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Serious Friends

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September 2022

It was funny, and so fitting. At a camping training session, our instructor—who had obviously been around—remarked: “If you remember the ’60s, you didn’t live in them.” But no ’60s survivor will ever forget the music and cultural phenomenon known as The Beatles. Four mop-haired guys took the world by storm. It was an intense ride, which probably explains why it was so short. The group broke up in 1970. The four pursued solo careers with mixed success. It just wasn’t the same.

Life went on for them, but death followed way too soon. Lead guitarist George Harrison died in late 2001 from lung cancer. Exactly once year later, his wife Oliva and others held an event in his memory. A stageful of musicians including former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr played the Concert for George at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They performed nothing but George Harrison songs. George’s son Dhani, his spitting image, paid them the ultimate compliment. He called the group his father’s “serious friends.”

We live in a Facebook world where “friends” are formed by keystrokes and button clicks. People can literally list thousands of so-called friends they barely know, and really don’t want to know. Deep down, they aren’t friends at all. None of this should surprise us; these days we have 62 genders and have trouble defining “woman.”

But real friends are few, and a serious friendship is something very special. A serious friend is someone who, though different from us, shares with us a common bond, one hugely important to each friend. A serious friend is dependable, someone whom we can count on. Serious friends stand side by side, come hell or high water. They have each other’s back. They share smiles and frowns, laughs and tears. They share their time; they share their hearts. We feel close to our serious friends, and good to be with them.

I’m blessed to have a group of serious friends. I see them most Saturdays throughout the year. They are men and women of very diverse backgrounds. Some are in their mid-80s; others are as much as 50 years younger. There’s no age requirement for our group; new friends are always welcome. We meet outside, dressed for the weather. It can get awfully wet, awfully hot, or awfully cold in Chicagoland. But the weather never deters us. Our together-time is not to be missed, for we do something very important to all of us.

Our friendship started almost eleven years ago, very early on a chilly November morning.  They were standing along the sidewalk bordering a commercial building. By 6:00 a.m., people were entering. It was an abortion mill, and inside, a cruel death would be dealt to unsuspecting, defenseless humans. Outside, I joined the group as they prayed the Rosary for the unborn babies, their mothers and fathers, and everyone else who would suffer because of what was happening. We prayed for the abortionists and everyone who encouraged and allowed these tragedies to happen. When prayers were over the group left, fulfilled that they witnessed, and determined to return the next week. They did, and so did I.

Fast forward eleven years. The mill closed, as did another at which we prayed. We’re now at our third. Whether standing, sitting, or kneeling, we’re praying for all the same reasons as before. Sometimes, we see women changing their minds and saving their babies. We have never heard a woman regret that decision. But whatever happens on any given Saturday, we always leave feeling fulfilled and re-energized. Each Saturday we experience the unspoken bond of comrades successfully accomplishing their mission. We are serious about what we do. We are thankful and joyful that we can do it together.

Our country has just entered the post-Roe era. Many people have entered kicking and screaming. Despite the Supreme Court’s clear ruling recognizing the rights of states to regulate and even ban abortion, legal battles over abortion still continue. Walmart, Disney, Google, Apple, Facebook, Lyft, Yelp, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Microsoft, Giant Eagle and Kroger are now paying for employees to travel out of state to obtain abortions. President Biden has published an executive order authorizing Medicaid funding for travel expenses to abortion cites. His administration has published a website telling teens where they can get abortion. And crisis pregnancy centers continue to be vandalized.

How do we fight back against the madness? By taking matters to the Higher Authority. We pray. Prayer changes everything. First, it changes us. Prayer allows us to see God, not ourselves, as the solution and so to recognize our utter dependency on Him. Through prayer, we give God our fidelity, and that’s what He wants. It allows us to be at peace. Second, our prayer changes the world, one heart at a time. It happens in His time and way, but it happens. And because God is good, it happens for the good. Prayer changes hearts and minds, and that is what is most needed to rebuild a culture of life. Roe fell because God answered the millions of prayers of millions of people. If we remain faithful, more good will follow.

Out West, a Christian church holds services in front of Planned Parenthood mills. As the pastor says, if they don’t engage, evil has free reign. They attract as many as 700 people. That’s a lot of serious friends. And wherever we pray, there’s always room for more.

Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics.  He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.
© Paul V. Esposito 2022.  Culture of Life.  Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted.  Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/ and on Facebook.

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