Watch and Pray (Mt 26:41)

Anne Lastman

A whole day passed this past week when the above words kept repeating and repeating just like when one of those songs keep playing unceasingly (I believe it’s called a worm).  Eventually I gave the words attention and wondered what they were saying to me and what has been current in my and our milieu very recently. 

I began with the thought that it was Jesus who uttered those words at a time of great agony. I thought more on the words “watch and pray” and linked these words to the pro-life news which has exploded with the news that Roe v Wade may be overturned after nearly 50 years.

I began thinking about all the different charisms which have worked to hold back the march towards more and more liberal abortions and baby killing fields.  I thought about our previous ability to be able to stand outside abortion facilities (I don’t call them clinics, clinics heal abortion facilities kill) and pray and offer help, when wanted, so that the baby would not be killed.

The charism of standing and praying outside the abortion facility was begun by Monsignor Philip Reilly in 1987, and now global, and was set up help to mothers intending to abort both and be there for them if they went through with the.  Usually post abortion help was needed and continued to be available for the at time a dejected woman came out of the abortion facility.  Dejected, tears, eyes down, sadness and words of one of these young women “I went in with a baby and came out empty” and walked away with one single tear rolling down on her cheek.

As I thought about this charism, I thought that there must be much more to this than simply standing outside and praying and hoping that at least one would be saved and I am sure that Mons. Reilly must have also thought about it and inspired to “watch and pray”.  Every working day when and where babies were to be killed, we are to be there and “watch and pray. “I am reminded of Jesus’ action especially when something important was about to occur or had occurred then he would go away on his own and watch and pray and be with his Father.  He thought of the sufferings of the creatures and he would go off and “watch and pray”.

During these days of pondering over the thought of “Watch and Pray” it occurred to me that the motto of not only the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants but anyone standing, watching, waiting, suffering with and praying during an end-of-life moment is also standing and watching and praying.  And those outside abortion facilities definitely are called to “watch and pray”.

The next thought which occurred to me and the importance of watching and praying not only for the aborting parents, other family, abortionists, nurses, and anyone involved with providing abortions, but perhaps here is the greatest reason for watching and praying outside abortion facilities and wait whilst the babies/children are killed is, for them (children) to know that they are not alone.  That there are others who will stand with them. Hold their fragile hand (spiritually) as they leave.  There are others who pray for their souls and the souls of their parents and others who are causing their death.

We remember that we have a human custom that where it’s possible no one is left to die alone and not accompanied with prayers and love as they transition from earth back to eternity.  To “watch and pray” is just that.  We stand and watch and not fall asleep and thus abandon the dying ones in their anguish.

Abortion, like Calvary, is a word for death.  Even at Calvary there were those who watched and prayed and those who caused the death.  He, Our Lord, did not die alone. The few who remained “watched and prayed”

The tragedy of the new laws which forbid prayers outside abortion facilities is that those who “watched and prayed” have been distanced from the room of death so that the victim seems to die alone and not accompanied by anyone, so that the child is perceived to have died alone because we have not been able to save the child and the last indignity inflicted upon him/her is to die alone. life being so precious it should not be permitted to pass by unnoticed. And this seems to do just that.

Have we in pro-life work concentrated so much on woman and her after effects, grief, suffering regret, and have not given due honour and service to the one being killed?  We have concentrated on the visible one and prayed and worked for the visible one including those doing the work of death and not given due thought to the real victim, the infant whose life with all its gifts and talents but invisible has not been given due respect and honour?

The question we need to ask is “did we sabotage ourselves by insisting we were there to help the woman keep her child and so anti-lifers, pro choicers with media and government assistance, came out in force and pushed for laws placing barriers to be put around the abortion facility so that those who would “watch and pray” and hold the baby’s hand in their hearts could no longer do so without huge penalties.  To remove all possibility of not only speaking to women and offering help but importantly to “watch and pray” and grieve for the loss of a brother or sister being returned back to the Father, a gift rejected.

Is it somehow possible to bring back the freedom to be able to “watch and pray” under this cross? Even when the outcome cannot be changed? that friends “watch and pray” so he did not have to endure alone. Is it possible that we can do the same and even name the infants who have not come out of the abortion facility but were left behind in a waste basket like some trash?  Giving a name implies dignity, identity, honour.  A Saints name perhaps, a beautiful name, and not return them nameless.  Adam was asked to name the creation and our dying infants are our creation sent back without name and dignity.

How can we find our way back to be close and “watch and pray”. Or is the reason for not being allowed is because it would them imply that the one killed is not just some genetic material or medical waste but indeed a full human being with all the intelligence, capabilities to self-build and respond to the inbuilt instructions to perform the tasks allotted to him/her in his or her lifetime? To make an imprint of their presence on this earth and leave the mark which shows that they have been here and their presence has mattered by the changing of the universe to incorporate their presence.

“Watch and Pray so that you may not fall into sin” (Mt 26:41) says the Lord. As we watch and pray our thoughts turn to our Creator and lover of creation. This we believe as we watch and pray because that human dying is very important to us. That dying human was also a member of the race of people which our Redeemer came to make his own.