Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stories from the sidewalk...

Dear Friends,

Praying and vigiling at Planned Parenthood goes on throughout the year, and are particularly appropriate at Advent, when we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord.

Friday is surgical abortion day at 625 Shipley St. in Wilmington. Each Friday, from 8:30-11:00 am or so, we gather to pray and to hand out information about alternatives to abortion. Come and join us, if you are looking for a way to deepen your experience of discipleship.

We have discovered that the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood is like the agora where St. Paul and the other apostles met with the people of the Roman Empire and the Greek city-states to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ. Every Friday, we encounter men, women and children from the Wilmington community and enter into the most unexpected conversations.

When we first started praying outside of Planned Parenthood, we thought it was all about the abortions. We have come to discover that God makes all sorts of opportunities for us to become involved in the life of the city.

The last couple of Fridays have been very light in terms of women going into PP. Praise God for that! I like to think, and I hope and pray it is true, that our faithful prayer for the mothers and their unborn children is making a difference. I like to think that our prayers are helping widen the doors, the windows, and the cracks in people's hearts and minds that will allow the Holy Spirit to come in and make a transformative difference in a crisis pregnancy situation. Please continue to pray with us at home.

Last week a young man walked by as we were praying the rosary. He looked at us, looked at the sign that said "Re-think Abortion", and asked, "What are you all doing out here praying?"

We told him we were praying for an end to abortion. He said, "Yeah, I hear you! That's a good prayer!"

He asked, "Are you all from the same church?"

We said we were all Catholics, but we came from different parishes. He said he was new to Wilmington and was looking for a church. We told him that some of us were going to St. Peter's Cathedral at 11:00 for a holy hour, followed by Mass, and asked him if he'd like to join us. He said he wasn't sure he could make it, but could we maybe pray for him right then and there?

So we gathered in a circle, asked his name (John), and prayed for John. We asked that the Holy Spirit would help him find a church, that the Lord would bless his life in this new city, and give him the graces necessary for his life at this time and place.

Then we all hugged John, and he walked away praising God.

The Planned Parenthood escorts and the Wilmington police officer hired by PP for security looked on. I hope and pray that when they observe us engaged in ways that don't automatically trigger their animosity (as our engagement with their clients do), they may recognize that we are just ordinary people. Weird, perhaps they will think, for praying in public, but we hope they see that we are sincere and unaffected. Too many people never see ordinary Christians in ordinary acts of ministry to one another.

I love our Friday time spent in the agora of Wilmington. We'll be there tomorrow. Hope to see some new or familiar faces.

Rae Stabosz, a member of 40 Days for Life's Committee in Delaware

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