Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Women Who Touch the Heart of Father Gordon MacRae

Father Gordon MacRae, the author of the very Catholic These Stone Walls blog, a priest falsely imprisoned for over 20 years is, in my opinion, a man's man. But, to call him just that would be to limit him, and as we have come to know, if prison walls do not limit his reach into the world, then who would we be to attempt to describe him in limiting terms?

But, his life has also been touched by many women, and One Woman in Particular, the Woman Clothed with the Sun.  But, this week, he writes about other women who have touched his life in one way or another in Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and the Gift of Life.

It is fitting for him to write about women in a piece with the partial title "Gift of Life" since women are the central point of the gift of life that we all enjoy, and it is also fitting that Saint Therese be a focus of his article since she was proclaimed, in 1997, as "the greatest saint of modern times" by none other than Saint John Paul II, and is a Doctor of the Church.

Gift of Life permeates Father Gordon's latest missive, as he writes of Miriam Ibrahim, Saint Therese, Michelle, and a young woman named Andrea McCormick.

As I pondered the Gift of Life and the brief stories of the women in this article, I was caught up in how they fought for life in one way or another.  It also was not lost on me that where men (though not all of us) will more likely fight to the death for something we believe in, women (though very sadly not all women) will most often fight for the life of something they believe in.

The women profiled in Father Gordon's article fight for life in various non violent ways, as Our Blessed Mother fights for our lives every day, and yet we men particularly do not see it as a fight.

Miriam Ibrahim fought for life by standing up for it, by giving birth to it in her baby child while chained in a prison cell for her faith.

Like Father Gordon my spirit leapt when I saw the exchange she had with Megan Kelly from Fox
Megan Kelly: “But why not just say what they wanted to hear to save your life?”
Miriam: “If I did that it would mean I gave up. It’s not possible because it’s not true. I have committed no crime.”

Miriam Ibrahim displayed the faith that we may all be called on to display in the near future of this tumultuous world we live in.  Father Gordon can relate to both the question and the answer that Miriam gave, for he gave the same one over 20 years ago, and has paid the price ever since.

Part of the "Gift of Life" that Father Gordon writes about is the truth, for Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Life and truth are inextricably linked for eternity.  As the song goes: "You can't have one without the other."

Father Gordon called his post a two parter, which does not do it justice.  It is more like a diamond. On first reading I looked at one facet of it.  On second another, and on third the light shone on it in still another way, exposing its inner beauty.

One neat thing Father Gordon does is draw us back and forth across time to other posts he has written, and they form a panoply, as it were, which in totality is overwhelming, but in bite sized chunks is able to be absorbed by his readers.  That lets us take the current post as a piece, and then at our leisure and as prompted by the Holy Spirit, move about the links to get the deeper meaning.

When he invites us to go back in time to September 30, 2009, to his post A Shower of Roses, the story of Michelle and the linkage to Saint Therese of Lisieux, the diamond grows brighter as more light hits it many angles and faces.

He was touched by Michelle and her painful death, the love of her friends and family for her and she for them, and her release of herself into the custody of Saint Therese to escort her to the loving arms of Our Saviour.  Saint Therese might have only spent 24 years on this planet, but her way of love is monumental, and Michelle is a part of that way of love for eternity as well.

In her autobiography The Story of a Soul Therese comes to the conclusion of the purpose of her life, and also of her eternal life as she says:
Then, nearly ecstatic with the supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.
This was a quote in the Office of Readings for today.

His final woman of faith is Andrea McCormick, a student from Pennsylvania, who wrote an award winning and thought provoking article on "Why Abortion Should End", which is available in Father Gordon's blog post.

But, where she grabbed me particularly was when she quoted my favorite document of American history, the Declaration of Independence.
“All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We are ALL created equal, not born, not hatched, but created.  And when are we created?  At the moment of our conception.

So, Saint Therese and her way of love permeates this posting about women of faith, and that is how it should be for we are all created by Love and for love.

Miriam suffered for a time and lives to tell the story of God and His Mercy.  Michelle lived for a time, suffered greatly and is in the company of the angels and saints interceding for us now.  St. Therese lived for a short time as well, and left us with her Little Way, the way of  love, and comes to many souls in many ways to make known the love of God for them.

Andrea McCormick is a continuing story.  Like Miriam Ibrahim, she is destined to suffer for her faith, in the midst of a world of unbelief, but like Miriam Ibrahim she and her faith will prevail because it is rooted in Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.

Father Gordon is another continuing story, and though he suffers for his faith daily, he is pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned as the song below Trading My Sorrows says: