Imagine the shock of once having protested in front of a medical building where abortions take place and then having a doctor’s appointment scheduled in the same building. It happened to Dorothy Pilarski, and she was conflicted in what she felt she must do. CNS photo/Sam Lucero

Gripped by spiritual dread

  • November 22, 2012

A doctor’s appointment brings me to the scene of the crime

The moment I saw the address of the medical building, I felt uneasy. I had an appointment with a new doctor and I feared his office was in the same building my husband and I had prayed in front of during 40 Days for Life.

I had stood outside the building and its abortion clinic, but never gone inside. I didn’t want that to change.

Approaching the building the morning of my appointment, I realized that, yes, it was the same one. This time, no one was praying out front, no one was holding pro-life signs. Everything in me wanted to turn around and leave. The thought of entering the very building where babies were being killed — even if I was there to receive medical care — filled me with a spiritual dread I couldn’t bear.

I was also filled with a profound sense of responsibility. What was I doing to protect the babies and their mothers? What should I be doing?

I had to remind myself I was there for my own medical reasons. Yet part of me was rebelling. I wondered: “Why Our Lord, why did you bring me here today?”

When I pulled on the door handle to enter the building, a group of women whisked by, rushing to the elevator. I could hear the last few words of their conversation: “This is where they get rid of the baby.”

I was overcome. I didn’t know how to respond. Should I say something? Should I follow them? They quickly disappeared into the elevator. I went to the building directory and scanned the list of tenants. Two listings jumped out: one for a birth control and sexual health office, and the other for a women’s health clinic. I wondered if I should go to those clinics and say or do something.

Was God calling me to become more involved in the pro-life movement? I carried that thought with me as I approached my doctor’s office. I thought to myself: I could never work in this building. How could anyone come to work day after day knowing babies were dying in the building while they worked?

I was disturbed further after reaching my doctor’s office. A large, bizarre painting was hanging in the waiting room. It mocked Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece of the Last Supper. In the place of Jesus was Marilyn Munroe. Instead of apostles, the table was populated with celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Laurel and Hardy, Marlon Brando, Clarke Gable and Fred Astaire. There was even a monster, Frankenstein. I was stunned.

I stared at the painting, dumbfounded. Finally I told the receptionist that, as a practising Catholic, I was very offended by it. She muttered something under her breath about the different reactions of people to the painting. It turned out my doctor was out of the country, so I left, silently.

The events of that morning got me thinking about how hostile the world still is to Christ and to Church teachings. I realized that, as a Catholic, I would often bear the brunt of that hostility. The words, “We must be in the world, but not of the world” reverberated in my soul. I thanked God for the grace to see, hear and know the truth in a world so often overwhelmed by destructive messages. And as a parent, I reflected on the Declaration on Christian Education from Vatican II.

“Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring,” it reads. “Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and men that a well-rounded personal social development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first school of those virtues that every society needs.”

Those are powerful words and they remind me that it is my parental duty to evangelize the Catholic faith within my family but also beyond.

During prayer, my mind often returns to the morning appointment at that dreadful medical building, and I plead to Him: “Show me Lord, show me what you want me to do.”

(Writer, speaker and consultant, Pilarski’s book, Motherhood Matters: Inspirational Stories, Letters, Quotes & Prayers for Catholic Moms, is available by calling 416-934-3410.)

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