Thursday, 29 March 2012

First time!!!!! I prayed outside an abortion "clinic"

In the last 6 months or so God has granted me new eyes, and they see the world so much differently than my old eyes.

I'm naturally skeptical and throughout my life have relied on verifiable proof to convince me. Which has always put me in a bit of a quandary since I'm by nature kinda reflective and spiritual. This has been a cause of some internal tension for me - I want to believe, but I can't quite make the leap into the dark or the abyss of faith.

My way out of this quandary was to be a liberal Catholic: I was "into" Catholicism as long as it was practical, or sought to change injustice in the world. This is a very horizontal form of faith: human centered and earth bound. To be fair to me (after all this is my blog and only 3 people read it and one of them is my wife!)... as I was saying, to be fair to me I've actively tried to be a practical Catholic in the world, and I've attempted to bring some justice to the world. Hence my years as a prison Chaplain, and years spent teaching street kids.

However, this had two negative consequences. This activity masked my unrequited desire for the transcendent, my desire to experience God as other. And this activity meant that I fell into a liberal social activist mindset where sometimes to do intrinsic evil was excusable if the end was good.

So, in my liberal Catholic mindset I habitually looked down on pro-lifers as do-gooders who were too timid, uneducated or incompetent to do any good, and so just hung around abortion clinics dangling their rosaries while poor, oppressed women took care of their ovaries.

So (and the symbolism hits me as I write) about six months ago my eyes got so dry at night that I needed special drops to stop them from hurting. Sometimes It feels like there's needles in my eyes if I forget my eye-drops.  At the same time my soul experienced a dryness, and waking up in pain at 3am with my eyes I would stay awake and worry about death, dying, and question the point of life.

After a retreat (and confession), and prayer (and more confession), and starting to pray with my wife (and more confession) and then making prayer and confession and more frequent reception of the Eucharist a practice my mind's eyes began to change.  And, to paraphrase the words of St. Francis after he kissed the leper: "What was bitter became sweet."

While my real eyes have benefited from the drops, my soul has benefited from the routine application of spiritual ointment in the confessional. I wish more people had talked to me about confession over the last few decades! I know my parents used to take us frequently as kids: but I had dropped the practice as useless (we're all going to heaven anyway), and pointless (didn't Jesus already forgive our sins), therefore worthy of scorn. But it's like a secret weapon against evil, and emptiness, and guilt.

Today, on my way to see a client I passed an abortion clinic, and instead of just saying a Hail Mary for the mothers on the way in to the clinic I prayed that God bless the babies that would die today in that place. And I saw 2 women praying outside.

"On my way back," I said, "I will stop and pray with them."

And I did. I stopped and walked over and prayed a decade of the rosary with them outside the clinic. They were very normal and friendly, and grateful for the little time I spent with them. A mom came too with her child in a push chair. A child who suffers from disabilities and whom the world would advise to abort if found hiding in the womb. On my way back to the car I burst into tears and walked and cried in a release of something I'm not even sure of yet.

And as I walked and cried I thanked God for the women who stand outside abortion clinics and pray day after day and endure the scorn of the world.

These things I have spoken to you, 
that in me you may have peace. 
In the world you shall have distress: 
but have confidence, 
I have overcome the world. Jn 16:33


  1. I too am amazed at God's love and patience with me. Amazed to at the work of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Thank you for this post. That was ... especially touching. Especially. I think in fact I might have to read it a few more times. Thank you. So much!