We are so thankful for the wonderful 40 days you have shared with us on the sidewalk! We have prayed together, and shared many moments together that have been difficult, powerful, heartbreaking, and beautiful…. all of these and more. A sincere THANK YOU to all who participated in any way. It is YOU who make our time on the sidewalk bearable, and YOU who make it a HOLY time as well. Thank you.
The First Reading from our Palm Sunday liturgy began with these words:
The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.
I recently heard Bishop Zubik offer a reflection on this verse from Isaiah. He mentioned how his first grade teacher had taught him and his classmates how to put letters together to become words, and how they could use those words to say important things. He later compared that education to this passage, saying that the Lord, also, has taught us, His followers, how to speak the words God needs us to speak.
There are times in our culture and society– like now– when many things go awry and when many hearts go astray. Bishop Zubik reminded us that WE are to be those ones who have a “well-trained tongue.” And WE are the ones who can “know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”
I connect this to the LIFE issue in this way. So many of those people who pass by our prayer vigil are pro-abortion. Many of our family members and friends are as well. The abortion workers and the clients going inside might think that abortion is helpful or caring (in some irrational way). And there are many things we cannot do to change their minds or hearts. But there are other things we CAN do to make a difference in their lives. We can use our “well-trained tongue” to speak words of love and life to them. We can speak truth and hope. And as we speak, perhaps they will be “roused” out of their hopelessness… or their confusion… or their pain.
And to support one another in this “training our tongues” and “speaking rousing words to the weary,” we held a prayer service to close our vigil last evening (Sunday). We followed up with a potluck, fellowship, and sharing about the vigil. It was quite well attended; one of our team members estimated about 60 people joined us! Thank you to all who came and shared that special time with us.
Photos from the Closing Events:
Several years ago, my family and I began cheering for the Pittsburgh Marathon runners. We loved doing it so much that we have done it every year since…. But our involvement has evolved such that my husband’s band has been an official marathon band for the past three or four years. It is an amazing experience, mostly because of how we see the power of the music elevate and motivate the runners when they might be otherwise in a potential slump.
My husband has directed the band members on which motivational songs will work well for those “slump” moments. Our best-received, by far, is…. the theme from “Rocky.” One moment, some of the runners are starting to lose their stamina….
But then, they hear my nephews begin with this awesome trumpet riff below….. and WOW!! It changes the world.
At least, it changes the world for those runners at that moment.
And so, I encourage all of you, those of you with “well-trained tongues….”
Speak words to the weary that will ROUSE them… and bring them life and freedom and joy!!! We have the good news; we might want to show it– and SHARE it!!
God bless you all during this sacred time of Holy Week. And hope to see you all soon!!
Some of us Christians are celebrating today (April 11) the optional memorial of St. Stanislaus the Martyr —not Stanislaus Kostka, for whom the church in the Strip District is named. This particular Stanislaus was an 11th century bishop from Poland who was martyred. I found his story to be an interesting parallel of our own, as we fight for what is right and holy on the sidewalk during our 40 Days for Life vigils.
St. Stanislaus was noted for his preaching, and many sought after him as a spiritual advisor. He was eventually named bishop of Krakow. The Polish king at the time, King Boleslaus, was called out by St. Stanislaus because of the king’s cruelties and injustices, and especially his involvement in a kidnapping. Stanislaus excommunicated the king because of these atrocities. And, in turn, the king himself killed Stanislaus while the bishop was saying Mass in a chapel outside the city on April 11, 1079.
The parallel that I see is that like Stanislaus, we, too, do spiritual “advising” on the sidewalk, we, too, “call out” Planned Parenthood because of their cruelties and injustices, and…… well, HOPEFULLY none of us will ever get killed because of our attempts to change our culture, or give help to the men and women in need on the sidewalk. And yet– any time we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, it IS a kind of small, or “white” martyrdom (as opposed to a “red” martyrdom, which involves the shedding of blood).
Jesus tells us in the Gospel for today’s optional memorial, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the Evil One.” (John 17:15) Interesting, isn’t it? Jesus doesn’t tell us that we should be leaving Earth, because we shouldn’t be around all the bad things happening. No, just the opposite. He prays that we would NOT be taken out of the world… but He ALSO prays that we would be kept safe from the evil one.
We are MEANT to be a force for good, aligning ourselves with our God, and striving always to bring Christ to our broken world…. even in the midst of our OWN brokenness. Let us not be afraid– ever– to stand up for what is right. To stand up for Jesus Christ. To stand up for LIFE.
Shift Manager Reports
Peggy and I were joined by Vicki from Bridge City Church, and then Katie came with lots of resources to offer to abortion-bound couples. It was a quiet morning, not much traffic going into Planned Parenthood. I only saw one abortion-bound couple, but quite a few single women. We received some positive comments, maybe one negative. A large group of prayer warriors arrived for the 9 to 11 shift. Shift manager Judy showed up with a broken foot! How is that for dedication! Meredith and Chuck were also there to represent Lincoln Place Nazarene Church, along with Karen and her friend from Christ Church in Penn Hills, and some others. I left the sidewalk for my last shift in many good hands. I pray that we will touch hearts and save a life today!
As you know from Nikki’s report above, Judy came with a broken foot…. so she gets the “hero of the day” award!! Thank you, Judy!! And thank you to Pastor Joe, Chuck, and Meredith!!
And now, for Judy’s actual report. 🙂
It was a beautiful sunny morning on Liberty Avenue. When we arrived, Katie was already on the scene handing out materials. Lincoln Place Naz: Pastor Joe, Judy, Meredith, Chuck. Jeannie was also there. From Christ Church Ministries: Deb, Karen. We were later joined by Mary Sue from St. Mary of the Assumption, Libby from St. Sebastian, and Alan from Butler.
We were able to hand out materials to a number of people. We were able to intercept one young lady going in for an abortion. She listened to us for quite some time and allowed us to pray for her. She was very open to listening and we pleaded with her to not kill her baby. She already has a 5 month old and she said she could not raise another baby. We offered her so much help…she stood there and listened to us for a long time, but she chose to go in anyway. We continued to pray that she would change her mind before it was too late.
Lisa K. (11am-1pm):
My shift was kind of chaotic (at least from my perspective). I am SO, so thankful for the beautiful Byzantine clergy who were there. Not only is it wonderful to have priests and deacons praying with us, but they were also more than capable of keeping things sane and prayerful on their side of the circle. Thank you!!
I was on the other side of the circle, where things got intense and sad. Wonderful volunteer Alan and I talked to a man for quite a while, and tried to help him to make the decision for life for his unborn child. It didn’t happen. The baby was aborted. That experience saddened me, mostly because it DIDN’T have to end the way it did. Such an absolute tragedy.
A very angry woman came yelling at us out of nowhere… and then when one of our volunteers tried to calmly talk to her, she yelled back, “Don’t talk to me!!” Interesting, considering that SHE started the “talking” to begin with. Sad.
I am also thankful for the beautiful S. family who joined us today. They were bright points of sunshine on that sidewalk! God bless you all!
Thanks also to Daria and Bill, who came all the way from Oil City and joined us for the first time! So did Raquela, who traveled from Aliquippa for the first time as well! All of these first-timers came today because of the impact that the movie Unplanned had on them. God bless you all!
Thank you to John, Bob, and of course, my “protector,” Shift Buddy Fran, and my “go-to” woman, Sidewalk Advocate Katie!!! God bless you all!!!!!
Even our light jackets seemed too warm for the afternoon sun. Most popular signs were the beautiful babies with the litany of prayers for moms and babies, dads, even abortionists on the back.
When someone stops to look at our models, it’s always an opportunity to start a conversation and offer one of the tiny models for the person to keep and/or show to others.
Derrick is pastor of a church with several branches across Pennsylvania. He has lived in Pittsburgh for a while, but now he plans to move to the other side of the state to be near his wife’s family.
Maureen and Mackenna brought pro-life information from Genesis.
Kevin was part of the Latin Mass Community at Holy Wisdom parish.
Bill comes every day to pray, and he joined us today.
We know the faces of those who will smile. Today a young man raised his hand to me for a “high five.” As I touched his raised palm, he said, “HaHa! I love abortion.”
We’re looking forward to prayer and celebration on Sunday evening.
Quiet night on the sidewalk for prayer and witness for life. We had a few young people ask us some questions. It was a nice conversation. Thanks to my prayer buddy Amy, Kevin from Holy Wisdom, and all that came from Bridge City Church.
Next week is Holy Week, friends. Let’s enter into it with a deep sense of companionship with Jesus. Let us remain with Him as we remember His Passion and Death. And let us not be afraid of the evil one’s temptations. Above is an artistic depiction of the devil tempting Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before He died. Like Jesus in the garden, we, too, can trust in God when the enemy presses in. God is absolutely trustworthy. Let us end our 40-day vigil and enter into Holy Week with that trust in our hearts. EVEN trusting God that He WILL end abortion at 933 Liberty Avenue.
Today’s First Reading tells us this familiar sobering tale:
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!’
Exodus 32: 7-8
In the Responsorial Psalm of the day, we see a continuation of the same theme:
Our fathers made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image; They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
Psalm 106: 19-20
And from all those thousands of years ago, we have not changed. Why do we do this? Why are we children of such disobedience and rebellion? We see human examples of this all the time, often from children who don’t care about what their parents are telling them- especially if it’s something GOOD for them.
Why are we so ready to dismiss that which is GOOD, and exchange it for something FAR LESS GOOD…. or even BAD for us? Choosing our OWN way instead of GOD’S way is never going to end well.
Abortion-minded couples are like this too. Abortion workers as well. And yes, ALL of us can fall into this mindset. Lent is a perfect time to consider what our priorities are. Do we really want GOD? If so, how are we going to choose to live?
Let us step out in faith, and trust that by doing God’s will and living HIS way, we will ultimately live a life of JOY. We cannot have true joy apart from Him. But WITH Him, we can have it all.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a good start to Day 30 on the sidewalk today! As always, it was wonderful to see my sidewalk buddy Peggy and faithful Tom setting up the materials. I brought roses and Peggy brought a beautiful colorful springtime bouquet, which we scattered on the sidewalk as a symbol of the beauty of every life that is tragically discarded behind those doors, in hopes that they will touch some hearts.
The Knights of Columbus, Manordale Council in Murrysville sent four wonderful prayer warriors. It was a blessing to stand with them for my entire shift. Also, Pastor Paul came with three ladies from his church, Bentleyville Assembly of God. He brought his guitar and sang and played, which was awesome!
After praying silently on my knees for the first 45 minutes, when couples begin entering for their abortions, I got up and began offering help and alternatives. Sadly, nobody that we know of took us up on our offers of help. But, we prayed for those couples and for the babies. They did not die alone and forgotten.
I arrived, pleasantly surprised, to a full sidewalk this morning and someone playing a guitar and singing worship songs! Very different from the shift I did earlier in the 40 Days with one other person!!!
My good friends Pastor Debbie from Christ’s Church Ministries and Jessi from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene came with me today. Just leaving was the group from Manordale Valley Council of the Knights of Columbus. The guitar player was Pastor Paul of Christian Assembly from Bentleyville, PA, who brought three ladies from his church, staying from 7:30 – 11am. Their worship was so beautiful and encouraging on the streets of the city. Before long Bill H. stopped by and Chuck and Katie arrived. A newcomer joined us who had seen Unplanned and felt a need to respond. Thank you Al for heeding the call!
Katie and I are accustomed to working together and we took up positions on either side of the door. There was what seemed like an equal amount of traffic both in and out of PP this morning. I tried unsuccessfully to engage couples leaving in conversation, to see if I could determine why they were there. One couple left unwilling to speak to me, but were back in short order. They unfortunately went back inside.
The saddest part of our morning came when a couple went in who I felt were hesitating. The man kept looking at us, and eventually came out and spoke to us. He didn’t want his wife to abort their fourth child, but he couldn’t talk her out of it. He’s a Christian and knows it’s wrong, even though doctors were recommending it to her because of medications she takes. Multiple people contributed to the conversation with him and we prayed for him and encouraged him to go in and try again. We prayed fervently, but he came back out unsuccessful in his efforts. Jess pointed out how good it was that we were there for him. Imagine how much harder it would have been for this young man without our support and encouragement. He said it was so spiritually uncomfortable in the waiting room that he couldn’t stay in there. Pray for M and his wife M and for their family. If she has the chemical abortion, she will struggle with the decision she made for the rest of her life, as she too considers herself to be a Christian. It was time for us to go, so we took turns hugging M and telling him we loved him and were praying for him.
We left the scene in the caring hands of Lisa and a nice sized group of prayers from the eastern suburbs!
Lisa K. (11am-1pm):
To finish the story that Meredith started above, it was very sad for us to learn that M did indeed begin the chemical abortion process, but we were able to tell her husband about the possibility of abortion pill reversal, and that there was still hope.
There were a several angry people…. with ridiculous comments as they passed by, including one woman who Katie awesomely took under her wing. Thank you to all those who had to endure the rough situation with that one woman- especially Tracy and her sweet little ones!
I am so thankful for all of you prayer warriors that came out today. God bless you all.
Helen (3-5 pm):
So sad to hear the incident during the earlier shift. Prayers for the man and his lady.
The sign-in sheet was so full, we had to use the margins of the pages. Let’s hope that happy inconvenience will last for the rest of the vigil.
As Carolyn was leaving, five ladies from Lucinda in Clarion County arrived, along with our Shift Buddy Anita, and Philene, a veteran pro-lifer from the South Hills, stopped on her way home from the office and stayed to pray.
The ladies from Clarion were Karen, Linda, Ann, Patti and Desiree’. They had a lot of questions about what goes on at PP. Unplanned has not reached their local theater, but it was the big topic between prayers. We prayed the rosary at least five times as well as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
The man with a half-full glass and an unsteady gait gave his attention to one of the Clarion ladies. She ignored him and he went away.
Another man stopped and told us he was embarrassed to ask but he needed $10 for his child. After he repeated it twice, we told him Catholic Charities was just down the street. He said he had been there and they were closed. Anita and I assured him they should still be there. He said they closed in March. We walked with him about halfway to Catholic Charities when he stopped and said, “I don’t want to go there,” and he left to go in the opposite direction. I did tell him that we were not supposed to carry money when we were at the vigil. That IS a good idea.
The action from PP seemed to be employees leaving at the end of their day. It was good to see Joe K., who traded shifts with Charlie.
Joe K. (5-7 pm):
It truly seemed like a “5 O’clock World” today as everyone seemed to hustle home -not much attention paid to the vigil… Except one young woman who stopped by, wanted to “pray” with us and quickly “prayed” that we wouldn’t be so judgmental – but didn’t stay long enough to become “enlightened” about 40-DFL and particularly our current theme: L-O-V-E… Also, humorously absent was the failure to recognize the irony in such a claim… Joe, my shift buddy from St. Bernadette’s, and I prayed from the “Rolodex of Prayers” and shared… Another gentleman, Rocky, stopped by a couple of times – he’s in a tough situation and can use prayers. Rocky shared with us that he had crossed paths previously with Kermit Gosnell… The shift / vigil ended for the night as faithful Tom, Diane, and Penney packed us up for tomorrow…
Check back later for more reports as they come in.
Thus says the LORD: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.
But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
Oh my. This passage from Jeremiah tells us a lot about the pridefulness of the human heart, doesn’t it?
Imagine it: God Himself stands before you, and tells you to listen to His voice, and walk in the way of His commands….
And you say…. “Mmm, nah. I’m good.”
Or even worse…. “Get the @&%$ away from me!”
God deserves to hear an answer to this question: WHY? Why would we– or why DO we– say such things to Him?
The reason I bring all this up is not ONLY because this is a very common human response…. but because this is what we see on the sidewalk all the time.
So often, abortion-minded women do NOT want to hear the voice of reason, the voice of help…. ultimately, the voice of GOD. Many have hardened their hearts. Let us pray that God will SOFTEN those hearts so that they will be more open and receptive to hearing the voice of…. LOVE.
Shift Manager Reports
This morning was chilly but peaceful. It was great to see Diane as she was setting up, and always my faithful sidewalk buddy Peggy! I was pleasantly surprised to see Beth from my new parish, Saint John the 23rd. She wasn’t signed up but saw Donna’s email saying that we needed people from 7 to 9, so she came. There were three of us for our shift.
I immediately pulled the roses apart that I had brought, and scattered the petals on the sidewalk. They actually look very beautiful and colorful that way, and I think it is more appropriate, since they represent the beautiful bodies of babies which are torn apart.
As I was kneeling in prayer at the beginning of my shift, I saw a little boy, probably about three years old, holding his mother’s hand, and he was gingerly tiptoeing around the rose petals, trying not to step on them. It was so sweet!
One man walking through growled about us throwing trash on the sidewalk, and I made a comment that it was appropriate that he thinks roses are trash. That just as some people think beautiful unborn babies are trash, some people think beautiful roses are trash.
We prayed for the first hour, and the second hour offered resources to those going in to Planned Parenthood. I had some interaction with a young woman who stopped to smoke inside the circle before going in. She was making small talk with me, but I could sense that she was angry, but she was trying not to let it show. She was pretending to be very casual about it. After some time of making small talk with each other, I asked her if she was there for an abortion, to which she replied, “Yes.” She had already refused the resources and help that I had offered her, so I told her of the harm that would come to her, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, if she were to get an abortion. She replied that she wished somebody had aborted her. I told her how much God loves her and how when we get away from him and do not live according to the way he tells us, that we get ourselves into painful situations, but I told her that she is young and that he could make beauty out of her life. She said to me, “I may decide to have a kid someday.“ Without thinking, the words just came out of my mouth, “You already have one, and he already has a beating heart and little perfectly formed fingers and toes.” I think those words went directly through her hard exterior shell; I think they pierced her heart. That was the end of our conversation and she went inside. I prayed for her and her baby and will continue.
When we arrived, Katie was already there, and Chuck and I were joined by Meredith. I think the only minor negative things were one insult and one individual using the worst profanity they could think of.
I have struck up a casual acquaintance with the Coca Cola Driver who delivers to PP. Last week, as he finished his unloading, he asked me if he could show me a pic, and it happened to be a pic of his little 4 week old daughter. She was unplanned, but has become such a blessing to them. Today I saw him again, but he was delivering to someone else…not PP. I asked him if the next time he went inside the PP building if he would offer up a prayer from the inside of the building for God to speak to all the staff about stopping abortions. He was flabbergasted! He could not believe they were killing babies in there…he thought abortions were illegal in PA.
WOW … is the general public not aware??? He assured me he would be praying from the inside of the building for the abortions to stop.
A young lady came out who had taken her friend in for an abortion. The abortion was being performed as she was talking to me. She said she had 2 children of her own and did not believe in abortion. She joined me in prayer for her friend and the baby. It was so sad. I gave her our resources for after abortion and told her to make sure she gave them to her friend.
Nikki had met a woman during her shift prior to our shift, who was going in for an abortion. She had an opportunity to talk with her for a while before she went in. The lady came out during my shift and leaned up against the window in front of the building where I was standing…and I recognized her from Nikki’s description. She had an ultrasound pic in her hand, and I asked her if that was her baby. She said it was and she didn’t know why they gave her the pic. I asked if I could see it and she handed it to me. I told her how precious it was and the baby was a gift from God and a miracle of life. She said she was an addict and couldn’t bring a baby into the world as an addict. I told her of a similar story of a friend of mine in a similar situation, who had her baby and how God had healed the baby. She was willing to talk to me and to listen to everything I had to say. I begged her to keep the baby, offered her resources to help her during her pregnancy and after the birth, talked about adoption. She said she understood everything I was saying but she was going to have the abortion. I asked her if I could pray with her and she said yes. I prayed for God’s blessing over her life and for God to convince her to keep the baby and to protect the baby as he went into the arms of Jesus. I didn’t realize it, but I still had the ultrasound pic in my hand. She asked me if she could have the baby’s pic back. As she left to go back into the building, I just kept praying that she would look at the pic and not go through with it.
A young man came out and walked past me, and I asked him if his friend was having an abortion. He said no and kept walking … but she was. When he came back up the street to go back in the building I offered him the resources for after abortion help. I told him that she will need help that he can’t provide to her and that those resources would give her information and resources that will help her during the difficult times.
We are thanking God for the opportunity to pray and witness. We can’t look at the losses, because we just have to be obedient to what the Lord tells us, because the battle belongs to the Lord, not to us!
Lisa K. (11-1):
It was a sad, busy, and prayerful shift. I am forever thankful for the dear people who join us in prayer every day. Sandy (from St. James in Sewickley) and I prayed together for much of the time, while Katie and Elsie handed out materials and reached out to many people entering PP.
Just like last week, one thing that struck me today was the ANGER of some of these women. One woman in particular got so angry with Elsie, as Elsie simply talked to her and offered her resources where she could get help. It so saddens me that these women are so hurt, and don’t know what to do with that. If only they knew that we truly want to help them, and even more importantly, that they are LOVED by God and are NOT ALONE in their struggles.
On the positive side, there were several men who passed by, independently of each other, who thanked us or said, “God bless you” as they passed. One priest stopped by as well, to thank us for what we were doing. And one of my favorite things I heard today was, as two young men passed by, one of them said to the other, “I just don’t understand why people want to kill their kids.” It gave me hope that some people DO see, and they DO know, and they DO care.
Quiet afternoon. Rain stayed away. How lovely it is when a passer-by says “Thank you” or “God bless you.” A young man stopped to look at the fetal models. I asked him if he’d like a little one of them for himself. He smiled broadly and thanked me.
We apologize to Helen for not being able to post all of her photos, due to some technical difficulties.
Nothing exciting tonight, just some good quiet time for prayer and quiet witnessing for life with St. Benedict’s.
May we trust in the power and love of our God
as we continue to pray and sacrifice for families in need!!
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.
Friends, nothing will get us through this life more peacefully and gracefully than by trusting in the Lord God and doing it HIS way. It is NOT always easy to do that… I think we can all attest to that. But wow, if you were in a dark cave, and someone came along and gave you a flashlight and a map so you could get out, wouldn’t you DO it?
That is exactly what Our Lord Jesus Christ has done. He has given us His Word, His Church, His Holy Spirit…. to guide us through this life and help us to know the way…. how to live, and how to get where we’re going, And we don’t EVER have to be afraid of His plans for us. He is TRUSTWORTHY. We who can testify to His trustworthiness in our lives KNOW this.
Let’s SHARE that truth. Jesus Christ is ALIVE. He KNOWS us. He WANTS us. And He wants to show us the way to a peace-filled and grace-filled life, and to ultimately show us the way to Him for eternity.
Do the folks on the sidewalk know this? Can we share Christ’s love with THEM? Remember that our theme for this spring campaign is LOVE. Let us share HIS love with those who may not even know that they need it. They NEED HIM…. as we ALL do.
Shift Manager Reports
I had the privilege of praying on the sidewalk with two members from Bridge City Church, Doug and Vicki. It was very quiet and peaceful for the first hour and we spent that time in silent prayer. After that it began to get busier, and I was able to give many young women pro-life information as they walked in the doors of Planned Parenthood.
Please pray for two young women who went in for abortions, who both had friends with them who took the pro-life literature, and said they were going to try to talk their friends into leaving. It is very sad to see this struggle between life and death play out right before our eyes, but, we are being faithful and we trust in God! It was wonderful to see Pastor Joe, Judy and Chuck as they arrived for the next shift. Welcome back, we missed you!
It was wonderful to have Judy back at her post as Shift Manager, and she brought with her from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Joe, Chuck and Meredith. I (Meredith) have been getting to town extra early for the 9-11 shift, but left home a few minutes later and had to go to 3 garages before finding a spot. By then, I was late and managed to leave my roses in the car.
So in order to keep track of how many couples were going in, I picked up roses from the sidewalk and laid them down again to keep track. We were hoping that a couple of ladies would be leaving, as Nikki had told us that there were a couple friends of clients who were trying to talk the clients out of an abortion.
We had some single women leave with their brown bags of contraceptives, and finally one couple of young ladies left with no bags. One of Nikki’s couples? Don’t know. One young person went in who I think I recognized as a young woman transitioning to being a man. I had met her somewhere else and thought I had recognized her there from being at Planned Parenthood. Another opportunity to pray.
I almost missed an opportunity to speak to a woman going in following a man. I turned to speak to her, expecting to be rejected as I had all morning…many mornings! But she stopped to talk and took a card. I assured her that we could help her with whatever she needed. We prayed fervently for her, and hoped to see her come back out. But she didn’t come out for the rest of our shift. I walked to my car and drove back to PP to deliver the flowers I had forgotten. As I drove up, I saw the woman and her partner outside PP! By the time I parked and got out, Lisa was walking them to Catholic Charities! Praise God! I don’t know her name, but please pray for her. Pray that she WILL choose life for her little one and will be able to connect with the help she needs.
This was a very busy and interesting shift. I am so thankful for Marilyn and Margie, as well as my Shift Buddy, Fran! You were all such troopers!!
We had many women who entered or exited PP who were angry with us. Two of them were offended, one yelling, thinking that we were assuming they were going in for abortions. But we do NOT think that, of course, and are there to help with all kinds of issues and needs the women might have. Of course, we were calm and kind in response to these women, even the one who smacked the pamphlets out of a prayer volunteer’s hand, and sent the pamphlets flying onto the sidewalk. The anger makes me sad. It’s so unnecessary.
With God’s help, I was able to talk to a couple who came out. As Meredith mentioned above, we went to Catholic Charities together. I hope and pray that they were able to get the help and resources that they need.
A young man was very interested in the brochure he received from one of our volunteers. I offered him a resource card as well. He told me that his sister was pregnant, and was considering abortion….. but he KNOWS it’s a baby. I asked her how far along she is, and he said, two or three months. I gave him a tiny 12-week fetal model, and told him that if she’s three months along, this is the size of her baby, and the baby is fully formed. He said he has 13 siblings, was raised in a Catholic family, and abortion was always taught as wrong. But he was worried about his family, because many of his siblings are sisters. I gave him a bunch more cards, and invited him to come back and pray with us any time.
Bishop David Zubik was scheduled to come and pray with us this afternoon. Many faithful people came to join him in prayer. But we did have one “difficult” situation with someone who was basically there to cause trouble for the bishop. Unfortunately, this individual likes to yell– especially things that are not kind– and we had to kindly but forcefully ask him to move to the other side of the street. 40 Days for Life is peaceful and prayerful. This is VERY important. He didn’t like that, but at least, he did finally move. And shortly after the bishop began to pray, the man across the street actually left– thanks to the prayers of some of our volunteers, I believe. 🙂
One more story. A woman was interested in birth control, but I talked with them about birth control being dangerous for women, and that there were other places (other than PP) that could suggest some alternatives to her. They did go in briefly, but then came back out, and I was able to give them some brochures about birth control and its problems before they left.
We were blessed to have a large group from St. Agnes Church in North Huntingdon with their pastor, Fr. Paul Fitzmaurice. They had prayer groups on either side of the doors of PP, and prayers of the rosary and Divine Mercy never stopped. Our shift buddies led the prayers and looked to the needs of all who prayed. Not a lot of traffic in or out of PP. Visitors to the city for the big collegiate wrestling tournament were curious, and a few gave us nods and smiles as they passed our vigil.
Tonight Amy and I were joined with Mary Jane, Jim, and a group from Bridge City Church. It was a bit cold but dry, and we said some nice prayers. Quiet night over all. Pictured is the group from Bridge City Church with their pastor, Pastor Gary.
May the Lord continue to bless and help us on the sidewalk. We do it for the moms. We do it for the dads. We do it for the babies. Our world has GOT to get a new grip onto reality. The human race is GOOD, and every time a baby is conceived, that is evidence that the human race SHOULD CONTINUE.
“God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand. As a child I used to hear from the books of my forefathers that you, O LORD, always free those who are pleasing to you. Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you, O LORD, my God.
~Esther C: 12, 14-16, 25
This passage from today’s First Reading is a beautiful prayer of dependence that Queen Esther prayed to God. I love that twice she says to God, “I am alone and have no help/no one but you.”
This Lent, the Lord has been calling me to deeper trust in Him. What is Queen Esther’s prayer but a prayer of trust? The fact is, in this spiritual battle against the evils of abortion, we are “alone” in a sense, and have “no one but God.” In other words, no one is going to be able to deliver us from evil except HIM.
May the Lord God deliver us from evil…. from the evils of abortion and all that goes with it…. now and forever.
Shift Manager Reports
It was a beautiful and peaceful shift. I love the early morning shift; people are sleepy and on their way to work, and nobody is angry! It was so nice to have warmer weather and bright skies also. Peg and I started out by praying on our knees. Bob came to join us. He has been coming often, and we were very grateful for his presence there! We prayed as a group for a while and chatted about encouraging pro-life news.
Toward the end of our shift, couples began to go in for abortions. Some took the pro-life information, but went in anyway. For each baby, I knelt and laid a tiny wooden cross with the flowers. There were five wooden crosses on the sidewalk by the time I left and Meredith took over. All of these babies had somebody to pray for them today. All of their parents were told there were alternatives.
Just after a couple went into PP this morning, while I was on the far side of the circle from the display, a large group of female students came by on their way to the August Wilson Center for an event. While they were backed up on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street, several were able to take a good look at the fetal models. I think they felt more comfortable looking without someone being in close attendance, so I gave them some space. I tried giving models with the explanatory card to another group, but they steered clear.
Planned Parenthood was busy again this week. It didn’t seem as busy, but again, my six roses ended up on the ground. (And again, people picked them up!) I tried to speak to one couple who came out with brown bag in hand while they waited for their Uber. I asked if they were ok or if they needed any help and he assured me, not unkindly, that no, they weren’t having any f-ing baby; she just got a prescription, but thanks for asking. I admit, I kind of zoned out on the attitude toward pregnancy, and didn’t know what else to say so I walked away. They were having trouble connecting with their ride, and I wondered if the script was for the abortion pill, so I tried approaching her more directly, but she tried to avoid me, finally assuring me that it was for an infection. Maybe. Maybe not. People lie, a lot. So I prayed for them. We pray for all of them. Thank you, Father God, for hearing our prayers. One day, this madness will cease! Thank you to Bob, who, fortunately, came again this week, as my prayer buddy was running late!
Lisa K. (11am-1pm):
Once again, I am so grateful. My shift was powerful and amazing, because GOD is powerful and amazing. Sadly, there were women coming out after their abortions…. and our feelings of sadness and helplessness were definitely there. But I must have told Jesus “I trust in You” about a million times during that shift. We trust Him that HE’S got it under control, and we don’t!!!!
My prayer partners were wonderful. Fran, Carolina and I prayed a rosary together, during which a young man named Robbie stopped by to pray with us. He even asked for a rosary to keep. He was a bit unusual, but seemed genuine at the same time. We were glad he stopped by.
After the rosary, I really wanted to focus myself on silent prayer and the clients. Chuck was on one side of the circle, Carolina was on the other, and Fran and I were angled in the center. At one point, regular volunteer Bob stopped by to pray a rosary, and he stood in the center as well. I felt like we were sentinels, standing guard and keeping watch with our silent prayer. It was moving and powerful. I think those who passed by could sense the solemnity as they passed.
So THANK YOU to all those who came to pray with me today. God bless you all.
Our shift went prayerfully. Joe & I prayed a rosary. No traffic at PP. Mimi came. We found her a seat on the top of the boxes. Another rosary. Then she had to head home. We then used the Scripture verses for a longer rosary. Lots of people out walking…more than usual. Katie came and went straight to the sidewalk with her graceful chalk art. Charlie and Amy came a little early, so we got to compare notes before we had to leave. No complaints about the cold.
Amy and Sidewalk Advocate Katie were here with me tonight. We had one couple tell us their story about having two unplanned boys when the mom was 18 and 20. They were so happy that they didn’t choose abortion. There was also an incident where one of our signs was pushed over by an angry man, but that was over really quick.
In today’s liturgical First Reading, we hear from Deuteronomy 30:15-20. This passage tells us that Moses admonished the people of Israel to follow God, and they would have life. By NOT following God, they would die.
Sometimes, we can physically die from not choosing God. And sometimes, the death is spiritual. We can find ourselves lost, and far away from where we had perhaps even intended to go, initially.
But God is a God of mercy…. a God of second (and third, and fifth, and 80,327th) chances.
Do you know anyone who has had an abortion? I do. Some people talk about the abortion experience as though it were liberating. Even Abby Johnson, the well-known FORMER abortion worker, felt that way at first. But we know that having an abortion not only causes physical death to the child in the womb, but it can cause spiritual, emotional, and psychological death to the mother. Oftentimes, these are effects that she may not even be cognizant of. But that doesn’t make it any less sad.
Point is….. this is LENT, folks. The PERFECT time for change….. for turning our hearts around….. for following the Lord more perfectly. He tells us in today’s Gospel, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23b) He also says, “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” (Luke 9:25)
So if we think that abortion is an easy way out, and a way to “gain the whole world,” as Jesus says, we are fooling ourselves. We will, instead, lose our souls in the process…. a result that is not desired by anyone, including Our Lord.
Let us continue to pray for an END to abortion, and a new BEGINNING in post-abortive healing for those who need it.
Shift Manager Reports:
Peggy (Shift Buddy with Shift Manager sub, Jeff):
Busy morning – lots of prayers. No takers for our info. Katie was also there late in the shift. Pictured is Saturday night Shift Manager Jeff, who filled in for Nikki because she was sick, and faithful volunteer Mary Ann.
I won’t lie! It was cold from 9-11 this morning. Cold enough that it didn’t even occur to me to take a photo! Sorry!
I arrived to find substitute Shift Manager Jeff in excellent company with Mary Ann, Peggy and Katie! Jeff was a tall pillar of ice by the time I arrived and was glad to be relieved. He was subbing for Nikki, who was under the weather this morning. Praying for you, dear sister!
Mary Ann is such an inspiration. If you know her, you know why! 9 am brought Jessie and Chuck, dear friends from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene.
The sad news was that it was a busy morning at PP. After the first abortion-bound couple went in, I decided to lay down a flower for each mother going in who would not take a flower from me. By 11, I had laid down all 7 stems and counted the bunch of mini roses already there for the couple that had gone in just before I arrived. There were numerous single women going in as well. Most came dressed in classic abortion-day garb, loose fitting bottoms, but one young woman came in pj’s, wrapped in a large fleece blanket. She was accompanied by an agitated mother who didn’t appreciate us speaking to them, and a tall befuddled boyfriend. Mom and boyfriend came back out to smoke and mom told us she didn’t like abortion, but her daughter had to do it. Trying to speak to her just brought abuse and “don’t talk to me.”
Bob came by not knowing about 40 Days for Life, but decided to join us in prayer and presence. He spent time in the past at the East Liberty abortuaries and currently attends Faith Bible Baptist, a long time pro-life church. Herb came by as well, a friend of Katie’s, and attempted to reach out to clients going in or coming out of PP. No abuse from passersby this morning, and even some thank you’s for being there, and head shaking over Congress not protecting children born alive after an abortion. Glad to see Lisa’s beautiful face at the end of my shift.
God is good!
Meredith is right….. it was cold! Thankfully, I didn’t mind until about an hour and 20 minutes into the shift!
It was a shift which was, for me, a mixture of beauty and sadness, as many of us know and understand. I am deeply grateful for so many prayer companions this afternoon, and particularly for Katie and Herb, who served as Sidewalk Advocates today.
Sarah was waiting for the Chippewa bus but she was early, so she prayed a rosary. Suzanne read Scripture. She’s from Bellefield Church in Oakland. Dan came all the way from Mother of Sorrows in Murrysville. Fr. Thomas More will send a report.
Fr. Thomas More (He wrote some additional thoughts on his time at the vigil today, and was a “blog report sub” for Helen! Thank you, Father!):
After a few minutes of quiet prayer on this cold afternoon there on the sidewalk outside of Planned Parenthood, as people were entering and exiting, it quickly became clear of the bold confrontation again between life and death, good and evil.
And though the temptation to feel helpless may come at times, the deeper awareness of the power of our prayer today cut right through it all. That simple Hail Mary is the boldest prayer to offer. Indeed, Our Lady weeps, yet she sees far more than we can imagine, and she honors our request for her to intercede. That short stop there to pray this afternoon made, or will make, a difference for someone, though I may not realize it today.
My gratitude for the faithful there during these hours with me, for their presence, encouraged me to never stop praying for an end to abortion, so that it be replaced by a love and respect for human life.
The theme chosen for this spring campaign is LOVE.
May we always show the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ
After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”
~Revelation 7: 9-10, 13-14
I had the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles Cathedral in 2005. It was a memory that has stayed with my husband and me for all these years, and probably always will. The reason was the artwork of the saints…. unlike any we had ever seen before.
All of the tapestries showed multiple saints– some canonized and some “regular” people like you and me– all facing in the direction of the altar. Such a beautiful sight during Mass, making it easy to remember the reality of those in heaven being right there with us.
If you can enlarge the images below, you might be able to make out the names above or below the saints.
What is the “time of great distress” that St. John talks about in this passage? I can only speculate that he is referring to our time on earth– our time in this vale of tears. It is a time of spiritual battle. And this battle we fight EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Whether we are considering whether to commit adultery or tell a lie, whether to slander a co-worker or have an abortion….. these moments, these decisions, large and small, are battles we fight every day.
But the SAINTS are the ones who fight the battle…. lose…. then win…. then falter…. then win….. then forget about striving for holiness….. then fall…. then win. Ultimately, the Lord wants us to WIN. To overcome our sin. To desire Him MORE than we desire sin.
May the saints in heaven pray that we can “survive the time of great distress.” That we, too, can wash our robes and make them WHITE in the Blood of the Lamb.
The Lord has shed His precious Blood for us. Let us not forget that our sins— even the ones related to abortion— can be FORGIVEN, and lives can be changed and healed.
Shift Manager Reports
My shift from 7 to 9 started out peacefully as usual. Peggy and I had the first hour to pray, and although it was wet and rainy, it was nice and warm. We prayed in the dark and in the rain. I prayed on my knees in front of the door as usual. As I meditated on the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary, I thought about Jesus being immersed in the water of baptism, as I was being immersed in a puddle of water. I thought about his first miracle, changing the water into wine, as water was all around me. I thought about his preaching of the kingdom of God and his call to repentance, as I kneeled in repentance before the place that kills so many innocent babies. I thought about his transfiguration on the mountain, and imagined that day when this place of death will be transfigured into a place of life. And, I meditated on his self-giving, the giving of his very own flesh to us at the Last Supper, and I thought about how profound are the words “this is my Body, given for you,” and I thought about how the enemy has twisted those words into meaning something totally different. “This is my body” now means that I have a right to kill somebody else because they are dependent on my body for life.
We were in the middle of praying the Chaplet of St. Michael the Archangel, when the first couple arrived for an abortion. They allowed me to speak to them for a few minutes, and took the information that I offered. The girl seemed very passive; the man did all the talking. He explained that they already knew about their options, and understood that this was a human life, but had decided that this was what they were going to do. I had the feeling that this young woman felt that she had to go along with what he said. Sadly, he will most likely end up leaving her, after she has also lost her child. They sat in the waiting room right next to the sidewalk for about half an hour. That gave me the opportunity to pray a second rosary on my knees literally a few feet away from them. I sent my prayers to that little child, and I know that child will know that people were praying for him. Peggy and I also asked our guardian angels to go in and assist the guardian angels of that woman and man, and of that child.
Unfortunately, many other couples began entering those doors. It was a very busy abortion morning. Quite a few of them took the information. They were all polite. One woman who was bringing a friend in for an abortion even agreed that she believes abortion is wrong, but she still brought her friend there. A very sad day, but our trust is in the Lord! These babies did not die alone, we were there to show that their lives matter!
Today we had Meredith and Chuck from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene. Later we were joined by Mary Jane from St. Bernard and Dave from St. Philip. It was a nice day with mild temps and the rain stopped shortly after we arrived for our shift. There were a few people coming and going out of Planned Parenthood, but not as many as usual. I encountered the young man that I had prayed with two weeks ago who had lost his girlfriend to an overdose. He was doing better. There were two different couples going in (at separate times) and I offered them our resource card but they declined. There were a couple of ladies going in and I was able to have a conversation with them. I told them about the abortions that were performed at PP, and one of the women said she didn’t want to go in, but the other one was the one with the appointment and she said she wanted to go ahead and “take care of herself.” She came out later with a bag of pills. They took the resource card, and I encouraged them to get services other places that did not kill babies. There was another lady who was going in and I was able to connect with her and tell her about other resources and she willingly took the card and went on in.
On a side note, there was a lady I have seen every week crossing the street in front of Planned Parenthood. I have tried to get her attention every week but she completely ignores me. She carries a “Literacy Pittsburgh” satchel/bag. So this morning I spoke and she ignored me and she had to stop to wait for the light. So I approached her and asked if she worked for Literacy Pittsburgh. She gave me her attention, and said she did. I was able to open a conversation with her because our church has a partnership with Literacy Pittsburgh and we do a lot of work with ESL and GED classes for refugees. I was also able to fill her in on other things we were doing with refugees. (They have a heart for refugees). She just melted right in front of me and was so appreciative and grateful…she could hardly thank me enough. I hope this softens her heart to what is going on in front of PP now, rather than possibly thinking we are a bunch of protestors who should just be ignored. I hope she will also begin thinking we are doing very valuable work at PP which is also a very necessary thing.
I am so very thankful to David, who came to pray with me from 11-1. We had a relatively quiet shift, with each of us on either side of the circle. Some people did enter PP, and only one woman seemed genuinely interested and thankful to receive the information we gave.
I was feeling a little bit emboldened because of Shawn Carney’s visit on the 22nd, and also because of the Catholic Women’s Fellowship conference that I attended last weekend, where I heard a powerful speaker who encouraged us to not be afraid to speak the truth to people. Some things they said have really stayed with me. So I found myself saying things on the sidewalk I normally don’t say…. but things that are good and true nonetheless. Maybe that was the Holy Spirit kicking me a little more into gear.
Also, I had the experience twice today of groups of people not knowing what the flowers and stuffed animals were for on the sidewalk, and in both cases, they were so saddened to hear that it was a memorial for those babies who had lost their lives at Planned Parenthood. I think it really struck them. I thank God that it did.
I also had a really amazing experience on the sidewalk today. Since David and I were praying on opposite sides of the circle, I had MUCH opportunity for MUCH prayer. I had a good time of prayer, almost all the way through the shift, and then this happened. A woman going into PP had ignored me as I tried to talk to her. I stood in front of the doors, watching her, and just praying for her like crazy. I began repeating, “Come, Lord Jesus… Come, Lord Jesus….” And then, this crazy thought struck me out of nowhere– something like, “Where ARE YOU?” “Why aren’t You COMING???” And it startled me that I was suddenly so frustrated, as if to say, “Where is God????” I realized right away that this was probably satan trying to get me to despair, so I began to pray…. without words…. just waiting. And suddenly, one by one, several people walked by me and said, “Thank you,” or “Thank you for being here,” one right after the other!!! I was amazed! I realized that it IS important that I was there today!! It DOES matter!! And the Lord IS with us in the battle!!! I felt a strong wave of the Lord’s presence wash over me. I stood still and reveled in Him for several moments, just thanking Him. And THEN– as I was praying my thanksgivings with my eyes closed, I felt a hand on my arm. I opened my eyes, and a lovely young woman smiled at me and said, “THANK YOU SO MUCH for being here.” I was SHOCKED. I said, “Would you BELIEVE…..” and I told her about what I had just been praying about…. and she smiled and thanked me for my witness. After that– I had this strange feeling that everyone was “looking” at me…. like it was “different” somehow. I was about to leave the vigil, so I walked over to Carolyn and David and asked, “Do I look any different to you than I did a minute ago?” They said no…. but I sure FELT different. And I told them the whole story, and how I thought that maybe my encounter with the Lord had changed my appearance (like Moses after conversing with God or something!!). But even if not outwardly, the Lord CHANGED ME INWARDLY…. to know that YES— HE IS THERE with us at that awful place. He is THERE. And it MATTERS that WE are there too. I thank and praise the Lord!!!!!
I did not realize that Mimi (in photo above) comes to pray every day. She said she prays at St Paul and she comes to PP and then she goes back to St Paul.
As we prayed, it started to sprinkle.
Counting Jeff, who came to help Carolyn, there were 12 of us at PP for the 3-4:00 hour.
Let us especially ask for the prayers of the Blessed Mother, Mary, who is known as Queen of All Saints.
We need all the help from heaven we can get. Why not ask the Lord’s Mother? He wasn’t afraid to ask for help from her. Let’s imitate that.
Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (emphasis added)
The part of this passage that stands out to me today is the part with added emphasis in verse 20. God is able to do…. anything. What a tremendous concept.
When I look at 933 Liberty Avenue these days, I BELIEVE that God can and will close it down.
He can. And He will. Do we trust Him?
Shift Manager Reports
My shift buddy Peggy and I had a very prayerful time on the sidewalk this morning! I like the early morning shift best because it is much calmer than the afternoon hours. Passersby are still half asleep, and since there is little opportunity for outreach or interaction, it lends itself perfectly to prayer. And it works out well, since I miss my normal morning prayer when I have to be on the sidewalk so early.
Peggy and I prayed on our knees facing the doors for the rosary. Then we also prayed the Saint Michael chaplet and I had the idea, which someone from Elk County had suggested to me, to live stream from a perpetual adoration chapel. So, Peggy and I prayed on our knees the Divine Mercy chaplet and the St. Michael Chaplet while looking at Jesus exposed in the monstrance. It was just like being in an adoration chapel! Looking at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was so comforting and calming, I could sense his presence there on the sidewalk with us. I am going to have to remember to do this more often when I am there!
It was wonderful to see the saints from Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene arrive for the 9 to 11 shift. I am so grateful for all of them! God bless everyone who is praying and fasting and being a witness to life!
Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene was represented by Pastor Joe and Judy, Meredith, Jessie and Chuck. Katie joined us…and provided colorful chalk messages on the sidewalks.
Before we arrived for our shift, a number of the staff from PP came out carrying things for some sort of event. There were still some more staff leaving the building and heading in the same direction as we arrived. There were no abortions…or any other services at PP today. So there was much praying going on.
One staff member came out to cross the street and had to wait beside Katie and me before crossing. Katie approached her and offered material, and I told her that I was praying for God to find her a job that doesn’t kill babies…but she just ignored us.
Here’s my funny story. About the middle of my shift, I was kneeling in front of PP praying for a while. As I finished praying and looked up a young man was coming out of PP, I got his attention and he came over to me and I was offering him the resource card (which he took) and explaining the abortion business going on at PP. He seemed very interested in everything I was saying, and then he said, “I’m just reading the meters.” He was the meter reader!!!!! (haha, that’s what happens when your eyes are shut…I didn’t see him reading all the meters before he went in to PP). But then he told me the story of his cousin who had had two devastating miscarriages and she just found out that she is pregnant again. He was clearly very excited about it. So I was able to rejoice with him and pray a blessing over his cousin. He definitely valued life and it turned out to be a positive experience.
Toward the end of our shift, two staff came out of the building with glasses of water and put it on Katie’s chalk words in front of the building and erased as much of the words as they could with their feet. I told them “God bless you and God loves you.” Katie and Jessie quickly grabbed the chalk and put the words right back!
I praise God that no babies lost their lives here today!!!
I am so thankful for the lovely group of people who prayed with me today. A former Shift Manager, Marilyn, came with a group from St. Richard’s, and it was wonderful to see her again! And thank you to Cheryl and Margie who joined her. Thank you also to Bob, who comes so regularly, as well as Mike and his wife, who happened to be downtown for another reason, but wanted to stop by and join us for a time of prayer.
I am especially thankful for the blessings of these dear people, and those who came for the shift following mine, because today there seemed to be a lot of negativity from passersby. I would never respond with negativity in return, but it does make me sincerely wonder WHY people have to be so mean. Why can’t they simply disagree with us, and move on with their lives? I suppose too many of them have been hurt by abortion themselves. God help them.
Shift Buddy Anita came with Barbara and Connie from St. Paul in Butler and Cathy from St. Mary. Our ever-faithful Benson took his place near the fetal models for a sunny but chilly afternoon. This group never stopped praying for the two hours of the downtown “going home” shift.
A group of about six young women went into PP. We don’t know why. We can hope they were curious enough about our presence to ask a lot of questions.
Dear M. braved the traffic at this crossing, and she made a cushion of the kneeling pads while she prayed.
As we got close to the end of our final rosary, a young couple stopped to look at the fetal models. I walked over and said, “You’re looking at a version of your former self.” The lady smiled. The young man smiled, too, and said, “It’s good these are here. I survived an abortion.” As I gasped and told him how wonderful it was to hear that news, he said, “Yes. That’s why it’s good that you are here to pray.”
As we blessed ourselves, everyone wanted to know what the young man said to me.
And that beautiful news from him is what makes every person, every prayer, every moment of 40 Days for Life the most precious time we can spend in downtown Pittsburgh.
A few minutes before 5:00, Bill arrived in response to the call for a Shift Buddy. Charlie and his bride came at that time, too. Thanks be to God.
Quiet night. My wife, Any, was with me, along with Bill. A few people were a bit negative but all and all good night. Just stood and witnessed. Thanks to all from St. Bernadette’s.
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
cf. John 15:16
I was thinking about this verse a lot last evening…. and I’d like to share some reflections which hopefully relate to our vigil.
First, the Lord says, “I chose you.” Do we realize how amazing it is to have been CHOSEN? To choose someone is not random. It is quite purposeful. When I am chosen for anything- even if it is something I’d rather not do!- or something I don’t think I’d be good at- I still feel honored at having been CHOSEN to do it. How much MORE should we feel honored at having been CHOSEN by Our Lord to be HIS?
The Lord also says, “I chose you from the world.” Remember the old “duck pond” game at church festivals? I used to love that game when I was little. Out of all the little plastic ducks in that plastic swimming pool, I had to choose ONE. And I’d excitedly turn it over to see what my prize was going to be, as it was written on the bottom of the duck. It was a moment of suspense for a little child, to search the “pond” with shrewd eyes and decide “Yes, this is the one!!”
A rough and crude analogy, to be sure… because God doesn’t work that way…. exactly. But He DOES look shrewdly upon His people, and CHOOSES some to do His work. We see that clearly with people who are universally acknowledged as being chosen to do God’s work: St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), Pope St. John Paul II, Reverend Billy Graham, etc.
But what about us? Has God CHOSEN us to do His work? Let me tell you, if we are involved in any kind of pro-life ministry, then I say a resounding YES. This is not a ministry for the faint of heart.
And finally, the Lord says, “I chose you from the world to go and bear fruit that will last.” What is this “fruit”? When the Lord says that He wants us to bear fruit, of course, this could mean lots of things. And sometimes, the fruit we bear at any given moment depends upon the work in which we are currently involved. In our pro-life work, then, the fruit we bear might look like some of the following:
ALL of these are ways we can bear fruit in this ministry. So let us not grow weary in doing good!!
Shift Manager Reports
It was a quiet and peaceful shift. We had a nice group From Manordale Knights of Columbus with us for our whole shift. They brought a large bouquet of pink roses, which Peggy distributed around the circle. Peggy and I knelt in the crosswalk facing the doors and prayed. Thank you to everyone who came!
Lincoln Place Church of the Nazarene arrived on the scene for the changing of the guard at 9 AM – so nice to see Nikki and Peggy on this crisp sunny morning. Meredith, Jessie, Judy and Pastor Joe represented LPNaz and we were soon joined by Katie…a very bright spot in our day. A big thanks to Katie for bringing so many resources and “good” things to hand out to people…and her zeal and determination to connect with people.
I started my shift out on my knees in front of the doors, and immediately the Lord impressed upon me to pray for the babies being murdered inside the building … In my mind there was one particular baby and the Lord led me to pray for Jesus to shield her (I think) from the pain of the brutal slaughter and for Jesus to receive her precious life into His everlasting arms. I was so overwhelmed by the prayer and my mind’s picture that I began to cry. After I finished praying, a young man (“B”) came out (he actually came out a couple times to smoke). I tried to approach him a couple of times, and finally he let me talk to him. I found out that his friend “S” was in there having an abortion. I gave him our resource card and told him she might need some support after the abortion. He allowed me to pray with him and he went back in and waited. I realized then that this was that baby I was praying for. He came out again before I left my shift and even though he was talking on his phone he stopped so I could talk to him. He asked me to pray for S. I told him about my experience of praying for the baby and that the baby was safe in the arms of Jesus and assured him that I would be praying for S. So, let’s all be lifting S up in prayer, that God will bring healing to her life.
Another lady went in and didn’t totally ignore me but didn’t stop. When she came out, I had an opportunity to talk to her because she had to wait to cross the street. She said she brought someone else in who couldn’t get services anywhere else (not sure what she meant by that), but she was very interested in our resource card and took two. She said she didn’t believe in abortion…so I told her the statistics of our PP and urged her to not support them. Even though she was in a hurry, she took the time to hear the information. She went back into PP a little later and then she came back out with her friend and her little baby. Pastor Joe asked the mom if he could bless the baby and she was happy to receive that. We all joined in that joyful prayer.
There were three very young ladies who went in. Two of them were in the waiting room and the blinds were open. I had offered them the resource card on their way in but they were not interested. As the two were sitting in the waiting room I stood in front of the window and offered them the card again. They were able to see the picture of the pregnant mom on the sign around my neck. One of the girls looked distressed and seemed to be wiping tears. Meredith mouthed that she would drive them somewhere else for services. When the two girls came out and crossed the street Katie was able to engage them and offer them resources. They at least looked at the material but did not accept them.
A young man came by who needed prayer. His young girlfriend had died of an overdose in September. It was very tragic. He showed me her picture and she was so beautiful. I acknowledged the tragedy and his loss and was able to pray for him. I can’t remember his name, but perhaps all of you can lift him in prayer that God will continue to mend his grieving heart and be a help in his time of need.
There were a couple of passersby who could also use prayer…one individual said we were wasting our time. One passerby had a choice name for me and told us to stop talking but he didn’t linger or do any other confrontation. So let’s pray that God turns their stony hearts into fleshy hearts and reveals Himself to them.
There was a young man riding his bicycle past PP and stopped at the models and was talking to our group on that side of the walk. He explained his past life of addiction and hard circumstances. He said that he was now a Christian. Pastor Joe had an opportunity to pray with him.
Meredith had an encouraging word for today…she has the sense that this PP is crumbling from the inside…the entire inside is crumbling. As she explained it I envisioned that picture in my mind, and I am claiming that as answered prayers and fasting. Perhaps we can all envision that in our minds and claim it to the glory of God. …The end of abortion at 933 Liberty Avenue in the Mighty Name of Jesus!!!
Today was a sad day, as it was an abortion day, and many people who passed by didn’t seem to want our information. But at the same time, those who refused were generally polite, not mean. At least that was good.
Judy mentioned “B” in her report, and he did come out again during the 11-1 shift, this time with “S,” and Katie had seen that S was crying. Deacon Paul went over to talk to them, and suddenly a woman– a stranger– came out of nowhere and gave Deacon Paul a hard time for coming over to them!! It didn’t seem like B had a problem with the deacon, but he just told him that S needed a little space. So Deacon Paul gave her that. As Judy said, please pray for them.
I am very thankful for all of those who came to pray with us today, including the Pittsburgh Byzantines, as well as Dan, Bob, John, and Lisa. The Byzantine prayer service we had was beautiful! Thank you all!
Dee and Mary Frances came from St. Bernadette, Monroeville, to pray. After we prayed the rosary, Dee gave away several rosaries to people who saw the red, white and blue ones in her hands, and liked them. Benson took his usual place beside the pole near the new fetal models. I did not know until today that he comes to PP after school every day.
At Mass this morning, I prayed that NO ONE would go into PP while I was there. The only person who went in while we were there was a UPS man delivering what looked like a load of paper.
The crispy cool in the shade was alleviated somewhat when the sun came over the top of the local skyscrapers.