As Jesus carried His Cross on the sorrowful way to Golgotha, there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. (Luke 23: 27-28) I have been contemplating this scene and meditating upon this colloquy between Jesus and the women; imagining Jesus gazing upon the women with compassion and sorrow through blood-streaked, tear-filled eyes. What brought this sacred scripture to mind are the reactions to Mary’s recent arrest to which I was a witness.
Mary Wagner’s arrest on December 12, 2016, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn, was videotaped and featured on LifeSiteNews under the headlines, Mary Wagner arrested again for trying to save babies at abortion center. She was taken into custody after having entered the Bloor West Village Women’s Center in Toronto, the same killing place in which she was arrested last year on the same date. Entering the abortuary to plead with the mothers not to kill their babies she offered bundled red and white roses with baby’s breath, a Miraculous Medal attached to the bouquet, with a card indicating where women can obtain help with their pregnancy. What does Mary’s arrest have to do with Jesus’ admonition to the daughters of Jerusalem?
Many observed in the video of her arrest Mary’s mournful countenance; people have described it to me as “grief,” “sadness.” Indeed, her countenance expressed her agonized heart, but we need to understand the source of her grief. As Mary and I were standing by the police cruiser while the officers searched her pockets, she looked at me and formed words without speaking aloud, which I did not understand. I drew nearer to her and mouthed, “I did not understand.” She responded, “It was full.” By this she meant that the abortuary was full of women who had scheduled the deaths of their babies. It was witnessing this horrific scene and the fact that hearts were so hardened and closed to the Gospel of Life that passed a sword through Mary’s soul.
Hearing, as I have heard, expressions of sorrow, disgust, lamentation for her arrest the only appropriate response is what I believe Jesus, like Mary, would say: Do not weep for me, do not lament my arrest and imprisonment; weep for these, the littlest of our brothers and sisters, the Holy Innocents, who are massacred here, torn to pieces, whose frail cries are not heard, whose broken, bloodied bodies are thrown in the garbage or treated as objects for research. We should hear the voice of the prophet in the wilderness crying, Weep for yourselves as you accept the status quo that children, not yet born, can be torn and expelled from their mother’s wombs while our courts and government ignore and allow this horrendous injustice. Weep for the silence and complicity of the multitudes of ordinary people who do not object to the slaughter of millions of human beings by dictate of corrupt ‘leaders of governments.’
Consider whether our consciences are numbed to the slaughter of the innocent and defenseless given a [h]istory [that] leaves us so many examples from which to learn that ‘legality’ is not synonymous with justice. In the Nuremberg trials, the defense of ‘I was just following the law’ was rejected. Each of us has a duty to act according to our wellformed conscience, even if this means going against the flow; even if it means personal sacrifices and hardship. (Letter from Mary Wagner to Employees of Abortuary, December 10, 2016).
My response to expressions of distress about her arrest is that the radical, subversive love that Mary is living, the personal sacrifice and hardship, are necessary. Do not consider her personal sacrifice as being locked up inside a provincial prison. In fact, although Mary is behind iron bars she is freer than all of us. Our holy faith teaches us that [f]reedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., ¶ 1731. By becoming a prisoner of love and a witness for the sanctity of life through refusing to obey unjust laws; by directing her freedom toward God and on behalf of the voiceless, defenseless unborn babies and their mothers, Mary is free in the truest sense. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ‘[t]he more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just…‘ Id.
Directing human freedom toward God and doing what is good and just is urgently needed. We should expect that a radical response in confronting the Leviathan of abortion, such as defying so-called laws that permit the unabated slaughter of the unborn, will exact a price, a high price. Mary’s radical response costs her immensely: her sacrificial offering is her inability to praise God daily in the Liturgy of the Hours; the absence of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and daily receiving her Beloved Jesus in the Holy Eucharist; surrendering her ability to contemplate His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Eucharistic Adoration; not having recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation as she would wish. This is her personal hardship, but she does not count the cost. It is this degree of radical love, this vulnerability, which is poured out as a libation on the sacrificial offering of her faith and conviction.
What is required in this life-or-death war is the love of the Vulnerable Heart of Jesus. The massacre of the holy innocents demands this response in the heart and the actions of the Church Militant; becoming soldiers of divine love who are vulnerable as the Pierced Heart of Jesus. Permit me to explain.
In his unpublished transcription of conferences titled, I Thirst, Conferences on the Wisdom of the Cross, the founder of the Community of Saint John, where Mary once discerned a religious vocation, Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P. wrote about Love’s Vulnerability and the significance of Jesus’ heart, which eternally bears the wound of the lance:
…this wound manifests the vulnerability of the heart of Jesus. Nothing is more vulnerable than a wound…Christ’s wound which embraces all his heart, expresses the vulnerability of his heart and this vulnerability of Jesus’ heart expresses the vulnerability of the Father’s heart: God is love, hence he is infinitely vulnerable, the intensity and depth of which we cannot grasp. Nevertheless, we can have a certain experience of it in love, in divine love, because charity unites us to God-Love….in divine love [we can] discover a little of what this divine and eternal vulnerability is. From the moment we truly love in charity, we can no longer bear the lack of it, we can no longer bear a voluntary resistance to love. There we are able to grasp a little of what the vulnerability of Jesus’ heart is…..
Love is receiving and giving. It tears us away from ourselves…but it is also receptive of the other, of the loved one. And from the moment one is receptive, one is vulnerable; one is hurt by the person one welcomes [footnote omitted] who might not be as considerate as he who welcomes him (Marie-Dominique Philippe, O.P., I Thirst, Conferences on the Wisdom of the Cross, VI – Only One Love, Love’s Vulnerability, pages 78-79).
The Church Militant must become the Church Vulnerable in living and speaking the truth even if it costs us our family and friends, our jobs, our reputations — yes, even our lives. We must bear our crosses and follow Jesus, if we are His disciples (cf. Luke 15:27). Can we expect to do less than our Lord who accomplished the will of His Father unto the ignominy and repugnance of the Cross? If we truly live our holy faith, we will willingly die from the wounds of Love, the love that opens us wide to forgive and pray for our enemies; to suffer mockery, ridicule, slander; to be reviled for the truth and becoming a fool for Christ; to become, in the eyes of the world, weak, silent and defenseless before Pilate who claims to have power over life and death; to perform spiritual and corporal acts of mercy in speaking for and protecting the defenseless against every evil that defiles and threatens the sanctity of life.
It is in imitating Jesus, the God-Man of Sorrows that we will become the Church Vulnerable and give to Jesus the souls for whom He thirsts by defending His beloved Little Ones in the wombs of their mothers; by battling courageously for the salvation of all the souls mortally wounded through condoning, counseling, aiding and abetting the crime of abortion. It is by living the vulnerability of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, wounded by ineffable love, that we will become truly free.
So weep not for Mary, but seek the grace and virtue to become the Church Vulnerable for [n]ow is the time to stand by women who are pregnant and in need of support – not by killing the children growing under their hearts, but by making room for them in our own, by welcoming and loving them both. With Mary I pray that God may give to all who profess that He is Life a great love for the Cross. May we hear and answer the cry of Jesus from the Cross: Become My Vulnerable Heart.
Sister Immolatia in Corde Perforato Iesu, PJC, is a member of the Fraternity The Poor of Jesus Christ Mission Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in Waterloo, Ontario.
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