Open any news page and you will see stories of anger, hatred, and death. You will see endless forms of degeneracy. And you will read vitriol. Why? As the old Don Henley song says, “We need dirty laundry.”
But the reality is, we don’t need dirty laundry. We need faith, we need strong leaders, we need inspiration, we need to make a positive difference in our world, and we need prayer.
Every once in a while, we come across people who are making a difference. And to all those people, we say thank you. But one story in particular has hit close to home recently, and it is with pride that I share the story of an 83-year-old man who got on a plane to join a friend who is walking, praying, and fasting for our country. That man is my father, Richard Lochner.
When he first told me he was going to join this friend in a prayer walk, I was worried. My dad’s a Marine and in great shape for his age, but the walking seemed grueling and dangerous, especially along roadways in the hot Atlanta late-April weather, which is where he was heading.
For the last several months, my father has been keeping me apprised of Operation True Cross—an endeavor led by his friend Bud Macfarlane, a Catholic writer and founder of the Mary Foundation. Knowing that “a supernatural battle is being waged to determine the fate of America,” Macfarlane and the men walking with him decided to take action. They are walking 4,500 miles around the United States praying and wearing a relic of the true cross around their shoulders.
They see the “dirty laundry” aired by this country every day. They see devastating abortion numbers, politicians who care more about killing babies than protecting families, rising crime rates, poor leadership who want to allow children to destroy their bodies in gender-changing surgery and who promote and vote for the legalization of assisted suicide, and more. So Macfarlane and his group have literally hit the road to pray for our country, for hearts and minds to be changed, for people to elect good leaders, for people to become good leaders, and for our culture to return to a culture of life.
By their actions and through their prayers, they are making a difference. Those who read about them and who see them walking cannot help but think of the incredible determination and resolve they possess. Walking miles each day—day in and day out, while also fasting and sleeping in a van—is not easy on anyone, let alone men in their 60s and 80s. But they are making this sacrifice because our country means that much to them. They’re walking and praying because people’s souls matter. And they are doing this because prayer works.
Those of us who understand the power of prayer often face backlash from those on the left who find no use for it. They chastise those who pray. They try to build themselves up by maligning others. We saw a disgusting example of this after the recent school shooting in Nashville, when David Pakman, a progressive talk show host, stated in a now-deleted tweet, “Very surprising that there would be a mass shooting at a Christian school, given that lack of prayer is often blamed for these horrible events. . . . Is it possible they weren’t praying enough, or correctly, despite being a Christian school?”
There’s really not much to say (or should I say there’s too much to say?) about vile sentiments like that. We must simply allow Pakman’s words to speak for themselves.
Regardless of the contempt we face for believing in the power of prayer, we know that prayer is—and must be—a vital part of our spiritual lives. Over and over, the Bible tells us to pray. We read that Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” We read that we should “pray for one another.” And we read that we should “pray without ceasing.”
Prayer does make a difference.
That is why the men of Operation True Cross are out there walking and praying. That is why men like my father hop on a plane to spend a weekend walking eight miles a day wearing a cross, talking to God, telling Him of their love and devotion to Him, and asking for His help in making a change in this world.
You see, we all have a role to play in effecting change. We all have gifts and talents that we can use to glorify God and to build a culture that respects all people—born and preborn. And there is no end to how we can use our talents to glorify our Lord and shine His light to others.
So I ask you to find inspiration in the actions of these men and to use that inspiration to find your own way to build a culture of life. I also ask you to pray for the men of Operation True Cross—that they continue to have the stamina, the bravery, and the strength to fight for a culture where all people are valued and respected.
Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. We must believe that. Giving up or trying halfheartedly won’t work. We are all called to persevere with faith and with trust in God that our culture can and will change.
And we must remember that, like Operation True Cross, life is more than a walk; it’s a journey to our heavenly home.
This article first appeared in Catholic 365 at catholic365.com/article/27649/operation-true-cross-is-an-inspiration.html.