Thursday, February 08, 2018

A number of churches in the area sent buses to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. last Friday.1 I traveled with a fellow parishioner whom I have come to know through various, local volunteering situations. Neither of us attended the march previously.

Early start for a long day: dressed before 5 o'clock and made the two highschoolers' lunches. Dropped the son who catches the out of district bus at his stop and arrived back home nearly in time to meet my ride to St. John's church. Jeff had a busy day in my absence, taking our son for an interview at a prospective high school, going ice skating afterwards and then a sporting event in the evening.

Not much happened on the drive down to D.C. After a brief rest stop at Maryland House, the deacon and his wife led a rosary. I've not met a deacon yet who can flawlessly count on a rosary, so it may be an ordination requirement that their wife can. They traded off the decades with her adding back the Aves he left off, to our collective relief. Around 11, we rolled into the Basilica's parking lot but there was no time to visit.

It would take a solid hour to hoof it across campus to the Red Line and walk more from Metro Center. Not to mention stopping for the Angelus which I've never before prayed on a public street. It was a showy display to satisfy the fastidious in the group.

As soon as we hit the Mall, my companion and I lost our traveling group. The program was in progress and Sister Madonna was being introduced. C-SPAN clip. She was very sweet. As we were beginning to speculate that we had arrived too late to hear the president speak, our attention was directed towards the jumbo screen where the vice president appeared live from the Rose Garden (C-SPAN video). He introduced the president. They are both good speakers. I could listen to his New York accent all day long.

The crowd was overwhelmingly Catholic. And young. The clergy, exclusively male.2 We stayed in place until Speaker Paul Ryan finished, then the crowd began moving down Madison Drive. We missed most speakers that followed Ryan, hearing only bits and pieces of Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

But the crowd did not move much and I began to doubt we'd reach the Supreme Court. We had a rendezvous with our group, the 5 o'clock Latin mass at St Mary's, so we bailed on the march to arrive just in time. En route, we encountered an instance of anti-Catholicism:

Also, a fellow rolled down his window long enough to complain that our presence interfered with his commute home.

The tiny church, St Mary Mother of God, was jam-packed. The line for the confessional rivaled the line for the head. We stood along the back wall until someone asked whether we were in line for confession. We stepped forward a bit to make use of the kneelers behind the last pew. So tired, kneeling felt more comfortable than standing!

The pews were raised some off the floor so just about everyone stumbled coming out of them. The incense completely overpowered the small space. The schola sang beautifully, absolutely beautifully. Like most Catholics my age, I know only the basic responses. This was a high mass but people ignored the difference.

Leading up to communion, the woman next to me whispered,
May I ask, do you know how many times in one day someone can receive holy communion? Is it twice?
Reflexively, I told her yes and thought to myself two things: (1) anyone asking that question knows the answer and (2) she wants me to know she's received communion once already today.

At communion, our priest, Fr. Carter of Holy Innocents, kept a lightning pace, so we crossed the aisle to his short line. Too quick! He ended up flipping the host intended for me to the floor!3 Walking from the rail, I muttered, "That wasn't my fault!" It was his speed coupled with my desire to utter "Amen" instead of just waiting there with my tongue out.

Almost immediately upon taking our place at the service, I spotted a Facebook friend sitting several rows up whom I have never met in person. After the service, I went forward and greeting him just very briefly because we had to catch our bus. It was neat.

On the bus ride back, we watched "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," a favorite with the older generation on board. I can just imagine the casting call for it! Though it may be based on a classic, old story and star Julie Newmar, I just wasn't into it. It ended literally when our bus pulled into the church parking lot.

Jeff sent me a picture of the fencing meet that I missed.

The entire 45th annual March for Life program is available here. It's worth watching.
1 January 19th, 2018
2 There must be anti-abortion female clerics but they were not visibly present.
3 He promptly picked it up and consumed it.