From Rescue to Rosary

Joe asked me to meet Msgr.Reilly and every time we’re together at the sidewalk at Manhattan he insists that I’d love to meet him and I would fake an interest in my face and give some excuse. This has been going on for a couple of months. What’s so interesting about an 80 yr old priest and what more possibly he could teach me i thought. an astounding arrogance incarnate I am! However fate paved way that I had to think about my country ‘India’ which performs approximately 6 million abortions every year. I knocked the doors of well known Pro Life leaders asking for help for my country. Since i posses neither money nor reputation nothing about me or my request interested them. And just as I got used to call every Pro Life leader with the weird request to help INDIA or leave a message only to never hear back, one day I receive a call from a feeble old man whose voice or tone I never understood. After much difficulty I deciphered that he’d like to see me in person to discuss about ‘INDIA’.  And  that’s the beginning of the drastic change in the sidewalk counseling journey- from Rescue to Rosary.

20160419_165735

I decided to meet the owner of this fragile broken voice. Brooklyn- Uh not the kind of place like Manhattan. Old monastery building and rusty gates. I ring the doorbell and enter into a small room which is the visiting room of Monsignor. Old creaky fan, half ripped wall paper, old fashioned lights, not so fancy chairs, worn out table with piles of paper and on top of it is a letter from Fr.Frank Pavone the  Director of Priests for Life requesting Monsignor to review his book, Oh I know Fr. Pavone ! I try to make myself comfortable in one of those antique chairs waiting to see the owner of the broken voice. And behind me I hear a feeble voice trying to speak hard “Hello “. There he is, Monsignor. He introduces himself and asks how can I help. I was pretty straight forward. “My country needs help, I want to start a Pro life movement there and don’t know how or when and nothing more but my country needs help.” He smiled at me and asked do i know anything about Helpers and their work. My reaction pretty much conveyed him that I don’t. So he patiently introduces himself.

20160419_203217.jpg

Monsignor Philip J Reilly, the founder and Director of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants whose movement has spread from 4 person group in Brooklyn to Australia, Taiwan, Latvia, Yugoslavia, Austria, Capetown South Africa, Seoul South Korea, Bogota Columbia, South America and Central America. Shortly, Helpers are in all continents of the world. And here is the man who founded it sitting right in front of me and not bothered by the fact that I did not know about him or his movement. Incredible! The work of this Man whose seeds keep reaping the incalculable benefit of “LIFE” itself in remote corners of the universe: families saved, Doctors conversion, clinic closures, spooky tales of saying Mass inside abortion clinics with the equipment still there, vigils with overflowing crowd, death threats, million dollar lawsuits, cardinals and bishops heading the vigils, clinics turning to life centers on and on and on. What is behind all this? How did he do it? What made a simple movement of 4 people go trans continental? Well it’s definitely not technology, technique or tithe. The answer is a transformational journey from Rescue to Rosary!

I was taught to get out of my shell, to approach people, and to talk. I was taught various counter arguments to keep myself equipped to defend life, I was taught to stand for life without being ashamed and in fact with courage, I was taught how to start a conversation, hook people into it, i was taught to show videos, get deep into subjects, I was taught to divert people from getting into clinic and taking them to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, I was taught to handle arguments with contraception very delicately, i was taught not to talk about God at first in fear of putting off people, I was taught to be humorous, cool, relaxed all of which is perfectly fine. Yes! it has saved lives. But I had to unlearn what I learnt even though this is the famous methodology followed by the majority in the Pro Life circle.

I went to do sidewalk counseling with Monsignor Reilly to know what he had been doing and still doing with such perseverance for almost 50 years. He gave a bunch of Rosaries in my hand with brochures containing information for Women who are abortion minded, who already had abortion as well as those taking contraceptive pills and asked me to give in front of the largest Ambulatory Abortion clinic in Brooklyn where children are killed up to 6 months. All I have to do is to be there with the attitude of being at the foot of the Cross with Prayer and Fasting handing out the Rosary and brochure to the women going in as well as to those coming out of the clinic.

br2br1

This, I followed with reluctance for few months now. Hard to distrust our human intentions, skills and actions and completely leave the ground to God. No place for thinking of oneself as savior, no chance for accumulation of pride, no vain chatting, no relying on one’s own capacity and skills, no room for winning arguments or prove oneself, even no room for taking a sip of water, no pushing people to make decisions. Looks foolish from outside isn’t it?  Wait a min. Within few months of doing this even with nowhere near perfection the clinic in Elizabeth, NJ announces shifting to smaller office and downsizing the business. How about that? The place is going to be sold, they’re moving and so are we following them until they join us. Conversion! Monsignor says “God loves the woman before and after abortion. He wants their salvation. He wants the mother to be with Him in Eternity, and so the Abortionist and those involved. He died for them. He died for the soldier who would pierce his side with lance, blood and water gushed and this blind soldier was healed and saved. That’s the same with the abortionist.”It’s about saving the immortal souls.

But there’s more to this transcendence from Rescue to Rosary. Monsignor himself admits how he used to do things in wrong way, the rescue way: save the babies ! stop the abortion! until he learned his lessons the hard way. It’s about fighting the Culture of death. That’s way more in depth than one can assume. To fight this we must know the roots of the Culture of Death and  how did it start, where things went wrong. Pope John Paul ii explains clearly in Evangelium Vitae. Abortion is demonic. Attack against the human being created in the image and likeness of God is an attack on God himself. And to me it is stupid to think that we mortal humans can fight this battle by ourselves. This is supernatural. And realizing this truth with humility is the intelligence behind Monsignor’s approach.

 The spirituality of the Helpers is to be present at the Modern Day Calvary in Prayer with the children who are crucified like Jesus with the humility and meekness of Blessed Mother completely absorbed in passion experiencing both suffering and joy. Because after crucifixion and  death did take place Redemption and  Resurrection.

The battle is not between us versus them. It’s between Heaven and Hell!

Advertisements

Picture 5 – Rape

IMG_20160501_220722

Most of them I meet at sidewalk and online come up with this argument regarding Abortion: So what if the woman was raped? Should she be forced to carry the ‘rape child’? She will have to live the trauma of rape every time seeing the child and She wasn’t ready for it. My question to them mostly starts like this:

  1. Did the child rape? Wasn’t the child victim as the mother ?
  2. How does punishing the child bring justice and healing to the woman?
  3. If the child is robbed of it’s dignity because of being conceived in rape how can then we expect others in society to treat the women who was raped with dignity?

You cannot restore the dignity of woman who was traumatized by rape without accepting the child conceived in the same situation, victimized just as her, most of the time scape goated  in the place of rapist to be violently torn from womb and negated of a chance to live. Mahatma Gandhi advocates bringing up the child conceived out of infidelity because hurting the child will never heal anyone nor appease her anger and never will unrape her. Her healing depends on her acceptance of the child. If not convinced meet Rebecca Keisling of Save the 1.

And this is how instagram community responds:

newnew1Screenshot_20160512-143016Screenshot_20160512-143035Screenshot_20160512-143044Screenshot_20160512-143051Screenshot_20160512-143217Screenshot_20160512-143233Screenshot_20160512-143257

Power of a Picture

IMG_20160427_235407

So posted this picture in Instagram and guess what????

Screenshot_20160428-100036Screenshot_20160428-100040Screenshot_20160428-100048Screenshot_20160428-100052Screenshot_20160428-100056

His name is Jonathan

I spotted her as she walks by from a distance, to approach her and to talk about being in this insanely dangerous place. She looks hesitant and rigid. That’s one common body language many women who come down to this place exhibit. I should confess I was rigid myself for some reason. However my complete focus was on getting the information into her hands which might be the last chance for baby jonathan to survive. As she gets close, I understand the reason behind her rigidity and uneasy walk. She has a laminaria inserted and is on her second day of her abortion appointment. So Jonathan must be in second trimester. I gave her the pamphlet and asked her if she had thought about other options. Her response not only did blow me away but it left me speechless. She answered :

“What do you mean? other than killing my child?” 

Women very well know it’s a child and it’s their child but, how did we get to the point of having a casual talk about the death of a person? As we talk standing on the road what’s happening inside of her is of incredible importance. The baby jonathan (whom I named out of anguish to give acknowledgement and as a witness for his presence on earth) is soaked in poisonous solution probably gasping for breath for hours. Here’s how Jonathan died after I felt hopeless and shameful to convince the mother of the decision she was about to make.

I still remember the huge belly, the mother’s eyes, her ignorance mind blowing, very young probably in early twenties and her haunting statement “What do you mean? other than killing my child?”This happened 5 months ago and I never wanted to rewind the memory of the day to register the event in my blog out of the anger, pain and anguish arising out of the injustice happening in a massive scale. But I have to tell the world about Jonathan, his martyrdom, that he was killed so his mother may live. Jonathan was never given a chance, he was treated like a trash, like filth to be disposed and not interrupt the mother’s life from whatever she was up to.

But Jonathan died in my presence experiencing my love, witnessing my immature fight to save his life, seeing the anguish and longing for him which he never got to get from his own mother, leaving his imprints in my memory and probably even praying for me in heaven watching over me and his own mother. This is the reason I do what I do and am not afraid of doing it. I never experienced labor but I realized that doesn’t make one a mother. I am Jonathan’s Mother. I fought for him, I wished he was alive, I wanted to see him live and love. I am his Mother who gave him the identity and love that his biological mother refused to give.

What happened to Womanhood? Where’s Motherhood?  Will someone talk about this crisis of Motherhood? Women are made alien to the idea of Motherhood to the point of killing their own children, robbing the inherent God given identity of Motherhood. The Crisis is not pregnancy, the real crisis is Motherhood!

The one thing that fulfills Womanhood, i.e, Womanliness in a Woman is Motherhood! – Swami Vivekananda

 

How I met John Paul

WP_20151106_011

This is the most unforgettable encounter of a lifetime. A total shift of paradigm takes place when she stops to listen to me as I fearfully approach her to give the brochure and explain about the services that are available for women and their unborn children. Mr.M always used to tell how I will have this one of a kind experience because I was getting annoyed with myself as I couldn’t get a women to stop by and listen to the good news that can save the dignity and life of two human beings.

That morning here she was, terrified and clueless. One can say she didn’t want to step into the abortion clinic just by her demeanor. I couldn’t believe myself that she stopped to listen to me and was willing to look out for other options. I felt a sudden rush of hormones however I tried my best to stay calm and give her the information as well as tried to get information from her so I can help her in a better way. We spoke for five minutes however she decided to go inside the clinic and have the abortion. We parted with hugs and I promised to pray for her. After 4 hours when we were about to leave the place, she comes walking right into me. I asked how she felt and she told me she couldn’t undergo abortion and had to reschedule it because she had had her breakfast. This wasn’t the only reason. Planned Parenthood demanded an additional $500 if she had to go through the procedure with anesthesia. Oh how happy I was. She even felt this might be a sign from God and she will consider other options. However things did not stop there. We took her to The Sister’s of Life who welcome and serve women facing crisis pregnancy and help with housing, rent, schooling, medical and almost anything that would help a mother choose life.

WP_20151106_007

The struggle began. The Sisters spoke to her about all the help and support available for her to make an informed decision. Things felt positive. The arrangements for the young lady to have a pre-natal check up and follow up with other services began. However there was something missing and it just didn’t feel right. She wasn’t happy or excited in knowing about the help available that will not only save a life or prevent her from the hurt of abortion but also that will keep her dreams intact. A week passed by and she informed she’s going to have an abortion. She took a bus from place A to place B which was 3 hours with a confused heart. She wasn’t responding to messages and calls. And that’s when I knew things are falling apart.

After a long sleepless night of waiting for sign of hope and preparing gifts for her I reached the clinic by 7 am surprised to be met by Sisters who were there already praying and expecting a call or a message from her. I informed her that I was waiting in front of the clinic and asked her to get the gift I had bought for her before she gets into the abortion facility. I was hoping to trigger her maternal instincts with those cute little baby gifts. All of a sudden the Sisters receive a call from her so they rush to meet her even before she steps into the block to avoid any further temptation. A group meanwhile pleads God as they meet up with her and joy fills the place as we anticipate this as a life saved. However our joy was quick lived. We were informed that she had changed her mind again and is walking towards the clinic. There i meet her with a feeling i’ve never felt before.

WP_20151106_013

She said she wanted to go through with it. She saw a crowd of 60 people praying on the opposite side, crossed the lane walked past by them and met with me to thank me for the gift and apologized. I didn’t know what more I could do to stop her from this terrible hurt. Though I was dumb as ever, I told her I wanted to whisper in her ears so her baby can hear what I was going to say.

She bent down and there into her ears I spoke to John Paul: “I baptize you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, may you know that many of us fought very hard for you, and love you so much. We want you to know you are very much loved. And when you reach heaven please forgive your mother and watch over her!” .She hugged me and went inside and there I was standing at the feet of the cross to see the innocent Christ being dragged along to be crucified. I felt helpless,hurt, angry and confused.

I will never forget this encounter with dear little John Paul who was 14 weeks old. The only thing I was able to do was to speak to the child of the love of few people whose life he/she touched even before being born and to name him. Because he/she was not a random product of careless sexual experience only to be discarded into the garbage. His existence had an essence, his presence had a purpose. As Pope Benedict says it “ Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” and little John Paul was the Christ I met at the sidewalk. Because:

“Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord.”

                 – Pope Francis

The Love Note

noteThe temperature is  dropping down to 50 F ,however it feels well below 50. Even with a minimum of three layer clothing one could feel the chill. Not because of the dropping temperature but because being in the most coldest place in the planet. The eerie place of all where the value of human life has no meaning except for the dollars it can gain, provided the body parts of the innocent dead fetus’ are intact.

Standing there I wait for a chance to speak to women getting into the abortion facility. This is the toughest endeavor of my life, because this is a place where compassion reigns over skills and kindness over techniques. There’s literally 20-40 seconds to approach a women and make her feel comfortable to stop and get a pamphlet. But what’s even more challenging is that to get her to stop for a minute for additional conversation. These are the few seconds you have to communicate acceptance, understanding, kindness and to gain trust. I hear you guys, a real challenge right. May be just for me. I bet there are many others who have a natural charisma to handle these situations very well. Like one of the sidewalk counselor I work with. I researched on how to approach these women and found testimonies about personal notes being helpful in reaching out to them.

Gift bags with 10 week old baby models for women vulnerable to abortion
Gift bags with 10 week old baby models for women vulnerable to abortion

So the day before Sidewalk Counseling I sit down to write personal notes and stuck them to every single pamphlet I was going to give. I worked on 20 pamphlets and I handed almost 16 of them in 2 days. I wondered why I didn’t get a call or a text and was fighting back discouragement. I wrote additional notes and prepared myself for next week. Still no answer. Another 3 weeks passes by and still nothing. Probably I was made to wait in order to learn to be unconditional. As. Bl.Mother Teresa of Calcutta says, “God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful”. I pray that during times of discouragement, annoyance and shame I still stick on to this to learn to love these vulnerable women and their innocent martyrs no matter what. No matter they agree to take the pamphlet or decide to throw it on my face (uh  uh… not so fun on the spot), no matter they call or choose not to, no matter they agree to talk about additional options or go on with abortion. I’ll have to still keep writing these love notes to them, because this is the only way I can communicate God’s unconditional love for them.

I would very much give a big hug to each and every sidewalk counselor who faces sun and storm, wind and cold, curse and blessing to be at the sidewalk who does little things, make little sacrifices, takes minor annoyances because, the sidewalk has taught me that

“A little thing is a little thing, but FAITHFULNESS in little things is a great thing”

                 – James Hudson Taylor

Just two cents…

unnamed (2) I was tired the other day after my usual visit from the sidewalk. It’s a tough job I’ve ever done. Experts in this life saving mission would say I wouldn’t be there in front of the abortion clinic if I wasn’t called for it. However even if do not get to save a single life something in me keeps moving and doesn’t allow me to settle in. Good for it, because I would’ve given up long time ago. So I try to squeeze my tiny brain to think What do I have to give? what am I best in? what else I could do ? these were the questions I asked myself. All around me I see wonderful people with beautiful talents. But not many people realize how important their presence can be at sidewalk no matter if they can or cannot counsel.

People are different: some hearts can be touched by talking through the horrors of abortion, for others it works to get them realize what they are dealing with is a child, for many others it’s only prayer, some can be touched by protests but a lot others through art. Because art speaks in a silent way,loud and clear an approach which is very much required in sidewalk.

We need artists to contribute at the sidewalk through their artwork. May it be beautiful art depicting the life inside the womb, or the art that depicts how strong women are to handle the crisis or art which shows the humanity of the unborn or fatherhood or beauty of family or the science of fetology and so on and on. I realized the possibilities are endless. So what a single person can do for the speaking up for the voiceless can be much more than they can think. All that requires is the attitude to give. Am I right?

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” – Mark:12:43