Sunday, March 21, 2010

Father Paul Marx, OSB (1920-2010)

One night in 1989 there was a phone call. A priest was trying to reach an attorney in Louisiana. How or why, I don't know, but what he got instead was me in Virginia. "You have the wrong number, Father, but I know about you, and you're work. I just wanna say, keep standing up to those bishops." His response was matter of fact, if not downright adamant: "I'm just telling them the truth."

Benedictine Father Paul Marx founded Human Life International in 1981, in a warehouse in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Today it is "the largest international, pro-life, pro-family, pro-woman organization in the world." He stood up to the American bishops, at a time when only one of them, New York Auxiliary Austin Vaughan, was willing to go to jail for the unborn, and damn near all the rest of them couldn't stop salivating over some drivel about a "seamless garment." We can see today how many shepherds are willing to stand up for life, but if you're Catholic, and you are the least bit informed about prolife issues, you know that Father Marx was the early standard bearer.

His diligence was not without cost. His superiors thought he was mentally unbalanced, and attempted to silence him. (Don't deny it, losers. You SO wanted to get this guy!) Many in the prolife movement found his style of management to be a challenge. The latter may have been his undoing as the previous century was coming to a close, but even after stepping down from the leadership of HLI, he pressed on, founding the Population Research Institute (PRI), situated in the same building as the present HLI headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia.

Father Marx was born just ten days before Karol Wojtyla, who as Pope John Paul, told the priest he was doing "the most important work on earth." He fell asleep in the Lord yesterday morning, shortly before his ninetieth birthday. Few will remember the contentious episodes in his life, but this writer submits that they bear retelling, if only to remind us of the continual snares of the Evil One in confounding our good work on Earth, and the warning of our Lord Himself that "many will hate you because of Me."

Steven Mosher, President of PRI, has said: “We are told by those at his bedside that, at the moment of his death, Father raised his arms towards Heaven and said, ‘Take me home.’

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 3:30 pm this Friday, at Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. Tributes to the good Father can be found at the HLI website here.

(h/t to Mary Ann Kreitzer. Hey, thanks for the photo.)

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