Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you (John 16:20-23).
It was a mild spring day in front of the Planned “Parenthood” facility here in Washington, D.C. Twenty of us were gathered to pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet. The weather was fine, but as always the mood was heavy, knowing of the toll of life exacted at this facility and the outright confusion of those who think themselves righteous for advocating the death of innocent human beings.
Two sidewalk counselors were courageously at work, seeking a last-minute change of heart from the downcast women (often accompanied by boyfriends or parents) who entered. We supported the sidewalk counselors with our prayers.
Five escorts in orange vests tried to shield the entering clients from us who would shine the light of truth on what was really happening inside.
Keep praying, I thought, for indeed, some among our group were converts to the pro-life cause thanks to the prayers of others.
A low moment came when a few joyful “clinic” escorts shared the news among themselves that a certain woman emerging from the center had “successfully aborted.” Smiles among the escorts, a high five between two of them, and a gloating look over at us from another one brought Jesus’ words painfully alive:
You will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices.
Yes, the hardest part of being on the front lines of the pro-life movement is hearing an abortion called a success and seeing some even joyfully announcing victory.
I gathered close to my fellow prayer warriors and encouraged them between the decades by quoting these words of Jesus’: You will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices. Yet we should also remember that He went on to say, you will grieve, but your grief will become joy … [You] are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
It was not enough that we should grieve; we should also offer our sorrow for the ones who were now rejoicing. We must offer our grief for their conversion. For Jesus says,
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep (Luke 6:25).
Indeed, if they are not converted now, they will answer one day to God. Pray for conversion prior to judgement! It gave me the strength to go to each escort, look him or her in the eye, and say, “Think about it now. You know deep in your heart that this is wrong, that this is murder.” It was interesting to me that not a single one of them said anything in reply.
In the distance, I saw one of our sidewalk counselors urgently waving for me to come over. She had not been able to dissuade a certain young woman from entering, but her boyfriend had listened, taken it to heart, and was now asking for confession! He had tried to bring his girlfriend out to join him, but she refused. Now sorrowful and contrite, moved by the words of the sidewalk counselor and the signs our group held, he sought mercy. The counselor said to me, “He’s ready for you Father; he’s ready for mercy.”
Thank you, Jesus. We could not save everyone that day, but at least we saved one. Sorrow was turned to joy. I pray only, Lord, that our joy may one day be complete.
“Keep praying, witnessing, and working.” was all I heard.