March for Life 2013: In which I spend time with 650k of my closest friends and “party like it’s 1962” (Part One)

A.M.D.G.
J.M.J.
A.T.C.

Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Nunc et in æternum! Amen.

Wednesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

I can’t recall if I shared this here but … I made it to the March for Life.  Thanks to the Infant of Prague and Our Lady of Good Remedy for that!  My usual means of getting there was already booked when I figured out that I was able to go so I asked them to help me.  Two days later, a friend lets me know that she and a friend are heading to DC for the March and that I was welcome to come with them!  Deus providebit!

Here is a breakdown of what happened over the long weekend.

Thursday: Woke up at 3:45 and was at my friend’s house in Northville by 6 o’clock.  Waited for our other traveller to arrive and then we packed the rental car whose plates were from Georgia and was from Fulton County so we named it after Venerable Fulton Sheen (more on that later).

We began the 11 hour drive from Detroit to DC.  Drove through Pennsylvania for the first time since I left the convent.  When we drove through there I realized one thing I didn’t miss: the constant painful popping of my ears from the changes in altitude.  We got to drive through a mountain.  That was cool because we didn’t lose our Garmin signal nor our cell phone signals.  We named our Garmin “Garmy” (tres original, I know) and would yell at her for talking too much at some points and not enough at other times.  We joked that she should be a good woman and only speak when spoken too (2/3 of the car at this point was female so we could get away with our misogyny).

Stopped about thrice.  Once at a really nice rest stop in Ohio (the rest stops in MI are ghetto-tastic compared to these fancy shmancy things), another time at an even nicer one along the Penna Turnpike (both had free wi-fi and lots of selection for food and really nice bathrooms).  Our last stop was at a place in Maryland (I think) (or was it still PA?) where we went into this huge truck stop that had two levels and more selection of food stuffs than anywhere else.  It was filled with young people.  Catholic young people.  Going to the March! They were accompanied by their chaperons and their cassocked priests.  We were geeked.

We began the final leg of our trek.  Once we saw that blessed sign for Maryland, we cheered.  BTW, MD was where our hotel was.  It was in a good location too.  Not too expensive and definitely not a “Bring your own @$$” hotel that charged by the hour (like places in Detroit can do).

We were planning on attending the Vigil Mass for Life at the Basilica but then we thought about it: “We’ve been driving for over ten hours.  We’re hungry.  We need some rest and some sustenance.  Let’s bypass the Mass and get something to eat and then head to the Basilica for the Rosary Vigil.”

Needless to say, it was a begrudging consensus since we all wanted to assist at the Mass but it would not be prudent considering the cray-cray day we had had and the even more cray-cray day we were to have on Friday.

We did some research on our phones (no one brought laptops … smartphones suffice) into where to go for a good sit-down meal.  My iPhone 5 has Siri, I made that chick work.  (I also love how she calls me “Traddy Girl” … changed from how my sister had set it: “Sexy Lady”).

After we had agreed on a nice little local Italian place that had rather good reviews (Zagat’s also gave it a very good rating), we headed out and had a delightful dinner with plenty of leftovers to sustain us over the duration of the weekend when we found ourselves in the room and hungry.

After dinner, we had some time before we had to head to the Basilica so we raided the local grocery store for some snacks for the car and room.

I had a redonk craving for Vernors (when do I not?) and Better Made (I am a Detroit girl through and through).  I knew the latter was a slim possibility (though they did have Faygo in Pittsburgh even if it was like five bucks and they only had diet … strange).  I was determined to find my coveted Vernors.  My friend said that I would not find it.

Muahahaha!

I shot up a quick prayer to the Infant of Prague to the tune of: “Dear Infant of Prague, I want Vernors.  We’re in Maryland.  Please provide for me the desired Vernors if it be Your Holy Will.  I will share it.  Amen.”

We’re walking up and down the aisles.  Then I look down.  There hidden among the sodas on the bottom shelf is a six pack of Vernors.

Boo-yah-kah-sha!

I picked up that puppy and said, “Behold!  Prayer works!  Tonight, we drink Vernors!”

After we finished shopping, we headed back to the hotel to drop off our haul, freshen up, and head to the Basilica.

Around DC it takes a half an hour to go 5 miles.  Seriously.  DC, I know your whole political system is slow but  … at least get this right.  That and the speed limits are atrociously low for a MI driver.  55?!?!  That’s residential (not really)!  My friend was itching to go 85 on the freeway until we saw two things: the speed cameras that take a picture of speeding cars and send the ticket in the mail and the signs that said: “Speed enforced by aircraft.”  Creeeepy.

So we arrive in Brookland (the area around Catholic U and the Basilica), we must have shown up right when everyone was leaving after the Mass because it was a flood of youth, clerics (CASSOCKS EVERYWHERE!), and religious in full habit (I wanted to do a shout out to the Dominicans whose House of Studies is pretty much across the street from the Basilica)!

And there was no parking.

We drove around until we asked Saint Anthony to find us a decent spot.

Ask and ye shall receive.

There, right by the Basilica and in a totes legal spot was a nice roomy spot for autos (not buses).

We took it and headed against the current of people into the Basilica.  We found our way into the Crypt Church and I put on my veil.

We wandered around because we were still pretty early so we figured we would take in what was up.

The Crypt was FILLED with chairs and flat screens for the overflow crowd for the Mass in the Upper Church.  And it was filled with people.  Which was to be expected.

We’re wandering.  Taking pictures of the great beauty that is that place when we hear a familiar voice coming from one of the side chapels.

We go to check it out.

We get Catholic giddy.

It’s Father Frank Pavone!  Presenting a talk for some people gathered.  We stand off to the side and listen and nudge each other smiling broadly.

At the end of his talk, he asks the group of habited sisters to give their sisterly blessing in the form of a song.  The sisters sing a beautiful blessing over us and then Father Pavone gives us his priestly blessing.

We’re just beaten down with gids.  And the weekend has not even really started yet.

After the talk, we find our way to the Crypt Church and found a spot.

The Rosary begins and it was glorious.  No happy-clappy Mary songs (they exist, sadly).  All traddy English songs!!!  Worship aid?  I don’t need no worship aid.  I did need it for the special prayers after the Rosary though.  lol

They did something really cool in that after every Ave of the five Joyful Mysteries, they said the name of a state and we were to offer that rose to Mary for the promotion and protection of all life in that state.  Very smart use of the fifty Aves of the Rosary (excluding the opening three for the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love).

After the Rosary, we wandered some more.  Taking pictures and admiring the absolute awesomeness that is the Basilica.  They were leaving the Crypt open through the night for an all-night Adoration time that was being held by various rites of Holy Church including the Maronites (they have glorious icons!).

After wandering around for another two hours, we realized it was almost midnight and we had to be up for the opening of the March at 8am.  So we made our way out of the Basilica and back to the car.

After a half an hour of navigating the streets in Fulton under the guidance of Garmy, we finally made it back to the hotel.

We discussed our plans for tomorrow.  We really wanted to go to the opening service thing for the March but we wondered if it was prudent considering our busy schedule over the coming weekend with the March and Pontifical Mass (more on that later too) and then the Students for Life of America Conference all day on Saturday.

We decided to get the extra sleep and head to the March as soon as we were all up and ready.

Friday, the day of the March and the Juventutem Michigan Pontifical Mass of sublime awesomeness:

We went to bed and woke up with plenty of time to get ready and head down to the March.  We actually went to pick up a couple friends who were also staying with us from the airport so we had to wake up a smidge early anyway so no harm, no foul.  🙂  It was better than them having to get a cab which can get expensive.  It also afforded my friend an opportunity to hit 85 (unknowingly) on the freeway.  “Am I going the speed limit?” *looks at the speedometer* “Yikes!  I better slow down!”

So, once our friends got situated at the hotel, we headed down to the National Mall for the March.  It was crazy how many people there were!  It was a mass of pro-lifers as far as the eye could see!  And in the mass, we ran into a mess of Michigan people that we knew, it was quite providential because we ended up marching together for most of the March.

After the rally ended, we began the March up Constitution Avenue.  Different pro-life organizations were handing out signs (the Knights of Columbus and Students for Life of America being the major ones I saw) so that anyone and everyone who wanted to hold a sign showing support for the unborn could do so.

Look at that crowd!

A shot I got on my phone.
It doesn’t do the number of people justice. It was amazing!

The crowd (vast understatement) of people spread as far as the eye could see and at times we had to stay really close to each other lest we get lost in the peaceful melee of people.  We only got separated about three times.

Along the March, people were chanting slogans and praying Rosaries.  I saw college groups, high school groups, diocesan groups, groups from seminaries (I didn’t see SHMS but I would be shocked if there were no SHMS sems at the March), and groups from many religious orders (there were habits everywhere!).  There were families at the March who had brought their small children and their babies in strollers decorated with pro-life posters and pins.

The Pro-Life Generation

Click for a Twitchy article on the demographics of the crowd at the March for Life.

The thing that struck me, aside from the insane number of people (the MSM said only “tens of thousands” … HA!), was the youthfulness.  These were all young people.  The vast majority of them were young people.  The average age was probably in the 20s.  What a very hopeful thing!

Eventually, we made it to the Supreme Court where people from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign usually have testimonies about how abortion has negatively affected their lives and how they have sought and begun healing by the grace of God and support of the pro-life movement.

Of course, no pro-life march would be without the small (objectively and relatively speaking) constituency of pro-abortion protesters (remember, they don’t want to be called “pro-choice” anymore so we’ll just be blunt).  Compared to the youthfulness of the over half a million pro-lifers, the pro-aborts were much older … errr … seasoned.  As in, they had salt and pepper hair … heavy on the salt.

Then you had the drag queen/king/regent/empress/whatever they call themselves nowadays and the people dressed  rather tastelessly as crude examples of a certain part of the female anatomy (I said they looked like a nasty crepe with way too many strawberries … sorry, you had to be there).  Because we all know that nothing validates your position like making yourself look like a vulgar ass when clearly you are out-numbered and out-witted.

Some of us wanted to stay for all of the testimonies but it got rather cold and it had been snowing for a while.  My back was killing me and I was worried about my ears (if they get too cold, they hurt like a bugger) and a few of us just wanted to sit down and get something to eat.

So, we began the quest to find a place to sit.  Couldn’t go in any federal buildings for obvious reasons so we kept going until we got to Union Central Station.  There we found the bathrooms and then grabbed a bite to eat.

A while later the rest of our group joined us and we ate together once a corner of the rather crowded restaurant opened up.

We were just chillaxing, enjoying the fact that we were not a.) cold and b.) standing, when I heard a familiar voice behind me!

There in her habit and winter coat was a dear sister-friend of mine from my former Congregation.  I had not seen her in-person since before I entered (I went with her to March for Life 2011) … long story.  I was so happy to be able to catch up with her a bit!  It was gloriously providential!

We looked at the time … Holy Mother Church!  We’re going to be late for the Pontifical Mass!  We need to get a spot!

You mean there was a Pontifical Mass after the March?!  You betcha mantilla there was!  Juventutem Michigan planned and executed it along with the social afterward that included dinner!  Yes, be jealous.  You wish your trad young adult group was as 1337 at ours.

And … there was another TLM in the morning, though not sponsored by Juventutem MI but rather the Paulus Institute, which was offered for the repose of the soul of March for Life founder Nellie Gray who loved the usus antiquor (TLM/Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite).

So we packed up our stuff and power-walked.  A few of us went direct to the church to get a spot and the others went to move the car since the structure in which we had parked was closing before the Mass would have been over.

I was in the group that made its way to church.  As we’re walking, I hear my phone going off.  Who could this be?  It was a college friend whom I had not seen since … college.  He asked if I  was going to the Mass since he knew I was in town for the March like him.  We agreed to meet in the vestibule of church.

We walk into church and there he is!  He was with a friend from school to whom he introduced me.  This friend is even more traddy than I am.  I joke that he makes me look progressive.  The sad thing: it’s kinda true.  And that’s before you take into account the fact that I was a Master of Ceremonies, altar server, and an EMHC … then I would be a heretic or something like that.  lol

The church was already rather packed when we got there so finding a spot in church large enough for all of us was neigh on impossible so we just kinda found a place and settled in.  When the others arrived they would see what was up.

Packed church for Pontifical Mass

If that didn’t illustrate the number of people assisting at the Holy Mass, there was overflow in the back of the church too:

Overflow

I prayed my Office and joined with the trilingual (English, Spanish, and Latin) Rosary and then the Mass began.

The Elevation of the Host

This was my first time seeing black vestments in action (I know, I am so deprived).
The celebrant was Bishop Joseph Perry, auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Chicago

I had promised one of my priest-friends to take pictures for him since he was not able to attend.  I kinda forgot.  That and I happened to be sitting behind two tall guys who blocked any chances of getting decent and not obnoxious shots with my iPhone.  Luckily, one of my friends was among the people taking pictures of the Mass, which can be seen here.

Isn't that just lovely?

After the Mass, which was a little piece of sublime transcendent Heaven (why do I still go to vernacular Novus Ordo again? … oh yeah.  *snarl*), we headed toward where the dinner/social was.  The social hall was packed with young people and it was good to be able to catch up with my traddy college friend.  Brought back memories of the knowing glances and chortles we would share during Theology class to which our beloved Theology profs would usually say, “Am I going to have to separate you two?  This is what happens when you put two trads together.”  lol  Those were the days.  Indeed.

We stayed at the social for a goodly amount of time but then we realized that we had to get ample sleep because our Saturday was packed with the Students for Life of America National Conference that ran the whole day with little down time.

More on that in another post which I will hopefully write tomorrow.  I was going to go for an uber post but then I looked at my word count and I am approaching 3,000 words already.  So I will cut you all some slack.  In the next post, you will hear about the conference (in which I see a priest dancing Gangnam Style) and the splendid Sunday spent at the Basilica and driving back to the Mitten.

Have a great day!

PS- I will update with photos as I get them ready.  I took a lot of pictures.  More than I typically do.

About Ms. Allie

I am a Catholic young woman who works as a Theology teacher at a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of the Detroit. In Spring of 2015, I graduated with an MA in Theology with a concentration in Systematic Theology. My MA thesis was titled: "Mary as Woman of the Eucharist in the Theology of Pope Saint John Paul II." I also hold a BA in Theology (with a dabbling in Philosophy) and is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa (θΑΚ), the National Theology/Religious Studies Honor Society. Prayers are appreciated.
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