A Pilgrimage for Marriage

Another early morning departure. Pouring rain. A long trip up and back. Another pilgrimage to Albany.

On Tuesday, I traveled to our state capital to participate in the Rally for Marriage — to show our Legislature that we oppose efforts to re-define marriage, in particular to oppose the legalization of same-sex “marriage”. This event was sponsored by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a very active evangelical organization that has long been an ally of the Church’s on issues like the defense of human life and family.

Through the generosity of my brothers in the Knights of Columbus, the Family Life Office was able to offer two free buses to the Rally. The buses quickly filled, as people were eager to have the chance to make their position known to the Legislature.

Virtually every time I have traveled to Albany for these kinds of events, it rains, snows, ices, etc. That’s God’s way of reminding me that discipleship has its costs, and that pilgrimages shouldn’t be easy.

Yet, despite the rain and the early start, the bus ride was actually very pleasant. The company was good — I was lucky enough to sit with a very fine priest, and right near two of the Sisters of Life and two of the Friars of the Renewal. The lay people on the bus were enthusiastic and happy.

Most of the upbeat atmosphere came from prayer. We started the day off with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and we prayed the Divine Office (Morning Prayer and the Office of Readings) and the Rosary on the bus. On the way home, we watched a very entertaining soap opera-like film about the life of St. Rita of Cascia.

That was particularly appropriate, since we were going to Albany, which many consider to be a hopeless case.

I would be happy to explain to you what was going on in Albany on Tuesday, the day after the bizarre coup that may have resulted in a change in leadership in the Senate. However, I am not a science fiction writer, so I couldn’t do the subject justice. Suffice it to say that nobody knows what’s going on, who’s going to lead the Senate, what their agenda is, or what it means for the bills we’re concerned about. Chaos reigns.

For our part, though, we were there to witness to our faith in God and our commitment to defend marriage. And that we did. The rally was led by a series of evangelical preachers, and it was really something to hear them testifying to their faith on the steps of the Capitol, the sounds reverberating off of the surrounding buildings as if echoing back the “Amens”. Maggie Gallagher, the national leader in the defense of marriage, also spoke. The crowd was bid, it was a real rainbow coalition of races, sexes and faiths. And God, having tested us with the rain on the way up, blessed us with good weather during the rally.

Afterwards, we went over to the Capitol building and my fellow pilgrims visited their legislators’ offices. It was amazing to me, cynic that I am, to see the fresh enthusiasm on their faces as they got ready to speak the truth to power, and their happiness in having had the opportunity to do God’s work in such a place.

Of course, one trip to Albany isn’t enough to get this message across, and I urge everyone to contact their State Senator through the Catholic Advocacy Network. We have to keep the effort going — one rally isn’t enough.

Albany during legislative session can be a depressing, dispiriting place. The game is played in the corners, all the angles are used, and people have sharp elbows. Sometimes you wonder what kind of luck Abraham would have had in finding ten righteous men in the city.

But that didn’t matter to the pilgrims that day. The rain meant nothing. The fatigue of a long day and the long bus ride didn’t matter. There was authentic joy among the travelers. God was with us, and we were speaking His truth in fidelity.

It was a good day. Thank you, God, for giving us such an opportunity.

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