One of the members of the Saint Paul Students for Life, Sr. M. Louise, shares some thoughts about the group’s participation in two recent pro-life events:
Last Sunday, Life Chain was held simultaneously in more than 200 cities across Canada each year. Life Chain involves gathering at public locations for an hour on the first Sunday of October and creating a chain of people who stand and give witness to the dignity of life.
It is a peaceful and prayerful public witness of pro-life individuals standing and praying for our nation and for an end to abortion. It is a visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community that abortion kills children and that the Church supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.
It does not involve the use of graphic images but of short phrases like “Abortion Kills Children,” “Adoption – the Loving Option,” “Jesus Forgives & Heals,” “Lord, Forgive Us and Our Nation,” “Abortion Hurts Women, “Life – the first Inalienable Right” and “Pray to End Abortion.” Personally, I was very edified to see so many priests out for this event, as well as our friends from the local Hispanic parish, Sagrada Familia. Also Saint Paul’s University, especially represented by the Canon Law students, was well-represented. The Life Chain took place at other locations in Ottawa too. Over at Maureen’s Thoughts, you can check out her video of the event.
The following day, our Students for Life group gathered at 65 Bank Street, that is, at the local abortion clinic. 25th of September marked the beginning of the daily vigil of prayer, fasting and outreach for the 40 Days for Life. On both occasions on Sunday and Monday, the weather was far from pleasant. However the heavy rain and cold did not dampen the spirits of those who turned out.
So in September, 40 Days for Life vigils began in 306 cities from coast to coast in North America — and in eight other countries around the world. It is a focused pro-life effort that consists of:
-40 days of prayer and fasting for an end of abortion
-40 days of peaceful vigil
-40 days of community outreach
Monday the 7th of October, feast of the Most Holy Rosary , was the day taken by Saint Paul Students for Life. Students as well as their friends, covered the hours from 7am to 7pm, praying, interceding and reading Scripture across from the clinic. For legal reasons, we are not allowed to pray outside the clinic. As always, the response from the general public can be mixed. It was the opportunity to talk to people and draw their attention to the fact that the clinic actually existed in a very elite and busy part of the city, it is quite inconspicuous, after all. One of our students was approached by a group of young women who asked if they could stay and pray with him and give witness. What a blessing! Others were heckled by women who shouted ‘my body-my choice’ slogans or showed their disdain through middle-finger gestures or a choice of swear words. Many others received ‘thumbs-up’ from passing drivers or pedestrians as well as many ‘God bless you’s or ‘thank you’s’! On the previous day, some of the kids who were with their parents also did receive some ‘middle-finger’ salutes as did others who were very deliberately splashed by drivers swerving into the puddles! For some students it was the first time to be involved in public witness for life and also the first time to pray in public. I remembered my first experience this time last year and how initially I felt very awkward and even a little scared as to the potential risks from people who did not agree or would challenge us. But as I prayed, I felt deep peace in knowing that life is precious and has to be defended. I also had a sense of evil and even nausea as I looked at this building which housed so many secrets, emotions and broken dreams for many men and women. Along with that sense of evil was a sense of sadness and a deep rooted plea for mercy and kindness for those who chose not to give their babies the gift of life.
Praying the Rosary is always part of the prayer outside the Clinic so it was beautiful to be able to do this on the feast of the Rosary. In this way, we honour Mary as Mother, and we call the ‘fruit of her womb’, ‘blessed’. This counteracts the abortion mentality, which sees motherhood as more of a burden than a blessing and sees the fruit of the womb as disposable. In the Rosary, we remember that we are sinners. “Pray for us sinners.” “Forgive us our trespasses.” It proves false the accusation of pro-aborts who tell us we are “self-righteous.” Rather, we are the ones who need to repent of our negligence and inactivity regarding abortion when we can speak up and haven’t done so.
Priests for Life, a very active pro-life group reminds us of the value of street ministry. Being on Bank Street enables us to “take our message directly to the public, bypassing the government, the media, educational facilities, and all those in the institutions who seek to silence the pro-life message. People driving or walking are not there because they want to hear us, but because they are going about their daily duties. Abortion becomes part of the landscape; it recedes into the scenery and is considered a normal part of the orderly functioning of society. Things are at peace, the streets are quiet, and from the looks of things, “Everything’s OK.”
But is everything OK? Well, last week, we made our small contribution to saying that things are not okay but also to saying that with God and through prayer and good-willed and committed people, all things are possible.