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 Seiwertread more
Last night Katharine and I stayed with an absolutely lovely couple called Elizabeth and John Reeves in Kiama, who fed us steak and cantalope and ice-cream, and kept telling me to put my feet up because I’d walked so far… the highlight of this stay was, of course, the glee with which I would boast to the other walkers in the morning, although unfortunately they all got amazing families too, which marred my joy somewhat.
Today was Chris’s birthday- Chris from the Gold Coast, that is, and he turned 22, like James and myself. After morning Mass, the lovely parishioners had a cup of tea with us in the parish Hall, and we thrust a flaming chocolate cake upon Chris, which I’m sure he never saw coming, despite a large group of us mysteriously disappearing into the kitchen and shouting frantically at each other in hushed tones.
Once we hit the road we walked a stint of about 4km before bussing it to Goulburn, where we walked another stretch. It was a rather long drive, and James and Victor, our resident orators, had a verbal wrestling match as they discovered that they love to debate anything and everything.
Once in Goulburn, Victor and I didn’t walk, as we had to drive the RV ahead to our destination for the night, which was a pretty little town called Tarago (yes, I can hardly believe it either, but they are STILL asking me to drive that beast). My highlight of the day was when we made a wrong turn, and in order to correct this, found ourselves on a windy little laneway, on which we were confronted with a low hanging bridge. Victor had to get out of the RV and talk me through driving underneath, inch by inch, whilst I awaited the sickening crunch of the roof peeling off above me at every moment. At one stage a car had to pass us- they were freaking out, I was freaking out, Victor was as cool as a cucumber. God bless him.
Once we were back on the open road, rolling along behind some ludicrous commuter who was doing 85 on a 110 highway, with no less than six vehicles behind, all held captive to this person’s desired speed limit, and no doubt blaming the lumbering RV which is huge enough to hide the real culprit from their vision, our day got even better. The power on Victor’s phone/GPS died, and all of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of the barren countryside with no way of contacting a soul (my phone having maliciously died a day earlier, as if in cahoots with its charger, which hid from me while I was packing). Victor was once again the level- headed one of the two of us, assuring me that we would not perish. I had to agree that it was pretty unlikely that God’s plan for us was to perish on the side of the road somewhere between Goulburn and Tarago, and decided that if Tarago didn’t make itself known, we would just keep on driving until we got to Melbourne and then we could stay at my place for the night. Victor proved right yet again, however, and the town of Tarago rose up to meet us. Now when I say town, perhaps I should clarify: it is approximately one street intersecting with the highway, with a pub on the corner, a footy oval opposite, scattered houses and a hall in which we stayed.
It is a beautiful part of the world, with one of the most lovely sunsets I have ever seen, a rosy dawn, a clear view of the stars, and rolling, rugged hills. During the day, however, it is stinking hot. Shortly after our arrival James and I took the bus to pick up John from Goulburn train station, who was rejoining us after a few days away. Upon our return, Allison informed us that we had less than half an hour before the pub closed, the significance of this being that the pub contained the only shower available to us within a thousand kilometres, which we had rented for four bucks a shower, and three guys plus myself desperately needed to use it. (Actually, perhaps the desperation was localised within myself- I can’t speak for the guys, but I know that I was sporting my own odourous atmosphere at that point and that native animals were being drawn by my scent). As I walked to the pub with James I decided to put “Have a shower at a pub” on my bucket list, as it was very soon to be fulfilled.
Dinner that night was sensational, with a very generous man named Paul Foley having supplied us with it all: Roast chicken, salads, spuds, bread, plenty of drinks, cakes for dessert and egg and bacon for breakfast. The hall provided oodles of amusement with a table tennis table, some kind of indoor lawn bowls, fussball and even air-hockey. I realised that I had reverted to my ten year old self somewhere between stealing cake from somebody else’s plate, shirking the dishes and running to have a swig of fanta before getting back to my game of fussball with Ellen. There was a stage upon which James and Victor settled their disagreements with a very loud and somewhat theatrical debate.
Chris was a pleasure to be around on his birthday, always making peace and putting others before himself, and even tolerating the excessive amount of times he was sung Happy Birthday, usually out of key.
A group of us said the rosary under the stars, which may have even actually topped my bridge adventure with Victor. The bathrooms were outdoors, and I think a couple of the guys slept outdoors as well. We all crashed in our sleeping bags on the floor at about midnight, and despite the luminous exit sign, a couple of vicious mozzies and some snoring which I will not admit to, I, unlike a couple of the others, slept like a lamb.
Angela Schumannread more
Yesterday we visited our nation’s Capital and walked past many of its famous sites. What had the most meaning for me was our visit to the Australian United states war memorial.
The memorial remembers the Australian and American soldiers who have died fighting side by side in wars against tyranny, terror and injustice. In Australia’s hour of need, after it was abandoned by the mother country, America was there. The United states were prepared to sacrifice the blood of their own sons to defend Australian shores. Australians will never forget what America did for us and I can assure you that to this day America has no greater friend or Ally.
Fortunately the advent of crossroads Australia shows that the alliance between the Aussie and American Pro Life communities is equally as strong. There was no reason that crossroads HAD to come out to Australia. They could have spent their time and resources on their own country but the point is they didn’t. Like the Marines before them they have come out to save Australian lives. recognising that abortion is a global evil not confined to one nations borders.
Just like Australia will always be a fiend to America, so will Pro life Australians also be friends with our Pro life counterparts in the United states. We will always stand ready to assist in any way possible to fight abortion no matter what the earthly jurisdiction.
God Bless America
God Bless Australia
And many both nations eventually truly be lands of the free for all human beings no matter how old they are.
Lest we Forgetread more
Over the weekend leading up to New Year’s Day, some extremely generous parishioners of St Peter’s, Surry Hills in Sydney hosted us. I had the honour of speaking at Masses at St Mary’s Cathedral in the city – probably the most beautiful church I have ever been in. I was slightly overwhelmed walking up the steps to the entrance door and gazing up at the gargantuan spires that seemed to disappear into the heavens. Although I had given the Crossroads talk about five times already, this was easily the most nervous I had been about speaking at a Mass. The overwhelming beauty of the Cathedral reminded me once again that its more the Holy Spirit at work when we get up and tell people about what we’re doing; I didn’t have to worry about screwing up my talk because I knew, and I still know, that God wants this mission accomplished and so in my surrender to Him, He will do His thing through me! What a privilege.
I soon discovered that our New Year’s Day plans involved watching the famous Sydney fireworks, but when we caught a train and walked a couple of k’s into the middle of the bush to emerge onto a little cliff that had the second-best view of the spectacle, I knew it was going to be a New Year’s eve to remember. The little cliff somehow ended up holding about 74 people – all packed like sardines – without collapsing, or anyone falling off the edge. If you ask me, I reckon that was because we had the prayers of Fr Bill on the premises with us. There were two lots of fireworks, and they did not disappoint. They went for about ten minutes each and even included explosions of Aussie animal shapes.
After a trek back to the train station with no shoes because my sock-covered feet got wet in some spilled water (or possibly some other beverage?) I was happy to jump into bed at about 2:30am knowing that there would be a long walk ahead in Sydney the following day.
Love and prayers,
The first ever Australian Crossroads pro-life walk has set off after a final mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of Brisbane. The Crossroads walkers received their blessing from the Dean of Brisbane, the Very Reverend Kenneth Howell, and were on their way.
It’s currently summer in the southern hemisphere, so the weather is hot, cooling though as the walkers make their way away from the equator, travelling south to Sydney and on to Melbourne.
Apart from a setback when their support vehicle was broken into and luggage stolen, the team is still in high spirits and doing well. They will finish in Melbourne in just under four weeks time.
Life Site News caught up with organizer Allison Lattie to record this video.