I was a parish priest in Staten Island, New York. On most Saturdays, I joined the local pro-life activists to picket a local abortionist’s office. One of the most faithful of these activists was Bob Landvogt, and I’ll always remember the day he pulled me aside there on the sidewalk and passionately declared, “Fr. Frank, our media is the street!”
Those words stayed with me and have found their way into many a talk and homily, in which I have encouraged pro-life people to take the message to the streets, making full use of the rights that the First Amendment gives to us in America.
And it’s more than the First Amendment freedom of speech. In the case of the abortion crisis, it’s a matter of intervening to save lives. When we bring abortion to the attention of the public on the streets and sidewalks in front of abortion mills or anywhere else, people considering abortion do change their minds.
That’s why I have prayed at abortion mills in every one of the 50 states. That’s also why I am rallying people to take part in the “40 Days for Life” campaign that will take place this Lent from February 6 to March 16, and again in the Fall.
The “40 Days” effort is a prayerful presence at abortion facilities – in some places, around the clock. The campaign is based on the fact that abortion is a local phenomenon, and needs to be ended community by community. This can happen even before laws change. Presence at the mills slows business down. We know from infiltration of the abortion industry that the biggest fear within that industry is not that abortion will become illegal, but that while fully legal, there will be no clinics or doctors to provide it. And constant presence at those places hastens their closing.
I look forward to visiting the cities that will conduct this effort, leading them in prayer, and writing many of the daily prayer devotionals that will be used by 40 Days participants. Now’s the time to come out, in greater numbers than ever, to fulfill the words that John Paul II preached in Denver at the 1993 World Youth Day:
"Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places like the first apostles, who preached Christ and the good news of salvation in the squares of cities, towns and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel (cf.Rom.1:16). It is the time to preach it from the rooftops (cf.Mt.10:27). Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern "metropolis." …The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father (cf.Mt.5:15-16)."