Wednesday, September 24, 2008

40 Days for Life begins

For the first time since its inception, 40 Days for Life is in New Hampshire. Last night we held a kickoff rally outside the Planned Parenthood abortuary in Manchester. It was, in a word, powerful.

All told, I'd estimate around 60-70 people showed up - maybe more by the time things really got going. Before they rally started some people were handing out St. Michael the Archangel prayer cards (and how appropriate the line, "Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil", he who is ultimately behind this menace) and the Prayer for the Conversion of Abortionists by Fr. Frank Pavone. Things started shortly after with prayer and then witness from three different individuals, each with a different story. (Click on the picture for a larger version.)

The woman speaking in the above picture is the one who came to our parish this past weekend. She told of how she waited and prayed day after day for God to send someone to bring 40 Days for Life to New Hampshire (boy, that sounded familiar...) until finally one day she realized that just maybe God had put her in that place at that time for that very purpose. What a powerful reminder that each of us has an irreplaceable role to play in this world - one God has laid out for us that no one else can do.

The woman in the back whom you can just see holding flowers is a sidewalk counselor who came to speak to us from Massachusetts. Her message was simple - pray, and be a witness, because you never know who is watching or what will happen if you put yourself out there. And above all, trust in God even if you don't know how He is going to provide for you. She shared with us a few stories of times on the sidewalk when she had to step out in faith before she knew how things would work out and when she did God responded in a big and unforeseeable way.

The young man in the front of the truck spoke last, and his story was short but powerful. He is the father of a child aborted against his will. He told us of how when he called Planned Parenthood to ask them not to go through with the abortion he was told flatly that he had no rights in the matter and that's all there was to it. The dimming sunlight reflected off no small number of tears as he spoke.
One side of the crowd

The other side of the crowd
After the witnesses were given we, again, prayed some more. We then made a candle light procession in front of the abortuary, singing Amazing Grace, turned around at the Elm Street intersection and processed back to where we started again. We had time to briefly chat with some friends and acquaintances as sign up sheets were handed around for anyone who could commit to at least an hour's quiet, prayerful witness.

Yes, if you're curious, we did have one heckler yell out "choice!" as he drove by but, well, it took a minute to even figure out what he (yes, "he") said as he didn't make much of an attempt at either enunciating his opinion or even yelling in our direction. There were also a couple of girls in nurse outfits standing by the back of the abortuary using their cell phone cameras to record the procession as they laughed and giggled. I can only guess that they work there and have simply no idea what they are doing or the pain and harm they are causing. They were, in a way, among the first people to see the power of 40 Days for Life, even if they don't yet realize it. Those two young girls have never left my prayers from that moment on.