Tonight, because it is the Year of Faith, I am going to pray outside the local abortion clinic with my parishioners. It is something I do from time to time myself but not something I do publicly or in company. I find something distasteful about prayer as protest, prayer is about recollection and is theocentric, protest is something else. There is group of evangelical Protestants who stand outside the clinic with banners and hand out anti-abortion leaflets, hoping to change the minds of mothers and others. I respect what they do but it isn't what I feel comfortable with, I hate "praying at" people, it is too Protestant for me I prefer to "pray for" people.
Like most post-VII Catholics I am not exactly comfortable with public prayer outside of Church, it is something I intend to address during the Year of Faith, by making "acts of Faith" and inviting others to join me.
Serendipidously Fr Stephen Wang, writing on "40 Days for Life" says this today:
With this public prayer, part of the purpose is to show that prayer matters, that there is another way of changing hearts, that we’re not alone in our struggles and sufferings – but that God is with us. This may sound a bit ‘pharisaical’. Didn’t Jesus ask us to shut the door and pray in private? Yes, but he also prayed with and for people, drawing them into his own prayer, and witnessing to the central importance of that prayer for all people.He goes on to say
Another miracle is the effect that the vigil has had on so many of those who work in the abortion clinics. Over the years, internationally, quite a few abortion workers have had powerful conversion experiences, or small changes of heart, that have led them to leave the clinics and find work elsewhere. This isn’t because they have been pressured into this, but because through the witness of those on the vigil they have had the opportunity of seeing others who see things differently. The witness to life gives another way of looking at the world, another possibility, that awakens something deep in their hearts, and actually fits with what they secretly believed all along.If you can't join us pray for us. If you want to join us, come along to the Traditional Mass tonight at 7pm and then join us afterwards. This is a little experiment, a little stretching of my comfort zone and that of our congregation. It is important to step out of what is comfortable and to make such signs of faith to ourselves. Who knows, enough of the them and we might start living by faith!