IMPORTANT NEWS!!! Bishop Waltersheid is asking all of our 40 Days for Life family to join in a novena (beginning tomorrow, March 17 and ending March 25), leading up to Pope Francis CONSECRATING RUSSIA AND UKRAINE TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY!!!!!!) CLICK HERE TO GET THE DETAILS!
This world has become so corrupt…it is tempting to despair. But as God protected those who loved Him in the ark…He protects us in His Church.
If you pray on a public sidewalk in downtown Pittsburgh on a regular basis you can’t really say that you lead a “sheltered” life. You have probably heard about every swear word in the book, and had most of them directed at you personally. Most likely you have seen many sad and disturbing things. So why am I so shocked when I am forced to see the culture on television…or even more sad…at my own families’ homes when I travel to visit? It seems that every time I leave my “regular life” to visit family, I am tempted to despair at the first-hand experience of the corruption of the culture. I guess it’s because when I am at home, I can read what I want, watch what I want and go where I want. And “what I want” is goodness and holiness. So, thankfully, because of our wonderful pro-life community, I am blessed to be saturated with goodness and holiness from all of these good people.
But when I leave that sheltered environment, and stay with family members who are completely saturated in the culture of the world and have not even an hour on Sundays that they are willing to give to God (if they even believe He exists)…it is a sad reality that I am faced with. As I type this I am sitting in a house with earbuds in my ears so I don’t hear the show that is playing loudly on the television where I just saw two women embrace in a lovers’ embrace. I am tempted to despair. This is the world that my grandkids are saturated with.
I read a prayer request that Donna sent out today (Tuesday), that asked us to pray for “K”, who is planning to abort her 14-week-old twins tomorrow (Wednesday) at PP. We have prayed for her for the past 3 weeks, since she turned away from PP and decided not to abort. In that time, Regina at Birthright and Katie, Sidewalk Advocate, have developed a friendship with her and have offered help and encouragement to her. It has been a tug-of-war between good and evil, as she continued to waver in her decision for life. It appears that satan has won this one. I will pray and fast for her until tomorrow evening, and leave it in God’s Good Hands.
You may notice that I am rambling and have no real direction in this reflection. I guess what I am trying to get across is that evil is very real and tangible in the world we live in. We are faced with it every day. At the same time, we are so blessed to have each other. We have our pro-life community and our faith community. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. God has given us His Church as an “ARK”…to carry us over the dangers of the waves and wind…and will protect us (our souls…if not our bodies)…until He safely deposits us on His Heavenly Shores.
The first reading today at Mass sounds like it was written for our times:
Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow. Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; But if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
I think I had better wrap up this post…I won’t subject you any longer to my rambling. The bottom line is, if you see your children and grandchildren living in darkness, without eyes to even see what is good and what is evil…don’t despair! Take comfort in your brothers and sisters in the faith and our pro-life community. Trust the Lord with their souls. Pray and fast for them, and leave it to God. He is good, and wants to set things right. He wills that all his children be saved.
Read on for today’s shift reports:
7-9 Charlene, Peggy & Randy
Today was supposed to be the day we cheered on Spring. But God had other plans! He needed everyone to be physically and spiritually with Momma K. Momma K is expecting twins. She already has 3 children and is unsure if she can handle two more. She said “No” to abortion but is back to saying “Yes.” Katie came early, in case Momma K came early. Momma K didn’t but we all prayed and prayed…and are still praying. Elsie and Terry arrived, so with Katie, quite a formidable team. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord”. (Psalm 27:14). Hear our Prayers, O Lord.Charlene 7-9
9-11 Terri & Elsie
I shared my shift with Elsie and her son, Gerard. Our dear Katie was also there earlier than her regular 11:00 shift. She had hoped to speak with “K,” the pregnant mother that she and Regina were working with. These two went above and beyond to offer her their love and support. They even drove to her home and took her out for lunch. After leaving PP last month when she learned that she was pregnant with twins, she unfortunately made a new appointment for today at 10:00. Despite the efforts of us on the sidewalk, especially Katie and Elsie, “K” went inside. She hadn’t come back out by 11:00. I am sure that Katie will give an update in her report. We continue to pray for “K,” who is lost and feeling unloved. We pray that those two angels knew of our prayers as they were welcomed into the loving arms of Jesus. We pray that the next “K” will embrace her child and accept the support that is offered with love and compassion. It was busy again today. A few took information, but no one really wanted to talk. We were joined later in our shift by Jenna and Chris, and their constant prayer. All days are difficult on the sidewalk, and some, like today, are even more heartbreaking. It would be easy to never go back and try to forget about the lost babies and their wounded mothers. God gives us the strength to continue to reach out to our lost brothers and sisters, even when surrounded by evil. What a wonderful God we have!Terri 9-11
11-1 Katie and Sharon
I apologize in advance for another very long shift report, but I’ve been up all night and I’ve been crying for probably about half of the last 22 hours, so it’s kind of therapeutic for me to get this out there. Despite Regina and I each talking on the phone with Mommy “K” for two hours apiece yesterday, and offering her every possible solution to every issue she was dealing with, and Elsie making several generous donations and offers of heroic-level support, and Regina and I driving 1 1/2 hours each way to visit her and bring her items for her older child, and countless people praying and fasting, and hours and hours of tears, it seems those twins we fought for with everything we had lost their lives today. We had the opportunity to talk with her for about 15 minutes before she went in, but she was dead set on going through with the abortion, or, more accurately, abortions. They were even able to determine at her last OBGYN appointment that she was carrying a little boy and a little girl. So many things from the sidewalk haunt you: watching young girls being coerced by their angry mothers, seeing the tears in parents’ eyes, watching fathers walk away helplessly as their children are taken away to be killed, hearing too late about completely solvable problems that led people to feel like they had no choice but to pay someone to end their children’s lives, women and men coming up to you and telling you about their abortions years or decades ago that they will always regret. But probably the hardest thing is when you get to talk with someone and they are unsure of their decision and/or begin to be able to see another way, and you start to envision a future for this child, and they’re lost anyway. Every baby is equally valuable, but it’s so much harder on us when we lose not only a baby, but the very real hope we had for them. So this 3-week-long journey was like that on steroids. We have deep, ongoing friendships with moms who changed their minds, and their children. They become like family. So this is a personal trauma, like losing a little niece and nephew, not to an accident or an illness, but to a violent crime. But you know what? Regina and Elsie and I don’t have any regrets. Yes, we’re grieving. Yes, we feel completely emptied and shaken. But we have the peace of knowing we were able to offer those tiny siblings the only acts of kindness they will know in this life. We know we loved them and their mother as Jesus would; we weren’t successful, but we were faithful. Do you have that peace? Are you being called to do more, to give more of your time on the sidewalk, or your resources to Birthright, or to get trained and speak up for the voiceless year-round? Trust me, it’s better to be haunted by someone else’s unfortunate decision than your own inaction.
There was one positive interaction; three teenaged boys stopped by intending to get the morning-after pill for the one young man’s girlfriend, and walked away with life-affirming resources, my phone number, and 3 free pregnancy tests instead.Katie 11-1
1-3 Chris & Ken
Jack was on the other side of the semicircle praying before I arrived. Ken from St. Germaine in Bethel Park was on my side and joined me in prayers for the unborn. Ken and I prayed multiple Rosaries and a special pro-life Stations of the Cross which he led. The pro-life Stations of the Cross included prayers for all those involved in abortions- the doctors, nurses, staff, and mothers, that they may be healed through the grace of God. During the two hours there were few people going in and out of PP.Chris, 1-3
3-5 Eileen & Jeannie
What a beautiful day to stand for life! Policemen were on their bicycles, the UPS men were in shorts, the school kids had a little spring fever and all in all it seems like Pittsburgh is coming back to life. This was possibly the first time in the whole time I’ve gone to the sidewalk that we collectively did not hear one negative comment. To the contrary, we got several thumbs up and in fact, just near the end of our shift, a young woman stopped and said I’m trying to convince my friend not to have an abortion can we pray for her. So if you’re reading this please take a moment and pray for S. We offered her resources, gave her a phone number to call directly, and are hopeful that this friend can let her know she doesn’t have to get an abortion. I was joined on the sidewalk by faithful shipped buddies Eileen and Marilyn, and blessed among women was John. When the weather is good the time flies by! I gave out several of our new flyers and had some pleasant interactions with some of the people on the street. We continue to greet the workers that leave. When they’re going out I told them to have a nice evening and that we can help them find a happy job. To God be the glory.Jeannie 3-5
5-7 Joe K & Charlie
Twas the week before spring…though it sure felt like spring today…Joe
I was greeted on the way in by those on their way out…Tom (Terrific) packing up the Pro-Life Rubik’s Cube as well as Shift Manager / G-Ma Jeannie…
Some quiet prayer time sprinkled in with an angry dude with an “unoriginal suggestion”…Pray for him!!!
I was joined by the Shift Buddy Charlie who’s moving on to help another shift – you’ll be missed, but now you’ll be Charles in Charge! Thanks, Charlie, and Blessings!!!
We shared a bit, prayed a bit, and even got a bit of positive comments, along with a dash of the nonsensical: “Sometimes there is no other way.” Maybe OK for a cola ad, but not for a life!
Charlie and I went our separate ways, as did Day #15 of the Vigil.