We are 12 days from trial as of this writing. Wow! Hard to believe it has been 3.5 months since my arrest at my home in front of my wife and 7 children. The effects are still felt both positive and negative to this day. We do indeed press on knowing that God has an incredible plan for us and our mission.
I have officially arrived at Station IX—Jesus falls the third time. Yes, the weight of this cross is getting heavier. The unknown is difficult at times. We pray for greater trust and faith. I thank you for your prayers, love, support and for traveling with me along the Way to my trial date (1/24).
As a review since the last update, Station VIII—Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem—was a wonderful experience. So many women, you know who you are, have visited, comforted and brought us tremendous spiritual consolation. At times, I found myself offering words of comfort to them much like Jesus did for the women of Jerusalem. “Weep not for me but for your children” (Luke 23:28). While the trial will decide my fate in the near future, I ask the women to pray for my wife and children. Weep for them as they may not have the presence of their father in a short while.
I don’t want to sound like I expect to be imprisoned, but in truth, I am preparing my heart for it. I know that I am innocent and guilty of no crime as was Jesus. Still, I know that the modern-day justice system doesn’t always free the innocent. I am guilty of being a devout Catholic Christian. I am guilty of being a strident pro-lifer who zealously pursues abortion minded men and women and the lives of pre-born children. I am guilty of being a father who loves his children and will protect them at all costs. So, weep not for me, but for my children. Pray for their strength and courage these next days.
Station IX is a compelling station. Jesus falls for the third and final time. Why three falls? Why, when He is so close to His final destination, does He fall? What does the third fall instruct us about Him? What does it teach us about our earthly journeys? So many questions I am left to ponder. If Jesus fell under the weight of our sins, why do we even question when we stumble so many more times than three. It gives us hope, yes? There is hope knowing that He fell and so, in a certain sense, must we do also. His fall, however, is not a fall from grace like ours. Like us in all things but sin (Hebrews 4:15). Truly, our falls are a result of our own brokenness, fears, worries, anxieties, stress, and lack of trust in God’s plan. We grasp for what we know, and at times, we fall to our temptations and distractions. Well, friends, I am no different than you.
Jesus’s fall instructs and teaches us to persevere and get up again. The sacramental life of the Church strengthens our resolve and fortifies us for the journey we still have to travel. The next 12 days will no doubt be challenging. The 3-4 projected days of court will no doubt be a scourging, crowning, stripping and nailing.
I will be scourged and purified of my own sinfulness as I pray for the grace to meekly accept the verbal flogging that will no doubt be coming from the mass media, prosecutor, and others.
I will be crowned a hero for the pro-life movement, and in some sense, I already am. The crown is not one that I choose though, but I willingly accept if it be beneficial to our cause.
I will be stripped of my garments or my own self-image. What will be said about me I cannot control. For a person who struggles with being liked by others, this will be especially hard. I humbly accept it all for the glory of God and for the building of His Kingdom here on earth.
Finally, I will be nailed. As I write, I am reminded again of what Monsignor Mike Mannion once said. “If you want to follow Christ, you better look good on wood.” What more can I say. The persecution and suffering will have an end and I know it will be a victorious end regardless of the outcome of the trial. The cross is a sign of victory! I embrace my cross and I truly forgive all those who have put me on it, including myself.
I will continue to update you as we travel these next couple of weeks. Again, with a very grateful heart, I thank you for your continued prayers.
Your brother in Christ,