Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Who is the Prisoner Here?

Father Gordon MacRae/You/Me

A prisoner is defined as:
  1.  A person legally committed to prison as a punishment for crimes committed or while awaiting trial.
  2.  A person captured and kept confined by an enemy, opponent, or criminal.
Father Gordon MacRae has been legally committed to a prison (though legally is more of a pejorative word in this context) for crimes that don't appear to have ever been committed, though the complainants are more likely to have actually committed crimes.  None the less, he has spent over 17 years in prison of a sentence of 67 years.  At this raste, in 50 years he will once again face freedom from incarceration, since his "Get out of Jail Card" would be to admit that he did in fact commit the crimes for which he was convicted, even though there is no evidence that they were ever committed.  As a man of God, committed to the vows he made with his ordination, something his Bishop might want to live out as well, he cannot lie to gain his physical freedom.

As his blog These Stone Walls attests, the Poem, "To Althea, from Prison" by Richard Lovelace, an English poet, cavalier of the 17th century, who experienced prison himself rings true, especially in its final stanza.
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above
Enjoy such liberty.
While in prison, Father Gordon has been free to speak truth to lies, love to hatred, and kindness to prejudice.  He has taken his imprisonment, as horrid and wrong as it has been to be a blessing, and one that he can share with others.

In prison, he has shared his faith, in the midst of trials with those around him, living it daily, and not faltering.  As a result, some have wanted to share in the peace he lives in prison, and have become lovers of the one Who loved them first.

But, some time back, he embarked on These Stone Walls, and has shared with those of us who have come in contact with this blog, what living a life of faith means in trying times.

He is maintaining a ministry in prison and outside with his written word and witness of faith.  Would he be more free if he was not incarcerated, and would the good he has done for those in prison, and others falsely accused had he not been wrongfully imprisoned?

But, the main question I have to ask is: Are you and I as free as he is, even though we are are on the outside, as it were?

A number of years ago, I had a vision that has come more clear to me with the passage of time.  In the vision, I was in a one room prison.  There were barred windows on all four sides, and I could see beautiful green fields, and hills, with mountains in the background.  A short ways off, I saw my wife, and our parish priest beckoning me to come and join them in the fields.  How could I do that?  I was in a prison.  In a flash, the walls and bars and roof disappeared and I stood where I had been, but now there was nothing between me and them.

I was terrified.  I had only known the prison of my own making that I lived in, and so to have this immense freedom was traumatic to me, at the time.

Over the ensuing years, I have come to embrace to a certain extent the freedom I have, to live life more fully, to reach out to the God who loves me, and to become more authentically who I have been created to be.  But, only to a certain extent.  I find that I am still caught up in prejudices and fears from time to time.

Recently, we spent considerable time with a friend, and observed how this friend operated for several days.  Though lip service was paid to the desires and needs of others, this friend worked hard during our time together to get personal wishes met, through various manipulative techniques.  At the end of the time we spent together, we knew nothing more of our friend than we had on first arrival.  Walls protected our friend from being penetrated, and therefor truly known.

I can observe this not as a judgement of our friend, but because I have my own tricks for doing the same things myself often.  So, it is not a judgement that I make, but an observation that I am very well qualified to make, as one who has and probably will in the future do many of the same things.  It is in fact a grace given us to look not at our friend, but at ourselves.

Again, I ask, who among us is really free?

Monday, January 30, 2012

A RAM IN THE THICKET: The Prisoner-Priest Behind These Stone Walls

Ryan MacDonald on Father Gordon MacRae

For those of you who have not followed any of my previous commentaries on priests who have been bludgeoned by their bishops in the interests of being politically correct on the issue of sexual abuse of minors by priests, you have missed the real scandal that has gone on.  That scandal is the denial of the human rights we all take for granted in our North American Society, one of which is the right to a fair trial, and to justice in our court system.

A not insignificant number of Catholic clergy committed grievous sexual sins against youth.  Surprisingly, the statistics of how much of this went on, and the proportion of priests involved almost mirrors the instance of sexual abuse in the rest of society.  The suprise is two fold.  First, that men who were and who have chosen to take on the mantle of alter christus engaged in such sinful behaviour is more shock than surprise, but surprising none the less, and ample evidence that the devil is active in our society and works hard to corrupt those whose corruption will support his agenda of destruction of God's beloved.  The second surprise is that society has taken to believing, against real evidence, not just media reports, that the sexual abuse scandal was a priest and celibacy problem, and not a broader society one.  Now, as we see reports surfacing, if you dig hard enough, that scout masters and teachers committed more than their fair share of abuse of the young entrusted to their care, it is no longer a driving issue, evidence once again that the devil had his filthy hand in not only the sins perpetrated against youth by Catholic clergy, but in the blowing up of the statistics and reportage that made perceptions overcome the reality.

Even worse, in my personal opinion, is the abandonment of the priests in their care by their Bishops, where such things as the Dallas Charter, which was meant to appease those who had been abused, or at least those who reported on those who had been abused, or litigated on their behalf, came into being, denying priests accused of due process, and a presumption of innocence. 

In the midst of this all stands Father Gordon MacRae, a priest that I have no doubt was railroaded with false accusations first by those who claimed he abused them, and worst of all by his father in the Church, his Bishop, who denied him proper counsel, and abandoned him to a court system that was not interested in his possible innocence, but bent on sending some kind of message to somebody about something, all of which gets lost when justice is denied.

Ryan MacDonald has written much and often about Father Gordon, and his article linked below is worthy of your time reading it and digesting its content.  You will find other links down and to the left of this article on my blog page, about 25 others to be more precise, about Father Gordon.

Father Gordon MacRae is a hero of the Catholic Faith.  Midst persecution and abandonment by those whose duty it is to love him unconditionally, and support him in his need, he has remained a beacon of Christ's teaching to love one another.  His witness from prison is stronger than the witness of any alleged "free man" that I know. 

A RAM IN THE THICKET: The Prisoner-Priest Behind These Stone Walls: By Ryan A. MacDonald A wrongly convicted priest fights back from his prison cell, and teaches a lesson in fidelity and Catholi...