Cum his qui oderant pacem, eram pacificus.—Psalm 119:7.

Today is the 14th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.  I am often reminded there is only One High Priest, Jesus Christ.  We ministerial priests share in that priesthood both ontologically and by suffering as Christ suffered.

The above picture was taken before or after a trial several years ago in Washington DC after one of our arrests for peacefully counseling inside an abortion center with Red Rose Rescue (RRR.) We do counseling inside abortion centers to stop the immediate threat of babies about to be killed with the understanding our peaceful protest will probably lead to arrest. The above picture includes Will Goodman on the left who was just sentenced to 1.5 more years in prison. On the right is Fr. Fidelis CFR (né Christopher Moscinski) who has recently spent much time in prison for his pro-life work. Our good friend Lauren Handy of RRR (not pictured) was also just sentenced to an unbelievable four years in prison.

Fr. Fidelis and I learned how to counsel outside abortion centers from an elderly priest of the diocese of Brooklyn named Msgr. Philip Reilly.  Msgr. Reilly founded Helpers of God’s Precious Infants which has shut down dozens of abortion centers and saved thousands of babies from abortion.  Msgr. Reilly founded HGPI when he was about to give up on the pro-life movement after a major political defeat in NYC in the early 1980s.  In a state of despondency, he said before the Blessed Sacrament “I can’t do it anymore.”  Msgr. Reilly understood God to say to him at that moment, “That is right.  You can’t do it.  Only I can save babies from abortion.”  Msgr. Reilly named the new organization “Helpers of Precious Infants,” until he realized all those children belonged to God, and so he re-named it “Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.”

Msgr. Reilly then began making 3-4 Holy Hours a day and fasting until 3pm every day.  After Mass and all his Holy Hours, he would go to an enormous abortion center in Brooklyn where he would literally love women away from the center from his union with God.  (I learned from him in person at that abortion center in Brooklyn, and such is the effect of his ascetical life and union with Christ.)  Msgr. Reilly also held prayer vigils where thousands would march with him from Mass to the abortion center.

Why go from Mass to the abortion center?  It wasn’t only because they were recently fed with the most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Msgr. Reilly understood the goal of the pro-life movement had to be from going to Calvary re-presented in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to Calvary of Christ being crucified in the unborn at the abortion center.  When I was in seminary, my formators hesitantly allowed me to bring out Msgr. Reilly to Denver to teach us these ways of Helpers and the Prayer Vigils.  Amazingly, all the priests and seminarians (and many lay women who were allowed that weekend to come to the seminary for his pro-life methods) found him as saintly as I did.  His trip was a great success.

However, a month after he returned to NYC from Denver, I called him, complaining that we had few turn arounds (saves of unborn babies) in our sidewalk counseling sessions and prayer vigils.  He asked me if pro-lifers were still coming to the streets.  I said “Yes,” and he said “Then they’re becoming saints,” and he hung up on me.  That was his old-school NYC Irish way.

What does it mean to “be saints”?  That is obviously an overused term these days, but Msgr. Reilly had a very profound understanding that linked the Calvary of the Mass to the Calvary of the abortion holocaust.  He likened the pro-life calling to St. John the Apostle who was simply called to witness to the crucifixion with the Blessed Virgin Mary.  When everyone else ran, St. John remained at the killing center.  He could not take the nails out of Jesus with all the Roman guards there.  He could not run away, as John’s love of Mary and Jesus was too great.  St. John’s presence was enough that day, even if he couldn’t “do” anything.

Even though Msgr. Reilly has turned thousands (yes, literally thousands) away from abortion centers, his union with Christ is the center of this, not success in the apostolate.  He really does believe his vocation (and the advocation of every pro-lifer) is to act as St. John not doing things at the killing center, but just being holy at the killing center.  As I wrote above, this has had a profound effect upon both Fr. Fidelis and me. (Of course, those who can counsel, should counsel.)

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception where I was ordained on 15 May 2010.  p/c Lori Dahl

Having been ordained 14 years ago, I never expected to get so involved in Church reform.  (I had no idea the hierarchy who had infiltrated the Catholic Church was so corrupt when I was in seminary.)  Now that I am out of parish life and living as a diocesan hermit, I often wonder what I am doing in blogging and podcasting.  But that is not the center of my participation in Christ’s One Priesthood.  Union with Him in prayer and the sacraments is my union with Him, and any minor apostolate that flows from such union is secondary.

Often those of us involved in Church reform feel like we are helpless.   We do not belong to a Protestant MegaChurch that can just establish a Board of Directors to remove someone in a Chancery or the Vatican.  The Catholic Church is not a democracy, but neither has she has ever been infiltrated as badly as now.  Can we physically remove people?  No.   But neither do we give up in a state of despondency.  Just as St. John could not stand up against the masculine Roman guard who crucified Christ, so also we can not stand up physically against the current lavender Roman guard who crucifies the Catholic Church.  But we will not leave her to these wicked men, either.

So, we do not run, even if our participating in Christ’s One Priesthood looks different from what we wanted so many years ago.  Like St. John, we stand in a ministry of presence at the foot of the Cross with the Immaculate Virgin Mary, witnessing to the greatest Church crisis in history.  We do not consent to the crucifixion of the Church.  Rather, we tell everyone what is going on.  But this is only the beginning of what is to come for God’s glory and the salvation of souls.

14 years ago today at my ordination in downtown Denver by Archbishop Chaput. I never imagined my Mom (in green) would only see me 13 years a priest, at least from earth.  Rest in Peace, Mom.