Yesterday afternoon, at the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil, four vigilers were swarmed by a throng of disgruntled university students. After this experience I better appreciate the meaning of spiritual warfare.
Here's what happened:
At about 4:45 p.m., shortly after having returned from a break, I heard some ominous sounds getting louder and louder. It didn't sound good.
My fears were realized, as at least 60 to 70 youth appeared walking up St-Laurent Boulevard and on reaching the intersection with St-Joseph crossed over into the park and besieged our prayer site. We were four vigilers at the time - three men and one older woman, and wherever we turned there they were - in front, behind, to our right, to our left.
The crowd was raucous. Led with blowhorn, chants were sung. Many motorists encouraged them on and the mob reacted jubilantly whenever a car horn was blown.
After a while many of the youth began to crowd our banner, leaning on its sturdy yet not unbreakable PVC support frame. My supplication to be cautious seemed to spur many on to do the opposite; these began to uproot the frame and untie the banner. I suspect that had I not stood on the unfurled banner its fate would have been worse than footprints and a twelve inch gash.
The outcome of our other materials was not as kind. Several struts of the frame were stolen. Our enlarged fetal picture despite being broken in two was saved from any further damage by one of the vigil participants.
Unfortunaley the other end piece did not fare as well. Below are before and after pictures of the other end piece - the one advertising our toll-free help line.
Where were the police in all of this, you may wonder. No fewer than ten police cruisers stood by watching from the sidelines. Sgt. Filion explained later that he did not order an intervention because he did not have the numbers to do so. And so, for over an hour the vigilers prayed and tried to dissuade the youth as much as they could.
For the better part of the hour, we prayed on our own. Then Philip, one of the vigil participants, suggested that he and I pray Saint Patrick's Breastplate Prayer. As we began to do so and throughout its recitation, a young woman protester began howling, trying to break our concentration. To no avail.
Upon finishing, this woman disappeared and what can accurately be described as intelligent conversation began between myself, Philip and five or six of the young folk.
At 6 p.m. the crowd began to disperse and a few of our reinforcements appeared. At this point we decided to resume our vigil and, minus the frame, held aloft our banner.
Police levied fines on three of the young people.
Some pics of the event: