Sunday, February 10, 2013

March for Life, Part 1: Stumbling across Fr. Justin.

I prayed the rosary on the Metro from Greenbelt to Smithsonian feeling a little nervous about the cold temperature and the impending snow but comforted by the Catholic and March-for-Life chatter going on around me. I had half expected to feel isolated and alone, enduring the disapproving glares of a few straggling DC commuters. I finished praying and tried to relax until Smithsonian where I shuffled off to find Lita who was already outside waiting.

A couple of men peddling winter hats—actually they claimed they were free—approached us immediately. “But…. We already have hats.” Eventually they gave up on the hats and just asked for money. But alas, Lita was carrying plastic and I only had a fifty dollar bill and didn’t feel comfortable asking for change. (I’m sure FrC would have given them the fifty dollars and his own hat, unless he knew for sure they were after drug money.) So I said we would pray for them and they took it well, with one man offering prayers for us too.

We weren’t sure where to go but there was a steady stream of people with matching neon scarves so we followed them. We got to the National Mall and saw a stage set up with a bunch of people beside it. I would guess we could see about 100 thousand people, far fewer than the typical crowds of 400 thousand. But we assumed that most people had not arrived since many, including my friend Jeremy, were currently participating in Mass for the Feast of St.Paul’s Conversion with a full house at the Verizon Center (the Eucharistic Jesus on the Jumbotron!). From the homily by Fr. Griffin: “In the face of a culture that says you can’t find happiness without indulging every sexual urge, we respond with the beauty and peace of holy purity in our thoughts, our words, and our actions.” Later we found out that mega Masses were also celebrated at a stadium in VA and at the Comcast Center in College Park.

Here I am!! Cold but happy. (from Lita)

The night before, Cardinal Wuerl celebrated a Vigil Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with so many other bishops, priests, and deacons that Jeremy says the procession lasted 40 minutes! The Mass kicked off an all night prayer vigil with confessions available and concluding with another Mass the next morning (both Masses were broadcast on EWTN). Really, the prayers started in earnest nine days before the March, with nine day novenas and Mass intentions offered in all 50 states and even in other countries. The anticipation reached a crescendo with Mass for the Feast of St. Paul’s Conversion—what a great feast day for the March for Life!
There is what Fr. Larry A. calls "The Mean Jesus".

I missed the Mass at the Basilica Thursday night because I was at my weekly rosary prayer group where the ladies gave me tips (e.g. use a museum bathroom instead of the Port-a-Potties) and packed me some snacks for the trip. The next day I was running late and caught Mass at Our Lady of the Fields where I ran into 90 year old Joe who offered more snacks if I had time to stop by his place. He quickly packed me a bag of fruit and we said a prayer together and then I was on my way.

Anyway, back at the Mall, we marveled at the giant and fancy signs and flags all around. We approached one black and white Religious Order that Lita thought she recognized but they turned out to be Dominicans. And I knew one of them! Like the awkward scientist that I am, I pointed at his face and said, “I know you!! You’re Fr. Justin.” And like the mild mannered Dominican he is, he acted like he didn’t notice my awkward rudeness and pleaded guilty.

Gasp!! It's Fr. Justin. And here's the proof. (from Lita)

I had only seen this man on two occasions, first at his priestly ordination and second at Meghan and Greg’s wedding (although I had been in the same room with him once, without seeing him, at the Dominican House during Compline). Now knowing at least TWO other people at the March, I felt quite comfortable.

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