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40 Day's Life Vigil QEUH 002

Vigils show the power of Pro-life prayer

Two participants in this year’s 40 Days for Life vigils explain what it’s like to take part in the Lenten campaign.

Brendan Gill

40 Days for Life is a growing movement which aims to promote respect for unborn children and their mothers.

In Glasgow, a vigil was held every day in Lent from 8am to 8pm in Hardgate Road opposite the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Govan. (Outwith Lent a shorter vigil is held there every Tuesday between noon and 1pm).

The choice of 40 Days in the title chimes well with the 40 Days of Lent (a time of renewed focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving). The Rosary and associated prayers are said.



Fasting takes the theme of hungering for justice.

Almsgiving involves reaching beyond ourselves to those most in need and giving of our time to protect the unborn.

And Lent of course points us beyond this life to the joy of the Risen Lord.




The latest figures produced by the Information Services Division of the NHS in Scotland show that in 2017 12,212 unborn children were killed by abortion in Scotland. That is 235 every week.

The vigil acts as a witness against these figures. If approached and asked, participants are able to point mothers-to-be in the direction of supportive agencies such as the Sisters of the Gospel of Life where counselling and practical help are available.


Abortion recovery

We can also direct women who have had an abortion to agencies such as ARCH (Abortion Recovery, Care and Helpline) which also provides counselling and practical advice.

This prayerful and essentially silent witness seems to be bearing fruit.

According to the website of 40 Days for Life, prior to this Lenten campaign, 15,256 women had chosen not to proceed with an abortion while 186 abortion workers had quit their posts.



Saving lives

Since March 6 this year, another 622 children around the world have been saved from abortion thanks to this recent Lenten campaign.

This suggests that the influence of prayer and witness is having a significant effect.

There is scope for increasing the numbers attending the vigils. There are around 90 parishes in Glasgow alone and if one person from each parish attended part of just one vigil the impact could be great.


Pro-life alliance

The vigils being held in Lent are at the mercy of the Glasgow weather— often a time of trial!

But the inconvenience of rain and cold are far outweighed by the feeling of camaraderie and friendship of the others in the vigil line and the sense of common purpose in seeking to protect the unborn.

Ash Wednesday next year (2020) falls on February 26. The 40 Days for Life programme will start again.

Perhaps instead of (or as well as) giving up sweets or whatever for Lent next year we could consider giving time to this movement recalling the words of Jesus: “Could you not watch one hour with me?”


Anne Flynn

When faced with the towering edifice of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, or the ‘Sufferin’ General,’ as Glaswegians affectionately call it, one cannot help but be struck by the sheer enormity of it. One has to ‘look up’ to try to take it in.

‘Looking up’ is what I found myself doing as I stood praying, alongside the other pro-lifers, at the 40 Days for Life Vigil opposite one of the entrances.

I had gone along ‘to do something for Lent.’ Although like many Scots, I am not normally attracted to public expressions of Faith, I thought, ‘For the cause of Life? Maybe I could do that.’



I set out thinking that by going along to the prayer vigil I could give something; instead, mysteriously, I found myself receiving. Here I was, with time to reflect.

Here I was, hearing a deepening echo of God’s voice, in the strangest of settings: at the side of a road, at the outermost limit of the hospital grounds, on a stretch of neglected pavement, backed by a wire fence and wasteland beyond. Cars and buses sped by.

The Rosary and prayers continued at an even pace, undeterred by the coming and going, building a different kind of reality—“My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).


Strength in weakness

I looked along the line of those who had gathered. Eight or nine people, Eskimo-like in bulky coats, and an assortment of hats. I looked back up at the metallic grey building.

It was imposing, powerful; we, the people praying, looked small, and ordinary. Words filtered through my brain: “My power is best in weakness. When I am weak then I am strong.”

I watched the people in cars curve in from the main road into the hospital grounds. Who were they? What were their lives and what had brought them here? I was filled with compassion for them.



Perhaps they were hurrying to be with a relative, had they had bad news? Was there an anxious mother who was feeling there was no way out? Was there a child in pain?

The rhythm of the prayers spoke love and power into every situation.

The Way of the Cross unfolded, step by step, all the way to that Resurrection morning, and, quaking inwardly, I prayed Christ’s victory into the life of every person. Every person, seen and unseen.

Looking up again at that tall building, large as it was, I saw that the sky beyond it was even larger.

God was showing me that His power is far, far stronger than any other, and that in the battle for life, He has already won the victory.

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