February 1, 2013
Spiritual Growth in the Valley of the Shadow of Death
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me;” Ps 23:4
I wish I had internalized that scripture before my first encounter with Planned Parenthood. It was about 14 years ago, in San Carlos, California. I had heard about abortion. I knew people that thought of it as a choice, some whom I was close to. But for me, even though I knew it was wrong intellectually, I kept my distance. I avoided the topic in conversation and failed to confront the issue.
Mike prays with his family outside a PP clinic.
My wife, Ann, preceded me in the confrontation. Because of a health issue, we were both re-engaging in our faith: praying the Rosary and going to daily Mass on occasion. She had befriended two “church ladies” at our parish in the Bay Area of northern California. They had led her to pray at a Planned Parenthood for the intention of ending abortion. Her brave encounters and testimony tugged on my heart. As a man and a new husband, my wife should not have had to encounter this evil alone with just her “church ladies”.
As we stepped out of the car, I can only remember feeling dark. I remember also feeling small. Whatever was going on there had a power that was at first overwhelming. Why was I even here? What difference would we make? I was introduced to her friends and we began to pray. Though there was not a discrete moment where I changed, I do remember feeling calmed by our time in prayer and I acquired the fortitude needed to remain at my post. In an attempt to intimidate our simple witness, Planned Parenthood sent out two workers to photograph us. Though the attempt seems almost laughable now, in their world it was important to scare away people praying for babies. Seeing these two workers put a face on the evil within. I went home haunted by their faces and understanding a little better the reality of good and evil.
We moved to Indiana and found the pro-life community alive and engaged. It was a time of great mentoring in the movement. But more importantly, Ann and I were growing in our faith. The Apostolate for Family Consecration, to which we belong, allowed us some insight into the spiritual battle. Their spirituality, derived from the message of Fatima and Pope John Paul II, teaches that sin is the cause of all un-happiness. Each and every sin adds to the “current” that we and all of society have to swim against in order to do good. The “Good News” is that grace is much stronger than sin. Grace, earned through personal holiness and living our state in life in His Will, starts to repair for the damage done by sin and reduces the current that we have to swim against to do good. It is this spirituality that I carry with my family into the pro-life battlefield.
There is a spiritual reality to the grace that flows from a family praying together. There is a spiritual reality to the graces earned in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There is a spiritual reality to the grace provided from a sacramental confession which makes more worthy our reception of the Eucharist. And there is an intense spiritual reality and grace poured out when we pray the Rosary while confronting the evil at Planned Parenthood. This is what our Church teaches and this is what I am called to meditate on when in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”.
You see, we are never alone there. I have, on several occasions, envisioned our Blessed Mother’s presence while standing in front of the “clinic”; loving and comforting the first victims, the babies. And where our Blessed Mother is, her Son is never far. It is before the clinic that we ask for her intercession for the many other victims of abortion--the mothers who have lost hope, or the workers in the “Valley”, the doctors and others caught up in this culture of death. May our prayers be multiplied and made perfect as they pass through our Blessed Mother’s loving hands and offered to her Son. May her Son in turn, who is Mercy, grant our petition, shine His light into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and end the scourge of abortion.
In His Service,
Pray with others like the Green family during the 40 Days for Life Campaign happening February 13 to March 24. Our Blessed Mother calls us to pray the rosary. What better opportunity than during this spring’s 40 Days for Life Campaign. Our parish prayer time is 3 - 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, in front of Planned Parenthood located at 8590 Georgetown Road in Indianapolis. You may also prefer to join the Knights of Columbus on Monday evenings, 5 - 6 p.m.