This reflection was written prior to the conviction of three pro-life rescuers in the second FACE Act trial on Friday, September 15, 2023.
(LifeSiteNews) — Early this morning in the relative silence of my cell, I pondered a small black ink cross drawn on the cold concrete wall, and I considered the mysterious glory of our Lord Jesus’ Cross and the profundity of this holy sign of contradiction. He suffered an unjust “trial” and was thus sentenced to a torturous death by capital punishment. Yet, by this very means of suffering and death, He “trampled down death by death” and bestowed upon His Church the gift of true life. Eternal life! Christ is indeed our Divine Rescuer and the Holy Cross was His perfect weapon to liberate us from our sins, the eternal death those sins merited, and from all evil.
Today on this solemn feast I pray for my friends and fellow rescuers whose unjust trial continues in D.C. If convicted and sent to long prison terms, this may in fact become a form of “capital punishment” due to the possibility that the more elderly rescuers could spend their last years in a federal penitentiary. I hope and pray this will not happen. From prison, an aged St. Paul wrote the following words full of both mystery and glory: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the Church.” (Colossians 1:24) Paul can rejoice in the sufferings that he is enduring while in prison because of the “mystery” God has manifested in the glorious Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus — and given as a gift to His people. The imprisoned saint participates in this mystery whereby God makes known “the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.” (cf. Col. 1:26-27)
“Christ in you” — these three simple words manifest both mystery and glory. They are the only means by which St. Paul can both “rejoice” in his sufferings, and in his own flesh “fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” Such a glorious mystery is only possible since Christ and the infinite power of His Holy Cross dwells within Him. As I gaze on that little cross on the cell wall starting to glow as the sun begins to rise, I cannot help but think of my own impending sentence and prison time. I ask Almighty God for the grace to love my cross and the courage to carry it faithfully as Jesus and St. Paul did, and all the Christian saints who endured persecution and/or unjust imprisonment. I beg that same grace for my fellow rescuers in jail or at trial right now, as well as all of God’s people suffering persecution and imprisonment throughout the world, especially places like China, North Korea, Nigeria, and within other oppressive or warring nations.
The Theology of the Holy Cross is mystifyingly beautiful. Living this theology, however, is far from easy. When suffering gets personal we discover how challenging this glorious mystery is in our own lives. In my small cell, I think about how I may not be sentenced for several months. Then, my sentence could potentially be counted in one to 11 years. This sobering reality often sneaks up on me and reminds me of what is at stake. I recall back many years ago to 1998 and a time when in a special Holy Mass, a Respect Life Mass, I offered my life to the Blessed Trinity with a deliberate purpose. Namely, I gave my small life to Jesus for the intentions of His Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart of Mary, most especially for (1) the conversion of poor sinners, (2) in reparation for sin, and (3) for an end to the war on preborn children. Perhaps, my present situation is an answer to those very prayers once offered solemnly to Jesus and continually renewed ever since. Even today on this liturgical feast. This is why, while I await my sentence, I pray for the grace to be like St. Ignatius and practice his virtue of holy “indifference.”
That is, a Christian indifference to WHATEVER may happen with the courts. Regarding the coming sentence, I believe that whatever God ordains or permits will be for my good and the good of the Church, even if it’s the maximum penalty. I don’t like jail. Personally, I would prefer not to be here … or in prison! Yet, I struggle to pray: “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” Job teaches us a timeless truth when he says, “We accept good things from God, should we not accept evil?” (Job 2:10) “Yes” is the tough answer. Yesterday was the feast of St. John Chrysostom, the Archbishop and Confessor of Constantinople, who suffered unjust arrests, imprisonments, and exile. It is told that when the immoral government officials banished him to a remote abandoned island, he responded by saying, “Wherever you may take me, I will be happy because my God is there.”
Almighty God is everywhere. His omnipresence includes ancient jails, deserted islands, modern abortion mills, and our U.S. federal prisons. Jesus said to His apostles, to St. John Chrysostom, as well as to you and me: “be not afraid … I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the ages.” (cf. Matthew 28:10, 20) This promise is a tremendous consolation whenever we suffer. I can tell you myself that these words of the Lord have often given me much hope and light in the darkest of places. I think back to our D.C. rescue at the late-term abortuary. It is a very, very dark place. Yet, Jesus was there. He was present in His spiritual omnipresence, but also in the person of the helpless preborn child, as well as in those mothers who were pressured to abort, and I firmly believe I saw Him in my friends who were trying their best to rescue these human persons who were in harm’s way. From testimony in the trials, we know lives were saved that day. Thank God! However, sadly, we also know that at least two babies were murdered. One child was diagnosed with physical disabilities. His or her parents were fearful. The other baby was murdered by parents who had been fighting with each other outside the abortuary. The father was screaming horrible insults at the mother as she screamed her anger back at him … and their little boy or little girl was killed in the malicious crossfire. That fateful day, we were honored to be able to offer the last tangible and practical love these little ones knew before returning to God. We did all we could. We tried to rescue them from death and their parents from making the worst mistake of their lives. We tried to be God’s love for everyone there at that dark place. We tried. Our work is still not over. The rescue, the witness of truth, the manifestation of love continues. We are still trying to do what we can.
St. Josemaría Escrivá once noted how our human lives are such small things for making reparation to Almighty God for all that offends Him. This idea translates in me as I think about how but small my own life is for making reparation to God for the killing of His two little orphans who were deliberately destroyed because neither they, nor their parents, were loved. Ultimately, they died because “the love of many had grown cold” (cf. Matthew 24:12). How badly the poor preborn and our poor world needs the warmth of God’s love. The abortion holocaust may be summed up as a massive absence of love. Those who kill lack love through their radical sins of commission. Those who don’t directly kill — but don’t do anything to help others — lack love through their radical sins of omission. Both of these deadly sins together form the sick foundation of this holocaust that kills and maims thousands of people every day. Every. Single. Day.
Where shall we go to obtain the love we need to abolish the holocaust and build a culture of life? The answer is to be found in Jesus and upon the Holy Cross, where passionate holy love comes together with divine mercy. God is Love. Jesus is God. And Jesus reveals “no greater love” when He is upon the Holy Cross laying down His life “for love of His friends” (cf John 15:13). But how can we live this loving mercy at a time of such historic social divide? Today some people insist that abortion is a positive good as a most “fundamental human right,” while others insist that this evil is always a homicidal act against an innocent human person. What can we possibly do to breach this existential division between such dire, consequential, and diametrically irreconcilable positions? I think one answer was presented to the world this week in the unlikely heroism of the newly beatified Ulma family from Poland. Their story is an amazing example of how to live the Christian faith during a time of antichrist holocaust.
This family of nine was called by God to be rescuers and witnesses (martyrs) to human dignity during the Second World War. When the immoral government of the Nazis forbade any aid to Jewish people, the Ulmas chose to “obey God rather than men” (cf. Acts 4:19). With a courage as large as their charity, they served their “unloved” and “unwanted” Jewish brothers and sisters by hiding them from those Nazis who would murder them. In so doing, this heroic Catholic family demonstrated by their actions that all people are loved and wanted by Almighty God. The merciful love of the Blessed Ulmas was brought to its consummation when they were discovered by evil government agents and summarily executed. But as the beatification shows, their own sharing in the mystery of Christ’s Holy Cross was not the end of the story. They now participate in the glory of Jesus’ Resurrection!
The Ulma family suffered for love. They had their role to play in the Holy Cross and each family member did “make up for what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, on behalf of His body which is the Church” (cf. Colossians 1: 24) You also have your role to play in the love of the Holy Cross. I have mine. Let us pray for one another during this holocaust of innocents to be faithful, like St. Paul, St. John Chrysostom, and the Blessed Ulmas, to this gift and responsibility from God which, only with and in Jesus, carries both a living mystery and a certain glory. “Ave Crux spes unica!”
Will Goodman was convicted of “conspiracy against rights” and violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act for blocking access to late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo’s Washington Surgi-Clinic in downtown Washington, D.C., in October 2020.