"Grace was on the move!" |
Third of a multi-part story of the Whittaker Family, a Catholic clan whose fiat might well have changed the course of America for the better!
We continue today where we left you last time in acquainting you with a special family, one that, through their fiat and efforts, have quite possibly changed the course of America for the better. As you remember, Greg and Toni Whittaker had said 'yes' to God; their children had said 'yes' to the family effort as well. Now the task was underway. The clock was ticking and the goal set: Raise 3 million Rosaries!
Michael Cain, editor
Most have always been taught to set your objectives realistically, make small goals to achieve and then set more so that, overtime, when you look back, you'll realized you've run that marathon; one you might never have undertaken had you realized the blood, sweat and tears it would take. Goals can be overwhelming when one looks too far ahead, hopes too high...and yet, Greg Whittaker didn't flinch when he offered Toni and the family the goal of collecting 3 million Rosary pledges. Had the Whittakers the opportunity of a telethon, then 3 million Rosary pledges might be reasonable, possible. But all they had was their own home phone and a computer. They say necessity is the mother of invention and as millions were fixed on the medium of the moment following history in the making in Florida, a family went into action, undertaking a massive task on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.
Had the Whittakers realized the wear and tear on them, the tensions and resentments that would ensue, perhaps they might have given up long ago. But this was a committed family that had relocated so they could be in an environment that fostered Catholic living, where they could take an active role annually in the Right To Life March each January, where they could bring the whole family often to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where they could make a difference by living their faith to the fullest.
You see, the Whittakers are proud to be Americans and they embody all that's right with America. But they have not been proud of the road America has taken, "There is a certain sense of pride seeing the capital of the country, but in the last 28 years this pride has turned to shame," opined Toni. That primary shame is the Roe vs. Wade decision where the highest judges of the land ignored the Constitution, ignored God's Sacred Laws and, on January 22, 1973, made it legal to kill. It was open season on the unborn! A whole new "sport" was born, while human beings, made in the image of God, were denied that privilege, that God-given right!
There has also been great shame in the immoral mentality that has permeated this nation; the culture of death has slithered in to wrap itself tightly around the icons of family values and honest principles, seeking to squeeze the life and enthusiasm out of good. This pythonic embrace has been even more severe over the past eight years during the abominable Clinton administration. Many feel the same way as Greg and Toni. The difference: while others sat there and grumbled, the Whittakers did something about it.
In mid-November the future of this country hung in the balance. As lawyers bickered and bartered under the glare of the klieg lights and the scrutiny of a sea of cameras and microphones, Mother Angelica was quietly but firmly entreating her audience on EWTN's Mother Angelica Live to pray; some pastors were urging the same. Others were making the effort to make frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament to cast their troubles on the Lord and let Him wash them up into His Sacred and Merciful Heart. But many were afraid to leave their TV set or radio for fear of missing something.
Meanwhile, that great adversary wasn't missing anything. He knew what the Whittakers had planned and he was intent on stopping it at all costs. Nobody was going to foil the prince of evil in his effort to solidify the culture of death with Clinton's hand-picked successor Al Gore.
As Catholics we know we're on the right track if satan is constantly harassing you, trying to deter you from your appointed rounds for God. We can attest to this first-hand for lucifer will stop at nothing to steer you away from God's Will. He doesn't concentrate on those who have already fallen under his spell. He's greedy, he wants the good souls as well. That's why prayer, the Sacraments, penance, and sacrifice are such an essential curriculum for those striving for sanctity. It's a fact that if something is of, for and from God nothing will stop it; if it's not of divine intent, nothing will help it. The fact that satan couldn't stop the Whittakers' efforts proves, without a shadow of doubt, the divine mission the Whittakers' were on.
With their eye on the prize of bringing a Pro Life President back to Washington D.C. after eight long, exasperating years in the desert, the Whittakers started hitting the pavement, soliciting 2,000 pledges in their parish of St. John the Baptist with their pastor Father William Ruehl's permission and support. Meantime the e-mails started to trickle in as a network of concerned Catholics began to respond. The Holy Spirit was indeed touching hearts and consciences. More addresses were found and more e-mails sent. But as the river of pledges started to flow in, ol' horn-head did all he could to muck up the works, to deter and discourage the Whittakers from their goal.
Early on Toni could sense it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, "I'm not sure how well I balanced everything. My husband says it was a major imbalance in our life. What does it say in the Bible about giving till it hurts? The whole house gave time and energy until it hurt." Satan tried to infect their computer with a virus but Greg was able to overcome that. Toni, as caring people are wont to do, wanted to thank everyone personally. "I wanted to correspond with all the people responding, but I couldn't. So we posted the pledges on the updates, and this gave people an acknowledgment of their pledge." In this simplicity, things started to click. "It worked out beautifully," confirmed Toni. "This way the tallying was upfront, and many were encouraged by other's responses. Some people reconnected with old friends." Like a fever of faith, more got caught up in the contagion, "people thought 'if this family can pledge this amount, maybe we can too.' It was really neat to see people upping their pledges as time went on. They believed in the idea. They believe in the power of the Rosary. That's what we all had in common in this campaign!"
Jacinta, the oldest daughter, was the computer wiz of the family, helping her mom with the tallies and even teaching Toni how to send her first e-mail "three weeks into the campaign." Bernadette, a high school sophomore, kept the house in order and the family fed, serving as the "St. Martha" throughout the campaign. The two other younger teens Marija Mir, a freshman, and Lucia, an eighth grader, served as "prayer warriors." But they also went into action on the last day, manning the phones to collect - between them - 180,000 Rosary pledges. While 98% of their peers across the country were watching TV, playing video games, listening to rock, or just lazily lounging around the house or on the street, these teens were caught up in an enterprise for eternity.
The family kept their sense of humor thanks to Elizabeth, a seventh grader, who was so enthralled with e-mails that she channeled numerous notes to her mom, while Anna, a mere fifth grader, took on the caring responsibility of watching after her siblings Francisco, Magdalena, Joseph, Anthony and John so mom, dad and the older sisters could focus on the immediate task. There's not much you can ask of a seven, five, four and two year-old, let alone a 9-month old, but the fact they joined in prayer with the whole family during Holy Hours and other prayers speaks volumes about this family's faith. Toni pointed out that her younger ones were especially enthused in praying the Prayer to St. Michael to "give help to the good people and to give confusion to the bad." Pope Leo XIII would have loved it; I know St. Mike, Jesus, Mary and Joseph sure do!
As the Supreme Court met the first week of December to hear arguments before rendering a decision on the winner of the Florida electoral college and the ultimate 43rd president, the family was there. Bernadette held the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe high as she calmly parted the crowded sea of Democrat and Republican backers huddling outside in protest or support for their respective candidate. Words were exchanged by many, but the Whittakers silently and prayerfully stood vigil just as the faithful had in 1571 while Don Juan of Austria was marshalling his fleet to an impossible victory to preserve the Faith in Europe.
On December 12th the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court came down. Bush had won! Victory for Life! It was not lost on the Whittakers and other devoted Catholics that it happened on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary had appeared to Blessed Juan Diego in 1531 to bring the message of life to God's children and entreat them through this simple Indian peasant to stop the senseless human sacrifice fostered by the Aztec culture. Today that same miraculous image of Our Lady stands as the icon for Life, to once again rid the world of the senseless human sacrifice in the womb. Bush's victory was truly a sign! But would he carry out what he had promised? There were doubts; for he had pretty much played down the issue of life and sidestepped the real issue of Roe vs. Wade. During the campaign and the televised debates both he and Dick Cheney had hemmed and hawed when asked if they would seek to overturn the RU-486 abortion pill, ramrodded through the FDA by the Clinton administration last year. Bush consistently replied that things couldn't change until hearts changed. He was right about that.
Now it was time to charge hearts with some Heavenly juice - the most powerful jolts provided by the Holy Rosary, God's jumper cable conduit of love and mercy. But somebody needed to rev the motor and that task had fallen on the Whittakers by their fiat. To ennoble Bush to have courage in his convictions, they continued the campaign into January. After all, there were many, many more Rosaries needed to be pledged. In fact, the goal seemed pretty remote for they only had 880,681 on January 13th.
They had less than a week and were 2, 119,719 short. "It wasn't until the last few days," added Toni, "that we reached the first million. But grace was on the move."
Coming Monday: Part Four: A goal so near and yet so far!
For the First Part of this series, see Changing the world - one Hail Mary at a time!
For the Second Part of this series, see Like Lepanto, the Battle for Life is worth it!
For past editorials, see CATHOLIC PewPOINT Archives
February 16, 2001
volume 12, no. 47
CATHOLIC PewPOINT commentary