The Moment of Conception to Natural Death

Building Bridges of Hope

   For years, I’ve felt a call to raise awareness of the tragedy of abortion, and to offer hope to those tempted to make that deadly choice and those wounded by doing so.   

   Sometimes, I’ve felt alone in the fight. At times, I’ve pictured myself on the battlefield of life all by myself, completely encompassed by the enemy. But even though I felt alone, I knew Jesus was by my side as I continued to trudge forward.

   It seemed no one wanted to talk about the big “A-word” from the pulpit, or in conversations with my sisters and brothers in Christ. It made people uncomfortable to talk about it. But Jesus shared truth— which sometimes made people uncomfortable. Doesn’t Jesus call us to do the same?
  

   One day, during my prayer time, I began to ponder the times that Jesus felt alone and abandoned during His ministry. This gave me courage to continue to share my message of hope with others when the opportunity presented itself—even though it took courage to stand up and speak out.

   Meditating on how Jesus conveyed His message of truth, I realized He always offered His mercy, love and forgiveness. Each day, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me be honest, gentle, kind and merciful when I share with others. It has been said that we should be gentle and kind to one another, because we are all fighting a difficult battle.

40 days of real hope and change

   If we persevere in prayer, God is sure to answer the desires of our hearts. When the 40 Days for Life campaign first came to Helena (Montana’s state capital) in the fall of 2008, I felt a sense of renewed hope, and I’m sure many others praying for the end of abortion did also.

According to the organization’s web site (40daysforlife.com):

40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that draws attention to the evil of abortion through the use of a three-point program:

  • Prayer and fasting

  • Constant vigil

  • Community outreach

   40 Days for Life takes a determined, peaceful approach to showing local communities the consequences of abortion in their own neighborhoods, for their own friends and families. 40 Days for Life is a focused pro-life campaign with a vision to access God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion in America. The mission of the campaign is to bring together the body of Christ in a spirit of unity during a focused 40 day campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism, with the purpose of repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion in America.

   If there is no abortion mill in your town, you can still pray and fast in solidarity with other 40 Days participants, knowing that God will use your commitment somehow. The 40-day duration is significant because it reflects biblical history, which is replete with accounts of significant events and transformations occurring during periods of 40 days or 40 years in both the Old and New Testaments.

   Montana’s first-ever 40 Days for Life campaign took place in Great Falls in the spring of 2008. Kalispell has hosted 40 Days campaigns in the spring and fall of 2009. The 2009 Fall campaign was a time of great rejoicing for pro-lifers nationwide because Kalispell’s Planned Parenthood facility closed its doors for good, as did an abortion mill in Pensacola, Florida; and Abby Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s director in Bryan/College Station, Texas, quit her job. Proof that praying, fasting and standing up for life works!

   In 2011, there is much rejoicing and hope in Montana. 40 Days for Life Campaigns will take place in every city in Montana where there is an abortion clinic-Helena, Great Falls, Billings, Missoula and Livingston. Billings held there first campaign in the Fall of 2010. For the cities of Missoula and Livingston this Spring will be there first 40-days for life Campaign. The 40 Days for Life Campaign will begin March 9 through April 17 in 243 cities reaching from coast to coast in the United States, plus Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, Belize, Spain, Georgia and Armendia. Helena, Great Falls, Billings, Missoula and Livingston

Hope for the wounded

   The 40 Days for Life campaign has given me hope that those wounded by abortion, whether directly or indirectly, can begin to heal and come to know the love of a forgiving and merciful Father. If one member of the body of Christ is wounded, we are all wounded. And if one member of the body of Christ begins to heal, we all begin to heal.

   40 Days has opened my heart to the deep brokenness of those who are post-abortive. Rachel’s Vineyard and other post-abortion ministries offer them hope and healing. It is heart-wrenching to know that, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, currently “[t]wenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.” (And this statistic doesn’t include very early abortions caused by hormonal contraceptives.)

Hope for moms to choose life

   Catholic social service organizations, pregnancy resource centers and other pro-life outreaches throughout the U.S. and Canada are beacons of hope for women and men facing unplanned pregnancies, because they offer them the counseling and support they need to give their babies life, and they explore with them the options of parenting their children themselves or placing them for adoption.

Real hope for victory

   Participating in 40 Days has given me a sense of hope that God’s love and mercy will triumph over the evil in our land. It has also opened my eyes to see how God is working through all these wonderful ministries to bring hope and healing to His people. As I was reading from the book Full of Grace by Johnnette S. Benkovic, her words touched my heart deeply when she said,

[A]t the moment of the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin Mary was uniquely commissioned to bring Jesus into the world. ... And yet, in a certain sense, God extends the call He issued to Mary to each of us. God the Father is asking each of us: “Will you bring my Son into the world? Will you carry Him in the womb of your heart as Mary carried Him in the womb of her body? Will you birth Him into the lives of others, that all might come to experience the grace of redemption and eternal life?


   God has shown me that, through these 40 days of prayer, fasting and vigils, I’m not alone in this battle and He is equipping each of us with the tools to fight. This life-giving campaign has given me real hope that we, as a people of faith, can change the culture of death into a culture of life—one soul, one prayer at a time. Find out how you can become involved in the 40 Days For Life Campaign by visiting www.40daysforlife.com. (Reprint-Published in Celebrate Life Magazine July/August 2010)

 

Life Chain-Your chance to stand up for life

    Pro-lifers are called to carry out a number of specific tasks. We must offer compassion and loving assistance to pregnant mothers who are vulnerable to abortion or who have chosen life for their babies.

   We must support our local pregnancy centers by volunteering and supporting them financially. We must fast and pray for those precious babies in the womb, for the mothers and fathers who have been wounded by their decision to abort their own child, and for those who work in the abortion industry. We must fast and pray for the conversion of pro-abortion public officials. We must support authentically pro-life candidates and legislation.And we must share the truth of abortion on a one-to-one basis whenever the opportunity presents itself.

   Getting serious about public prayer and repentanceI believe that, if we are able to do so, pro-lifers must also be involved in peaceful public witness that increases public awareness of the evil of abortion. Thus, I’ve participated in 40 Days for Life [see Connie’s article in Celebrate Life, July-August 2010] for the last four years and in Life Chain for the last six years.

   Life Chain is a nationwide peaceful and prayerful public witness of pro-life Americans standing together for 90 minutes on the first Sunday in October, to pray for an end to abortion in our nation. As www.LifeChain.net explains, “Life Chain … is a visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community that abortion kills children and that the Church supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of [creation] until natural death.” Participants can choose from signs proclaiming “Abortion kills children” (in English and Spanish), “Jesus forgives and heals,” Adoption: The loving option,” “Lord, forgive us and our nation,” “Abortion hurts women,” “Pray to end abortion,” and “Life: The first inalienable right.” No other signs are used. Suggested prayer topics are printed on the back of each sign.

   This movement began in 1987 with Royce Dunn’s small but mighty Please Let Me Live pro-life outreach near Sacramento, California, and has been growing ever since. In 2010, there were more than 1,700 separate Life Chain events, held in over 1,500 cities. The Life Chain event continues to grow each year.

   Please Let Me Live reports that the Life Chain experience has led thousands of Christians across North America to join local pro-life groups and work as volunteers throughout the year. The first Life Chain, with over 2,000 participants, elevated pro-life out of the “handful of fundamentalists” mindset at our daily newspaper to a level of high respectability in Yuba and Sutter counties. It enabled us to unite our local churches and to inform our local media, law enforcement, public officials, and area citizenry about the unmerciful killing of preborn boys and girls in our community and beyond. By 1990, after additional Life Chains, timely picketing, prayer vigils, full-page ads, billboard campaigns, and comprehensive door-to-door distribution of pro-life literature, surgical abortions ceased in our bi-county Yuba-Sutter area. Though not Catholic, the leadership of Please Let Me Live understands that contraception is an intrinsic evil and that its acceptance has laid the foundation for the abortion holocaust. This message is clearly conveyed in its educational and training resources for Life Chain.

   In Helena, Montana, our Life Chain assembles near one of the city’s busiest intersections, with participants standing about 30 feet apart, holding Life Chain signs and praying silently. During last year’s Life Chain, I observed that some passersby quickly turned their heads away when they spotted the signs. Some gave a thumbs-up or honked their horn. Some read the signs but showed no apparent emotion. A few teenagers in a truck shouted obscenities.

   Our response to all of this? We simply continued to pray silently. The Life Chain guidelines state, “[I]dle chatter, frivolity and both verbal and physical responses to motorists are strongly discouraged. Life Chain is a time for prayerful self-analysis, repentance, and serious commitment to helping end abortion in our nation.”

Reasons to persevere

   As I stood with my sign and prayed the Rosary, I was also asking the Lord, “When are the people going to wake up and say, ‘Enough is enough’? How many babies will have to die? How many women and men will have to be deeply scarred for life because of their decision to abort their baby? How can anyone look at these signs, and not know what abortion is and what it’s doing to America?”

   It’s so easy to feel discouraged when it seems that so many people don’t want to face the horrible reality of abortion and its effects on society. But we must never succumb to discouragement. If just one heart is changed by pro-lifers standing in prayerful vigil, then it’s more than worth whatever hardship or inconvenience it may cause us! As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta explained, God doesn’t call us to be successful; He calls us to be faithful. On this side of heaven, we may never know whose lives have been changed by our public witness and our prayers—which God always hears. 
 

   I hope and pray that we’ll repent and turn from the evil of abortion so that God can heal this great nation. He promised that “if My people, upon whom My name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

   In his “Pro-Life Meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary,” Father Frank Pavone, Priests for Life national director, penned these words of hope and encouragement:

    "Christ is risen! By His Resurrection, He has destroyed the power of death, and therefore the power of abortion. The outcome of the battle for life has already been decided: Life is victorious! Let us pray that all pro-lifers will spread this victory to every segment of our society."
 

   We must continue to suit up and show up to defend life, from the moment of creation to natural death. We must continue to raise our voices and hearts in prayer to our Almighty God and Father. We mustn’t be silent until the evil of abortion is ended.

   This year, I’ve made a commitment to invite at least two people who have never been to a Life Chain to come and stand for life. Won’t you do the same? For more information and details on Life Chain events, see www.NationalLifeChain.org and www.LifeChain.net. If there isn’t a Life Chain event in your area, find out how to start one by calling 530-674-5068 or e-mailing Director@NationalLifeChain.org. (Reprint-Published in Celebrate Life Magazine September/October 2011)

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15.05 | 07:49

Beautiful!

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14.05 | 10:08

Thank you, Connie, for coming to our May Crowning. It is always one of my favorite days at St. Andrew.

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20.04 | 19:58

Amen, Connie. Beautiful!

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11.01 | 09:30

Oh Connie! How I needed to read this today. Thank you and God Bless.

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