Support through the battles
When starting the Crossroads journey, as with any other pilgrimage, there were warnings about the physically, emotional, and spiritual battles that one might face. In our speeches at weekend Masses, we ask people to pray for our strength in all these areas, because we know that, inevitably, in one or all these areas, we will be attacked. As I approach the last few hours of this journey and reflect on the last few days, I am incredibly thankful for the grace and strength received because of all your prayers and intercessions for us.
My journey with Crossroads started only on Jan. 2 and I came in with no expectations. My decision was partially out of my devotion to the pro-life issues and partly as a distraction from the troubles of life. I shrugged off the warnings of these battles, thinking that my time on pilgrimage was too short and I was too experienced in pro-life activities to be affected by any badgering or negativity.
Physically, the last few days were long and very hot. Temperatures up to 40C, fire warnings, and walking 20-30km a day would start to exhaust any normal person. Arrogantly, I waved it off: “I love hot weather”, “I’m great with endurance”, “I just started, and so a few days won’t affect me”. Spiritually, we were immersed in prayer: joining in multiple rosaries, divine mercy chaplets, liturgy of the hours, and other devotions, as well as inner, private prayer. We are also constantly engaging each other in quite deep conversations about moral philosophy, theology, spirituality, social issues, etc. Again, arrogantly, I had a persona of holiness and devotion. Emotionally, I was the most peaceful and relaxed that I’ve been in over a year. I felt like I slipped right in with a group of complete strangers and was accepted into a close-knit group of friends without awkwardness or much effort at all.
I felt the mission was going well. We were walking, praying, and being peaceful witnesses. We were getting along and dealing with stressful situations quite well, with the help of the leadership and insight of Allison, who always tried to deal with issues before they actually became issues. The negativity and abuse we received was minor compared to what it could have been and what I’ve experienced in the USA.
Then I got hit and hit hard. In rapid succession, I was inundated with overwhelming emotional and spiritual trials. The surprising part was they actually had nothing to do with the Crossroads walk or the pro-life mission. When those trials happened though and my sense of peace and stability was disturbed, the other little things started affecting me more. All of a sudden, I found myself struggling to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary, I felt more physically drained, being ignored by someone as I handed them a brochure left me embarrassed, I felt more vulnerable in my bright green shirt and through my public witness, and overall, I just wanted to crawl into a hole. This is how the devil works though. He knows our weakest point and will use it to cripple us entirely.
In the midst of this though, God’s grace came through. A few of the girls sacrificed their own sleep and stayed up with me till 1am one night to lend me an ear and a shoulder to cry on. Hugs and supportive words were in plentitude. Telling riddles and singing lightened moods. I noticed we were all concerned for the well being of each other. If someone seemed to be distancing themselves or a bit down, there was usually a fellow walker there to ask how they were doing and how they could help. Despite all of us having our own trials, we all watched out for each other.
To me, this is part and parcel of the Gospel of Life and the pro-life attitude: The prayers that we said for each other, for all those people that wrote intentions on cards at weekend Masses, for the babies and the mothers, for those we encountered on the streets, as well as all the prayers that were being said for us by parishioners that heard us speak or the people that saw us walk through and were in solidarity to our efforts. We are all trying to live the pro-life message to its fullest extent. We all individually are inundated with the battles of life. Relaxing times and an easy life are rare. Being pro-life is so importantly about ending abortion, but we as soldiers in this battle must keep finding our strength in ourselves, in each other, and most importantly, in God, whom without we have no hope of success. We trust in His strength to overcome these battles and participate by not only receiving, but acting as a conduit of that grace and strength to the rest of the world.
By Catherine Seiwert