A goal so near and yet so far! |
Fourth 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!
The Jubilee was over! The election was a fait accomplis. Only two things hung in the balance: Confirmation of John Ashcroft, a strong Pro Life advocate, and Greg and Toni Whittaker's goal of helping ennoble President George W. Bush to carry out his Pro Life inititatives by gathering pledges for three million Rosaries.
Michael Cain, editor
Coming Wednesday: Part Five: They have laid the groundwork, now it's time for the groundswell.
The goal seemed insurmountable with less than a week to go. The family had raised 880,681 pledges. That in itself is remarkable, but Greg had added the pressure of setting the goal at three million. 2,119,319 to go. It seemed impossible at the time. "I promised my family, no matter what, the campaign would end January 19th at midnight," Toni insisted. "Many people suggested extending the deadline yet again until we reached the 3 million mark." But Toni knew the physical and psychological toll it was taking on the family, "What we needed was a miracle." A fellow from Australia had called, encouraging the family on and telling them about Mother Angelica's motto in the EWTN studio control room, "There are times when, unless we are willing to do what seems humanly ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous." To some, what the Whittaker family of thirteen had undertaken was truly ridiculous. Some even questioned why count and calculate Rosaries? God knew how many were praying. They even challenged the Whittakers' resolve and nerve; after all, who were they to start a national campaign?
Yes, God does know who prays, but He needs us to be His hands and feet, His eyes and ears, etc. The Whittakers, God bless 'em, were only too willing to further His Ordaining Will. Mother Angelica had talked on her Wednesday evening EWTN show just before the election how our vote would determine either God's Ordaining Will in being instrumental in bringing a Pro Life President back to the White House, or God's Permitting Will in which, like the time of the chosen people in Babylon, chastisements visited His people to strengthen them and teach them.
We had already had eight years of God's Permitting Will.
They were barren years in the desert with Bill Clinton and his overt pro-abort administration, something foretold by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the summer of 1991 to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart. In a message imparted to Cyndi for the Prayer Group while we lived in Bella Vista , Our Lady relayed that if our country was not careful, if we did not pray and take seriously what was happening in the world of politics, we would elect someone who would take our country to perdition. Few realized the significance of this prophecy for George H. Bush was riding an 89% popularity wave in the aftermath of the Gulf War. His re-election seemed like a sure thing and, at that time, the only one making waves on the Democratic scene was David Dukes, he of the Klu Klux Klan persuasion. Very, very few had ever heard of Clinton, but Our Lady knew. Sadly we would learn too late the wisdom and omen of Blessed Mary's words.
On Inauguration Day, January 22, 1993, Our Lady conveyed to the Hidden Flower, "My hidden one, tell my children that I weep, for today marks a point in your country's history which has been written by satan. On this day he who leads your country, and thousands upon thousands who cheer and applaud his actions, have signed the death warrant of countless innocents - babies who shall be brutally murdered in their mothers' wombs."
Is there any question then that, after eight years of persecution, twenty eight years of open season on the unborn, people like the Whittakers were determined to do whatever they could to end this senseless Holocaust in the Womb? The question we raise is why there weren't countless Whittaker-like families out there? Why weren't there more such families outraged at the atrocities that have so dulled this nation's conscience? Jesus, perhaps said it best in Matthew 20: 16, "Even so the last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called, but few are chosen" and in John 15: 16, "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and have appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."
God chose the Whittakers. They responded affirmatively and the rest, as they say, is history. The task seemed impossible, but with God nothing is impossible. A miracle was indeed forthcoming on the wings of a dove, as in the Holy Spirit. We can witness to this for it has only been through the Sanctifier that we have received over 18 million hits since going on-line on All Saints Day in 1997 without ever spending a dime on advertising or promotion. It's called total trust in God's Will. And that, basically, is all the Whittakers had going for them when they undertook this massive task.
Fueled by Daily Mass, because "it's our family's lifeline to Heaven everyday," the Rosary - "because it is a tremendous weapon against evil in our society," Holy Hour - "because it lets the Holy Spirit dwell within you for one hour," and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy - "because the bounteous Mercy of Jesus is the only remedy for our (fallen) selves," the Whittakers faced the their objective with unyielding faith and hope. And slowly but surely the dam of apathy sprung a leak, pledges began pouring through. On January 16th - the day of the Ashcroft Senate Hearings - they went over the million mark at 1,219,010. Two days later they had gained a little over half a million more pledges, still shy of a few hundred thousand short of two million and miles to go to reach the established three million goal.
Thursday, January 18th marked the beginning of the annual Week of Prayer for Church Unity and the next day a united effort really paid off. Working feverishly against the clock, the whole family had practically exhausted themselves. Tired, spent and somewhat discouraged, they added Mother Angelica's quote to their e-mail update sent to all. "I used the 'miraculous quote' in the last day's update," Toni admits. "I signed the quote 'Mother Angelica (and Fidelis).' Fidelis is her guardian angel. It was my hope that Fidelis would get this message to Mother and her convent, and their prayers would help nudge all those people needed to reach the 3 million mark. I don't think I will ever know what happened January 19, but we received pledges for over 1.5 million Rosaries to be said over the next four years."
It was on that last day that the dam burst forth in a ray of graces and Rosary pledges began to pour in faster than the family could handle. In fact, so exhausted was Toni that, by her own admission, she could not abandon her other duties. "The only thing I wanted to have on my mind was the campaign, but the day had other demands. It was the first day back at the Guild (There was a break coinciding with the beginning and end of the campaign). After, I met with my sisters for lunch. When I got home the campaign was moving along on its own miraculous steam. Jacinta had sent out an Express E-mial to say we passed the 2 million mark. Marija Mir and Lucia were phone campaigning. Bernadette was keeping the kitchen, Greg was working. Seemed like it was a perfect day."
Indeed, it would turn out much like the decisive Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe had, when the family, emersed in the campaign, took the necessary time to pray and refresh at the same time. It happened when Greg decided to take the day off, which, according to Toni, was unusual for him. He wanted to take her shopping while the six older girls were being tutored. While shopping a friend offered to take the younger kids home and take care of them so Greg and Toni could have some time to go out for dinner. But nourishment of the body was not all Toni and Greg were seeking. "We had just enough time to go to a Mexican restaurant and then head off to a Mass." What better way to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe than that? The kids joined them at church for Mass and afterwards they headed home, tired yet refreshed in graces and resolve. "We were having a treat to celebrate the day when we got the call about the Supreme Court decision on Bush vs. Gore." It was a perfect day!
Quite possibly as perfect a day as shortly after midnight on the 20th, when after counting all the pledges the family realized they had collected one and a half million Rosary pledges on the 19th. They had done it. Three million Rosaries had been pledged. After a prayer of thanksgiving, they hurried together a "Lepanto Success" Update announcing they had reached the promised land of three million. Actually, it was 3, 362,483. The 12th Update later that afternoon announced the final tally: 3, 552,326. Think about it: That's well over 188 million Hail Mary's, over 21 million Our Father's, Glory Be's and Fatima Prayers. Add them all together and you have over a quarter of a billion prayers guaranteed to be prayed in petition for success in restoring hearts and minds to embrace the Sancity of Life. Talk about graces! Talk about power! Talk about the leader of a country having Heavenly back-up! All because one simple family said 'yes'! It's mind-boggling!
Something else that staggers the mind is how these strings of individual prayers bond together in a solid rope of repentance and hope that is pulling at God's Merciful Heart with a most persistant, petitioning love and fidelity. Toni wrote in the final update, "Our Rosaries are no longer isolated, but joined and strengthened by each other's. I know it is everyone's sincere hope that these Rosaries will form a loving and graceful chain of awesome spiritual strength, encircling our culture and enkindling it with the fire of God's love." Truly poetic and prophetic.
Recently our family rented the movie "Frequency," wherein the subject of the wavelengths of time was examined and how events could be changed. It was very reminiscent of the old holiday standby and family favorite, "It's a Wonderful Life!" with Jimmy Stewart. While many perceive these mysteries of time as implausible, we found it very spiritual for indeed we believe God allows the course of events to be changed, not because He changes His mind - He can't, He's Omniscient - but because man has a free will and, often, a second chance. Sometimes it is for the better, other times, like this past eight years, for the worse. Remember, God knows no time. Time was, is and ever will be with Him. It is one of those mystical stratospheres that we are just beginning to comprehend. Think how much He has mitigated, how much Mary has pleaded to withhold His hand of Justice because of the prayers of the faithful, the Rosary. We need only look at Exodus and Abraham's plea to the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. Had there been ten just men, those two cities would have been spared. His Blessed Mother has conveyed to numerous visionaries over the years that today we have sunk to a low that makes our world far worse than Sodom and Gomorrah ever was. Yet God has been merciful in so many ways. We're living on borrowed time, so to speak, and we can thank those loyal souls who continue to pray against all odds to extend this eleventh hour temporary reprieve.
There are countless souls out there who are staying the hand of God by their prayers, their sacrifices, their fidelity and their fiats. The Whittakers are just one of many. But it is in what they accomplished that needs to be told so that others will realize they are not alone, that others will realize the battle is well worth it, that others will realize the goal is achievable. It takes soul and determination, it takes a Calvary to realize the Resurrection. For many it is 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 the Third Part of this series, see "Grace was on the move!"
For past editorials, see CATHOLIC PewPOINT Archives
February 19, 2001
volume 12, no. 50
CATHOLIC PewPOINT commentary