Sunday, March 15, 2015

Father Gordon MacRae, the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Big Picture

Father Gordon MacRae has been a prisoner in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men for over 20 years, based on false accusations of sexual abuse that netted his accuser over $200,000, while sentencing an innocent Catholic priest to up to 67 years in prison.

When a person is baptized, that person is baptized into the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In the Catholic Church, we usually baptize infants, and the sprinkling of some water on their head three times is symbolic of what actually transpires.  What is missed usually, and can be so for their entire lifetime is that this now baptized Christian has been immersed into the ocean of the mercy of Jesus Christ, and into the significance of Jesus Death and Resurrection in the life of the baptized.

When we speak of people here on planet Earth having a big picture view of things, we usually mean someone who takes a longer view on things happening in the here and now, someone who does not get bogged down in the individual weeds.  But, God too has a big picture view of things.  It is just that His big picture is a view of every moment of your life and all those you come in contact with directly or indirectly, and how each moment of your life impacts on your eternal salvation.  Our big picture view ignores most of what goes on in our world, because we could not possibly grasp it or process it if we did try to incorporate it into our view.  God is not bound by our human frailty, even though Jesus took it upon Himself.

So, God has a big picture view of Father Gordon MacRae, and how his life intersects those of others, and how it fits into His plan of salvation for Father Gordon and for others who cross his path, physically and electronically through the writings of These Stone Walls.

This week, Ryan MacDonald, an outspoken critic of the injustice that has kept Father Gordon imprisoned, prepares us for the Federal Court Date coming up on March 17, where lawyers for Father Gordon will make presentation regarding the habeus corpus appeal that they registered with the courts on Father Gordon's behalf some time ago.  His article on These Stone Walls is here.

I have followed These Stone Walls for several years, and have often written here at Freedom Through Truth about Father Gordon, his compatriot Pornchai Moontri, and others who make their home at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men.  Following Father Gordon has opened my eyes considerably, particularly to the lot of those imprisoned for crimes they did or did not commit.  I realize that these are our brothers and sisters, and though they may have committed serious crimes, often our treatment of them is not consistent with the Gospel, particularly as Jesus instructs us to draw along side them.

But, these last few days, the latest writing by Ryan MacDonald, along with the body of work that is on These Stone Walls struck me differently, as you can imagine from the title of this article.

It struck me that Father Gordon has entered into the Passion and Death of Our Lord and Saviour, and is on his own journey to Calvary to meet Him.  God has so loved Father Gordon that he has allowed him to enter into his own version of Jesus Passion and Death.

Let us take a brief look at the Sorrowful Mysteries and see how Jesus Way of the Cross is being played out in Father Gordon's life.

In the First Sorrowful Mystery, Jesus is separated from his disciples, by His choice, mind you, and goes off on His own to pray, and to agonize over the path he has chosen to follow.

Father Gordon was drawn into a web of deceit and lies about him, and was separated from his fellow priests, and cast adrift by his bishop.

When Jesus was scourged in the Second Mystery, it was for the lies told by others about Him, but He also knew that this was part of His Way of the Cross for all of the sins of all those who would ever live on earth.

Father Gordon was scourged by a court of law, as he had to sit through lies presented to the court as facts, and believed by the court.  Where Jesus was scourged physically, and left bleeding and with skin stripped from his frame, Father Gordon was figuratively beaten by stories that were incongruous, and yet were believed about him.

Jesus was crowned with thorns in the Third Mystery, to indicate how the mighty had fallen.  His kingship was denied, and mocked by those who had no understanding of who He was.  He the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was mocked by His own creation.

Father Gordon received a crown of thorns figuratively when a guilty verdict on no meaningful evidence was rendered in his case, and he was sentenced to up to 67 years in prison, effectively a death sentence. As the Christ was humiliated, so too was His alter christus, Father Gordon.

Jesus carried the cross on which He would die to Calvary in the Fourth Mystery.  Along the way, he was aided by Simon the Cyrene, who was pressed into service.

Father Gordon has carried the cross of his guilty verdict into life in prison for over 20 years.  But, God has sent him men like Pornchai and others to assist him to carry the cross he has to bear.

In the Fifth Mystery, Christ dies on the Cross for our sins.

In the Fifth Mystery in the Life of Father Gordon, he has had to die to himself.  It is appropriate that he should wish to have an appeal launched on his behalf, though his own participation in it is limited. Though his appeal would appear to be in the hands of men, it is in fact in the hands of God, and the verdict that is ultimately rendered will be what God wishes it to be.

Jesus placed Himself into His Father's Hands, and so suffered death on the cross for that giving of His free will to the Father.  But, He was resurrected on the third day, and is with the Father in the glory of heaven, to which He calls all of us.

And in the Father's plan of salvation for Father Gordon and for all who follow him, He has allowed Father Gordon to more closely mirror the Way of the Cross in his daily life, so that witness of his faithfulness will shine forth for us to see.

We who are removed by 2 millenia from the actual Way of the Cross, though we celebrate it every time we participate in the mass, have the Way of the Cross of Father Gordon to remind us that greater love has no man that he would lay down his life for his brothers and sisters.

That is what Father Gordon's life in prison is a reminder of.

Saint Teresa of Avila once allegedly said to the Lord: "If this is how you treat your friends, it is no wonder you have so few."

Father Gordon does not deserve to have spent more than 20 years imprisoned for sins he did not commit, but Jesus did not deserve to die either.  Jesus freely chose to enter into His Passion and Death to set us free.  Father Gordon may not have initially chosen this path, but he has been faithful to it, and that is about as much as we frail human beings can do.

Please remember Father Gordon in your prayers as the legal team in charge of his habeus corpus appeal present on his behalf on March 17.


Faith said...

The appeal is in my prayers in a special way this week. May God bless Father MacRae.

Marge S said...

Praying for you in a special way this St.Patrick's Day at Mass, for he himself was a prisoner.I will pray for his intercession for you on this day we celebrate St. Patrick - may you have something to celebrate SOON!!! God bless you Father Gordon! <3

Charlene C. Duline said...

Mr. Brandon, you are truly gifted. This blog was written by someone spiritually gifted and directed. More often than not, I choke up when I read your blogs to Father Gordon. This was one of those blogs. Thank you, thank you, for your gift from God who enables you to write so beautifully about a priest so wrongfully condemned to 67 years in prison for a crime that never happened.
Thank you again. I send you...
Peace and Hugs


Michael Brandon said...

Dear Charlene

Your work on behalf of Father Gordon is the true blessing to him, so I am happy to contribute to it in my own way, and using my own gifts.

Following These Stone Walls has been an immense source of spiritual growth for all who have had the privilege of stopping by there.

His imprisonment has created a wonderful ministry to people of faith in Jesus Christ.

kathleen said...

Thank you so much! Your words were directly inspired by the HS....Fr. G. Has the Largest Parish in the Country! (And the lowest budget! :) I'm 73, & I've seen a Lot of Saints in my time...but, Fr. G. is able to show Thousands of people, what Heroic Sanctity is about! It's Very Human....but, Love always prevails....& it's not always easy or instant. A "White Martyr" is usually least in their lifetime..But our Culture is in such bad shape...Abba has given us a True alter cristi, to Show us the narrow path! Again, thank you for your meditation...Pax Christi...

Michael Brandon said...

A White Martyr indeed!

We are very fortunate to have his wisdom available to us.

May Christ bless us all.