Why do we do this? Why do we suffer?
I had no idea what to write about today, until I climbed into bed last night. After kneeling for my night prayers, my husband made a comment to me. “You sure are striving to get into Heaven…I don’t think you need to worry…I think you’re gonna make it!”
I have always felt a little self-conscious when praying in front of others who are not, so I tend to feel defensive when a comment like this is made. Many times when we are on the sidewalk, well-meaning “evangelists” have accused us of trying to “work” our way into Heaven. From their perspective, if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are “saved,” and there is no need to strive. So if that is the case, why should we suffer? The last few days here in Pittsburgh, there have been many faithful volunteers who have willingly suffered in the bitter cold and fierce winds as they stood in front of Planned Parenthood to pray and witness. Why did they do it? Did they think their own salvation depended on it?
The answer that came to me last night felt like it was given to me by the Holy Spirit, and so it has become today’s blog reflection. I simply said to him, “Maybe I am not striving to get myself into Heaven. Maybe I want to take my family with me.”
Isn’t that why we go to the sidewalk? To take others with us to salvation in Jesus Christ? The image of a firefighter comes to mind. Why do they run into a burning building? They are safe outside…they don’t run into danger to save themselves. It is for others. Why did Fr. Jason and Allen go into a war zone earlier this month? They were both safe in the USA…they didn’t need to go into Ukraine. They did it to save others. We can remain safe and warm in our own homes. We don’t need to go to the sidewalk to save ourselves. We do it for others.
I babysit my three-year old twin grandkids two days a week and have recently began teaching them from a Catholic Pre-school curriculum. Each day we learn about a letter from the alphabet and a corresponding truth of our faith. Yesterday it was the letter “F,” and so we learned about Mary’s appearance to the three children in Fatima in 1917. We watched a short movie for preschoolers that showed the true story of how the angel, and then Mary, appeared to the children as they were in the fields with their sheep. It also showed how they were arrested and threatened with death if they did not reveal the secrets that Mary had given them, and how they courageously were willing to die rather than betray the secrets. It also showed how Mary opened up the earth below them and showed them a vision of Hell, and told them this is where poor sinners go. They saw the souls in Hell and were frightened. She told them they must offer their sufferings for poor souls, and these dear little children would give away their lunches to children that were poorer then they, and offer their hunger for poor souls.
If tiny children such as Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco could offer their hunger and their sickness (Jacinta and Francisco soon became sick with the Spanish Flu and died shortly after the apparitions…just as Mary had told them they would)…can’t we also offer our suffering and “striving” for the salvation of others?
In closing, I would like to ask for special prayers for a very special priest who has just been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Please offer your prayers and sufferings for Fr. Tony Gargotta. Fr. Tony has been at the altar of our 40 Days for Life kick-off Masses and faithfully taken part in our processions and prayed at the vigil. He has courageously preached about the truth of abortion from the pulpit and is a beloved priest in our diocese. He remains in active ministry, but needs prayers for a miracle of healing! To God be the glory!
Today’s sidewalk reports…
7-9 shift was cancelled due to the icy conditions…
9-11 Terri & Elsie
Elsie and I were joined by Dean and Patty for our first hour. We tried to engage those entering and exiting the building. There were no negative comments or gestures today. We were blessed to be joined later by four beautiful young people serving as missionaries from The Culture Project. They are serving here in Pittsburgh under the guidance of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese. I prayed a prolife rosary with Alex and MacKenzi. Their goal is to restore culture through the experience of virtue, and for all to realize the potential and value of every human person. These young people travel around to various cities. They serve in various ministries such as helping feed the homeless at the Red Door, speaking to youth about chastity and praying at abortion clinics. They also devote a part of each day to prayer and devotion. It is a relatively new ministry and I pray that it grows. They are so positive and self-assured about their respect for all life! It gave me hope for the future to witness with these beautiful young people, who allow the light of God to shine through them.Terri
11-1 Katie & Sharon
It was a relatively slow day today. We were joined by Sts. Martha and Mary parishioners Mike, Becky, Marilyn, Val and Pat (one of them was from St. Ferdinand, and I said at the time that I would forget the church, but it turns out I remember the church name, I just forget which person it was!) There were a few bright spots: two people took free pregnancy tests, and a couple people stopped to pray with us briefly as they passed by, and a few people gave encouraging remarks.Katie
Grateful to have had six folks praying for life with us…such a blessed strength in that…many of them walked and prayed beyond the immediate PP sidewalk area, so I felt the whole stretch of the block was immersed in prayer.Sharon
1-3 Chris & Nikki
What a beautiful day the Lord provided to pray with fellow prayer warriors on the sidewalk. I was joined by Will and Jeanine from St. Martha & Mary parish in the North Hills. It was a treat to pray multiple Rosaries with them and our leader, Nikki. After a while, Nikki, my shift buddy, went to the other side of the half-circle to pray a Rosary, privately, on her knees. Katie, from the previous shift, and ever-ready to offer hope and free services to pregnant women in need, stayed for half of my shift. Later, faithful John, from Precious Blood of Jesus parish, joined us for a Chaplet of Divine Mercy and another Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.Chris
3-5 Eileen & Jeannie
5-7 Joe & Bill
Not much to report. Very quiet, mostly just my Shift Buddy Bill and I sharing. Wednesday Shift Buddy emeritus Charlie and his wife Amy stopped by for a bit.Joe
We were able to talk with and help one of the regular passersby, Laura.
Another young man stopped briefly to say he was “pro-choice” and I definitely did not do enough to engage him in meaningful conversation to try and change his mind and heart…. Yes, the “sidewalk” among many other things is humbling and a pro-life “schoolhouse”…