"Master, who came that we might have life more abundantly, we ask You to enlighten the minds and hearts of those blinded to the truth that life begins at conception and that the unborn in the womb are already adorned with Your image and likeness; enable us to guard, cherish and protect the lives of all those who are unable to care for themselves. For You are the Giver of Life, bringing each person from non-being into being, sealing each person with divine and infinite love.
Be merciful, Lord, to those who, through ignorance or willfulness, affront your divine goodness and providence through the evil act of abortion. May they, and all of us, come to the life of Your Truth and glorify You, the Giver of Life, together with Your Father, and Your All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen."
~from The Order of the Office of Prayer and Supplication for the Victims of Abortion Prayed to our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ of the Orthodox Church
(Photo from Ash Wednesday prayer service with Archbishop Listecki-my sons Justin, Joe and John are standing to the left of the Archbishop)
The Holy Spirit has been moving me to spend more time praying for the sanctity of life outside of our local abortuary. The above prayer is part of a prayer service that was lovingly held by Fr. Gregory Madlom and Deacon Henry Shirley from St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church in West Bend, WI every Sunday afternoon during Lent at the abortion mill in Milwaukee as part of 40 Days for Life. I was so honored to participate in some of those prayer services. Fr. Gregory and Deacon Henry would fully vest and perfume the death-filled air with the sweetness of incense while chanting the entire 30 minute prayer service. It was a beautiful plea and public witness for the salvation of the lives lost and for an end to abortion.
A few weeks ago Jack and Mary and I ran over to the grocery store for a few things and as we were leaving a woman came out from between some parked cars and she asked me if I could help her. She said she was homeless and she asked for some money. Her teeth were black and her hair was greasy and her clothes were worn and she seemed as if she was mentally unstable. She told me that she was diabetic and needed food and that she was so cold. Mary and Jack were very frightened by her and Mary said I was the bravest person she knows because I calmly spoke with her and gave her $5.00. Later, my husband wondered if she just went into the liquor store to buy some beer with that $5.00 and I replied that there are an awful lot of times when I could just use a beer, too, so if that's what the money went for because it was what she most needed, then it was ok with me!
At one of my most recent prayer vigils at the abortion mill I realized that standing on the edge of a busy street holding a "Pray for an end to abortion" sign is a lot like being homeless and asking for a handout. You are so vulnerable standing there with the deathscorts sneering at you and people swearing at you as they drive past. And then one of my favorite quotes by Bishop Hying came to my mind:
"When we, like the saints, set the sail of our life to the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves doing things that we could never have imagined, witnessing to Christ in ways that seemed beyond our abilities and engaged in works of evangelization, charity and service that seemed impossible. One thing is certain. When we give our lives over to the Holy Spirit, nothing will ever be safe or dull again. We will find ourselves blown out to the deep water and then Christ will bid us to get out of the boat."
And as I stood on the edge of the street I thought, here I am blown out to the deep! It's an awfully scary place to be! There's nothing to do here but hold onto Christ and trust! I have no idea what in the world I am doing as I stand there and pray but I know that I have to be there!
It brought me to realize that those who are homeless and whose entire days are made up of begging to meet their needs are the ones who are really brave. It's difficult to ask for help and to let strangers see your need, exposing yourself to the many rude comments of those who see in the beggar just a useless and wasted life. How similar that viewpoint is to those who work in or favor the abortion industry. For them, life is not valued but instead is scorned as having little use.
So I pray for more brave souls to stand up for the value of all life-for the homeless, the helpless, the disabled, the unborn, the tired, the lonely, the lost, the forsaken, the elderly, the downcast and despairing, the weak and the sick. All of these suffering souls bear the wounds of the Lord; they are walking crucifixes in life's long journey. His fire burns somewhere deep within their souls whether they are aware of it or not. May we never allow any human person to feel that they are a "non-being" because of our lack of love and compassion. May we all allow the Holy Spirit to "blow us out to the deep" in His service.