Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Gates of Hell

"Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes, but see not,
who have ears, but hear not.
Do you not fear me? says the LORD;
Do you not tremble before me?
I placed the sand as the bound for the sea,
a perpetual barrier which it cannot pass;
though the waves toss, they cannot prevail,
though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
they have turned aside and gone away.
They do not say in their hearts,
`Let us fear the LORD our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
the weeks appointed for the harvest.'
Your iniquities have turned these away,
and your sins have kept good from you.
For wicked men are found among my people;
they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.
They set a trap;
they catch men.
Like a basket full of birds,
their houses are full of treachery;
therefore they have become great and rich,
they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no bounds in deeds of wickedness;
they judge not with justice
the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
Shall I not punish them for these things? says the LORD,
and shall I not avenge myself
on a nation such as this?"
An appalling and horrible thing
has happened in the land:
the prophets prophesy falsely,
and the priests rule at their direction;
my people love to have it so,
but what will you do when the end comes? (Jeremiah 5:21-31)

What do we do when the end comes? What do we do when we’ve been pushed to the very edge and don’t know the only way out? Isn’t that the fear we avoid facing for as long as possible, all our lives if we’re “lucky”? And isn’t that the current word on the street that most of us hear?
The end is very near.
There’s no way out.
It’s hopeless.

I was recently privileged to meet Abby Johnson the young woman who quit her job as director of Planned Parenthood in Bryan, TX. One of the many things she had to say is that PP employees are brainwashed to believe that they will not be able to get another job elsewhere once they work for PP because “they do abortions.” They are told that there is nowhere to go. Told only PP cares about them. To find a church to attend, Abby herself had to change denominations because she worked for PP. Then the day came when she knew she could not stay any longer. And she found herself begging God, What can I do? Where can I go?

I have taken the phrase “Storming the Gates of Hell” as a sort of tag line for the Forty Days for Freedom movement. After reading and hearing all the “Be afraid! Be very afraid!” posts and emails and admonitions, it seems appropriate. A couple of years ago, Fallen Sparrow pointed out to me that in regards to “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”* we must remember who is attacking whom. When presented with that passage, whether from Catholic, Baptist or Anglican perspectives, the message was always that (cue deep scary voice) the Gates of Hell were attacking but don’t worry, they won’t overcome us. Ultimately, though many might fall in battle (including my family), (cue deep scary voice) the Gates of Hell would themselves be overcome. But on that day, Fallen Sparrow told me that the Church was supposed to be on the attack against those huge, more horrific than the Black Gates of Mordor , nightmare gates that I knew were really out to crush me and that got me thinking about what gates are and what they do.

Gates allow access into and out of an enclosed place. If gates are to prevail, they can only do so by being inaccessible, unassailable. Either one can’t get in or one can’t escape. If the construction is bad or enough of the wall is destroyed, gates may fall down. But as for attacking – that has more to do with the really bad horror movies I saw as a kid than reality. Gates don’t attack. They look scary. They look impregnable. Still, in any heavily fortified enclosure gates, as the Witch King of Angmar realizes, are always the weakest point. So, the weakest point of hell will not prevail against Christ’s Church. Hmmmm. In a flash I knew I’d had it backwards. There were no ominous Gates out to get me but merely my fertile and wounded imagination working overtime. And as for the real gates of hell…

On the day Abby Johnson asked God what to do and where to go, she looked out the window and saw two women who had come to pray for women having abortions and for those who work in the abortion industry.** They were a familiar sight. People came to pray whenever abortions were being performed. She got in her car and drove two houses down the street to the Campaign for Life office where she was welcomed with great joy. (To be continued.)

* Matthew 16:18 (Taken from the King James Version. I’d be happy to discuss my translation choice if anyone so desires. You may email me or leave a comment.)

** Abortion is an industry and I will address that further n the next part of Abby’s story.

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