I have had several readers comment on what they perceive as my ‘courage’ concerning my exploits in the pro life movement. Sure, it is flattering to be thought of as courageous, but it also gives the opportunity to ponder this word courage and what it entails. I don’t see myself as particularly courageous, as I know exactly what I’m thinking and feeling when I do these things. I just feel extremely driven to do them, due mainly to strong convictions about my belief systems, and the fact that I really believe the Gospel tells us as believers, that we do not have the luxury of watching those around us go to hell without a fight from us. If we do not speak up we are derelict in duty, and we are actually Anti Christian because we then excuse and justify our non action as ‘the right thing to do’.
As I have written in past postings, conviction is cultivated through vast amounts of praying and fasting. Jesus started his ministry with a 40 day fast and prayer session, and we have clear records of what he was able to do. Intensive praying and fasting, when done properly, will access the ‘deep thoughts’ of God, and they come across as life changing convictions. That is why I warn people about this, because entering the spiritual realm, whether good or evil, brings about major changes in life. One cannot go to the ‘foot of the cross’ in intensive praying and fasting, and not expect to be told to ‘pick up your cross daily and follow me”. Jesus clearly warned us that we are to expect persecution, mockery and other derogatory words and behaviors targeted at us, and from the amount of work I have done, I can personally confirm Jesus statement as being exact and accurate.
The problem is that most people look at this through negative lenses, and become fixated on what appears to be rejection through worldly eyes, instead of understanding or accepting the fact that ANY worthwhile cause will bring about dissention within any group. Yes, there are nasty things that happen, but real joy cannot be experienced until one is willing to pay the price for what is right, and then goes about doing it. It doesn’t mean that one cannot be afraid while acting on what is right, it means that despite the fear, one does what is right anyway.
I had my father as a role model, in both matters of faith, as well as pro life. I watched someone with guts do things that I thought were crazy until I began to pray and fast in earnest, and then I began to understand what ‘drove’ him. Then I moved into the action phase, and began to get even more understandings and insights into the Gospel, and realized how ‘alive’ our faith really is. The best way I can describe this strong conviction to people who have not yet developed it is that “I cannot not do it’. To not act on what I know is way harder than working through the fear and doing what I need to do.
Since my arrest at Notre Dame is a matter of public record, I feel free to discuss it. I have told most people who ask me about it, I was fairly scared walking up to the campus, and remember saying to myself “I hope we don’t get arrested today”. But I also remember being prepared to do and go with whatever was going to happen. Praying at Notre Dame was the right thing to do, and for those who did (and do) not understand and let their fear get the best of them made many comments pertaining to my ‘foolishness’ and attempted to justify their non action as being superior to what I did. To me that is fine, because I was not motivated by the promise of accolades, speaking gigs, or fame. I did it because the spirit convicted me to do it, and I was not going to sleep well until I acted on what I knew what was right. (Virtually all of the now known ND 88 has said about the same thing).
Notre Dame brought out a crisis of consciousness, not only for Obama, but for the Church and believers in general. There were 88 people willing to risk imprisonment, humiliation and significant risk, but it exposed the ‘nakedness and impoverishment’ of the pro life movement in general, as it greatly overshadowed the efforts of all the other groups combined, who did major fund raisers and sold their efforts as ‘effectively creating tension’. By most of these groups either distancing themselves, or outright condemning us as ‘show hogs’, the pro life movement missed a golden opportunity to build upon momentum created by these arrests. But in truth, it exposed them for what they really are: and that is a group who seems more interested in safety, comfort and convenience, and playing ‘nice’ with the enemy instead of getting the job done in the most effective non violent way possible.
For some, these may seem to be strong words, and they are. I also know firsthand what it is like to have handcuffs put on, and to be charged with ‘trumped up’ charges, and spending time in jail for political reasons. I know firsthand the pressure in dealing with a court system and a University that is giving us the run around. I know firsthand the inconvenience of driving all night to get to South Bend for a 15 second appearance in front of a judge, only to turn around and make the long drive back in near total exhaustion. I know firsthand the possible negative ramifications of a conviction and jail time would do to my career and livelihood. I know firsthand of friends I have lost, religious leaders, many so called pro lifers and even some priests who will not talk or associate with me. But I know firsthand the peace and joy of picking up the cross and following my master, knowing with 100% CERTAINTY that I followed his will, and that no matter what happens, only good will come of it. That, no one can take away, nor minimize with any word or deed, and I know firsthand that this will follow me into eternity.
So, for those who worry about having courage and then doing something, I am here to tell you that do something, and courage will come. It seems the vast majority of the time our worst fears never come to fruition, but we let them paralyze us. It seems that if God sees us reach out in faith, He will not abandon, nor disappoint us. In my own life it seems to be that when I’m willing to pay the price and then act, I normally don’t pay the price. When I allow fear to take over and do nothing is when many of my fears are realized. As I stated before, I am not concerned about the outcome of Notre Dame because it is out of my hands (It is also out of Fr. Jenkins hands, but he does not realize it). I just know that I did what I was supposed to do, and the God who knows all and sees all and who asked me to go will not let me down. That I am certain of.