Father West visits pro-life hero Mary Wagner in prison (read the full article)
I offered Mass at the prison for about 25 inmates, guards, nurses, administrators and visitors, concelebrating with Father Allan Varlaki from nearby Holy Rosary Parish. This was only the second Mass Mary was able to attend since her arrest on August 12, 2012. Everyone seemed to be moved by the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, and they were grateful that the Black Madonna, after visiting so many nations (26 now), would come to them. (This was not the first prison that the pilgrim icon has visited. Our Lady also visited another prison for women in Madrid, Spain.)
In my homily, I stressed the mercy of God and how the icon reminds us of our human dignity no matter what sins we may have committed in the past. The gold in the icon of Jasna Gora is symbolic of heavenly glory and eternity. An icon always represents a resurrected or transfigured person that has overcome sin and death. Jesus took on our human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and died on the cross to reclaim our human dignity. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross takes away the sins of the world. There is no sin that God is unable or unwilling to forgive if we turn to him with a humble, contrite heart and ask for his forgiveness.
The icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa reminds us that God is not to be feared with a servile fear. He comes to us as a child in the arms of his mother. Mary looks upon us with eyes of mercy. Jesus is love and mercy itself.
We also prayed that Canadian laws would respect life, and for sinners to know and accept the love and mercy of God. Not everyone who attended was Catholic, but everyone was invited to come forward to receive a blessing if they could not receive Holy Communion. All the inmates thanked me for the visit. One prisoner told me that she had changed her life around and wanted to become a Catholic!Thank you Father West for this amazing pilgrimage around the world. Thank you for visiting Mary Wagner. Thank you for saying Mass in the prison (This was only the second Mass Mary was able to attend since her arrest on August 12, 2012.)
Thank God for people like Mary Wagner and Fr. West.