Posts Tagged ‘ Roman Catholic Church ’

Flying the Flag

I have never actually counted, but I bet I have sent more email to the White House in the past five months than the total of any form of communication to anyone in politics in my entire life.  And, this is coming from someone who was a card-carrying Democrat, and knocked on doors for the likes of Jimmy Carter, Mo Udall and Hubert Humphrey.

It is nice (and I pat myself on the back) that I am, once-again, interested in how this country is governed.

In the last few days, there have been a flood of videos on the recent overseas trip of the President and First Lady.  (A far cry from the “news” coverage of 40 years ago.)  What has really surprised me was how well they represented the United States.  A real class act.

I really don’t want the form of media (print vice video) to become the story; but maybe it is because we can see for ourselves, and are not subject to somebody else’s interpretation – word choice, column-inches – that we are getting a much better picture (sorry for the pun).

In days past, if the Grand Poobah wanted to show a modicum of respect for Our Dear Friend in the Middle East, he/they might actually visit instead of thumbing their nose.  The President and Mrs Trump not only visited the Wailing Wall, they showed immense respect for  Israel, and also for the Jewish religion.  Gold stars.

Visiting Italy, their visit with the Pope was a model for others to follow (especially the former occupants of the White House).  Kudos.

And surprise, surprise – something that somehow never came up during the Mother of all Campaigns last year – the First Lady is a practicing Roman Catholic!  Even had a Rosary handy for the pope to bless.

Politico.com carried an AP photo showing Ivanka Trump at Sant Egidio – I’ll bet no one in the Obama White House knows, even now, where that is (I met Pope Benedict XVI there).  Ivanka’s meeting is all the more significant knowing she and Jared are practicing Jews.  Put another way, religion is a good thing in the Trump White House, while Clinton never had anything good to say about any religion (other than Islam, of course).

+++

Honestly, when Barak Obama was elected, I thought: finally, a president who is not a middle-aged, white male.  He was nothing but a disappointment.  Eight years of wondering why he didn’t focus on the really important stuff.  I feel like he hijacked the White House.  And, what did Michelle do in those eight years?  I don’t remember a single thing.

The Trumps, on the other hand, will make it so easy to forget their predecessors.  If, their predecessors can resist “coincidental” visits (both groups in Italy at the same time?  really?).  I will spare any comments at how refined Mrs Trump looked, especially when compared with Mrs Obama, last week.

+++

I will grant you that I am not tickled pink with everything Mr Trump is doing.  Yes, deportations are significantly up when compared to the past.  Which means that more bad guys are being discovered and deported; but it also means that more people who are honest, hard-working, tax-paying residents are also being deported.  This is nothing if not a waste of valuable resources.  Timothy McVey was a citizen – too bad we could not have deported him to someplace like North Korea.  Yes, Mr President: continue to use ICE to deport the bad guys; but leave the other-wise innocent alone.

A wall between us and Mexico?  Really?  How about we give those folks every reason to stay home by not buying the drugs that finance their own bad guys?

Encourage your wealthy buddies to find other sources for their megabucks than raping the environment.  Yes, West Virginia is one of those “fly-over” states; but maybe you should see what King Coal has done to the people there.  Ask Elon Musk for advice; he seems to be thinking past today, and making money.

+++

Gil Student, “Ivanka, Jared, and the Jewish Sabbath,” First Things, 5-24-17

A Brief Respite

I think my post-Vatican II head has stopped spinning. Maybe the mayhem wrought by those seeking to hijack The Church has merely slowed? In any event, the recently concluded Synod on the Family has seemingly stuck a stick in the sand; tho maybe only a small stick. Maybe only an effort to change the water and not throw it out with the baby?

When I entered The Church, the altar boys had to learn Latin. Going to Mass now, it is unusual to see any males up there, other than the priest (thank GOD, that hasn’t changed). Nobody was trying to water-down Catholicism – attack, demolish, eradicate, maybe – but not transform it into the namby-pamby pablum that other (heretical) Christian sects are trying to do. You see, for me, the “old” Church fits. I sang “kum-by-yah” at one time, I don’t now.

The quintessential counter-cultural figure of all time was Jesus Christ. He founded an institution based on the frailties of the creatures it exists to save. Pretty much a mandate of “You will come close to drowning many times; but I won’t let you. Furthermore, while you are trying to save yourself, you must also save others.” Rather much the antithesis of: “if you see someone in distress in the water (in the old days that would be “drowning,” but of course we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings now-a-days), the first thing you do is NOT jump in.” The modern version is more like: “if you want to be in distress in the water, don’t bother me.”

So, based on the Founder’s example, The Church is also counter-cultural. When it discards all it stands for, it stops being The Church. This is not religion of any kind: this is logic.

I want a corpus on a cross. I want a Crucifix. Sure, it is fabulously wonderful that Christ conquered the Cross, and celebrating the empty cross is a good thing. But, not at the expense of recalling what it took to get there. In the Garden of Gethsemane, remembered as the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary (for those of us blessed to pray the Rosary – sorry about you other heathens), Christ cried. Very poetically, “like drops of blood.” Why did He cry? “For being done too soon,” as Neil Diamond sang? Perhaps. Maybe more out of frustration that His sacrifice (wanna talk “mortification of the flesh”?) would not save us all. Oh, it could, of course. Let there be no doubt that, if it wasn’t up to us (us and our damnable free will), that Crucifixion would have been more than enough to save us all – all of us, forever.

And so, I wear a Crucifix on a chain around my neck. I have a short memory; I need the reminder. And, I wear it on the outside of my shirt; I don’t want anybody asking me if I’m Catholic (obviously, if I was a lot more saintly, others would know I was Catholic by my behavior and they would not need a chunk of metal on my chest to tell them. What can I say? I’m a sinner. Sue me.)

I want a Church that helps me not be just another lemming, following the crowd, obsessed with sensual gratification, instant reward (and the less I have done to earn it, the better), the accumulation of toys (news flash: the person with the most toys definitely does not “win”). Yeah, I try to avoid eating meat on Fridays; but then, I try to avoid eating meat every day. The other six days, I try to avoid meat for me, for my health, for consciousness of how little others around the world have to eat, for awareness that the American love affair with beef is not environmentally sustainable. I try to avoid eating meat on Fridays not for what I am, but for who I am. Six days a week, I am concerned about physical health, one day a week I am concerned about spiritual health. (Actually, if the truth be known, I am not a foodie: food is only a fuel, not a life altering event. Honestly, I seldom think about food. Sorry, Scott.)

I’m all for priests not marrying. I do love the irony: looking at my life, it is clear the only way I could have kept my jeans zipped was to die trying. So, it’s something else? Yeah: lack of distractions. I have tried keeping one foot in the secular world: being married, providing for a family (i.e., having a job, even a job I detest); and trying to put the other foot into the camp of salvation: more prayer time, more study of the Bible and other writings (sometimes called “commentaries,” or Tradition – no, the capital T is not a typo; old Catholics know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout). The day just is not long enough for me; but then, I’m slow.

Y’know, when your tooth aches, you want your dentist right now. You don’t want to hear an answering company say that he/she is taking a much deserved holiday in the Bahamas. When you get a letter from the IRS, you don’t want you accountant to shuffle thru his calendar and tell you he’s got an opening on April 16th. When you go to the emergency room at 2 o’clock in the morning with a racing, pounding heart, you don’t want the single on-duty receptionist (in the old days, that would be a fully qualified nurse) to take her time finding the right forms for you to fill in. I don’t want my priest, my spiritual advisor to have other things on his mind. Laser-focus, that’s what I’m after.

GOD love him if he wants a wife and kids; Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding (yes, beyond doubt, a heterosexual wedding). GOD love him if he just can’t devote every moment of his life to the greater glory of GOD (GOD knows I haven’t). But, if he’s going to claim to be a priest, I want a priest of the old school – the order of Malchizedek. He’s going to be dependable. Maybe not instantly available; but when I call (e.g., every Sunday), I know what I’m getting. And what I’m getting, I’m getting only in a Catholic Church. The last thing I want to hear from the pulpit is “I’m ok and you’re ok and that’s ok.” For Heaven’s Sake: I’m a sinner, you’re a sinner, now what are we going to do about it?”

I want to be associated with an institution that says that ending human life is always a bad thing. Bad, bad, bad. Period. End of discussion. As a Marine, this is the most difficult Teaching I have to deal with. But, I never killed a child, or to my knowledge, an unborn baby. Small consolation perhaps; but also reality. So, it makes me want to reach for my Kabar when someone wants an abortion because that human life yet unborn is inconvenient. You want “inconvenient”? You might find your blood on the floor terribly inconvenient.

Who you fuck is your business, just get it out of my face. Dunno which is worse: current society’s obsession with sex, or making it the most important thing in the world. Beyond the constant reminder that some people define themselves by their “sexual orientation,” I find homosexuality both revolting and interesting. Kinda like the “mad scientist” who enjoys watching rats in the maze he’s constructed, but would never want to be in that maze himself.

Revolting because as a supremely devout heterosexual, I can’t imagine anything more disgusting than having sex with another man. And this, keeping in mind that GOD did not make every woman to look like Angelina Jolie. I mean, projectile vomiting comes to mind. Ok, so you say po-tay-to and I say po-tah-to. Fine, just get it out of my face. Puh-leez.

Interesting in that supposedly intelligent people can think it could possibly be intelligently rational. Whatever else you might think, each and every species of every living thing there ever was needed to reproduce itself. (The opposite of reproduce is “extinct” – in case you slept thru 9th grade biology.) Granted, some species don’t need other members of their species to reproduce; but it might be safe to say those species were, um, shall we say, anomalous? Statistically, there just aren’t many of them. And, scientifically, there might be some justification for that ability (like: simple lack of mates – something I submit is not the case with human beings).

Which leads us to the question of how homosexual human beings propagate. Physically, they don’t. Pretty simple. Absolutely irrefutable. If homosexuality is somehow “normal”; how come they can’t “normally” make more of their own kind? Think about it.

Birds fly, fish swim. This is called “natural law.” Every creature, plant or animal, has characteristics, or attributes. Human beings are intelligent enough to fabricate flying machines and swimming machines, but it is still a machine with a human in it. And, frankly, I kinda like that. And, I think my wife kind likes the idea that when we go to bed, I’d rather be with her than a goat. Or, duck-billed platypus. I like a church that says I might enjoy observing, or preserving spotted owls, but I am not one.

While I make my way thru this thing called Life, and I am assaulted with things that just don’t feel right, I like the rock that is my Church. Was it ever perfect? Did it ever do everything right? Hell, it doesn’t now. But, as a believer, I believe there is more than just “this Life.” Unlike an atheist who spends his life looking at this shoes, I spend by life looking at the stars. Unbelievers believe in the finite; I believe in the Infinite. Meanwhile, I have to roll up my sleeves; I have work to do. Thanks for reading. I hope to see you again. All comments are always welcome – life is a dialogue. And, eternity is a long time.

Double Header

Thanks to NBC for that tag line. Yes, today is a big deal for Roman Catholics. Two popes canonized, two popes presiding. Can it get any better? Yes. For starters, I could have been there (but on the other hand, happily not sharing the experience with a few hundred thousand of my newest BFFs).

I understand from the secular news media that there is some controversy. Some may be conflicted, but I am not. For me, Saint John Paul II is the one person that brought me back to the Church. My mother got me started, but JP2 took me by the lapels and shook some sense back into me. And, I had the divine blessing to have been close enough to Pope Emeritus Benedict to touch his sleeve (yeah, probably a bigger deal than Midnight Mass at St Peters – can I get back to you on that?).

So, this day, for me, is a day of great rejoicing. No controversy. Only peace. Only joy.

Having built my house on rock, and not sand, I am not afraid the opinions and comments of others. For those who are believers, we are one. For those who are not, for those who can’t relate, who don’t want to relate, who scoff, who criticize, who complain; for those who can’t hear Jesus knocking at the door, who hear and do nothing but complain; for the lukewarm, well, all I can do is pray.

Go ahead and throw stones. At 2,000 years old (give or take), over a billion current followers of every stripe (uncountable over those 20 centuries), incomprehensible number of pages written by and about, the Roman Catholic Church is an easy target. You are not doing yourselves any favors.

If you want to make this world a better place. If you want to improve the lot of the overwhelming percentage of the human race, you would do better to start building than tearing down. If you are about yourself, get a life.

For me, today is huge. It is truly a watershed year.

I had something else planned for my next post; but to borrow: the very stones cry out.