[The following is a report from my participation in 40 Days for Life, Days 17 and 18.] Friday was abortion day at Planned Parenthood in Birmingham. On Friday afternoon the truck came to pick up what is (euphemistically, I suppose) called “waste material”. On the side of the truck it says “Protecting People. Reducing Risk.”

Protecting folks and reducing risks. Uh huh.

Ironic, isn’t it? And just a bit sickening. The most defenseless ones of all were certainly not protected and the risk they were in was neither reduced nor even acknowledged. So much for the “compassionate choice.” I’m sure you’ve heard that argument. “It’s compassionate to save a child from possible suffering.” By killing him before he even has a chance to take his first breath outside his mother’s womb? Don’t make me vomit.

Today was a quiet day on the sidewalk. The only person who stopped to talk to me today was someone who seemed familiar at the time, but I couldn’t quite place her. Until later when I remembered the first time we met. She did exactly the same thing to me today that she did that time, during the first 40 Days for Life campaign in which I ever participated back in 2009. She stopped her car in the middle of the street, rolled down her window and said, “I want to ask you a question.” Now this was simply a deception on her part because what she really wanted to do is what she proceeded to do. “Why are you encouraging women to have babies they can’t take care of? There are (blah blah blah, fill in the blank, insert your favorite non-reason here).” And it went downhill from there. She listed the same lame excuses you’ve heard over and over and no matter how many times those excuses are repeated, the repetition of them will not ever make it right to kill a baby. Not ever.

This one got me, though. “Why do you want a baby to come into this world without a daddy? There are so many people in prison now who didn’t have daddies.”

Oh, yeah, I love this one. I replied, “I didn’t have a daddy, or a mommy either. At one time, anyway. I’m adopted and I’m very glad that I’m standing here today to say this to you because someone gave me a chance. And I’m not in prison. I’ve had a wonderful life, thank you very much.”

She went on with her litany, unable to hear or think about what I’d said because she did not want to hear or think. She did not want to ask me a question or hear my answer. She wanted to feel better about some choice she made at some point in her life and she wanted to make me feel useless or worse, even terrible. But it didn’t work. I knew whose voice I was hearing. I knew that the attack was not against me. I’ve learned to recognize the voice that says these things. I’ve learned to recognize his way of acting and thinking. I’m learning what to do when I find myself suddenly face to face with him, and that is to remember that this kind can only be driven out by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29).

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

So I did not argue with her. I did not continue the conversation with her. I told her to have a nice day and then I turned away and picked up where I had left off praying my rosary. Only I  said a special prayer for her and mentioned her (and others like her) at the beginning of the meditation on each Mystery. I don’t want to get into an argument or a yelling match with someone who is under the ancient enemy’s power. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction. And I don’t want to give him an opening into my own heart and mind.

But there is one thing I wish I’d thought to tell her before she drove away this time. I wish I had told her that I’m glad she was not my mother. Maybe it’s a good thing that I didn’t think of it until later. But maybe I’ll remember it if I ever see her again.

Peace be with you and keep praying. We are making a difference and our ancient enemy is profoundly disturbed. Thanks be to God!

I’ve been a Catholic for nearly sixteen years now and I still remember that first Lenten season as a very special and wonderful time in my life. I was received into Holy Mother Church at the Easter Vigil of 1996 and I still get tears in my eyes when I remember it. I loved the Church then. I love her more now. And I love Christ. There was a time when I thought I’d never be able to say that, and that I would never want to say that. But I fell in love with the Church and the Church led me to the Lord. I can truly say now what I said wanting to mean it all those years ago: I want Christ to draw me closer, ever closer to Him. I want to sit at the foot of the Cross and gaze upon Him, upon His beauty, in the sanctuary.

My heart is full of joy and consolations tonight. Ever since I made the commitment to return to Daily Mass, God has been pouring such grace and so many graces into my soul that I can hardly bear it. Grace upon grace upon grace, many consolations. He has deepened my ongoing conversion, He has shown me so many things, taught me so much. At every turn He has shown me something new or has revealed a depth I had not suspected was there. He has led me to places, I’ve been there at exactly the right moment and I know His hand guided me. Oh, when I listen to Him, when I let Him lead me, it is truly marvelous what He will do. He is teaching me, showing me how to become, how to be, a true disciple.

I have so much to learn. Such a long way to go. So many obstacles to remove, barriers to loving Him the way He wants me to love. So far to go…

I know it’s Lent, a time of penance and entering into the sorrowful mysteries of Christ’s Passion. I know I’m supposed to be making a retreat with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, and we’re supposed to be meditating upon those sorrowful mysteries and focusing on them, trying to really enter into them and not feel too much joy right now so that we can feel that joy at Easter with all the more intensity. But at this moment my heart is so full of joy that I cannot keep it from welling up within me and overflowing and bubbling out all over the place.

"Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"

And yet at the same time I am aware of so much suffering around me. I’ve been praying at two different abortion mills during Lent (during the 40 Days for Life Spring campaign and at another mill in town that is a year-round vigil site) and so far I’ve only missed three days. I’ve talked with so many people and they’ve shared their stories with me. Stories of opportunities lost and lives lost and dreams turned into nightmares… My heart suffers and breaks along with theirs. And when I hear their stories of turning around, of changed hearts and minds, love wells up within me and I know this must sound sentimental or “emo” or silly to some, but it’s much more than that.

I feel this same love when people don’t agree with me and even look down on me for being religious, being Catholic, being any sort of Christian at all. For being pro-life. For leaving Buddhism to become Catholic. “How could you?!” They think I’ve taken a giant step backward. I know I’ve made a quantum leap forward. If Buddhism helped me grow more compassionate than I already was and gave me insight into myself and others, Catholicism has expanded my heart and mind to such a degree that the world now seems a completely different place than the one I knew before. And every day when I hear the readings at Mass it is as if the Lord were speaking directly to me and every word seems to come straight from the mouth of God. It has all come alive for me. The studying has become living, living has become studying, and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight because the Lord has shown me so much that I feel like I’m on fire.

I hope you’re having a good and fruitful Lent as you prepare for the celebration of Easter. May the Lord richly bless your Lenten efforts and pour out upon you the riches of His grace and give you peace. Amen.

And, Joe, if you’re out there, I haven’t forgotten our conversation or what I said I’d do. I will post what I can as soon as I can.  And even though you told me you don’t pray, know that I do and I’m asking for blessings and graces for you, too. Peace be with you.

Divine Mercy

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know about it. I’ve been sharing this message with people since the fall of 2009 when I first read about it and no one I’ve talked to has ever heard of it before I told them. There is an explicit link between the message given to Saint Faustina, the Devotion to the Divine Mercy, and the sin of abortion. I had read the Diary, Divine Mercy in my Soul, and I didn’t remember seeing it. But it’s there. And there is a special Apostolic Blessing from Pope John Paul II for those who pray the Chaplet to end abortion, and also five special intentions to be used. Did you know any of that?

See the Divine Mercy and Abortion page, added tonight, March 1 2012. And, please, share this with your friends, family and priests! All Catholics should know this!