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Between 40 to 60 people attend daily Mass at the Pentagon. During holy days, the crowds are such that Masses are held in an auditorium.

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Father Mark Baron, MIC, back in the sacristy, where he hears confessions before and after Mass.

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The Metro ride to the Pentagon provides Fr. Mark with an opportunity to meditate on the daily Gospel reading.

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Paul Brady points to the names of friends who were killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Metro door swooshes open. Father Mark Baron, MIC, steps inside the train, takes a seat, and prepares himself as he does each day that he's scheduled to celebrate Mass inside the Pentagon.

He meditates on the daily Gospel reading. Then, he prays to the Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary for the wisdom to deliver the right words in his homily.

Late last year, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception were asked to take over the celebration of weekday Mass inside the Pentagon, one of the largest and — arguably — one of the most important office buildings in the world. The Marians jumped at the chance.

"I felt this would be a good way for the Marians to serve our country, especially in a time of war," says Fr. Mark, the House Superior at the Marian Scholasticate on the campus of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The Marians divvy up the Pentagon's weekday Masses with their friends, the Dominican friars. The Marians cover the Pentagon Mass three days a week. The Dominicans handle the other two days.

Father Mark insists the distinctive task doesn't rattle him — much — even though daily Mass at the Pentagon can include colonels, captains, majors, even four-star generals, and even though he's charged with bringing the Prince of Peace to people presently charged with executing two foreign wars. He's not panic-stricken, even though the Gospel reading on this day — Monday, June 16 — is from Matthew 5:38-42, a challenging reading under any circumstances, particularly so in the Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense.

In the reading, Jesus says to His disciples, "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. ..."

Father Mark, a former member of the ROTC at Purdue University, knows he has a tall task ahead of him. He sits back in his seat on the train and takes a moment to quietly formulate his thoughts. If there are any butterflies at all in his stomach, he'll see to it they fly in formation by the time Mass begins at 11:30 a.m. In the meantime, during the 45-minute ride from Catholic University to the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., the train passes through a veritable gauntlet of graffiti, including several exhortations to "STOP THE WAR."

No place quite like it
Father Mark can appreciate the irony of this special ministry. But the real irony, he says, is that, in many respects, preaching inside the Pentagon is no different than preaching at a parish anywhere across the country.

"I'm not telling them what policies to make or how to fight the war in Iraq or Afghanistan," says Fr. Mark, 38, who was ordained in 2004. "I am there to preach the Gospel."

He pauses. He looks out the window for a moment. Then he says, "You know, the thing is, every country has a right to defend itself. I don't know what moral dilemmas the employees in the Pentagon face on a daily basis. All I can do is to try to stir up the faith. I don't look out and see colonels or majors or captains or generals in the pews. I see God's people, and they are in need of being ministered. Everybody is a sinner. Everybody is in need of God's mercy. Everyone is in need of being perfected in charity — in love of God and love of neighbor. So preaching at the Pentagon is really no different than preaching anywhere."

But of course, he'll agree there's no place on earth quite like the Pentagon.

More than 25,000 people are employed there. During the Cold War, the Pentagon was considered "Ground Zero" for a Soviet nuclear attack. And its tiny chapel in the southwest side of the five-sided behemoth is located at the very spot where terrorist hijackers crashed a Boeing 757 at 9:37 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, killing 184 people.

Father Mark gets off at the Metro's Pentagon stop and heads up the escalator where armed guards standby at a security checkpoint. An officer waves him through a scanner. Then, Fr. Mark makes his way through another security checkpoint, then inside to the 17.5 miles of corridors that comprise the spokes and rings of the Pentagon.

'A point of impact'
"Hello there," says Curtis Lager, when Fr. Mark enters the chapel. Curtis, an employee at the Pentagon, volunteers his services to help prepare the chapel for Holy Mass.

Though some Pentagon staff members lament that the chapel is too small and that its thick maroon carpet and dropped ceiling give it an air more reminiscent of a funeral home than a house of worship, it's better than the alternative — an auditorium where services were held in the years before Sept. 11, 2001.

And everyone seems to appreciate the chapel's poignant placement — at the impact point of the hijacked plane.

"It emphasizes the fact that when things get bad, and when you lose control over your situation, the One who is in control is God," says Msgr. Philip Hill, senior chaplain of the U.S. Army, who served a critical role in getting the chapel built.

"This chapel — celebrating Mass here — helps me to get through the day," says Paul Brady, 40-year employee at the Pentagon, who's sitting in the pews, gently spinning his walking cane in his fingers. "It's a place of peace and quiet and sanity."

Father Mark goes back into the sacristy where he hears confessions before Mass. The chapel slowly fills with people, including John Dickhute, who works in Army logistics.

"I come in here to not only spend time with God, but to get reinvigorated and to remind myself that God is in charge and all of my successes are because of Him" he says. "When you work in this building you need a lot of help to get through the day. There's a lot of stress in the work we do, and we appreciate the Marians have come in and helped out."

"I know that if I don't take the time to fill myself, spiritually, I can't help and serve others. So having Mass here is really crucial to the work I do," says U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Amy Malugani, an employee in public affairs. She says she goes to Fr. Mark for spiritual direction. "He's been a breath of fresh air for me. His energy, his perspective, it's refreshing."

Transcend evil
About 50 people are attending Mass today. In his homily, Fr. Mark relies on his devotion Jesus' message of Divine Mercy — how God's mercy is greater than man's sin, and how we are called to receive His mercy and extend it to others.

"The world is a place where evil flourishes," Fr. Mark says. "We may wonder, Can it get any deeper? Can it get any worse than it is now, with all the moral disorder that we experience domestically and internationally?

"But the Lord gives us a response," Fr. Mark says. "How do we respond to evil? When the Lord says don't resist it, he's saying to transcend the problem of evil. We are to fight evil by growing in mercy. As we grow in mercy, we break the grip of evil in our lives. God allows us to transcend the problem of evil in this world — not that we don't fight it. We are to conquer evil with the power of good. Through our virtue, we can help make the world a better place. We can bring the light of God, the grace of God into the world. We can bring healing into the world.

"The hope of heaven helps us make that virtuous response. Evil is powerless in the face of virtue," says Fr. Mark. "It is powerless in the face of God. Evil cannot conquer someone who is committed to God."

Several people — civilians and military alike — nod in agreement.

"But evil has its day sometimes," Fr. Mark hastens to add.

The singed stone on the other side of the chapel walls give proof to that.

After Mass, Paul and John both linger. Both men lost friends in the attack on Sept. 11. The plane cut through the office space occupied by the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel and continued 80 feet into the Navy Command Center, where Paul works.

"I heard the concussion," says Paul. "I felt the shockwave. It's a miracle I'm still alive."

John, whose task it was to help procure body bags following the attack, recalls the haze of smoke.

"It's a smell I'll never forget," he says. "It must be what hell smells like — the jet fuel, the burnt building, the burnt bodies."

When Fr. Mark emerges from the sacristy, Paul invites him to see the Reflection Room, built around the corridor. It's a quiet room with a bench facing an upended slab of stone into which the victims' names are carved. Once there, Paul points with his cane to the names of people he knew.

He tells Fr. Mark he's had a difficult time dealing with his anger at the hijackers. "The hatred gets a grip on you," he admits.

"Divine Mercy breaks the grip of evil," Fr. Mark says. He pats Paul on the shoulder. "We'll pick this topic up again tomorrow at Mass," he says.

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Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Tim - Jul 2, 2019

Wow, that was really well written!

You nailed it.

Veronica - Feb 19, 2009

God Bless You as you continue to
do God'g work and I will ask you to Pray for all of us as we Pray for you>
Thank you for being there.

Barb K - Oct 16, 2008

Would be great to print "the story" if one wouldn't have to waste paper on 8 pages of comments. Can that be altered?

Shaz, POM, PNG. - Jul 9, 2008

This is a move by our Holy Mother Mary, as she says; "I won't rest until the whole world is consecrated to my immaculate heart and I will present them to the sacred heart of my son Jesus."
Fr.Mark has been blessed to do this work,and therefore all Glory, honour & praise to the Holy Trinity for choosing the Pentagon. Inorder to conquer evil,there has to be peace and love at the Control Centre.
I am overjoyed by this and will offer special prayers for Fr. Mark.

Amy C in C. Springs, Co - Jul 8, 2008

AWESOME!!! I have forwarded this to my folks and other friends! I am proud to call you a friend. Keep doing what you're doing-you're in my prayers!

Sr. Irene Claire - Jun 29, 2008

Happy Happy Feast Day, Fr. Mark and greeetings on the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. May the Divine Mercy continue His work through you.

nwamaria - Jun 25, 2008

God bless you fr mark in your awesome job. May the Divine mercy envlope us and lead us to greater ove and tolerance.

Ann, Calif. - Jun 24, 2008

Fr. Mark, it is with great joy that I fwd. this article out to my family & friends!! Praise God for you priests and for the Holy Spirit, RICH in Mercy...flooding the halls of our Pentagon:) There are NO locks that can keep Him out, He loves us so. Thank you to whoever wrote this article because we need to hear reports like this. Doesn't it do your heart good?! Yes, it's good to hear how well Our Jesus meets His beloved people, always, and anywhere:) Lots of Love to you!

Bob - Jun 24, 2008

Keep up the good work. You are in my prayers. There is a great little book that looks at Matthew 5: 38-42 from a historical perspective that may help your parishioners. Its called "Jesus and Nonviolence" by Walter Wink. (Fortress Press)It helped me understand His message better. I recommend it highly.

Michelle A. LoCoco - Jun 24, 2008

Thank you Fr. Mark, the Marians and the Dominicans for shepherding our brethren at the Pentagon. I am sure they are grateful for your Ministry and bringing the Body of Christ to them for spiritual nourishment.

David - Jun 24, 2008

May God's grace & mercy continue to flow through Fr. Mark and the Domincans. Thnak you, Fr. Mark, for your spiritual service to all in need, especially those at the Pentagon, who volutarily bear untold burdens on our behalf. May the Peace of Christ contniue to strengthen you...

Star M. - Jun 23, 2008

I thank God for sending Fr. Mark to the Pentagon to spread HIS Words and be an instrument for salvation. You have touched many hearts. Thank you.

Eileen - Jun 23, 2008

It is wonderful to know that people in such places of authority and decision making realize that God is in charge. Jesus said "you would have no power over Me if it had not been given to you by my Father. Thank God we know this fact. God Bless all of you.

Chris from NH - Jun 22, 2008

Thank you Father for your ministry at The Pentagon. We are in much need of Gods Mercy. I believe we much pray for guidance when we cast our votes in Nov. We must choose those candidates who believe in the Sanctity of Life..from conception to natural death, we must pray for the conversion of hearts of those who support abortion and euthanasia.
Praise be to God.

Mrs. LaChita Calloway - Jun 22, 2008

Fr. Mark: May Our Lady Of Grace and Our Jesus Of Mercy & Hope continue to Bless You in Your Ministry for All God's People. +++ I will pray my Holy Rosary & Chaplet Of Divine Mercy For All Your Intentions & Those Of The Dominican Priests Who Serve With You. Jesus we pray in the name of The Father, The Son & The Holy
Spirit for You Fr. Mark, & the United Commitment as a Marian Priest, To Lead & Call Out To Families To Renew Their Babtismal Promises and Convert Lost Souls For The Eternal Kingdom Of God. +++ Peace To All The Wonderful Priests Who Pray For All Souls To Be United To Our Merciful Sacred Heart Of Jesus & To The Immaculate Heart Of Mary +++, Our Advocate And Mother. +++ Let Us Fight The Good Fight Together For All, Especially Those In Most Need Of God's Help, Love & Mercy. +++ THANK-YOU JESUS, FOR ALL THE MARIANS OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION. +++ LIGHTS TO THE WORLD IN & FOR JESUS CHRIST +++

Teresa Livoti - Jun 21, 2008

I am so glad you are preaching the word of God precisely there. Our country needs to hear God's message. My daughter works for the Air Force at the Pentagon and she attends that Mass often.

Sr. Jane SMIC - Jun 21, 2008

Fr. Mark, I remember when we were doing The Confessions of St. Augustine radio drama at FUS, and you said you intended to enter the Marians. Now you are a priest helping so many--great to read your story here.

Mary - Jun 21, 2008

It is quite awesome that there is a chapel at the Pentagon. Praise God. I pray that the Holy Spirit will "move in" also and help open the hearts of those who visit this place of worship, especially Fr Mark. It is evident that with his ROTC background, it is difficult for him to put Catholicism ahead of put Christ ahead of country. Fr. Mark, you say (that the Lord says) we are to fight evil by growing in conquer evil with the power of good..bring light to the the end of a GUN???!!! It is as if Jesus Christ never came to earth! Please, if you can't preach the true word of God in the Pentagon, then at least avoid glossing over the sins against humanity that this country is committing. At one point you say every country has a right to defend itself...that would be those fighting to defend Iraq against the U.S., right?, since the U.S. is the one who did the invading! Remember, not one of those involved in 9-11 was from Iraq. How easy it is for us to justify our sins. I stand with our previous Pope, who spoke out often against this country's aggression in the Middle East. "Violence and war will never solve the problems of man"(John Paul II)
Thank you for committing your life to serving God. May He bless you with the wisdom to truly change the hearts of men. ~love, Mary

Lance Patrick - Jun 21, 2008

m - Prayer alone will not heal our land or support a civilization. It takes courageous people with a moral purpose who recognize evil for what it is and it's effects. I am sure there are many fine 'gay' people but their sin can erode our culture.

They need our compassion, prayer, and evangelization(action) as with any other sinner, ourselves included. Marriage is one of the sacraments of the Church and it is not within the scope of civil governments to decide what it is one way or the other. Let them have civil unions but not pervert the intention of sacramental marriage.

"We've had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence." - St Catherine of Siena

Barbara - Jun 21, 2008

Thankyou for the work you do in the Pentagon. I hope we will have a priest undertake this calling of the Divine Mercy in the House of Commons Chapel

Chris - Jun 21, 2008

Dear Father Mark,

I am encouraged to know that there is mass said in the pentagon daily. May God bless you and keep you close as you share His good news and the eucharist with His church. Thank you for your vocation and the work you do.
We also need to pray for guidance when we cast our votes in November, that we choose candidates that God can use for his glory and justice. We need to rid our country of it's perversion and abortion. We can not opt out of our responsibility of electing moral leaders. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph pray for us.

Gloria Hartman - Jun 21, 2008

During a time when Islamic terrorists are presenting a God without mercy, its important to reflect upon why the King of Mercy wants his image to one of mercy right now in this time in history.

Sherlynn - Jun 21, 2008

God has chosen you, Fr. Mark, for a very special task. I will pray for you everyday that you touch a heart in the name of Jesus. For at the end of our exile here, what do we all really have, but the Mercy of God alone to depend on!! Jesus, Mary I love you, save souls!!

Zon - Jun 21, 2008

Dear Fr. Mark, I pray that the Holy Spirit will empower you more Wisdom, knowledge and always guide you, protect you in your daily activities. Way to go!

I was touched by what you've said in this particular event. Last year, I asked my Parish Priest if I can start to share the Novena to the Divine Mercy in my hometown. I found out that there were some people don't even know anything about this. This year, i went back just to be with them and guide them. The works of Mercy spreadout to people. God Bless us and protect us all. IN GOD WE TRUST! AMEN.

Dave - Jun 21, 2008

What shock and awe to hear that the Pentagon would even allow Mass to be said in the hallowed halls of twisted rhetoric. Truly amazing.
I must say, tho, after reading some of these comments, that I hope and pray the spirit will send of level of compassion, and understanding to some of the ignorant comments, particularly about gays.
The Lord knows who we are, and why we are what we are, better than anyone here will ever understand, including myself.
In the spirit of Vatican II, the church, at one point, realized that the spirit sends messgaes to the church from the least of it's brethren.
Who are the least? Part of them are the ones that most of you despise.

Y. Reseau - Jun 20, 2008

Thank you Father Mark for responding yes to God's call. He knows your heart and He will be there for you at time of trouble. It is not by chance that you were selected to be the Priest at the Pentagon He will reveal it to you one day. Your presence means a lot to our Brothers and Sisters at the Pentagon. May our Mother Mary keeps you and those you serve under her mantle at all times. Pray the Rosary whenever possible.

Mary - Jun 20, 2008

Fr. Mark, It's so wonderful that you make yourself available and bring Jesus to people with such demanding, serious and sensitive work. And all for the glory of God. God Bless You!!!

Aloner - Jun 20, 2008

Father Mark, You are a blessing to all those who atend Mass at the pentagon. You give inspiration to those who may feel a heavy burden for the job they must execute. Thanks for being their rock and hope in the name of Jesus Christ. May God bless you abundantly.

kentuckyliz - Jun 20, 2008

I was delighted to find this news article! I'm glad you are in the Pentagon preaching the Gospel and the Divine Mercy message. Even four-star generals need to listen to the voice of Jesus in their lives. Way to be salt and light! God bless you.

Leslie Anne - Jun 20, 2008

Thanks to Fr. Mark for exploring the problem of evil and spreading the gospel of mercy. We are all in a "war" far greater in scope than Iraq or Afghanistan and far more personal as it takes place on the battlefield of each individual's soul.

Salvacion - Jun 20, 2008

Wow, awesome to KNOW, you preach and please PRAY for our 2 hrs. ADORATION w/ 3pm Great Hour of Mercy at St. Athanasius Church, Long Beach, CA 90805.
Live Blessed - one/all - Thanks, Fr. Mark ***


ralph benware - Jun 20, 2008

Divine flows constantly and without interruptions, yet to receive it we must face our Lord and not turn our back to Him.Today we need Radical witness to preserve the Sacrament of marriage instituted by Christ where Man and Women become one imitating
Christ's Sacrifice. Love the Person but not the Evil destructive act of Sodomy. We will be rewarded by our Love but judged by our Faith and Acts. We must be merciful in our judgement of the individualbut not be silent in the face of evil.
God Bless,

Dear Father Mark, - Jun 20, 2008

I was so happy to see that you say Mass in Washing DC. It made my day!
God Bless,

9-11 Memorial in the Pentagon - Jun 20, 2008

The priests who minister to the spiritual needs of the people of the Pentagon preach the message of salvation: That there is evil in the world in which we live which we saw on9-11 but it will be overcome by God's Mercy and grace through the prayers and love of the people here in the building and throughout the world

Roxann - Jun 20, 2008

May God Bless us with Peace so we can all live together doing His will in love and Harmony.
Father Mark, You are awesome. I pray for your continued strength and Heavenly guidance for all those under your ministry. May you and all other Marians, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, carry out God's work.



Lisa - Jun 20, 2008

What a wonderful story of Divine Mercy. I will share it with my prayer group!
God bless you all!

Mary - Jun 20, 2008

My son-in-law works in the Pentagon. We continue to pray that one day he will come to our Catholic faith. I will tell him about this daily mass. :-)

Liz - Jun 20, 2008

God Bless America and all the democratic and God-fearing countries.
More power to Father Mark.

Marian V. - Jun 20, 2008

I am so glad to know that Holy Mass is being celebrated every weekday at the Pentagon! May Our Lord lead the people to His Peace! May we hear His direction!
How we need His Leadership!!

Eulocita - Jun 20, 2008

God bless you and your ministry, Father Mark!

God bless America and those countries consecrated to the Lord Jesus and Mother Mary!

Miryam - Jun 20, 2008

Father Mark, my poor prayers surround you daily. May God give you the right words in your ministries. You are a gift of God to the Church, our country, the world and all those you seek to serve. Your words are
edifying and touching. Thank you and the Marians worldwide for all you do!

Nwaeze - Jun 20, 2008

Fr. Mark, Keep up the great work, priestly example is a great gift to the church and our men in any of our formation in the washington, DC house and Nigeria house too etc. We need your prayers here in Nigeria too, i will continue to remember you in my prayers, our good Lord will continue to guide you, bless you and power you.Our mother Mary will be will you always.

God is still in control - Jun 20, 2008

How it just takes the words away to read God at work thru His Shepherds. God bless and guide you in His work. May God also guide our government

m - Jun 20, 2008

prayer is in everything we do, the gays and the others are fine people, should not say a word on them, they are bette christians then some people. why dont you pray so the cost of everything will go down. look at mexico they have a freeze on food they sell. the old saying is the rich bleed the poor but the rich will get poor and the poor will survive

Marian Chaplins---MIC - Jun 19, 2008

There's a Marian domiciled in Dover DE.
and now Father Paul--Washington DC. Stockbridge is flavoring the Eastern Seaboard w/ its
Eden Hill Family...I-95 between Washington and Massachusetts is Blessed
w/ The Marian Family...I'm so very happy for our Marian Influence. Regards
to all Marians--Retired/Active.

WE NEED TO PRAY A LOT. - Jun 19, 2008


mr - Jun 19, 2008

you need prayers, a lot of this news is dont believe what you raad, there is reason were in that country but you cant tell our government what to do, people hear are suffering with the cost of everything , people will live there way

P. - Jun 19, 2008

May the Marians and Divine Mercy help many to be rid of all that is not of God in their hearts and lives and let The Spirit take charge and control !

Kathy - Jun 19, 2008

As Blessed George said, the Marians are " serve where the need is greatest." Thanks Fr. Mark for doing just that.

Maureen - Jun 19, 2008

Fr. Mark it does not surprise us that you are doing such a great job. You are a young Priest and God has given you a wonderful job. You will have many years to touch the hearts and souls of many people. As you have touched my heart.

steph - Jun 19, 2008

God Bless you all for the work you are doing. May God bless our troops and may all those innocent people who died on September 11 rest in peace. Amen

Fr. Donald - Jun 19, 2008

Keep up the great work, Fr. Mark! Your priestly example is a great gift to the Church and our men in formation in the Washington, DC house.