Why pray the rosary outside abortuaries?...‘You’d be a lot more effective if you dropped using the pictures of the Virgin Mary and didn’t, you know,...move those beads around in your hand’
the lady said and gave me a sympathetic look.
I was standing outside a central London abortuary with a large poster of Our Lady of Guadalupe at my side, and white rosary beads in my hands. It was an unusually quiet day at the clinic, and no one had gone in during the past 45 minutes.
I gave her a friendly smile in return, and said, ‘thank you for your thought on the matter’.
I said ‘thank you’ because I could see that this blond lady had made this comment with good intentions.
‘Well, we’re Catholics, we believe that we’re invoking the Virgin Mary’s help.’
She sighed silently and said, ‘But how?...why do you need to get the Virgin’s help?...’
‘We have two choices when we are here, either we pray, which for us as Catholics includes seeking the Virgin Mary’s intercession, or we do not pray.' I said, and she raised her eyebrow but listened carefully.
I continued, ‘We’ve chosen to pray for the pregnant women, because we believe that even if we make no contact with them, that winning support from Heaven for them is important. Also, a lot of the pregnant ladies ask for a rosary to put in their purse or wear around their necks. When we do get to speak to them, some of them are Catholics and recognise the prayers, others know that by praying for them we mean well, and then others are delighted to have someone to offer them practical help.’
I showed her our leaflets and explained how we can help women.
‘Here’s a leaflet for you.’ I said, and she exclaimed ‘No, no, I’m not pregnant! I’m pushing sixty, I’m past my time for all that.’
‘Oh yes, but if you know of anyone who is pregnant and going through a bad patch, you might like to give it to them.’
‘Oh yeah, I suppose that’s an idea. It’s just that a lot of my friends have come to places just like this for terminations, and they’ve spent the rest of their lives mulling over what might have been had they kept it.’ She sighed heavily.
‘I just wonder if they would have stopped to talk to you had they seen the picture of the Virgin Mary.’
‘Well our praying here is a sign that we care. We may not know what’s going on in their lives until we speak with them, but praying here is a way of caring for everyone involved, primarily the pregnant lady, because the Virgin Mary herself was perplexed on finding out that she was pregnant. And we back up our prayers with action, we give appropriate help.’
I had to be very gentle at this next point, and delicately explained how we help girls who are going through the same predicaments as her friends were going through in the 70's and 80's.
‘Yeah, I grant you that’s impressive...you do the good works bit as well. And the praying - you’re doing what you believe in – I respect that - really I do.’
‘When I leave here, I’ll light a candle for you and say some for you.’ I replied.
To my surprise, she gave a bright smile to this, and said ‘thank you, I’m not religious, but that’s awfully kind of you.’
Monsignor Reilly always encourages pro-lifers outside the clinics to use ‘the intercessory power of the Mother of God’, that we cannot fight this battle alone, but need dynamic spiritual weaponry.