Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Midpoint

Can you believe it's the midpoint for 40 Days for Life already? They've been doing a wonderful job, from everything I've been reading, in their efforts to save lives, change hearts, and provide a constant witness for the unborn.

The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth's newspaper, which arrived at my house today, contained both the text of the recent joint letter from Bishop Vann and Bishop Farrell and this nice article:

It is the halfway point in a national event organizers call the longest and largest coordinated pro-life mobilization in history, and the Diocese of Fort Worth is playing its part in it. The event, “40 Days for Life,” which began Sept. 24 and will end Nov. 2, is a focused prolife effort that involves 40 days of prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil, and community outreach. Local participation, which takes place at Planned Parenthood near downtown Fort Worth at 301 N. Henderson St., has included volunteers from 17 parishes, student groups from Texas Christian University, the College of St. Thomas More, and the University of North Texas, as well as youth groups from Nolan Catholic High School and others.

“Forty Days for Life,” was founded in 2004 in Bryan/College Station, when a group of four people, two of them college students, prayed for an answer about how to reduce abortion in their area.

“They prayed, ‘God what do you want us to do?’” said Vicki Hauck, longtime director of Respect Life at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Arlington, “and they got the idea of prayer and fasting around the clock.” Hauck, along with 40-Days local outreach coordinator Reese Lantrip, helped advertise this year’s event among parishes in Arlington and Mansfield. The four people who founded the first 40-days event in 2004, put it together in a few weeks, activating some 1,000 people in College Station, according to Laura Barker, who was a volunteer at that time. They attribute to that event the resulting 28 percent decline in abortions in the community. [...]

“Now there are people participating in 170 cities across the United States and in Canada,” Hauck said. “Many people think that abortion is a woman’s choice, but when a grass roots movement like this takes place, it shows you God can take this little mustard seed and see what God can do?” [...]

Every hour of every day is scheduled, and, according to Giselle Ferguson, vigil coordinator, people call when they cannot be there, [outside the abortion clinic--E.M.] and others fill their spaces. There are always at least two people there, on the sidewalk, praying, she said, and sometimes extra ones stay longer than their own shifts. The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the Knights of Columbus took on all the 1 to 3 a.m. shifts, Castro said.

Hauck and her husband Jerry took two late hours, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. “As we knelt there,” she said, “we saw a pickup truck approaching, and we looked up, and it was Chuck Pelletier and his wife Pat, coming by to see how we were doing.” The Pelletiers are long-time pro-life activists in the diocese.

“Later that same night a black car approached, and I watched carefully and then realized it was our bishop!” Bishop Vann had presided at a confirmation, then a Shepherd’s CafĂ©, and stopped by the 40-Days site on his way home. “He said, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’” Hauck said. “What an awesome shepherd we have!” [...]

“In hindsight we see clearly. So many people around us don’t see it now, but we are the lens for them,” she [Laura Barker--E.M.] said. “Someday we will look back and say, ‘I can’t believe, as human beings, we thought it was okay to murder our children.’”
I've quoted from the article at such length because it's just so uplifting to read. The spirit of joyful hope that characterizes the pro-life movement, but especially the younger volunteers who are witnessing outside the clinic day and night, is inspiring, especially compared to the sour-faced reaction from, sadly, my generation (and a little older) who marched out of Mass rather than listen to the truth that Catholics may not, in good conscience, support pro-abortion candidates when there are reasonable alternatives.

I hope that someday we all will say, in addition to "I can't believe, as human beings, we thought it was okay to murder our children," this sentence: "I can't believe, as human beings, we thought it was okay to support, campaign for, and vote for people who thought we should murder our children." Hindsight, as Mrs. Barker said above, can be so brilliantly clear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Red, thanks for all of your great posts on the 40 days for Life, and the election. I was in Pittsburgh this past weekend at an abortion clinic, and, appropriately enough, there was an Obama campaign volunteer headquarters just one door down from the clinic. That says it all. And then on Sunday at mass, we heard an excellent pro-life sermon, and one of our choir members got up and angrily stormed out of mass (he was a teenager in the 60s, and unfortunately, is also our only tenor). At times like these, the band-aid of ordinary life gets ripped off, and we are face to face with the festering wound that divides us as Americans and as Catholics. It was kind of chilling to watch a man I've joked with and enjoyed singing with become livid at the proposal that we mustn't do anything to help murder unborn children.

--Elizabeth B.