From Rescue to Rosary

Joe asked me to meet Msgr.Reilly and every time we’re together at the sidewalk at Manhattan he insists that I’d love to meet him and I would fake an interest in my face and give some excuse. This has been going on for a couple of months. What’s so interesting about an 80 yr old priest and what more possibly he could teach me i thought. an astounding arrogance incarnate I am! However fate paved way that I had to think about my country ‘India’ which performs approximately 6 million abortions every year. I knocked the doors of well known Pro Life leaders asking for help for my country. Since i posses neither money nor reputation nothing about me or my request interested them. And just as I got used to call every Pro Life leader with the weird request to help INDIA or leave a message only to never hear back, one day I receive a call from a feeble old man whose voice or tone I never understood. After much difficulty I deciphered that he’d like to see me in person to discuss about ‘INDIA’.  And  that’s the beginning of the drastic change in the sidewalk counseling journey- from Rescue to Rosary.

20160419_165735

I decided to meet the owner of this fragile broken voice. Brooklyn- Uh not the kind of place like Manhattan. Old monastery building and rusty gates. I ring the doorbell and enter into a small room which is the visiting room of Monsignor. Old creaky fan, half ripped wall paper, old fashioned lights, not so fancy chairs, worn out table with piles of paper and on top of it is a letter from Fr.Frank Pavone the  Director of Priests for Life requesting Monsignor to review his book, Oh I know Fr. Pavone ! I try to make myself comfortable in one of those antique chairs waiting to see the owner of the broken voice. And behind me I hear a feeble voice trying to speak hard “Hello “. There he is, Monsignor. He introduces himself and asks how can I help. I was pretty straight forward. “My country needs help, I want to start a Pro life movement there and don’t know how or when and nothing more but my country needs help.” He smiled at me and asked do i know anything about Helpers and their work. My reaction pretty much conveyed him that I don’t. So he patiently introduces himself.

20160419_203217.jpg

Monsignor Philip J Reilly, the founder and Director of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants whose movement has spread from 4 person group in Brooklyn to Australia, Taiwan, Latvia, Yugoslavia, Austria, Capetown South Africa, Seoul South Korea, Bogota Columbia, South America and Central America. Shortly, Helpers are in all continents of the world. And here is the man who founded it sitting right in front of me and not bothered by the fact that I did not know about him or his movement. Incredible! The work of this Man whose seeds keep reaping the incalculable benefit of “LIFE” itself in remote corners of the universe: families saved, Doctors conversion, clinic closures, spooky tales of saying Mass inside abortion clinics with the equipment still there, vigils with overflowing crowd, death threats, million dollar lawsuits, cardinals and bishops heading the vigils, clinics turning to life centers on and on and on. What is behind all this? How did he do it? What made a simple movement of 4 people go trans continental? Well it’s definitely not technology, technique or tithe. The answer is a transformational journey from Rescue to Rosary!

I was taught to get out of my shell, to approach people, and to talk. I was taught various counter arguments to keep myself equipped to defend life, I was taught to stand for life without being ashamed and in fact with courage, I was taught how to start a conversation, hook people into it, i was taught to show videos, get deep into subjects, I was taught to divert people from getting into clinic and taking them to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, I was taught to handle arguments with contraception very delicately, i was taught not to talk about God at first in fear of putting off people, I was taught to be humorous, cool, relaxed all of which is perfectly fine. Yes! it has saved lives. But I had to unlearn what I learnt even though this is the famous methodology followed by the majority in the Pro Life circle.

I went to do sidewalk counseling with Monsignor Reilly to know what he had been doing and still doing with such perseverance for almost 50 years. He gave a bunch of Rosaries in my hand with brochures containing information for Women who are abortion minded, who already had abortion as well as those taking contraceptive pills and asked me to give in front of the largest Ambulatory Abortion clinic in Brooklyn where children are killed up to 6 months. All I have to do is to be there with the attitude of being at the foot of the Cross with Prayer and Fasting handing out the Rosary and brochure to the women going in as well as to those coming out of the clinic.

br2br1

This, I followed with reluctance for few months now. Hard to distrust our human intentions, skills and actions and completely leave the ground to God. No place for thinking of oneself as savior, no chance for accumulation of pride, no vain chatting, no relying on one’s own capacity and skills, no room for winning arguments or prove oneself, even no room for taking a sip of water, no pushing people to make decisions. Looks foolish from outside isn’t it?  Wait a min. Within few months of doing this even with nowhere near perfection the clinic in Elizabeth, NJ announces shifting to smaller office and downsizing the business. How about that? The place is going to be sold, they’re moving and so are we following them until they join us. Conversion! Monsignor says “God loves the woman before and after abortion. He wants their salvation. He wants the mother to be with Him in Eternity, and so the Abortionist and those involved. He died for them. He died for the soldier who would pierce his side with lance, blood and water gushed and this blind soldier was healed and saved. That’s the same with the abortionist.”It’s about saving the immortal souls.

But there’s more to this transcendence from Rescue to Rosary. Monsignor himself admits how he used to do things in wrong way, the rescue way: save the babies ! stop the abortion! until he learned his lessons the hard way. It’s about fighting the Culture of death. That’s way more in depth than one can assume. To fight this we must know the roots of the Culture of Death and  how did it start, where things went wrong. Pope John Paul ii explains clearly in Evangelium Vitae. Abortion is demonic. Attack against the human being created in the image and likeness of God is an attack on God himself. And to me it is stupid to think that we mortal humans can fight this battle by ourselves. This is supernatural. And realizing this truth with humility is the intelligence behind Monsignor’s approach.

 The spirituality of the Helpers is to be present at the Modern Day Calvary in Prayer with the children who are crucified like Jesus with the humility and meekness of Blessed Mother completely absorbed in passion experiencing both suffering and joy. Because after crucifixion and  death did take place Redemption and  Resurrection.

The battle is not between us versus them. It’s between Heaven and Hell!

Where is Christ truly?

I remember during my first year of post graduation I felt helpless in an argument with a classmate on the existence of God and Jesus as a person and could do nothing but lose myself in the inability to prove my faith. I felt so beaten up with each question that was thrown against me by my own best friend who almost made me weak and pathetic and made me feel like some mindless, sick, superstitious, primitive  who believes in something for no reason. But deep down in my heart I couldn’t just give in to the fact that life is meaningless and we all came from apes and we go nowhere. I searched for God. Even with all catechism and Mass and Sacraments I never felt this need met. Isn’t this a universal search? May be the need to meet God, to know Him personally are disguised or misled into a search for things and people? Are those unquenchable desire for possessions, honor, attention and everything are some kind of misplaced affection?  Because I look at my overflowing wardrobe and feel is this the result of some misplaced affection? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.” And this search is the essence of today’s liturgical celebration.

I should confess I stole the title from Aletia whose article also discusses on the same question: Where is Christ?  The essence of Epiphany is this question revolving around the entire event of man going in search of God who indeed came for man and the nature of this search. Well the search doesn’t seem all comfy and exciting. The very first thing that the wise men face in this search for God is the call to make an unexpected journey into a foreign space. God cannot be found amidst comfort. The opportunity to encounter Him often comes disguised in the toughest situations- like an invitation to spend New Year with in-laws or in front of abortion clinics or the job situations where you are stuck between office politics and loving the neighbor or in the subway. The chance to encounter Him comes with a challenge. Most often unrecognizable often to be missed. In the places you don’t expect and don’t want to. But it’s up to us to say yes or no. Say yes, face the pain and move on like the Magi or say no and take no risk at all. But the Epiphany proves the risk is worth it. St Augustine says “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”

woman-731395_960_720

So where do we begin this search for Christ in this modern world? Again another challenge,another disguise. You can never find him if you are going to go around looking for Him with a picture in your head. The Magi were expecting to see a royal child because they were in search of a King. They almost lost Him however they found the star once they left King Herod. An unexpected twist and further journey into the unknown. Yet they kept going. They did lose track and had to get back in. They had moments of great confusion because nobody in Jerusalem understood who they were searching for. The wise men were really wise men which had them risk being misunderstood too. They stood out from crowd. Going to go in search of a personal encounter with God? then be ready to feel lonely, threatened, confused, tired, even giving-up, and risk losing everything.

The truth is, you might find Him in the most unlikely places but most of all in the most unlikely persons. It could be the drunkard in the road, the man who begs in subway, or your friend who is pro-choice or the child who’s inside mothers womb begging to live or even the Mother herself. It could be even those with whom you try to keep yourself far away. Those hurt, wounded, bandaged relationships that are so fragile to handle, those whom we consider major annoyance, those who might get into our nerves, those we like to forget or even want to intimidate, those who try to put us down. It could be any one of them or even all of them.

homeless-845752_640

St.Francis of Assisi disliked lepers however one day when he overcame his fears and hugged one of them and walked away, it turned out to be Jesus. St.Martin had found a beggar in street and when he shared his cloak that night Jesus came in his dreams wearing the same cloak and thanked him for it. Even on the road to Emmaus the disciples did not recognize Jesus because they were holding a different picture of resurrection in their mind. Break the mental images and we can recognize Him wherever He manifests.

Ultimately the truth is “Everyone you meet is Jesus in disguise.”(Bl.Mother Teresa ) and the Epiphany is about undertaking the journey into unknown of recognizing Him. The event has a happy ending. The next time you think you don’t like someone or want to avoid something think twice. It could be an Epiphany.

mother-teresa