For those of you unfamiliar with the “40 days for Life” concept, this is an INTERNATIONAL movement aimed at ending the practice of abortion. A 40 Days for Life campaign consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting combined with a constant, round-the-clock vigil at an abortion facility and proactive community outreach. The praying and fasting may be done outside abortion facilities or elsewhere where people of faith feel more comfortable to assemble. In either case, the aim is the same: to end this deadly and destructive practice.
First begun in 2004 in College Station, Texas, this forty day vigil has spread like wildfire both across the United States and across the world. For example, this past spring, 2011, there were 247 vigil locations occurring simultaneously in ten countries, with ten vigils in Canada.
These vigils are definitely having an immediate impact. Women in large numbers are deciding not to carry through with an abortion and are deciding to spare the lives of their unborn children. For example, during this past spring, 2011 vigil there were at least 483 reports of babies saved from abortions whereas at the end of fall, 2011, vigil, 541. These represent mothers who would have aborted their children if they had not seen one or more persons praying outside the abortion facility that she was about to enter.
The benefits of the vigil do not end there. For one, many abortion facilities have closed their doors permanently due to the praying that is going outside their doors.
Still another benefit of this continuous 40 days praying is the effect it is having on the hearts of many involved. Over the years, more than a few employees – nurses and staff have decided to resign their positions at these abortion facilities. Not only that but in the Fall 2009, pro-lifers witnessed something incredible; the manager of an abortion facility crossed the life line. Abby Johnston, the manager of the College Station Planned Parenthood, walked out of her office and centre joining pro-lifers in front of her facility after assisting the abortionist in a ultrasound-aided abortion. She relates her experience of having seen the foetus move away from the abortionist instruments during the procedure in a book entitled “UnPlanned.”
Here in Montreal, this will be the sixth edition of our 40-day, 12-hour per day prayer vigil. Quebec Life Coalition president Georges Buscemi began the first vigil in the spring of 2009. He and his stalwart crew braved the cold elements and the apathy within our community to deliver the all-important message to our fellow community members – Abortion kills a Human Being.
This past spring the apathy took a surprising swing. For the better part of the vigil, those praying outside of the Morgentaler facility on St. Joseph Blvd. were shadowed by counter-protesters. These people, varying in number between three and twenty and mostly twenty- somethings and present several hours each day, would promote the prochoice message alongside our own signs and banners.
Yet, our Lord is good in all things. I consider it a blessing to have had these young people there for it is an opportunity for us to witness to them the love of God and to carry the evangelical message of hope and love to them as well as to the motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. As the apostle Paul puts it, the sufferings of this age is nary to be compared to the glory to come. So if we can be witnesses of love and peace to these young folk, not to mention the more audacious and boisterous and belligerent passer-by, it will be counted to our credit and to the credit of the One who is our all.
Lastly, I have been informed that there will be a second vigil occurring in La Belle Province: Quebec City will be undertaking its first vigil. Details remain to be worked out in terms of the site and hours. Stay in tune to our website (www.cqv.qc.ca/en/40days) for details.