April 13, 2015

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!

In the joy of this season of Our Lord's Resurrection, I would like to greet my brothers and sisters in Christ who have been praying for me and supporting me along this journey. I pray that the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, has indeed risen, would engulf our hearts and lead us to a great thirst for God, a great hunger to live for Him, and, as Bl. Teresa of Calcutta said, to “make out lives something beautiful for God”. Maybe there is a little doubt in our hearts, like there was in Thomas', and we need to hear anew the words of Jesus, “do not doubt, but believe” (Jn 20:27). The more deeply we believe, the more we will open the doors of our hearts and allow His Kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven.

I would like to thank everyone who is writing or who has written to me. I wish I could reply to all of you but I am unable. Please bear with me!

In some of the letters and conversations there have been questions or comments that have led me to see that some clarification would be helpful, so I would like to try to address this in this letter.

First of all, with regard to the circumstances of my arrest it may be helpful to know that my charges (as previously), are “mischief: interfering with lawful enjoyment/operation of a business”, and breaches of a probation order (which I did not sign yet is still considered enforceable) forbidding me from going within 100 m of any place where unborn babies are killed. On Dec. 23rd, 2014, when I was arrested, I was inside the waiting room of an office used for the primary purpose of killing unborn babies.

People have often asked me if I could not simply stay outside the area I am forbidden to enter, and in that way, avoid arrest. But this question forgets something: the children scheduled to be killed will have no one to stand up for them. We will stop being present to them and to their mothers out of obedience to an immorally imposed restriction by those entrusted with authority. If we think in terms of getting arrested or not getting arrested, we lose sight of Christ, hidden in: "the distressing disguise of the poor” - those so poor, we cannot even see or hear them. If we think of someone we love very much and imagine this person planning to commit suicide, would we not do all we could to protect them, to stop them?

When I think of it in those terms, I realise how little I in fact love these helpless babies and how utterly abandoned they are. But each child hidden in his or her mother's womb is made by God than the most loving parents could ever love their children. Because He loves them, we are called to love them. We know that love is not for tomorrow; love is the call for today. Linda and I, (as others), go to love – to strive to love – these little ones who only have minutes to live; they are scheduled to be killed today. We may not succeed in protecting the babies; but we strive to be faithful and to do the best we can while relying and trusting in God “who works all things together for the good...” (Rom, 8:28), not stopping at a legal boundary unjustly imposed. 

At this point is important for me to say that although I am grateful for the great support so many have shown me, I believe that there is far too much of a focus on me in some parts of the world and especially on the fact that I am (unjustly) incarcerated. My time incarcerated is a small fraction of Linda Gibbons' (who has again been arrested time and again for witnessing for life) and the hardship is nothing compared to what the babies go through, which is the worst brutality ending in their deaths. I would like to share with you some of the words from Joan (Andrews) Bell, who is a great inspiration to me and to Linda, and whom I consider a true apostle of the Gospel of Life:

"I'd like to liken it to the situation of two friends: say there are two friends, and one is black and one is white. And in this society the black person is treated as garbage, like the preborn children are. And the friend, the black friend, is brutally killed, and the white friend is roughed up a little bit, not more than being tripped, and falls down, bruising his knee. And let's say that the churches and the people in society become aroused by the injustice that is going on. They all flock to the person with the bruised knee and demand, “this is terrible injustice, this person was pushed and shoved”! And they showered all kinds of attention on that person. I don't think that person who truly loved his friend who was murdered, and brutally murdered, would feel very good about that nor would want it; or would feel bitter if the attention did not come to him. You know, I think that person would be grieved and upset that attention continued not to be given to the friend who was murdered, but only to himself” (excerpt from an interview with Joan (Andrews) Bell *, taken from the book, A History of Operation Rescue. Richard Cowden-Guido).

Please know that I deeply appreciate your prayer and your love and encouragement and am most encouraged when we focus on God's littlest ones. If we appeal to the government or to the public in general, let's always keep the focus on the responsibility we have to assure the establishment of the most basic justice. What is a more basic duty of a government than to assume protection – the right to live – of each human being?

Linda and I are happy to embrace this cross (which is not too heavy) and strive to receive it as a normal result of wanting to be faithful to Christ and to love Him in “the least of these” (Mt 25:40). We do not want to focus on ourselves. We are in jail willingly and we hope that others would be encouraged to stand strongly in faith. We ask you to pray not so much that this cross be removed but for the strength to carry it and to grow in trust in God, to the point were we love the cross. Of course, however, we look forward to the day we hope will come when we are no longer being imprisoned – only if this means that the killing has ended and all of us are permitted to live – and to live freely as dedicated Christians.

A good friend, has made an important observation: there is pro-life work and there is Gospel of Life work. If we are Christians, we want to be Gospel of Life workers! We see not only the problems (of abortion, euthanasia, etc...); we are called to see everything in the light of Christ (crucified, died and risen from the dead)! We are called to see that the greatest injustice today is not abortion but the root of it: the failure to adore God, to put Him first. We have lost respect, reverence, for the human being because we no longer adore God, to whom alone our worship and adoration is due.

Whether we be Christians or not, we are all called to defend human rights. But as Christians we are called to aim even higher. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta said it simply and beautifully, “Let our only ideal be Christ”. As Christians, we are led to discover Christ in each person, not the “crowds”, to paraphrase this saint. We are called to much more than to struggle for a good cause. We are called to live of the greatest Love and to love in return – to lay down our lives for our friends as Jesus said and did: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). We can never be satisfied with our working for a good cause because the Christian vocation demands of us a constant conversion, a growing conformity to Christ, our Life. We must do what we can to establish a just society but without the commitment to strive to love as Christ loves us, we would, as St. Paul says, “be nothing” (I Col 13:2).

I'd like to share with you more insight attributed to Joan (Andrews) Bell, paraphrased by Cowden-Guido):

“The abortion culture holds that comfort is not just a good, but the greatest good, greater than truth or justice or charity, and finally of more importance even than God. That culture is confident that in the end, Christians agree with it on this, and so can be counted on to reject the very real suffering that it will provoke” (A History of Operation Rescue).

I believe this statement is well worth pondering. In the more developed nations, we do cherish our many and various comforts (especially in Canada!), and while God may not demand we renounce them all, we are called to renounce anything that stands in the way of faithfully following Him. This might be our own reputation or human respect, or it could be a job, career, or an opportunity for these. It could be a relationship or our freedom; but as St. Paul reminds us, “In your struggle against evil you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Hebrews 12:4).

I am no less fearful of physical torture than most people, yet I know that if one day it comes to the point where resisting evil (and striving to do good) results in this, - as it is currently a reality for so many of our Brothers and Sisters in other parts of the world – God will give the grace. He shows that He is always faithful, that He sustains us as long as we place our trust in Him. Even if our lives are demanded, we should never fear, because Christ has truly overcome the world (Jn 16:33): Christ is risen! Alleluia! He is truly risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! He says again to us, “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:21); “It is I. Do not be afraid” (Jn 6:21); “Do not doubt, but believe”.


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