Larry, who is a fairly new participant. Diane had our materials all set up and stayed to pray a little while with us.
It was a very quiet morning, with only one potentially abortion-bound couple who entered. They would not take any information. Dolores, representing the City Center Parishes, arrived for the second half of my shift. All was peaceful until the very end.
As I was getting ready to leave, after greeting the next shift, Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene, Judy, Chuck and Meredith, a hurting young man stopped and was visibly upset with us. He was upset about the fetal models. He was trying to control himself, but he was visibly shaking and almost looked like he was trying to hold back tears. He was telling us that we give Christians a bad name, that we are there to shame people who are going in, and that Planned Parenthood does all sorts of good things for women. As I suspected, he told us that he had been there three times himself to abort his own children.
I tried to have a reasonable conversation with him. I honestly felt only love and compassion in my heart for this poor young man, whom Satan obviously has bound through his own participation in abortion. Unfortunately, he would not let anyone else get a word in. I tried to talk, and ended up raising my voice, just in an effort to be heard, but it probably sounded like I was arguing. Please pray for this poor young man. Obviously, the fact that he is so bothered by us means that his conscience is still alive and there is hope! Abortion is so terrible, it is Satan‘s best tool to enslave God’s children. Please remember to pray for him.
I have just told many stories from today to my husband… so I hope I can adequately convey them the same way here. Perhaps I will share only a couple things. First, THANK YOU to my wonderful OPV family (the grouping from Oakmont, Plum, and Verona parishes)!! It was a delight to pray with my parish family! It struck me more than a few times while we prayed… these people I was praying with were the real deal. Our time today was spent in so much prayer, many times of silence, and with many sacramentals!! So beautiful! So again, I thank this group of wonderful, prayerful people.
There were a few angry people, but that’s to be expected. But– one of our participants (Marilyn) commented on how many people said “God bless you” as they passed her. She was so encouraged and touched by that!
One very powerful story I wanted to share: A woman approached me saying, “Can I ask you a question?” I said, “Sure.” She asked whether any of us have ever adopted or fostered children. I said that yes, I have. She was happy to hear that. She seemed quiet and thoughtful. I thanked her for having a heart that cared about the children. A few moments later, she came back. She said, “I had this done a long time ago (she motioned toward Planned Parenthood), and I’m not over it.” I said, “I’m so sorry…. that’s a big wound in your heart that takes so much time to heal.” She said, “So much TIME? That wound is for the REST of your LIFE. This happened 30 years ago, and it NEVER goes away.” It was so sad to hear her. I happened to have a brochure in my hand for Rachel’s Vineyard (and I almost NEVER have one of those on me…. even though I should). But I briefly told her about it and offered her the brochure and also the yellow card, which also offers help with post-abortion healing. She was so touched and thankful. It was an amazing moment. God bless her and help her to heal.
These gentlemen from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Council were at 40 Days for Life for part of the 1-3, all of 3-5 and some of them stayed for 5-7. They all prayed a beautiful rosary.
Liberty Avenue was busy with school students, commuters and early Pens fans.
A young woman, maybe junior high, disagreed with our effort. We explained to her that there are many people who would want a baby unwanted by his/her mother or father. She said she was unwanted. We told her that there are people who want any baby, even a baby with disabilities. She just listened.
Another woman looked at our models, turned to us and said, “What about rape?” We explained that rape is a crime, and someone should go to jail for rape, but a baby should not have to die because he came into the world via a crime. As she left, she said, “The Lord bless you.”
It’s always tough when someone needs, not a meal, but money. I offered to take the young man to Catholic Charities, but one of the Knights gave him $1 and another gave him $5. He offered to return the $1 because it was more than he needed.
I believe our prayer touches everyone who passes us on the street. No one truly ignores us.
It was a holy day at PP today.
The 5-7 shift was a great shift to work because I was surrounded by a wonderful group of people from the grouping of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Sts. Simon and Jude, and St. Margaret of Scotland, including some Knights of Columbus. Some of the group were there from a previous shift and stayed on to pray with all of us. Very uneventful, some positive comments and a few, but very few, negative ones. Many prayers were sent up from this marvelous group of people.
I was told by someone coming out of the gallery next door that I could not stand in front of the gallery (I stood alongside the door, not in front of it) and I let him know that we are free to assemble anywhere outside of the yellow line. I’ve been told that before by people associated with the gallery, so I’m putting out a plea that while it is perfectly okay to stand alongside the gallery door, please always be careful not to block the door or anyone coming or going from the gallery.
The Lord takes delight in His people. Psalm 149:4a
So, IN WHOM does He take delight?
The Lord takes delight in ALL of His people. Not only the born, not only the “privileged.” He takes delight in those with psychological difficulties, those who struggle with their weight, those who are poor, those who are post-abortive, those who are abortion workers…..
Does He always take delight in what we DO? Of course not. Like any good parent (and He is the quintessential Parent), He wants the BEST for us. and sometimes the choices we make are NOT what is best for us. But is it possible for our Heavenly Father to still delight in us nonetheless? Yep. Mostly, He simply delights in our EXISTENCE. What joy, what freedom, what glorious relief that should be for our weary souls. He loves us and delights in us because WE ARE.
Let us pray that all whom we encounter on that sidewalk may know that they are loved, simply because they exist. And may those abortion-bound couples recognize the worth and value of their children…. simply because they exist.
God help us. Lord, have mercy. Jesus, we trust in YOU.
Shift Manager Reports
Warm and dark morning greeted us as Diane, Peg and Eileen S. arranged our sidewalk supplies. Lovely soft drizzle sprinkled the neighborhood for just five minutes. Together we read the Devotional for Day 2. Busloads of commuters walked quickly by and answered our “God bless you!” with their “God bless you!” Blessings all around. Katie arrived, lovely and stocked with power bars and literature to share. She got busy right away. She spoke with a young woman who took her literature and shared a conversation, but then went into PP. Sadly, young women declined our help and went into PP. We prayed for them and their baby. Right on time, Chuck and a friend arrived. Chuck’s friend gave me her blessing that lifted my feet above the pavement! Showing up to pray in front of PP downtown sounds like a chore if you have not done it. Try it. It is a blessing. Peace. -Barbara
It was Mary Ann’s first experience at the vigil. Katie did a good job getting literature into a lot of hands, but we didn’t get much opportunity to speak to anyone. We got help taking the photo from a student out on the sidewalk for a fire drill! Some of the kids looked at the models, but it was mostly mass confusion! It would have been difficult to get to the doors of PP while the students were there. A person from the gallery next door set their sign in the middle of the sidewalk and complained that our presence was keeping people from coming into the gallery. Beautiful morning to praise and worship God at the gates of hell!
This shift started out peacefully, and ended up being a little hectic. But it was for a good reason: we were trying to save someone’s life. We don’t know the end result of the story, but Sidewalk Advocate Katie was awesome. And thank you to all of those who prayed an assisted in any way throughout that situation! May the Lord bless and guide that couple.
Thank you especially to Mike and Mary Pat from St. Vincent, who came for the first time! And Ken, who came for the second time…. and his first time, last campaign, was inspired by his seeing “Unplanned.” Thank you, Lord!!
Oh, by the way, I was also threatened with physical harm from a woman I was merely offering help to. Wow. So this issue leads people to threaten?? This is some of the awful fruit of the abortion culture? So sad. Her last words to me were, “Leave me alone.” That would have been sufficient. The threat was unnecessary.
Cecilia (contributing on behalf of Carolyn):
What a beautiful day to share with Shift Manager, Carolyn, and members of my parish family from St Joseph and St Mary churches. Carolyn is such a lovely lady and is from a very active church it would seem. We were so thankful that our Priest, Father Jim, could be with us today! He has been to other clinics before to pray, but it is his first time with us. Father Jim, Margie and the two other couples who came for our vigil, Pam & John, and Patti & Denny, kept both sides of the sidewalk filled with prayer. At least 4 rosaries were said, and they prayed the prayers on the back of the signs.
We had several helpful encounters…
One young lady came out for a smoke and was willing to speak with me. Her sister was inside. She was glad to take the resources that we had, and wanted to talk her into keeping her baby. Her sister has other children but is married to a not-so-nice guy. I said that adoption would be a better option if she does not want to keep the child. They are from New Castle so I told her about Alpha Omega Center up there. Praying she changed her mind.
A guy stopped and said that he and his wife had a child care place but that he wanted to do something more for fathers…start a non-profit. I told him about the National Fatherhood Initiative that TriLife Center is involved with and gave him our 40 Days resources in case he wants to hook up with some other group near him…Brentwood I think?
A young lady stopped.
She attended our rally on Tuesday and was very moved. She is involved with the MAYA Organization in
Swissvale and told me of the good work they do.
She was interested in learning more about Angel’s Place and the Guiding
Star Project that we spoke about. They
are expanding / growing out of their facility and may benefit from teaming up
with other organizations in the area.
We also had a man, Matthew, from the Red Rose Rescue stop by
on his bicycle. He travels the
country. How ironic it was for him to
come on a day that others brought red roses to scatter and I remembered to
bring my large red rose that was given to me by Elk County RTL several years
back. Unfortunately I left my rose
behind but pray that it will be used for good this campaign.
What a beautiful day!
Matthew was the young man on his bicycle who was with the 1:00-3:00 shift and then on his knees for about an hour while the 3:00-5:00 group prayed.
The 3:00-5:00 vigil had three beautiful testimonies from women who stayed for at least ten minutes to tell their stories. First, a mother who accompanied her daughter to the abortion mill 13 years ago, and when there was a slight complication about blood work, the daughter decided against the abortion, and now there is a 13-year-old grandson keeping things lively. She’s so glad he’s around.
Second was a beautiful lady who wanted to share her dismay over the state of our land on abortion. She talked about a book she’s reading and spiritual support from Scripture.
The third lady disagreed with much of what we believe from the Bible and Catholic Church teaching, but she also talked about her past life with drugs and other lifestyles.
Shift Buddy Anita does a beautiful job of witnessing for Christ. She talked to a lady who is trying to decide if she wants to keep her part-time job. We parted with promises of prayer and hope for God’s guidance in her life.
It was a pleasant change of pace to see three beautiful steeds guided by Pittsburgh Police Officers.
Our prayer time was also quitting time for many employees of PP. It was good to see they were closing the place for the day.
This evening I was joined by Joe, Larry and Red Rose Rescue member Matthew, who had also joined the previous shift and I believe had been in front of Planned Parenthood on his knees most of the time in prayer. It was a joy and a privilege to speak with this courageous young man, who has done two stints in jail for his rescue work.
One young woman came by, curiously checking out our display, and I learned she was two months pregnant. I gave her some pregnancy help info and we enjoyed looking at the Watch Me Grow brochure. Two young men stopped by to ask us why we were there, and I was happy for the opportunity to explain our position. One of them said his girlfriend had aborted their baby years ago, and I assured him his baby is safe in Heaven. We had a good, respectful exchange.