Nothing can really compare to the evil and horror of abortion. We are witnesses to the pain and suffering this grave moral evil causes all the people involved, not to mention the lives of all the little babies that are lost each day all across our nation. A group of us faithfully congregate at multiple clinics here in Portland to pray and witness to life in a very important way. We try to give the women going in to the clinic help if they will accept it. We tell them that there ARE other choices for them to make. That we can help them with whatever they may need so that they don't have to kill their baby. We say, "Please, have pity on your baby!" ...Sometimes they stop and listen to us, often they do not and go inside to their appointment. We are there for them when they come out, if they want support then. Most importantly, I always ask for God to baptize these poor babies as they go in to their deaths, ripped apart in the one place where they thought they were safe. Their mother's womb. I think of it as a baptism of desire on my part and I pray that God will listen to my request. I am sure He does. As my good friend Therese put it, "We stand with the unborn babies as they die." Spiritually, we send ourselves inside the clinic, hoping that at least, the child knows there is one person who mourns for them. For the loss of the only earthly life they will ever get.
Yes, it is sad stuff, and often I wonder how I am not burned out completely from going to the clinics so often. Only by God's grace can I go there, day after day, and witness the devastation caused by the abortion industry.
Just when I think I am reaching my limit, God gives sends me a consolation. Something to keep me going for a while longer. Spiritual food for the long journey. And this time, the consolation came in the form of His devoted priest who came to help us laity fight the evil one. We are so very blessed at Holy Rosary Parish in Portland, as we have many good, holy, fearless priests. One of them is Father Gabriel who graciously answered my request to come to the clinic and say an exorcism prayer. He is known among the laity of being a priest that makes himself available to us. He is always ready to show up to do battle with the culture of death and all its evil cohorts. Among us, he is highly esteemed and respected. We so look forward to his homilies at daily mass, and treasure his boldness in teaching the authentic faith. Even when the teachings are hard. As our shepard, he loves us enough to tell us the truth. For this, we are grateful.
As we all stood around in front of the clinic waiting on Father and Brother Joseph to arrive, you could almost feel the heaviness of evil in the air. Looking at the building, one is taken with a sense of how massive and powerful the forces of evil we face are and how in comparison, we are so small. This is why Our Blessed Lord founded a Church, with a hierarchy. He put the authority into place that He knew we would need. He foresaw this battle long ago, and out of love, gave us the means by which to fight it. Our priests have an authority which comes from Him. They stand in "persona Christi", acting in the person of Christ. Jesus comes to us through His priests, and when He does, the diabolical tremble in fear.
I always think of the gospel passage about legion. How when Jesus comes upon the man with an unclean sprit who lived in the tombs, they cried out to Him, " Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!" Yes, the demons pleaded with Our Blessed Lord, they begged Him to let them go out into a herd of pigs. They were truly terrified, for they knew EXACTLY who it is they were up against. Their time of reckoning had come and they would have to answer to Him who was and is and is to come.
There is a whole reality that we do not see. An invisible realm where good and evil are caught up in a tremendous battle. As Saint Paul so wisely put it, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”
The evil one seeks to snatch souls from the hands of God, all the while, God in His Mercy is offering us the way to salvation. What may seem like just a building, a clinic where abortions are performed, is actually a battlefield. The diabolical seek to destroy the infant in the womb, to profane this sacred space of femininity. After all, it was from the womb of a women that their Vanquisher came forth. I am convinced that this is the reason behind the crime of abortion committed against humanity. It's almost like the devil is trying to get even with the Women, who he knows will ultimately destroy him and crush his head.
Thanks be to God for the Church and all Her ministers! The fact that we can call on our priests to aid us in this fight is a source of great consolation to me. I have to admit, that when I saw Father Gabriel and Brother Joseph walking up to the clinic that day, dressed in the habit of Saint Dominic, I was filled with awe and wonder. Awe at what God has done for us and wonder at His mighty power. I was struck by the knowledge that God is in control, no matter what it seems like. As the sun radiated down on us that day , I could feel the loving presence of the Holy Spirit moving through us as we prayed the rosary, invoking the aid of Our Blessed Mother.
After Father had finished his prayer in Latin, he walked around the perimeter and sprinkled holy water on the blood-soaked ground. Even though it may look like regular dirt and concrete, we knew the reality of all the lives lost that stained its surface. All the dreams that would never be realized, birthdays that would never be celebrated.
How much longer, Oh Lord, will You hold back Your wrath from us! For how much time can we hope to keep Your justice at bay?
For now, we continue, day after day, grateful for the consolation given to us by the Church’s ministers. That truly, without them, without our priests, the laity would be lost. We thank God for their service to the faithful and pray that He will reward them greatly for all their tireless service.
God bless you all. Please keep us in your prayers, and all the people injured by the abortion industry.
Saint Catherine Laboure and the Virgin Mary. The Miraculous Medals I hand out.
"My child, I am going to give you a mission." These were the first words spoken by the Blessed Virgin to a novice of the Daughter's of Charity by the name of Catherine Laboure. The year was 1830 and Catherine was awakened by her guardian angel and told to go to the chapel where she received a vision of the Virgin. Later, during a second vision, she saw Mary standing on a globe with rays of light coming from rings on her fingers. Mary explained that the rays of light were the graces she obtains from God for those who ask for them. When Catherine asked her why some of the gems on the rings were dark and emitting no light, Mary answered, "The graces are available but did not come because no one asked for them."
Then, during the third vision, Catherine saw our Lady standing on a globe with her hands outstretched, the rays of light radiating down. Framing the figure was the inscription: O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Then the vision turned to show the reverse side of the medal. Shown were twelve stars encircling a large "M" from which rose a cross. Thorns encircled one heart and a sword pierces the other. The twelve stars represent the twelve apostles and the M stands for Mary. The cross coming out of the M shows the close relationship that she has with her Divine son. We must never forget how important this relationship is and how much Our Lord wants us to love and honor His mother.
Mary then spoke to Catherine: "Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck."
With the approval of the Church, the first medals were made in 1832 in Paris and were quickly distributed to the people. Immediately, the blessings that Mary had promised began to shower down on those who wore the medal and word spread about this Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin. The Miraculous Medal is not a good luck charm or anything related to superstition. It is, in fact, a great testimony to the power of trusting prayer and our faith. God uses the medal, not as a sacrament, but as an agent to transmit grace to us. "The weak things of this Earth hath God chosen to confound the strong."
When Our Blessed Mother gave the medal to Saint Catherine she said, "Now it must be given to the whole world and to every person."
I have made a habit of carrying around miraculous medals, that have been blessed by my priest, to hand out to people in my day to day encounters. I make sure I keep them in the outer pocket of my backpack so I can grab them quickly if need be. I have handed them out in drive thrus, at grocery stores, at stop lights, gas stations, malls and in every place in between.
I have so many stories in the short time I have been doing this, of people being so moved by the Miraculous Medal and the grace that God gives through this little object. I have had people burst into tears when I handed them one, I have had people hug me and people literally light up with joy. Most people allow me to put them around their necks, and while I am reaching around them, I am silently praying to Our Blessed Mother. I ask her to bring the person to her son. To give them the graces they need the most right now in their lives. I ask for those graces that are available and that no one has asked for...
I have had the great joy of seeing people wearing these medals around town that I have given them in the past. This always makes me smile. I hope that this very small gesture makes Our Lady happy and brings her some consolation. I know how greatly offended she is.
I pray that all the people I have given these medals to will allow God to change their hearts and to draw them closer to Himself. I pray also that through this small act of kindness on my part, God will continue to convert me to love Him more and more. That He will help me to be better, closer and more like Him. Often I feel so very far away, but when I can get outside of myself and reach out to someone else, this is when I really get the sense of the divine life. This divine life that overflows with love towards the other, whoever they may be. The person in the check out line, the clerk at the McDonalds or even the person next to you in the DMV waiting room.
Very rarely I will have someone refuse the medal. This is also a good thing, because then I know to pray for that person especially. We can resist God's grace when He offers it. Every time we sin, this is what we are doing. He is constantly offering more and more grace to us. Every day that we wake up and are alive, we have a new opportunity to receive this incredible gift of God's love.
May we all choose the good instead of the evil that we are so inclined to want. I hope to always remember that there is no such thing as something "small" in the eyes of God. These little medals make a difference. They touch people's hearts as I have witnessed countless times.
*I purchase these medals from the Saint Paul Street Evangelization store @ streetevangelization.com
The chains they sell are also very good quality and do not rust. The medals are beautiful and people really love them. *
The saints are our friends, they are our family. They watch out for us, always attentive to our prayers. Interceeding for us to God in all our trials while we fight this great battle.
We are the Church millitant and the battle we fight is for souls. Our own and also the souls of others that the evil one tries to steal from God. The last thing that the enemy wants is for us here on earth to ask our heavenly friends for help. The saints are a great source of assistance in everything we face. Just on a day to day basis, even with little things, I am convinved that they have great care and concern for us.
I have come to know and love the martyred nuns of Nowogrodek. Their story of heroic virtue and self sacrifice fills me with joy. Blessed Mary Stella was the mother superior of her community of Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Nowogrodek, Poland. They arrived there in 1929 by the invitation of the Bishop to found a school and care for the local Church. At first, the people did not want the nuns there and made this fact well known. There were many jews and protestants there at the time, so people were sceptical of the little nuns in black. The people would soon come to appreciate these nuns when the darkness of Nazi occupation overshadowed them in 1942.
The murderous rampage of the Nazis began with the arrest and execution is 60 persons in the town. Two of which were priests. A similar situation occurred in July a year later where 120 persons were arrested and detained. They were destined to be executed. When the sisters became aware of their plight they expressed a desire to sacrifice themselves in the place of the 120 family members. Sister Stella shared the desire of the community with their chaplain saying, "My God, if sacrifice is needed, accept it from us and spare those who have families. We are even praying for this intention."
In almost immediate answer to the sisters wishes, the plans for the prisoners was suddenly changed. They were deported to work camps and some were even released! Then, the life of their rector was threatened and the sisters of course renewed their offering by saying, "There is greater need for a priest on this earth than there is for us, we pray that God will take us in his place if sacrifice of life is needed."
God accepted their sacrifice. The people that were still imprisoned and the chaplain were spared. They attested to the holiness of the nuns and their powerful intercession before God.
The sisters were arrested, all but one. The one that was spared would stay behind and care for the common grave that would be the resting place of the martyrs. They were lead out into the woods and made to kneel in front of a giant hole in the ground. The Nazis had dug them a mass grave and allowed the mother superior, Blessed Stella, to bless her sisters before one by one they were shot in the head.
And there they lay, together, a sacrifice of love.
Let us ask the intercession of the Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek, that they may teach us what it truly means to be united with Christ in perfect love.
God continues to bless me in many surprising ways. At times I find myself so humbled by the fact that He would choose me for something so important. Just when I was in need of some serious spiritual direction in my life, along came Father Duffner. What a special gift he has been to me!
I remember noticing Father when he was on his way to mass in his wheelchair. I always wondered who he was and wanted to one day get to meet him. Then, one day, one of our priests asked me if I would consider helping care for Father Duffner who is 102 years old. I of course right away said yes! Honestly I was honored that they would think of me as an option. At our parish, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary in Portland, our priests are greatly admired. They are wonderful examples for all of us of holiness and faithfulness. When Father asked me if I would help, I felt that it was Jesus asking me. Of course, with a gladdened heart I accepted.
During the time I have known Father Duffner, he has helped me spiritually more than I can put into words. At first, he seemed a little weary of me. Not ever talking to me and keeping himself immersed in his work at the Rosary Center. Our schedule consists of me taking him to co-celebrate mass three days a week and then taking him to the Rosary Center across the street from the Church to work until the afternoon. I am with him 5 days a week and it's something I look forward to every day. He founded the Rosary Center to be a headquarters for spreading devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the world and in the missions. They sell many different kinds of books in their online book store and send out countless free rosaries to the missions worldwide. Father Duffner, for many years, wrote articles in a newsletter that went out to many people. All his writings were published in two books called "To know Him". The way that he can take very complex theological concepts and explain them in layman's terms is an apparent gift of his. I recommend anyone to read his writings and to let his wisdom guide you.
As some time went on, I noticed Father opening up a little with me and talking to me briefly. I started to ask him questions about his writings as I read his books. Slowly, we developed a friendship. Day after day spent working together and talking about the faith. We especially like to talk about the saints and their relics. I tear up when I think about taking Father Duffner to the Church and getting him ready for mass. I dress him in his vestments and comb his hair. In his quiet, peaceful way, he shows me how to be patient. His biggest lesson to me has been to accept the daily crosses that God sends us without complaining. He calls it, "Anything that goes against the grain." Our little daily crosses that we are asked to carry. He tells me that if I complain I lose the merit! How we could all attain to sanctity quickly if we stopped complaining! I surely need to take in this lesson.
Father Duffner NEVER COMPLAINS. He just doesn't. He is so inspiring to me, he makes me want to be better, more holy and more like Our Lord. I see in Father Duffner what I hope to one day be. A soul who truly says, Lord Your will and not mine be done.
We recently celebrated Father's anniversary of his ordination, on December 21st 1940. He has been a priest for 77 years! What a gift he has been to the Church and to all the faithful that have come to know him.
One afternoon after Father heard my confession, I asked him is he would pray for me when he gets to heaven. He simply looked at me and said, "If I make it there...."
I knew at that moment what a holy priest he was. That is the perfect answer. May we all work out our salvation in fear and trembling.
In the words of Father Duffner, "May God give you the grace you need most and may our Blessed Mother keep you under her protection. This we ask in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit." Amen.