BIOGRAPHIC BRIEFS OF DAVID T. LITTLE
(Click on any photo below to view the entire photo gallery)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, H.H. Pope John Paul II and David T. Little
Mr. David T. Little was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada on May 1st, 1944. The second eldest of 10 children, two of whom were adopted, his parents were devout Catholics and David attended Holy Trinity School for the first six years of his education. He attributes a deep grounding in his faith to the good Sisters of Charity at this school and to his mother who daily supervised his Catechism lessons. His father spent his career owning and running restaurants and David learned to cook well from his Dad. David loved to read the Lives of the Saints from a young age and at 15 read a biography of St. Gerard Majella, patron of expectant mothers that moved him profoundly. St. Gerard would later prove to be a shining inspiration for all of David's work.
In 1962 it was announced in Rome that Pope John XXIII had set up a commission to study the oral contraceptive, "the pill" and all ramifications of contraception upon Catholicism. David wrote to the Pope at age 17 and assured him of his certainty that the Church would not nor could not change the age-old teachings of the Church condemning contraception. He told the Pope that he would pray for him and offered him consoling words to strengthen him. The Pope answered the letter with gracious thanks. On July 25, 1968 Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae, forever reaffirming 'that each and every marital act must remain open to the transmission of life' and condemning contraception for all time. But the world thought it knew better.
PRAYER AND PENANCE, EARLY LESSONS
At 19, David chose to pray, fast and perform penances very seriously during the lent of 1964. By the end of Lent, he had learned some deep spiritual secrets that would help him greatly throughout his life. Today he spends an hour before the Blessed Sacrament every working day after Mass knowing that all power for good comes from serious prayer and sacrifice. "Anything of any value whatever that I have accomplished in my poor life, is solely the result of the Mass and the Holy Hour and the quiet Rosaries recited there", he says.
SHOCK AND REVELATION
By 1973, he had a wife, three young children and was running a business. That summer he had two teens working for him in a fundraising project for the community. He noticed their attraction to one another and liked them both, cautioned them not to get intimate, but to "get to know one another and have good clean fun, there is lots of time to get serious..." However, the girl, a practicing Catholic, became pregnant and came to David troubled.
She convinced David that her mother would force her to have an abortion because her mother would be shamed to have her mother discover that her granddaughter was pregnant. Shocked and surprised that a Catholic family could even contemplate such a thing, David counseled the girl to keep the matter secret until after the first trimester when abortion would then be illegal. At the end of the 13th week the girl's mother took her to an abortionist who, thank God, refused to do the abortion because it was too late. That child will be 33 years old this year. This incident was a 'wake-up' call to David. He began studying all the ramifications of the encyclical published five years earlier.
He started to rid himself of vice and began in earnest to seek God once more. He began going to Mass every day. A family crisis occasioned him writing Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and after some correspondence David added an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament every day in imitation of Sheen and the Saints.
He began writing letters to newspapers, politicians and Revenue Canada condemning abortion, prurient sex education and other social erosions of morality. In his parish, he joined the social action committee and at home he and his wife became active in the Marriage Encounter movement.
By 1975, he was visiting maximum-security inmates at a large prison weekly. He was able to bring many inmates back to God and precipitated some dramatic, even profound conversions. One inmate confessed to him a murder he had not disclosed to anyone else and the crime was resolved and punishment accepted.
In 1978 and 1979 he led a group of couples to sponsor a family of seven Vietnam refugees, the 'Boat People' and raised all the needed $10,000 with a small committee. He also placed two single refugees, one with a physician friend and the other with his own family. Then he convinced his Parish to sponsor a related family of nine more!
A year later at a convent where he was doing his Holy Hour, the Sisters asked for his help in finding a place to stay for a family that had just gotten off a bus from Manitoba. His wife agreed and they housed a family of six aboriginal Canadians for six weeks at their home and then arranged a fully furnished apartment for them at their expense.
In 1980, he started an active pro-life committee in his own parish. He gave a talk at all the Masses one weekend to gain support to fight abortion. He received unheard of standing ovations after all four Masses.
THE NEW BRUNSWICK RIGHT TO LIFE ASSOCIATION
In 1981 he was invited by the Executive Director of New Brunswick to Life in Canada to become his assistant, ostensibly at first to raise money. He agreed to join Peter Ryan who was Executive Director, a very good man and devout Catholic, on the condition that the two of them go to daily Mass and spend an hour before the Blessed Sacrament every working day. Peter was of course, more than willing. They made an extremely successful team. This was in March of 1981. As the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus approached in June, David and Peter decided to do a Nine Day Eucharistic Novena before the Blessed Sacrament every day, praying for an end of abortion at the Moncton Hospital, the province's largest abortuary.
On the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the ninth day of the Novena, a real Miracle happened. The chief abortionist ob/gyn at the hospital announced to the press that he was no longer going to do abortions! He said that if people wanted abortions, they had better show some support because he was no longer going to bear the brunt of the criticisms by doing almost all the abortions himself.
A MEETING WITH A DEATH DOCTOR
Dr. Robert Caddick was the ob/gyn responsible for most of the annual 500 or so abortions done at the Moncton Hospital. After Caddick's press announcement, David called him on the phone and requested a meeting. The doctor agreed and that very afternoon they met privately in Dr. Caddick's office. David asked him why he stopped doing abortions.
"Because of all the pressure you have put on me. Demonstrating every Friday for hours during the procedures. All the letters to the editor you people write calling me a gynecological assassin. I'm tired of being alone in all this."
David said, "Come on Doctor, tell me the real reason." The doctor rose from behind his desk and began walking nervously up and down. "You want to know the real reason?" And he became even more emotional and agitated.
He said, "The real reason is my sixteen year old daughter came home from school the other day and said, 'Daddy, are you killing babies?' " David said, "Where did she get that from?" "From a presentation one of your people gave in her school."
Then, his eyes by now teared, he almost choked emotionally saying, " I thought I was helping these women, it's too bad a fetus had to die every time."
David said, "It's a baby, Doctor, it's a baby and you, more than most, know it is a baby. You can use medical terms, Greek or Latin, but it's a baby and you know that."
Dr. Caddick replied, "You people are hypocrites." "What do you mean," said David. "Come with me," he said, and led David into an adjoining room. Inside there was a large desk covered with samples of IUD's and Oral Contraceptives. It was obvious that this was a place where pharmaceutical salesmen met with the doctor.
Dr. Caddick said, "These are all abortifacients, they kill a lot more babies than surgical abortions, and you people never say anything about that."
David was taken aback. Here was an obstetrician/gynecologist admitting his knowledge that IUD's and oral contraceptives often cause 'silent abortions' often unknown to the mother and this doctor probably prescribed them commonly. David knew of course, that the doctor was right about the abortifacient capacity of these contraceptives.
He said, "I know they are, and perhaps you have a point, but abortion is like the largest head of the hydra, and once we cut it off, then we will cut of the head of contraception."
The conversation ended with Caddick warning that "You should get busy in gathering your support, because I expect many to support my call for others to stand up and be counted if they want abortions at the hospital."
David left, grateful to God that the abortions were at least temporarily ended, but interiorly uneasy over the contraception conversation. He knew that board members of NB Right to Life were practicing other methods of contraception, not understanding and spiritually ignorant of the horrific spiritual and personal consequences of any form of contraception. They felt that barrier methods, condoms, spermicides, creams, etc, were fine because they didn't kill babies.
But Catholicism always taught that contraceptive acts were intrinsically evil. David never, ever doubted the truth of formal Catholic doctrine. It was at this moment of unease that the idea of forming a fully Catholic organization began to really gel in David's soul. Contraception, he believed, is the root cause of abortion. David would later feel some shame for not acknowledging the bit of truth in Dr. Robert Caddick's charge of hypocrisy against him and the pro-life movement in general. It is likely the larger hypocrisy owned by Dr. Caddick himself prevented it from being more fully addressed at the time.
A YEAR OF GREAT PROGRESS
David had found his niche and was very successful. He gathered large sums and put together a number of projects that put NBRTL on the map big time. After the meeting with Dr. Caddick, he organized and implemented the first 'signature ad campaign', which gathered more than 40,000 names. Each of these persons paid $2 to have their name published in a large newspaper supplement, which was published in every daily and weekly newspaper in the province. It was fully 18 pages long and under a PROCLAMATION, which read:
WE THE UNDERSIGNED, HEREBY PROCLAIM OUR ABSOLUTE RESPECT FOR ALL HUMAN LIFE, FROM THE FIRST MOMENT OF CONCEPTION UNTIL NATURAL DEATH. WE CHOOSE LIFE.
Forty thousand dollars was raised in that one campaign, not to mention the tremendous impact it had on the entire province.
Portrait of David Little, by his son Marc
Six months later Mr. Little was the primary organizer of a "Celebrity Roast", a la Dean Martin style, where famous National CBC TV Sports Announcer, Danny Gallivan of Hockey Night in Canada was emcee in a roast of former New Brunswick Premier (and now deceased) Louis J. Robichaud. More than 600 paid $50 a plate and $12-15 thousand profit was realized for the cause of life.
But there were problems. David was very successful at everything he did at the New Brunswick Right to Life Association and this caused some extreme jealousy within the organization. Many inside and out thought the NBRTL had become the most effective pro-life organization in Canada because of David Little. He had been interviewed for national network TV shows, for all the activity he had engendered, something unheard of before or since. Larry Henderson editor of the Catholic Register in Toronto called him prime ministerial material in an editorial. Joe Borowski and David became close friends who admired each other.
As one example of the problem, David had decided to protest march every Friday in front of the Moncton Hospital, which at the time was the busiest abortuary in the province. Interestingly enough, abortuary is a word coined by David who was always careful and is to this day not to fall victim to the twisted semantics of the pro-aborts and the media.
In any case he marched often alone and at other times with hundreds every Friday from 9AM till 2PM, rain or shine, no matter how cold or inclement the weather. The press were often assigned to cover this vigil of his, especially the television networks.
One Friday, the President of NBRTL, a volunteer position, was marching for the first time with David and others. Soon two or three TV crews showed up. As they set up, they asked if they could speak to Mr. Little. The president walked over and introduced herself to the reporters. "Hello", she said with a gracious smile, "I'm _____, the president of the NBRTL, would you like to speak with me?" The answer crushed and embarrassed her. "I'm sorry", said the reporter, "but my assignment editor asked us to speak only to Mr. Little."
The poor woman never forgot the humiliation she felt. From that moment her attitude changed toward David. Trumped up accusations were made up against David concerning a missing $20 bill at the office and a purchased $45 adding machine David had made at a local stationery store. Peter heard through the grapevine that the president was going to try to get rid of David at the next board meeting.
David and Peter organized three more Chapters of the NBRTL assuring enough votes to overcome the influence of the president. At the meeting she unilaterally disallowed the new chapter members any vote privileges or rights and orchestrated a vote of her own which removed David as Assistant Executive Director. Peter was so outraged he resigned as Executive Director. But after the initial shock and death of the NBRTL, which never recovered until Peter returned to lead them once again 20 years later, David began a journey that led him to the feet of the Pope himself.
PRO LIFE WORK IN THE UNITED STATES
In the fall of 1983, David was asked by an American man who was instrumental in setting up the first pregnancy crisis centers in the world, to come and help him raise money for his group in the United States. This happened on the ninth day of a Novena that David was praying for discernment of God's will. He accepted the job offer to become Executive Director of the group and succeeded in gathering a great deal of money in a short time while at the same time increasing the organization's profile amongst Christian groups across America.
THE DREAM STARTS TO TAKE SHAPE
In early December of 1983 David was in Chicago visiting with Cardinal Bernardin asking for financial support. After an hour of conversation, the Cardinal made a modestly generous donation and David returned to his Hotel. For many months now he had been faithful to his daily Holy Hour after Mass and an old inspiration began to spring up again. For years David had wanted to begin a totally new lay apostolate reflecting the fullness of Catholic teaching. More important, he felt a strong urge to contact Mother Teresa of Calcutta feeling that with her help he might even start a new group called "Missionaries of Charity, Lay Apostles for Life" or an entity called "The Catholic Foundation for Human Life."
As he returned to his hotel room with a friend who had accompanied him in his visit with the Cardinal, the inner urge to contact Mother Teresa grew stronger. He remembered the name of a priest in Toronto who had worked with Mother in India for 30 years and who was now the Canadian Director of the Co-Workers of the Missionaries of Charity, a lay group of volunteers who assisted Mother's goal of serving the poorest of the poor. David asked his friend if he would pray the rosary with him. They knelt and prayed and at the Amen, David called Fr. Francis West, S.J. in Toronto. Fr. West was pleased to give David the phone number of the Missionaries of Charity Motherhouse in Calcutta.
FIRST PHONE MIRACLE
David called the number immediately and the first of two phone miracles happened! Mother Teresa herself answered the phone! For months and months David had been praying for discernment of this inspiration during his Holy Hours. Whether it was of God to contact Mother Teresa, or foolish proud boldness! Now, this wonderful door swung wide open, with Mother answering the phone. David blurted out his ideas, dreams, hopes and plans. Mother listened quietly and at length. Then she asked him to commit it all to writing and send it directly to her in India, promising to answer. That very night David composed a long letter and mailed it the next day.
THE CATHOLIC FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN LIFE IS BORN
After arranging a major funding and education program through the Catholic media for the American group, David returned home to Canada in early February of 1984 and immediately returned to redoubled prayer and plans of development for the Catholic Foundation for Human Life (CFHL), acts drawn it seems, from an inner conviction that this was the idea that God was about to bless.
David opened a bank account and placed a family tithe as a commitment. That little tithe would serve to teach many things about stewardship in the future. He then set about writing the constitution of the CFHL, its mission and prepared detailed advertisements for Catholic newspapers in Canada which were emblazoned with a huge headline reading, "ARE WE TRULY CATHOLIC?" and whose text exposed and lamented the truth that Catholics were aborting, contracepting and divorcing in almost equal percentages with their non-catholic brothers and sisters.
The ads would prove startling, prophetic and very successful.
He took all this information to the Archbishop of Moncton, Donat Chiasson, a prelate with whom Mr. Little had a very mixed relationship. The Archbishop fully approved the content of the advertisement which was hand drawn in great detail.
Peter Ryan called David about this time and asked if he might join David's new work. David was delighted to bring Peter on board, now as his Executive Director.
In late February, David called Mother Teresa again and though not speaking with her, was told that his letter had not yet arrived in Calcutta. Mr. Little was told that the mail is unstable in India at the best of times and in particular mail sent to Mother Teresa is often delayed because thieves steal it believing it to contain money sent to her for her work. David remained calm and patient, convinced all things were in God's hands.
Letters were prepared to send to a dozens of friends and known pro-lifers asking for support in establishing the CFHL. Daily Mass and Holy Hour continued with fervour. In mid-March Mr. Ryan told David about a story he'd read in the Catholic Press about a wealthy man in Holland who had decided to give his entire multi-million dollar fortune to the service of the Church. Knowing of course that funding is always an important resource after the Lord and good people, David sensed that God was again acting.
When working in the United States, he was asked to edit a book on "How to Open and Operate a Pregnancy Crisis Center". He sent the manuscript to two important persons, Dr. William May, a renowned moral theologian, who served on a Papal Commission, and Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge, a famous philosopher, author and broadcaster in England. Dr. May was asked his judgment on the morality of the pregnancy center methodology, which he soon approved with enthusiasm.
Mr. Muggeridge was asked to write a Forward to the book, and after reading the manuscript, he quickly agreed. When Peter Ryan told David about the wealthy Dutchman, he decided to call Malcolm and ask him about the story.
Mr. Muggeridge was delighted to help. He said he had a son living in the Netherlands and he would call him and ask him to look into the veracity of the news report. He asked Mr. Little to give him a few days and call back. It was now more than three months since he had mailed the letter to Mother Teresa. Yet David Little never wavered in his faith that God was working in all this. The date of the call to Malcolm Muggeridge was March 23, 1984.
THE MIRACLES OF GLORY BEGIN
On Sunday, March 25, Feast of the Annunciation, in the afternoon and alone, David consecrated the Catholic Foundation for Human Life to the Blessed Virgin before the Blessed Sacrament at his Parish Church, Immaculate Mary, in Riverview, New Brunswick. This was the same day when in Rome, Pope John Paul II in union with the Bishops of the world consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as requested by the Virgin at Fatima in 1917. David used a copy of the pre-published prayer the Pope used in Rome for this adapted special consecration of the CFHL.
On Monday, March 26, after Daily Mass, David consecrated the foundation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus using adapted family consecration prayers. As he was driving home, he sensed now was the time.
He was alone at home and picked up the telephone and called Malcolm Muggeridge who told him that his son had indeed looked into the wealthy man story, that it was all true and that he had obtained his private telephone number!
David called the number and spoke to the gentleman, telling him of his plans and asking him if he might come and see him. The man was most cordial and agreed to meet with him on Friday, April 6th.
THE SECOND MIRACLE OF THE TELEPHONE
Now was the time to call Mother Teresa. David Little was never more certain. Inspired with a knowing joy, David called Mother Teresa and again she answered the telephone! David asked if she had received his letter, and then she said something that confirmed everything David believed about the fruits of the daily Holy Hour. "Yes", said Mother Teresa, " I have received it. What you have written is very important, could you come and see me?" In an excited voice David said, "Oh yes Mother, I have to go to Europe next week and I can just continue on to Calcutta after that." Mother said, "You have to go to Europe next week? I am going to Rome the week of April 8th, could you meet me in Rome?"
David was so overjoyed; he could hardly contain his happiness. "Yes, I can meet with you, of course, I will be so blessed to meet you Mother." He then asked about a date and Mother said to call a number in Rome when he arrived and it would be set. David felt lifted to the ceiling!
Immediately he called Malcolm Muggeridge again and said that rather than mail the Forward to the book, he was going to come and pick it up! Malcolm was excited with all the news and invited him to come to his home in Sussex!
In the next week all went according to Divine Providence. David had never held a passport. Yet it was arranged in days. The response to the mail-out was such that with donations and tithe, exactly enough money was available for the airfare, hotels and food. Nine days later Mr. David T. Little was on a jet to England. After an overnight in London, he traveled by train to the Muggeridge home in Sussex.
David knew beyond any doubt whatever that the Mercy and Providence of God was bringing all this about. He always says, "Who am I, I am nothing and nobody, a little nothenarian from nowhere, God does all for all, if you place yourself before Him regularly, in sincerity, seeking His will for you, He will show you, no matter what. Whatever the challenge, goal or mission, be not afraid. God is an equal opportunity Creator, all is possible in Him. God, plus one is a majority."
Malcolm Muggeridge, in the Muggeridge home in Sussex, England
April 4, 1984
David with Piet Derksen, a wealthy Catholic businessman who gave his fortune in support of his Faith.
April 5, 1984.
MALCOLM AND KITTY
In Sussex he was reminded of that wonderful Providence once again. Many may not recall that Malcolm Muggeridge discovered Mother Teresa for the world. In 1967, he was asked to go to Calcutta and do a story in film of this crazy nun who was picking up the dying poor from the streets and giving them dignity and respect in death. He called his film, "Something Beautiful for God". It became famous around the world. He followed with a book of the same name.
When David Little called Malcolm Muggeridge in the fall of 1983 and asked him to write a Forward for the book on Pregnancy Centers, he had no recollection of his relationship with Mother Teresa. But God's providential designs were soon to be apparent.
Meeting Malcolm and his wife Kitty in England was a heartwarming time. They were gracious in their hospitality and told of their journey to become Catholics through the example of Mother Teresa and John Paul II. Malcolm posed with David in front of a picture of the Pope. David had no idea what lay ahead. Malcolm offered a prophecy at lunch. He said that David will no doubt go to Rome many times in the future, but it will never again be like this first time. "Write everything down," he said.
Malcolm gave David the handwritten Forward and a personal letter for Mother Teresa. What wonder filled his heart at the beauty of God. Here, he thought, I am going to Rome itself, to meet Mother Teresa herself and carrying a special letter from an old and dear friend, the famous Malcolm Muggeridge, who with his wife Kitty had just entered the Catholic Church.
First however, he flew to Eindhoven, Netherlands, arriving to celebrate a Mass with Piet Derksen, the wealthy gentleman, a Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a First Friday of the month. Another sign of heavenly approval! Mr. Derksen asked David to stay overnight and more; he agreed to help significantly financially and asked David to get a note from Mother Teresa since they had never met, and to stop back on the way home from Rome.
On the plane, David began to write all. When arriving in Rome on Sunday, April 8th, he called and arranged to meet Mother on Monday in a convent where the poor are served in the outskirts of Rome.
He then walked the sort distance to St. Peter's Square and the magnificent glory of St. Peter's. David spent the rest of the day drinking in the grandeur of St. Peter's Basilica. After Mass, he just soaked in centuries of Catholic beauty and reverent art. He found it hard to believe he was actually there. The glory would grow.
THE FIRST MEETING WITH A SAINT
The next morning he took a taxi to the address of Mother's convent. His appointment was at 11AM, but he arrived at 10. In a little courtyard, Sr. Silvia, MC, greeted him and showed him a seat. Mother was being interviewed by an Austrian television crew, forty feet away in the open courtyard.
Mother with David in the courtyard of the convent,
just moments after the long conversation
April 9, 1984
When she finished she came gently to David and he fell to his knees. "No, no, no, God is good," she said and helped him up. She took him by the hand and they went into the Chapel together. David was surprised to see a plain carpet on the floor and no chairs or kneelers, a large Crucifix with carved wooden letters beside it, which read, 'I Thirst'. They knelt and prayed before the Tabernacle for about 15 minutes. At 11 AM, Mother arose and David followed her to a tiny room, the sacristy. There they talked for two hours alone. At noon, a sister came to call Mother to lunch. Mother told the nun that she would not be taking lunch, that she would continue to talk to David. As the Angelus bell rang at noon, Mother reached across the little table and took David's hand and invited him to pray the Angelus together.
David poured out his heart and dreams and Mother listened with great attention and humility. She said that yes, she would act as Chief Spiritual Advisor to the CFHL and that she would come to Canada the next year. She was so moved by David's plans that she told him she wanted him to go see the Pope and tell him what he had told her! When David expressed his surprise and shock and the fact that he had never been in the Vatican before, she said she would write a note to the Pope's secretary and all would be arranged. As the talk ended, she stood and said to please wait; she would be back in a moment. In ten minutes she returned and gave David two envelopes, one sealed, another open. The sealed letter was addressed to Msgr. John McGee. The other was written to Mr. Piet Derksen. It is here reproduced:
Mother Teresa then asked David if he could come to a final Profession of Vows Mass for about thirty of her sisters the next day. Of course David went. After the ceremony, Mother came and brought David to a priest, Fr. James Swetnam, S.J. with whom a strong friendship developed. Mother asked Fr. Swetnam to take David to the Vatican to deliver the note. They went in joy and anticipation.
Monsignor John Magee, Papal Master of Ceremonies, meets with David
TO THE VATICAN!
Finding Msgr. McGee's apartment near L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's newspaper, they knocked. Msgr. McGee then appeared, walking down the street toward them. David handed him the note telling him whom it was from. He opened it right there and read it. He was delighted and asked David to come to his office at 10 in the morning. He asked him to go to the Bronze Doors and ask the Swiss Guards to contact him.
In the morning, after Mass in St. Peters, David went to the Bronze Doors, huge very high doors of solid bronze that enclose the inner offices of papal staff and the Apostolic Palace, the apartments of the Pope. He gave his passport to the guard and told him of his appointment with Msgr. McGee. A specially marked pass was given him and he was shown where to go. Arriving at the office, he was greeted by a priest who was gracious and asked David to wait in a sitting room. Momentarily, Msgr. McGee appeared and informed him that he had made a copy of the note from Mother Teresa and sent it to Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz (pronounced gee-vitz), longtime personal secretary to the Holy Father. He told David he had made a copy of the note and kept the original because it was a 'relic' of Mother Teresa. They talked of many things and would become good friends in later visits to Rome. He also revealed that he believed the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at Medjugorge were, "entirely authentic" and that he received weekly missives from the pastor at St. James Parish in Medjugorge which contained transcripts of the daily visions of the six children, and that each week he sends them "directly to the Holy Father."
David thought Msgr. McGee a wonderful and holy man. He had been personal secretary to Pope Paul VI for his entire pontificate and thought him to be a saint. At this point in April 1984, he was Pontifical Master of Ceremonies and a very close personal friend of His Holiness. After a wonderful hour of conversation David took his leave having been advised that he would receive a phone call from Msgr. Dziwisz. David was still in a kind of heavenly daze at the wonder of it all. He says he remembers thinking, "how astonishingly wonderful God is and how utterly unworthy I am."
CARDINAL GAGNON AND ANOTHER INVITATION
Much more glory waited. He called the offices of Archbishop Edouard Gagnon, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and a Canadian. David was invited the next day to his apartment, which was on top of Bernini's magnificent colonnade. This meeting initiated by David would prove to be prophetic in a few days. Soon to be made Cardinal, Archbishop answered the door with a rosary in his hands. They became friends instantly. Gagnon was a truthful, courageous man and would in future suffer for it. It was now Thursday, April 12. On Friday Mother Teresa asked David to come to meet with her at another of her convents in Rome. There she asked David to attend Mass with her on Palm Sunday in St. Peters Square.
David wrote in his journal that he remembered thinking, "Mother Teresa of Calcutta herself will be speaking to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in St. Peters Square on Palm Sunday and she has asked David T. Little, a little nothenarian from Moncton, New Brunswick in Canada, to sit beside her, right up there, very near the Pope's throne at the altar. Boy, those Holy Hours sure are powerful."
St. Peter's Square
Palm Sunday, April 15,1984
YET ANOTHER MIRACLE BY PHONE
Yet it all came to be. And more. On Saturday evening around 7PM, his phone rang beside his bed in the Hotel Columbus. It was one of the sisters in the papal household, calling on behalf of Msgr. Dziwisz.
"Is this Mr. David Little speaking?" she said.
"I am calling on behalf of Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz who asks if you could come to a Private Mass with the Pope on Monday morning?"
"Oh yes I can Sister, I would be very happy to come."
"Please come to the Bronze Doors on Monday morning at 6 AM and ask the Swiss Guards to call Msgr Dziwisz."
"Certainly Sister, I will do that, thank you Sister, thank you."
The joy was overwhelming. Overwhelming. From March 26, the last call to Mother from Canada till now on Saturday, April 14, a mere 19 days David experienced nothing but glory, glory, glory! And the peak was yet to come.
A JOYOUS PALM SUNDAY
The next day, Palm Sunday, was a beautiful sunny and warm day in St. Peters Square. David sat with Mother Teresa and several cardinals and bishops. When the Pope left the altar to greet the people, he turned toward them and gave kind of blessing/wave. David snapped a picture at that precise moment. When Mother was introduced there was a huge ovation in the crowd. Many do not know that Mother Teresa only spoke English and some Indian dialects. She addressed the pilgrims in English to their delight. She spoke of love, chastity and the Blessed Mother. It was another wonderful moment for David. For the first time he received Holy Communion directly from the Pope. In a way he felt he was in a wonderful movie.
THE GENTLE STANISLAW
David and then-Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz in his office in the Papal Apartments
June 19, 2001
The next morning he no longer felt he was in a movie. He knew it. As he walked across St. Peters Square and beneath the colonnade he thought of the many great movies and books that moved his soul so, books and movies on the Church. The Keys to the Kingdom, The Cardinal, The Edge of Sadness, The Shoes of the Fisherman....so many books on the lives of the Saints...and here he was strolling toward the Bronze Gates for a personal meeting with the Vicar of Christ, Prince of the Apostles, Successor of Peter, Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness Pope John Paul II. It was as if he had gone to heaven where the angels were making the perfect movie and he was their chosen lead.
As he walked up the wide marble staircase to the huge bronze entrance, a Swiss Guard snapped to attention and saluted. David thought to himself, he must think I am a disobedient priest. The Pope had just mandated that all visiting clergy wear habits or clerical garb in Rome. Some disobeyed and some wore lapel Crosses. David wore three pins already chosen for full time workers of the CFHL, known as 'apostolics'. The first on top was a silver cross, then a papal medallion and JPII coat of arms, again in silver and finally below, a pair of tiny baby feet also in silver. It signified David would explain, from Christ, through the Church, for human life. But the Guard just assumed such regalia must mean an uninformed or recalcitrant, bold priest. "I am not a priest", said David, "but thank you. I am a layman and I have been asked if you might call Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz and tell him I am here," and he handed the handsome guard his passport. He disappeared into a side office for a moment, re-appeared and escorted David to another enclosure and waited a moment till an elevator opened.
A priest in a black multi-buttoned cassock, about 45 years old, looking serious and reserved said ever so politely and gently, "Mr. David Little?" "Yes Father", said David. The priest was none other than Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, personal secretary to the Pope and as everyone except David knew, the most powerful person in the Vatican next to the Pope. Which is where one could almost always find the good Monsignor who is now Cardinal Archbishop of Kraków, something David humorously prophesied during their last meeting on June 19, 2001.
The private chapel of the Pope,
taken from the altar area before Mass
April 16, 1984
This morning however would be the most influential of all mornings in the life of David Little, and the moment he has most reflected on since it happened. As Msgr. Dziwisz escorted him from the elevator, he found himself in a beautiful, yet simple foyer of marble and drapery. He followed the Monsignor into another room that looked like a library with a large oblong table and ornate chairs. He was led to double doors on the left and as the secretary opened it, he gestured for David to go in whispering and smiling, "please, please."
THE VICAR OF CHRIST
David drew in a silent gasp as he immediately saw the Pope kneeling in prayer in front of the altar at a prie-dieu, twenty feet from him and there was absolutely no one else in the room! Remembering scripture, if at anytime, this time, he took the last seat in the right hand corner of the Chapel and he was all alone with the Vicar of Christ on earth for twenty-five minutes. David tried to pray, but his mind was racing with questions. "What are you doing to me Lord? I really, really am here all alone in the Pope's private chapel with the Pope himself, how did this happen Lord and what does it mean.... Our Father.....Hail Mary...Glory Be...,O You are so good God, but what does this mean...you must have the wrong man, but here I am...I'm really here...I have to pray...I love you Lord, just tell me what to do and I will do it..."
Perhaps ten minutes passed before a great calm entered his heart and he realized that of all people on the planet God had chosen him to be there at that moment even though he believed himself to be so deeply unworthy. He understood from years of study of Catholic study of Christianity and even more time in prayer that God truly does like to exalt the lowly.
And he most certainly believed that anything can happen to a soul who just plunks himself down in front of the Tabernacle for an hour every day and prays the rosary, the breviary or reads scripture or just sits there to be with the Lord. So here I am, he thought. God knows what He's doing and He does not make mistakes. "So I will tell him everything that I told Mother Teresa, just like she said I should do", he thought to himself.
He relaxed now and looked around. It was a stunning small chapel, 4 or 5 small pews on each side on a patterned marble floor, with 4' bronze statues of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and a gorgeous stain glass window of the Resurrection for a ceiling. The Altar was about 7' wide and above was a large light bronze Crucifix and to its right a small but beautiful icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. In the centre of the altar was a small, exquisite Tabernacle with three lit candlesticks to its left.
Holy Mass was said in the Korean language, as the Pope would make his first visit there in May. A black priest and Msgr. Dziwisz assisted in vesting the Holy Father in purple, because this was Monday of Holy Week. A black Cardinal concelebrated Holy Mass with the Pope and the two priests. At communion the Eucharist was given to all on the tongue. There was a long silent reflection after Holy Communion. David was in heaven throughout.
THE POPE WISHES TO SPEAK WITH YOU
"Get up now, that is a very hard marble floor;
Mother Teresa has found favour with your work, please tell me all about it."
After Mass the secretary came to him again and said "The Pope wishes to speak with you privately, so could you please wait here till everyone is gone?" And so David found himself watching a line of about 26 persons, mostly priests and nuns, a personal friend of the Pope from Poland and the black Cardinal who David later learned was just appointed to a new curial position and was given the privilege to concelebrate with the Pope the morning his appointment took effect.
Arturo Mari, the Pope's personal photographer appeared and snapped pictures of everyone greeting the Pope and then they were all gone and David was alone with His Holiness, Msgr. Dziwisz and the black priest who had served and also concelebrated with the Cardinal. David learned this priest's name was Msgr. Emory Kabongo and he was the other private secretary to the Holy Father.
David knelt quickly on the floor as the Holy Father approached him. "Ah, Mr. Little," said the Pope as he reached down to gently touch David's hands, "get up now, that is a very hard marble floor; Mother Teresa has found favour with your work, come now, tell me all about it." With that David was on his feet and needed no further prodding to explain what the Catholic Foundation for Human Life was all about. The Holy Father reached out and placed his hand on David's shoulder. He was very gentle and kind and his deep blue eyes showed sincere interest.
The Pope listened and asked questions in good English; at one point he turned to Msgr. Dziwisz and said he wanted Archbishop Gagnon to act as Vatican collaborator to Mr. Little. Another sign of Providence! It was a long detailed conversation. After 40 minutes, the Holy Father turned to Msgr. Kabongo and asked him to stay and learn more of these plans from Mr. Little. David asked him to bless a briefcase full of sacramentals, probably 15 pounds worth of Rosaries, Crucifixes, medals etc., which the Pope did with a gentle smile before quietly leaving. All the while he was with David, Arturo Mari was flashing pictures.
David and Msgr. Kabongo talked for another 30 minutes or so, not so much about CFHL plans but questions from David about all things he'd seen and experienced. "How long have you been serving the Pope as his secretary, (four years), where is your home, (Zaire) do you live here with the Pope, (yes) was that Korean at Mass? Who was the Cardinal concelebrating? How long have you been a priest? Where did you learn to speak English so well? Do you know Mother Teresa well? And on and on.
As Msgr. Kabongo left, he said he felt certain they would see Mr. Little again soon. "The Pope himself has blessed your work, you are a most fortunate man," he said. "Keep us personally informed", he said. "Write." And with a smile he was gone. Arturo Mari came in and David asked his name and said. "you take all these pictures to please the people who meet the Pope, may I take your picture now?" Mr. Mari smiled and said yes. That cemented their friendship; many times David would be back to these apartments in the future. They never forgot each other, now more than 20 years. David says, "Arturo Mari is such a fine gentleman."
When David left the Apostolic Palace, he went straight to his room, curled up in a fetal position and prayed the Rosary in a kind of glorious gratitude for a long, long time. He had been given a foretaste of heaven, and he knew with total certainty this had all happened because of serious, regular prayer. A stupid, sinful man like him, he thought, a stupid sinful man like him. And here he was, 39 years old and at the feet of the Pope! Amazing. What a God! What a God!
TO BE CONTINUED...