Tag Archives: Testimony

Crazy Like A Fox

How does one reconcile the past of Pope Francis with the present? A faithful son of the Church; passionate, loving, active, involved, and Orthodox: this is/was the past. Now we have the present; held up to us by those paragons of “Truth and Justice”, Modern Media. One can search his memory and come up with a glittering description of the media (albeit by a less than stellar representation of the human race, Spiro T. Agnew)- ” the nattering nabobs of negativity”. No description can be more apt in this instance. The negativity here being the dark sinister forces of well, THE Dark Sinister Force.

Pope Francis was going to dismantle first the Papacy and then the entire Catholic Church and reorganize it into not the Bride of Christ, but the “Hookup of Lucifer”. How in the world can a group of allegedly intelligent educated people such as the media volunteers to be come up with such conclusions based upon:

1. What the Pope actually says, and

2. What the Pope actually has done in the past?

We have discovered something important here, even though we may be too stupid to realize it. Pope Francis is NOT a reactionary iconoclast in the mold of Luther or Henry VIII. He is crazy perhaps in their minds; but in my own mind he is crazy like a fox. How else would someone in a position such as His deal with rebellion in the ranks of Clergy  Bishops and Cardinalate? Get it out in the sunlight where the faithful can see the rebellion in the clear light of the day in order to let it fully express itself; as well as find out who indeed rallies to the banner of revolt. If you wish to catch your prey, whatever it is… the best way is to set out some bait and lay a trap.

A festering sore has broken out in the open: Now it can be treated.

To sum up, Pope Francis has taken a page out of the book of one of the greatest combat generals who ever lived, Ulysses S. Grant. General Grant distilled centuries of battle philosophy down to four succinct principles:

Find your enemy as quick as you can.

Get as close to him as you can.

Hit him as hard as you can.

Move on.

Advertisements

The End of the String– Selective Procreation

Atheist Press (AP). It was a morning like any other when Doris Macaulay had her inspiration which subsequently has swept through the hallowed halls of higher academia, altering the major constructs of philosophy. “It just seemed to me to make sense” Doris modestly asserts, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, but I am glad that people are finally starting to feel the way I do.”  Doris is a High School History and Ethics teacher in a bustling metropolis on the West Coast. For years she had been wrestling with certain ideas pertaining to right and wrong, being part of her “professional development” as she likes to put it.

 “Grading papers has an ethereal quality about it, and I like to try and enter an altered state in order to try and truly see what my students wish to convey, regardless of the outmoded constructs of western thought, which is so passé“. Doris, a single mom of three, rises to almost any challenge; juggling her offspring with her career has been one of those problems she has overcome .  “My children love their daycare providers, and every evening when I get to finally see them as they lay sleeping, I feel so fulfilled, because now I can really see that I am making a difference in their future, and the future of so many others like them.”

 Doris has quantified the next step in our brave new world and has been the acclaimed leader in the political/social movement started by her followers. “We must be bold and unswerving in our quest for acceptability among those who wish to destroy or hurt us—we will soon be mainstream, just like our pioneer brothers and sisters in the fight for freedom, equality and justice”.  It is not just Doris either; some of the most respected and intelligent beacons of light and reason are rallying to her cause. Peter Singer, the renowned Princeton professor, is said to be sympathetic to her cause: “Selective Procreation.”  “None of us can count on the vagaries of romance, lust or compatibility to advance the onward march of the coming generations” is her rationale. “Lust can be channeled thanks to the recent legalization of the sex worker industry in the United States, and with our wondrous capability for innovation and creativity, there can be no end to the exciting pursuit of physical pleasure.  We can prevent every unwanted pregnancy, but now it is time for us to mandate legally the act of child bearing… after all, since the government raises every child now, it has a vested interest in who it is going to raise.”

Even now the pioneers of this movement are setting up genetic panels in each State to give the citizens access to the latest mating data. Thanks to the recent interest in genealogy, superior lines can be identified and paired with their corresponding best match. “We have been doing this with animals for generations, it is time we take the leap to the Human Race “, intones Doris. “Margaret Sanger has nothing on Doris!” gushes one of her most ardent acolytes. “Just think; a world of beautiful, healthy smart people- no more stupid people, or stupid ideas!”

 Doris is not finished there; her next project, kept under wraps for fear of a “population not quite ready for such a revolution in human history”, is rumored to be a type of cleansing and expropriation of those genetic lines determined to be going nowhere. With all of her new ideas, it might be thought that Doris is bereft of a spiritual side; not at all. Doris considers herself a Faithful Catholic and attends services at least once a year.  “The Church is beauty, and we can dispense of beauty can we? After all, a few misogynist men throughout the course of the millennia are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the force of new ideas and new ways of expressing humanity”. Doris points out that while the Catholic Church she professes to belong to may be outmoded, she states that,” Paul IV  and John Paul II were just misguided old men; well-meaning but misguided; Humanae Vitae?… Are you serious?”

 


One that almost got Away pt 1

chinese_fishing_nets

When I was four, I was introduced to theology by my father; it consisted of this: if you sin, you will go to hell. When I was eight, I started going to weekly CCD classes; Thursday afternoons were led by earnest but theologically inadequate homemakers into the enlightened new religion of post-Vatican II. We went to Mass every Sunday, and for me it was very similar to the medieval contraption named the Iron Maiden: one twitch, and instant pain, until the next movement.
My friends were all Dutch Reformed. Catholics were backwards, non-American superstitious fools- not quite as bad as Jews, however nearly so. The very idea that we HAD to go to church on Sundays was a concept worthy of ridicule- as soon as they got over their astonishment of such a doctrine. First Communion was memorable, though at the time I did not realize why. First Confession was horrifying; the concept of sin while well understood was overwhelming for a boy of eight. Even at that age I knew those eight years of sinning could not be properly accounted for in a mere minute or two of babbling amidst abject fear.
Confirmation –even more fun! For some reason I was serious about the whole process, yet when I picked as a sponsor my father’s former closest acquaintance (Now a near deadly foe due to my parents’ divorce- where the former “friend” sided with my mother–no, I refuse to go further.). Things went downhill rapidly- Benedict Arnold comes to mind when I remember my father’s opinion of me. Confirmation was however a distinct memory; that of facing the Bishop and receiving his blessing; I was keenly aware of the symbolic pat on my cheek in remembrance of the suffering a Christian was to endure. Unfortunately with the social ostracism of a child of Catholic divorce in those days, I could not imagine things getting any worse: Such a silly young boy.
Amidst the debris of my family’s destruction, religion was abandoned in our family. Being left to my own devices I once returned to Mass alone after getting a drivers license. What struck me like a felled tree was confusion: What’s all this about Jesus? I thought the whole thing was supposed to be about God, not some guy who lived a million years ago. Such was spirit and intellect as a young Catholic in those heady days immediately following Vatican II. Onward goes the story and a few lucky years later I by pure chance picked up a KJV Bible. Believe it or not, I was lucky enough to start reading the NT. What I now realize as indwelling grace at the time overpowered my senses in a physical and highly emotional way.
The romance of love begins to fade during the trials and combats of living; when one of the two lovers fails to understand the principles of commitment and union within a relationship, said relationship begins to founder. Besides, I fell in love with a real live girl. We were married in a Methodist church(hers) as I could not discern the difference- poor catechesis and a failure to adhere to what I was taught- I was sure she was the one for me(correct on this point) and was also sure the trivialities of doctrine and dogma were irrelevant(incorrect on that one).
Armed with a new wife, a new life and the wide ranging vistas of a promising future, I deigned to let God impinge on my reality: I would call on Him when needed, and He would respond. Our Lord was reduced to a bumper sticker on my vehicle of life- and a rear one at that.


Daddy, I Trust in You

 

 

Kate, my eldest daughter was three years old at the time (I have four children, all grown). One afternoon, we were playing together in the living room- she loved to be tossed in the air, and then I would catch her. After a bit she decided it would be more fun if she would jump into my arms after climbing up on the end table next to our davenport. I must admit, it was a lot of fun for me too- something about, “daddy, catch me!!” and the look in her eyes when she was airborne. She KNEW that I was there for her. Those were some of the golden moments of parenthood that somehow seem to transcend time and space: it WAS, but in some way still IS and always WILL BE. I cannot explain it, nor do I wish to attempt to, for my feeble words shall just cheapen how it still feels.

After some time of this Daddy always gets tired; but Katie of course does not. I get up and walk over to the table for my coffee, in the kitchen which was open to the living room. I next heard her shout, “Daddy, catch me!!”. She was on the end table all smiles, a moment away from launching herself into the air once again, with the certainty of total trust — even though I was fifteen feet away, I would most certainly be there to catch her just before she hit the ground.

Of course if you are a parent, you know what happened next. Through the air she went, crashing to the ground, with an expression of disbelief and betrayal upon her face. What shot through my mind were those same two emotions:

1. Disbelief-Not that I would not catch her, but that she actually thought I could.

2. Betrayal- Because that is what I had done- betrayed my little girl for the very first time, of many more to come.

Thirty years later this incident haunts me still. When you are a new father, you have the euphoric ephemeral sense of Deity in which you revel. It is not long however, before your wings get singed from flying too close to the flame and you fall like a meteor to earth—forever. Not a fallen Seraph, but a fallen man.

I started praying the Divine Mercy chaplet a few years back and lately began to contemplate what trust truly means in the term, “Jesus, I Trust in You”. Being a bit dense I wrestled with this for quite a while, and then Grace revealed to me this memory of my daughter in the living room so many years ago. She had it in me; perhaps we all did in someone, sometime, somewhere. With this trust placed in someone who is not Jesus, we were betrayed and decided to never trust again. With a conscious act of will I can resurrect this trust in Our Lord, but in times unaware it leaks out when I need it most.

Woe is me, and may I find that place in my heart for Jesus, that my daughter once had for me.

 


Saint Mickey (?)

                   

When I was 5 years old I was introduced to baseball; it has been a love affair ever since. Wood, leather, dirt and grass; there can be no better combination of elements to form the life of a little boy.  With several young boys and girls in my area about the same age (we lived on a cul-de-sac), there was no choice; it was inevitable that we should all become baseball players somehow. Another related rite of passage in my day was “the allowance”.  One thin dime per week, allotted with ceremony every Friday night; and when you were a young boy who loved baseball with a pocket full of cash, there was only one thing to do. Every Sunday after Mass, then a quick trip to Ralph’s Luncheonette in order to pick up my weekly ration of hero worship- a pack of Topps baseball cards. A dime purchased a thin slab of impossibly sweet and hard pink bubble gum along with the real object of purchase- five or so full color baseball cards (I cannot remember the exact amount).

 These cards, with their powdery slick surface and smelling of cardboardy sugar, were the medium of exchange in my world. A short hard prayer, and off came the paper covering- then the feverish shuffling began. While all cards had value for flipping, trading or even placing on our bike frames with clothespins to emit a satisfying motor-like sound, there existed the elite few cards that constituted the iconography in our world. Among us all was the acknowledged pantheon of immortals that were held high for all; yet each of us had our own special Hero, one adulated individually in our own special sanctuary. For one it was Willie Mays; another perhaps Roberto Clemente, yet another Hank Aaron: but for me, there was only one real ballplayer- Mickey Mantle.

To affirm that Mickey was my hero was an understatement.  I played first base because he did. I batted from both sides- the Mick did. I posed like him, my stance was as his- my favorite number was “7”. He even had a peculiar swagger in the on deck circle that I tried to copy. I did not pray to Mickey Mantle, but I venerated him in the truest sense of the word, and his cards (I was lucky enough to have THREE of them) occupied prominent places in my bedroom.  As a young boy I understood the power of images and how they can affect ones lives for the better. Constant reminders of our heroes both in word and representation give us both consolations in hard times as well as goals to strive for in good ones.

As a child I did NOT worship or adore Mickey Mantle—and no one ever suspected that I held him as worthy of Deity; yet as an adult there are many who feel that these same actions when it comes to Catholic Saints- especially Our Lady- constitute foul Idolatry. Wrong. Ask any normal, healthy, American boy and he will tell you who his hero is and why; and there will be pictures of that hero all around the room- perhaps even some second or third class relics. Young proto-athletes, be they Catholic, Protestant or heathen, have a healthier understanding of iconography than many so-called adults nowadays. To paraphrase- unless one be as a child, one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

 Even today, Mickey Mantle is the standard that I measure all baseball players by—just as Mary the Virgin Mother of God is the standard by which I measure all Christians.


Cavalry and Calvary part 3

“Ut vestri equus!”
“Now we are in for it”, I thought. The call to prepare for moving out the cavalry corps was given. Calling my adjutant, we prepared ourselves for deployment. Evidently the word was out about Iesu and His seizure by the Temple. We were tasked with crowd control around the precincts of the Lithostrotos- the Gabbatha the Judeans called it. My mind raced trying to make sense of what could be happening; the judgment seat is only used by Pilate in his office as Governor. If it involves Iesu, as it most likely does, then this meant only one thing: The Sanhedrin has decided that Iesu is guilty of a capital crime. Since local governments within the Empire were not allowed to execute anyone, they had to convince us to do it for them. “What kind of idiocy is this?” I thought. There was nothing that He could have possibly have done to warrant execution. Pilate was a hard man- no doubt in my mind- even to executing soldiers in questionable circumstances; but surely for the general good, even Pilate could not see a legitimate reason for a death sentence. Since the Temple party had not harmed Iesu when He was in their power, then it seemed that perhaps He might escape their clutches through the good sense and justice of Rome.
Well, there I was on the Pavement. Having made my disposition of my troops in strategic locations, I warned my subalterns once more to keep the men in line, but most importantly keep the peace- even if it meant a few pricks of the lance or spatha. A bit of blood flowing within a mob is a sure way to make potential rioters remember who is in charge. There is nothing like cavalry for crowd control. Just below the long dais and to the right of the seat, I waited patiently behind a line of infantry. It was astounding to me how quickly the Lithostrotos filled with people. They literally burst upon the open area as if poured out of a large sack, in fairly good order. For all intents and purposes they acted as if everything was choreographed by an unseen hand. Little did I know at the time how close to correct this assumption was.
The crowd kept a wary distance from the infantry shields and forward facing pilum; my mount stood silently behind. The steady movements of his head and neck suggested relaxation to others; however I could feel the tenseness of his back and wondered if he was reacting to my own confusion of the current events, or to something I could not as yet sense. The comings and goings of runners was constant, for it is essential to keep open lines of communication during action. We were all put off by the crowd’s discipline and quiet determination to be present at this particular moment. They were packed in like fish in a basket. Something in the air … then I realized what I felt. It was a particular queasy feeling; the sixth sense developed during many years of service. I recognized the unmistakable sensation I got just before an ambush. Into the corner of my eye Pilate suddenly appeared, and sat down unceremoniously; glancing back at the crowd I heard a collective gasp- and then the next thing I knew I heard Pilate shout across the Lithostrotos,
“Ecce Homo!”


What have I (not) done!

 

What Have I (not) Done!

 Pushing and shoving, dust and noise; the smell of bodies, the hubbub of celebrity- something novel was going on. I remember it like it was yesterday. When He came to town with his followers everyone seemed to sense it at once-in retrospect most folks were initially just drawn to the commotion as any curious onlooker would have been. While we all had heard of Him, none of us actually expected a visit to our little home, yet many of us were alerted by the shouting and ado as if there had been an accident in the street. In a sense, that is just what happened: an accident in the street- with hundred of witnesses- and one at least who ended up being a victim; me. The sad thing is, even though the event was so many years ago it is only now that I realize what had happened: and oh how I wish things would have turned out differently!

I wanted a glimpse and got way more than I bargained for; I ended up right in the middle of everything.  All of a sudden I was pushed from behind and fell right into Him, almost knocking Him down. Startled, I recoiled back:  then He looked at me. All I could do was stand there and try to look nonchalant with a stupid grin on my face as I caught His eye and His gaze bored into me, seemingly straight through to my very soul.  Just a short second or two but my… the sweetness and curiosity in His eyes as time stood still. The next thing, He kind of jumped, and turned to the great big, hard looking fellow who was with Him  saying, “Who touched me?” The big guy blinked as if to reply, “Are you crazy? Here you are in the middle of a mob and you want to know who touched You?” The big guy then kind of flicked his arms out and sent me sprawling into the dirt.  The others with him were trying to explain that everyone was touching Him; but He turned behind Himself and then looked down at Smelly Agnes saying that He felt power going out of Him. “Who touched me?” He asked again.

 Agnes was kneeling in the dust, and I was on the ground as well- my face was about six inches from her- and the look in her eyes… to this day when I think of it I get chills down my spine.  She was an old beggar widow that we used to treat like dirt—all dried up, with a squinched up face, and heavens did she have an odor about her; she smelled like a rotting corpse. We used to steer as clear of her as possible and make up the most awful jokes: a woman of no account and one we considered a burden to us all; until now. I gasped from surprise as I fell next to her with a gasp; the fragrance that surrounded her was as a hillside in the spring when all was in bloom. Her face was transformed into that of a stunning young girl in the absolute pinnacle of feminine loveliness. “I did” she said.

She had grabbed the end of His cloak in her conviction that He was who He said He was; and His power had turned her into something completely new. I had fell on top of Him; so close that I could smell His breath and feel the sweat on His clothes—but since I only considered Him an oddity and kind of news item, I was the same as I had even been, even until this very day.

Dear Jesus; have mercy on me for I have sinned a great sin. Please, please, please… give me another chance, and I won’t screw it up this time. Amen.