This morning, I was out with our tireless pro-life prayer warriors at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Lawrenceville. Lawrenceville is some 40 miles west of Athens, at the edge of the metro Atlanta area. This is the nearest Planned Parenthood to us. There were other prayer warriors present from nearby parishes, and a group from two Baptist churches (who also had a megaphone).
During my time a the Mount, I'd been a few times to pray at the abortion mill in Hagerstown (and once down at the notorious mill in Germantown), which is located in the grungy, abandoned, downtown area of town. In Lawrenceville, the PP operation is in a strip mall, right on the Lawrenceville-Suwanee road, a high traffic thoroughfare. Next to it is a beauty salon, and just further along in the same strip, a Five Guys. Just another business you know. Get lunch, get your hair done, get an abortion. All part of the marketplace of choice in our enlightened, liberated society.
There is a small, steady trickle of folks going in. All but one are female. The free speech compromise here lets the protesters stand on the grassy embankment next to the road, but not enter the parking lot. So, there is no real option to have sidewalk counsellors stand near the entrance. The Baptists get their megaphone going -- the male preacher, well, preaching. When a car pulls up and a woman gets out, a lady gets on the mic and urges her to come and learn about alternatives choices, to not support a murderous establishment, if she is here get other health care. Most just ignore the protestors. One woman comes out and yells something angrily towards us as she gets into her SUV. The Baptists have had a run in with the police before. They were asked to turn down the volume of their megaphone. It's still quite audible, however. There is also regular honking of support from cars driving by. A periodic, audible, and welcome, sign of support.
One lady, however, parks close to the edge of the embankment. She gets out and looks at us. We smile and wave. She then walks over, to the lady with the megaphone, and they have a long chat. She then goes back to her car and drives off. Perhaps it's a save.
The Catholic group spends most of its time in prayer. We pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet and liberally sprinkle the St. Michael prayer. It's a grey, dank, overcast and cold day, the temps hovering around 60 degrees. Some of the folks are seasoned prayer warriors. They've been doing this for years. Their dedication is heartening and inspiring.
We're in the middle of the 40 Days for Life campaign, which has had seen some spectacular stories. Most of the time, however, it is just quiet dedication. And prayer. Nothing seems to happen. The mill churns away.
I recall a conversation with a parishioner after Mass a few years ago, during one of my summer parish assignments as a seminarian. "Father" (It was always pointless to keep explaining that I was not yet a priest), "why doesn't Jesus do something about abortion? He can just end it, can't He?" This led to a discussion of the problem of evil. Jesus does do something. He did, on the Cross. He is active now, especially in His body, the Church.
And no matter the weather, the numbers, the anger and opposition of others (even within the Church!), the Body of Christ will continue to show up. To pray. To offer alternatives. To witness. To love.
You and your baby are beautiful.