In a City on a Hill: Lent, Sacrifice and the Passage of Time

Sacrifice is at the very heart of being a priest and being a Catholic. This Lent, restoring sacrifice is the key to being a Church in the modern world.

Most readers know by now that there is a lot going on in my situation. I want to thank writer, Ryan MacDonald for stepping in with some important news for readers last week. I do hope you understand that I will not be writing about the developments he described so well.

But that is as it should be. I must leave it to others to take up this story, and indeed some have.  David F. Pierre, host of The Media Report – and author of Catholic Priests Falsely Accused – addressed the story in stunning fashion in an “Exclusive Report” that I hope TSW readers will review and help pass around. As someone posted about this on a Facebook page, “It’s time to awaken the sleeping giant of on-line Catholic media with news of this story.”  Please do.

sanctepaterblog

The beautifully presented Sancte Pater Blog also ran the story, as did others. As Ryan MacDonald wrote last week, I have decided to just stay the course I have been on here at These Stone Walls. Suffice it to say, I thank readers for your prayers, support, encouragement, and hope.

Today, Ash Wednesday, I mark 6,361 days in prison.  I didn’t tally this with scratch marks on my cell wall, and I don’t actually keep an ongoing count in my head. I won’t wake up tomorrow and tell myself it’s the start of day number 6,362. At least, I hope I won’t. That would be really awful. But two or three times a year I pull out my calculator and tally the days I have been in this place. I’m not even sure of why we do this, but everyone here does. Our friend, Pornchai Moontri just told me that today he has been in prison for 7,275 days, and others of our friends have been “inside” a lot less.

Sometimes I discover some strange coincidences when I count the days. For example, my 5,000th day in prison was also my 26th anniversary of priesthood ordination. My Ash Wednesday post last year was “Protect Us from All Anxiety: Nightmares and Dreamscapes in the Desert.” The day I described the recurring nightmare that I have in prison was also my 6,000th day behind these stone walls. The numbers don’t mean much except to convey a sense of the drama of time as it plays out in such a place.

Time is experienced differently here than anywhere else. The New Yorker Magazine had a very good article last month by Adam Gopnik entitled “The Caging of America” (Jan. 30, 2012) about our ominous and burgeoning prison system. He wrote that “a prison is a trap for catching time” and described the trap thusly:

“It isn’t the horror of the time at hand but the unimaginable sameness of the time ahead that makes
 prisons unendurable for their inmates… That’s why no one who has been inside a prison, if only for a day, can ever forget the feeling. Time stops. A  note of attenuated panic, or watchful paranoia –  anxiety and boredom and fear mixed into a kind of enveloping fog.”

It’s not a pretty picture, and I think the pain of living in prison is experienced proportionately to one’s mental capacity. Prison is the one place on Earth where intellect is a handicap, and possibly even a source of deep personal anguish. I took on “Does Stephen Hawking Sacrifice God on the Altar of Science?” last year because I feared my brain cells might atrophy from lack of use.

Perhaps I am in good company in this suspension of time. A great comment from TSW reader, Carlos, on my post, “E.T. and The Fermi Paradox” mentioned that God lives in the ”nunc stans,” a place where there is no passage of time at all. Carlos is exactly right that God lives outside of time. Psalm 90 gives a hint of this, and it’s a good Ash Wednesday message:

“You turn man back to dust and say ‘Turn back, O children of men!’ For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:3-4)

I know the feeling. My time here has not been experienced as thousands upon thousands of days, but as one very long one – a sort of long Lent with no Easter in sight – except, perhaps, in hope. I guess it’s really that way for all of us. Without hope, there can be no Easter, only Lent. The reverse is also true. To be a Catholic Christian is to live in hope despite all appearances to the contrary.

A CITY ON  A  HILL

I’m showing my age, but I can hear Roger McGuinn from The Byrds intoning the musical version of Ecclesiastes (3:1): “For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” I don’t mean to lecture you, but “doing time” – “doing Lent” – qualifies me to write about both. This Lent is our time to ponder freedom and all the dire threats to it.

It’s a time to wake up, a time to take stock of who and what we are, and most importantly of what we are becoming. It’s a time to measure our civic duty as Catholic members of the human race in this place at this time. It’s a time to account for what it means to live as humans are meant to live, in God’s image and likeness in a society and culture we are supposed to add to and not just take from. It’s a time to discern whether we as Catholics shape our culture more than it shapes us. Even a prisoner can enter into that discernment.

I wrote of one vivid example a year or so ago, but it’s worth repeating. It’s a typical prison story with a very atypical outcome. It involved my friend, Joseph, whom I wrote about In “E.T. and The Fermi Paradox.” One of Joseph’s many disputes with other prisoners erupted into a fight. Both were hauled off to spend some time in “the hole.” Joseph emerged first, then a week later, his enemy. News of their ongoing combat spread throughout the prison, and the peer pressure was intense. “Fight – Fight – Fight” was the sole message they heard from both friends and foes. The prison was abuzz with the inevitable. Joseph ducked all my efforts to intervene. This was about a month after our friend, Pornchai was received into the Church on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2010.

Seated in the prison chow hall one day, Joseph awaited his opponent for the big scene. Pornchai was sitting with me as usual as hundreds of prisoners poured in for dinner and a show. I decided I would have no choice but to try diplomacy. Then Pornchai suddenly stood up. In the presence of hundreds of anticipating prisoners, Pornchai walked to the door to meet up with Joseph’s enemy.

I groaned as I saw diplomacy fly right out the window. Then Pornchai gestured to the young man to follow him. Together they walked to the table where Joseph was seated. They sat down, and the three of them had a conversation. I watched from across the hall as Pornchai spoke and the two enemies stared at their shoes.

I don’t think the Geneva Convention entailed such drama and a sense of impending doom. Then suddenly – in the sight of all – the three of them stood up. Joseph and his enemy shook hands, gave each other a fraternal smack on the back, then parted company. The war ended and a treaty was struck. I was very proud of Pornchai. Gandhi could not have done better.

There is a Gospel declaration for the age we live in, and Pornchai exemplified it that day. It’s a worthy goal for Lent for all of us who have been waiting for some light in the darkness while sometimes forgetting that we are the ones who are supposed to bring it:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand where it gives light to all in the house.”  (Matthew 5:14-15)

BEING CATHOLIC OUT LOUD

TSW reader, Mary Floeck has posted a number of comments here and in other Catholic blogs. She is a great example of a faithful Catholic discovering that she has a voice in the public square. Mary has found her voice in some recent well written letters published in a few Catholic publications. Having seen her name in many comments on These Stone Walls, I have been very proud to also see it in Our Sunday Visitor and a few other places expressing her hopes and concerns as a Catholic.

In a recent letter in OSV (February 5, 2012) Mary raised the challenges faced by the Church and priesthood by the Holy Father’s announcement of the formation of an “American Ordinariate.” This is the creation of a special diocese for formerly Episcopalian congregations that want to become Roman Catholic. A part of the transition is that the married Episcopalian priests can become Roman Catholic priests and remain married.

ANGLICANORUM COETIBUS

The practice is not new. Pope John Paul II established such a process for individual Anglican clergy in the early 1980s. I  wasn’t sure I agreed with all of Mary Floeck’s concerns in her OSV letter until just a few days later. I came across a brilliant editorial in The Wall Street Journal by Father Richard Cipolla (“Being a Catholic Priest – and Married,” Houses of Worship,  Feb. 3, 2012). Father Cipolla is a Catholic priest ordained in 1984,just two years after I was ordained. Previously a married Episcopalian priest, Father Cipolla became Catholic and was ordained through a special indult of Pope John Paul II extended to Episcopalian clergy on a case by case basis back then.

Mary Floeck’s OSV letter piqued my interest, so I was intrigued by what Father Cipolla had to say about priesthood, celibacy, and marriage. I read it twice, and found it to be an articulate and powerful lesson for me as a priest. It isn’t about celibacy. It’s about sacrifice, the heart and soul of both a priestly and a Catholic identity.

Falsely Accused Priests

In his brief editorial, Father Richard Cipolla has given the Church and priesthood a Lenten reflection on being Catholic in a culture increasingly closed to Catholic ideals. Here’s an excerpt that helped me prepare for Lent:

“Sacrifice is at the heart not only of the priestly life but also of the life of every Catholic. How could it not be so when the primary symbol of our faith is the love of God displayed on the cross of Jesus Christ?”

“Despite my situation . . . I am a firm supporter of the celibacy of the Catholic clergy. Its basis is not found in councils or popes but rather in the person of Jesus Christ. The heart of the Catholic priesthood is sacrifice, and celibacy frees the priest to give himself totally to the Church and its people.”

Father Cipolla added that the sexual abuse scandals that have been in the spotlight over the last decade have been “a glaring example of the perversion of celibacy,” a result of too many priests living a life that is “selfish and closed off.” I agree, in part, but I also want to emphasize the role played by money in the causes and context of the scandal. In my review of David F. Pierre’s landmark book, Catholic Priests Falsely Accused, I pointed out the hard evidence raised by former Los Angeles prosecutor Donald Steier that a full fifty percent of the claims against Catholic priests have been false and tainted by the lure of money. This aspect of the scandal has been grossly overlooked by the entire Church, and a part of our sacrifice as a Church must not be to sacrifice justice for priests falsely accused.

Someone might argue that I have a vested interest in taking that position. Perhaps that’s true, but no justice afforded to me now will give me back even one of the 6,361 days and nights taken from me in prison. Those are my sacrifice, and this Lent I offer that sacrifice for the Church, for the priesthood, and for the readers of These Stone Walls who come here from the city on a hill with a search for truth and justice in their hearts.

“I appeal to you therefore, by the mercies of God, to present your selves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind so that you may have sure knowledge of the will of God, of what is good, and acceptable, and perfect.” (Romans 12: 1-2)

Memento homo, quod cinis es, et in cinerem reverteris.
Remember, O Man, that thou art dust, and to dust shalt return.

~ William Byrd, Anglican convert to Catholicism during the reign of Queen Elizabeth

 

About Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

The late Cardinal Avery Dulles and The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus encouraged Father MacRae to write. Cardinal Dulles wrote in 2005: “Someday your story and that of your fellow sufferers will come to light and will be instrumental in a reform. Your writing, which is clear, eloquent, and spiritually sound will be a monument to your trials.” READ MORE

Comments

  1. Monastery or Prison-It is the Prisoners Choice!
    Stone walls do not a prison make,
    Nor iron bars a cage;
    Minds innocent and quiet take
    That for a hermitage:
    If I have freedom in my love,
    And in my soul am free–
    Angels alone that soar above
    Enjoy such liberty.
    TO ALTHEA, FROM PRISON
    by: Richard Lovelace (1618-1658)

  2. Mary Lou says:

    Dear Fr. Macrae. Why are You in such a terrible situation? Why does God allow it to happen? Because He knows your heart and soul and He is saving so many other souls because of your suffering. The good you are promoting in that prison in your gentle way must be a balm on the Sacred heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of His Mother Mary. You are making reparation for the sins of the world as She asked at Fatima. The immense joy you will know in the Heavenly Kingdom will wipe away all of the tears and sorrows. May God the Father intervene on your behalf and remove you from prison in the near future. I pray that your trials will soon be over. You will be sorely missed by the good prisoners left behind, but your fatherly nature should be of great comfort to them and hopefully many more will convert and follow your example. God Bless you!
    My communions are offered for you and all of our priests, deacons, consecrated religious and seminarians. With Love and Prayers, mlc

  3. Ellen M. Wrinn says:

    Dear Father,

    I recently learned of your wrongful imprisonment. During this Lent I have taken you as one of two priests for whom I will especially pray and make sacrifices (although I dedicate every Friday for every priest). I am so glad that you are not bitter but hopeful in Our Blessed Lord.

    You said, “This aspect of the scandal [the lure of monetary compensation by accusers] has been grossly overlooked by the entire Church, and a part of our sacrifice as a Church must not be to sacrifice justice for priests falsely accused.” From what I’ve read in the comments here, it has not been overlooked by the entire Church, just certain members. Praise God that so many laity and your fellow clergy have recognized this and are praying not just for you but other priests (whether falsely accused or not).

    May He bless you and keep you close to His Most Sacred Heart and may you be released as soon as possible. We need every good priest especially in such dark times. I know Our Lady is watching over you.

    Yours in Christ Our Lord,
    Ellen

  4. Bishop Pius says:

    Dearest Fr.G

    I have been unwell of late..but it is good news to learn of renewed efforts for an Appeal.As a Bishop from a third and oppressive country I struggle every day.

    Sometime in August last year one of our parishioners donated $50 towards your Appeal Fund. However you declined the offer saying the money could be used more profitably in my country, I understand though. Fr.Gordon as a priest I know how you feel to see your parishioners struggle for want of shelter, food etc. My people feel, though we struggle everyday, your case deserves more attention than ours. I wonder how we can help.

    My wish and prayer is that, by the will of God you shall, with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, freed from the oppression of the devil by being delivered, restored and made whole in Jesus’ name, so you will continue to serve into the family and body of Christ.

    It is my wish and prayer too that your deliverance shall bring about blessings all over the world and witness the supernatural miracle-workings of the Holy Spirit done through God`s servants and instruments in the mighty name of Jesus Christ the Deliverer.

    May you experience the love, mercy, grace and presence of God for healings and deliverances. For God still want you .

  5. Noel Abbott says:

    Brilliant. A Lenten homily above all Lenten homilies. I don’t believe I’ve read or heard better! Prayers for a fruitful resolution to your review.

  6. Helen says:

    Dear Fr. Gordon..

    Thank You, so much, for the sacrifice You offer for us. God bless and speed Your freedom. Maybe for a time, when You are released, the joy will over-whelm the sadness of lost days. At least, I am hoping so.

    You are ALWAYS in my mind, heart and PRAYERS. God bless You and thank You for allowing Him to use You. Ironically, He couldn’t be as powerful, thru You, if You weren’t suffering. YOU are the sacrifice He is using to convert the masses, and, enrich the believers. Thank You, from the bottom of my heart, for all that You do. Think about it!! A wonderful miracle that You are…the fact that You’ve remained His son. THAT’S WHAT GRABS US… YOUR LONG-SUFFERING.

    Thank You for being the “YOU” that You are!!

    Helen

  7. Father Joseph says:

    Dear Father MacRae, I have offered Mass for you. May God grant you justice, and convert all who brought you to your predicament. Thank you for your example of prayer, perseverance, courage and your priestly ministry in prison. Fraternally, Father Joseph. Sydney, Australia

  8. pierre matthews says:

    Pornchai’s and Jeremy’s stories bear witness to the active presence
    of Jesus through Fr. Gordon, living example of love and total self-
    abnegation, a priest, victim of a satanic perjury.
    Pornchai and Jeremy, you are teaching us, in word and deed, how
    to respond to our Lord’s invitation to practice love where hate
    prevails, to forgive when revenge rules.
    Lord, thank you for sending in our midst Pornchai, Jeremy, Gordon, prophets with you incarcerated.

  9. gemma gallant says:

    Dear Father I pray for you every day and for Father Corapi as well. Life can be so sad and disappointing. But we must go on and never give up!

  10. Elizabeth Allen says:

    It is so good to read of the latest efforts on your behalf.
    As the wife of a Pastoral Provision priest I have watched your struggles: and indeed my parish has been most supportive of other priests similarly accused.
    The question of ‘celibacy or marriage’ is irrelevant to the mission of the Church. Some are called to one state and some couples to the other state. The Church of England and The Episcopal Church of America have always had both celibate and married priests who accept each other and do not pass judgement on the saintliness or otherwise of each other. There is room for both.
    There is also faithfulness in marriage as well as celibacy just as there is unfaithfulness too. A marriage to a priest – Catholic, Episcopalian or Lutheran is a special calling. The parish and The Church is paramount for both partners and it is within that relationship that the marriage, a union quite unlike a secular marriage, flourishes.
    It is worth noting that as Michael Gresford-Jones ( lately Bishop of St Albans, Herts, England, ) once said to me that it was intersesting to note that a majority of the Church of England clergy were themselves sons of clergy.
    I believe that says a lot about the sanctity of priests, their wives and their families.
    There are several priests coming into The Ordinariate who are father and son and indeed there are sons of clergy who are now Roman priests within the celibacy rule.
    Many prayers and blessings for the success of the appeal.

  11. jamil malik says:

    This is simply wonderful. there are no other words to describe it. The Story of Pornchai’s mediation and Jeremy’s comment remind me of the great John Wayne film, True Grit. That captures it well. These Stone Walls exemplifies a City on a Hill.

  12. Lupe K. Gwiazdowski says:

    Father, The call to live holy lives can be very , very difficult in marriage. Today a Catholic marriage lived according to the Church’s wisdom is very rare. All of the attacks on marriage from without would certainly be easily turned back if we, the Catholic people , were living in holy and chaste relationships. We ARE the city on the hill- and if our light goes out, the world becomes dark. Let us all pray for holy families and holy priests for our church, for the sake of the world. What you suffer, Father, is Light for the rest of us. -Lupe

  13. Gail Ramplen says:

    God bless you and protect you, Father Gordon. Am praying constantly for you and all priests. May the Lord be glorified because of your faithful following and witness. Keep strong and may your release be immediate.

  14. Chris K says:

    Thank you, Father, for sharing all of this with us. Just today I was mentioning your plight to my kids, and telling them what light you bring to the darkness. Thank you for keeping strong.
    God Bless!

  15. sheila ryan says:

    Jeremy, I believe that our Heavenly Father may have sent St. Michael to send Father in that cell at the exact moment he was needed. What an inspiration! Thank you for telling the story again. I was already wondering where you were in the blog.

    I have so many books but for this Lent, I’m going to read St. Father Kolbe and St.Padre Pio again. I don’t believe we can ever read too much about uniting our suffering to Our Precious Savior’s Cross! Suffering is a gift from God. I often say in a comment, please adopt Priests to pray and sacrifice for and place Father G in the number one spot. He gives us so much and we owe! Thank you Father for this post. It went straight to my heart. You are soooo loved!
    Sheila

    I don’t believe we can ever read enough about

  16. Laura in Texas says:

    Good to hear you in such good spirits, Father. God bless you.
    Jesus, we trust in You,
    Laura
    AMDG w JMJ

  17. Marge S. - Ohio says:

    Soooooooo happy on this Ash Wednesday for you Father Gordon! As we sadly commemorate the day when our dear Fr John Corapi received his bad news last year, we have reason to celebrate this day for you! Saw the news clip on your case tonight which was posted on ONWARD and our group is offering you thoughts and prayers on this most fantastic development – you have waited hard and long for this news and we pray for your full exoneration! GOD BLESS YOU FATHER GORDON AND MAY HE CONTINUE TO KEEP YOU STRONG DURING THIS PROCESS!!! We are here for you…….YEAH!!!!

  18. Marge S. - Ohio says:

    Soooooooo happy on this Ash Wednesday for you Father Gordon! As we sadly commemorate the day when our dear Fr John Corapi received his bad news last year, we have reason to celebrate this day for you! Saw the news clip on your case tonight which was posted on ONWARD and our group is offering you thoughts and prayers on this most fantastic development – you have waited hard and long for this news and we pray for your full exoneration! GOD BLESS YOU FATHER GORDON AND MAY HE CONTINUE TO KEEP YOU STRONG DURING THIS PROCESS!!! We are here for you…….YEAH!!!!

  19. Leo Demers says:

    An Ash Wednesday Blessing!!!

    This was the LEAD story on the New Hampshire TV news station:

    http://www.wmur.com/video/30519235/detail.html

    The link is also on Fathers Facebook page.

    - Leo

  20. eileen says:

    Dear Fr. MacRae:

    What a wonderful way to begin Lent by reading your blog.

    Jeremy’s post of his prison stay with you and your positive influence is both heartbreaking and heartening.

    Thank you for remainng such a good and faithful priest through your many days in prison.

    Be assured of my prayers. May God bless you with vindication very soon.

    JMJ
    Eileen

  21. Phyllis says:

    Dear Father Gordon, I very much appreciate all of your writings in the spirit which you present. Lent…. Your writing, helps me to do better,to prepare myself, to be eternally thankful for my blessings; to see my discomforts as opportunities to give them for lent. When I think of you , I visualize your location, and compare it to my room. I imagine your meals and offer my tuna sandwich. Thank you. You inspire me to be more than I am.
    I give thanks, that your case is being reviewed, and I pray for your innocense to be legally & canonicly established. God Bless.

  22. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Thank you dear Fr.MacRae. I am honored and humbled.

    Jeremy’s comment is truly moving. You are indeed a holy priest, Fr. I have prayed and prayed for holy priests, and God shows me He has given us holy priests, right here at These Stone Walls. All I can think of is where would people like Jeremy and Pornchai be without you, Fr. MacRae?

    It seems ludicrous to think that of your imprisonment as God’s will. I have been reading bios of Padre Pio and Maximilian Kolbe. It was their acceptance of the unacceptable in their lives as God’s will, which reminds me of you and how you have conducted your priesthood in prison. All the bad treatment by superiors and peers, who should have recognized their goodness and Godliness, but instead punished and accused and misunderstood,could not dissuade them.No amount of punishment could halt their missions.They became beacons of light to so many and now, of course,they are in heaven enjoying the Beatific Vision. They brought Christ to all, at all times. May God’s will continue to be done, in prison, and outside those walls.

    Because God has blessed me with my love for the Church and her priests, and with a love for home and family and children, I speak out on issues which I feel are vitally important to the health and welfare of both. Fatherhood in both areas is under attack. The Church needs good strong Fathers, and so do families. I still have trouble seeing how both areas can be served well by married priests. But I am open to allowing Christ to show me the way.

    May you, dear Fr., and all your readers have a truly blessed Lent.

  23. Joe says:

    God bless you Fr. Gordon. We all continue to pray for you. I can only echo the comments here in praying that this is the last Ash Wednesday you will have to spend behind bars in prison. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 91:11. God has his angels protecting you.

  24. Domingo says:

    Thanks, Jeremy, for your candid account.

    Father G, now I know why you were hauled to prison. I believe that each one of us is created for a unique purpose; nobody can duplicate what each one of us does. At that point in time, God put you where Jeremy was so that you could let the light of CHRiST shine.

    But I am also praying for your release.

    By the way Father, I remember your ‘woman’ in the Mystery Theatre. I found my second one, and I am beginning to fall intensely in love with her. Have you read the book, “Come Be My Light?”

  25. Sarah says:

    What a coincidence! Two days ago I was hoping to re-read two specific TSW accounts but was unable to locate where they had been posted. And here they both are today: the “chow hall” intervention and Jeremy’s account. There’s certainly intellectual and spiritual meat in Fr. G’s posts, (other readers are more skilled at providing insight and reflection), but the ones that stick with me most, and inspire me greatest, are the personal stories. I never tire of how God works through us when we give Him entrance. God’s Spirit is transforming. He has created us out of dust, and breathed His life into us, and we are wondrously made.
    Have a blessed Ash Wednesday and a spiritually fruitful Lent.

  26. Marguerita says:

    “…all of us waiting for some light in the darkness while sometimes forgetting that we are the ones who are supposed to bring it.”
    That struck a chord with me today.
    Dear Fr Macrae, I don’t comment often, but I read your blog every week, and I keep you in my prayers, and try to raise awareness with others if I can. I pray your appeal will be successful. It must be so hard to live with that hope, and with the fear that your hope will be dashed. Please God this will be the last Lent you spend in prison.
    God bless,
    Marguerita

  27. Karin says:

    “Shaping the culture or being shaped by it”~ it is so easy to let this culture shape us, but if we strive to be “Catholic Out Loud” we, as Catholics will shape or re-shape this culture. As I said to another Catholic blogger, we have much for which to offer our Lenten sacrifices this year as religious liberty slowly unravels, the sacrament of marriage is degraded more and more every day, and life becomes disposable through abortion and euthanasia.
    If we could all have a little of Pornchai’s courage and diplomacy so many personal and global wars could be avoided.
    Prayers for you, Pornchai and all the men there. God bless and may you all have a blessed Lent.

  28. Cheralyn says:

    Father Gordon, God bless you! You remain in my daily Prayers. For Lent our Spiritual Motherhood Apostolate will be praying the Stations of the Cross for Priests Mon-Friday after Mass, you are included in those Prayers. Thank you for inspiring such hope in your writings. Truly you are a Priest forever, Father Gordon you are living proof of just that. Your writings teach us about trust, mercy and hope. Thank you so much. Please be assured of my daily thoughts and Prayers. When you are released, Florida would welcome you as our Priest!

    Yours in Christ,
    Cheralyn

  29. Trish says:

    My thoughts and prayers with you Fr Gordon as we begin this lenten season. Many thanks for the link to Sancte Pater. The picture there of you (in clerical garb and with the prison bars and crucifix in the background) spoke volumes to me and prompted me to make a prayer cards for my weekday and Sunday missals using the picture and the quotes from Hebrews 13:3 as well as Romans 12:1-2. Hope I haven’t infringed any copyright laws but it is for private use! This way I will remember to lift you up in prayer at Mass…

    God Bless

    Trish

  30. Jeremy says:

    Note: I posted this sometime last year on These Stone Walls, but I think it is very relevant to today’s post. So I want to post my comment again and here it is.

    There is a lot more to the story of Father Gordon MacRae than you know. I want to tell you about the real Gordon MacRae. I spent five years in prison with him, but we didn’t know him as Father anything. Just G. I was 19 years old when I went to prison and most people thought I was 16 or 17. Every young kid in prison is very aware of predators and prison is filled with them. A tiger can’t change his stripes and a man who is a predator on the streets can be a monster in prison.

    G is far from a predator. He was the only person any of us could trust. He treated us with nothing but care and respect and challenged us to leave prison better than when we came in. In all those years I never saw, heard, or felt anything that made me believe G ever belonged in prison.

    There’s something else you need to know. There was this big, tough man on our cell block who everyone feared. I was a pretty tough kid and could handle myself , but one night this guy told my roommate to be somewhere else. Then he came in my cell and demanded something despicable from me. When I refused he dragged me from my bunk and started beating me. I fought but was no match for him and he pinned me to the floor. All the upstanding convicts fled to their cells and blocked their ears.

    Then the beating stopped and i realized someone else was in the room. It was G. The man stood up and demanded that G leave. G just said, “I don’t jump on your command.” Then this beast just lunged at him, but G stood there and didn’t move. When this guy saw that G wasn’t backing down he walked past G and left. G made sure I was okay. This man never came near me again. He never even looked at me again.

    I am out of prison today because of G. All I learned about courage and integrity and honor I learned from G.

    Jeremy

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