Sunday, March 25, 2007

Why I Pray at Abortion Clinics

This is an article by Elizabeth Lynch, published in Celebrate Life Magazine. I thought it was very compelling:

Taking to the sidewalks at abortion clinics in public
prayer and witness walks the line between what
society thinks acceptable and fanatical. We who do
so know the reactions it elicits: Obscenities, scorn,
sarcasm and attacks with anything from coffee to
snowballs are outweighed by random acts of kindness—
gifts of hot chocolate on a subzero day, bottled
water on a sizzler, prayers, thanks and curbside
praise music from a car radio.

However, the women who change their minds
and leave abortionists with time rather than blood on
their hands are priceless. Later, they return with their
babies to thank us; usually saying something like,
“He’s the light of my life and he wouldn’t be here if
you weren’t here praying outside this place a year
ago.” In the words of a priest sidewalk witness, “That
is what brings the angels to their feet cheering.”
The flagship of abortion

It is a new realization to me that abortion clinics are
the front lines of the culture wars and so is my
acknowledgement that such a war exists. Only
within the last few of my 50-plus years did I abandon
hedonism and return to orthodox Catholicism.
My dramatic conversion brought about choice reactions
from my family, friends and former bedmates.
They resorted to biblical lexicon in labeling me a
Pharisee and hypocrite. They filed me away as selfrighteous
and sanctimonious. I was “prostituting”
myself by “wasting” my talents writing for pro-life
web sites and publications. At best, they gave me a
patronizing pat on the head and an insipid, “How
nice for you.”

I felt misfit and odd. After expressing their opinions,
they asked no questions. They did not want to
invite unfamiliar dialog from the former mouthpiece
of permissiveness and tolerance. I do not blame them.
I had difficulty finding footing with myself. TV shows
and movies once entertaining were suddenly vulgar—
hobbies and secular interests were boring.

On the other hand, I did not fit the profile of a
sign-carrying pro-lifer. I have no children nor do I
have maternal feelings. I never have been comfortable
holding a baby. Why then did I leave the self-gratifying
culture to stand on the streets as a fool for Christ?
Throughout an adventurous and mercurial life,
I accumulated impressive accolades and equally
impressive scars. But I had no meaningful channels
of expression and no stable focus of devotion. My
soul was worn and tired. Family relations were
guarded and superficial, friendships stale, sexual
exploits passé and jobs unsatisfying.

Choices I had made stood in a precarious serpentine
line like dominos on unleveled ground. In a
slow-motion cascade of defeat and disillusionment,
they began to fall—romances, marriages, unwise
career decisions, imprudent financial moves, spiritual
wanderlust and ideological gymnastics. One
clicked against the other, the weight of those fallen
took down the next in turn.

Tottering on the shifting sands of recovery, I
found myself on the sidewalk in front of an abortion
mill singing hymns and reciting scripture. I felt conspicuous
and fraudulent. Abortion was not my fight.
And public displays of religious convictions, especially
controversial ones, were not my style.

Yet I kept coming back because I was sure of
two things. First, something critical was going on in
the temporal and spiritual worlds at those slaughterhouses.
Second, I was standing on solid ground.

Within months I was impassioned by the battle for
the preborn. Praying at those killing places is not
about abortion only. Abortion is the lightening rod
that draws to itself and catalyzes the war between
God and Satan. It is the flagship for a whole fleet of
disgrace, abuse, sacrilege and lies.

It is crystallized in a Planned Parenthood billboard:
“Birth control—it makes all my other choices
possible,” indicating education, career and timing of
childbearing within or outside of marriage. But birth
control also makes possible promiscuity, cohabitation,
adultery, the breakdown of the natural family,
pornography and sexual addictions. All these lead to
committing and/or supporting abortion.
Convergence of grace

I have walked some of those paths and since I was
healed I know there is hope for all. There is hope for
women and men contracepting their way to broken
hearts, families and lives. There is hope for mothers
sacrificing the lives of their children, for the fathers
abandoning their babies to death and for grandparents
sanctioning the murder of their grandchildren.

I pray at abortion clinics because, amid violence
and confusion, I am surrounded by celestial angels and
saints who meet in a powerful convergence of grace. I
pray because those with whom I stand are sustenance
and fortification surpassed only by my Lord Himself,
Who resides in the Eucharist. I am compelled to bear
witness to the power of the Holy Spirit in them. As I
am healed, I become an instrument of healing.

I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling
in the venue most appropriate to my sins, on the
streets of the culture of death. To those who accuse
me of being self-righteous, sanctimonious and severe,
I say they misjudge me. To those who verbally
assault me and mock my God, I say that they do not
know what they are doing. The world hated Jesus
first; now it is my turn to be hated, but with the
strength of His Spirit, I stand like another witness:
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full
acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the
world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost
of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy,
so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ
might demonstrate His perfect patience as an
example for those who would believe in Him
for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Elizabeth Lynch is a freelance writer from Ilion, New York.
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H/T: Birth Story.

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