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Dispatch from the March for Life: the “Patriot Front” and the Catholic Faithful

On Friday, January 21st, it was the day of the March for Life, in Washington DC. We heard Mass in the morning at the beautiful Holy Rosary Church, built by our forefathers from Italy. The parish bulletin still had Italian on it. The interior had been saved from wreckovation and retained the grandeur that the immigrants sacrificed to build.

We departed from Holy Rosary and headed for the march. The day before we had found good food at the café at the sculpture park ice rink, across from the National Archives. It was also a good place to warm up from the cold. It was something like twenty degrees, plus wind chill, and a good day for penance. But we were hungry and the prospect of good food and warmth made us walk the extra blocks to get there.

On the way I saw another protest sign against Biden and his Vaccine Mandates. The District of Columbia had recently imposed a mandate so that businesses had to “check for papers” (proof of vaccination) in order to serve customers. We had taken the bus across the river to Virginia the night before to eat at a mall food court. Still, the café at the park had not enforced the mandate yesterday. The protest sign was Orwellian and fitting:

When we made it to Constitution we could see the faithful gathering. A Protestant of some kind thought it would be helpful to protest the march itself through a loudspeaker for not be pro-life enough. It seemed he was advocating more extreme measures of some kind.

When we entered the park, we found DC police everywhere. We made it to the café, but this time they wouldn’t let us in without vaccine papers. Did the DC police tell them to enforce the mandate now, on the day of the March? I couldn’t blame the business owner. What was he supposed to do? Get fined or lose his business? They let us have takeout and we ate outside in the cold.

We proceeded back to our group to move toward the beginning of the march west of the Archives building. We walked down Constitution. More and more Catholics were gathering. The whole event was like a Catholic gathering. Crosses. Habits. Cassocks (few pants-wearing priests!). Banners. Flags. Catholic schools.

Christendom was showing up in DC.

Up ahead we noticed some commotion as five or six pro-abortion protesters were standing on the sidewalk yelling. As we got closer we noticed one was wearing an evil-looking mask, carrying baby dolls and cackling about “eating babies.” They approached us with video cameras. The men of our group formed a wall to let the students by without harassment. The disgusting things coming out of their mouths prompted one of our guys to start saying Hail Marys. So the men blocked these poor souls and protected our kids from them as best we could.

They filmed me while we were doing this. I’m sure they tweeted somewhere about it.

We got to the march point and stood on the side walk surveying the area. Nearby we saw the Sisters of Life and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. The sisters held signs affirming woman and baby:

The theme of this year was “Equality Begins in the Womb,” obviously an answer to the Marxist lies about “equality” which convinces too many women to kill their children.

As I stood on the sidewalk I noticed those same Marxists – I think it was them – out in the street with their video camera. It looked like they were staging some kind of mockery of the march and filming it. Who could forget the media sensation over Nick Sandmann a few years ago? What were the Marxists up to this time?

The faithful continued to gather and chant and sing. There was great joy among the faithful, especially in the faces of the Brides of Christ, the Sisters of Life. It was the joy of the life of grace. It was the joy of Christ Who creates the soul of every human person ex nihilo.

Christendom was showing up in DC.

Suddenly we noticed shouting to our left. It was definitely the Marxists again, this time with a few signs supporting abortion. They were shouting at a group of about two dozen red-white-and-blue-clad men with masks and homemade shields. The men were all lined up like some kind of military exercise and they were shouting “Strong Families! Strong Nations!”

To my right was the start of the march about 300 yards away. To my left was this escalating shouting match.

We noticed cops on bikes gathering around them. We decided to take our group across the street to the south side of Constitution to avoid any problems. We planted our kids on the opposite sidewalk and prayed the Angelus.

Then we noticed something strange. The shouting men took their banner from facing west to facing east, and began to re-assemble in the street. There were more and more cops showing up. The whole thing felt funny. Was this another Marxist manipulation? When the shouters set up in the middle of the road, our group crossed back over the street to the north side of Constitution. I took this video showing all the cops surrounding their group:

It retrospect, this set up seemed highly coordinated with the police. But who knows? Maybe they were just trying to prevent any violence from breaking out between what looked like some kind of Nationalist group (no religious symbols that I saw) and the Marxists. But the media spin would come, as I would see.

The shouting groups went off to the east and disappeared. I turned my attention west to find the March starting and the faithful bearing witness:

We Marched for Christ the King.

Rosaries were being prayed on my right and my left. Songs and prayers. I heard chanting begin and I turned around to find the Institute of Christ the King leading:

We made it to the Supreme Court and took group pictures and walked around to St. Joseph’s Church behind the court house. Built by German immigrants, the church included a fantastic painting of the death of St. Joseph and Fr. Andrew White, S.J. and the baptism of Chitomachon, the Tayac or “Emperor of Piscataway.” A plaque stated that Robert F. Kennedy heard Mass here.

Later on I looked up this shouting group and found they were known as the “Patriot Front” and had made mysterious appearances at other pro-life events before this one. I noticed a tweet from Ron Filipkowski which I recognized from the time were standing watching them set up with all the cops in the middle of the street. I was appalled at such a misrepresentation as this was:

As I said, behind this group was about 300 yards to the beginning of the March for Life, which was already shown above. Now I became even more convinced that this “Patriot Front” were actually Feds (or Marxists) seeking to disrupt the March and get media to paint this event as some sort of “White Nationalist” movement.

As we marched, I remembered wondering if the media would swallow this whole thing in noise, manipulation, or silence. But I saw the DC construction workers stopped as we passed. They had paused their work. Was it out of respect? Some were taking pictures of the march. Even if the whole world ignored this march, it was for the sake of the “nobility and preciousness of the human person.”[1] The infinite value of converting one heart, one soul, one person… this alone made everything worth it. They saw the joy on our faces. They heard the Rosaries and the songs. They knew the “Patriot Faction” was a joke (they wore masks, not smiles).

Christendom was showing up in DC.

It’s easy to think like a utilitarian and lament the fact that so many souls are in peril. Or that so few are Catholic, or faithfully Catholic. It’s easy to put all the people into numbers. Of course, we do need statistics to analyze things sometimes.

But the preciousness and nobility of the human person is something of infinite worth. There is a transcendent character to the life of every single soul. Every person is unrepeatable.

Meditating upon this helps me forget about numbers. In times of grace I can forget these things and just respond to the value of the person in front of me. Human persons are more than the sum total of numbers. For they are immortal souls.

I am reminded of the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe, when he answered the call for missions to travel to Japan. Fr. Stehlin recounts:

Every single soul has infinite value, and therefore all the effort is worth it to win even one soul for the Immaculata. And so in the year 1930 he [St. Maximilian] founded a City of the Immaculata in Japan, a project that originated in great suffering, through the cross, with many disappointments and difficulties, so that on several occasions the friars were tempted to discouragement. Once he heard a young Japanese man, who had converted there, say: ‘If you had not come, then I would still be a pagan now!’ Thereupon he wrote to his Knights:

‘These words were so full of sincerity and gratitude to the Immaculata and to us, her instruments, that immediately such thought as these sprang to my mind: Even if no one else converted besides this one man, our efforts to date would have been worthwhile and we could have sacrificed yet much more, even if it were only for one soul!’[2]

We came to DC to bear witness to the Image of God in man, and we traveled here to convert one single soul. To save one child for baptism. To convert the heart of one mother. One father.

Yet more deeply, we preached the gospel with our feet, with our songs and with our prayers. We did what we could, by grace, to defend the poor against the unborn holocaust regime. This is our duty as Christians, and we will fulfill it, by God.

Furthermore, Roe must fall.


Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

[1] Dietrich von Hildebrand, Ethics (Hildebrand Project, 2020), 283.

[2] Letter to Niepokolonów, Februrary 11, 1933 in Fr. Karl Stehlin, The Immaculata Our Ideal, trans. Michael J. Miller (Kolbe Publications, 2016), 55.

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