Friday, October 26, 2012

Outside of my comfort zone

Tonight, because it is the Year of Faith, I am going to pray outside the local abortion clinic with my parishioners. It is something I do from time to time myself but not something I do publicly or in company. I find something distasteful about prayer as protest, prayer is about recollection and is theocentric, protest is something else. There is group of evangelical Protestants who stand outside the clinic with banners and hand out anti-abortion leaflets, hoping to change the minds of mothers and others. I respect what they do but it isn't what I feel comfortable with, I hate "praying at" people, it is too Protestant for me I prefer to "pray for" people.
Like most post-VII Catholics I am not exactly comfortable with public prayer outside of Church, it is something I intend to address during the Year of Faith, by making "acts of Faith" and inviting others to join me.
Serendipidously Fr Stephen Wang, writing on "40 Days for Life" says this today:
With this public prayer, part of the purpose is to show that prayer matters, that there is another way of changing hearts, that we’re not alone in our struggles and sufferings – but that God is with us. This may sound a bit ‘pharisaical’. Didn’t Jesus ask us to shut the door and pray in private? Yes, but he also prayed with and for people, drawing them into his own prayer, and witnessing to the central importance of that prayer for all people.
He goes on to say
Another miracle is the effect that the vigil has had on so many of those who work in the abortion clinics. Over the years, internationally, quite a few abortion workers have had powerful conversion experiences, or small changes of heart, that have led them to leave the clinics and find work elsewhere. This isn’t because they have been pressured into this, but because through the witness of those on the vigil they have had the opportunity of seeing others who see things differently. The witness to life gives another way of looking at the world, another possibility, that awakens something deep in their hearts, and actually fits with what they secretly believed all along.
If you can't join us pray for us. If you want to join us, come along to the Traditional Mass tonight at 7pm and then join us afterwards. This is a little experiment, a little stretching of my comfort zone and that of our congregation. It is important to step out of what is comfortable and to make such signs of faith to ourselves. Who knows, enough of the them and we might start living by faith!


Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

God Bless you those of us who take hand of Our Lord and step beyond our 'comfort zone!

I don't know what the religious beliefs of the following were, but, boy we've come a long and rancid way in a century:

Susan B. Anthony

In her publication The Revolution, was written:"Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death."The Revolution, 4(1):4 July 8, 1869

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Stanton wrote, regarding prostitution and the "murder of children, either before or after birth": "For a quarter of a century sober, thinking women have warned this nation of these thick coming dangers, and pointed to the only remedy, the education and enfranchisement of woman... We believe the cause of all these abuses lies in the degradation of woman."The Revolution, 1(5):1, February 5, 1868"There must be a remedy even for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it be found, at least where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women?"The Revolution, 1(10):146-7 March 12, 1868

Victoria Woodhull

The first female presidential candidate was a strong opponent of abortion."The rights of children as individuals begin while yet they remain the foetus."Woodhull's and Claflin's Weekly 2(6):4 December 24, 1870"Every woman knows that if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth."Wheeling, West Virginia Evening Standard, November 17, 1875

Sarah Norton

"Child murderers practice their profession without let or hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned...Is there no remedy for all this ante-natal child murder?...Perhaps there will come a time unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood...and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with."Woodhull's and Claffin's Weekly, November 19

Alice Paul

The author of the original Equal Rights Amendment (1923) opposed the later trend of linking the E.R.A. with abortion. A colleague recalls her saying:"Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women."

John Fisher said...

As the child of a single mother I have another view. Last week I asked my mother if having me was something she ever regretted? She burst into tears saying "No, I would NEVER have adopted you out!"
That struck me as beautiful and brought home to me how killing unwated babies once UNTHINKABLE has become normative. So Father you do not face death but those inside the clinic do....what are you going to do. Why not pray and weep! Isn't it a long a nd normal thing that in prayer the body is involved?
Take a look at the link above from Latvia. Sculptures of babies put on the street with the reasons the mothers killed them.

blondpidge said...

I replied previously, so apologies if this is a duplicate.

I absolutely share your reservations about the difficulties of prayer as a protest, which is why I have not joined in at a local level, despite acknowledging the effort put in by the volunteers.

Caritas is best done with deeds not words, you mentioned the soup run the other day, you are there to feed bellies, the outreach that is achieved so successfully at vigils is to save unborn children and help women. There is a time and a place for evangelising and preaching at frightened or vulnerable women who are searching for practical help is not the solution - any conversions tend to be short lived and any help offered has to be totally unconditional.

With that in mind, praying outside a clinic is just that. I joined in at Bedford Square a few weeks ago. Whilst intially uncomfortable and feeling quite conspicuous (there were only 3 of us) actually it was a very humbling experience. We weren't there to pray at people, but simply to pray for them, for all the staff at the clinics as well as for the women and their relatives inside.

It is a very effective and humbling form of public witness, we know that God listens to our prayers and that is seen by the fruits of the vigils, such as women who see us and engage and, as happens in America, conversions of heart that actually close down clinics.

I think part of the problem is that praying anywhere in public is not very English, I've been heckled at on a Good Friday walk of witness in Hangleton and we do leave ourselves open to ridicule and/or accusations of hypocrisy or Pharasaical behaviour.

I was reflecting on Matthew and praying behind closed doors. My interpretation is that the inner rooms refers to one's heart. We shouldn't make the outward signs of prayer if we are not praying in our hearts and with every fibre of our being. We mustn't affect prayer with outward symbolism only but ensure that we are praying behind the closed doors of our soul. As Fr Stephen points out, much of Jesus' ministry was taken up with public prayer.

My experience is that the rosary is an extremely effective tool in helping to maintain the correct focus. Of course it's difficult with a large group but during clinic opening hours, my preference is for silent or quiet recitation of the rosary, in order that people do not feel intimidated by noisy prayers or singing. But in a secular world that wants us to confine our faith to church buildings or homes, to make faith a wholly private and hidden away affair, it seems only right to publicly and peacefully pray at the scene where thousands are dying. It is precisely this peacefulness that has enabled the conversions of heart.

Thank you for your witness. I am only sorry we cannot join you tonight, we are ironically driving to London to drop off some goods at the Good Counsel Network.

Pablo the Mexican said...

As a Padre, you are not one among many.

Are the consecrated Hosts differing, one from another around the World?

With the authority of our Divine Master, you must step out into the World and save souls.

All of them.

When you go to the abortion clinic, I suggest you have your sheep go to Confession and receive Holy Communion before they step up to the battle lines.

It does no good to engage in spiritual warfare with souls that are already dead.

Pray the Holy Rosary while you are there, and lead them also in the Angelus.

Yours is the loudest voice that should be heard.

Tell your Novus Ordo girls not to showboat or go into ecstasies while they are there with you.

Pope Leo XII's Saint Michael prayer in full, then quietly walk with your sheep around the facility praying for all those that are to die that day.

O MOST MERCIFUL JESUS, Lover of souls I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thine Immaculate Mother, cleanse in Thine Own Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony and who are to die this day. Amen.

HEART OF JESUS, once in agony, have pity on the dying.

Then sneak back at night and do a Saint Benedict ritual on the place.

I know a Priest that did a Saint Benedict ritual on a strip club that burned to the ground later that night.

Fight as if your soul depends on it.

It does, Padre.

O glorious Martyrs of Compiègne, pray for us!

With the assurance of my Holy Rosary prayers for all your good work in the vineyard of the Divine Master, I remain yours truly in Jesus and Mary Immaculate.


momangelica said...

Fr. Ray, I really disagree with Blondepidge, God Bless her.
We have a sincere couple who gather a group (with or without priests) to pray outside one of the busiest Marie Stopes in Bristol. We go once a month and say the full 15 decades of the Rosary, Litany of the Sacred Heart, Divine Mercy prayer, Guadeloupe prayer to Juan Diago etc. We are there a while and, if there is a priest they call the police and sometimes even cancel the mornings appointments.
Twice I have seen a car pull up and stop before reaching the clinic, then turn and go away. As we are quiet, prayerful and not intimidating in the way Pidge has noticed others it is a powerful testimony to our witness of the life of the unborn through prayer which gave some women the light of day. Go for it Father you will be thanked by those who are killed whilst you are outside because they go covered in prayer. Our clinic have girls go in every 10-15 minutes. One lady was very pregnant.

40DaysForLifeSouthampton said...

May God bless you! Praying in a public place for an end to the killing behind closed doors is probably the most essential public witness we can give today. Everyone who does it is profoundly enriched in their Faith. Young people are crying out for us to lead them away from the lies our society is foisting upon them. The young girl who is brainwashed by her school / parents / employer / friends / coparent of the child growing in her womb into getting rid of it discovers only too bitterly that the tablets the doctor gave her at < 9 weeks did in fact expel from deep within her a miniature perfectly formed human being, not the "heavy period" described by Childline:

If she's in Ireland the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children will be telling her how to go to England to have an abortion...

and people still allow personal discomfort to keep them from spending an hour in a public space near a place where a desperate woman / girl may be about to end the life of her own child? What have we all become?

I was about to abort / be aborted and you were there for me!

The Rad Trad said...

God bless you, Father Blake.

I remember when we would pray at the local abortion mill in town when I was in college. There was a bit of unease and confusion about what we should do. Pray aloud? Sing? Hold banners? Spout facts?

We opted for a more low-key approach. Efforts, thanks to God, saved one life.

Pray and fight the good fight.

blondpidge said...

Mom Angelica, in Brighton, as Fr Ray indicates, there is something of a confusion/overlap between 40DFL and an Evangelical group.

The Brighton group have just (rightly) won a court case, they display very large graphic banners of aborted foetuses and there is some very strong local feeling along with many reports of harassment and intimidation. Sensitivity and prudence need to be exercised.

The emphasis is on peaceful prayer and witness and in my opinion very loud prayer could perhaps be seen as a protest or as intimidation. Standing there behind a religiously themed sign, holding a rosary and quietly praying, cannot be construed as anything other than what it is and perhaps in business hours might be the most advisable. God hears all. My suggestion is to ensure that the prayers do not seem ostentatious or Pharasaical.

But I do take on board what you are saying. It could of course be a personal preference, I tend to prefer praying the rosary on my own, I often find group rosaries go at too fast a pace to be able to reflect properly, but there's a whole other topic.

Thanks for the respectful disagreement though :-) GBU

epsilon said...

Anyone, including Catholic "voices", who joins a 40 Days for Life vigil needs to remember one of the key precepts of the organisation is that we do not make any judgements on other prolife groups who use graphic images.
40 Days for Life London : While "We do not use graphic images, neither do we make any judgement on other prolife groups that do. We do not use loud-speakers. We are respectful of local residents, workers, and do not block roads or footpaths. All people are welcome to come and stand, or join us in quiet prayer in silent witness to life. We do not engage in any discussion or debate. This is a vigil to pray for all souls involved in abortion."

Voices who do join vigils need to keep their opinions to themselves instead of piggybacking on any cause that gives them an opportunity to make a noise!

blondpidge said...

Yes Epsilon, I am well aware of 40DFL policy on not commenting on the use of graphic images, however I am not referring specifically to those images not am I speaking on behalf of 40DFL on this blog in any sort of official capacity.

Peter Williams, another Catholic Voice, wrote an article for the Catholic Herald disagreeing with the use of graphic images whilst appearing on an official 40dfl promotional video and being pictured in the Guardian on a vigil. Is that equally unacceptable?

I am referring to a specific campaign in a local area which I have witnessed at close proximity, spoken with the volunteers and not the use of graphic images. Do you know the tactics to which I am referring? I spoke with some volunteers whose mission was to evangelise and who were trying to recruit pregnant women to a particular church. Another Catholic clergyman in the area (not Fr Ray) is equally concerned and has also eschewed for this reason having witnessed the tactics.

40DFL do not dictate the views of those who attend the vigils nor of those who volunteer in other ways. They simply ask volunteers to abide by their statement of peace.

I am confused as to why you believe that a participant who goes along to pray should not express a personal view.

Catholics who comment on Catholic blogs need to remember to say the prayer to St Isidore before engaging. Impugning the motives of brethren in Christ does nothing to sanctify the Internet. I am not sure as to the reasons behind your animosity but wish you well.

gemoftheocean said...

Couldn't resist the cheap shot at 'novus ordo women' "showboating", could you Pablo? What is your problem? It is sick and unhealthy to always slam women this way.

I would quite agree that before doing witnessing at clinics, the best armor is to go to Confession and then Communion before going out to do literal battle with the devil. In San Diego I knew many very active prolifers who regularly prayed before the clinics. Many of them did just as you suggested.

A picture of Our Lady of Guadaloupe is often quite effective. Ditto the prolife side walk counselors found it VERY handy to have reports of any lawsuits filed against the abortionists. Many women's hearts and minds were changed when they learned the records re: who was conducting the abortions -- often reports of perforated uterus, and other horrors stopped them. Sometimes they were able to get through to the husband/boyfriend of the person who brought them -- and they always offered alternatives - there is a group in San Diego where women can go get a free ultrasound of the baby they are considering aborting [abortionists hate this, the mothers will often see the child is not just a 'blob'] - they can often arrange for financial support. Sometimes in these hard times people can be living in their cars and they just have no idea there is help -- but when help is offered they grab the life line.

And take recording devices - hot to film who is going in to the clinics at all -- but to protect yourselves from those who may seek to push, shove, intimidate you or otherwise violate your person -- these recordings can be your best defense.

gemoftheocean said...

Oh, and regards pictures? The San Diego groups never use graphic images of abortions. What they DO do is use life size models of what a fetus looks like at a given age. They also use pictures of growing life in the womb -- show the positive.

They also offer post abortion help of where to go AFTER an abortion.

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