Pro life activism has never been easy. We have always had to go against the prevailing culture, and we have always faced a certain amount of hostility and mild persecution while on the sidewalk. In fact, I have always taken a sort of comfort in this fact. After all, if our presence pricks the consciences of some, that is a good thing and may mean that the Lord will use us to bring healing and conversion to those who are hurting. However, I am sensing that we are entering into a whole different ball game with the up-coming Lenten campaign. The signs of the times are ominous and can frighten us if we do not put our trust completely in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Before I write my reflection, about how I believe the readings from yesterday’s feast of the conversion of St. Paul speaks to our up-coming 40 Days for Life, I want to just recount briefly an experience that I had last week. First of all, on Thursday evening, I was gathering some pro-life materials together for a new 365 volunteer who had requested them. I was putting together a little packet for him, when I came across some photos of abortion victims that had belonged to Sally and Al Brunn. I had seen these photos many times, for many years. One photo is of a tiny fetus, probably about 10 weeks old. In this photo, the little one is laying on his side, which is split wide open, and his organs are visible…some of them still inside and some spilling out. His perfectly formed little arms and hands are still attached, and he is laying on one of his hands. The second photo showed dismembered hands and feet…perfectly formed…along with other detached organs and body parts…too torn apart to recognize. The third photo was of a later term abortion…probably about 20 weeks. It showed a decapitated infant head…being held up with forceps. The lower jaw is missing, and his skin is red, as if in pain and fear, he struggled before he died. He even had brown hair already growing and the growth pattern of the hair was visible. For some reason, as I looked at these photos, I began to sob. Tears streamed down my face and I found myself talking to God out loud, through my tears, begging Him to do WHATEVER it takes to end this. “Please Lord, just END THIS!” “I don’t care how much we have to suffer…JUST END THIS!”
I hadn’t cried from looking at abortion photos for almost a decade. I thought my heart had become calloused and could no longer be broken, so it was sort of a sad relief to have this happen. I cried again during my brief night prayer before bed. Then, in the morning, on Friday, as I opened my daily missal to reflect on the scripture readings, I saw that the date was January 22nd. I hadn’t even realized it! My life usually seems to run at the speed of a rollercoaster, and I am usually just taking things minute by minute as they come. I hadn’t been paying attention to the significance of the date. It was then that I realized that God had broken my heart the night before because we had reached the anniversary of the legalization of child murder in our nation. It was a supernatural sadness that encompassed me the entire day. I cried again…sobbed…at church that afternoon. I was better by evening.
The point of recounting all of this to you now is to point out that GOD IS STILL IN CHARGE OF OUR 40 DAYS FOR LIFE! I wasn’t paying attention, but HE WAS! And that is a relief to me, and hopefully a relief to you as well! If you had to rely on ME to lead you…we would all be in trouble, that is for sure!
So, here is my reflection about what I believe God showed me through the readings yesterday, from the conversion of St. Paul:
Saul had the permission from the High Priest to arrest the Christians in Damascus, and he was proudly riding into the city, feeling sure of his authority and his mission. After his encounter with the Risen Lord on the way, and having lost his sight from that encounter…imagine how much different his entrance into Damascus was than he thought it would be. Instead of riding in on his high horse, full of power and authority…he was led by the hand…completely blind…to the house of one whom, instead of arresting…he humbly asked for help. The line that really struck me was what the Lord said to Ananias, who was sent to lay hands on Saul (Paul), so that he would regain his sight:
The Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen vessel to Me, to carry My name among nations and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.”Acts 9:15-17
The Lord converted Saul from a persecutor of Christians to the greatest apostle and preacher of the faith, but not without severe sufferings.
As I reflected on this scripture passage, it occurred to me that there is similarity to our current time in the pro-life movement. Just a few months ago…we were confident and sure of our success. Roe Vs. Wade looked like it was soon going to be swept into the trash bin of history! We had support and momentum on our side! We were riding high…as was Saul on his way to Damascus. But we were knocked off our horse, weren’t we? We are on the ground, bruised and blind. We are being led now…by the Hand of God. And He is telling us that we will have much to suffer for His Name.
So the question is…how much are we willing to suffer?
Last night, I couldn’t sleep after watching a video that showed pro-abortion people barging into a Church in Columbus, Ohio last Friday. They disrupted a pro-life Mass with large signs, chanting “2-4-6-8, this church teaches hate!”. Even though no violence occurred and they were promptly escorted out of the church, and even though it is not surprising to see this happening, it still shook me. I expect persecution to ramp up now, but seeing it in real time was scary. I have a regular 3 am hour of prayer at an adoration chapel every Tuesday morning, so I was crying out the Lord this morning to please take away my fear. When I opened up my missal to read the scripture readings from today, wouldn’t you know it…He did it again…
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in darkness, speak it in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach it on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather be afraid of Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave. But as for you, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefor, everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge him before My Father in heaven.Matthew 10:26-32
We really have no reason to fear! God is holding us in His strong Hands! He is leading us. This is HIS MOVEMENT! All we have to do is to obey, as St. Paul did. Let us not abandon our Lord during this time of His passion. Let us stay close to Him, and if we must suffer for Him, let us do it willingly.
I will close this reflection with one final thought. Sunday’s epistle reading ended with directive from St. Paul:
Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12: 21
This is really our mandate for times such as these. There is nothing else we can do, other than to respond to hate with love. To do what we can to shine a light in the darkness…and to try to extend kindness to others…especially to those who are weak and vulnerable! And while we are at it…let’s all pray for President Biden to have a “St. Paul moment” and ask the Lord to convert his heart!
That’s it folks. We have our marching orders! We know Who it is that we are following!
Let’s roll out!
I still do not have sidewalk partners for the following shifts during the Lenten 4o Days:
Sundays 9-11 am (Ken alone) and 5-7 pm (Andy alone) ; Mondays 3-5 pm (Marie alone) ; Wednesdays 3-5 pm (Virginia alone) & 5-7 pm (Joe K alone) ; Thursdays 3-5 pm (Pete alone) & 5-7 pm (Charlie alone) & 5-7 pm (Bill E alone).
Please email me at email@example.com if you can help fill any of these time slots from Feb. 17th-Mar. 28th.
Also, there are many opportunities to join others in pro-life witness this coming Friday and Saturday, in place of the March for Life. Here are some events that you may want to consider joining:
PRO-LIFE ACTIVITIES IN BELLEVUE – THU., JAN. 28 – FRI., JAN. 29: (contact Charlie Helmstetter at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details)
There will be continuous Eucharistic Adoration at Assumption Church in Bellevue (where SA Sue D.’s brother, Fr. Joe Freedy, is pastor) for the cause of Life beginning at 8:00 pm Thursday evening (Jan. 28) and going through 4:00 pm Friday (Jan. 29). Additionally, SA Charlie Helmstetter, of the Bellevue Knights of Columbus, and his fellow Knights will be serving a pancake-&-eggs breakfast (donations welcome) beginning at 10:00p Thursday evening and going through 4:30 pm on Friday. There is an 8:00 am Mass at Assumption on Friday morning, after which Charlie will show the March for Life activities and speeches on the large screen in the K of C Council hall, which will begin at 11:00a Friday.
Charlie would like to invite everyone to attend and would like to host a “Pro-Life Day” at the hall on Friday. He is inviting anyone/everyone to bring resources to share and to be available for conversation and questions. We will be there with SA resources, which we’ll be setting up in the hall in advance, around 7:00ish on Thursday evening. Come on down for any or all of the activities! And please spread the word!
• Sidewalk Call To Arms – March For Life at Planned Parenthood , Friday, 10AM – 12 PM, join the Respect Life Committee from St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Castle Shannon, for a Pittsburgh gathering in front of Planned Parenthood. This is in lieu of their annual bus load to the March in DC.
• Bridgeville (12 noon – 7 PM) the Corpus Christi Pro Life Group with Holy Child Parish
- Peaceful/prayerful March will begin at Holy Child following the Noon Mass on Friday 1/29/21
- 30-45 minutes route planned through Bridgeville, concluding at Holy Child
- Coordinating and communicating our plans with Bridgeville Police
- Local churches are being invited to participate
- Signage with tasteful Pro-Life messages is encouraged
- Request participants wear masks and social distance
- Holy Child will be open for Adoration that day from end of Noon Mass until 7 pm
- Concluding Adoration and Festival event with music liturgy planned for 7 pm that evening at Holy Child (coordinating this with our Corpus Christi Youth Group)
The Procession for Life: St. Francis and St. Clare Parishes
On Friday, January 29th, St. Francis and St. Clare Parishes will be hosting The Procession for Life. This Procession coincides with the 2021 now virtual March for Life. Gathering to pray, we support the theme of the March that “Together Strong: Life Unites!” We will meet at the following churches and will have different prayer experiences at each:
11am – St. Joseph, Cabot – Music/Prayer
Noon – St. Mary, Herman – Litany/Prayers/Meditation
1pm – St. John, Coylesville – Stations of the Cross
2pm – Mater Dolorosa, Chicora – Rosary
3pm – St. Joseph, North Oakland – Chaplet of Divine Mercy
4pm – St. Wendelin, Butler (Carbon Center) – Eucharistic Adoration & Benediction
You are welcome to participate in any or all stops.
Signups are encouraged as space will be limited. Click on this link to sign up: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e084ba9ac29a4f85-assisi
Walk-ins can attend, space permitting. If you have questions, contact Sue or Cecilia.
If I hear of any other events, I will post them below.
Thank you and may God bless you!
Your sister in Christ,