Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Holy Spirit and 40 Days for Life

Been pro-life for as long as I remember, but never attended a Washington, D.C. or San Francisco march, never prayed in front of an abortion clinic, before today.  I've attended late night adoration and prayer vigils before, I recently did a pro-life post, and I regularly pray on my own for this intention, but today was the first day I actually went to an abortion center and prayed on sidewalk beside the center's parking lot.

The announcement was made at Church the last two weeks, and I was worried we wouldn't have a big contingent, not because the majority of us aren't pro-life.  I wouldn't be surprised if all of us that attend Divine Liturgy there are pro-life, because both our priests are unabashedly pro-life from the pulpit, so if you weren't you probably wouldn't attend there.  We are a very small parish.  We don't have a Respect Life committee (well before today), we have a Respect Life - Guy.  He is probably in his 70s, retired, and he's Irish like I am, but married a Ukrainian, and went with his wife's rite--Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic (full union with Rome, and the Pope is our Pope too!), although he's also a Knight of Columbus.

Several times a year he has a battery operated megaphone going in the basement around elections or when there are pro-abortion bills going through the Illinois state legislature so we can do phone and letter campaigns.

This same gentleman also has the sign-up to ensure we have one parishioner offering a holy hour in church every day of the month in front of the Blessed Sacrament, with the primary intention being an end to abortion, although I tend to add, "through the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus!"  

The first time I signed up for a Holy Hour I asked if I could offer it in the Catholic parish close to my home, and he said it was much preferred to offer it there in our Church.  He gave me the secret numeric code to the side door (it is secret but also amazingly easy to remember) so I could come in to pray for my holy hour, or any time I need to pray.  I am a bit indebted to him for this, as are my family and friends, whether they know it or not!  They can thank him in heaven!  I love praying alone in an empty church in front of the tabernacle!  I posted about that in Prostrate before God.

I talked with him the past two Sundays about what date might work for the vigil participation.  I even told him Wednesday might work well, because my husband is off on Wednesday. So guess what day he picks, Wednesday, today, 11/2/11.

I've been way, way sleep deprived this week.  I have the usual full-time job, the 4 kids, the homework--quite intense from the private Christian school, and now I have a head coaching job for the JV and Varsity Girls High School basketball teams.  As I mentioned in my post about the Jabez prayer, I saw this as the Lord answering my prayer to expand my territories, and bless me indeed, but it is really stretching me!  I've had insomnia last couple of nights--the kind when you are praying the rosary, the Jesus prayer, and just praying not to see the clock have the 3 in the hour slot the next time you look at it.  

This morning was the day of our Parish's prayer vigil at the clinic.  I thought it would be a several hour appointment.  I was going into work late, and would be leaving work early to lead the basketball practice.  There really wasn't time in the day to shoot off for a few hours in downtown Chicago to pray at a clinic, or was there?

I prayed, "Lord, if you want me to go, please let me know.  You could say it if you want, or have my guardian angel tell me if you like.  I don't know how I can do it.  I don't want to let you down, or the Respect Life guy down either."

When I was in work for about 20 minutes, my husband called.  He wasn't at home like he usually is on Wednesday.  I told him about the vigil in front of the clinic.

His response, "I'm at work today.  I've got to get some stuff done.  This is just another example of us not having enough time to do the things we really should do."

Five minutes later, the head of the Parish Council, another, second Irish man in his 70s, who married a Ukrainian woman and now attends the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic rite church, calls me.

"Colleen are you going down there with us today?"

He's called me one time before in the almost 5 years I've been going to this parish.

"We are going to leave right before 11, stay for an hour and then come back."

Turns out he had insomnia last night too, so any thought I might have that I don't need extra errands the second day after not sleeping well went away.

There was another married couple there who was going in a separate car.  So it was the two Irish guys in the front and me behind.  Isn't that something three Irish people from Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church?

Second amazing thing, I have a bipolar Mom that was abusive toward my Father during her manic periods, and one of the gentlemen has a bipolar wife that is abusive toward him right now, and that is where the insomnia came from.  I suspected this, as in a small parish there aren't really secrets as far as home situations, but I mentioned about my Dad when they pointed out the refuge center for abused women.  I asked, "Where is the center for the abused husbands?"  My Dad would sneak out and sleep in his mini-van behind the local strip mall during some of the bad nights.

We got to the center and parked.  There is a Catholic center across the street from the "Family Planning Associates" center on Elston Avenue in Chicago where abortions are carried out up to "23.5 weeks".

There was a lady there from another Immaculate Conception Parish in Chicago.  She was staying until 2.  We were only staying an hour, until 12:30.

We prayed the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, the Chaplet, and then some of the prayers, scripture passages, and Litany of the Sacred Heart in the prayer book they had there in a waterproof bin for our use.  One of the neighbors came out and was praying around the corner from us.  

It was beautiful!  The sun came out shortly after we prayed the 2nd Glorious Mystery, The Ascension, and the temperature was about 65°.

There were a couple of women across the street from us that were singing something in a way that seemed like it was combative, but I don't think they were familiar with how long it takes to pray a rosary, because their singing only lasted for 2 or 3 mysteries.

It was sad to be so close to where so many innocent children are killed.  I have no taste for looking at pictures of aborted babies, with heightened sensitivites to being so close to where some of the abortions occurred today.  When I started this post and looked up the center, I went looking for an ultrasound for a baby at 23.5 weeks.  I found the blog of a Mom who gave birth to a baby at 23.5 weeks with comments from other parents of premies.  I was even less wanting to find some 3D ultrasound showing a baby in utero at that age.

We finished by singing "Immaculate Mary" because I wanted to, despite one of our number saying immediately beforehand, "I'll pray but I WON'T sing!"  Turns out she did sing, but who could not sing that song?  To get her to sing I mentioned since we were from two parishes named in honor of the Immaculate Conception, so we pretty much needed to end by singing that song.

After hugging our new friend, who liked the Respect Life group from our Parish, that we didn't know we had, we made it back to our church parking lot, 2 minutes before my 1 p.m. conference call that I took from our Church's basement (recreation hall).  

The Lord spoke to me, it was audible, through my husband and my friends from Church.  It was actually pretty clear.  As I reflect on the number of things that strike me today, it is clear the Holy Spirit was at work leading me.  My prayer in the car was answered.  I had no time, but the Lord made time for me to do what he wanted me to do, and things went well once I returned to work and also at the basketball practice.

Please keep praying as part of the 40 Days Campaign, which is wrapping up this Sunday, November 6, 2011.

1 comment:

  1. What a blessing to be alone in a church with Jesus :)

    We have no abortion clinics in our city thankfully but there is one about twenty minutes away in another city. I would love to see it shut its doors. Hopefully, this will happen someday soon.

    I hope your sleep improves, Colleen. I'll keep this intention in my prayers. God bless!