Monthly Archives: December 2013

Why We Have Manger Scenes

We are a very visual people. At least those of us who have been blessed with the gift of sight.

It is arguably the most powerful of all our senses.

When we see something beautiful we are drawn to it. We can’t keep our eyes off of it. We are captives of our own sense of sight.

Conversely, if we come upon an accident scene, while curiosity may first draw us  to look, once the scene becomes too graphic we avert our eyes. Lest we see. Of course not looking doesn’t change the reality before us. Instead it seeks to protect us from being forever changed. For once we’ve seen, we cannot un-see.

St. Francis of Assisi knew that.

He sought to make the unimaginable beauty of St. Matthew and St. Luke’s nativity scene come alive to the people of Grecio. To help them see it.

So 1200 years after the first Nativity scene in Bethlehem St. Francis made it visible with the Christmas creche. It was his gift to the town and by extension to the Church.

He did so that all might better see the miracle of the Incarnation such as it was that blessed morn. Complete with manager, straw, ox and ass. And sensually all that the latter would imply. But it is the sense of sight which would permanently etch that image on the mind’s eye of all those who would see. Making it real.

Ironically it is the very same reason we go to the streets of our towns with the graphic images  of what an abortionist does to an unborn child.

That others may see. To make abortion more real.

For we are a visual people.

Many avert their eyes. As if not seeing somehow changes the reality before them .

And make no mistake about it, abortion minded parents, grandparents and Deathscorts are not the only ones who avert their eyes.

Plenty of us who know better avert our eyes by never leaving the comfort of our churches or daily lives. Lest we see. ‘There is none so blind that will not see’, or more profoundly in the second century words of Tertullian, “People who cannot see what really is are the very ones who see what is not.”

For all the pro-life work I did beginning in 1973, it was 7 years  before I finally made it to an abortion mill. But once I saw, I was forever changed. And three years later, when I held in my hand the perfectly formed arm of a 12 week old unborn child which had earlier that day been ripped from her chest by an abortionist, I saw and was again forever changed.

It is the same reason a technology like 4d Ultrasound is so effective at turning abortion minded parents and grandparents from their deadly intent. They see and are forever changed. For once they’ve seen they cannot un-see. As a consequence we know from Thrive and other pregnancy aid centers that over 90% of those who see change their minds.  And a child is spared a most violent death.

4d Ultrasound makes visible what was the earliest of Christmas Creches: the womb.

I think St. Francis would get a kick out of that.








On Poverty

It is the feast of the Holy Innocents.

Remembering the children who were ruthlessly killed in Herod’s effort to continue living as he had been.

Threatened by the presence of a little Child.

An unwanted child (by Herod anyway) who brought THE inconvenient Truth to a world seeped in sin. The Truth of forgiveness, redemption, and true Peace on earth.

A Truth that  Herod knew would not allow him to continue living as he had been.

Herod’s final solution was effected with swords: cutting, dismembering and otherwise killing innocent children.

As I begin this post it is less hand an hour before I will again be on the sidewalk of the only remaining freestanding abortion mill in Missouri: Planned Barrenhood.

I will finish this post after that experience. But I go into it knowing that I will be there among today’s holy innocents whose lives also hang in the balance.

Victims of the Herodian logic of their parents and/or grandparents who seek to continue to live as they have been no matter what the cost.

Threatened by the presence of a little child.

With the same final solution, effected not by soldiers but by those masquerading as doctors, wielding curettes, no less effective than swords for cutting, dismembering and otherwise killing innocent children.

My niece’s  bumper sticker applies. ‘It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”, Mother Theresa

So I return from today’s efforts. And perhaps fittingly on the feast of the Holy Innocents, Catholic St. Louis University was represented at the mill today. Not so fittingly,  that representation was in the form of a Deathscort who was there to ensure the abortionist could effect his final solution unimpeded.

We were not well received .

Not by the well dressed and otherwise dignified grandmother who hopped out of her sports car, grabbed her daughter, glared at me and screeched “(blank)you”.

Nor by the “bag man” who was sent out of the mill to grab the purse of the mother of his child, likely to retrieve the requisite 30 pieces of silver (nothing’s free at an abortion mill).

And certainly not the two other couples who returned after being sent away to find an ATM (like shady contractors, abortionist do love cash).

At any rate, as in the original Slaughter, there was a lot of innocent blood shed today.

The children of the former had their parents to grieve for them.  And grieve they undoubtedly did. Elaborate funerals and all.

Today it was a handful of strangers who did all the grieving.

No funerals.

Can’t imagine a better day to pray for their souls of everyone involved.

Getting Stoned!

When I was young, getting stoned was all the rage. Of all those I ever knew who got stoned, Stephen was without a doubt the coolest. I am still in awe of him.

My generation knew we were hip.

On the cutting edge.


Don’t trust anyone over thirty was the mantra of the 60’s.

Our “heroes” even sang about getting stoned.

Timothy Leary held court: get stoned to get in touch with yourself!

While I never imbibed in the whole drug scene, I’m well aware that many in my generation still brag that we were the generation of sex, drugs and Rock and roll.

And abortionists continue to reap the bounty of such a legacy: built on the funeral pyre of tens of millions of innocent human beings.

Today I think back on my friend Stephen.

While he had more than a few years on me getting stoned was all the rage in his generation as well.

But he got involved in it because he was in touch with himself.

That’s why I honor him.

In his time it was Paul who held court.

Laid his cloak at the feet of Stephen.

And Stephen became the first known martyr for our faith.

Killed at the behest of Paul who was to become one of the great saints of the faith.

What an awesome God we have!

The God of the Prodigal Son. Ever scanning the horizon for the slightest hint of our turning back to Him.

And when we do? The Good Shepherd scoops us up and carries us on His shoulders until we’re among the fold again.

I often have this conversation with the Deathscorts at Planned Barrenhood.

When there are no parents and/or grandparents to speak with that is.

I tell them that it’s not too late to turn from their evil ways, reminding them that St. Paul was
killing Christians before he came to the Church.

I invite them to join us in our rescue efforts. Pointing out the example of Abby Johnson and other former co-workers who picked up their cloaks and left Planned Barrenhood.

And the example of my buddy Stephen, who got stoned because he was in touch with who he was: a child of God made in His image and likeness, living out his faith no matter what the cost.

Now there’s a legacy worth bragging about!




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Why I Don’t Celebrate Christmas

For as long as I can remember Christmas was always a magical time of year in the Ryan household. It was the highlight of my childhood in fact. But that’s not why I celebrate Christmas.

Lot’s of warm “fuzzies” and peaceful feelings. Truly wonderful things. But that’s not why I celebrate it.

Our generally stark childhood home was transformed into an indoor wonderland. It was beautiful: complete with “stockings hung from the chimney with care”, But that’s not why.

The excitement of a winters night with my dad picking out the tree. And then firmly planting it right in the middle of our living room(!). It still warms my heart to think about it. Fond memories (I can smell the evergreen in the air), but that’s not why I celebrate Christmas.

Cookies, cookies and more cookies! Anyone who knows me knows I love sweets.  But not that much.

My somewhat(?) stoic father was transformed into a little kid right before our eyes. Worth the price of admission but that’s not it either.

The musicals that I loved to watch on TV busted out right on our own front lawn! It was the one time I was the center of attention for the right reason (the carolers somehow always knew we were celebrating MY birthday too). But that’s not why I celebrate.

The eight of us seemed to get along better than the other eleven months of the year. Close, very close… but that’s not why I celebrate Christmas.

In fact, even I was well behaved that time of year. It may have been the reason my parents celebrated Christmas, but not me.

Then there was Christmas morning! Wow! Gifts as far as you could see. It was breathtaking. I can still make out the glow from the Christmas tree as I snuck down the stairs to peek around the corner to make sure it was “safe” (that was my job). One year I jumped the gun so much that I saw Santa’s shadow, raced back to my room and dove under the covers, convinced that I had blown Christmas for everyone. Cherished memories to be sure, but not that either.

And people in general seemed a bit more tolerant and appreciative of one another. Complete strangers wishing one another a Merry Christmas! A truly wonderful thing but still not the reason.

Peace on earth and good will to all! How can that not be the reason? But even as awesome as that is, and it truly is, it’s not why I celebrate.

I celebrate Christmas because God so loved the world that He came among us first as an unborn child. He chose the humblest of beginnings. Born in the backwoods town of Bethlehem. The King of Kings born, not in a palace but in a stable.  That we might have everlasting life.

I celebrate Christmas not because of MY childhood but because of HIS.

Merry Christmas.

Christmas in Washington

Christmas in Washington.

In 7 1/2 hours, less than 4 days before we celebrate the birth of the unborn Jesus, I will be on the sidewalks of Planned Barrenhood pleading with mothers, fathers and grandparents for the lives of their unborn progeny. Pinch me. This can’t really be happening. Can it?

To top it off, replaying on TV before me is “Christmas in Washington” with the most pro-abortion President in history front and center.

Somehow managing to celebrate abortion and Christmas.

At the same time!

Though at the 11 minute mark there has yet to be even a mention of the Christ Child.

What goes on in such a mind? And make no mistake about it, President Obama and Michelle have lots of company. In our own families and churches in fact.

But keep in mind, in the midst of the unprecedented (at that time) Holocaust in WWII: Germany celebrated Christmas.

I kid you not.

Churches were full.

Somehow they managed to celebrate that Holocaust and Christmas at the same time .

In some areas the boxcars came so close to the churches that the “believers” (in what I’m not sure) had to sing louder, lest they be distracted. And that’s exactly what they did: “there’s none so blind that will not….(hear)”?

BTW we’re at the 33 minute mark of the show and still NO mention of the Christ Child. None, Notta. Zilch. Not even in song.

Maybe they figured out that they can’t sing loud enough to drown out the vacuum suction machines of Washington.

Exactly Who/what was Christ before He was born?

Was he only Jesus the moment He crowned?

Took His first breath?

Were the Angel Gabriel, Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, and John the Baptist all wrong?

Ah, there it is, at the 40 minute mark, singing “Christ the Savior is born”. Smiles all around. No hint whatsoever of any impropriety.

And tomorrow morning, if the past is any predictor, the abortionists will have their own “Christmas” party. Complete with gifts.

Breaking bread in one room while on the other side of the wall children, made in the image and likeness of the still unborn Christ Child are being dismembered, beheaded and otherwise killed.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Celebrating Christmas and abortion at the same time.

In the same place.

Like our President.

And many in our families and Churches.

At Christmas Mass no less.

Hard to believe we could celebrate the birth of the unborn Jesus and not mention His unborn brothers threatened by abortionists. But few (no?) preacher will dare make mention. Perhaps on Saturday when we remember Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents? Don’t hold your breath.

It’s the 56 minute mark and the President speaks- invoking the Christ Child no less.

Celebrating Christmas and abortion in the same breath with a rousing rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.

More smiles.

No goose bumps.But sure will raise the hair on the back of your head.

My Aunt Imelda

It’s a week since Theresa was turned away from aborting her child as a result of the combined effort of the Body of Christ who were PRESENT for her that day.

Today an SUV pulled to the entrance with a family inside. As the previous week, Mary was able to briefly speak to a couple as they stopped and rolled down their windows.

And once again the Thrive Mobil medical center was parked across the street. Others stood on the sidewalk praying.

The family parked at the fence just in front of the back alley of the mill.

Out stepped a young teenage couple- a very tall male and a very short female who covered her head with a jacket. The driver appeared older and Hispanic as did what appeared to be her husband alongside. We surmised they were the teen’s parents (Missouri has a parental consent law). The parents lagged far behind the youths who seemed in a hurry to get inside. Sensing that Spanish would better impact these grandparents, but not knowing any, I reverted to the next best thing: “Our Lady of Guadalupe has not given up on you. She will intercede with her Son for you!”

Prior to this statement there was no indication that anyone in the family was listening to my entreaties, but as soon as I mentioned Our Lady, the grandmother of the unborn child stopped, looked over at me and then put her head down and slowly continued inside.

I wondered aloud if there was anyone in our informal group who spoke Spanish. Then it dawned on me, Lisa was on the corner praying the Rosary with a group. Two years before, on Mothers Day weekend, Lisa used her language skills to reach a Hispanic family that came 210 miles from Springfield MO for an abortion. Her Spanish helped us save that child that day. Perhaps today as well? I explained the situation to Lisa and agreed I would flag her down if/when they came back out.

The family remained inside when it was time for Lisa to go. So she agreed to write a note for the family, conveying in Spanish our offer of help.

Perhaps an hour later the family came back out. It had not been long enough for the baby to have been killed. I slipped down the back alley to the point at the fence just opposite the SUV. I extended my hand through the fence offering the Thrive literature.

The young man turned to me saying “You don’t have to worry she decided not to have the abortion. You don’t need to do your routine.” But he took the literature (minus the note in Spanish which was for grandma).

“Wonderful, are you the father?” I asked. He looked and sounded disappointed and overwhelmed. I looked him in the eye and told him we would help with whatever they needed assuring him they were not alone. I said ” I know you’re overwhelmed right now, but you will never regret letting your baby live.”

The mother of the child still had her head covered with her jacket so I spoke with her mother instead.

“You’re the grandmother then?” and she nodded.

“Congratulations grandma!”

I extended to her the note and she read it intensely. She seemed to tear up as she read. She turned around to her husband and spoke to him in Spanish, as if to convey what was in the note. She told me of her relief at her daughter’s decision but remained concerned. I promised we would pray for her and her family.

We spoke grandparent to grandparent for a few minutes. I reminded her of all the help that was available across the street in the Thrive van. I also reminded her that part of our job as parents is to step in and provide some stability for our children in such situations. Some balance and wisdom. She nodded when I pointed out that to teenagers this seems like the end of THEIR life. She agreed when I said “But we know better. Your grandchild just needs another 6 or 7 months of their life.”

As we talked grandma turned from time to time to speak in Spanish to her husband. “Grandpa?” I asked and she nodded yes. I smiled at him. He remained at a distance but still seemed to focus on our interaction. No one in our little group, including me, seemed comfortable at that terrible place. And with every word, ever inflection a young life hung in the balance.

As she seemed ready to leave I asked for her daughter’s first name so we could pray for her by name. But her daughter declined.

“How about your name (grandma), and we’ll pray for your daughter and grandchild through you.”

“Imelda” she said immediately.

“That was my aunt’s name” I explained, suddenly flooded with emotions from our exchange mixed with a lifetime of memories of my aunt. “So you’re named after St Imelda?!”

She was unsure there was such a saint. But I knew, for my Aunt Imelda gave me a statue of her patron saint for my Confirmation almost 50 years prior. So I assured her there was such a saint. And that we would all be praying for her, her daughter, her grandchild, the father of the baby and the rest of the family. She thanked me and got back into the SUV and drove off.

Truly amazing.

Another child literally minutes from death spared through a team effort. Often we have no idea that we’ve made a difference. But we persist with the understanding that we are called to be faithful. Like the widow and the unjust judge. But it’s sure nice when we get such confirmation!

I was to learn later from Lisa (who wrote the note in Spanish) that she was only there this day because she missed her regular Saturday at the mill and decided to come today instead. That’s what divine providence looks like!

But we must keep Imelda and her family in our prayers. And spread the word far and wide. This couple will undoubtedly incur many difficulties and temptations in the weeks and months to come (as will Theresa whose baby was saved through last weeks intervention).

So as I drove off for the day my thoughts turned to my Aunt Imelda. I was her favorite don’t you know. Or that’s the way she made me feel. I prayed for the repose of her soul. And thanked her once again for being present to me thoughout my life, and right to this very day.

God is good.

The Abortion Censors

At the abortion mill we offer moms and dads (and grandparents for that matter) information on help that’s available as well as facts on abortion.

The “Deathscorts” routinely take that literature away from the parents who accept it from us. All this  while wearing bibs that celebrates “choice”.


Now how can a mom truly make an informed choice if she doesn’t have all the information?

In fact if the “pro-choice” advocates really support “choice” shouldn’t they be the ones handing out information on all the resources available to moms?

For that matter if they really wanted to make sure moms are able to make an “informed choice” why aren’t they the ones showing the graphic pictures of what an abortionist does to an unborn child?

After all that’s the “choice” called abortion. It’s done to the child.

It is the child the abortionist dismembers, poisons and/or otherwise kills.

The abortionist doesn’t do an ultrasound of the mom to figure out how old she is before deciding how to proceed.

It’s not (usually) the mom whose heart is stilled by the abortionist.

Or whose body has to be reassembled by the nurse.

And besides,pro-lifers are sickened and profoundly offended by what an abortionist does to an unborn child. Why is it left to us to show the horrible reality of abortion?

It would seem to make more sense for those who embrace that “choice” to be holding the graphic signs showing what an abortionist does to a human being. My guess is there would be far fewer “pro-choice” people if they had to actually see what that “choice” actually looks like. Away from the safety (for them) of their respective ivory towers and/or rationalizations.

In the end it shows the utmost disrespect and distrust of women to censor the information available to them. To not trust moms with all the information, so they can make the informed “choice” Deathscorts would claim they support.

Deathscorts, wearing a baby’s bib emblazoned with the lie “pro-choice” while doing everything they can to prevent moms, dads and grandparents from being fully informed, so babies die.

It’s beyond the pale.

We have to end this madness.