Into the desert
The lenten period ends this coming Saturday. It commemorates the 40 days in which Our Lord spent in the desert, there fasting and praying and undergoing temptations by Satan.
During our own 40-day vigil for the cause of life, many of us turned to Our Lord for solace and identified with his desert experience.
First, how did he endure the weather while in the wilderness of Judea? In Lahaie park of Montreal, the varying climate provided trials. Here are a few pictures of our changing landscape, none of which can convey the biting humidity that frequently accompanied us. (The second and third were taken 24 hours apart.)
Prayer was an integral part of the vigil. I estimated that over the forty-one day period - including the kick-off mass, over 200 people visited the site, logging an incredible 1900 hours of prayer. Here are a few of those who came out.
As for the temptations, both in gesture and in word, no day went by without insults hurled at us. Particularly trying were the volleys that did not permit any chance at a rebuttal – e.g., a youth shouting that we should be ashamed of our actions (is it any more shameful that the dismembering done by the abortionist to the defenseless child in his mother's womb?), an elderly woman's rebuke that we are blithely ignorant of the modern woman's experience (Does not our toll-free help line attempt to support the mother in her trial?) , …
Yet, as with our Lord, we sought the live the truth and abide in the truth, and for such, we were amply rewarded. Many motorists gave "thumbs up" gestures as they drove pass us. Also, several groups of teens came forward wanting to understand our position.
The vigil ended this past Sunday and I praise God for these and other blessings and look forward to repeating this exercise this coming October.
Vigil Schedule – Many thanks to all those who participated. There were over 900 separated visits to our vigil location over the 40-day vigil period, amounting to about 1900 hours of prayer time for our 12-hour days.
Number of Saved babies? As of March 30, 659 babies have been saved from the scourge of abortion. That is, of the 261 vigil locations worldwide during this vigil, there has been slightly more than two babies saved per site. And since the vigil began in 2004, over 7300 have been saved. Bravo!
- Sunday’s closure drew close to 70 people, many of whom stuck around for the pot-luck meal celebration that followed afterwards. The latter had good food, wonderful fellowship and a couple of speeches - one by Georges Buschemi, Quebec Life Coalition (CQV) President, and the other by Michel Cacchione, prayer warrior who, along with his wife Lise, readily filled empty vigil time slots.
- Monday Mass for Life of the Unborn – Father Peter Sabbath, pastor at Holy Name of Jesus parish (Laval) congratulated the participants of the 40 Days for Life in a mass sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, district 91. Between 80 and 90 people attended.
A look ahead:
- Daily hour-long vigil outside Morgentaler mill.
- Triduum for Life – watch the CQV website for details.
- Tuesday, May 9, National March for life – Ottawa. Chartered bus leaving Montreal, return same day.
- Saturday, May 18, March against Euthanasia – Quebec City.
Payer Intentions: Two couples have asked for prayers in their efforts at conceiving a child.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
An Eerie Silence. Good and evil are realities we are all well familiar with, realities that battle one another and no better place to see such a battle is outside an abortion mill. I was reminded of this in light of an incident from a week ago Saturday.
The afternoon began peacefully enough - with a community picnic. Michel and his wife Lise had brought lunch for those of us at the vigil site; a welcomed soup. During the meal, as I was standing next to our banner, an eerie silence caught my attention. For those of you unfamiliar with the intersection of Saint Joseph and Saint Laurent boulevards, where the vigil is taking place, silence is not a word that readily comes to mind. Rather, cacophony is more apt as there is a steady stream of cars and trucks and buses, screaming sirens from the emergency vehicles, and the blowing wind through the plentiful trees. Not silence. Yet, for a brief moment, all was quiet. Eerie, I thought. An omen, perhaps?
The afternoon passed. Michel, Lise and others left. We were no more than seven or eight when three youth, in their early 20s, one guy and two girls, showed up and for sixty minutes performed a horrific skit. The lad with several props - a doll, a rosary, and a statue of Jesus, began to twist the doll’s head round and round while screaming, with his peers playing their parts - cawing madly like crows.
The skit was macabre. A three year-old in our group as well as her mother cringed at the performance and not before long father led them away. Another two in our party withdrew to a nearly coffee shop. I remained, alone, praying!
Prayers Answered. Along comes one of our more colorful prayer warriors. Not unfamiliar with street theater himself, with his ghetto blaster and electric guitar, André charges up to the three youth and begins his religious rhapsodies. A theatrical battle ensues. Who won? In time both camps tone down their acts and conversation begins between them.
Finally other angels arrived. Miguel and his family have a knack for showing up when there is some kind of spiritual battle going on. During the fall 2012 vigil, his wife Monica appeared out of nowhere to confront a youth who had been confronting me. On this day, she dawns a pro-life sign and unabashedly strolls with her youngest around the site. As for Miguel, he joins me in prayer. In time the youth leave.
Here are my heroes:
Vigil Schedule – The vigil is blessed to have a wonderful crew closing the site each night. Thanks go out to Philip, Andrew, and Pierre. As for the middle hours needing coverage this coming week, here are the intevals where your assistance is needed: Tuesday (1-4 p.m.), Wednesday (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.), and Thursday & Friday (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.).
Number of Saved babies? As of Day 33 of the vigil (March 17), there have been 417 babies saved from abortion.
- Thursday past marked the three-quarter point of the vigil and we celebrated with an evening of Eucharistic Adoration. The evening began at 7:30 p.m. after closing the site and continued until midnight. During this period, up to twenty people came and went from Saint Enfant Jésus church. Thanks to Fathers Pierre and Louis for their participation and to those among you for sharing your gifts of song.
- Wild Wednesday – This day had something for everybody. On the one hand, there were educational opportunities; Yves and then I hosted discussions with students visiting the area with their school. Next, two police officers appeared warning us not cross into the abortion mill’s bubble zone; they had received a (false) complaint that one of us had. At mid-day I was interviewed for close to an hour by Diana Deboe live on her weekly pro-life radio program on Dominion Air (Virginia) WYRM. Finally, despite two no shows in our schedule, we were blessed to have a good number of visitors appear and fill the empty slots; as I said previously, God is the vigil scheduler and not yours truly.
- Way of the cross – This past Friday, the way of the cross went on as scheduled in the park despite the flurries. Mary and Alexandra accompanied me. Next week will be the final chance to experience this unique event – outdoors and across the street from an abortion mill; hope to see many of you.
- Sunday's sunny skies yet cool temps did not discouraged vigilers from filling every time slot of the day. Praise God.
A look ahead:
- Tuesday, March 19, Movie Night: “Restless Heart: The Life of Saint Augustine,” Decarie Square, 7:30 p.m. $10.
- Friday, March 22: Way of the Cross (3:00 p.m.)
- Sunday, March 24: Closing ceremony (3:00 p.m.)
- Monday, March 25: Closing Mass – Holy Name of Jesus, Chomedey (7:30 p.m.), sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, District 91.
The young lass who came to visit us last fall after leaving the abortion gave birth this past Friday (March 15) to a 2.9 kg boy. Both are doing fine.
R.I.P. – Mr. Jean-Marie Courbon. Mr. Courbon was a resident at Résidence Saint-Dominique, the senior residence bordering the park in which the vigil is being held. He would occasionally come by and chant the Angelus and sing the Salve Regina.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
The Stalwarts. Each vigil has its defining characteristic. A year ago I was particularly impressed by five young men, hitherto to unknown to me and to each other, who participated, on a regular basis in the vigil. This past fall, I was humbled by the many post-abortive women who came out to pray with us. This spring, I am touched by the stalwarts within our group.
The stalwarts are the men and women who come each day, braving the elements and the opposition. The length of their stay varies from a half hour to an hour and, in some cases, even longer.
For example, Marguerida, a resident near the vigil location, joins us for a half-hour of prayer on her way home from daily mass. Yves, again a daily presence, stays between an hour and two. Stella, an early bird, drops by for hour of prayer followed by coffee with another stalwart, Charlotte. The latter is deserving of the qualifier with a capital S, staying too many hours to count. Thanks to these and other unnamed strong and brave souls.
Vigil Schedule – The Middle Hours still require filling. This week our needs are Tuesday afternoon (1-4 p.m.), Wednesday (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.), Thursday (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.), and Friday (noon – 4 p.m.). Thanks to Greg and his son Michael who came out this past week.
Number of Saved babies? As of day 27 of the vigil (March 11), there have been 313 babies saved from abortion. Rejoice!
Weekly Highlights - Several unplanned and wild events happened this past week.
- Visit of borough Mayor – On Wednesday, Michel, one of our prayer warriors happened to see the borough mayor walking through the Lahaie Park, where we are holding vigil. Flashback: This past fall, mayor Ferrandez spoke out publicly against our vigil. Audaciously Michel approached the mayor and began a pretty frank conversation with him. It had polemical elements but the two men moved onto sharing personal views on abortion and their faiths. For example, the mayor related how a personal experience of abortion at an early age has shaped his pro-abortion stance. Michel, for his part, spoke about the human soul present at conception and the dignity from that moment onward, even after physical death.
- Pro-abortion advocates – On Friday, March 8, twenty or so pro-abortion advocates appeared at the vigil location. They remained for several hours. A year ago, a similar staging also occurred on this day, known as the International Day for the Rights of Women. Despite the tense atmosphere nerves remained calm and our group continued in prayer and song throughout our visitors stay. Thanks to Michel, Roseline, Yves, and Maria del Pilar for their constancy.
- Way of the cross – This past Friday, four of us performed the Stations of the Cross outside in the park. The meditations, this week as well as the previous and subsequent weeks, are drawn from a little yet potent booklet put out by the community “Famille du Sacré Coeur.” These are based on private revelations to Sr. Josefa Menendez in 1923. This is a weekly Friday activity – 3:00 p.m.; I hope to see you next week.
- Saturday pic-nic – Michel called me Friday evening, 10:00 p.m., with the idea of an impromptu pic-nic for the following day at noon. Calls were made, emails sent and over 15 showed up. Bravo to Michel and his wife Lise for their efforts.
A look ahead:
- Thursday, March 14: Three-quarter mark. Let's celebrate with an all-night Adoration – Saint Enfant Jésus church
- Friday, March 15, 3:00 p.m.: Way of the Cross
- Sunday, March 17, 6:00 p.m.: Vesper service
- March 17-23: Jericho prayer, daily after closure
- Tuesday, March 19, Movie Night: “Restless Heart: The Life of Saint Augustine,” Decarie Square, 7:30 p.m. $10.
Prayer Intentions – Your prayer are welcomed for the following situations:
- One of our prayer warriors is having a tough go with his employer and is considering a job switch.
- Three pregnant women have entered our circle of friends, one of whom is expecting this week.
Hope to see many of you at these events.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
The key word for week 3 of the “40 Days for Life” prayer vigil for the end of abortion was “groups.”
Over the past week, several came to the vigil location to witness for the cause of life. On Monday, it was the Polish community of Our Lady of Czestochowa, led by Father Josef and accompanied by several member of his faith community; in the accompanying photo we see Asha and Elena with Saint-Enfant-Jésus in the background. The following day, six members of the Agape Association of Laval were present, including its president Mrs. Betty McLeod. Finally, on Friday three members of McGill’s Newman Centre drop by to pray a rosary.
This is a positive omen as other groups have expressed an interest in coming to the prayer site – Councils 6497 and 14315 of the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Women’s League of NDG, and the Legion of Mary preasidium at Our Lady of the Philippines Mission of Montreal.
Beware! Tempus fugit! Time is running out as the vigil ends Sunday, March 24, 2013.
The Weather -Though not as turbulent as the previous week, the weather continues to test the mettle of those at the vigil location. On Wednesday, blowing wet snow had vigilers tucking their heads in as they recited their prayers, while on the previous two days the humidity had participants seeking more frequent breaks. To the right are two of our more faithful prayer warriors - Charlotte L'Heureux and Claire Letarte.
Follow-up - Special thanks to those who responded to my appeal of last week for vigiling during the middle hours of the day. Robin modified his schedule to accommodate the need, Michael volunteered for several two-hour shifts during this period, and Jean-Léon, now on paternity leave due to his second child, has stepped forward as well.
Number of Saved babies? We are up to 238. Bravo! Praise God! Yes, as of Day 19 of the vigil (March 3), 238 babies had been spared from abortion. May our prayers and vigiling continue!
Summary of this past week:
Friday - Two events unfolded. At 3:00 p.m. a reenactment of Christ's way of the Cross was performed outdoors in the park. This is a weekly activity and I hope many of you can make it out in the weeks ahead. Also, on Friday, close to twenty people gathered in Saint Raymond church (Laval) at 7:30 p.m. for an evening of adoration followed by mass. Fellowship in the sacristy followed.
A look ahead:
- Tuesday, March 5, 7:30 p.m.: Mid-vigil mass, Saint Enfant Jesus church
- Thursday, March 7, 7:30 p.m.: Adoration hour with sacrament of penance, Saint Enfant Jesus church
- Friday, March 8, 3:00 p.m.: Way of the Cross
- Saturday, March 9, 3:30 p.m.: Sacrament of penance
- Sunday, March 10: Vesper service (6:00 p.m.)
Hope to see many of you at these events
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Week 2 of the "40 Days for Life" prayer vigil for the end of abortion ended as it begun with the weather dominating the proceedings. Artic temperatures, snow, wind, blowing snow have all challenged those having visited the vigil location. My heartfelt thanks goes to all who have braved these conditions, suffering numb toes and frozen finger tips.
WANTED - vigilers. Though our numbers vary between 16 and 20 visitors each day, these are not distributed evenly throughout our 12-hour days. The first and last quarters of each day are solidly packed, but not the middle hours – from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. So, to all able bodied persons, we need your help to cover these middle hours; your presence would go a long way to ease the burden on those of us who are out there.
Number of Saved babies - As of February 24, 142 babies have been saved from being aborted. Praise God!
- Way of the cross – This past Friday, seven of us gathered in Lahaie park and performed the way of the Cross. Prayers were recited, meditations read, and hymns chanted. Regarding the latter, special thanks goes to two members from the Soeurs missionaires Notre-Dame-des-Anges who led the rest of us in song.
- That same night fifteen of us gathered inside Saint Enfant Jesus church for nightly adoration. Begun at 7:30 p.m., Fr. Louis presided over the proceedings: exposition, benediction, and reposition, the latter at 1 a.m. This commemorated the quarter point in our vigil. Another period of adoration is set for the three-quarter mark of the vigil – day 30 (March 14).
- Finally, a crowd of about 30 gathered inside Saint Enfant Jesus church, on Saturday past to partake in an afternoon of prayer for respect for life. Fr. Joel, vicar at the Cathedral, presided.
A look ahead:
- Friday, March 1, 3:00 p.m.: Stations of the Cross
- Friday, March 1, 7:30 p.m.: Pro-Life rosary and fellowship - Saint Raymond Parish (Laval)
- Saturday, March 2, 3:30 p.m.: Sacrament of penance
- Sunday, March 3: Vesper service (6:00 p.m.)
- Tuesday, March 5: Mid-vigil mass (7:30 p.m.)
Hope to see many of you at these events.
We’ve completed the first week of the 40 day prayer vigil for the end of abortion - one seventh of the way!
For many, the highlight of this first week was the Tuesday evening kick-off mass. It was presided by Father Jean-René and for several days afterwards, I was reminded how it had inspired many.
Other highlights include:
- The bitter cold weather of the weekend;
- Judith Lussier’s scathing commentary - L'esprit du clocher, in the Metro daily makes an reference to our work in front of the Morgentaler abortion mill.
The success of the opening mass bodes well for the mid-vigil event – a second mass, again at Saint Enfant Jésus church (5035 Saint-Dominique street, eastern border of Lahaie park). This will be on Tuesday, March 5, beginning after daily closure of the vigil location in Lahaie park. Mark it on your calendars. A pot-luck gathering will follow the service.
As for the week ahead, several planned events are offered for your interest:
- On Friday, we reach the quarter mark of the vigil, and two events are planned.The usual Friday afternoon Stations of the Cross will begin at 3:00 p.m. while an all-night of adoration is set to begin once the daily closure at 7:00 p.m is completed. It will run until 6:30 a.m. when reposition will be done. A mass for those interested will follow at 8:00 a.m. (lauds at 7:40 a.m.) in the convent of the Franciscans Missionary Sisters of Mary (80 Laurier St. East).
- On Saturday, Father Joel, vicar at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral will direct an afternoon meditation on the culture of life inside Saint Enfant Jésus church. This begins at 2:00 p.m. and runs through until 3:30 p.m. The Sunday eve mass will follow at 4:00 p.m. There will be adoration and possibly the sacrament of penance.
- Finally, Sunday afternoon a vesper service is scheduled beginning at 6:00 p.m. – either in the park or inside saint Enfant Jésus church.
Hope to see many of you at these events.
Tonight we launch the 40-day prayer vigil with a Eucharistic celebration. The mass is scheduled to get underway at about 7:00 p.m. in Saint Enfant Jésus church. Father Jean-René, vicar at Saint-Angèle parish in Montreal-Nord will be our celebrant. All are welcomed.
Afterwards, depending on circumstances, we may do a procession into the park. This will be followed by some fellowship back inside the church.
Else, Day 1 of the vigil is tomorrow and our presence in Lahaie park (across the street from the Morgentaler abortion mill, 30 Saint Joseph Blvd. east) will continue through to March 24.
All are welcomed to join us in prayer.
We pray that the scourge of abortion be lifted from our land,
That those who promote it may be brought to a change of heart,
That all who are tempted to abortion may be lovingly helped to protect the precious gift of life, and
That all who have experenced an abortion may be comforted with the healing gift of love.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord,
Saturday, October 27, Day 32. This past week we crossed the three-quarter mark of our 40-day prayer for the end of abortion. On average, slightly more than twenty persons came out to the site spending about 45 hours of prayer time, each day.
I'm inspired by the numerous exchanges that spontaneously take place on the subject of life and abortion and related themes. Either with passersby or the pro-choice crowd that gathers next to us, many vigilers share their views. Special thanks to Mr. Lecomte, John & Celeste, Carole, and Barbara.
End of Our Banner - More Signs
On Thursday, I was visited by an officer with the local police force. It seems that our banner is violating a municipal by-law. Yes, we have had it since 2009 – i.e., seven other 40-day campaigns, and yet only now has it been deemed not permitted. The officer showed me the law which dates back to 2001. Hence, as of Monday, I will be compelled to take it down, else pay a fine.
We will continue for the final week of the vigil with signs.
The loss of the banner entails a loss of visibility, which we will try to compensate for in two ways. First, we can continue using our signs. Our current inventory displays the same message as the banner – "Pray for the End of Abortion." Also, we will reveal two new signs – one with the image of the 20-week old fetus and the other with the help-line number.
Second, in effort to have some visibility, I suspect that we will be parading more along the wakways in Lahaie Park.
Please keep us in your prayers during this last week of the vigil.
The vigil ends this coming Sunday, November 4th
This testimonial was emailed to us from a first-time participant to the 40 Days for Life:
I went today with my husband and our four kids, to support the prayer group in Montreal. It really got to me, and I can say it was an incredible experience. It is the first time we went, and I am going to be sincere, I never thought of finding such hostility on the part of people just passing by. It is really a spiritual combat we are living now. When we arrived, there was only one man from 40 days for life , quietly just next to the sign. I saw the counter-protestors standing next to Proabortion signs, so I figured where we should go right away to support. As soon as we got there, it didnt pass 5 min. when a young man, aroung 24 years old, started insulting and telling so many offensive, hurtful, and bad things to us, but mostly to the man with your tshirt on (Brian Jenkins the vigil coordinator--ed.). His formality, peacefullness and attitude was that of someone who is fill with patience that only God gives.
After that , we prayed one Hail Mary, he explained to us how the support works, we read as a family the meditation of the day, each of our kids taking turns to read. Then we just stood next to the big sign, my husband, and my kids. People passing by just cheered the proabortion group, sounded their cars, loud music, yelled, for support and even a public transportation bus blasted their horn for them ! We all stood there, astonished and praying, Which is the MOST important thing we could do. Then one man inside a mini bus yelled so many nasty things to all of us,and they even yelled to our kids to not listen to us, parents, because we were stupid! We just couldn't believe it! Another old man said it was stupid to pray for 40 days!! He said it was too long....
So, the first experience was kind of harsh for all of us, but Glory be to God. Suddenly one man inside a minivan, saw the other group, then saw us, and he waved at us in favor of the prayers and the Prolife campaign!!! Halleluiah!!!! My kids suddenly were all so full of joy . Later on our oldest son (18) told us that that man gave him the courage again of being there for the cause, when 98% of the people, cars that passed by, etc...were all looking at us as aliens just for supporting this cause. We finished at 7pm with a prayer guided by the man with the 40 days for life tshirt, and it was a very peaceful moment after all those difficult experiences. We then went to St Josephs Oratory for the 7h30 pm mass, and gave thanks to God for organizations like yours, for this movement for Life, and for all the troubled and uninformed women who are living with stress caused by an unwanted pregnancy.
God Bless you all, we hope to go again and as a family support your cause, that is ours too.
This fall's 40 Days for Life runs until November 4. Please come out and pray with us for an hour for the unborn !
We've begun the second half of our 40-day prayer vigil for the end of abortion this past Monday and here are a few of the highlights since.
Wednesday, October-17: Spiritually Powerful Day
Day 22 was an emotion packed day: encouragement at the outset, dread and foreboding in the middle, and the sweet peace of reconciliation at the end.
During the second hour of the day, a young francophone evangelical dropped by to offer a few words of encouragement for the work we are doing. We exchanged a little about our respective faiths and then he was off.
A more powerful event came in the afternoon. At that time, I began feeling dread and foreboding and no matter how much I prayed or shared with one or two persons at the site, these feelings would not subside.
Noris was one such person I shared with. She arrived an hour or so after I first had these experiences. As I described them, she shared her particular devotion to Saint Benedict and to the Saint Benedict medal, the latter being used in instances against Satan and his minions.
We began to pray and as we did so something incredible happened: pro-choice persons began walking up to our site. First came a young man - a student of social work, then a woman pushing her child in a carriage, and finally another woman.
On arrival, they were greeted by vigilers and conversations sprung up. The young man met John and Celeste with whom he spoke for nearly ninety minutes; during this exhange, the second woman arrived and joined in. On the other hand, the woman with the stroller met Yves on arriving and the two spoke for nearly as long.
Throughout these exchanges, Noris and I prayed continuously for peaceful resolutions. I invoked the intercession of powerful saints - Dominique, John Chrysostom, Peter Chrysologus, and John the Baptist, hoping that their inspirations may provide our vigilers with the right words for their listeners to hear. Noris expressed her conviction that positive outcomes would result.
And positive outcomes did occur. On the one hand, the exchanges though intense and passionate weret not belligerent. On the hand, there was one conversion. John and Celeste introduced me to the young man who they told had become pro-life as the result of the encounter. Though the two women did not express any conversion of hearts, we trust that our witness and goodwill affect them in the time to come.
Finally, the day ended with a blessing as one vigiler was able to bring peace to a fractured relationship between two others.
Thursday and Friday, October 18 & 19 – Contrasts in Weather
Days 23 and 24 of the vigil could not have been more unalike. Thursday was sunny and balmy while the following day, rain, rain and more rain.