Rorate Caeli

March for Life: First U.S. president in-person, and plenty of TLMs around

The announcement that President Donald Trump will speak in-person at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., tomorrow (Friday) at 12 noon is a game-changer for the annual commemoration of the Roe versus Wade court decision overturning pro-life state laws in the U.S.

Ronald Reagan was the first president to address the March for Life, in 1985, but via telephone from the Oval Office. He did so again in 1986, 1987 and 1988.  This was a big deal for America, as both Republican and Democrat presidents avoided the significant gathering on the National Mall each January 22nd until the second term of President Reagan. Both President George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush spoke to the March for Life via audio, the latter usually from an out-of-town trip scheduled for January 22nd.

Mike Pence made history as the first vice president to address the March for Life in-person in 2017, the only time Secret Service was employed for security screening. He spoke again last year, unannounced (no screening) -- a bold move. For this year's March for Life, tomorrow (as the March for Life is now held on the Friday closest to January 22nd), Vice President Pence (baptized Catholic, no longer practicing) will be at the Vatican.

President Trump, who previously spoke to the March for Life via video/audio, will speak in-person for at least 15 minutes as early as 12 noon on Friday, January 24th.  The speeches, which will also include House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Congressman Chris Smith, Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards and Louisiana State Senator Katrina Jackson, will be at 12th Street on the National Mall.

It is highly recommended visitors plan ahead for extreme traffic and extensive security screening (the Secret Service prohibits even pieces of fruit).  Buses should depart earlier than they think if the goal is to see and hear the president inside the secure National Mall perimeter.  Expect the unexpected, such as the closure of the nearest Metro station (Smithsonian) and other hassles that result in delays to the main event.

It goes without saying many traditional Catholics come to the nation's capital for the March for Life.  To that end, there are numerous traditional Latin Masses offered in the District that day.  Saint Mary Mother of God church at 5th and H streets, NW, will have several visiting priests offer Low Masses at side altars starting as early as 7 a.m. Here are four scheduled Mass options in walking/Metro distance from the March for Life.

8 a.m. Low Mass, Saint Mary Mother of God church at 5th and H streets, NW.  The pastor of the parish, Father Vincent De Rosa, will offer this Mass on the feast of Saint Timothy.

8:45 a.m. Low Mass, Saint Mary Mother of God church at 5th and H streets, NW. Father Ron Floyd of the Diocese of Fall River will offer this Mass.

9 a.m. pontifical Low Mass, Holy Comforter church at 1357 East Capitol Street, SE.  Raymond Cardinal Burke will offer this Mass assisted by the Institute of Christ the King. [ N.B. this is quite a welcome development in the Archdiocese of Washington compared to the Mr. McCarrick and Cardinal Wuerl years.]

3:30 p.m. (solemn) High Mass, Saint Mary Mother of God church at 5th and H streets, NW.  This is the annual Nellie Gray Mass, sponsored by the Paulus Institute.  Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter church in D.C.) will offer the Mass, with Father James Bradley (in-residence at Saint Mary's) serving as deacon and Father Ernest Cibelli (pastor of Saint Mary's in Hagerstown, Md.) serving as subdeacon, with other clergy in choir.  It will be a 4th class votive Mass of the Holy Innocents, via indult for the occasion from the local ordinary, with a commemoration of Saint Timothy.  The men's schola of the parish will sing the Gregorian chant propers of the Mass, and the parish organist will play processional and recessional pieces. Hans Leo Hassler's "Missa Secunda" will be sung for the ordinary of the Mass by the choir of Saint John's in Allentown, N.J., along with Palestrina and Byrd motets.

See you there!