The Fellowship of Suffering…
Suffering. No one wants it…but it is unavoidable. The question is how to deal with it. We can run from it, distract ourselves from it, avoid it at all costs…or accept it.
But, what if it’s not OUR suffering that we are faced with? What if it is someone else’s suffering? If it is a beloved family member, of course, we will share in that suffering. Even if we are helpless to alleviate our loved one’s pain and sorrow…we will still be with them to let them know that we care, so they don’t have to suffer alone.
I think that one of the reasons that praying in front of an abortion clinic is so difficult for most people is that it seems pointless. The babies die whether or not we are there praying, so why bother?
The epistle reading from yesterday was from Philippians 3: 7-12. The whole passage is beautiful, but the phrase that struck me was verse 10, which says:
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death…Phil. 3:10
When I read that phrase, “fellowship of suffering“…I thought about how the shared experience of suffering with another person brings a closeness, intimacy and trust to our relationship like nothing else can. I think that is why we pray in front of abortion clinics. It is not fun or enjoyable…most of the time. Sure, we can enjoy Christian fellowship and comradery…and of course we rejoice when we witness the miracle of a life saved. But, for the most part, it involves a bit of suffering, and a bit of loss. But when we do it out of love, our relationship with Christ is strengthened and deepened. As the photo above shows the love of Mary for her Son…our standing at the foot of the cross at 933 Liberty Avenue shows our love for all those who enter…all of them made in God’s holy image and loved by Him.
Last night, Bishop Zubik offered a Mass at St. Paul Cathedral in reparation for the sins committed against the sanctity and dignity of human life. Bishop Waltersheid gave a beautiful homily, where he spoke of the love of a mother for her child as being a mirror of God’s love for each of us.
And thanks to all who prayed and witnessed on the sidewalk today…who know the importance of the fellowship of suffering.
Read on for today’s reports…
Peggy & Randy 7-9
This morning as we prayed for all those who would be coming to PP today, I was reflecting on the Mass with Bishop Zubik last night. I was so impressed to see so many students (especially males). Bishop Waltersheid was the homilist. Blessed by the Holy Spirit, his homily was a moment in time of sheer inspiration! If those men were listening with open hearts, the Holy Spirit would have given them such insight into the sanctity of life and especially the unborn, they will never be the same!
Terri & Elsie 9-11
Elsie and I were alone for most of the shift except for Bill who stopped for a few minutes. The first 20 minutes were quiet, but then it picked up and a lot of people went through those awful doors. We tried to reach out to them, but with little success. I told Elsie that it was like they were going for a hair appointment or to get their nails done. It has become planted into our society that it is no big deal. Elsie and I both agreed that today was an especially horrible day on the street. Especially disturbing was when a woman came at the end of our shift and Elsie tried to persuade her not to go inside. She said that she was going to have an abortion. She was showing and it was obvious that she was pregnant. There was one positive note in that we were able to direct a woman away from there who wanted to make an appointment for a female exam. Elsie gave her information about other places that she could call and she walked away with the paper in hand. Sometimes I am horrified by what I see and hear, but I know that we must be there. I am sure that we all feel the same at times, but it is because of the horrible things that occur there that keeps us going back.
Elsie wrote the following sad account:
it was a dreadful morning at PP: the highest volume going in that I think I’ve seen since the early days of COVID. Towards the end of our shift, a couple were heading in, & the woman angrily rejected resources info. I noticed she was very visibly pregnant & said something like, “You don’t want to go in there. They’re killing babies in there.” She replied, “That’s why I’m going in there, to kill my baby!” Her baby looked so big that I think maybe PP would refer her to some other killing center. Afterwards I hoped that maybe she & her boyfriend were going in for STD testing, & she had told me that she was going to abort just to rattle me. Please God!!
Katie & Sharon 11-1
It was sadly a very busy day today, with one visibly pregnant woman in particular really adding to the grim mood, telling Elsie she planned on “kill(ing) (her) baby”. But one bright spot was “M” stopping to get advice and resources for his cousin, “T”, who is considering abortion. He said he’s the only person in her life who is encouraging her to keep the baby, but as we hear so tragically often from post-abortive mothers, sometimes one person is all it would have taken to make the difference between staying up all night comforting a crying baby, and staying up all night crying because they’ll never get to hold their baby. He seems to really care about her, and he was very thankful for our presence there. One other ray of hope, however small, was that a middle-aged woman in a car with out-of-state plates spent a very long time looking through the booklet I gave her, and even took some pictures of the pages. I assumed she was sending them to her daughter inside, and I was praying that it would change her mind, but when I attempted to talk to the woman again she reiterated, though not unkindly, that her daughter wasn’t there for an abortion. But she continued reading the booklet and texting. I say it’s a small ray of hope because she was inside for over 3 hours, but still, who knows what goes on behind those doors. We had a few “drive-by commentators,” all positive but one. But it always frustrates me either way. When they’re supportive, I always want to ask them why they aren’t out there with us, if they can see the injustice that’s going on. Which I know is unfair; they may be doing other things to put an end to this violence. But I can’t help feeling it nonetheless. And when it’s negative, I want to ask them why they’re so afraid to stop and have a conversation with us. Or even start talking when they’re not already PAST us so they don’t have to hear even a few words’ response. If they’re sure of their position, what’s so threatening about hearing an opposing view? But today at least, it was a blessing that they didn’t stop, because the stream of women entering the doors certainly didn’t. Thank you to the pray-ers who joined us today, if nothing else to stand in solidarity with the babies so they didn’t die alone. You gave them the one act of kindness they will receive on this earth. In all the commotion I forgot to take a picture of the sign in sheet, and I’m sorry for not remembering all your names!
Chris & Conrad 1-3
Today, I was joined by many prayer warriors from St. Michael the Archangel Parish. Joining me in praying the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet were Bud, Rose Marie, Philene, Mark, Mary Jane, Gerri, Rich, Maggie, and several others whose names I didn’t catch. Conrad, my Shift Buddy, and Katie, diligently, and passionately, approached all passersby, especially those headed for the doors of PP, with brochures about fetal growth and ones that provide information on the free pregnancy-help available in the local area. The highlight of my shift was meeting little Joey and his mom. She told us that Joey was a preemie and weighed 3 ½ lbs. at birth. He’s thriving now and was taking nourishment from a bottle while looking at us.
Virginia & Eileen 3-5
The 3-5 shift from St. Raphael Parish. We had the usual pedestrian school traffic. Sue David spoke at length to 2 gentlemen (at the beginning and midway through the shift) One fellow offered IT help at an hourly rate, the other was talking…..we said at least 2 rosaries, several yellow cards were handed-out. Unfortunately, none of the young girls leaving PP (often with a male escort) would accept any literature or stop to talk. We had 2 thumbs up from cars driving by and 3 with VERY negative gestures (Eileen keeps count.) Until next week….God Bless!!
Joe, Charlie & Amy 5-7
A golden fall evening as I was greeted by my Shift Buddies, Charlie and Amy, as well as the faithful from St. Raphael’s including Walt, Al, and Bob.
A big kudos to Bob from St. Raphael’s who witnessed from 2:30 pm to the end of the evening!
A little bit of sharing and a little bit of praying through the evening…Not much foot traffic, but a little more than usual vehicle traffic.
One positive passerby and one repeat offender (I believe) that tried the talk and shock approach – which our prayers warded off…
The Golden Light faded to Darkness as today’s vigil closed its petals…