Friday, January 06, 2012

Stories from the Sidewalk -- Or Not!


Stories from the Sidewalk

Today's story doesn't come from the sidewalk, but from last night's screening of Fr. Robert Barron's CATHOLICISM series at Holy Family. We watched episode #5, Peter and Paul. Fr. Barron spoke of how Christ's gospel was confrontational when he preached it two thousand years ago.  Saints Peter and Paul recognized that what they were preaching would offend the ears of many in the world of the Roman empire. They expected to be martyred for their witness to the gospel. It is still confrontational today, Father Barron insists, unless we water it down to make a kind of easy-going gospel that moves along comfortably in the stream of "the world".

In the faith-sharing session afterwards, a friend and fellow parishioner spoke of how she often wondered if she would have the courage to stand up for the gospel in a culture and situation where witnessing could be dangerous.

"Could I," she wondered, "Stand up to the Nazis if I had lived during the time of all that killing and injustice? I like to think that I would have, but I wonder."

Have you ever wondered that about yourself? 

I challenge you, if you have never taken a public stand against the killing of the unborn, to ask yourself why you have not. Thousands of innocent lives are taken every week in Planned Parenthoods and other abortion clinics across the country. We who live in the culture spawned by the injustice of Roe v Wade occupy a position similar to that of the German people who lived in the culture of the Third Reich. We know that abortionists legally kill unborn children by the thousands, the millions, every year. We know that the killings are justified under benign names like "reproductive rights" or "a woman's choice". We know that our nation's heart and soul are being coarsened -- and its conscience deadened -- by decades of our complacence in turning our heads at the deep wounds inflicted on women, families, surviving siblings, abortionists and their staff, and all who participate in this injustice.

Is that complacence a form of complicity? Can silence indicate agreement?

What kinds of weeds might be being sowed to serve as obstacles to hearing the Lord's call to stand against this contemporary Slaughter of the Innocents? Do we worry that people will think we are one of those "pro-life nut jobs" if we come out to pray one day at Planned Parenthood? Do we think we will offend our more sophisticated friends if we stand with and pray for the unborn as they live out the final hour of their short life? Do we secretly agree with our pro-choice friends, and think that some of these cases are so pitiful that death is the best solution for an unplanned pregnancy?

Let's ask ourselves this, and pray about it. I took two weeks "vacation" from sidewalk ministry during the Christmas season. I did not want to face the contradictions of the joy of the season and the sorrow of the lives being taken-- and the sorrow of the Rachels mourning for their children, even when they themselves were cause of that mourning. I had to pray long and hard to prepare myself to come back to the sidewalk. It is not easy duty, but it is powerfully revelatory of the Lord's real and immediate presence in our hurting world. Every time we go, the Lord provides evidence of His presence and love. Every time.

This week, on both Friday and Saturday, public and prayerful witness will take place for the sake of the unborn lives that are at risk and being killed in Wilmington's Planned Parenthood, 625 Shipley St. 

Friday's vigil, with 40 Days for Life under Delaware Right to Life, will take place from 8:30-11:30 am.

Saturday's vigil, with the Knights of Columbus, will take place from 7:30-10:30 am.

I hope to see some new faces this year. Why not let 2012 be the year you step out onto the sidewalk to pray and vigil for the unborn?  The more the Delaware community sees that ordinary folks are praying, not protesting, the more likely they are to realize that for as long as the injustice perpetrated by Roe v Wade continues, praying at abortion clinics is a normal Christian ministry and witness to the gospel.