When We Love The Least of These…

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St. Francis of Assisi – Ann Arbor – March 3rd – 40 Days For Life Mass, Holy Hour with Exposition and Benediction, Rosary Rally & Rose Procession

Celebrant: Fr. James Conlon, Pastor

Initial Reaction: Another parish, another giant baptismal font! ūüôā IMG-8883

So I originally had plans to pray outside the Planned Parenthood in Ann Arbor this day at 10am. But when I went to sign up, it said on the website that a special event was planned at nearby St. Francis of Assisi. Never one to miss an opportunity to attend a different parish for daily mass for my Daily Mass Project, I made sure to change my plans so I could go to this.

Upon walking in, I actually saw the pipe organ first. (The picture below is from Wikipedia): Saint_Francis_of_Assisi_Catholic_Church_Organ_Ann_Arbor_Michigan

And then made my way to the center to get a picture of the sanctuary and altar, where a statue of Mary was placed surrounded by the roses, which we carried later to Planned Parenthood.

 

You may also see a basket with rosaries hanging out of it; those were also provided for the Rosary rally, as we recited the rosary as we walked.

As I waited for mass to start, I just sat in silence and prayed for the priest to give us some inspiration as this was clearly a mass centered around the pro-life movement. I thought about how I hear from people in the pews who are passionately pro-life like me and wish “Fr. So and so would talk about this from the pulpit more often!” I understand this argument because I too have sat there and wished that more priests would talk about tough topics more often – divorce, same sex “marriage,” contraception, abortion, pornography. And there are priests who do in fact preach this from the pulpit and I do commend them. But I think we all have to admit – aside from the anniversary of Roe in January, do you ever hear a priest talk about abortion? Do you ever hear them mention Rachel’s Vineyard? Do you ever hear them mention the men who regret lost fatherhood?

I have a feeling people will respond to this by saying, “It’s not the time or place for a priest to talk about those subjects during a homily. Give them a break.”¬† And I would tend to agree with that. But, when you consider that 70% of women who are post-abortive call themselves Christian, and 1 in 4 in women in the USA will have an abortion by the time they are 45, maybe you want to say something about that? And you may be right, a homily is when the priest breaks open the Gospel and the readings and makes it relevant to our lives. How can he possibly link abortion to a Gospel? I agree that’s not such an easy thing to do. That’s probably really unfair to ask a priest to do that.

On the other hand, we can’t just keep ignoring it. It’s happening in our world. Right now. Today. 3,000 babies are killed every day in the United States. I for one, think, that’s worth discussing.

I understand the risk of “losing” parishioners if they hear a message they don’t agree with and walking out. I was one of them! I heard the most ridiculous mission talk from a priest when I was 22 that made my blood boil. What was the subject of his talk? SIN. I was too stubborn at the time to realize that he was speaking the truth.

I thought to myself, “I can’t believe that I attended a church with all these hypocrites!” Looking back, obviously, I was convicted. And we can choose to stay or we can choose to leave in those moments. And I “left” (meaning I didn’t go to mass the following Sunday, had a particularly heartbreaking chat with God shortly after, and came back).

But I didn’t really acknowledge what I had heard from that priest until a decade or so later. I stayed in denial about sin for a LONG time and avoided confession because of it. And finally, 15 years later, I was in a place where I was ready to hear the truth (again) and this time, I embraced the faith, instead of running from it. And I pray for the conversion of those who haven’t stepped foot into a church because they fear condemnation. I pray that they will be led back to the fold and the laity will embrace them as a fellow sinner and lead them into the light. That doesn’t require a passionate and amazing homily from the priest (although it would be great!) – that requires love and compassion from us in the pews. So it starts with us.

Homily Reflection:¬† Fr. started by thanking us for our witness for the unborn. It was the feast day of St. Katherine Drexel, who was a very wealthy socialite turned religious sister. She was determined to bring love and hope to a world so full of hate and evil. Her family had a great heart for those who were seen as the “lowest.” She saw them as her brothers and sisters in Christ and grounded all of her work in prayer. And prayer is what Fr. said we ourselves, as we set out to process to Planned Parenthood to stand up for the unborn, prayer is what we needed first and foremost.

He also mentioned that we all have gifts from God. And we can use these gifts to promote a culture of life; we can use our voices, our presence outside clinics, our writing skills (holla!), our time, our talents, to promote the kingdom of God.

He said as the baptized, we bear the stamp “Property of Jesus Christ,” on us at all times. We may tarnish it, but we wear it. Ain’t that the truth? I can relate to that. How many times have I tarnished this “stamp?” But I still wear it, messy as it is!

As for abortion and the culture of death, Fr. James said that there are many who promote choice, who try to silence the Christian message, to put it to the side and so, make it a private matter because then it can be controlled and not visible.

But the Saints never did that! We will find ways around these clever maneuvers that abortion advocates will try in order to silence us!

We need to remember that it is God alone who creates and ends life.

Life does not end in butchering. It ends in the promise of eternal life.

The witness of love is always greater than the witness of death


Can I get an amen people!?

After mass there was Exposition and Benediction and Father read some beautiful prayers centered around the unborn, family, motherhood and fatherhood and pro-life efforts.

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We then processed out singing Hail Holy Queen, as the servers carried the statue of Mary the ENTIRE way to Planned Parenthood. What a great witness to see young men carrying Our Lady and leading us as we prayed the Rosary!

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Many people honked their horns in support of us, a few gave us the middle finger (As an Ohio gal, I wish I could just say it’s a “Michigan thing,” but we all know that’s not true) ūüėȬ† And one beautiful daughter of God shouted at us from her car. I couldn’t make out what she was saying but it was something along the lines of, “Why don’t you pray for the children already born?”¬† To which I would tell her, We do.

As we arrived at PP we chanted the Salve Regina. We then placed roses on the island outside Planned Parenthood, which I later found out is public property.

 

I just want to thank 40 Days For Life Ann Arbor Chapter for putting this awesome event on. What a gift to be able to spend part of our day marching and praying and worshiping on behalf of the unborn.

It’s not too late to get involved in your local 40 Days for Life chapter. It’s NEVER to late to stand up for the unborn. Click this link to find your local chapter and sign up for an hour to pray outside the clinic or find out to get involved in other ways. You could literally save a life!

 

 

 

 

Daily Mass Project – Notre Dame Edition

19092599_10100262755303354_1284647603911676525_oA couple weeks ago I had the privilege to be selected with 46 other people across the world to attend the Vita Institute at the University of Notre Dame. From their website:

The Vita Institute is an intensive interdisciplinary training program for leaders in the national and international pro-life movement. The Vita Institute aims to further enhance participants’ expertise and prepare them to be even more effective advocates on behalf of the unborn. Held for a week every summer on Notre Dame’s beautiful campus, this program is wholly unique: it provides participants with the opportunity to study the fundamentals of life issues with world-renowned scholars across a wide range of disciplines, including social science, biology, philosophy, theology, law, communication, and counseling. No prior knowledge of these disciplines is assumed or required. Vita Institute alumni include the senior leaders of the most high profile and important pro-life organizations from around the world, grassroots activists, and concerned citizens from across the full spectrum of pro-life vocations.

 I met people from all over the world working in all different aspects of pro-life work while being taught by top-notch professors and scholars. Truly an amazing experience and one that I will use in my future work to fight for the rights of the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled.

One of the best parts of the entire 10 day experience was attending daily mass. This was my first trip to South Bend to see ND’s campus and I was just blown away. I didn’t want to leave! I had wished that I went there for college. But since it’s too late for that, no reason I can’t start prepping my nephews to go there. I bought them ND shirts and told my sis to start getting the applications ready. I mean so they’re 9 and 14 years old. Never too early to start, right?

On Sunday, the feast of the Holy Trinity as well as the Saturday Vigil mass of the feast of Corpus Christi, we attended mass at the Basilica. The pictures just don’t do it justice. I highly recommend going there yourself to experience this holy place.

I took a ton of pictures but too many to post here. Suffice it to say, it’s worth a road trip for any of you who live in the midwest.

In addition to those Sunday masses, we had daily mass in the chapel at the School of Law where our classes were held. Fun fact: There’s a chapel in every dorm and (I think) in every major building. Yeah. Super Catholic. LOVE IT!

Our chaplain was Fr. Michael Sherwin, O.P. for all but one of the masses. And all but one of the masses were held in the St. Thomas More Chapel. One was held in the Holy Cross Chapel in the Engineering building.

 

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Holy Cross Chapel
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Holy Cross Chapel
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Holy Cross Chapel
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St Thomas More Chapel
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St. Thomas More Chapel

And the chapel were I spent most of my time in prayer everyday, right there in the dorm where we stayed:

 

While I took many notes from the homilies that Fr. Michael had, I found myself quite distracted much of the week. Unfortunately, I had a hard time detaching myself from the “real world” and distractions at home. As hard as I tried to be present, I found myself crying at mass more than joyful, lamenting more than trusting, and under attack more than feeling loved. It wasn’t until the tail end of the course that I finally surrendered and told God, “Okay I get it! I asked for an increase in trust in You and You answered that prayer. I can’t control the outcome of this situation but I can trust that You have your hand in it.”

In fact, one of the Antiphons from one of the Evening Prayers during the week was:

Doing my Father’s will is the food that sustains me.

And one of the Responses:

God is my savior and my glory.

-I take refuge in Him.

And one of the Readings from 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.

So it was consoling to realize that every time I went to pray my Liturgy of the Hours, I found an answer in prayer to what was distracting me.

Not to mention the weather was absolutely perfect the whole time I was on campus and even when it rained, it was short-lived. Which was really great because it allowed me to take all these amazing photos of the campus.

 

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Some closing thoughts on the Vita Institute experience:

One of the most profound things that was said during the entire week came from one of the participants from the Archdiocese of New York. She said:

“The Catholic parish is the alternative to Planned Parenthood.”

What she meant is that people need an encounter with God first and foremost. Our Catholic parishes do indeed have all the right tools to counter-act the Planned Parenthood message of death.  We, the Church, have the truth, we have the beauty and we have the good. We are indeed the alternative to Planned Parenthood. But we need to actually speak up about this truth as much as we possibly can so women (and men) far and wide know that if they are in a crisis pregnancy, they can come to their local parish and be welcomed and assisted.

I also reflected on conversations with pro-chociers and how I try not to mention God or the Bible or my faith when making the claim that all humans, regardless of size, have a right to life. I try not to mention all of this because I don’t want to turn the conversation into a religious one. And I’ve been there on more than a couple occasions when I’ve been accused of being a “right-wing nut job” or “misogynist” or even when I’m told to “take your prayers and shove them up your sanctimonious a$$.”

So that’s why I have tried to refrain from mentioning anything remotely “religious” as the basis for my pro-life beliefs. But I find that it’s really difficult to keep the conversation going if I don’t credit my God with creating human life. At some point, I have to acknowledge where that dignity comes from in each and every human being (Spoiler alert: It’s given to us by God.)

So as much as I would love to appeal to atheists and agnostics and anti-Catholics when it comes to fighting for the rights of the unborn, the elderly and the disabled, and I will continue to try,¬†I can’t be so quick to strip God and my faith out of the conversation so I don’t “offend” them. None of us in the pro-life movement can afford to worry about offending anyone. We have the truth on our side. And that’s what wins in the end. No matter what Cecile Richards, George Soros, Gloria Steinem or any other pro-abortion advocate has to say on the matter. ¬†This is not a time to be cowards or to be shy. Compassionate speech does change hearts and minds. Speaking the truth in a charitable manner does cause people to pause and think twice about their views.

So to all my fellow pro-life warriors, keep fighting the good fight. We know who wins.

For more on human dignity and abortion, watch this great video from Bishop Barron*: Bishop Barron on Planned Parenthood and the Loss of Human Dignity

*Start at the 4:57 mark


Next blog post will be back to the regular format of the DMP РTwo parishes in Michigan РOur Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth and Christ the King in Ann Arbor. And as an added bonus, I attended my first Lutheran mass ever in Elkhart Indiana at Trinity Lutheran.

Daily Mass Project: Intimate Gatherings

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St. Patrick – Ohio City – Thursday March 23rd – Chapel Mass (Rectory)

Celebrant: Rev. Mark DiNardo, Pastor

Initial Thoughts: I’m sure most people find it odd to go to a mass that is NOT celebrated in the church itself, but in the little chapel located in the rectory. But this is the beauty of the daily mass project – attending mass where you normally wouldn’t.

I was early so I was alone in the chapel for a good while so I took the opportunity to take some pics. The whole place reminded me of my grandparents house in Old Brooklyn. Almost like I was back in time and sitting in their living room, except the television is replaced by a tabernacle.

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1st Reading: Jeremiah 7:23-28¬† – Summary from St Joseph’s Weekday Missal: Jeremiah speaks of what God commands his people. Nations are made up of individuals, but when the majority of individuals break away from God, the nation becomes godless even though a few righteous and holy people are scattered here and there. Because of deaf ears, the word of God is not among them.

Gospel: Luke 11:14-23 – Summary from St. JWM:¬† Jesus expels a devil. This text is an appropriate conclusion to the whole argument between our Lord and his enemies: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” There is no such thing as a neutral position in the kingdom of God.

Homily Reflection:¬† Speaking about the 1st reading, Father said we need to acknowledge our own brokenness. Admit it when we break from God, always seek for forgiveness, even when we don’t think we deserve it. We also need to forgive others, even if we don’t think THEY deserve it. In reference to the Gospel, he mentioned that God needs ministers, not Messiahs. The leaders at the time didn’t listen to God. They were blind to God present in their midst, as Jesus performed miracles right in front of them by driving out demons.¬† He concluded his homily by mentioning something I hadn’t really heard phrased like this before: We are not Messiahs, we are servants.¬†

Holy Moments: Many!!! I met a woman named Marge who could clearly see that I was a visitor. She was so helpful in guiding me to the rectory and introduced me to a few others there. Because of the small crowd we were able to give the sign of peace to pretty much everyone in attendance. There was a little boy of about 2 or 3 years old (should have gotten his name!) who provided a truly adorable moment as he started munching on crackers during the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion.¬† We concluded with singing the first verse of “Peace is flowing like a river.”

But my favorite part was the very end: Instead of the typical “Let us Go in Peace,” Father DiNardo said something to the effect of: “Let our lives give expression to our beliefs that we profess…”


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Sacred Heart of Jesus – Wadsworth – Thursday March 30th – School Mass

Celebrant: Rev. Joe Labak, Pastor

Initial Thoughts: As soon as I walked in, 20 minutes early, I saw a bunch of my 7th grade students for the Choose Life class I teach there. (The main reason I went to this mass since the class is right after). They were servers and were so excited to see someone they knew. As I sat down, I heard two young girls singing a beautiful hymn that I later found out is called Pie Jesu. Just hearing them rehearse this song, I had a feeling I was in for a really special mass.

1st Reading: Exodus 32:7-14

Gospel: John 5:31-47

Homily Reflection: In regards to the first reading, as Moses was receiving the commandments from God during the 40 days while he prayed and fasted, the Jewish people molded a golden calf and broke away from God. They became distracted and forgot about all the good things God had done for them. In just a matter of 40 days! As Moses asked God to have mercy on them, they were eventually brought back to the Lord. The priest cautioned the students not to become distracted during their Spring Break. He emphasized the need to remember that we are still in Lent as we are waiting for the Resurrection.

Of course, as he’s talking about not being distracted, I immediately became distracted. But I kept thinking that my 7th graders might be watching me and if they could see me possibly looking around, that might not be the best example. So that helped me re-focus.

Holy Moments:¬† Granted it’s just the final 44 seconds, but these two young girls nailed this hymn. AWESOME JOB girls!

The Holy Holy Holy (Sanctus) was sung completely in Latin and I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know it at all! So now I want to study that and learn it for next time.

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus. Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra glória tua. Hosána in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosána in excélsis.

After the closing hymn was sung, everyone knelt down and remained silent. A young girl, guessing 3rd grade, walked up to the ambo and announced for us all to recite one Hail Mary for vocations. What a beautiful way to end.

As I left, I couldn’t get over how I saw grade school students show so much respect and reverence for the liturgy and the Eucharist. I think this can possibly be attributed to one main “attraction” smack dab in the middle of the church: A perpetual adoration chapel. More on this in a later blog…but there’s something to be said when Christ is at the center of EVERYTHING. Ministry, catechesis, program development, prayer life, etc. And when it’s in the middle of the church? Pretty sure that’s a win-win.

Before the school year ends, get yourself to a school mass! I can’t guarantee latin hymns and extreme reverence, but you can bet you’ll see the future of our Church is bright.

 

 

Listen. Learn. Love. Life

 

quote-i-m-norma-mccorvey-the-former-jane-roe-of-the-roe-vs-wade-decision-that-brought-legal-norma-mccorvey-77-30-47This past weekend, the woman known as Jane Roe of Roe vs Wade, Norma McCorvey, passed away at the young age of 69 from heart failure.

Her sad passing puts abortion back in the headlines for a little while. While her death is in no way good news, the fact that people are reading about her life is good. Why? Because people are learning that she never even had an abortion. They are learning that she was deceived by her lawyers, encouraged to lie about her pregnancy, and immediately discarded after the ruling was brought down. She changed her mind on abortion years later and fought to undo the damage. ¬†What an incredible burden to carry for your entire life – to know that your case made abortion legal. I can’t imagine the torment and internal battle that she went through.

‚ÄúI think it‚Äôs safe to say that the entire abortion industry is based on a lie‚ĶI am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.‚Ä̬†Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe

Thinking about her conversion and how she changed from being pro-choice to completely pro-life, I thought about testimonials and listening to the voices of those we disagree with.

Do we really listen to what they have to say or are we too busy shouting our own opinion and defending our views? Are we so afraid of the possibility that we may actually change our mind too?

This brings me to the¬†Women’s March on Washington. ¬†This march took place the day after the inauguration. And the media covered this in full force.¬†In fact, the media seemed to be spending an unprecedented amount of attention on this march that seemed to have no clear agenda.

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Believe it or not, this picture is actually from the Women’s March on Washington. Students for Life of America ended up LEADING the march for about 15 minutes before pro-abortion activists tried to rip up their signs and scream their slogans of “My Body My Choice “over them. But because of the absolute disorganization of this Women’s March, no one was there to say when it started. Kudos to SFL for actually starting the march with their 3 huge banners. Here’s video of their experience there.

But there was one clear message they sent: No Pro-Life Women Allowed.

As I looked at the pictures of the women and and children marching in D.C. that day, I¬†really only had one reaction: Sadness. It made me feel such pity for these women, young and old, holding up signs with vulgarity and mocking their own gender. You can say these vulgar images were just one part of this Women’s March. And you would be correct. But who got the most attention from the media? The more vulgar or outrageous the sign they carried or the costume they wore, the more attention they got.

Who’s voice was left unheard? Probably women like my friends and family who marched. The ones who say they marched for equal pay for men and women. Those who marched for the abused woman. The ones who marched for paid maternity leave and the rights of disabled women.

I am in complete agreement that these are rights worth fighting for.

But when the organizers of this Women’s March¬†come out and say, “We want to see an end of violence against women” but in the next paragraph of their “Unity Principles” say how they are FOR unlimited access to abortion, how can we stand together in that? What about violence in the womb?

If they hadn’t promoted this event to be a pro-choice feminist event, even more women would have joined the cause! It would have been unprecedented to see all of us standing together. But that didn’t happen. Pro-life feminists were left out.

“I’ve¬†noticed that everybody that is for¬†abortion has already been born.” – Ronald Reagan, September 22, 1980.

In complete contrast, on January 27th I had the pleasure of attending my first March for Life in D.C. It was an absolutely beautiful experience. All these people of different races, ages, faiths, (yes, atheists too!) and backgrounds coming together to celebrate LIFE.

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The March for Life has Life Principles. The Women’s March had Unity Principles. The goal of the pro-life movement is clear: To show that all human beings are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which is the right to life.

The goal of the Women’s March is not so clear to me. I’m still scratching my head over it.

While I was pursuing their site, I came across something rather interesting under the heading #DayWithoutAWoman. Apparently they are organizing another protest where they are asking women to not show up to work? Again, I’m just confused as to what message that sends. But I would also ask, will abortion workers and women who work at Planned Parenthood not show up to work that day?

But what’s really interesting are the 3 questions they ask that they state are their principles that guide their actions:

  1. Do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities?
  2. Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression?
  3. Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?

I decided to play a little word game and replace the word “businesses” with Planned Parenthood. Let’s see what results we come up with:

  1. Does Planned Parenthood support our communities, or do they drain our communities?

Planned Parenthood locations are mostly in the poorer communities. I’m going to say the answer is DRAIN our communities in the form of killing them before they’re born.

  1. Does Planned Parenthood strive for gender equity or does it support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression?  

Considering abortion is the ultimate form of oppression, I’m going to have to again say that PP is actually THE leader in the oppression movement.

  1. Does Planned Parenthood align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?  

Oh the irony.¬†I find the language in this particular question almost comical if it weren’t so sad. This clearly parallels the goal of the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood = The destruction of children; children have no future when they enter a Planned Parenthood clinic. Their life ends in that moment. And profit??? Yes, they absolutely profit off of the 320,000 unborn lives¬†they terminate in the womb every year.¬†


Norma McCorvey isn’t alive anymore to have her voice heard. Let’s make an effort to listen to those who have been there, who have believed the lies and have lived to regret them. I believe it’s our duty to hear what they have to say in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

And then maybe, next January 22nd, when we gather in D.C. to March for Life, perhaps we’ll be joined by newcomers to our movement. We’ll link arms together with these sisters with hope that one day we can say:

“Let us unite our voices to abolish abortion together.”

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Where There’s Despair, Let Us Bring Hope

For the past few weeks I’ve been shadowing instructors from a local pro-life group that goes to Catholic and Christian schools teaching junior high students¬†about the current life issues in our world. (I’m delighted to instruct my own class in less than a month.) The curriculum includes facts about abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, as well as the Good News of chastity and how we are all created in the image and likeness of God and what respecting human dignity entails.

Most of the classes are inspiring and educational as these kids learn about people who were born with disabilities, who were told by their parents to abort, but here they are living and thriving. They hear and read testimonials from post-abortive women who now advocate and promote the pro-life message. They hear from rape survivors who became pregnant and gave their child life.

On one particular day, as the 8th graders learned about abortion, I had a moment of profound sadness.

A boy in the class asked the question:

“So what do they do with the baby when it’s aborted?”¬†

The¬†instructor responded with the truth: “They throw the baby¬†into the trash, into biohazard waste.”¬†

The look on the children’s faces was something I don’t think I’ll forget.¬† They just couldn’t believe it. They were shocked and appalled.

I was told later by one of my friends who’s been advocating for the unborn for years that they don’t actually throw them in the trash. At least some places don’t.

“They put them in a grinder and grind them up into pieces,” he said.

Maybe we need to just reflect on that for more than a second.

Dead humans.

In pieces.

In the trash. 

No funeral. No burial. No memorial.  Just thrown into the trash. 

I really have a hard time wrapping my head around all of it. 

I sometimes just sit in plain shock at it all.  

Like looking at the pictures of the victims of the Holocaust. The burned bodies lying on top of one another in black and white photos that I’ve seen. And even having visited a concentration camp when I took a trip to Europe as a teenager – I saw¬†death. I felt it, it was palpable. Even decades later.

And there was another feeling there…

Evil. 

I don’t think I identified it as Evil at the time. I think I just knew the feeling was dark. Only years later as I would tell people that I visited one of the camps did I then recall and think, Oh….so that’s what that was. That was indeed evil I felt. It permeated the site.


 

I get that same feeling over me as I visit and stand outside abortion clinics to pray. There’s this dark, heavy feeling. Like you know something sinister is happening behind those doors but you can’t do anything to stop it at that moment.

It’s a very helpless feeling.

And it can quickly turn into hopelessness. 

It has on occasion.

But thank God for those kids. Thank God for those kids having the courage to ask questions and listen and hear the truth.  This is a lot of their young minds to process. What I would have given to have heard this message at their age!

I noticed something else about these young pro-life warriors:

They have NO FEAR. They are not afraid to engage.  

An outsider reading this might think, “Just wait until they get to high school or college. They’ll be too afraid to fit in to speak up about anything.”

While it’s true that most 20-somethings become easily swayed into moral relativism in college, I still have hope.

You just wait. This generation is braver and smarter than we are. They have much more information at their fingertips than we ever did. Which means they have greater access to the TRUTH, while filtering out the LIES. 

And they aren’t pushovers. They want Authenticity. They want people, adults and peers alike, to be Genuine. Heartfelt. Compassionate. Fighters! Honest! Bold!¬†

 

So when I look around me at the various people praying outside abortion clinics, when I look around to see who will stand with me to fight for the unborn, the disabled and the elderly, the most vulnerable and weakest in our world, and when I look around and wonder who will have my back at the times when it seems hopeless, I see these kids.

I see hope in their eyes. I see something GOOD that I can cling to and hang on to.

The voiceless have a voice in the youth of today. 

“When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God — and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world — and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement.¬†They will say to God, ‘Spare him, because he loved us!‘” ¬†– Congressman Henry Hyde – author of The Hyde Amendment, which the Democratic Party wants to repeal.


Anytime I blog about abortion, I think it’s important to mention post-abortive healing and counseling:

www.RachelsVineyard.org

www.SilentNoMoreAwareness.org 

www.HopeAfterAbortion.com

www.AbortionWorker.com

The Gift of: Spiritual Adoption

pompeobatoni-sagradafam
The Sacred Family

I cannot stop staring at this picture. The first time I saw it was at a (surprise surprise) Catholic Women’s Conference in Columbus where one of the vendors was a pro-life organization. There was a stack of prayer cards on the table. The prayer was on one side, this picture was on the other.

The prayer is this:

‚ÄúJesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn child that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.‚ÄĚ

The prayer is from Venerable Fulton Sheen who wrote it in 1973 after abortion was deemed legal in the United States. He encouraged Catholics to pray this prayer daily for nine months in the name of the baby. He believed that, by such ‚Äúspiritual adoption‚ÄĚ of specific babies ‚ÄĒ one prayer at a time ‚ÄĒ the advance of the culture of death in America and abroad could be thwarted.

I spiritually adopted an unborn baby the week prior to reading this card, although I didn’t quite know it.

I had been asked, along with many of my friends, to pray for a young college student who found herself unexpectedly pregnant. We were asked to pray that this young woman would cancel her appointment at the abortion clinic the following week. We knew nothing more about this woman except for her first name.

A week later I was at this conference and saw this prayer card. Little did I know that the unborn baby that I knew of that was in danger of abortion, was scheduled to have an abortion that very day.

It is still unclear, about 3 weeks later, if this young girl went through with her abortion. No matter what, I find myself still praying for her. And I pray for her unborn baby as well all of the unborn everyday.

It’s difficult to express especially to those that aren’t pro-life, the sadness I feel for all women who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Pretty sure many pro-choicers assume that I’m anti-woman.

I cry for these women.

I’m sad for them because I know 4,000 women each day abort their child. I’m sad for them because they usually receive no support from the father of their child or from their parents or friends. I’m sad for them because the only “friend” they find themselves talking to is the abortion worker. I’m sad for them because they have believed the lies that so many of us women have believed for far too long: “You’re weak. You’re helpless. You’re not strong enough to have this baby. This baby will ruin your life. In fact, it will end your life.”

I believed these lies for SO long. I remained convinced from 8th grade until just a couple years ago: “If I ever get pregnant, my life is over.”

Who told me this lie? No one specifically. It was more of the “mantra” of my teenage and college years. Almost like a “Scared Straight” episode but with pregnancy as the “drug” that will do you in. A baby TRAPPED you. A baby was a BURDEN. A baby was a MISTAKE.

I’ve written about my conversion to the pro-life side here. But what I’d like to end with today is a letter to the unborn. It seems that “An Open Letter To…” posts tend to be popular. I just saw someone wrote one to a certain Presidential Candidate who shall remain nameless. But in the abortion industry, people write letters too.

For example, did you know you can write letters to abortion workers telling them they are praying for their conversion and that they were there to help, like the Love Letter Campaign from And Then There Were None? People write letters to women who’ve had abortions who claim they have no regrets about ending their lives of their offspring, like this one from Rep. Diane Black. People write letters to women who are hurting and feeling suicidal due to their abortions (simply Google “An Open Letter to Post-Abortive Women” and you’ll see tons of examples, especially from those who have had an abortion).

I found myself writing the following letter that I addressed to the unborn. I know most children that I “spiritually adopt” in the womb will never read this. But I am still comforted by the fact that they will one day understand that there were many of us that fought for the least of these:

To The Unborn-

I don’t know you, little one. I don’t know you or your mother. But I pray everyday that you hear my voice in that little womb of yours. If you hear echoes of “protect” and “save” and “choose life,” that’s me and my friends. We fight for your life everyday. Some days we might say this prayer called a Rosary where we pray for our Mother Mary to intercede for us to save your life.

I want you to know that I desperately want you to live. Sometimes people out here don’t understand what they say when they yell and scream or even just talk to one another about “Choice” and “Reproductive Rights.” I know these words don’t mean much to you now but I assure you there are people who claim these words mean that they can end your life before you see your Mom face to face.

Just know that your Mom loves you. She doesn’t understand what’s happening right now. And maybe some people are lying to her. They make her feel weak and inadequate. They tell her that she’s incapable of taking care of you. They tell her things that make her feel like she’s making the right “choice.” They use language to make her feel like you are nothing but a problem that needs to be destroyed. That you are a mistake. And a burden.

But many of us know better. We know destroying an innocent life like yours is not going to solve any “problem.”¬†Please know that in addition to praying for your soul, I pray for your parents too. I want them to meet you and God someday so I know how important it is to pray for their souls.¬†

Unfortunately, your parents don’t understand the JOY and HAPPINESS that your life could bring them! But I know, without a doubt, your Mom IS strong. I pray she knows that. And your Mom IS loving. I pray for her to know that too. She may say or think that she’s “not ready to be a mother.” But what she doesn’t know is that she’s already a mother. The second you were conceived, she became a mother and your dad became a father. They are parents and always will be, no matter what.

Most of all I pray for you and your little soul. Many more people that you don’t even know and will never meet are praying for you right now, too. Many of us end up crying, begging, and pleading with God that you’re life is spared from death. That you get a chance to take a breath outside your home in your mother’s body.

So stay strong. Don’t be scared. And forgive your parents, especially your mother. The pain you may feel will be quickly forgotten once you experience the bliss and joy of entering heaven’s gate and see Mary, Our Mother, her arms wide open to welcome you home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Scared to Speak

In the past 6 months I have shared many articles on social media about pro-life and bioethical issues that are most controversial in our world, especially concerning those about abortion and birth control with the occasional post about homosexuality, gender identity, and so-called “same sex marriage.”

It never seems to fail that each time I post, one of my Christian friends privately messages me and thanks me for speaking up and not being afraid for saying what they wish they could say. At first it was random, but lately it’s been a more frequent occurrence. And the verbiage is usually similar – A common theme of fear.

“I’m not brave enough like you to say anything. ”

“It’s so great that you have so much courage to speak up on such controversial issues.”

“I can’t speak up like you do, I’m a wimp.”

Courageous? Brave? It’s strange that people use these words to describe a simple keystroke. I mean, really, how difficult is it to click the word “share?”¬† But what is even more strange is the “fear” that people have in their own hearts.

What are we afraid of? If we know this is truth, what is there to fear?

I suppose the biggest fear is fear of losing an argument. Fear of losing friendships maybe. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of what others think of us.

But something I think we need to be more fearful of is Ignorance. If we don’t stay informed of these pressing issues, then this allows misinformation to spread. And let’s keep in mind one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to “Instruct the Ignorant.” So that means, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy issued by Pope Francis, that we not only have a duty to seek the truth ourselves, it means we need to share the truth. (The “ignorant” isn’t meant to be an insulting term here; it simply means the “uninformed.”)

For example, the controversial undercover Planned Parenthood videos:

I have met with and conversed with a few people who have never even seen a minute of any of the undercover video footage from the Center of Medical Progress and journalist David Daleiden. Not surprising when you read that none of the major media outlets gave it more than 39 seconds of coverage.

But just today, a grand jury in Houston has found Planned Parenthood not guilty of any wrongdoing and decided to bring charges up against Daleiden himself. Oh and one of the DA’s is on the board of Planned Parenthood. Sigh…

To those of us in the pro-life movement, this would seem like a huge step backwards, especially considering the March for Life in D.C. and the Walk for Life in San Francisco were so successful.

But see, I think of this as a misstep by Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. I think, rather, I pray, that this will be their undoing. How?

Because now they will be forced to take the stand. Of course, nothing is going to stop liars from lying, even under oath. But I predict one of these doctors will have a major conversion.

If “Jane Roe” could have a conversion, would it not also be possible that one of these abortion doctors could have one as well?

Today in the Catholic Church we recognize the Conversion of St. Paul. St. Paul had the biggest conversion ever. Like, if there was an award for conversions, this dude would receive the award, hands down. The  guy was pretty awful when he was Saul, persecuting followers of Jesus left and right.

Reading about him was one of the catalysts for me when I myself “came back” to the Church after a short departure.

Reflecting on him tonight I can’t help but think, “Wouldn’t it be great if one of these PP docs or workers had a conversion? Wouldn’t it be awesome if they decided to find a way to give life instead of taking it away?”

Do you know what’s stopping them?

Probably the same thing that stops you from sharing or speaking up on controversial topics like abortion: Fear.

They probably have no idea how to leave the industry. Think about it – What would they do if they left? How would they make a living? What would their co-workers think?

Enter the awesome website run by Abby Johnson called And Then There Were None. She seeks to help former abortion workers (yes, even doctors themselves) to leave the industry for good. To date, they have helped approximately 200 workers out of this darkness and on to the path to healing and recovery.

She helps them speak up when they are too afraid.

So let’s set the example and show people we aren’t afraid of a little debate, of a little controversy, of a little action.

We have truth on our side.

  • Looking for ways to help the unborn from the inside out? Consider writing a “Love Letter” to abortion clinic workers in your city/state. Before someone can be converted, they need to know they’ll have support when/if they leave. This means we don’t shout obscenities and awful things to them when we stand outside abortion clinics. This means we love them and pray for them. We hate what they do for a living. But we always love them because they are humans and worthy of respect and dignity.
  • If you’re looking for simple ways you can help the unborn and promote the pro-life message, here’s a short article from Word on Fire.
  • For other helpful websites that speak the truth when it comes to bioethics and the Catholic Church teachings, especially the unborn and human dignity, I recommend the following:

National Catholic Bioethics Center

Life Site News

Live Action

LifeTeen

EWTN