A new first Saturday, in a new month, in a new year. Just this last January, I joined a prayer group that meets the first Saturday of each month at probably the most outwardly angry abortion business in the country in Reno, Nevada. I haven’t been to other places like this, but the pictures I have seen on the 40 Days For Life website or Google Images don’t match the anger expressed at this one. The usual view is a benign building with a benign sign in front saying; Planned Parenthood, Something Clinic, or some such title. There are high walls, and maybe screening material of some sort to maintain privacy, buildings that are enclosed within walls, and with windows darkened.
Confrontations have happened over the years at many abortion sites, but today as usual at this unique one, the mood is happy and full of friendly greetings and chatter as we assemble.
The abortion site’s loud speakers are blaring music before the recording of profanity starts. It is great to get you warmed up with a pretend dance, it is January and kinda cold. I insert my earplugs purchased because of previous experience here. Insertion is a ritual I have devised. Hold one bright orange foam plug between the thumb and index finger of the right hand, raise it high into the air facing the security cameras, then lower it slowly towards the right ear. Insert with a smile. Repeat with the left earplug.
A REALLY, REALLY, UNINVITING PLACE
As you can see in the photo above I took at this April’s rosary, and one taken earlier at the left, large offensive signs, a prominent fence parallel to the sidewalk and as close as the law allows. A a large cactus garden stretches the length of the backside of the fence. I wonder to myself if this could have been imagined by the landscape designer as a pretty replacement for razor wire.
The building itself has a few narrow slits for windows. There are also lawn sprinklers that reach halfway into the public street when they are turned on (do cactus really need that much water?), and speakers blaring profanity about religion and peoples private body parts. All of this appears to have an operator behind the scenes. The sprinklers don’t operate continuously. If you feel a bit playful you can pretend you have magical powers and turn them on and off by walking toward the sidewalk and then retreating. Speed up the dare a bit and it is easy to imagine a little person behind a curtain working levers like in The Wizard of Oz. Instead of plumes of fire, he sends forth a spray of liquid. Instead of a booming voice meant to intimidate, he spews a tirade of four-letter-words outward that can be heard by anyone within a city block.
A cold war zone? A sign says that the fence is the property of the abortion business and trespassing may result in arrest. I am told that even touching it is considered trespassing. Still, our mood is expectant before we begin to pray that we will be doing something important.
IS IT ABOUT ME?
This group has been saying the rosary here for over 20 years. The ever faithful Knights of Columbus started it and the rosary was made by the late Patrick Cunning, Past Grand Knight of Nevada Council 978. Not exactly the same people every first Saturday of course, but whoever shows up can say, deservedly so, that they are part of this group. Even being new to this group I do see familiar faces each time I go. Individuality is not important in the pro-life movement is it? As Catholic pro-lifers we serve God in this cause, and we serve others (the unborn and the mother and father), but lastly, ourselves by serving Him. This abortion business exists to serve the great “ME” – business income and a misguided population.
When mothers finally recognize that they have been encouraged by our selfish secular society to think only of themselves or their sex partner, they then join in serving God. These people, and other groups and individuals, come to this sidewalk prepared to offer the help they need in the form of residential housing programs, clothes, transitional housing, free services such as ultrasounds, pregnancy testing, and parenting programs. All of this from a dedicated community of people, Protestant or Catholic working together. Today I am with a Catholic group.
I am a newcomer to this effort, and am humbled by those who have come before, and those who have risked much. I can remember Prolife “Andy” Anderson from the 1970s and later. He ran for a public office once, and lost that I remember. He is gone now, but I recall seeing him occasionally at his pro-life work or just driving on the highway – probably in the same vehicle that was burned by pro-abortion activists. There are others here now, and are here at other times who give of themselves and do not ask for any recognition.
HAIL MARY, full of grace,
Said as loud as we each feel necessary to say the rosary in community.
Said as loud as we each feel the need to speak in order to drown out the very high decibel four letter words.
Said as loud as each feel is appropriate in order to reach the ears of our intercessor.
This rosary is unique. A large group needs a large rosary. Each bead in this 100 ft plus long rosary fills your whole hand and is held by each member then raised up in turn to count the prayers. Natural colored ones for the “Hail Mary”, white ones for the end of a decade and to announce the next mystery. Maybe we are the Munchkins in this land of Oz.
The Lord is with thee.
As I look at the fence, I think back to a particular sunny Sunday morning during a 40 Days For Life campaign. No one was around. Also, apparently no one to operate the apparatus behind the curtain to try and scare away the unwanted from public property. Only the sound of an occasional airplane taking off from the nearby airport, a few cars passing on the highway, two squirrels chasing each other in the forbidden driveway. I was silently saying the rosary near the fence, hoping not to absent mindedly need something to lean on, when a car with some tinted windows drove up and parked at the curb right in front of the forbidden fence.
A young woman got out of the passenger side. I could not see the driver. She walked slowly along the forbidden fence staring at the ground as if looking for something.
As she got closer I said to her, “Look out for the sprinklers.”
She said, “What?”
I answered, “I am not sure that he is not just waiting to get someone wet.”
Then I noticed that she carried two long stemmed roses as she asked, “Can I put these here?”
My eyes teared as I said to her, “Of course you can!”
She walked back towards the car, and apparently found the perfect spot. She bent down and placed the roses near the base of the forbidden fence, looked at them for a second, then returned to the car. The engine started, and they drove away.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
As I look around at this community in prayer concerned about the souls of the mothers, fathers, abortionists, other abortion workers, and of course, the little ones who will never be able to join us in person, but may very well be praying for the souls of those who have taken their lives from them, I am humbled again.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
During this rosary a man and a woman walked toward us from the building. He and his assistant started moving signs with the familiar pro-abortion message, from a trailer parked near us, to behind us facing the oncoming traffic, then started taking pictures. Afterwards when I was interviewing two ladies, he moved a large sign next to us, and tried to take a picture, but we moved away. I’ll let you, the reader, speculate as to the intended purpose of all this activity.
Santina Casey has been for the last four years coming here every day that the abortion business is open. She comes after Mass to join three others who stay from about 7:30am to 10:00am praying. She told me the profanity has gotten worse, and wonders why the law does not intervene, because it is a public place. I wonder also; there are passing cars on a four lane road heading towards the airport, people walking on the sidewalk, joggers, and us. This place is only a few blocks from the largest enclosed mall in Northern Nevada. I can’t imagine that the city would allow this kind of profanity by loudspeaker near City Hall. Politicians are usually worried about the image of a place, especially when the tourist economy is so important. What happens in Vegas may stay there, but, what happens in Reno will get around.
She prays for the conversion of his [the abortionist's] soul. I asked her how she deals with the vulgar profanity. She said, “They are trying to dissuade us from coming. But it doesn’t happen because the power of God is strong.” Then ignoring an attempt to interrupt her with “[unintelligible] god hasn’t been able to help you in 5 years.”, she said, “You know, after a while it goes kinda in one ear and passes through the other you don’t even hear it.”
Yes, Mister Sign-Mover, who do you think inspires her at daily Mass? Who do you think it is that has shown all those here the value of human life? Who is it that keeps these people coming here when all they have is the power to persuade? Who do you think it is that the people who destroy human life for money will eventually meet face to face? Does your Wizard behind his curtain working his controls have the power, and enough interest in others to save them, or himself, from the consequences that arise at life’s ultimate conclusion?
A good resource for pregnancy help that searches using your zip code is this link here.
Some other good ones:
The Gabriel Project
“Protecting the unborn… supporting the expectant mother…”
“Hope After Abortion”
“Healing the pain of abortion-one weekend at a time”
© 2013. Howard Duncan. All Rights Reserved.