In my experience, it seems that people tend to bond when they do something difficult together. And conversely, when there’s something difficult to be done, it’s often best to do it with someone you’re close to, someone whose company you enjoy, someone who will make the unpleasant task less terrible.
Well, there is perhaps nothing more difficult, unpleasant, and yet still necessary to the fight of modern Catholics against the evil in our world than opposing abortion.
I would go so far as to say that all Catholics should probably be involved in the fight against abortion in some way or another, considering that it is legitimately a matter of life and death for the most defenseless among us.
Personally, I’ve felt a particular call to be involved in pro-life ministry since I was a teenager. I do think that involvement in the cause can look a bit different for different people, but this is what it looked like for me.
I first heard of people praying and ministering in front of abortion clinics when I was an underclassman in high school, when a youth group teacher mentioned that her brother did it. But I had no idea how to get involved in something like that myself.
Until I met Luke, who is now my husband.
Jumping Head-First into the Maelstrom
Luke had become acquainted with an older parishioner who was involved in a bunch of different charitable ministries. This guy was headed up a group of people who would go to a local Planned Parenthood at 3:00 pm every Friday afternoon to pray on the sidewalk out front, so Luke started going along.
Early on in our dating relationship, I asked Luke if I could come. Knowing that I lived a pretty sheltered little home-schooled existence, he warned me about the likelihood of hearing a lot of profanity and being flipped-off by passersby, but I wasn’t too concerned about it. We went together the next Friday.
This early experience in abortion clinic outreach showed me immediately, among other things, what a bonding experience it is to be praying together with other people against a terrible, rather hidden evil while a lot of oblivious or misinformed people swear at you on their way by.
Now all we really did at these get-togethers was to pray a lot of decades of the Rosary and hold signs, while the guy who was heading the efforts awkwardly tried to hand pamphlets to people through their car windows, being careful to keep off Planned Parenthood property.
This experience was not exactly a pleasant, fun walk-in-the-park; abortion clinic outreach could get pretty intense.
Gospel of Life by the Three Rivers
I went to college halfway across the county at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. If you know anything about “Steubenville” as the school is often called, you probably can guess that there’s a pretty active pro-life club. I got involved immediately.
Abortion clinic outreach at Franciscan looked a bit different than my previous experience. A large group of students would get up for 6:00 am Mass on a Saturday morning and carpool about 45 minutes into Pittsburgh, where we would park in an area that had two abortion clinics situated kitty-corner from each other.
Students would arrange themselves into “prayer circles” at various points on the sidewalk and get down to business, equipped with rosaries and prayer books full of various litanies and other long prayers to fill the time.
Then the student sidewalk counselors would stand in strategic places with pamphlets while outwardly attempting to seem un-nervous, approachable, loving, and casual. Meanwhile, clinic volunteer “escorts” would assail them with varying levels of aggression to “protect” the abortion clinic clients from us.
The whole thing was kind of brutal, in a way, but felt so necessary.
The War for the Souls of the Unborn–Together
I trained to become a sidewalk counselor early on during my first semester there. It was a humbling experience, because I am not talkative or outgoing and am really kind of socially awkward, if I’m being honest. And yet, I would stand there with my classmates who probably felt equally ill-equipped, and we would try to reach out to these women.
Some of the closest relationships I made at college came from my experience doing abortion clinic outreach with these other students. Because, by the time the Saturday morning’s work was done, you felt like you had faced an army together. And in a way, you had–Satan’s invisible army.
Luke didn’t attend Franciscan with me, but he came to visit quite a few times. Each time he did, we went together to the abortion clinic outreach on Saturday morning. And even after being in a serious relationship together for a couple years by that point, we somehow still felt more closely bonded after undergoing those difficult mornings together.
Abortion clinic outreach ministries can vary in the way they’re run, and in circumstances according to where the clinic is located. Sometimes, the location makes it impossible to have any access to clients, and sometimes the area it’s in can automatically make you more of a target for people who hate what you’re doing. But no matter what, it will be a difficult experience, a work you probably don’t want to do.
So take your significant other with you, share the burden with one another, and expect to see the fruit of growing closer than ever with them as you embark on the difficult but necessary endeavor of trying to save lives and change hearts.