When I was on pilgrimage for the March for Life in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, I had the opportunity to go to the Holocaust Museum. I mean, how fitting since my group had just prayed in front of one of the most active abortion clinics in the country earlier in the morning. Since it was a holiday, they weren’t performing abortions and thus were closed for the day. Whew. But! What better way to continue reflecting on the injustice of the vulnerable and innocent than by refreshing on or learning more about the Nazi’s Holocaust of the Jewish people, others they deemed unfit, and others who stood in their way.
While standing in line waiting to go into the Museum, I noticed a religious brother had gotten in line just behind me. Talking to him was simply irresistible because religious brothers are just awesome! After talking to him for a little while, I learned the basics: the name he goes by is Ignacio, he’s from Texas, he is of the Benedictine order hence he is a Benedictine monk (but not a priest), and he’s been assigned to their monastery in Washington, D.C.
As we were talking to him, I was surprised to learn about his monastery because I didn’t know there was a Benedictine monastery nearby. I mean, I knew of the Franciscan monastery because that is normally part of our itinerary for this pilgrimage for the March for Life. Not only was it nearby, but the Benedictine monastery is also near the Franciscan one. Huh, I would have never guessed…but…cool!
During the course of our conversation, my buddy asked him how he liked being here in D.C. He said he loves it and that it’s an exciting place to be. I’m a Texas boy too and big city life like Washington, D.C. would surely be full of not dull moments.
He said one thing that sticks to my mind more than anything. Brother Ignacio said that it is really important to have a Catholic presence in our nation’s capital because of all the power and influence that reside along the Potomac River. Just by my knowing of Br. Ignacio’s existence pointed to the reality that there must be a greater Catholic presence in D.C. then I had previously thought about up until that point. And what he said made sense regarding such density of authority in the capital. Of course! It is very important to have a Catholic presence there because of all the crazy things we have to deal with as a nation, and a certain handful of people in our capital can make decisions that affect each and every single American’s life.
He jokingly said that the reason why our country hasn’t completely fallen apart is because of the Catholic presence of religious brothers and sisters constantly praying for our country and our country’s leaders at the heart of all the political action. We all laughed, and it’s funny because there’s truth to that. I couldn’t help but wonder what other Catholic friaries, monasteries, convents, etc. exist in and around Washington, D.C. Like I said, I knew of the Franciscan Monastery, and also the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration just down the street from them. Also, there’s Catholic University of America with the behemoth of a Catholic church that is the Basilica, which I know many priests and seminarians pass through those halls. And to think…all of them (plus all the others I have yet to find out about) praying for us and for our country…
Sure, the best ways to help our country would definitely come through physical, tangible means. You know, making laws, decisions, etc. meant for the betterment of this country that we love so dear, from sea to shining sea. And then actually following through with those. But as a practicing Catholic, I’ve come to learn and appreciate that just as much as there is a physical reality to things, there is also a spiritual reality. That’s where prayer really helps. Through prayer, we approach God in humility asking for His help because without His help, we wouldn’t get very far. If we carry this interior disposition to truly love and serve others in a genuine way by seeking their ultimate good, that will carry through in our actions and manifest in physical reality.
I’m glad that we’ve got presence in the capital, and that joining them in prayers for our country is myself and the gray-haired ones who warm the pews on a daily basis when no one else is around during the week. Our prayers will be unceasing. How can I truly help my fellow Americans and serve them?
At the very least, I think it’s cool that I randomly had this opportunity to speak to a Benedictine brother for a little bit. Haha! He ended up meeting the rest of my group and pretty much abandoned whatever group he was chaperoning. He hung out with us for a long while after we were done.
Story time with Br. Ignacio.