Our Tank is now FULL for the 40 day journey that lies ahead!
Last night’s kick-off event was one of the most spiritually uniting and strengthening times that I can remember. It was just what we needed to fill our spiritual “tanks” with enough “fuel” to get us through the 40 day journey that lies ahead. Thanks to the 11 priests who offered the Mass…at beautiful Epiphany Church and then led us through the streets of Pittsburgh! It was such an amazing night, I must share the details with you before we get into today’s shift reports:
Now…this is when it got interesting…
At this point we were met with a small, but organized, group of pro-abortion protesters who had gathered to disrupt our procession. There were about 8 young men and women, dressed in black who were blocking the sidewalk on this little bridge leading to Sixth Avenue. They were holding a large banner across the sidewalk with the very clever slogan, “Abortion is Healthcare”. One woman was screaming into a very loud megaphone, repeating, “Thank God for abortion”...and, of course, “Abortion is healthcare,” while a young man banged on a set of bongo drums. We continued our procession, although at a much slower pace than usual…due to the protesters walking right in front of us, trying to keep us from moving past them. They were loud enough to drown out our prayers and songs, so I began to pray the Holy Face prayer, “Arise oh God and let your enemies be scattered and let all who hate you flee from your holy face.” I prayed this all the way to Smithfield Street, where our procession was finally able to get united in the rosary. When we arrived in front of Planned Parenthood the protesters were lined up on the sidewalk in front of PP and we immediately made room for Fr. Joe and OUR LORD while we all knelt in the street. What a sight! When I wrote in my last blog post that we were going to bring the Church to the gates of Hell, and the Gates of Hell would not prevail…I didn’t realize how LITERALLY this was going to take place!
This is when things got really amazing!
200 people dropped to their knees as one body…on the hard cement street and began to pray in beautiful unity…the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary. The protesters…even with their megaphone and drums…could NOT drown out our united prayers! It was like a mouse going up against a giant! They only lasted until the second decade and they simply rolled up the banner and walked away…leaving us to pray the remainder of the rosary in blessed peace.
It’s funny though…I have to tell you…that during the first “Our Father,” when we began the rosary with the protesters weakly trying to chant and disrupt…I heard one of them begin the prayer with us! At first I think she meant to mock us…as if to say, “See, WE can pray too!” However, she got about halfway through the prayer with us and then her voice began to trail off. I think she realized that she actually was praying WITH us...and she must have thought that wasn’t a good idea. But I realized that these young people needed to see the witness of love, peace and joy that the Body of Christ is filled with. Such a contrast to the anger and hatred that fills these poor, misguided young souls. As my knees began to hurt after they had gone, I was sure to consciously offer that pain for their conversions.
I was reminded of another kick off event way back in 2010…
It was the fall of 2010, the first 40 Days for Life kick-off event that I had ever led. We had a flatbed trailer that Pastor Keith Tucci brought to use as a stage. A member of my Assembly of God church provided the music and another Evangelical pastor preached. During the speech, a group of anarchists surrounded the makeshift stage and began to shout and harass us, trying to drown out the speakers. We got through the event just fine, but later that night, after my husband and I were asleep…we were suddenly awakened by the sound of banging and chanting coming from outside our bedroom window. I groggily lifted my head and looked out the window to see the same group of anarchists…all dressed in black, with hoods over their heads…chanting my name and telling me that I had no right to tell women what to do with their bodies. They were there to intimidate me…but they underestimated my naivety (or maybe my stupidity!) In my grogginess, I simply thought at first that they were just some of my teenage kids’ friends playing a prank on me…so I wasn’t scared at all, which seemed to put a damper on their quest to intimidate. They didn’t stay long. But the amazing thing is that years later, I received an email from a woman who said she was contacting me to apologize! It seems she was one of those dressed in black who had shown up at my house many years before. She had since converted to Christianity and her conscience was bothering her about what she had done. So she looked me up to apologize! She even came to our 40 Days for Life closing event to share the story of her conversion.
God is so amazing! He uses our little sacrifices to accomplish mighty deeds! We never know how He used our prayers tonight to plant seeds in those young hearts, who may have never known genuine Christian love…selfless love…in their young lives. We will be praying for them and we love them!
Speaking of little sacrifices to help obtain the grace of conversion…if you would like to help us to fill our 40 day fasting calendar (bread and water or liquids-only)…sign up to fast on certain days by going to: https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/74698468095468018/false#/invitation Megan said she is having trouble filling the weekend days especially! Thanks for your help!
Now, before I go onto today’s sidewalk reports…I want to share a reflection that one of our team members wrote about her experience at the kick-off last night. It is so beautiful that it will serve as my blog reflection for today. Katie (who recently took a pilgrimage to Medjugore), writes:
The last time I prayed the rosary with a group, it was 5,000 miles away, in an almost fairytale-like place where everyone’s daily life was centered around the Mass. There was not one line for confession, but dozens of long lines for a wall-full of confessionals, with even more confessors and penitents sitting on benches. You couldn’t walk down the street without seeing multiple priests. Shops and taxi drivers had the rosary playing on the radio. Everyone was friendly and helpful, regardless of whether they could understand each others’ words. There I was on a bench, surrounded by strangers, all praying in different languages, but very much united by a love of our Lord and our Lady. Fast forward just a blink of an eye, and I’m on my knees on the hard concrete of Liberty Ave., surrounded by a family more close and dear to me than my blood, praying a rosary even stronger and much more united, because our native home is not some sparkling, once-upon-a-time “Catholic-Land”; we live in the dirty, unrelenting trenches, we’ve been screamed at, berated, threatened, a few of us even physically assaulted; we’ve seen and survived the ugliness and heartlessness and cold brutality of this world, and our voices were still firm and unwavering in the darkness as we prayed together behind Fr. Joe holding high our Eucharistic Lord. The five or six poor souls who stood opposite our reinforced wall of prayer departed sometime during the second Sorrowful Mystery, and we continued on. I think that was extremely fitting. They make a lot of noise, but they don’t know how to suffer for each other or for what they believe in, because their god itself is selfishness and convenience and comfort. Contrasted with our God who took the lead in laying down His life in the most excruciating way; surrendering to the Father’s will in the garden, patiently enduring the beatings and ridicule, accepting the mocking crown of thorns, willingly carrying the weight of our sins, stretching out His arms for the nails, and through this giving meaning to all of our suffering. I know every single person there in that all-too-familiar intersection had their resolve strengthened last night, and, if it came down to it, would have in a heartbeat followed Him in sacrificing everything in defense of our dear Lord in that monstrance, or the precious children who would be lead away to death inside those walls in the morning. As my beautiful sister Regina said, this first post-Roe campaign is only the beginning of the fight. But I’m honored and humbled beyond words to be in this struggle with all of you at my side.Katie
Lastly…before we go onto today’s reports from the sidewalk, Bishop Waltersheid is inviting everyone to a Eucharistic Congress on Saturday, October 22nd. Register for this event HERE and go HERE for the flyer. Please consider coming to this faith-building event!
Now, onto today’s shift reports for DAY ONE…
7-9 Charlene, Peggy and Beth
Day 1 started with Peg and I being the first to put up the sidewalk articles. Two left handed people, who always do things the left handed way. But we got the camera up and secure. We got everything “bungied” together. Peg told me about the opening procession and it sounded like the Devil is scared and put up a fuss last night. Jesus reminds us, “You inhabit a fallen, disjointed world, where things are constantly unraveling around the edges. Only a vibrant relationship with Me can keep you from coming unraveled too” ( from “Jesus Calling” Sarah Young) Let’s keep Jesus on the sidewalk and see how fast the Devil runs!!
9-11 Elsie & Linda
Most of the time it was just Sidewalk Advocate Elsie and me on the sidewalk. Terri and Leonard joined us towards the end of our shift. There were abortion-minded women entering PP during the shift. I spoke with one woman who had came out of PP. She was accompanying her friend, and she said that she had already tried numerous times to talk her friend out of the abortion, but had been unsuccessful. The woman already has other children. So sad that these siblings will not know their brother or sister. I had to pull my camera out and videotape a confrontation between Elsie and a man who pulled up in a car. Initially he motioned that he wanted to talk with Elsie, but it escalated as the man began shouting and arguing that we had no right to “play God” on the sidewalk. I filmed him and recorded his license plate for safety, but we were able to de-escalate the situation, and he eventually pulled away. I spent some time witnessing to a young homeless man who wanted to talk about spiritual matters. We had a couple of positive comments from passersby.
11-1 Terri & Katie
Katie and I were pleased to have a wonderful group from Saints Martha and Mary Parish join us at 11. It was nice to have prayer support on the sidewalk. We did pass out information to those passing by, as well as a few who entered the doors. A few people did stop and engage in conversations. I was able to give a young man information for his friend who just discovered that she was pregnant. He said that she was frightened and had no support system. He stated that he would pass the information onto her and encourage her to seek help. Katie gave pregnancy tests and resources to a young man for his girlfriend. We were also joined by Glenn and Bertha from Most Precious Blood. We also had Cathy stop over at her lunch hour to pray and Leonard joined us. It was dreary first day, but it is always dark there even when the sun is out.
1-3 Chris & Judy
Today, I was joined in prayer by my Shift Buddy, Judy, and her friend Susan, both from St. Joseph the Worker, Beverly from 4th Presbyterian Evangelical Church, and my usual Rosary-buddy, Joyce. For the first hour, Katie, ever vigilant, was with us. Judy and Katie approached every potential PP client with smiles on their faces and offered life-saving literature. Joyce and I prayed, appropriately, the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary four times during the shift. The highlight of my time there was when a man, in town from New Castle, pulled his car up and parked. Getting out of his car, he walked up to Judy, Susan, and me. He thanked us for being there and asked if he could pray over us. We gladly accepted his offer and thanked him for the encouragement. One lesson I learned today was to not trust the “no rain” forecasts on my phone.
3-5 Eileen, Michelle & Steve
We were encouraged and thanked by quite a few people. Smiles were given.
5-7 Joe & Bill (SHIFT CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS)