Day 3 | WE MARCH WITH BABY STEPS
PART 3 – The Promised Land
God brought on all the cheers and prayers and celebratory mantras we’ve now ingrained in our beings for the past 46 years, with all the colors of vibrancy flooding the “Gate of Death” that has become the US Supreme Court’s doorstep. Indeed, while many marches, demonstrations, protests, and rallies have donned our nation’s capital for over 200 years—still nothing can compare to the yearly consistency of God’s Chosen People appealing to His Providence in the wake of these devastating realities.
Ed Harpring and I reflected a lot on the way to the March, sharing personal stories from family heartache and disfunction, as well as talking deeply about the importance of building up our own Archdiocese through the youth and their families. Ideas of school and parish hats, and one unifying hoody for all Archdiocesan youth events which finds its fulfillment at the March for Life each year were among those ideas. Caryn Crush, Bryan Cain, and I certainly have our work cut out for us concerning the graphic designs for these inspirations which God may charge us with in the coming months!
Ed also granted me a beautiful interview which will come into focus with a solid promotional video for the March for Life and World Youth Day in the coming years! His heart is on fire with divine love, and his consistent dedication is beyond me. Yet, in his humility—he even recognized his own inadequacies concerning the concision and bold articulation of our next and most unexpected, unplanned contributor to Archdiocesan collaboration. Indeed, Divine Providence granted us an interview with Fr. Frank Pavone, President & Founder of Priests for Life—on the steps of the Supreme Court.
His words from that short four-minute encounter are included in their entirety here:
What is the difference between Abortion & the Eucharist?
“The Eucharist is the sacrament of life. Abortion is all about death. The Eucharist is the sacrament of love, where our Lord teaches us its meaning through four simple words, which ironically are used by the supporters of abortion to justify what they do – ‘This is My Body’.
This is my body, some say I can do what I want, even if it means killing the child.
This is My Body, Jesus says – I give it away so that you may live.
Four little words, spoken from two opposite ends of the universe with completely different results. When we go to the Eucharist, we are going to not only the sacrament of life, we are going to the victory of life because it gives us the power to love and to welcome life so that others may flourish.
The Eucharist, as John Paul II said, in the final encyclical of his papacy, which was about the Eucharist, said that it points us to the future when all Creation will be transformed into Christ as now we see the bread and wine actually becoming Christ. He said interestingly that this makes us all the more engaged in our political responsibilities building that culture of life. Abortion splits and divides and destroys. The Eucharist instead unites and brings together. Abortion dismembers, and in the Eucharist we say “Do this in REMEMBRANCE of me.” It brings the Body together, Abortion takes the body apart. There are so many connections.
What we can see … is that as the number of perpetual adoration chapels across America has grown, the number of Abortion Clinics has declined. And a few years ago, the number of adoration chapels surpassed the number of abortion facilities, and I think that was a spiritual turning point—the meaning of which will become clear in the years to come. But as God’s people worship Him in the Eucharist, they are rejecting more and more this false idea of Abortion.”
What is the Fiat, & how can Mother Mary help us unite Catholics & Christians & people all over the world?
“Be it done unto me according to YOUR WORD” Mary said when she was told that despite her not planning it, she would be pregnant. What she said is that God’s choice comes before ours. Notice what she says, “Let it be done TO me”. She is receiving that Word, that decision, that choice of God and letting Him make the plan. Abortion is just the opposite. Abortion says “MY Choice”. Fiat says “Lord, YOUR Choice.”
Abortion says, “My choice, my will. Let it be done according to MY Word!” and it’s exactly the opposite. Abortion is the great NO to God. No to His Plan, no to His Providence. When did He decide that you and I or any unborn baby would exist? He decided it for as long as He’s been God! He decided it from all eternity. Abortion is a slap in His Face. It’s a denial of His Will.
Christ on the other hand, is as St. Paul tells us, ‘the great Amen’, the great YES to all the promises of God, and that’s why WE, the people gathered here for this March, that’s why WE are the great YES to God and to Life!”
When we say Yes, what does that do to us?
“When we say yes, it unites us with God’s Will, it makes us holy, and as we know by His grace, it makes us even into His own sons and daughters which is amazing! Because we have human life (that’s what we’re celebrating today), but we have even more than human life! We have divine life, and that’s like…unbelievable, but it’s true!”
It was breath-taking and wondrous. Nothing anyone said before or after compared to the threshold interview of Fr. Frank Pavone. It was like witnessing the eschatological tension between the past and the future, the anti-Fiat and the Fiat, Satan and St. Michael become incarnate in the words of this holy Catholic priest. THIS was the mountain top experience of a lifetime, and in the same moment, contained within all his grandiose notoriety and star-struck aura, he was still humble, simple, and childlike! Fr. Frank took pictures with us, laughed with us, graced us with an interview, and then encouraged Kaylin and Brady in their snowball making skills! Yes, all throughout the March, those young and energetic hearts spent most of their time making snowballs and mini-snowmen to leave everywhere for people to find!
We experienced a few of those snowballs up close and personal too—though I will take credit for one of the best “gotcha!” moments when on the way to the March, Bradley kept pelting us with snowballs so when he turned around to pick up some more snow, I ran the short distance across the parking lot at the rest stop and shoved him full on into that snow, to the roaring cheers of our bus compatriots!
Of course, I never made a snowball so Brady and Kaylin, Gabe and Destiny still got me there! Oh the little things that bring joy to our hearts right?! This again is all part of the mountaintop of JOY that God has destined us to receive in its entirety in the life to come, but only through the Great Delay of this present life, in all its littleness.
St. Therese of Lisieux, show us your little way of childhood trust!
For my own sake, I was gifted with Jacob Cantrell’s presence and help during this half of the journey. Crystal, my fiancé, had entrusted me with her Little Foot dinosaur from her infancy since Christmas, and I was given the grace to bring him with me to get blessed and as a beautiful representation of my own vocational love in my heart. Carrying Little Foot though was not something I could do on my own of course, for everyone ended up helping me keep him close. Jacob held onto him in a death grip of love that only Jacob could possess. Yet, Jacob’s character stands out from that simple gesture of support and good will. His ability to let go of his possessions when they were cast into the darkness forever was admirable, but his love for Jesus was contagious.
I got to interview him in the Subway restaurant before we started our march, and then—after Fr. Frank Pavone dazzled us with his words, GOD dazzled us all with Jacob’s unexpected gift. You see, Jacob is a character who assumes the identity of many fantastic characters, from Batman to Luke Skywalker to an NCIS Agent—you never know what he’s going to do next. We shouldn’t have been surprised when he showed up with his Pokemon shirt and hat and pokeballs, AND POKEDEX. So why were surprised when Pikachu made his appearance in the throngs of pilgrims for Jacob to CATCH ON CAMERA?!
It reminded us instantly of the homily from Poland’s World Youth Day as one of the priests referenced the newly released “Pokemon GO!” App that came out in the summer of 2016—that just like the mad craze for Pokemon “Gotta catch ‘em all!”—so too do we as Catholic Christians need to shed light on the Gospel in order to catch men and women in the truth of divine love. Jacob Cantrell certainly shows us how that divine love is often manifested in this world, in the unexpected and innocent moments of childhood desire. There is a difference indeed between childishness and being child-like—though I was still learning that truth as I saw the blinding light of joy stretch from ear to ear on Jacob’s face as he held up his Pokeball to catch Pikachu at last on the steps of the Supreme Court!
It made my photos with Little Foot in that same spot where “Little Foot goes to Washington” take hold of my heart in a deeper and more profound way. The childhood ecstasy of nuptial union with God is the most important trait we can possess in our humanity. Without that positive spirit of joyful openness to hope—not the unfounded optimism of being ignorantly euphoric, but rather true hope in embracing the certainly that things will make sense no matter what happens—then surely we could not possibly come to possess eternal life!
The long hours sitting in Union Station after that moment certainly began to show us the reality of hope—for we immediately knew we were on the descending journey from the mountaintop. After getting back to the hotel, getting everyone back onto a bus for the food court and Lincoln Memorial (for those who didn’t want to just sleep the rest of the night)—I began to realize how profound the peaks and valleys of daily living were meant to be encountered.
The gift of the Eucharist comes first (as it was experienced with the Mass with the Archbishop), and only then do we descend into the spiral of intimacy (like the March for Life) so as to enter the Promised Land of Heaven (the mountaintop). THAT is how we march with baby steps, by holding onto the guardrail of God’s grace and merciful protection and taking this incredible journey of life ever more deeply to the heights of divine love one step at a time.