You’re probably familiar with one of the most popular of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s many poignant phrases: “God doesn’t expect us to be successful, only faithful.”
It’s very true. We don’t change hearts. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit. We are called, all of us, by virtue of our baptism, to evangelize, or to spread the Gospel, to the best of our ability. The results are up to God. But since God is all knowing and all loving, and since he is our Father, Father knows best.
That’s why I believe the Lord gives us glimpses of success or progress every once in a while. He knows that these signs, or examples, motivate us to keep going. These shots in the arm, so to speak, really help us in our daily walk to continue in our various ministries as we do what we can to shed some light on a world that seems to be getting darker and darker.
I’m thinking of two powerful stories dealing with the pro-life movement and the Catholic Church that made headlines in the last couple of months, stories that have been of great encouragement to those who work tirelessly day after day to, as it says in Proverbs 31:8 “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
The first story centers on Abby Johnson, a 29-year-old Texas woman who for the past eight years worked for Planned Parenthood. She turned in her resignation last fall. I had the opportunity to interview Johnson on my radio program after she quit her job as the director of the southeast Texas Planned Parenthood facility (and you may have seen the OSV interview of her in the Nov. 29 issue). She said as a churchgoing Christian, she had struggled with the abortion issue for some time, but what finally sent her over the edge was watching an ultrasound of an abortion. She said it hit her like a “flash of light” — no more abortions.
Johnson also explained that she knew she had only one place to go when she quit her job; into the arms of the pro-life community who had been faithfully praying outside the center. Her conversion happened during the 40 Days for Life campaign.
This weekend, she’s planning to take part in the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco.
Then there was an inspiring report that has shown how the Catholic Church is still a force to be reckoned with. A headline in the Nov. 10 edition of the Wall Street Journal read: “Catholic Church emerges as key player in legislative battle. ” The article was among many that gave a grassroots campaign by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops a good portion of the credit for the passage of the pro-life amendment in the House health care package.
Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Wallsten explained how the bishops’ conference got very busy expressing their concerns about, among other things, government-funded abortions. The bishops issued several strong statements to Congress and then, as the vote on the House plan drew closer, began “distributing talking points to priests across the country and gave fliers to churches featuring the headline ‘Healthcare reform is about saving lives, not destroying them.’”
The quote that really got my attention was from Laurie Rubiner, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of public policy. “The Catholic bishops came in at the last minute and drew a line in the sand. It is very hard to compete with that,” she said.
Of course, the bishops were also outspoken in pointing out the moral deficiencies in the Senate version of the health reform legislation.
No, the success isn’t up to us. That’s God’s department. But it sure is nice every once in a while when he lets us see the fruits of the faithful.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of Catholic Connection, produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 160.