Father Paul Marx was born in 1920 on a dairy farm in St. Michael, Minnesota, an area that has produced a goodly amount of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. His nephew Father Paul Marx, OMI was a year ahead of this editor in the minor seminary and went on to be ordained an Oblate of Mary Immaculate Missionary, presently serving in the Scandanavian mission of Greenland. This fertile cradle of vocations where Fr. Marx was raised, the fifteenth of seventeen children, incorporates a 20 mile radius that includes Albertville, Buffalo, Fletcher, Rogers and St. Michael. St. Michael alone, a small community of 2,500, has produced over 100 priests and nuns! There were numerous classmates from this area during this editor's seven years in the seminary and Novitiate and our spiritual director who recruited yours truly first in 1956 Father Al Svobodny, OMI, born in Minneapolis, is now stationed at the Oblate Retreat House in Buffalo. He also served for over 25 years as vocation director for the upper midwest, combing this area for vocations that were plentiful. The priest who taught this editor how to laugh at ourselves and to type back in 1958 - Father Clarence Zachman, OMI hails from Rogers as did his brother, the late Father Francis Zachman, OMI who this editor regards as the most influential priest in his life and who gave us the thirst for knowledge, intellectual curiosity and, as spiritual director, discerned that yours truly had a vocation to the seminary rather than the priesthood in preparation for exactly what we are doing today. He also gave us a respect for Church history that we cherish today. All these priests and many more priests, brothers and nuns were responsible for harvesting many vocations from this area. It is a tribute to the strong European stock that migrated to this area in the nineteenth century and have worked the land while loving the Lord. "The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9: 37). The people of this area have indeed prayed faithfully for laborers and God has responded by nurturing many, chief among them Father Paul Marx, O.S.B.
At the age of 15 the desire to be a priest prompted Paul to enter St. John's Preparatory School at Collegeville, Minnesota 45 miles northwest near St. Cloud. It was and remains one of the largest Benedictine institutions in the country, famous for its abbey and publishing house. Father Paul continued at St. John's College there, then Novitiate at the Abbey where he took first vows in 1941 and during the war graduated cum laude from St. John's with a degree in Philosophy. After major orders he was ordained a Benedictine priest in 1947. After some pastoral work, he returned to school doing post-graduate work at Harvard, the University of Minnesota, Cal Berkeley, and earning a Doctorate in Family Sociology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1956.
With his PhD in hand, his superiors assigned him to the faculty at St. John's College (now St. John's University) from 1956 to 1974. During those eighteen years at Collegeville he taught sociology. It was three years after he had begun teaching that he first took an interest in pro-life issues, something that before that time wasn't that necessary because abortion was virtually unheard of and the country, for the most part, respected life back then. What alarmed Fr. Paul was a proposal drafted into state legislatures by the American Law Institute that signaled storm warnings and he began to pay more attention to this threat while continuing to teach young men. What scared him further was a meeting in Los Angeles, a clandestine one in 1971 which he videotaped. Many luminaries from various fields met in this secret meeting to prepare the country and lay out the modus operandi for implementing legalized abortion. The result was the landmark Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision two years later - January 23, 1973 a day that would live in infamy.
Father Paul wrote a book alerting the public of the dangers in 1971 - The Death Peddlers: War on the Unborn which rose on the charts as a best seller. Despite great opposition, he founded the Human Life Center at St. John's in 1972. As he affirmed in his autobiography Faithful for Life published two years ago, that he realized without a doubt that from that point on "the developing culture of death would preoccupy me for the rest of my life and would take me to many countries of the world." True to his prediction, he traveled to 91 countries spreading the pro-life creed.
With just $7,000. to invest, he founded Human Life International in 1981, eventually moving the headquarters to Front Royal, Virginia to be close to the pulse of the legislators. Two years later he published Death Without Dignity: Killing for Mercy, one of the most comprehensive and first works on euthanasia. In 1985 he followed that up with more findings in And Now Euthanasia.... His book Confessions of a Pro-Life Missionary in 1988 dealt with his commitment and the trials and tribulations he had experienced in fighting for the right to life. A year later he released Fighting for Life which followed more experiences including being arrested three times, sued by Planned Parenthood, the largest and most dangerous promoter of abortion and contraception in the world who refer to Fr. Marx as "Public Enemy Number One." Fr. Marx's response to that? "I relish it," he winks. In 1990 he wrote The Flying Monk followed by three years later The Warehouse Priest. He also published the quarterly The International Review of Natural Family Planning and Human Life Issues in addition to the monthly HLI Reports and Special Report. In addition, he founded the bi-monthly newsletters Population Research Institute Review and Seminarians for Life plus expanding to the Spanish market with Escoge La Vida!. This does not count the countless articles and reviews he has written on birth control, abortion, euthanasia, human sexuality and the family, and other topics promoting the Sanctity of Life in numerous magazines, newsletters and books; sometimes even ghost-writing them for he has truly become a marked man.
Few realize that, besides being the main target of Planned Parenthood and the UN Population Crisis Committee, he was interrogated by communist secret police and forcibly removed from several abortuaries. He also survived three nearly-fatal car accidents, almost died from the altitude while in the Bolivian mountains, and, but for the grace of God, would have been aboard the fatal Pan Am Flight 103 that was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. So many times his life has been spared because God has had more work for him to fight for life.
His biggest thrill was meeting with the Popes. Four days after Roe vs. Wade he met with Pope Paul VI on January 26, 1976. Reeling from the apathy to his inspired encyclical of July 25, 1968 Humanae Vitae, the Pope told him, "You are a courageous fighter. Never give up." Father Marx's reply to that has always been, "I don't know how to give up." In 1979 Pope John Paul II personally encouraged him to continue and gave him the courage to found HLI when he told Father Marx, "You have lots of experience. You are doing the most important work on earth." In a subsequent meeting the Holy Father called him "the Apostle of Life." There are few greater compliments than that.
Through his leadership and guidance, HLI today is the largest pro-life and pro-family educational apostolate in the world with sixty chapters in the United States and a network of international branches and affiliates serving 89 countries. He has been an inspiration to millions of people over the thirty-five years he has dedicated to pro-life. But the journey has taken its toll on him physically and five years ago he stepped down as president, bequeathing it to fellow Benedictine Father Habiger, who in turn passed it on to Father Welch two years ago. This past August, on the Solemnity of the Assumption, Father Marx retired completely, stepping down from the Board of Directors. He had conveyed his request to the HLI Chairman Father Habiger and his Benedictine superior at Collegeville Abbot Timothy Kelly, O.S.B. and the next day the HLI Board of Directors reluctantly accepted his resignation. Father Marx felt it necessary to leave Front Royal and return to the Abbey in Collegeville for rest and medical treatments. His Abbot had nothing but praise for Father Marx, "For many years Father Marx worked zealously in promoting life from conception to natural death. For the past nineteen or so years, through Human Life International, he has dedicated his life to the promotion of respect for life and has through his ministry made the message of life widely known not only in the United States but throughout the world. His dedication to this cause has cost him dearly but will also bring many blessings to him and to others because of his selfless dedication."
Father Habiger, who assumed the Presidency of HLI in 1994, said, that HLI "deeply appreciates the depth of concern, care and compassion that Abbot Kelly has shown to our brother priest and HLI's founder during these past months when Fr. Marx has resided at St. John's Abbey. We are grateful to the Abbot for assisting Fr. Marx in this difficult period, and for insuring that he has a home at St. John's, where he began his religious life 57 years ago."
Father Welch, who succeeded Father Habiger in 1997, said "The best gift we can give Fr. Marx is to insure that his legacy will continue through the work of HLI throughout the world. Few whose contribution and dedication to promoting and defending the Culture of Life equals his own for Fr. Marx has earned a place in the history of both the Catholic Church and the international pro-life movement."
Now 79, Father Paul resides at the Abbey in Collegeville resting, but also continuing to write when he can and praying always for life in all its stages. Throughout his 37 years of service for the cause, Father Marx has not only given encouragement to pro-life advocates the world over, but in God's great book given life to many of His innocent ones who wouldn't have had a chance without the efforts of this "Apostle of Life."
On the day of the Resurrection Our Lord gave the disciples power to forgive sins. He breathed on them and said: As the Father has sent Me, I also send you...Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained" (John 20: 21-23).
Finally, before the Ascension, Christ gave His disciples the mission to preach the Gospel and dispense the sacraments. All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (Matthew 28: 18-20).
The Apostles in turn consecrated Paul and Barnabas bishops, with prayer and the imposition of hands. In the same way Saint Paul ordained Timothy. When the Apostles established churches, upon their departure, they ordained and appointed successors (bishops) to whom they gave full powers, and other ministers (priests and deacons) to whom they transmitted part of their powers. "For this reason I admonish thee to stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the laying on of my hands" (2 Timothy 1: 6).
Some of the preliminary sings of a vocation to the priesthood include that a young man be capable of living habitually in the state of grace; that he be attracted to the priesthood and manifest the attraction by frequent confession and Holy Communion, by a virtuous life, by a love for serving Mass, teaching catechism and doctrine, and leading others toward sanctity. Those who are called by God to be priests ordinarily receive no special revelation to this effect. God expects us all to use the gifts of reason and of grace in determining their state of life. Finally, he has a right intention to save his soul and the souls of others; that has good health and sufficient ability to succeed in the studies of the seminary; and that his qualifications be accepted by the bishop.
The Church is intent that no one should enter the priesthood because his parents have forced it on him. It has to be totally of his own free will and desire is one of the best barometers to a vocation. This burning zeal to be a priest should overcome other opinions from people who deride or oppose his vocation. The Church strong frowns on anyone pursuing the priesthood for their own selfish wants or to escape from the world.
The bishop must be satisfied that the applicant has the virtue and the physical as well as mental fitness required and that he is free from all canonical irregularity. In general if a young man has good will, good health, a good mind, good sense, and a sincere desire to dedicate himself to the service of God, he has the qualifications necessary for the priesthood and through perseverance and the grace of God, it it in the Divine Will, will lay prostrate on the day of his ordination before the Bishop as the successor of the Apostles lays his hands on the young man and he becomes a priest forever.
Victory by Don Juan of Austria and the Holy League of Nations over the Turks and the death of Ali Pasha, Turkish Fleet Commander. The victory was hailed by Pope Saint Pius V as a great victory for Catholics due largely to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the faithfuls' recitation of the Rosary. He proclaimed it the special feast day of Our Lady of Victory but was later made an universal feast as Our Lady of the Rosary. For more on this, see DAILY LITURGY.
Pope Pius XII issues his 28th encyclical Ad Sinarum gentem on the Church's role in China.
Pope John Paul II beatifies Hanibal Maria Di Francia and Joseph Allamano.