Running on Empty…
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.” 11 As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” 15 She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.3 Kings 17:8-16
This is the verse from scripture that I read this morning. It is the epistle reading for today at my traditional Catholic parish. As I read it, I imagined what it would have been like to be in the widow’s situation…with only enough flour and oil for a last meal for her and her son, before dying from starvation. Thinking about the total abandonment that she had…to be generous enough to share her last meal with Elijah…made me think about our current situation in the world as Christians and pro-lifers.
Do we feel as though we are running on empty right now? All our hopes of future laws being enacted which would have protected our religious freedoms and vulnerable human life have been dashed. The only thing that seems to be sure is that we will soon face persecution and hardship…who knows…maybe even hunger. The important question for us is…what will our response be?
I have to admit, when the pro-life cause suffered such a total defeat with the last election, I was ready to give up. It was almost a relief, thinking that I could give up the battle for life…maybe go back to enjoying a couple glasses of wine in the evening…maybe spend less time reading scripture and more watching mindless entertainment. I had a moment where I considered this. It happened as I was walking out the door for a hike in the woods that God gave me a little glimpse of what I was choosing. It was just a flash, but I saw that my desire for worldly comforts were like a pile of ash compared with the beautiful treasure that God wanted to give me…if I would only choose it. If I would only choose HIM. I thanked Him for that insight, and decided that I would tough it out…will continue to abandon my desire for alcohol and will continue to fight the fight for our pre-born brothers and sisters. Not because I think we will be successful in overturning laws, but because we will be blessed for our trust and abandonment to God’s will.
So, just as the widow trusted God by sharing her last meal with Elijah…and because of her abandonment and faith, He sustained both her and her son…I believe that God will do the same for us. He will sustain us, if we continue to give Him whatever we have left. Our faith, our actions, our desire for comfort and pleasure…give it to HIM! I was so inspired by those shift managers and buddies who braved the bitter cold and wind on Monday night. Even though Diane had to pick up the sidewalk materials at 3pm because they were blowing everywhere…and I told the 3-5 and the 5-7 crew that they didn’t have to stay if they didn’t want to…they decided to stay and pray. They prayed on an empty sidewalk, with no Planned Parenthood clients or personnel to witness to…no signs to hold or literature to pass out. Why bother, right? But they stayed and prayed. Why? Because our trust is not in men, or in laws. Our trust is in God. We prove that to ourselves and to all who see us, that we are willing to give to Him whatever little we may have left. We trust Him to sustain us through whatever is coming. We trust in Him.
Thanks to everyone who is offering themselves to God, to use as a sign of His love on the sidewalk! May God bless you!
Now for the sidewalk reports from today…
7-9 – Charlene, Peggy & Beth
A day with sun!! Praise God! This week many of my pro-life readings have been about post-abortive women. On our shift, we see people go into PP…but rarely do we see them come out. It started me thinking more about this part of abortion…the moms who think “My problems are over”, only to realize she will carry this pain forever. My daughter, Susan and I, get a random saint every new year. This year mine was St. Vladimir the Great. He was a cruel barbarian until 988 when he converted to Christianity and changed his life. He is the patron saint of murderers (maybe because of all he did) and for them to repent and reform. Susan thought this was a strange saint for me but God picked him for me. And after this week, it made perfect sense. Our job is not done when women do have an abortion–we still have saving to do. “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.” (Joel 2:12)Charlene
9-11 – Katie, Terri & Sharon
Sharon, Terri, Denise and I were joined by Barbara and Pat, then later by Julie and Jeannine. There was an average amount of traffic into PP, and it seems they must be telling people now to say they’re there for cancer screenings, by which I assume they mean either PAP tests or manual breast exams because that’s about all PP does in that area, in addition to causing many cases of breast cancer with their Group 1 carcinogen birth control and abortions. (I highly recommend that you all watch the documentary Hush; it does a great job of exposing the risks of abortion!) Everyone used to say they were there for birth control, but maybe PP doesn’t want us telling them about the risks of all those hormones, let alone the mechanisms of action, so they’re telling people to say “cancer screenings” instead. One man on Friday actually said his girlfriend was there for cancer TREATMENT, and when I told him they don’t do that here he mumbled something I couldn’t understand and ran inside. It was warm enough today to bring my box of pregnancy tests (with literature, of course) and four people took them. Terri and I also talked to a young woman whose friend is pregnant and considering abortion. I gave her my number and literature and recommended she go to Birthright and WCN for material help and an ultrasound, and I gave her the gift I keep in my bin for hopefuls or saves, which includes prenatal vitamins, because taking them is not only physically healthy, but can also help build a bond with the baby because the mom feels that she’s already doing something positive to nurture him or her. Please pray for young “B” to reach out for the help she needs to choose life for her baby!Katie
11-1 – Barbara & Richard
Terri and Sharon had everything sorted as I arrived. Shift Buddy Katie was already sharing pro-life good news with passersby…Julie and Jeannie from the Springdale Women’s Bible Study prayed constantly, stopping only to smile…Katie and I stopped and prayed for each couple and each alone young woman who came out of PP and for those who went in. God asks us to be faithful in service. That is easy to do when you are surrounded by so many wonderful witnesses for Life. In no time at all, Elsie and Chris arrived.Barbara
1-3 Chris & Elsie
What a beautiful sunny day God provided us today. What a contrast to the darkness that pervades PP. I was joined by Lianne from Most Precious Blood, Ann from St. Ferdinand, and Diane & Marie from my parish, St. John Neumann. We prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary together while people walked by. Katie was vigilant for a 5-hour shift, offering literature to passersby and women entering PP. Elsie, too, was lovingly persistent in offering literature. A touching moment happened when a married (48 years!) couple stopped by to ask how they could sign up to pray with 40 Days for Life. Shortly after giving them the website address, they told us this story- years ago their daughter was raped and then found out she was pregnant. She decided to carry the baby and made the hard, loving, decision to give her child up for adoption. Her daughter (their granddaughter) is now 18 and about to enroll at Pitt. She and her birth-mother have a very good relationship. No matter how a child is conceived, their life is precious and comes from God.Chris
3-5 Virginia & Claudia
There was a young hooded man leaning against PP, but very close to the door. He had been offered information from the previous shift but had declined. About 45 minutes later, a girl came out and the two started to walk away. They were offered more information, but they both turned and he said, “I told you three times no,” and she said in an exaggerated tone, “I just killed my baby.” It was difficult to read her, shock, maybe anger perhaps. They just kept walking. A young man, Damien from Lawrenceville joined us just as our shift ended. He stayed with Kathy and Joe.Virginia
5-7 Joe K
Transitioned from Virginia & Claudia’s shift into vigil’s “graveyard shift”.
Damien, from the Pittsburgh Oratory, stayed over for a bit. It was his first time at the vigil and he stopped on his way home from work. We shared and got mostly positive feedback except for a trio of young ladies, one of which “shouted-out” their pain… Pray for them!
Otherwise, it was an overly quiet and peaceful night…
I was also Blessed to have Kathy and then Michelle from St. Paul’s join in my shift as they ensured that no-one stood alone – I’m honored and blessed – “Thank yinz”!
The evening’s vigil faded into the back of faithful Tom and Diane’s car – to return again for the next day of Prayer, Love, Hope, and Help!