In three brief posts, Fr Gordon MacRae writes of prayer as an act of resistance against evil, the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001, and hope for justice.
Traditionally in this week on These Stone Walls, we bestow my annual Stuck Inside Literary Award on the author who accompanies me through a long Labor Day weekend locked up. But this year it is postponed until the next long weekend. I have a writer in mind, but he can wait a bit. There is simply too much going on behind these stone walls right now that I want to tell you about.
At the end of my post, “The Canonization of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” I thanked TSW readers for the apostolate of prayer that so many have recently entered into with a 54-day Rosary Novena and other prayers and sacrifices on my behalf. I have been humbled and, deeply moved by this. Your prayers are very important and powerful, and I thank you and God for them.
I am also from the outset, thankful that you included my friend Pornchai Maximilian Moontri in this mission of prayer. It was a wonderful effort for the Year of Mercy. I cannot go into detail just yet, but sometime soon I hope to tell the bigger story of Pornchai’s life, and the full immensity of both the cross he has carried and the grace that has transformed it. That story dwarfs the labyrinthine ways of my own hardship. There are things that happened during your offering of prayer that may have a profound impact on both our futures. More on that in future posts.
And while your prayers were underway, they inspired a three part series of posts on These Stone Walls that began with “How Father Benedict Groeschel Entered My Darkest Night.” They generated a powerful response from record numbers of readers who came to These Stone Walls over that three-week period. They came in the tens of thousands and overwhelmed the limits of our host server, slowing things down for a few days.
I much appreciate the efforts you made to share those posts and bring this matter to greater awareness. And thanks to Father Zuhlsdorf’s blog (Priests, Bishops: Stop what you are doing and read,) my August post, “How Father Benedict Groeschel Entered My Darkest Night” was widely read in Rome as well.
There are signs of hope in that regard. On August 26, 2016, the Providence Journal published an excellent and bold article by Mauro Visigalli, an advocate for the Roman Rota, the Vatican court and center of justice. The landmark article is entitled, “Priests Deserve Basic Justice Too.”
I have stood at many crossroads in my life, sometimes with no clarity about the road that must be taken. I stand at one now, and have no sense at all of what comes next for me, for justice, for the priesthood. Many readers have contacted me asking what I will do when released. Your own innate trust in the answers to your prayers is wonderful to behold, and inspiring, but the matter remains complex. My imprisonment is a grave injustice, and without doubt I will in fact be released from it one day. How and in what manner remains to be seen.
I am very much aware that the two Patron Saints who found their way behind These Stone Walls with me – Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Saint Padre Pio – were both released from their respective prisons, but not in the manner one might expect or hope for. Saint Maximilian’s release from unjust imprisonment was on its face a grievous disappointment for those who loved and admired him in this life. And yet for the life of the Church it was a great gift of immeasurable grace that inspired millions. As I described recently in “Saint Maximilian Kolbe: A Knight at My Own Armageddon,” his surrender of his life to Divine Providence was a powerful act of resistance against evil that inspired many.
I have learned one irrefutable truth about being at a crossroads in life. I may believe that I am choosing the path I take, but in retrospect I know that I never do. The path is chosen for me.
THE 15th ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
I do not know what comes next in the matter of seeking justice, but I continue to feel most strongly that the evil of injustice must be resisted. We had a small team of legal experts who were moved to action by a three-part series of articles by Dorothy Rabinowitz in The Wall Street Journal, the latest being “The Trials of Father MacRae” in 2013.
But as I revealed recently, the exposure of this story was delayed three years because all the documents that I struggled from prison to gather became collateral damage in an act of terror that gripped this nation on September 11, 2001. In its aftermath the offices of The Wall Street Journal were destroyed and I had to start all over. It was just a small part of the collateral losses of that awful day that most people did not know about. I want to write just a little further about that strange connection before getting back to what comes next.
September 11, 2016 will mark fifteen years since that awful day. It is now one of those moments in history that all Americans recall with a mental snapshot of where they were and what they were doing as that day unfolded. I wrote about this on its 10th anniversary in “September 11, 2001: An Account of that Day You Haven’t Heard.” It might be a tedious post for anyone who lived through the drumbeat of horror brought upon America on that day, but through that post some have found perspective and solace.
In a related post last year, “Veteran’s Day: War and Remembrance and the Cost of Freedom,” I wrote of the historical roots of the September 11 attack, of why that particular day was chosen by the enemies of freedom. While much of America slept, our religious liberties were chipped away at for the sake of an imposed political correctness that required keeping us all in the dark about the historical significance of 9/11.
The events of history never stand alone, isolated from all the days that came before. The 9/11 attack on America had roots in spiritual warfare going back centuries, and our national lack of awareness of that fact was to our peril.
Even now it is widely criticized – though still no where near criticized enough – that the current administration of America’s government refuses to see the word “Islamic” in Islamic State. At the National Prayer Breakfast in 2014, the American President cited not Islam, but the 1,000 year old Christian Crusades as the cause of modern terrorism. In this, the President has repackaged history, stripping it of its real meaning while presenting you with a revisionist spin – all while requiring that you surrender your own religious freedoms. We are witnessing, as I have written before, the enactment of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
This all might seem a little off the point I want to make, but not by much. What makes spiritual warfare so treacherous is that modern Western Culture is blinded to it, failing to see it for what it is. There is a trickle-down effect to this that undermines not only religious freedom, but freedom itself.
RYAN MacDONALD’S STUNNING NEXT STEP
Only in such an arena could a Catholic priest remain in prison in America for 23 years on trumped up charges with not a shred of evidence to support them. Only in such an arena could a Catholic judge ignore that perversion of justice by blithely assuming that his system has aptly afforded justice while also refusing to hear any evidence beyond his own presumptions. This matter remains the perversion of justice that Dorothy Rabinowitz described, and that Ryan MacDonald has courageously laid out in “A Grievous Error in Judge Joseph Laplante’s Court.”
Ryan has recently published something that is immensely useful, and I want to ask your help in making it known. When your 54-day set of novenas was announced, These Stone Walls received a set of comments condemning our efforts by presuming my guilt. There are those – even some within the Church – with an agenda not for truth and justice, but for keeping the momentum against priests going. Ryan challenged the commentor by sending him a link to one of Ryan’s past articles that directly refuted the biased remarks. He never heard from the commentor again.
Shortly after this, Ryan received an email message from a noted journalist asking for more information on this story. In the process of responding, he decided that it’s pointless to send individual articles every time someone wants information, or when the ugly face of prejudice shows itself. He realized that he needed to write a single post, a single URL, containing a systematic list of links to all the articles he has researched and published on this topic. I was shocked to learn that there are sixteen of them, published in various places.
So now they are gathered in one place. TSW readers who are engaged in social media and other venues in the public square can now post a single link that contains a wealth of factual background and research on this story. It is extremely important.
I hope someone out there will send it to Judge Joseph Laplante, and maybe even to my own bishop who, like the judges involved, has welcomed not a single word from me in my own defense. Ryan’s link can be posted in emails, comments on other Catholic sites and social justice blogs, and sent easily to anyone to refute the bias and place into public view the truth of this story. I ask readers to bookmark it for future reference, and to please share it along with this post. Ryan’s new article is “The Father Gordon J. MacRae Story: Injustice in New Hampshire.”
A POSTSCRIPT FOR TSW READERS AND FRIENDS
I also have to ask your help in another way. There are a number of expenses associated with keeping These Stone Walls going, and they have come due all at once. In addition to annual domain and hosting fees, TSW has other expenses for security, and I must prepay a monthly telephone account in order to place calls from this prison to hear and respond to messages. Some of these costs are unique to this blog, but necessary to keep it going. This includes an order for a year’s supply of typing ribbons that I can place only once a year in October.
Additionally, my subscription to The Wall Street Journal is due in October, as well. Its nearly $400 annual subscription cost may seem like a luxury, but for someone with no online access at all, it has become an important tool for writing. The cost is a fraction of the rate for The New York Times or The Boston Globe – both of which are about $1,000 per year, and the WSJ, is by far a superior newspaper.
Finally, prisoners here must also mail order and prepay for replacement clothing, shoes, hygiene items, etc. There’s even a medical co-pay. After I posted “Thai Cuisine and The Great British Baking Show,” a number of readers asked to be told when the time comes to order our annual Christmas food package from a vendor approved by the prison. I just learned that the order forms will be distributed in September and must be placed by mid October. And we are still accepting assistance with legal costs.
So if you wish to help with any of the above, I welcome your help. Please be modest. I thank those who have already done so. Unfortunately, at the same time we had several thousand new visitors to TSW in August, our Pay Pal link had disappeared and we did not realize it. A few readers alerted us to it, but it took several weeks to restore. It is now working, and even a little improved. I also add below all the mail rules and rules and instructions for gifts should you opt to send anything directly to me here. Thank you.
RULES FOR SENDING U.S. MAIL:
New Hampshire State Prison has radically changed its rules for sending mail to a prisoner. These guidelines should help.
- No greeting cards of any type, or for any occasion, are allowed in mail to a prisoner here as of May 1, 2015. I can still purchase cards to send out, but you can no longer send a greeting card to me – not even at Christmas. (Bah, Humbug!) This matter is currently the subject of a First Amendment lawsuit filed by the ACLU. We will keep you posted if this rule changes.
- Photographs and printed material, including printed photographs, are still permitted as long as they are printed on plain or “photo-quality” paper. Printed images, printed articles, and other material printed from the Internet are allowed.
- Though material printed from the Internet is permitted, photocopies of published materials, e.g., from a book or magazine are not allowed due to copyright rules.
- Please include a valid return address on both your envelope and letter. Mail is opened in my presence but I receive only the contents, not the envelopes.
- Mail is limited to 10 physical pages per envelope, but double-sided printing is okay. Staples are not allowed in the mail – even though I can staple anything in any of several places here.
- Please do not use a title on the envelop such as “Rev.” or Fr.” Prison officials reject mail that has a title on the envelope even though I never even see the envelope. The mail is returned to sender without my even knowing about it. In the body of your letter, however, you may call me whatever you want (within reason!).
Please address mail as follows:
Gordon J. MacRae
P.O. Box 14— No. 67546
Concord, NH 03302-0014
- Checks or money orders) are permitted with letters, but must have the sender’s name/address and my number (67546) on the check. Personal checks have a 30-day hold. I am thankful for your support as it helps with postage, supplies, even food, clothing, telephone, and other expenses. Checks are removed from mail before I receive it, and then deposited in my account. I am often unaware of a check until I receive a monthly statement.
- Please never feel obliged to do this, but if you do, using the address below may be preferable. Letters should be sent to me as above, but my sister has an alternate address. Checks can be sent without the restrictions described above, and deposited into my support fund. You need not use a number on checks to this address:
Fr. Gordon J. MacRae
P.O. Box 205
Wilmington, MA 01887.0205
- The Pay-Pal link at TheseStoneWalls.com can also be used, and donations strictly for my legal fund should still be sent to P.O. Box 863, Hampton, NH 03842-0863.