Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Brief Instruction on the Liturgy:
Christ, who through the action of the priest, is truly the One offering the Mass. The liturgy, as the work of the people or the service of the people rendered to God calls for an "active and conscious participation. (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no.14)” This means that we just don’t “attend mass” but must participate in the mass by responding to the prayers, by singing, by consciously listening to the Word of God and the prayers; paying attention to the actions (gestures) and symbols and receiving Holy Communion. When we are at mass, we try very hard to focus our minds on the action of Christ offering himself through the ministry of the priest. At mass our whole being must be so one with Christ that we are truly remembering and making present His death and resurrection. Our minds must not be wandering or thinking of other things such as shopping, or watching our favorite sports. (To be continued)
Art & Environment: Welcome to Isaura Ruiz into our Committee. Isaura volunteered to help with the sewing. Thank you Isaura.
Sacristy Ministry: We are in need of generous parishioners to be members of this new ministry. Functions: Occasionally clean and polish the candle stands; wash the priests’ vestments; keep the sacristy clean and orderly; and help water the plants around the altar. For more information, please contact: Isabel M. Dion, Liturgy Consultant, (Coordinator) at 951-924-1968. Please leave a message if she is out of the office to answer your call. Thank you.
Indoor Green Plants:Would you like to donate some indoor plants to replace some of the plants that we presently have and which need some sunshine? If you are so moved by this appeal please bring them on Saturday morning, July 14, and place them in front of the statue of our Lady of La Salette. We will arrange them for you. Leave your personal information (including email if you have it) and we will place it on the altar to include you in the Mass prayers. Thank you.
SMALL FAITH COMMUNITIES: We read in Acts 2:42 that the early Christian community prayed together, shared the Word of God; broke bread together; and supported one another. This was the small church that serves as a model to us today as the basic organization of a Small Faith Community. A Small Faith Community therefore, is a gathering of 8-10 people who devote some time to come together to share their faith by: 1) Reading and reflecting on the scriptures; 2) praying together; 3) sharing their faith stories; 4) and in response to God’s message and challenge take an action to help others.
We are in the process of forming a committee to help our Pastor implement this vision. We need you! Please call
Isabel M. Dion, Small Faith Community Consultant, for more information on how to become a member of this committee at 951-924-1968.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
THE pre-eminent college drinking song of all time. The authorities of a pre-eminent Roman Catholic university in Germany where it was composed by a Dominican monk were not amused. He lost his job. But the spirit of his song remains after more than 225 years.
If you can't enjoy this, you have no business at a Latin Language Mass.
Would you have fired him?
Juvenes dum sumus
Post jucundum juventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.
Ubi sunt qui ante nos
In mundo fuere?
Vadite ad superos
Transite in infernos
Hos si vis videre.
Vita nostra brevis est
Venit mors velociter
Rapit nos atrociter
Vivat membrum quodlibet
Vivat membra quaelibet
Semper sint in flore.
Vivant omnes virgines
Vivant et mulieres
Vivant et republica
et qui illam regit.
Vivat nostra civitas,
Quae nos hic protegit.
(vers. C. W. Kindeleben 1781)
Istum judicium Benedicti decimi sexti pressionem sanguinem meum augmentare causat. Lex orandi, lex credendi per ipso violetur.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Believe it or not, from 7:30 in the morning until noon time, 100 dynamic children guided and helped by about 75 adults and teen aged teachers, leaders and guides take the Bible verses about Trust, Unity, Love, Training effort and other spiritual ideas and put them into their hearts. The church grounds are over-run by waves of orange and blue shirts proclaiming that these are the recruits into Jesus' SONforce special service.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Those baptized in the Gospel, including Jesus
John was carrying the word that the time of the arrival of the Messiah was close at hand. He took his message to the Judean Wilderness on the shores of the Jordan River. There he repeated the call of the prophets who came before him, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew, chapter 3, verse 2)
It is said that many came to him and many were baptized. What is not clear is how many of them were Jewish and of the "Chosen People" who had already been circumcized and how many of them were from the "other nations" to the east of the Jordan. It is also not said whether or not they submitted to circumcision after their baptism. One thing is for sure, Jesus, who was one of those baptized certainly had no need to repent and certainly had no need of circumcision. Finally, it is not mentioned in the Scripture that infants were or were not among those being baptized by John.
Those baptized in the stories of Acts
The act of baptism is mentioned about a dozen times in Acts. In each case the event is one of conversion. In Acts it is narrated that some of the conversions are from Judaism and some are from members of the Nations. (Non-Jews) We are all familiar with the discussion about whether or not the non-Jews are to be or not to be circumcized. Nowhere in Acts nor anywhere else in Sacred Scripture is it mentioned specifically that infants were being baptized. This argument will continue until the end of time because there is no literal canonical Scriptural proof to be found that they were or were not.
Furthermore, Acts does not communicate a single baptismal event in which a newborn infant from a converted household was taken to the Christian community for baptism followed by a no-holds-barred, post baptismal party for half the town.
The baptism of infants is a religious development that includes events from apostolic times, no record of which has found a place in the canonical scriptures. Even my apologete friend, Mr. Gonzaga could not find a literal scriptural proof that a first century household included infants. He could not find any literal proof that an infant was every presented to the community after eight days to get baptized in a continuation of the Abrahamic covenant, substituted by post resurrection baptism.
This does not mean that our declaration of Faith that Baptism is essential for salvation is incorrect. It also does not mean that our insistence on the necessity of infant baptism is unfounded and therefore not an article of faith. What it does mean is that the practice of infant baptism has been revealed to us as being an integral part of our faith by the continuous practice of baptizing infants for centuries, dating back to the age of the apostles. This practice is so pervasive in Christian communities that even many of our non-Catholic, Christian brethren cling to it just as we Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans. There is no doubt that the early Church practiced infant baptism; and no Christian objections to this practice were ever voiced until the Reformation. The doctrine of infant baptism cannot be discussed in a "sola scriptura" apologetics environment, because there is no cold, hard "fundamentalist" evidence to sustain it literally in canonical scripture. That does not perturb us Catholics and Orthodox because we believe in the revelatory power of Tradition as our Jewish forebears.
We cannot do better in this matter than to direct our readers to the INSTRUCTION ON INFANT BAPTISM issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith andapproved by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, October 20, 1980. We strongly urge you to read this document. It was produced while Cardinal Josef Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) was in charge of this Congregation.
Among many points that the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith makes are the following:
"It is beyond doubt that the preaching of the Apostles was normally directed to adults, and the first to be baptized were people converted to the Christian Faith. As these facts are related in the books of the New Testament, they could give rise to the opinion that it is only the faith of adults that is considered in these texts. However, as was mentioned above, the practice of baptizing children rests on an immemorial tradition originating from the Apostles, the importance of which cannot be ignored; besides, Baptism is never administered without faith: in the case of infants, it is the faith of the Church."
"Furthermore, in accordance with the teaching of the Council of Trent on the sacraments, Baptism is not just a sign of faith but also a cause of faith. It produces in the baptized "interior enlightenment," and so the Byzantine liturgy is right to call it the sacrament of enlightenment, or simply enlightenment, meaning that the faith received pervades the soul and causes the veil of blindness to fall before the brightness of Christ."
Further down in the document, the author gets practical and presents the following directives.
"The Pastoral Practice of baptizing infants is based on the following:
1) In the first place, it is important to recall that the Baptism of infants must be considered a serious duty. The questions which it poses to pastors can be settled only by faithful attention to the teaching and constant practice of the Church. Concretely, pastoral practice regarding infant Baptism must be governed by two great principles, the second of which is subordinate to the first.1) Baptism, which is necessary for salvation, is the sign and the means of God's prevenient love, which frees us from original sin and communicates to us a share in divine life. Considered in itself, the gift of these blessings to infants must not be delayed.
2) Assurances must be given that the gift thus granted can grow by an authentic education in the faith and Christian life, in order to fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament. As a rule, these assurances are to be given by the parents or close relatives, although various substitutions are possible within the Christian community. But if these assurances are not really serious there can be grounds for delaying the sacrament; and if they are certainly non-existent the sacrament should even be refused.
We have presented this teaching to you because of its pre-eminent importance. If you have any further comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Editor@ParishWorld. net.
Paul Dion, STL
Friday, June 22, 2007
I once visited the hometown of Jesus' cousin.
What a neat place! Lush with fresh green trees, abundant flowers, singing birds and of course steep hills which lead to breath-taking views over the valley below which leads to the Jordan and the Dead Sea. This is now a town of upper middle class and and well to do Jewish people. It is a wonderfully bucolic town with a rather small population and a lot of political clout. It is beautiful and makes you want to say, "I could live here." It is however, my opinion, that this is a case where you have to be careful what you ask for. I have vacationed in towns like this before. They are great to visit and great to leave. But, hey, there is no danger that I will ever live here, so I enjoyed myself.
There are the "obligatory" churches that "mark the spot" of Mary's Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth as well as the spot where John was born. The churches celebrate the saying, "We know that it happened somewhere, so it might as well be here." Well said. This is a jewel of a spot. This is a case of the land speaking to people. (The Fifth Gospel) This may not be "The Spot", but the tradition and the Land say that it is. It responds to some of the description that is in the Bible and it is close to Jerusalem. Zachariah was the priest in charge of the Holy of Holies in those times and because it was his turn and his term, he had to go to Jerusalem just about every day. It wasn't far. Maybe about 4 to 5 miles over hill and dale. About one and one-half hours' walk. One day, he was cornered by an angel in the Temple while he was on duty, as you recall, and struck dumb. But Elizabeth did conceive despite her old age and Mary took off from Nazareth and came to the village of En Kerem just outside of Jerusalem to help her cousin get through the first throes of her pregnancy.
We once heard our pastor, Father Romy say that it was a good thing that Zachariah was struck dumb after getting the news of Elizabeth's pregnancy. Father Romy, no stranger to small village life, said that being dumb saved Zachariah the trouble of having to explain his way out of every bit of gossip that must have besieged En Kerem once the event became publicly visible. It was the work of God, but there is never any protection from town gossip. So Mary came and helped while her uncle continued his Temple service.
The revelation of the Angel of God clearly told the family that the son who was to be born would be a "Son of God", a prophet who would carry the message of God in the example of Samson and Samuel, Nazarites who would not drink alcohol nor cut their hair. (Numbers, 6; 2 - 21 rules of Nazarites. Judges 13, 4 - 7 revelation of angel to Samson's mother) The call of the Nazarite was strict. It requir3ed total consecration to God. It separated the called one from the "world" and placed him in the service of God for the good of God's community. The call of God required total dedication to Him for life.
John's life began just a few months before Jesus'. Just as Mary and Joseph had to escape to Egypt, Zachariah and Elizabeth had to try to protect their baby. The non-biblical stories that are repeated verbally and written in some of the non-biblical books say that Zachariah was killed while trying to escape to protect John from being killed by the soldiers after the edict of Herod to kill all babies under two years old. Elizabeth managed to escape with the help of an angel. It is said that she was able to make it to Galilee and lived east of the Jordan, in the region of the Decapolis. From there John was able to begin his Mission, and eventually introduce his cousin Jesus to the world from the waters of the Jordan.
This was the age of accountability. This was the age of, "You're not married. You've had five husbands and the one you have now is not your husband." (Jesus to the woman at the well) "You are not pleasing to God because you are sexually involved with other women. Your brother's wife" (John to Herod) "Didn't you know that your father and I were worried?" (Mary to Jesus) "Didn't you know that I had to be at my Father's work?" (Jesus back to Mary) "The one of you who is without sin should be the first to cast the stone." (Jesus to the Pharisees) "Peter, Peter! Tonight by the time the cock crows you will have renounced me three times." (Jesus to Peter) "Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not also
blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, 'We see,' so your sin remains." (Jesus to the Pharisees, John, chapter 9, verses 40 and 41) "He says that He is going to Jerusalem. We go with Him to die with Him." (Thomas to the disciples)
Through our Sacred Scripture, we know that John grew up and lived to get his head cut off and put on a platter to please the woman in Herod's life. We all know what happened to Jesus. It has never been easy to confront the world with the truth. If there is something that we can learn about life as we contemplate the parallels between the lives of John and Jesus I think that it is, "The truth will set you free, but you have to be willing to be free in heaven because the "world" is not the home of the truth."
It is not easy to learn this lesson. A lot of us grow old because God keeps wondering how long it is going to take us to learn it and live it. The Bible says that those who have successfully learned it get the pleasure of walking with God early in their lives. Check out these words of the book of Wisdom, Chapter 3:
1 But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.
2 They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction
3 and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace.
4 For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality;
5 Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.
6 As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
7 In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
8 They shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the LORD shall be their King forever.
9 Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: Because grace
and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect.
John and his cousin Jesus were given to us so that we could aspire to the same gift that they received. Eternal Life3 in the glory of heaven.
May God bless us so that we will not have to cry at one another's funeral.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I can't help but to respond to this question. So many people live for the answer to this question. It seems as though there is something hardwired in the human being to find the answer to the "secret". From the first pages of the Bible we are confronted with our ancestors' thirst for the secret knowledge. "The serpent said to the woman, 'You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad." (Genesis, 3;4)
What a crock! She fell for it. We fall for it all the time. We know the difference between good and bad already. Eve knew it too. She knew that eating from that tree was bad because it went counter to God's command. She knew that God is good because He created her. He was taking care of her in the garden. He gave her human companionship. The only evil she had to confront was the fruit of that tree, and of course the wiles of Satan.
When it comes to good and evil, we too know the difference. We, like Adam and Eve have a very basic, kindergarten set of rules for our lives...the 10 Commandments. We know that acting against their direction or omitting their requirements from our lives is bad. Pretty easy, right? Hmmmmm?
Not so fast, says our buddy in the bottle, or the weed, or the revealing dress, or the pictures of Benjamin Franklin forgotten on the counter, or the spinning wheels behind the bright lights and even the 350 horses under the hood of our bright red Italian Import. We know what is bad, fundamentally. What is the secret to staying on the straight and narrow?
There is no secret. God doesn't hide anything from us. God's light of knowledge, emotion and conscience shines on all of us, "... if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John, 1:7) We are His children and He teaches us everything that will make us become more and more like Him every day of our lives. That is no secret. He has been teaching us about Himself from all eternity. What else is there to learn? Walk in the light. Is that a secret? Open your heart to God in meditation. Is that a secret? "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (Deuteronomy, 6:5) and repeated in the Gospels. Now, that's no secret.
We Catholics, we Christians have an eternal advantage over everyone else. We don't have to go fishing for the "secrets" of ancient, pre-historic spiritualities. God Our Father has been hugging us in His loving arms for centuries. His Son came to assure us of this love and went so far as to be martyred for us. This is no secret. Our holy examples like Stephen, Peter, Paul, Ignatius, Cecilia, Perpetua, Felicity, Theresa (several), Elizabeth, Mary, Vincent, Isaac, Isaiah, Nathan, Abraham didn't waste their time looking for the answer to the "secret", they listened and gave their lives to Our Father so that we would see that there is NO secret.
Finally, stop looking for the secret to perfecting yourself so that you will resemble the divine more. Fall on your knees morning and night and recognize the One who created you and the One who died for you. While you're there, after your Ave Maria, Pater Noster, Credo and Act of Contrition, read one psalm before you start your day and when you end it. Spend fifteen minutes a day (and more when you can) in the dynamic silence of the presence of Our Loving God. Silence is important because that's where we get to hear what He wants to tell us.
What you have just read is not a secret. You knew it all along. Come home to Daddy, Brother and Spirit of Love and we'll all see one another around the table in Heaven.
Now that I have reminded you of Faith and Love 101, you know that Our Father doesn't like children of His crying at one another's' funeral...especially not mine.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
"Likewise, for the glorious adornment of Aaron's sons (priests) you shall have tunics and sashes and turbans made. With these you shall clothe your brother Aaron and his sons. Anoint and ordain them, consecrating them as my priests. You must also make linen drawers for them, to cover their naked flesh from their loins to their thighs. Aaron and his sons shall wear them whenever they go into the meeting tent or approach the altar to minister in the sanctuary, lest they incur guilt and die. This shall be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants." (Exodus 28;40 - 43)
Modesty is an orderly arrangement of clothes that does not hide the inner or spiritual side of people. Immodesty leads to lust and other sins. Faithful and knowledgeable Catolics do not wear some clothes in public: mini-shirts, sun-dresses, high-slit skirts, low-cut dresses, short-shorts, halter or tube tops, sheer blouses, tank-tops and other revealing clothing. Persistent immodesty is evidence of rebellion toward God, his Word, the Church, fathers, husbands and children.
Immodesty ruins the Catholic influence and impairs the effectiveness of the Gospel. We all have to remember that when we come to worship, it is the one opportunity that we have to share the inner faith in God that we practice with our fellow Catholics. This is our chance to practice our priesthood within the community. Please re-read the above paragraph about how priests should dress.
It is imperative that we realize that the church and its immediate surroundings are deserving of our modesty and simplicity of dress. There are so many passages in the Bible that remind us of this that it is rather surprising that so many flaunt their physical assets in these areas of spiritual relationships.
I quoted the passage from the Exodus because it states that the ordinance requiring modesty of dress on the altar and in the meeting tent is a "perpetual" ordinance. It is not something that has been changed because Peter or Paul or Timothy and anyone else in the New Testament had a vision that made it OK for men and women to present themselves to the altar in the same attire that they would employ on the job (Remember the story of Peter who jumped back into the water because he was naked in front of Jesus?), or in the bedroom.
I will state this with no fear of recrimination, it is not moral to participate in prayer services, devotional or sacramental, in dress that is immodest.
This goes for men as well as it does for women. Men do not have the moral right to participate in church services in shorts and undershirts. Women do not have the moral right to appear in immodest dress either.
Is it possible that men and women who dress provocatively in church think that because this is church others will protected from having lustful thoughts? further than that, what about respecting God? Does anyone remember the terrible uproar caused by the female students who wore flip-flops at an audience with president G.W, Bush? All they had showing were their toes!
Has anyone seen Condoleeza Rice dressed with her cleavage showing? Maybe Madaleine Albright? Laura Bush? Hilary Clinton? Diane Sawyer? Lesley Stahl? Katie Couric? These people aren't even going to church! Even the reporters of the gossip oriented TV news shows wear modest clothing while they are reporting about quasi denuded harlot actresses.
Yet, our churches are replete with low-cut styles every single Sunday. Why?
Why would a mother bring her child to church on Sunday while she has half her chest on for the world to admire? I suppose we are fortunate that it only happens rarely that we get insulted by the display of female glutei maximi at the offertory.
Let me remind you all, it is improper and sinful for Christians to dress immodestly in the worship assembly. Mini-skirts, hot-pants, sun-dresses, high-slit skirts and low-cut dresses have no place in public worship. Especially women should be careful to wear appropriate undergarments that contribute to modesty.
Let me remind you of what we read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew: "Hear our Lord on this matter. (Matt. 5:27) "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Why would any Christian want to give another person a reason to commit adultery in their heart? Yet many men and women of all ages who call themselves Christians `unclothe' themselves donning modern nightclub attire, that only the most worldly can possibly call modest, and mingle together without any apparent shame in God's house.
I want you all to know that I am assured in my heart that no pastor or preacher or writer can expose his views on the matter of modest apparel without being aware of opening himself up for criticism. Go ahead, criticize me. Tell me that I am conservative. Tell me that I am out of touch. Telol me that at my age I should mind my own business about this. Tell me that if I enjoy the female assets on display in church that I am a pervert. Tell me anything that you want with regards this topic.
I tell you that your opinion amounts to nothing at all apart from the direct command of God and his prophets and apostles to be modest. When God leaves no doubt concerning His feeling about modesty it would do all of the human race good to heed His word and do His will.
That is where I am putting my bet so that you will not have to cry at my funeral.
CLICK HERE to read the letter from a reader that got this tread going.
I am here to tell you that it is possible to talk religion without losing control. ParishWorld.net is a very
good example of that statement. We talk religion here all the time and we are calm, cool and collected about it. We call ourselves the "Catholic Life Style Magazine". How nice. So what do the non-Catholics who have access to the Internet do about us? Do they just "walk-on by?" Do they control themselves and say, "Oh, that's not for me?" No way. They are right in there reading and thinking and commenting just like everyone else, sometimes more than the Catholics. It is a blessing that we can all get together around Christ's campfire and exchange faith convictions. It is a blessing that we do this in a respectful and religious tone. It means a lot when a faith exchange takes place and the positive aspects of the event leave both sides feeling blessed.
This spiritual brotherhood is a sign of the unity of Christianity. We all talk about Jesus Christ, we all talk
about His Mother Mary, we all talk about Church, we all talk about Scripture, not in a uniform way, but in a way that shows that our ideas come from the same primordial source. Our ideas are different in some aspects, but we thank God that they are all facets of His revelation. We provide our definitions of the great spiritual realities that we live without using them as bludgeons to submit one another into another religious point of view. I would like to expose a couple of examples.
"I don't think the question is so much if God will deny anyone heaven because of their view of the leadership of the Catholic Church (or any church, for that matter). I rather think God will simply ask each of us: "What did YOU do with the illumination I gave you through the Holy Spirit?"
"A good friend of mine, Lutheran retired pastor, who must have been wounded by some of us "acting not like Christ." In his anti-Catholic way said "...those Catholics worship Mary ... she, she, she is just..."
My response to him"Be mindful, my friend, as a good little Jewish boy Jesus doesn't like anyone who treats his mother disrespectfully."
"So, being an evangelical, I would encourage Catholics to attend "non-catholic" Bible Study, but to do so with discretion and seek out an accepting environment. Do so with the notion that you will be challenged (not by other people necessarily, which I believe is a good thing)."
"Mr. Dion, are you saying Catholics who go to Protestant services need to go Confession? Didn't the Pope just attend a non-Catholic service in Turkey? How do we differentiate Ecumenism with sinning?"
These are just a few of the comments, some partial and some whole, that have been submitted to Parishworld.net over the past months. Please notice that these comments are not all 100% true to Catholic doctrine, but they are all from the Christian source of love and respect. ParishWorld.net publishes comments as they come in and the theology editor of the publication responds to them in a way that maintains the Catholic nature of the publication without attacking the contributor. We do this because we are convinced that the agglomeration of these sincere acts of faith adds to the strength of the loving relationship between the readers and God.
This is a kind of ecumenism that is within the reach of all Christians. It does not reach out to question or
impugn anyone's denominational identity; it does not want to wrestle the world into a uniform church. We look at it as simple spiritual communion which is born out of our common belief in The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator, Savior and Sanctifier. We seek to create a place where people can meet God and talk about their faith in Him according to their own conscience. It is our intent that this dialogue take place in mutual respect and in a prayerful willingness to seek understanding of one another in a Catholic space. We do not expect that our contributors will make unnecessary or inappropriate compromises in their understanding of their personal faith.
I, the theology editor of ParishWorld.net will not make such accommodating compromises away from Catholic doctrine.
Now that I have this off my chest, I am in peace and I remind you, that this Catholic boy is doing his best to
"walk with God, and then no longer be here, for God will have taken me." (Genesis, chapter 5, verse 24) I tell
you this because you will not cry at my funeral for fear that God would be offended.
Friday, June 1, 2007
Produced by Tom Allen
"Paul, you gotta see this film." That's my publisher telling me that I have to leave the comfort of my easy chair and actually go to a movie theatre. Not only that, I have to go see a story about professional athletes telling me that they are Catholic. How boring can that get? How can these jokers impress me about being Catholic? These same guys who tell me that they sat out a half season because they were looking for $12,000,000 more per year and were not happy are now telling me that they are devout Catholics? They might as well try to tell me that "It's not about the money." Ha Ha!
But, my publisher says something and I know that even though it's not an order, I'll go... even though I'm holding out for more money. I really worked hard at it too. I worked on my wife to accompany me. She's more Catholic than the Pope and she doesn't know third base from a base - on - balls, and could care less. I figure that I will follow my conscience and actually wait until after she and I have seen the film before giving you my opinion about it. What a concept!
So, after the Rosary Bowl(see PPS below) and my son's graduation I now agree to see Mike Piazza tell me that he is Catholic. The film is about 75 minutes long. It is a one camera, documentary style piece of art. The makers of this film got a break because there is perhaps more stock footage of professional athletic contests than of any other historical event in the world. The film is replete with spectacullar stock shots of important baseball games including some of the more well known personal confrontations and stand-offs between baseball personalities (a la Piazza/Clemens). That's the baseball fan part of it.
The Catholic part of it is rather stunning. The makers started out with approximately the same attitude that I have. They never thought that they would find professional baseball players willing to talk about their religious practicies, and least of all, Catholics. How wrong they were. The screen becomes a tsunami of Catholic witness by 25 and 30 year old men who play a boys game for a living, talking like boys with the faith of men. They were all vying for screen time.
The impressive part of it is that the testimonies come across as true and sincere. A.J. Piercsynski says, "My mom calls me on Sunday and asks if I've been to Mass yet." One Cardinals pitcher (Jeff Suppan) says, "I saw Eck (David Ekstein)) at Mass one Sunday and we were both surprised that we are Catholic." There is a lot to see and hear in this movie that is
real. The third base coach who had drifted away from his religion and received a telephone call in the night from his 17 year old daughter. She told him that she had a brain tumor. Then there is the Kansas City Royals' star who waited five years before asking forgiveness from a pitcher whom he attacked from home plate. The pitcher was magnanimous in his forgiveness and the lives of the two have changed.
I don't think that it is possible to walk away from this film without being convinced that Catholicism is headed into the headlines from the positive direction. Catholics are awakening. Catholics are beginning to realize the power of personal public testimony. Catholics are starting to say, "I'm Catholic and I am happy in the grace of God that I am." Mike Piazza did not have a great speaking part in his corner of this film. The pictures of him at the altar were pretty much his entire story.
The startling effect that this movie had on me, the cynic who lost respect a long time ago for professional athletes, is surprising. It takes a lot of conviction for a person to give witness to God in public. It has to go beyond the Hollywood saying, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." It has to be serious trust in God and zeal for the Catholic reality.
Technically the movie is a success. Creatively, it is a success. The creators put together a good presentation. Morally the movie is a success. It drives home some truths that can move the viewer to slide over closer to God. I never thought I would say that after seeing professional athletes talk about God. If they were acting, you can't prove it by me.
P.S. I think that God was talking to me. My wife told me that she knows that because she heard Him talking to her all during the movie.
P.P.S. The "Rosary Bowl" usher who showed us to our seats is named "John Carney". This is the name of the very talented NFL place kicker who graduated from Notre Dame University. I mentioned it jokingly to this man. He responded by saying that the kicker was a member of his parish while playing in San Diego for the Chargers. He said that the NFL player was very active in the parish and was a respected spiritual example for one and all.
After all of this, aren't you convinced that you had better not cry at my funeral?