Thursday, September 21, 2017

40 Days of Prayer and Praise




“Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Mt 20:16

The 40 Days for Life first began in Texas in 2004, when four people came together and prayed for a way to end abortion in their community. They decided to pray, fast, and keep vigil at the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic for 40 days and nights. They also began doing outreach to get other people involved, spreading the word door to door and by word of mouth. By the end of that first 40 days, hundreds of people were involved in this prayerful, peaceful movement that has since grown to encompass over 700 cities in 44 nations worldwide.

The 40 Days for Life first came to the Tri-Cities in 2008, its leaders drawn from our local Catholic parishes. I was part of that first team; it was also the first pro-life action I had ever been involved with. That year's Kick-off Rally was the first time I spoke publicly about the grief and regret I silently suffered for many years after my own abortion losses. Before that time, I remained silent on abortion, thinking it more compassionate not to call attention to women who turned to that awful and desperate solution. But I came to realize that silence only worsened the problem. I had gotten to know many people in the pro-life movement , and finally understood that they were not offering condemnation but real, loving assistance, healing, help, and mercy. So I joined them and began to pray, speak, write, and work for life.

Although I was a latecomer to the prolife movement, many of my 40 Days for Life teammates had long been fighting to end the injustice and tragedy of abortion. I remember one elderly man, a St. Joseph’s Knight, who had been working to end abortion for at least 33 years before 40 Days for Life began. His name was Dick Gilmore. He had been organizing weekly rosaries and prayers at the local Planned Parenthood ever since they first opened their abortion center in the Tri-Cities. Suddenly, he found himself surrounded by novice prayer volunteers from all over the community. Dick did not resent the presence of the newcomers at the “frontlines,” but welcomed us. That first campaign was a 24/7 vigil for 40 cold days and nights in the Fall of 2008. Although he was in his eighties, Dick showed up at all hours, even the middle of the night, bringing prayer cards, rosaries, crosses and ideas.
 
At the end of that first campaign, we gathered to celebrate and praise God for the mercies He had shown during the 40 days. I was watching as Dick looked around at over 200 prayer volunteers, and broke down in tears of joy. I felt grateful and honored to be counted in his company, the last joining with the first, working together to defend human life. 
 
 
 

 Requiem en Pacem, 
Richard Francis Gilmore
Nov. 11, 1924 - Sept 16, 2016

"You, too, go into my Vineyard." 

Link to the Complete Text of the Readings for Sunday, Sept. 24th, 2017

It’s not too late to join us in God’s vineyard if you haven’t already.
 

Visit 40 Days for Life Tri Cities

Come to our Fall 2017 Kick-off Rally
at John Dam Plaza in Richland, WA

Sunday, Sept. 24th, 2-4 PM

Speakers, prayer, music, fellowship, information,

& COOKIES!

 
 
 
 



 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Forgiving the Unforgivable


Photo from www.immaculee.com
 
"Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? – Mt. 18:21
 
One of the most amazing stories of forgiveness I’ve ever heard was told by ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in her book, “Left to Tell.” She spent three months hiding in a tiny bathroom with seven other starving women, as her family members and fellow Tutsi tribe members were slaughtered in the genocide that killed a million people. She survived by praying the rosary continually, saying, “Prayer became my armor, and I wrapped it tightly around my heart."
Yet she encountered difficulty with the words of the Lord ’s Prayer, finding herself unable to say “forgive us as we forgive others.” She remembers, "It was no use - my prayers felt hollow. A war had started in my soul, and I could no longer pray to a God of love with a heart full of hatred…. I tried again, praying for Him to forgive the killers, but deep down I couldn't believe that they deserved it at all. It tormented me... I tried to pray for them myself, but I felt like I was praying for the devil… I asked God to help me, and again I heard his voice: Forgive them; they know not what they do…
I took a crucial step toward forgiving the killers that day. My anger was draining from me - I'd opened my heart to God, and He'd touched it with His infinite love. For the first time, I pitied the killers. I asked God to forgive their sins and turn their souls toward His beautiful light… That night I prayed with a clear conscience and a clean heart. For the first time since I entered the bathroom, I slept in peace."
May each of us also find the grace and peace that comes from forgiving those who have sinned against us.
 

Speak the Truth in Love and Mercy


 
"Do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.” - St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

We hear a wonderful promise from Jesus in today’s Gospel: our prayers call down God’s presence with us; even if just two of us agree about anything for which we are to pray, it will be granted. But today’s readings also remind us that we bear responsibility for one another. We are linked, morally and spiritually. If we see another person engaging in sinful behavior, we have a moral obligation to speak out in truth and mercy to help guide that person back into communion with God and the Church.
And that’s difficult. It’s especially hard to speak out against many of the socially acceptable sins of this generation. We risk being called judgmental, hypocritical, even hateful. But just as the Lord warns the prophet Ezekiel and Jesus warns the disciples, we are also warned that keeping silent risks both the soul of the person committing the sin and our own soul as well.
Is there something we’ve witnessed in our own circle of family and friends that we have failed to speak out about? Do we know someone whose marriage needs to be convalidated, or someone who is involved in an adulterous or immoral relationship? Are we aware of an incident of serious sin that is unconfessed? We all have someone in our lives that may need gentle guidance back to God. Jesus tells us to first speak to that person privately. Let them know the doors of mercy are wide open for their reconciliation. If they do not respond, ask a priest for his advice and intervention.
Doing everything you can to save the lives of those you love is not being judgmental or hateful, but is true mercy. And it is our obligation as Catholics. Do not be afraid to speak the truth in love and mercy, always and everywhere.
 
 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Shadow of the Cross


Bill on his birthday last year, 9/10/16
 
Can you imagine how Peter felt to hear Jesus predict the suffering, passion, and death He would soon face? He protests, saying, “God forbid… such a thing shall ever happen to you.” I think most of us would react the same way to hear someone we love making such terrible predictions. Yet Jesus very strongly reprimands Peter, reminding him that there is so much he has yet to understand about the ways of God.

Recently, my husband Bill was diagnosed with cancer. When I heard the doctor describe the pain that his treatment would cause, I also wanted to say, “God forbid that he should have to go through such suffering!” Yet the promised cure for his cancer will only come through the pain of surgery, the burns of radiation, and the sickness caused by the chemo drugs. But despite the suffering, this treatment will ultimately be life-giving, and I would not want him to refuse it.

In the same way, Jesus tells Peter that there is no other path to life but the cross. Jesus shows us the way, willingly suffering the pain of the scourging, the feeling of abandonment, the piercing thorns and the nails, the unquenchable thirst, and finally death on the cross, all so that our healing could be won, and our lives saved.

Anytime you are facing a difficult path; pain, illness, grief, troubles of any kind, turn to God. He is with you and He knows what you’re going through. He does not want you to suffer, yet because sin and death have entered into the world, there is suffering in this life. By passing through it Himself, Jesus opened the path to life. Do not be afraid, because God is with you. Take up your cross and follow Him. Together, you can get through anything. Trust in Him.

 

Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

Photo from theFederalist.com     My response to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof promoting birth control for teens was ...