In the early hours of a cloudy Saturday morning, the pews of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Soho began to fill. Kneelers creaked as the weight of the faithful and their prayers was laid at the foot of the huge crucifix suspended high above the altar. These prayers were specific. This day marked the conclusion of 40 days of prayer and fasting, guided by 40 Days for Life and the Frassati Fellowship of New York, for all of those impacted by the effects of the infamous Supreme Court ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade.
As Fr. John Paul, C.F.R, began the celebration of the Mass, the din of gathering protesters beyond the courtyard gates and their chants could be heard through the heavy wooden doors, creating a dissonant symphony of prayers and protests that echoed throughout the sacred space.
When Mass concluded the Blessed Sacrament was presented for Adoration and the words “In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit …” were uttered in peaceful solidarity to begin the Rosary procession. The gathered, united in prayer, spilled out onto the wet streets of Manhattan to face their accusers.
As the prayerful and the protesters faced each other, the stark contrast in attitude of prayerful peace and rage collided for all the world to witness.
New York’s Finest aptly maintained the modicum of civility and gently escorted those in prayer to the corner of Mott and Bleeker, known as Margaret Sanger Square, so they could beg God’s grace and mercy through the intercession of the Blessed Mother through all the decades of the Rosary.
With the concluding prayers, a building crescendo of joy rose as the faithful began their journey back to the church for Benediction. Walking amidst the taunting screams of “Shame, shame, shame!” and other less dignified slogans, those in prayer revealed the true victor of the day in their shining eyes. The weary protesters left in the wake of grace, hopefully to welcome this joy into their own lives at some point …
As is evidenced by those who have experienced a radical change of heart — Bernard Nathanson, Abby Johnson, Ramona Trevino and countless others, including the woman who silently continues past the clinic deciding to welcome the life that lives within her — one thing is clear: The foundation of all change is prayer.