NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

GOLD, FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH

THE KINGS MEET THE KING

The other day I got an idea that struck me as something that is totally new to me and had never entered into my life before.  I have been rolling it around in my gourd since then and I have finally decided to try to put it down in concrete terms.  I have to tell you that it is once again another religious thought, or at least one that takes its meaning from my interpretation and understanding of a religious event.  I do mention that it is valuable to us in our daily lives.
I happened to be thinking of the Magi, the "Three Kings" who came to visit the Baby Jesus, per the Bible story with which we are all familiar.  This event is traditionally interpreted by professional Bible scholars as the moment when God enlightened the rest of the world, outside of Palestine, concerning the universal presence of His Son in the world.  This is the New Testament announcement of the presence of God to all humankind.  God had actually taken steps to make His Chosen People realize that they had a mission to others, but they never quite caught on.  Even in politics, none of the alliances that the Israelite kings tried worked out very well.  Now, in the Gospel stories we have "kings" coming to Jesus and bringing valuable gifts.  They recognize Him as a king also and they are warned to protect Him in a spiritual way.  The same way that Joseph had received his message from God.  Gotta love those dreams!
The thought that has been rattling around in my cage is this:  by giving gifts, they came to know Him better.  By giving gifts, they came to know His reason for being better.  I get the intuition that this is a way that God has of revealing Himself to us.  I think of the Old Testament sacrifices and the expectations of God regarding them.  The demands he puts on His Chosen People (us, really) are very strict and very bold.  Offerings must be offered to Him and to Him alone.  They must be the first born, unblemished male of the flock, not the runt.  By giving the least, we show that we love ourselves more than we love the one to whom we are giving the item.  Think of Cain.  When we think of giving a gift to someone, we look into ourselves and try our very best to understand what would make the greatest impact on the recipient.  This forces us to enlighten ourselves about the person.  Even if it is our spouse; our child; our parent.  When it comes time to give a gift, we realize just how little we know of the person to whom we want to offer it.  It is in preparing for the act of giving that we delve into ourselves to try to uncover some more of the mystery of the beloved who is destined to receive a part of us.  This preparatory period even creates a change in us.  We many times feel apprehensive about how the gift will be received.  We ask ourselves if it is proper, or if it is good enough, or if it "fits".   I wonder if the Gospel writer thought of all these things before putting his story down on paper.  I bet that God was thinking of it and saw to it that we too would come to understand it at some time in our lives.
Thanks for letting me share this experience of mine with you.  Let it be one more reason why you should not offer me tears at my funeral.  By reading this, you know that it is one gift that doesn't "fit."





The picture at the immediate left is a view of some of the 125 boxes prepared for the families who were judged to be the most in need of help at this time.  There were more than 125 families in the program, mainly through the food bank distribution center of the parish, but the overflow of about 100 families was channeled to two other Non-Profit Social/Spiritual programs who partner with the program at Holy Family.  The facilities of Holy Family cannot productively support more than 125 families.
Inquiring minds will perhaps be wondering how the parish gets to identify the families who can use the help offered by the parish.  The question, "What's in the boxes" may also arise.  Well, I'm about to tell you, so hang in there for a few moments more.
This program has been in action for nearly 30 years now (28+) at Holy Family parish.  It is an activity directly connected to the St. Vincent de Paul community active in the parish.  It was introduced by the members of the chapter of St. Vincent de Paul during the first year of the establishment of the charitable society's chapter at Holy Family.  The leader of the project is the same person who was there at the very beginning.  Her name is Terry Clark and she is standing tall for you right here, below and to the left.
They were taken on the very day when the 125 families who had been identified for the benefit of the program would come by and claim their basket. (See picture at the top)  Each container was personalized and contained items that would answer the most pressing needs of the recipients.  Some packages were intended for widows, some for elderly couples, some for families with children, some for shut-ins and some for people in circumstances that neither you nor I can imagine.  The people are identified through contacts made throughout the year by dedicated people who are called by God in a special way to visit parishioners door to door as a ministry.  Many are also found because parishioners report the situation either to Terry, to the Pastor or to a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society community directly.  When such information is delivered, the in-house visits begin and  will occur a few more times during the year.
The picture above was snapped a few short minutes before the real traffic would begin to move.  Terry was holding her trusty pencil so that she and her helper could keep a running tally of who took what and when.  Before this, Terry showed me around and introduced me to the packages neatly arranged on the floor (see above) and tagged for easy identification.  It was like letting me into her own home and letting me hug so many of her special friends.  In the short time that we spent together she told me the short version of how the "Adopt a Family" program started at Holy Family parish.  She told me how at first she would worry about money, but then learned to just throw it all into the hands of God Himself.  From that moment on, for 29 years, she has never had a worry.  Through the St. Vincent de Paul Community this program shares in four fund-raising events that are held each year.  Throughout the year, and mostly at Christmas many of the parishioners freely donate cash and kind for the program so that in the end, every needy person gets help.
Father Michael, Spiritual Father of Holy Family Parish
While I was listening to the story, I noticed that there were many people around helping.  Even young people.  Terry is glad to have them because some of us older specimens are not what we used to be when it comes to moving heavy stuff around.  All of the "volunteers" I saw were indeed from the parish territory and some of them were there to satisfy court orders to perform civil service hours for one reason or another.  As it turns out, there are some of the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Chapter in Holy Family Parish who help people under court orders by offering them work around the church for the duration of their sentence.  What was happening before my eyes was therefore an exercise of Christians helping one another in many more ways than one.  In the spirit of full disclosure, even I accepted a piping hot cup of fresh coffee which I consumed during my visit to the distribution site.

When all the volunteers were gathered and everything was ready to go, the pastor, Fr. Michael came into the hall, gave a short exhortation and a blessing of thanks to one and all, exchanged some polite pleasantries and exited right to allow God's work to proceed.  I distanced myself from Terry because she now had to focus on the task at hand, orderly distribution.  I remained by the side of her right-hand aide-de-camp, Alicia Esparza. Alicia, like Terry has been a key to the "Adopt as Family" program for the 29 years of its existence.  From Alicia I got filled-in about the wonderful fraternal spirit that has existed among the many different ethnic and national groups that comprise the parish.  Alicia and her husband Alberto have been our neighbors for more than 30 years, so it was very uplifting to spend these moments of spiritual experience with her.  

This visit was the first time that I had ever seen this operation up close.  I thank God for giving me the time, the freedom and the grace to spend time with the zealous disciples who dedicate themselves to His basic Mission of caring for the orphans, the widows, the sick and the infirm.   Terry suffered the sudden loss of her husband a short time before the due date of the very first "Adopt a Family" event.  Like the good and zealous servants that she is, she didn't look back then and doesn't now.  She knew that the support of her beloved would continue from above, so here she is, in the spirit of the loving Jesus and her spiritually present spouse carrying on for the comfort of God's People.  I'm declaring to you right now, I will not cry at Terry's funeral because I firmly believe that God will just take her by the hand and they'll go for a walk in His Eternally Blooming Garden.  If I don't cry for her, you don't have to cry for me, even if just to get even.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

CREMATION IS NOT FOR ME; SEE BELOW FOR WHY NOT TO CRY AT MY FUNERAL

Swing low, Sweet Chariot...
Caution; This not a serious piece

This is a picture of a persistent thought that I have had since I was at least 18 or 19...something like that.  Something happened today that unlocked it all and so I have to tell you about it.  It has been a part of my life for a long time.  The only person who really has met this part of me face to face multiple times is my spouse.  Brace yourselves, 'cause here it comes.
I have yearned and yearned to have a hearse to drive around in.  It would be so cool.  The trigger to this deep desire for such a vehicle started when I was working at the Holyoke Magazine Press.  There was an employee there who had one and the stories he told were a fascinating mix of the ribald, the lugubrious, the fantastic, the marginal and the downright incredible.  Every lunch time with this individual was almost like an "out-of-body" experience.  One would imagine that this was what got me interesting in the world of people who drove hearses for their private transportation.  But that was not it.  Anybody can make up stories to fit the occasion.  But not everybody can get down to the essence of the situation of hearse ownership.  This individual hit it on the head for me one time when during one lunch break he was asked where he lived.  The answer was simple, "On the street, in my car.  That's why I have a hearse.  I can live in it, but I could never drive a house."  So that was it.  Freedom.  No mortgage. 
I took that and embellished it in my mind.  If I had a house to live in and a hearse too, I would have the nearly perfect camping situation.  I could throw a canoe on the roof and just go.  It was (is still) a dream that does not go away.
This morning when I got to the office address, there was a hearse of the same vintage as the one on the picture.  Same model too.  It was parked in front of the gasoline station store next to our office building.  Along side it there stood two young people sipping some fresh hot coffee.  I knew right away what was going on.  I sauntered over to them and simply said, "Nice car!"  The lovely young wife (she's his wife) said "You knew.  You like it, right?"  
"Yeah, I sure do.  Looks so great.  You had it long?"
"About a year now" says the man of the family.  "It sure is comfortable.  We're just pulling in from San Francisco.  Great ride."
"Well, I envy you."
"You ought to get yourself one.  The prices are right."
"That's been tried and failed.  The Voice from the Kitchen doesn't go for it.  I'll just keep dreaming.  Enjoy yourselves.  Merry Christmas."
I walked away and went to the office because I had a lot to do.  As I was preparing my work space the thought came to me that I had better tell someone to be sure that they don't cremate me.  I have just decided that I am going to enjoy the ride of my life when the time comes.  The Voice from the Kitchen won't have anything to say about it.  I'm going to put it in my will.  So, don't cremate me because when you see me driving away to the Pearly Gates in one of these cabriolets, you'll know that I am happy as a clam.  So for sure, then, you'll not be tempted in the slightest to cry at my funeral.                               
SSSwwwinnggg lowww, SSWWeetttt Chariotttt --->>>She's here now and I am a goin' HOME!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

HALF A CENTURY OF GROWING A SACRAMENT

Yup, 50 years ago today a young man (he was young  then) and a young lady (she's still young, of course) walked up the aisle to stand in front of the altar to promise before God that they would supporrt one another on the way to heaven for as many years as He would give them on this earth.  So here they are, 50 years later,  still alive and still saying nice things about one another behind one another's back.  I know, it happened in front of me.
The young man is an interesting study in priesthood.  He spent four years in the seminary and then left.  He left the seminary but never left his vocation.  He never did get ordained and is therefore not an "ex opere, operato" priest.  But his entire life has been a continuous mission in the "ex opere, operantis" priesthhood.  He has helped more people to find God and to follow Jesus than a lot of priests who stand at the altar, preach, distribute communion and then run off to the race track, the golf course or the football game.  None of them has five children, one of who requires life-long, physical and emotional attention.  Now, that is dedication.  That is ordination of a different stripe, but one just as demanding as the one we all see every Sunday, protected from some very harsh realities of the "real world."
The young lady is a priest too.  How else would she be able to offer the sacrifice of her body, heart and soul to a large family, including her aging mother on the demanding altar of matrimonial vows?  She was blessed.  She had more practice in a large family  than her husband...she was (is still) the youngest of 12 children.  Who knows, maybe that's the secret.

As happy an occasion as a golden wedding anniversary can be, it also carries with it the cargo of all those years.  A mixed bag of good, bad and ugly.  A mixed bag of frustrations and consolations.  A mixed bag of miracles for and miracles for which they are still waiting.  One thing for sure is that the greatest miracle is the grace to still be supporting one another on the road to Christian perfection in view of the Eternal Prize.  It takes two saints to get this far.  It takes one constant miracle being accepted and practiced by them to make it happen.
Marriage is really a priesthood.  We don't do it for ourselves.  We do it for the other persons that it puts into our lives.  It is like the priesthood of Jesus Himself. We die to ourselves every single day.  After 50 years we remember a lot of happy things.  We look back and tell ourselves that it feels just like yesterday.  That's a miracle too.  Imagine finding happiness and consolation of having kept on the straight and narrow for so long?  Imagine finding happiness in an imperfect situation?  Imagine God filling souls with the ability to stick by Him, just like His Son did while shedding blood and being humiliated in public?  Now that, is a priestly sacrifice.

So I have to say in conclusion that I am proud to say that this young man and this young lady are my brother and my sister-in-law.  They are saintly examples of selfless sacrificial dedication to Our Father, His Son and His Holy Spirit on this very earth.  I am so happy for them and happy to be a part of them that it would be wrong for any of you to cry at my funeral...and theirs too.

Happy 50th to you and all who have known you for all these years.  I won't wish you 50 more.  I will wish you a hand-in-hand walk with God through the garden of life for the amount that He will give you. Then you will be blessed because when you get to the Pearly Gates you won't have to put up with the grouchy gate keeper.

Paul and Belle

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

THE SOURCE OF KINGLY POWER IS IN SERVICE TO THE WORD OF GOD

                                   
HOW JESUS CONQUERED PETER
Did you ever receive something that you did not expect from a person that you honored so much that you had no way of expressing your gratitude except to try to refuse to accept the offering?  I chose this picture to celebrate Christ the King because I was attracted to the artist's interpretation of Peter's attitude.  I can't help but to relate to the artist here.  He seems to have captured a reaction of the heart with which I am familiar.  He seems to be identifying with Peter.  I know I am.  I have been in a position to be receiving gratuities from people I admire deeply and I have always felt embarassed because the gesture surpassed my expectations.  I find myself reacting like Peter.  "No you don't,Lord.  You'll never wash my feet."  
Jesus knows what's going on, so He says, "Yes, I will.  If I don't and I follow your wishes, you will not be a part of Me when it really counts."  I've had a dear person tell me once, "Just keep quiet and say 'Thanks' and enjoy it."  Did you ever notice how difficult that is? 
Jesus knew that.  He knew that there is a mysterious source of power and authority in true service.  He knew that this gesture was sure to be a seal of the Covenant.  He knew that the feet that he was washing were being consecrated to His Mission.  These very feet were going to carry the WORD to all of creation.  He knew that if His  beloved apostles remembered this gesture, they would never forget what He taught them and what He commanded them to do.  Through this gesture His Kingship was sealed in their hearts.  I think that all the stories and ruminations that I have heard about Peter's reaction through the years have missed this point.  
Elsewhere in this blog I have meditated on the Kingship of Service.  "Servant Kings".
There, I focused on the action of Jesus.  I focused on the towel.  Now, I'm focused here:  


(Isaiah 52:7) -"How Beautiful on the Mountain are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, Your God Reigns."
True, I am being swayed by the Gospel of Luke.  The wonderful stories that Luke tells about Jesus as He walks His way around the beautiful country where He lived.  His apostles knew that they were being shown the value of service and the value of carrying the Word to the World.  Yes, they still had some to learn, but once it blossomed, they went out and did it.  This Kingship of His took hold of their hearts and souls and they went out in the company of the Holy Spirit and made it happen.

This is the Covenant that we live.  The New and Everlasting Covenant that makes us who we are.  Let's not fight it.  Let's say "Thank You, Lord" and make it happen.  Jesus shows us that it is not that complicated.  I mean, all it takes is a towel, a willingness to fetch water and love people so deeply that we conquer them for Jesus.  We go through so much and we make things so complicated for ourselves.  We are like Moses.  We offer up a ton of excuses why we can't do what God asks of us when all He really wants is for us to be ready...to vote with our feet, so to speak. Walk toward Him;  walk side by side with Him;  show off that we are walking with the King;  no crowns allowed, just towels and a pitcher of water and a good attitude.  
Let's remember, we have been washed in the waters of Baptism.  We have to vote with our feet for God.  If we do that as true disciples we will be just like my man Enoch, "...Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him." (Genesis, 5; 24).  Then we will not cry at anyone's funeral, especially not mine.



Monday, November 8, 2010

FALL ON YOUR KNEES

Part 3 of my response to "Pope Benedict to Catholics: Kneel For Communion."
As I promised, here is part 3 of my response to the email sent around by a St. Christopher parish staffer.


"The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel..." (Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy)  This is an especially significant statement because it brings us back deep into the Hebrew Bible.  
"Solomon then took his place before the altar of the LORD in the presence of the whole community of Israel and stretched forth his hands. 13 He had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, which he had placed in the middle of the courtyard. Having ascended it, Solomon knelt in the presence of the whole of Israel and stretched forth his hands toward heaven." (2 Chronicles, 6:12-13)  The context here is very important.  Notice that it is the king who is kneeling and praying and the People of God are standing, personal witnesses to the proclamation of the king's prayer to God.  In the context, this takes place at the dedication of the newly complete Temple.  I strongly suggest that you read the entire prayer.  You will notice that a kneeling creature can pray with assertive power and humility at the same time.  This is an example that kneeling is a celebratory posture.  It is not a necessarily a posture of abject subjugation.  Check it out.

In the first part of Isaiah, when the prophet is foretelling the release from exile and the return to the Promised Land from Babylon, hear what he says in exultation,
        "3 Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, Say to those whose           hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you. (Isaiah, 35, 3-4)
These are knees made strong for dancing and rejoicing in the gift of freedom from exile given by God to His people.  These are knees that sustain the energetic child of God.  These are the knees that carry the righteous person back to the Land that was given to the people by God Himself.  These are not knees bent in penance or adoration.  These are knees that are ready to work and render great homage to God Himself.  These are the knees of the saved, of the newly freed who carry the message of the One True God to the Nations.

In Deutero Isaiah we hear God telling His chosen people what He expects of them and what they can expect of Him.  He reminds them of the first commandment and tells them that in their acceptance of Him as the ONLY God, they will find comfort and safety.  It is a celebration of life in God, our teaching Father reserved for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel).  I suggest that you spend some moments praying this passage so that you can feel the warm Grace of God fill your soul.  Celebrate life in His presence.  I am quite sure that as the meaning of the passage envelopes you, you will also celebrate the moment by kneeling before God.

       "22 Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other! 23 By myself I swear, uttering my just decree and my unalterable word: To me every knee shall bend; by me every tongue shall swear, 24 Saying, "Only in the LORD are just deeds and power. Before him in shame shall come all who vent their anger against him. 25 In the LORD shall be the vindication and the glory of all the descendants of Israel." (Isaiah, 45, 22 - 25)

Allow me to place one more Biblical quote before your eyes before I go off on my own.  This one from the Gospel of Mark.

"As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"  (Mark 10; 17)
You remember all of this story.  This is the rich man who walked away from Jesus because he did not want to go, sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor and follow Jesus.  This is a person of excellent character and of comfortable estate.  When he wants to have direction in his life, he thinks that he is going to indicate humility and openness by kneeling.  He knew that he had come to the right person.  His demeanor says that he believed in Jesus as the Great Messenger from God.  His demeanor says that he was celebrating the moment and knew that he had to bow before the power of the experience.  As it turns out, the exterior posture said one thing but the interior disposition was not strong enough to carry the day.

We are Catholics.  In the world of Christians, we are the kneelers.  We spend more time on our knees than other Christians.  I have tried to point out the different moments when the Bible shows us people on their knees.  If Solomon could kneel in public, anyone could.  We have similar moments in our liturgical lives.  We rarely see the Priest on his knees at that Altar.  It happens on Good Friday during the nine Great Orations, the original "Prayer of the Faithful."  We say one part standing and the second part kneeling, including the priest.  There are times when kneeling is called for and times when it is not.  In this day and age the Church has decided that the moment of Communion is not, and I agree with Her.  My final thought in this series is this.

John's gospel tells the story of the Jews voting with their feet.  (John, chapter 6) Jesus made the point that to have eternal life we have to eat His flesh and drink His blood.  At this, the Jews walked away and didn't listen to Him any more. When He was left standing there with his closest disciples and apostles He asked, "Are you going to leave too"  Peter, of course, Peter, answered by saying, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6, 68 - 69).  They not only stood there, they stayed by His side and followed Him.  That, dear reader is what we Catholics celebrate when we are at the moment of Communion.  It is the moment of union when we stand shoulder to shoulder with Christ and with each other, priests, prophets and kings one and all.  I enjoy voting with my feet in the presence of Christ, Jesus.  Like Peter I know that this is the beginning of Eternal Life. I know where I have come from and I know where I want to go.  I pray that this divine food will take me to the side of God for all Eternity, in His House.  Given what you have read  here, you should now know that it is not proper to cry at my funeral.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DON'T BURN MY BIBLE

To friends, indifferent strangers and enemies alike, I present the following reflection on one piece of totally erroneous "truth" making the rounds on the Internet.
When you receive something by email, or run across something on Google, use your brains and make common sense judgements about what you have received...even from relatives, friends, indifferent strangers and enemies.  
We forge ahead:

I quote you the opening sentences of an email I just received:

I believe that this is what America should do.
Does anybody know how Ishmael was conceived as per the Bible?  His mother pretended to Abraham that she was Sarah, an act of deceit at the outset.  And then Mohammed was begat on the succeeding generations from Ishmael.
I have met a few Muslims in my life. They don't believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  They believe that marrying multiple women is okay.  Their new law, the Sharia, is intolerant of other religions.  They believe that women are inferior to men.  They believe that killing Christians earn them Virgins in the afterlife.  Their way is the only correct belief.  And yet we are helping them in Iraq and Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle East countries, and yet they won't allow our troops to bring Bibles?  The answers are very obvious; those who are against the Bible and don't believe in Jesus Christ are lost and in the dark.  For the Bible preaches that no one comes to the Father but through Jesus Christ.  The Moslems and other non-Christian nations in the world (Japan, China, North Korea, Thailand, etc...) can't deny the existence of God because the Bible teaches that "For the truth about God is known to men instinctively."
  Click here to read the Biblical account of how Ishmael was born.  I will addrress the veracity of the last sentence below, towards the end.

I do not want to believe that I received this from a person whom I trust and respect.  She was a student in the mission school where I was the Director.  True, that was over 40 years ago.  I wonder what happened in between.

The answer to the first interrogatory sentence, according to this email, as highlighted above, is viciously erroneous.  Ishmael, the son of Hagar, the maid of Abram and Sarai, was not the result of his mother deceiving Abraham.  He was born of congress between Hagar, his mother, and Abram, the husband of Sarai.  This relationship was consummated in sexual contact on the suggestion of Sarai, who was barren and wanted Abram to have a descendant.  So the story goes, Sarai became bitter and mean towards Hagar and so Abram told Sarai to dismiss the maid and her son.  The two of them left.  There came a time during their flight from Sarah and Abraham (God changed their names to this) that they nearly died.  As Hagar was preparing to die, God intervened and blessed them.  He promised a rich and vast descendancy to Ishmael, just as he had promised Abraham.  Not only was there no deception on Hagar's part, she and her son received blessings and a promise of prosperity and great descendancy from God Himself.

I want to know who gave the author of the email the right to "BURN MY BIBLE?"

The mean spirit and narrow-minded tenor of the first two paragraphs is akin to burning the Bible, an act just as malicious as burning the Koran.  Twisting the stories of the Bible to the degree shown above is, in my opinion, blasphemous and sacrilegious.  Using a twisted version of a Bible story to feed hatred and prejudice aimed at a whole population is the worst kind of personal attack.
To single out the Muslims in this fashion shows a particularly deep dislike of a nation that exists because the head of the descendancy received a special blessing from God.  This is a nation mainly composed of the descendants of Abraham, just as we are.  They are different than we are.  The have different beliefs than we do, but they are children of God, just as we are.  
It is also true that they have a different world view than we do, but it is always better to negotiate rather than to condemn in hatred.  It is always better to bring the God of Love to the table with us, rather than to bring the sword of hatred and reviling.  To single out the Muslims because they do not believe that Jesus is the son of God, and is, indeed God, is to forget that there are many religious people in this world who believe in the word of the Bible but who do not believe that Jesus is the son of God.  The Jewish people do not believe that Jesus is the son of God.  There are many people in the world who don't believe in God, period.  To single out the Muslims for these reasons doesn't prove anything but that the writer has a personal problem with Islam.

Is that a reason why my Bible is being burnt here?

Sharia is called "their new law..."  It is not a new law.  It is the law of the Koran.  It is intolerant to non Muslims, but it is also extremely strict for Muslims.  Islam permits polygamy, but within bounds.  Muslims may not practice polygamy in countries where it is forbidden.  So they may have something to say about that, right?  They are great believers in theocracy, and we are not.  In a theocracy, many of our "freedoms" do not exist.  So our soldiers cannot carry their bibles into Muslim countries.  We do not allow their Koranic law in ours.

Is that a reason why the author of this article burnt my Bible?

More flames -- "The Moslems and other non-Christian nations in the world (Japan, China, North Korea, Thailand, etc...) can't deny the existence of God because the Bible teaches that 'For the truth about God is known to men instinctively'."
Nowhere in the Bible, King James Version or any other, is it written as is quoted above.  Nowhere.  What does appear in some writings is that the splendor of the world around us can lead us to the knowledge of the existence of God.  It is not said that the "truth about God is known instinctively."  It is taught by the Catholic Church that humans are endowed with a natural attraction to know the existence of God.  It is taught that knowing the existence of God and further and deeper truths about Him are rendered easier by outside help, like parental teaching, Bible reading, etc.
Furthermore, human beings can, and do, deny the existence of God all the time.  How can the writer of this email say that human beings cannot do that?  They do it every moment of every day, directly and indirectly, in words and in actions.  Retracing my steps, the author of the email includes "Moslems" in the list of people who can't deny the truth about God.  They don't deny the existence of God.  Seriously now, who do you think Allah is?  Is that the truth about God?  Who knows?  Does the author of this email know the truth about God?  Oh, perhaps Allah is a false God, and not the real thing?  Oh, before I forget, who might "Yahweh" be?  The Bible cannot be quoted as it has been in this email.

Stop burning my Bible.

It sends me through the roof when people wring falsehood out of sacred items.  I get perturbed when sacred objects are used to destroy good will and love among people.  The Bible is a Sacrament of Love, not a weapon of mass destruction.  If you are going to quote the Bible, do it correctly, word for word and in the proper context.  It is a sin to make the Bible say something that you want it to say, rather than to quote it accurately and in context so that what it is truly meant to say is apparent to the reader or the listener.
Do not burn my Bible,and do not cry at my funeral.



Sunday, October 31, 2010

STAND TALL AND BE COUNTED

I promised you a continuation of my response to the Email about the pope’s requirement that people should kneel and take communion on the tongue when he presides at the Holy Mass.  I am going to tell you what I carry in my heart about this posture.  So, here's part 2

First, it is the posture of dignity.  It is the part of our prayer that thanks God for the cooperative responsibility that He gave us right from the first pages of the Bible.  Do we remember that we have been given dominion over His creation?  Do we remember that He commanded us to never take the life of another human being? Do we remember that He entrusted His very own Son to the procreative process of one of us?  Do we remember  that He entrusted our ability to communicate His divinity and love of us through our human effort, written and oral?  (The Prophets; The Bible; The Apostles; The Saints of the Church)  Do we remember that He entrusted us with His community of chosen people, the Church? 

Second, it is the posture of readiness.  It is the part of our prayer that shows us ready to act according to His orders.  To Noah He says, “Build me an ark.”  To Abraham He says, “Offer Isaac, your son, to me in sacrifice.” To Moses He says, “Take my people to the land of Milk and Honey.”  To Samuel He says, “Go to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse and find Me a king.”  Need I say more?  Maybe I should remind you that Jesus didn’t ask anyone to kneel and pray.  He asked a lot more than that…”Sell all you have to the poor and follow me; Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the prisoners, etc.”  It is significant that the Jewish people do not kneel to pray.  They stand, ready to move in case they be invited by the Heavenly Father to do something for Him.  Shouldn’t we, the Chosen People of the New and Everlasting Covenant do the same in the dynamic presence of the very one who invites us to follow Him every moment of every day?

Third, it is the posture of presence.  It is the part of our reverent prayer of adoration.  What greater praise can we offer to Jesus than to show up?  What better behavior can we practice than to walk with God?  Think of the great blessing of walking with God, close, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand in His divine company.   We all know that we can’t walk while sitting or kneeling, so Enoch “walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.  (Genesis, 5;6)
How can we do better than to imitate Isaiah standing in the Temple before the Holy of Holies and telling God, “Here I am.  Send me.” (Isaiah, chapter 6)  Read the sixth chapter of John and see what it means to be with Jesus during the most challenging moments of life.  Listen to Him saying that if we don’t eat His flesh and drink His blood we will not have eternal life.  Many there are who can’t stand in the presence of this awesome commandment.  We can! We do! At communion we are present to Him as He is present to us.  Stand up and be counted while the weak walk away.  This is not the time to be meek and humble.  This is the time of strength and backbone.  When He asks us, “Do you want to leave too?” We don’t back down, we stand there and fearlessly state, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."  (John, 6:68-69)
Finally, how much more present can we be than Mama Mary standing at the foot of the  Cross, participating in the Sacrifice of her Son for all of us.  Shouldn’t we be standing there too?

Fourth, it is the posture of resurrection. This is the part of our prayer of humbling hope as we stand in the breathtaking aura of the living, resurrected Christ.  There is no room for despair in our Catholic life.  There is only hope in the by the side of the Son of God. As we accept His challenge to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, there is only room for driving hope.  The Greek word for resurrection is an interesting one.  It is Anastasia and its literal meaning is “stand again.”  Just as Jesus stood again, so do we when we follow Him and celebrate His total sacrifice which brought us our salvation.  Most Catholics participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass once per week.  It is therefore essential for the faithful of the Catholic community to celebrate the resurrection by “standing again” with Jesus, our Lord and Savior on Sunday.  (Time for an unnecessary bit of trivial, but historically factual, information: The council of Nicaea [325 AD] forbade kneeling in Sunday liturgy because kneeling was the posture of penitents and Sunday is the day of the Resurrection.  So, to celebrate the glory of the Resurrection, standing was for everyone.  The penitents remained outside.)  It is therefore especially appropriate to stand as we celebrate the Resurrection at the moment when we approach the sacred table of the new and eternal covenant.

Fifth, it is the posture of faith.  This is the part of our prayer where we express the depth of our belief in God.  We stand for the sign of the Cross, we stand for the Kyrie, we stand for the Gloria, we stand for the CREED, we stand for the Our Father and we stand for our personal encounter with the living Body and Blood of Christ.  This is our personal proclamation of our relationship with Christ. This is our place at the foot of the Cross and around the altar of Sacrifice.  This is our confession of unity with the Communion of Saints. 

This is who we are as Catholics.  This defines us. If we can stand proudly around the altar, we can stand proudly in the world.  If we can stand proudly at the foot of the Cross, we will have no fear of the street missionaries who knock on our door.  When they come they will find someone strong in the faith, strong in discipleship and unwilling to be swayed away from our beloved Church.  Standing at Communion is a brave participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Good News Sacramental Banquet that it contains. 

One final note for your information.  Our brothers and sisters in the faith and the apostolic succession, the Orthodox Communions, do not kneel to pray.  They have other gestures and postures of reverence.  Remember, they've been around as long as we have.  Also, they know St. Paul as well or better than we do.

Now that I have gorged you with all these thoughts about a subject that you never thought could so spiritually important, I just know that you are waiting for me to say something about the posture of kneeling.  Believe me, I have plenty to say about that too.  That will be part three of this teaching.  In the introduction to part three, “Fall on your Knees”, I will make some tough remarks about the two biblical quotes that the sender of the original email included in the presentation.  When I am done with this, there won’t be a single one of you who will have the slightest inclination to cry at my funeral.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

STAND UP FOR COMMUNION IN THE HAND

A lengthy two-part response to a lengthy email making the rounds on the Internet.
As usual, when someone writes a lengthy email to make a point, and a bunch more forward it around the world, there is some truth and a lot of error in the message.  The second installment of the response will talk about why we stand for communion.  So, here we go. 

Let’s read the email, first.

Pope Benedict to Catholics: Kneel and Receive on the Tongue Only
Pope Benedict XVI does not want the faithful receiving Communion in their hand nor does he want them standing to receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. According to Vatican liturgist, Monsignor Guido Marini, the pope is trying to set the stage for the whole church as to the proper norm for receiving Communion for which reason communicants at his papal Masses are now asked to kneel and receive on the tongue.
The Holy Father's reasoning is simple: "We Christians kneel before the Blessed Sacrament because, therein, we know and believe to be the presence of the One True God." (May 22, 2008)
According to the pope the entire Church should kneel in adoration before God in the Eucharist. "Kneeling in adoration before the Eucharist is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and today." (May 22, 2008)
The pope's action is in accord with the Church's 2000 year tradition and is being done in order to foster a renewed love and respect for the Eucharist which presently is being mocked and treated with contempt. The various trends and innovations of our time (guitar liturgy, altar girls, lay ministers, Communion in the hand) have worked together to destroy our regard for the Eucharist, thus advancing the spiritual death of the church. After all, the Eucharist is the very life and heartbeat of the Mystical Body around which the entire Church must revolve.
Kneeling also coincides with the Church's centuries old ordinance that only the consecrated hands of a priest touch the Body of Christ in Holy Communion. "To priests alone has been given power to consecrate and administer to the faithful, the Holy Eucharist." (Council of Trent) This teaching is beautifully expressed by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica: "Because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament."
It is for reason that Pope Paul VI in his May 1969 pastoral letter to the world's bishops reaffirmed the Church's teaching on the reception of Communion, stating that: "This method on the tongue must be retained." (Memoriale Domini) This came in response to the bishops of Holland who started Communion in the hand in defiance of the centuries old decree from the Council of Rouen (650 A.D.) where this practice was condemned as sacrilegious. "Do not put the Eucharist in the hands of any layperson, but only in their mouths." To date this prohibition has never been overturned legally.

Today Communion in the hand is carried on illegally and has become a major tool of the enemy to destory the Faith throughout the world. For this practice serves no other purpose than to warp our conception of Jesus Christ and nourish a contempt for the sacred mysteries. It's no wonder St. Basil referred to Communion in the hand as "a grave fault."

That is to say, Communion in the hand is not tied with Catholic tradition. This practice was first introduced to the Church by the heretical Arians of the 4th century as a means of expressing their belief that Christ was not divine. Unfortunately, it has served to express the same in our time and has been at the very heart of the present heresy and desecration that is rampant throughout the universal Church. If we have 'abuse' problems today it is because we're abusing the Sacrament - it's backfiring on us!
Thanks to Communion in the hand, members of satanic cults are now given easy access to come into the Church and take the Host so that they bring it back to their covens where it is abused and brutalized in the ritualistic Black Mass to Satan. They crush the Host under their shoes as a mockery to the living God, and we assist it with our casual practice? Amongst themselves the satanists declare that Communion in the hand is the greatest thing that ever happened to them, and we do nothing to stop it?

Hence, the Holy Father is doing his part to try to purge the Church of abuse and we as members of Christ are called upon to assist him. For your encouragement we include the following quotation from Cardinal Llovera, the new prefect for the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments speaking to Life Site News on July 22, 2009: "It is the mission of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments to work to promote Pope Benedict's emphasis on the traditional practices of liturgy, such as reception of Communion on the tongue while kneeling."
Also worth considering is the recent decree from Cardinal Caffarra, the Archbishop of Bologna Italy, forbidding the practice of Communion in the hand: "Many cases of profanation of the Eucharist have occurred, profiting by the possibility to receive the consecrated Bread on one’s palm of the hand... Considering the frequency in which cases of irreverent behavior in the act of receiving the Eucharist have been reported, we dispose that starting from today in the Metropolitan Church of St. Peter, in the Basilica of St. Petronius and in the Shrine of the Holy Virgin of St. Luke in Bologna the faithful are to receive the consecrated Bread only from the hands of the Minister directly on the tongue." (from his decree on the reception of the Eucharist, issued April 27, 2009)
Technically all bishops and clergy are bound to follow the Holy Father's directive on this issue, but in the meantime the faithful are not obliged to wait for the approval of their bishop in order to kneel for God. The directives of the Holy Father are not subject to the veto or scrutiny of the bishops and therefore all pastors and laity have a right and duty to put these directives into practice for the edification of their communities.

Now, it's my turn. 
The first error is in the headline: “Pope Benedict to Catholics: Kneel and Receive on the Tongue Only”  The pope actually said that when he is presiding at the Mass, he wants those participating in the Holy Mass to receive communion this way.
 It is true that the Pope is working to get this practice universally adopted.  The pope’s liturgist was correctly quoted as saying,  “The pope is trying to set the stage for the whole church as to the proper norm for receiving Communion for which reason communicants at his papal Masses are now asked to kneel and receive on the tongue. “  Because that is true, it does not mean that all the rest of the statements in the email are equally true.  Just because the pope has this way of thinking doesn't mean that all of the other  “abuses” mentioned in this email are factually and morally wrong and are going to have to change  by going back to the Church behaviors of the past..
To be honest to the line of thinking of this email, that is, "so many things are wrong that we have to follow the pope back to what we had before",  the Church would have to go back to Latin, all male servers, altar rails, communion under one species only, no more extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist for the good of the homebound and hospitalized, enclosed confessionals, restoration of minor orders, after midnight fast before communion, return to the full Lenten fast and the seasonal ember days not to mention the meatless Friday.  This is also the kind of thinking that, if followed to its logical conclusion, would go back to the banning of archeological investigations to support Biblical studies and the deepening of our knowledge of the ancient languages.  It would also go against the teachings all the popes since Leo XIII.  

The deep problem with this kind of thinking is that it defies the pedagogy of God.  It defies the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.  Instead of keeping our minds open and going forward deeper onto the mysteries of faith, as Pope Pius XII teaches us to do in Divino Afflante Spiritu, we run back to the comfort of the behavior that we regret leaving.  This is true of the present pope as well as other human beings.  It is always possible in the Church to find arguments, many of them compelling, to support both sides of any discussion.  It is also always possible in the Church to make assertions that appear to be compelling, but that are in fact, outside the bounds of logic and defy the truly essential activity of the Holy Magisterium.  In this email, for instance, there is a reference to the council of Rouen...an important see in France of old (7th century).  This was not an ecumenical council, but a local one.  To make a decision of a local council a definitive article of universal church discipline nearly 1,500 years later is to negate all the doctrine that was built on the promulgation of Rouen during the ensuing centuries.  The Church doesn’t follow that process, why did the author of this email do it?  That is not good process.  It would be easy to go back and invoke the power of law and faith into the Old Testament and insist that it be practiced as the Sacred Scripture defines it.  We don't do that because we know that God, through the Holy Spirit continues to enlighten us in our practice of discipleship.  It would be good for you all to read the argument that St. Paul had with the Church leaders of the first century regarding the need for circumcision for converts.  What was illegal then does not always rule with the same force now.  Thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, the decisions of the past have the virtue of helping us to understand why we have deepened our understanding of the doctrines of our faith.
What permits the author of this email to say, "Today Communion in the hand is carried on illegally...?"  That is a totally false statement and it cannot be logically deduced from the decree that came out of Rouen.  It is false because today we have the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, approved by the powers that be in Vatican City,  that describes the behavior that we follow in our liturgy. That behavior includes the posture that we assume at communion time.
It is intensely doubtful that the statement "The pope's action is in accord with the Church's 2000 year tradition..." is correct. In the very first place, the liturgy of the Eucharist in its present form is not 2,000 years old. The history of unleavened wafers serving as altar bread is not even 1,100 years old.  When people write and make doctrinaire statements, they should at least take the precaution to be factually correct.
Here’s another daring statement, erroneous, of course: “Technically all bishops and clergy are bound to follow the Holy Father's directive on this issue, but in the meantime the faithful are not obliged to wait for the approval of their bishop in order to kneel for God. The directives of the Holy Father are not subject to the veto or scrutiny of the bishops and therefore all pastors and laity have a right and duty to put these directives into practice for the edification of their communities.
     1.     The communities in the universal Church are not bound to follow the Holy Father’s directive
           on this issue, except when he is the one presiding at the Eucharist out of respect for his
           personal opinion.  
     2.   It has now been a long time since the directive to the universal church has been to respect
           the desire of the individual who indicates by his/her posture how he/she wants to receive 
           communion.
     3.   The bishops, pastors and laity don’t have the duty to put these directives into practice for
            the edification of their communities because the communities will not be edified by such a
            reactionary return to the past and a flaunting of the now in force General Instruction of the
            Roman Missal.
If this email was written to convince the readers to kneel at communion time, it is a failure.  Arguments based on a recital of negative, anecdotal, non-documented “facts” are not compelling.  Every age, believe it, every age, has a barrel-full of bad and irreverent church behavior.  If you want to read about some from back in the 40’s and 50’s, just ask and this writer will oblige with a rather lengthy list.  You might want to start with the 20 minute Sunday Mass, including three altar rails full of communicants.  Then, as now, there were people of bad faith, ordained and lay, who contributed then and who now contribute to the “abuses.”  Human behavior in the palaces, the rectories, on the altar and in the pews will not be made holy by an edict dictating that the Church should back up into the past.  Those who want to try it that way will perhaps try, but they are doomed to fail. 
Finally, there is an attitude present in the message of this email that shows that it is more guided by emotion than by systematic argumentation based on a simple fact, the pope has made it clear that when he presides at the Holy Mass the faithful should kneel to receive the Body of Christ on the tongue.  That’s it.  He has his reasons.  His personal reasons do not compel others to fall in line when he is not the presider at the Eucharist.  It also has to be said that the pope’s liturgist has no compelling authority to change universal Church behavior.  If the pope wants to make his personal opinion dictate universal church behavior, he must follow the official procedures to do so.  Until then, no one has any obligation to change anything, especially something that is present in the official documents presently in force.
I am not going to change my faith convictions in this matter because I believe in the Holy Spirit’s work through the Second Vatican Council.  I’m going to my grave filled with holy joy with this faith in my heart and soul, so don’t cry at my funeral.

Part two coming soon: Stand up at the foot of the Cross.

Friday, October 15, 2010

FROM ICU TO "HOC EST CORPUS MEUM"

October 15, 2010
Saint Frances Cabrini Church
Yucaipa, California

The young man in the middle, Father Alex Gamino, is smiling because he has just been ordained a Roman Catholic priest.  He stands there, strong and proud between his mother and father plus Bishop Gerald Barnes (left) and co-adjutor bishop Rutilio del Riego.  Everyone in attendance (well over 1,000) is smiling too.  Father Alex is a special person, not only to God but to thousands of people in Southern California, mostly in the areas in and around the great Mojave desert.  His is a story that few young men have, even those who enjoy the crowning of their call to the Vineyard of God.  I like to write about it because Father Alex is close to our family and because I have written so many things about death and dying over the last few months that it does me some good to write about a renewed life, a flowered call to mission.  
Some four or five months ago Father Alex missed his scheduled ordination.  He was not far away from having his hands anointed by God Himself.  He fell gravely ill just a few weeks before "O" Day and spent a goodly amount of time in ICU in the great state of Texas where he was attending the seminary.  It was not the news that family and friends were expecting.  But it did have the effect of galvanizing those who love this young man into action.  I know that God had His hands full with all the prayers that were flung at Him from all over Southern California, some parts of Mexico and most of us do not know where else. Well, far be it from me to accuse God of caving in, but the fact of the matter is, that we now have Father Alex Gamino, alive and well, whether or not God had to change His mind to match ours.  Let's just say, as good Catholics always do, "Our prayers were heard."
Tomorrow, Belle and I will kneel before Father Alex and he will bless us.  It will be special for us because we know that this will be a blessing soaking wet with holy tears of gratitude for life, for a vision of holy work pruning the Lord's vine, feeding His sheep, protecting His lambs and spreading His love all around the Southern California desert towns where Father Alex will walk firmly, gently, bravely and with a purposeful gait.   He knows that he has been blessed with renewed vigor for a reason that only God knows.  Father Alex will not let you down, Lord.  You'll be glad You kept him around.  He will be with You working so hard for so long that he will not have time to cry at my funeral.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let 'em eat dog food

By Paul Dion, STL

On one Sunday when we heard the story of the multiplication of the loaves according to John, (6; 1 – 15) and the feeding of the large crowd by the prophet Elisha (2 Kgs 4:42-44), my parish priest, Fr. Romy, addressed world hunger and the ways that it touches all of us.

Early in his address to the congregation he said, “That horrible reality of hunger is a human tragedy. It is a sin against life.” (Italics mine) That means that it is a human tragedy not just for those who are hungry and dying, but for all of us who are implicated in their misery.

I am of the opinion that it is a sin against life that has “corporate” dimensions. We all participate in it. We all have a share in the death of the 40 to 60 million people who succumb to the ravages of hunger every year. Father Romy didn’t give any examples of how we participate in the corporate sin against life, but I am not shy, so I’m going to give it a try.

I know some people who brag about the fact that they never eat “leftovers.” So, they cook for four or five, even if they are but two in the house. The food that is left behind is carefully wrapped or placed in Tupperware containers and stored in the refrigerator until it either takes up too much space, becomes inedible or I and my wife “rescue” it and get to save $50.00
or more for the month.

Want to know what happens when we are not there to claim this food? It gets fed to the feral cats who roam the inner city neighborhood where these people live. Now, the last time I gave this any thought, I thought that feral cats who didn’t get to kill something for dinner, including one another, died of hunger.

People who feed them sin against human life because they spend too much for too much food that they have no intention of eating and they don’t think of the hungry people that they could help by being more frugal. And they sure don’t think of me. I can and will eat anything, including your leftovers. But then again, I’m not starving, so I guess I don’t count.

Yes, I do tell them that what they are doing is immoral. They think I'm crazy. I know I am, but I thank God that I am not insane.

I’m sure that I don’t have to mention the amount of food that is wasted in the restaurant industry. We all know the restaurants that give the most generous portions for the price. Two or three of us go there, get our money’s worth, so we say, and then send 35% to the disposal unit because our eyes were bigger than our stomach. My wife and I have discovered that any restaurant with a “king sized” portion policy will also serve that same portion with two plates so that none will go to waste. Think about it.

I also want to say that the amount of dog and cat food that we buy here in the United States could feed 40 to 60 million people a year. Not a person among them would complain. How many of these starving people can get a four ounce meal of tuna, corn meal, ground bone protein twice per day? How many of them can get a six ounce portion of beef, beef parts, meal, ground bone protein and other stuff twice per day?

None. If they could, they would not die, they would thrive. Yet, we feed that to our dogs and cats! If that is not a corporate sin against humanity, nothing is.

I don’t want to hear that these processed foods are not edible by humans. Oh!?! Do they contain chicken feet? Locusts? Beetles? Larvae? Pigs’ ears? Chicken combs? Bulls’ testicles? Blood? Not that I could see on the ingredient list. Yet, even if they are, these are all food items in many third world countries. I did see that they had a lot of fat content (good for silky fur), lots of salt (hmmm, gotta cut that, but that’s easy), animal parts (Fried intestines anybody? Go to El Rodeo Restaurant in La Mesa, Tijuana, Baja California). Have we forgotten that human beings are omnivorous?

One last comment. We humans, God’s greatest creation, are the only animals who can manage our food supply, no matter how complex we make it. We can even transport food across the planet to those who need it. Yet, we let our fellow human beings die because we do not have the conscience to keep them alive, no matter how many technological advances we have made
to process food so that it lasts for a long time.

What if we were cows? We would get fed, even just to fatten us up for future value. Do you know how much alfalfa it takes to make a 1,500 pound cow? How about the slop that it takes to make a 1,000 pound hog? I won’t bore you with the same question for sheep, goats, ostriches, horses, etc.

Somewhere toward the end of the book of Job, Yaweh asks Job, “did you ever ask yourself why the horse eats only grass and is swifter and stronger than you?”

That is a good question, but it doesn’t mean anything to us because God endowed us with a logical brain and freedom which the horse does not have.

The real question is, why don’t we use this endowment for our common good? My follow-up question is, why do we use this endowment to develop food to make dogs and cats fatter and prettier and “happier” while 40 to 60 million of our fellow human beings are dying of hunger?

Father Romy asked us to try to do something about the hunger problem. He mentioned that St. Christopher has a food bank to which we can contribute. I say, that’s the least we can do.

I also say, send your dog or cat to the farm and buy food for the hungry people of Moreno Valley instead. To those of you who own Wall Street Stock, I say divest yourself of the companies who process pet food and buy something that is more in the interest of mankind. You don’t want to divest yourself of your Ralston Purina stock? Go to the next shareholders meeting and make a plea to get the company to process 20% of its canned food so that it will be healthful for people who need a quick, compact meal to keep themselves alive. Same basic ingredients, less chemicals.

So, you don’t want to get rid of your pet? I’ll bet you know someone, or a family who could use a nice meal once a week. Who knows how much life you could add to that person or that family by cooking something for them?

This is a hard question. It goes to the emotions of millions of people. Emotions or not, something has to be done about the problem of human hunger, and I think that what I have said above is a part of the solution.

Having said that, I now know that there will be a hoard of you who will cry for your dog's dying and will most certainly not cry at my funeral.


(Click here to view the many wonderful articles that await you in www.ParishWorld.net, America's Catholic Lifestyle Magazine. Be informed, be inspired, be blessed. )

Monday, September 20, 2010

JESUS HAD IT RIGHT (JOHN 21;18)










"I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put a belt around you and take you where you would rather not go."                      

Imagine being led around by these two fine specimens of human nature! In a previous post I described my bout with a ferocious attack of the gout and the consequences that it brought to my life.  By doing that, I left out the story of my two sons. They deserve more recognition than was present in the previous writing.
I have chosen the above photos because I have decided that they will lighten the tone of the matter. I have already told them that when a father finds himself being coddled by his children, there are no words in the language powerful enough to express the emotion of the moment. It is a moment captured well by the words that Jesus addressed to Peter just before leaving earth for heaven.
I was in that situation.  They put me in a car and drove me to the hospital.  There they sat, missing work, keeping watch over the shadow of the man they knew as their father.  In the very few semi-lucid moments that I had over the first three days of my confinement, we tried to communicate as usual, but it was impossible.  They even found it necessary to apologize to the hospital staff that had to endure my abuse.  Yes, they did that, and more, because they saw their father in a light that they never thought would ever present itself to them.  I still remember some of the words they used during those moments.  When I think of them, I smile and wonder how God could have blessed me so deeply and richly with two magnificent angels, blood of my blood, hearts of my heart, full of His Grace.


These guys are saints.  I thank God for showing me the precious depths of their souls before I die.  When I do die, remember what I have just said.  Know that I died in the presence of saints on earth, and do not dare to cry at my funeral.