Front Line Report from the Windy City
July 24, 2017
After attending early Mass we departed to Chicago, Illinois, where an advanced team was setting up our campsite. When we finally pulled in -- weary and hungry -- Matthew Shibler told us how a violent rainstorm upended our tents and sent them rolling towards the nearby lake like clumps of tumbleweed. Thank God, the tents only suffered minor damage and were reassembled in time for dinner: grilled hamburgers.
For the next four days, we will be operating out of the same campsite. It sure beats sleeping at a low-end hotel. The food is also much better.
Today's objective: Conquer downtown Chicago for God.
As we set up at Madison and La Salle Streets, the sidewalks were so crowded that we had trouble making room to put up the standards, banners and flag. Jostling with the crowds we lined up on the sidewalk for the opening prayer.
It was perfect. At each sidewalk crossing, a captive audience clustered together. As they waited for a green light, each TFP volunteer could deliver a short speech about the need to oppose the sin of abortion and restore American culture. Reactions varied. Some joyfully reached for a copy of the TFP flier, others, who muttered foul words or pro-abortion clichés, ripped them up.
A businessman asked Preston Noell III, director of the TFP Chicago bureau, to give him the full name of the group he represents. "The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property," said Mr. Noell. The man pondered every word and exclaimed: "That's powerful!" Another became so jubilant when he saw us that he went around congratulating and thanking each of us personally.
In contrast, one pro-abortion woman shoved a TFP volunteer, saying, "You should be ashamed of yourself." Another slapped a TFP volunteer in the face, saying, "I hate you." Yet another stuffed a flier down the back of a TFP volunteer's suit jacket.
Help the poor, but not the unborn?
As the campaign continued into the afternoon, a number of homeless men gathered for handouts. "Don't you think it's offensive to be doing this about abortion when the poor need help?" said a young couple. We often hear variations of the same refrain, "Go help the poor" as if the poor unborn babies who are routinely killed are worth nothing. But using the "poor" for cover is a classic argument of the left in order to ignore the grave immorality of abortion.
Our second campaign was near Union Station.
At this location two TFP volunteers were spat at within the first hour. Another was shoved by a man, which caused his pro-life fliers to scatter all over the sidewalk.
Pro-abort's sign: "Reject the Patriarchy"
Three feminist women set up a counter-protest in front of our position with a hand-written sign that read "Reject the Patriarchy: These guys need to do something better with their time." Their yellow sign sparked a protracted debate. The verbal clash actually caused more people to want copies of our flier. It boosted distribution.
At 7:00 p.m. the pro-abortion counter-protest evaporated. Once they had gone, we lined up on the sidewalk and closed our campaign with a prayer.
Now we are at the campsite catching up on prayer, nourishment and rest.
Please continue to pray for us. Thank you.
Water Tower Place, Chicago
July 25, 2017
We had a lot of honks in our favor today at Water Tower Place on Michigan Ave, an upscale shopping area.
The police were called in. "We're getting a lot of calls about you," said the officer in charge. "But you're totally within your rights to continue for as long as you wish." Six or seven officers remained on the sidewalk monitoring the campaign. Whenever a pro-abortion advocate began to curse and yell, one of the officers would calmly approach. Their presence usually scared the hecklers away.
One pro-abortion fellow, however, rode by on a bicycle and screamed: "Join the modern culture, or die off!" Several others walked by plugging their ears, while repeating, "Planned Parenthood all the way, Planned Parenthood all the way!"
One woman took a flier, tore it up, and threw the pieces in the face of a TFP volunteer. Another TFP member who was holding the American flag was told by a pro-abortion woman he was debating that he "really shouldn't be holding the flag of my country."
You need to develop thick skin on campaign because pro-aborts tend to be rude. "Would you like a flier, ma'am?" the TFP volunteer offered politely, only to get this mouthful in response: "So, you think you could tell me what to do with my body? I hate you! You're crazy! I wish you were in hell!"
"Mommy, thank you for not aborting me"
As soon as the young girl saw our poster -- "Smile: You survived abortion" -- she turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, thank you for not aborting me." Her mother was probably not expecting to hear that as she strolled down the street. She clearly did not know what to say. They simply hugged each other and continued on their way. Yes, everyone born after Roe v Wade is a survivor.
"Thank you so much for what you're doing. I really can't believe it," said a young man who was thrilled to see other young men defending the unborn. Another took more fliers to give to people who "needed them."
Near the end of the campaign, a woman came up and started yelling, "You don't know anything. Clear out of here right now." We tried to reason with her, but she was screaming nonstop. When she noticed she was being filmed, she said, "Don't you dare start filming me" and grabbed the camera and tried to rip it away.
This conversation was heard at the bus stop:
-- "Are they [TFP] real?" asked a pro-abortion woman.
-- Two pro-life ladies responded with a heavy dose of sarcasm: "Oh, yes. They're real. But don't go near them. They're dangerous."
-- "Oh! Ok," she said, while the two pro-life ladies had a good laugh.
At about seven o'clock we concluded our second campaign.
It was a good day.
At the Art Institute of Chicago
July 26, 2017
Before we had even put up the standards in front of the Art Institute, a pro-abortion woman confronted TFP volunteer Chad Shibler. "Are you calling me a nasty woman?" Just then Mr. Shibler realized the irony of the moment: The women's t-shirt read, "nasty women fight back."
Indifference prevailed here. People gathered on the steps of the Art Institute started jeering and shouting insults, though, as usual, they were unwilling to actually debate with us.
"I totally disagree with everything you stand for, but I respect you," said a liberal pedestrian.
Two men confronted a TFP member with the usual "abortion is a woman's choice." The debate went back and forth until one of the pro-abortion men said to the other, "The Nazis did it, so why shouldn't we?"
At this location a few people yelled "Hail Satan!" at us. The cultural battle lines are clearly delineated. While those who defend the right to life have the pure name of the Virgin Mary on their lips, those who promote the culture of death utter the name of their master, the father of lies.
Salve Regina at Saint James Chapel
After concluding our final campaign in Chicago, we directed our steps to Saint James Chapel, a marvelous church built to resemble the more famous Sainte-Chapelle chapel built by King Saint Louis IX in Paris. The medieval chapel is famous for its exquisite stained-glass windows. The chapel in Chicago is likewise impressive and was dubbed by a French architect as a "piece of France in Chicago." We had a tour of the sanctuary and afterwards sang the Salve Regina.
Indeed, Our Lady is "our life, our sweetness and our hope." At her maternal throne we deposit all the efforts of this caravan to end abortion; we offer all our sacrifices and suffering, all the hardships and insults received. We also offer Our Lady all the moments of joy and consolation and thank God for the opportunity to serve Him.
May Our Lady, who crushes the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15), intercede for us and -- as we commemorate the centennial of her apparitions at Fatima -- hasten the day of her final triumph over evil.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Help us find the best comeback to the following pro-abortion line:
"My body, my choice."
Please post your ideas in the comments box below.