There is only one abortion clinic in North Dakota, and it sees patients on Wednesdays. And so the Catholic diocese of Fargo is opening a small adoration chapel ... right next door.
The chapel will offer Mass at 8 a.m. Wednesdays, followed by Eucharistic adoration and recited prayers until 3:45 p.m. It will be locked the rest of the week.
I am absolutely delighted by this approach: It sidesteps every possible legal struggle and every bogus claim of harassment, and sets aside all the infighting over strategy (Should we show graphic pictures? Should we give baby showers to teenage mothers? Are we allowed to deceive? How pro-life does a candidate have to be before we can vote for him?) and just goes straight to the source, the God of mercies.
“We believe prayer is so powerful and what we’re engaged in is a spiritual battle,” said Rachelle Sauvageau, director of the diocese’s Respect Life Office. “It’s a place where we need an intense and focused prayer and that’s why we feel the need to be right there.”
The Visitation Chapel fills the third floor of the Gibb Building, with its windows looking out on the clinic. Its name reflects the passage of biblical Scripture when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth while both are with child.
Isn’t the name perfect? Mary brought the Savior of the world straight to the child in the womb, and tiny John the Baptist leaped for joy. Never underestimate what can happen when God is made physically present. Think of St. Clare, founder of the Poor Clares. In 1244, the Saracens were bearing down on Assisi.
St. Damien’s church, standing outside the city walls, was one of the first objectives. While the marauders were scaling the convent walls, Clare, ill as she was, had herself carried out to the gate and there the Sacrament was set up in sight of the enemy. Prostrating herself before it, she prayed aloud: “Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy love? I beseech Thee, good Lord, protect these whom now I am not able to protect.”
Whereupon she heard a voice like the voice of a little child saying, “I will have them always in My care.” She prayed again, for the city, and again the voice came, reassuring her. She then turned to the trembling nuns and said, “Have no fear, little daughters; trust in Jesus.” At this, a sudden terror seized their assailants and they fled.
Take that, Saracens! I wonder how often the Church could manage something like this: holding up the monstrance for the sake of its own defenseless children. Heck, Planned Parenthood is strategic about where it sets up shop: In our town, it’s across from the public library where teenagers hang out; in my hometown, it’s next to the pizza parlor. Maybe local Catholic business owners could donate rent for office space next to abortion clinics, and simple, focused chapels could be set up all over the country.
God bless the diocese of Fargo for this wonderful idea, and I hope it catches on!
NOTE: Thanks to my alert readers, I have made TWO corrections: Fargo is, of course, in North Dakota, not South Dakota; and St. Clare was St. Francis’ protege, not his sister! Sorry about that.