Day 40: "Commit your way to the Lord, and He will act."
Sunday, November 1.
Such a wonderful, strong turnout on this the last of our 40 day campaign! Our campaign finishes strong, and with a remarkable peace the final hour.
In the 13 hours 7 am-8 pm we had 72 prayer and fasting hours offered at our vigil site: an average of 5-6 persons per hour (vs. the usual average of 3-4). Tremendous support from our friends coming from Saint John and Moncton.
Then at 8 pm we had over 100 for our closing hour!
What a beautiful sight it was, seeing the procession of vigilers with candles lit stretching down Brunswick and up Regent. We gathered once again in our Prayer Zone. Bishop Robert Harris led us in prayer, we sang several hymns, prayed aloud for the closing of the abortuary, and offered one last time our silent prayer, fasting and witness for the cause of life.
As we spent this last hour, part of me wondered if we might encounter some kind of flack as we have throughout the 40 days. Would there be a last hurrah from the other side, some outburst from our spiritual Adversary?
This concern was heightened when I heard from vigilers on the 7-8 pm shift that several pro-abortion young people had shown up with their silly signs as on Day 35. They spent several minutes demonstrating, and tried to chastise vigilers for holding this kind of pro-life activity near an abortion clinic! Of course, the obvious answer is, But this is where the babies are dying, isn’t it?
What would their reply be to that? Would they even have one?
The demonstrators disappeared before our procession arrived. Our concluding hour finished with a remarkable peace. As one who has taken this very hour (8-9 pm) for 34 of the 40 days, I was struck by how this was the very first time we went through the hour without any flack whatever!
Usually we’ll get at least one instance of nastiness - a finger, a curse, etc. - from someone driving by. But none tonight! The reaction was 100% positive - friendly toots, etc. To me, this peace was the graciousness and encouragement of our God!
As we prayed, in the darkness of the "clinic" the abortuary manager was observing us the whole time. Why was she there? What was she thinking? That she would watch us under the cover of darkness seems a fitting metaphor. Is it possible that one day she will finally come into the light? Will she at last give up her long fight against the God of her Jewish ancestors, the God of life and love?
We conclude our 40 pilgrimage with His words. "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act," says the Lord (Ps. 37:3). "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established" (Pr. 16:3). We make this commitment to Him now, one more time, entrusting all that we have offered and experienced these 40 days to Him, knowing in the sureness of our faith that He will indeed act. With patience and hope, we await the Day of the Lord. As we do, let us take further heart from His precious Word:
Fret not yourself because of the wicked,
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good:
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your vindication as the light,
and your right as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord,
and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off;
but those who wait for the Lord shall possess the land.
Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look well at his place,
he will not be there [emphasis added].
But the meek shall possess the land,
and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
The wicked plots against the righteous,
and gnashes his teeth at him;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows,
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those who walk uprightly;
their sword shall enter their own enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.
Better is a little that the righteous has,
than the abundance of the wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken;
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
Your grateful servant in the Lord,
Day 39: Lies that last but a moment vs. truth that endures forever
Saturday, October 31. My dear sister in the Lord, Lorraine, came again from Saint John, once again bringing several members of the Queen of Peace prayer group. These lovers of the Lord have been a mainstay throughout these 40 Days. Father, I can never thank them enough - would you, please, in your perfect way?
Susan is another dear soul, who has done so much to coordinate our vigil in Elaine’s absence and me being away also the past few days. She took the 7 am shift, bless her, along with another regular, Joe "14" (his name has 14 letters and is hard to pronounce).
When I called from Saskatoon this morning, Susan reported an unusual incident. She watched as a large group of bikers came down Brunswick Street - a procession of as many as 20 young people. As they drove by, they exclaimed in unison (they must have practiced!) "Not the Church, not the State, women shall decide their fate!" This is an old familiar anti-religious slogan from 60's-70's radical feminism.
Isn’t it amazing how much energy some people can waste on foolishness? These poor young people.
I turned to God’s Word on the contrast betwen the word of folly and the word of wisdom. Here’s some of what I found in Proverbs:
"He who belittles his neighbour lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent" (11:12)
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death" (14:12)
"Truthful lips endure for ever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment" (12:19)
"He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but who opens wide his lips comes to ruin" (13:3)
"A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies" (14:5)
"The mind of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things" (15:28)
"A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion" (18:2)
"A truthful witness saves lives, but one who utters lies is a betrayer" (14:25)
Does not the Word of the Lord capture well spirit of our 40 Days campaign?
Ever for life and love,
Day 38: The presence and peace of God
Friday, October 30. Once again a lovely assortment of good folks manning our vigil. Georgina taking the early shift, in my wife’s absence. Berdardine once again, ever cheerful whatever the weather. Moira and Betty Lou, and a good number of home-schooled children; such a beautiful witness. Fr. Ian who’s spent so many of his noon hours here. Gilda, Eileen and Maureen from Saint John. Raymond, with his walker. Fr. Richard on the late shift, his wife Maggie having taken an early one.
John from Oromocto was at the site for another long haul, this time six hours straight! He says 40 Days has been like a retreat for him, a rejuvenating experience. He does not find it difficult to pray along a street with all the traffic; in fact, just the opposite. Others have said something similar. The presence and peace of the Holy Spirit is really something.
In Moncton the last 40 Days vigil took place across from the GD hospital this morning. Mario and Rosalie, James, Denis, Cathy and her 4 kids; Sr. Cécile and Helen praying inside. Rosalie expresses a desire for an ongoing prayer presence beyond the 40 Days, as long as abortions are taking place. Might this be the main site for our next 40 Days campaign? Time and prayerful discernment will be needed to find an answer.
The good people of Moncton area have been an important part of this year’s campaign. The good people of Saint John area have also been outstanding. We Frederictonians could not have done it alone for sure!
Blessed be the God of life.
In His love,
Day 37: God's tapestry
Thursday, October 29. Nick was at the vigil again today. Just like every one of the past 36 days. But you wouldn’t even know it.
What I mean is, we have sign-up sheet for our vigilers, and Nick never signs in. You see, he only comes for 10 minutes at a time, not the usual one hour slots. But he comes every day! You add up 40 days x 10 minutes, it’s a lot of prayer time!
The other vigilers appreciate seeing him time and again. But when they try and express their gratitude, he demurs cheerfully, "Don’t thank me." He feels he is just doing the right thing, no thanks necessary.
Nick is just one of the interesting and amazing people amongst our vigilers. Today I am all the way out in Saskatchewan (at national pro-life conference) but I know our vigilers just keep coming, hour after hour, as they have for the past 36 days.
To my knowledge there has not been a single hour in our entire vigil schedule (14 hours a day) when there has been no one at the prayer site. Isn’t that something!
And I myself have never had to spend more than an hour a day. That also is something. At the outset I committed to one hour a day, but part of me was wondering if I, as the chief organizer, would have to spend several hours each day just to keep the vigil going. Nope, not at all (there were times when I did spend more than an hour - because I wanted to, not because I had to).
Through these 37 days God has kept on sending his people, hour after hour, day after day. He has woven together a beautiful spiritual tapestry for life. What a blessing to be part of it.
Yours in His love,
Day 36: 40 Days belongs to you, Lord
Wednesday, October 28. Today I am not even in Fredericton. I am in Saskatoon! Here for the national pro-life conference. What! How can the captain abandon the ship like that?
It was not easy! Especially since (a) my wife, another mainstay of our campaign, also left town to see our new grandson, Caleb; (b) my assistant, Elaine, to whom I would normally entrust my responsibilities, is still not back to work after her pneumonia bout (continued prayers, please, she’s recovering, but not quite ready for work yet); (c) it was only the other day when it appeared we faced a great challenge filling all the prayer vigil times this closing week of the campaign. So on one level, it looked like the worst possible time for me to just take off like this.
But one thing this campaign has taught me in spades is how much it belongs to God, not me or even us. Over and over I have found that while He calls me to do what I can, He does not need me - or any of us - to "do it all." It’s okay for me sometimes to walk away and leave it in His hands - even when there’s all kinds of stuff that remains undone. And when we entrust our cause to Him, He faithfully provides - just like the Scriptures say He does.
So yes I left the ship, leaving it to the One who really is in charge. I called today from Saskatoon and spoke to Susan, who fortunately has been helping to coordinate things in Elaine’s absence. And guess what? She tells me the campaign is going just fine today! She found people for all the time slots, and new folks just showed up unexpectedly, like Gina and Fr. Claude from the Miramichi.
And even before I left, it gave me peace seeing various people, like Fr. Richard, Camille, Thaddee and Estelle, stepping up and offering to do more for the campaign. The Lord’s faithful servants, all.
Thank you, Lord, so very much. I know now, more that ever, that this campaign - and this cause of life - belongs to You. That is so good to know. It gives us peace. And great hope.
Yours for the Main Man,
Day 35: Fools for the Lord
Tuesday, October 27. Abortion day at the "clinic." As the day began, I wondered: would we see more women changing their minds, like last week? Would we see visible fruit from our campaign? Or would death prevail? Would we see signs of Easter, or only of Good Friday?
Alas, it was mostly the latter. There seemed to be 12 or 13 that went in for abortions. No sign of anyone changing their minds. Anguish filled the hearts of those of us present, and there were a good number today: two carloads came from Moncton, one from Saint John, there were other vigilers besides.
The mystery of evil: how God permits it, even when we His people have begged for His help.
Making the situation more acute, the workers at the temple of death were positively giddy about their apparent triumph, i.e. not losing a single abortion today (compared to last week). For the first time they came over to our Prayer Zone with home-made signs. Four of their temple guard (AKA "escorts") and stood alongside us mocking us. One of their signs read, inanely, "Kitten are adorable." Can you imagine?
Jesus too was mocked. Does God permit this as part of some unfolding drama here that we can only dimly grasp? We are quite obviously fools for the Lord. But is man’s folly part of God’s wisdom?
At the end of their little show, the temple manager came over and led them in a victory whoop. A celebration of death. The brazenness of evil. Our people persevered in silence.
Was all dark this day? Maybe not.
For one thing it became clear to me today, for the first time, that a lady who has worked in the "clinic" for some time is the same one who’s a friend of one of our vigilers (see Day 23). This is a grandmother who at some level knows better than to be working in such a place. I saw her having a smoke outside this morning. Now I know who "L." is. I think the way the Lord revealed to me who she is means He really wants me to pray for her. Would you like to join me and her friend? Let us pray that the Lord will deliver her from that place and onto His path of peace.
Secondly, for the first time I can ever recall - not just during the 40 days but ever at this abortion site - a flock of pigeons came and visited us for no apparent reason at all. One of our people remarked, "Notice how they’re only on our side of the street" (we stand across the street from the abortuary). Then out of the blue, Denis, visiting from Moncton, said, "Whenever I see pigeons I think of the Holy Spirit." It suddenly hit me, "Lord, is this one of your signs?" I think maybe it was.
In all my frustration at what took place, something led me to this thought: Remember, it’s only Day 35 today, not Day 40.
We carry on.
Steadfast in His love,
Day 34: God's ways are not our ways. But they sure are wonderful.
Monday, October 26.
For sure, today was one of the happiest of these 40 days for me. At 3:59 a.m. we got word of the birth of our 5th grandchild!
"It’s a boy!" These are words that in over 33 years of married life I have not been able to say - until now! We had - all girls- 7 daughters; followed by the birth of - all girls again - 4 granddaughters. To our great surprise and joy, this one is a boy: Caleb Joshua. I was so sure it was another girl, I could not believe my ears when my wife gave me the news.
It was all a reminder of how God’s way are not our ways. But they sure are wonderful.
Diane knows of those wonderful ways firsthand. She was at our vigil today for the very first time. Her pastor asked her if she would come and she did. Diane is adopted. She said this vigil really speaks to her heart, as she imagines all her mother went through bringing her into the world.
A woman from Mexico approached Rosalie and 6 others (including 2 little ones) gathered for the weekly 40 Days vigil outside the Dumont Hospital in Moncton. She was touched by the vigil, and shared how she lost a baby girl at 3 months some years ago. She went on to emphasize the humanity of the unborn child. Even though this woman had lived a painful reality, it seemed that was part of the reason she was moved to affirm the vigilers in what they are doing; God used that pained love to bless our people.
His ways are not our ways. But they are wonderful.
Yours in His love,
Day 33: The generosity of our God
Sunday, October 25. Joyce and some good ladies from the CWL had a special prayer service today in their parish, in union with the 40 Days campaign. Someone who attended was moved by all the beautiful prayers that were offered.
As I got ready to do my daily 8-9 pm shift, I was mindful of several things: (a) with one week to go, we have many (65) unfilled prayer spots in our schedule; (b) both my wife and I - who have filled many spots daily since the beginning - must leave town this Wednesday creating more empty spots than usual, including my night spot which is not an easy time to fill; (c) tonight I would be alone on my shift.
Re (c) I don’t especially like being alone at night and do try to find someone to join me. But today I knew I couldn’t ask my son-in-law who has often stood in when asked: Shane had already done two hours this afternoon. Fortunately I saw Dan at church just before 8 pm, and asked him if he could come. He said yes.
And then when I arrived at the vigil site I was surprised to find three others joining us! Gordon had done 7-8 and stayed around for a good part of my hour. Tom just showed up out of the blue, as he has before. And so did Camille. So just when I feared I might be all alone, there were 5 of us!
It make be mindful of the generosity of our God.
That’s not all. Camille just happened to say, "You know, I think I can come every evening this week." He’s going to come 8-9 pm every evening, including the 5 nights I’ll be away! Just like that, my concern about my own empty spot was alleviated. And Camille’s generosity became a sign to me of how God is going to look after our schedule needs just fine.
Lord, you are so good to us. Thank you. I’m just guessing, but it seems our prayers for life please you?
Yours in His love,
Day 32: The kindness of strangers
Saturday, October 24. It’s one of the neat little things that keeps happening throughout our 40 Days vigil. Total strangers, obviously moved in some way seeing our people out in the cold and rain, bring us free coffee.
It happened again today, as I stood in the cold miserable rain with Don, down from Bathurst visiting his family here and he decided to spend some time with us, weather and all. A young man suddenly walked up to us and presented us with a couple cups of coffee.
Now I know we’re fasting as well as praying. But when a stranger offers you something, wouldn’t it be uncharitable to refuse? That’s what I and others doing the vigils have come to conclude. Don and I thanked the man and drank the coffee. It would have been different if he had offered to get us coffee, as some other passersby have: then we could have said, "Thanks, but no thanks." But here was the coffee being offered with outstretched hands. What are you supposed to do?
When I got into the House after my shift, I found more apparent charity from strangers: there on the kitchen table, someone had left a big 10-cup container of Tim Horton’s coffee along with Timbits. So I had another coffee in honor of unexpected kindness. And asked young Amanda, on the next shift with her grandmother Faye, if she wouldn’t mind helping me with the donuts after she finished. With a smile she said she would.
I guess you could look on this little indulgence on our part as our way of thanking God for all the ways He provides for us as we seek to serve Him.
I hope no one is scandalized.
Yours for life,
Day 31: God made them too
Friday, October 23.
The public reaction to our vigil is much more positive than negative. But the negative is hard for our vigilers to ignore.
I suppose not an hour goes by but someone gives us the finger. A few times a day, we get yelled at - sometimes a curse, sometimes a slogan like "Pro-choice!", sometimes an assertion - like the kids who drove by today and shouted, "We disagree-e-e!" Sometimes a putdown like, "Why don’t you get a real job!"
I feel bad for the abuse our people have to take. Many are lovely older ladies who perhaps have never been spoken to like this before! They sure don’t deserve it! But I’d say that most have gotten used to it by now; it’s not phasing them. Bless them, Lord.
The perpetrators are almost always young. Although one angry lady who yelled out as she drove by a couple days ago was in her 30's-40's, I thought to myself, I wonder if she’s hurting from an abortion.
We get more abuse on Friday and Saturday evenings than other times. This Friday evening was no exception. We had the impression one carload was driving around the block doing repeat yells. Some people seem to get a charge out of being rude and obnoxious.
In the face of this kind of anti-life hostility from young people, some of us vigilers probably think to ourselves, "It’s a good thing your mother didn’t think like you do!"
Who was it who said, It’s too bad youth is wasted on the young. Young people can be so ignorant. There’s so much they have yet to learn - and I’m not talking college studies here. But weren’t many of us once the same?
I was talking recently to a doctor who shared a couple stories illustrating how some young people learn life the hard way (no patients were named, of course). One was a an 18 year old who got real mad at the doc when she couldn’t get a referral for an abortion. She ended up having the abortion and was not heard from again ...until 6 years later, when she suddenly showed up, pregnant, having driven a great distance from out of town, and asked the doc to again look after her. "Why me? Why now?" she was asked. "Because I know you really care about babies
," she replied. She’d learned something. Too bad it was the hard way.
Father, all these ignorant young people who give our vigilers a hard time, they’re hard to take, impossible to like! Yet with the love you’ve placed in our hearts we do lift them up to you. You know them. For you have indeed created them. They are precious to you. Look after them. Shed your light upon them. Not because they deserve it. But because of the blood of your Son, who died for them and for us. Because, Father, we know how much you love them and do not want any to be lost.
In the Love that is not ours except to receive it and to share it,
P.S. Don’t anyone get the idea I think all young people are bozos! They’re sure not. A number of them have been at our vigils - they absolutely warm our old hearts!