Friday, August 31, 2012

Obama breaks Cardinal rule: Putting a Priest on the Podium

As Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan read the benediction at the conclusion of the Republican National Convention last week, President  Obama felt very uncomfortable.


He's kind of like that fellow in the hemorrhoid commercial.


You know the one I'm talking about.


It's the one where the gentleman taking his seat on the airplane feels like he's sitting on top of a cactus.


Here's the story.


Cardinal Dolan was summoned to a high-level meeting with the President last year.


As President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan had been expressing his concern regarding the  free expression of religious practice.


Obama invited the prelate to the Oval Office to give assurances that Catholics need not fear government intrusion from this administration.


Like Neville Chamberlein leaving Munich with assurances of nonaggression from Der Fuhrer, the Archbishop of New York returned home echoing Obama's promise to respect the way Catholics put their faith into practice through thousands of charitable institutions throughout the world.


The church leader was stunned  just a few months later when the  Department of Health and Human Services  dictated that  abortifacients and contraceptives  be covered in all healthcare plans.


Even Catholic healthcare plans.


The Cardinal, understandably, felt  he had been double-crossed.


He launched an ambitious campaign to inspire Americans to protect their religious liberty.


Timothy Dolan recognizes that he has been called to serve  in a battle between good and evil.


Catholics throughout America have been aroused from their slumber of apathy.


Catholics are embracing  the First Amendment as a protection  against the kind of insidious government control seen in the Health and Human Services mandate.


The Democratic party leadership resented the announcement that Dolan would  give the benediction for the RNC in Florida.


Obama figured that he could diminish Cardinal Dolan's impact by telling the world that Dolan was merely a Republican partisan.


The fact is that Catholic bishops have prayed over many conventions, both Republican and Democrat, in the past.


Dolan even offered to give the benediction at the Democratic convention this week to demonstrate that the Catholic Church doesn't endorse parties or candidates.



Democratic strategists decided to test Dolan and take him up on his offer.


They invited him to give the benediction at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Dolan Responded brilliantly.


He said yes.


And now you can understand the President's discomfort.


At the conclusion of the Democratic convention,  a Catholic Cardinal will approach the podium to offer prayer.


If this prayer is similar to the one made in Florida, he will call upon the creator to aid men in demonstrating a respect for the sanctity of life and religious liberty.


A prayer to end abortion and to stop a government that forces Catholics to accept immoral healthcare plans.


That is why the president is uncomfortable.


Community organizer outflanked by an Irish priest with street smarts.


The White house needs some  Preparation H.


And the H stands for Heaven.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

SPCAS: A disease eating away at your family?

Some of you  may tune out as I begin this column because you think the subject doesn't touch you.



But, in some fashion or another, you will be affected because you either have a parent or you are one.


The subject is the care of our parents as they enter the twilight years.


My parents passed away a few years ago, but I remember that we kids had to find a routine that was compassionate but also fair for all of us.


While I may not be personally experiencing this problem in my own home, I've  recently run into  many examples of it among friends.


It is an epidemic.


Sibling Parental Care Abandonment Syndrome.


You read that right.


Sibling Parental Care Abandonment Syndrome.


Also known as SPCAS.



SPCAS involves the way one or more brother or sister will  ignore their shared responsibility to care for mom and dad as they age.


The worst form involves a child who is the only one who ever spends any time with mom or dad while the other children live their busy lives, pretending to be oblivious of those that gave them life.


They know the truth.


Milder forms include the situation where mom or dad moves in with one of the children.


The other brothers and sisters come in to help here and  there, but when they get back to their own houses, well, out of sight out of mind.


The child who welcomed the parent into his home is left with the responsibility seven days a week, 24 hours a day.


The home that adopted  dad needs a break.


Here's the point.


Don't turn parental care into a spectator sport.


If you want to be loving, make sure you spend the same amount time with that parent as the one you know is carrying the heaviest load.


Here is the toughest one.


Put yourself second.


Cancel your plans so that you can help.


Yes. Put yourself out by cancelling your plans.


Someone else can't make plans because of the responsibility you won't pick up.


Shame on you if you don't.


So get  off your butt if you're a passive observer of someone else's filial love.


One other thing.


There are two important people  who notice you abstaining from participation.


The first is your parent, who is  actually a little hurt by the fact that you've taken a pass on caring.


He may be old but he's not stupid.


The second person is God, who sees that you ignore the fourth commandment in favor of your I'm-not-tied-down lifestyle.


In conclusion,  get ye to the nursing home every day.


Take time with father or mother every day.


Be a good son or daughter.


Be a good brother or sister.


Be a truly united family that fairly splits the duty that you might be willing to shirk.


Don't wait to be asked.


Nike had it right.


Just do it.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mrs. Robinson composer knew somehing about your life and mine

Simon and Garfunkel had a big hit with  "Feeling Groovy."


It tells the listener to get off the treadmill of modern life.


The opening line says it all:  Slow down, you move too fast.


Have you ever had the following experience?


You blast through your day a million miles an hour, accomplishing a boatload of tasks.


Pleased with yourself.


One problem.


A tiny voice in the back of your brain is saying you've forgotten something important.


Who cares that you made mincemeat of a monster to-do list when you've overlooked an item of great import?


A  chilling sensation.


I almost forgot an  important wedding anniversary: my own.


Mr. Man-of-action almost raced his way past a landmark in his own marriage.


Not a good thing.


Here's the story of a lady who fast-paced her way  to an epic tragedy.


Teacher Brenda Slaby was caught in the jetstream of the harried life.


The first day of school dawned, Brenda determined to start it off right.


With her two-year-old daughter Cecelia buckled into the child car seat, she drove off to slay the dragon of the challenging new school year.


She was out on the road so early that the daycare wasn't yet open to receive  Cecelia.


Super-teacher used the extra time to drive to Dunkin Donuts.


She thought about the other instructors and how cheery it would be to find a box of glazed and powdered in the faculty lounge.


The first day of school was a whirlwind.


Brenda watched  students file out of the building.


She had never initiated a school year so smoothly.


Then the darkest of veils descended on Brenda.


A fellow teacher came to Brenda with an urgent report.


Cecelia was still in the station wagon.


Since 6:30 AM!


Brenda had gone straight from Dunkin to school, distracted by her racing mind, toddler innocently sleeping in the back seat carrier.


Cecelia died of heat stroke on that sweltering day in late August.


The importance of a job or an appointment or anything means nothing to her these days.


That's because the experience of holding the limp lifeless body of her darling Cecelia is a suffocating nightmare memory  invading her psyche day and night.


Cecelia is in heaven.


Brenda Slaby is living in hell.


Brenda truly and sincerely loved her daughter and by all accounts was a great mom.


It's just that one day she was moving too fast.


Slow down, you move too fast.

Got to make the morning last.

Just kicking down the cobblestones.

Looking for fun and feeling groovy.


The free and easy lilt of that tune is a contrast to the speed of our lives.


Look, I'm not promoting chasing butterflies as an alternative to paying the electric bill.


But  slow down.


Love your family, gently, without the rush.


Say a prayer for Brenda Slaby.


And for yourselves that your amped up existence won't cause you to forget important things.


Or important people.



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The thing is the thing that reminds you of someone who loved you



Material objects.


Some of us try to accumulate  them.


Some of us measure our worth by their price tag.


I've heard millionaires play a game:  He who dies with the most toys wins.


Deep down we know the truth.


Objects mean nothing.


St. Peter's  heavenly clipboard has no check-off box for property owned.


But that doesn't mean  objects can't be infused with meaning.


Take my ancient and decrepit  riding lawnmower.


My Dad rode that thing for  30 years  up until he passed away not too long ago.


He was always sending me on a mission to find parts for that old  piece of junk.


A wheel here.


A bolt there.


Dad was  good lawyer who helped people, usually not charging enough fees.


Still, he did pretty well.


A child of the depression, he remembered the poverty of his youth.


The memory of grown men driven to suicide because they couldn't support their families haunted him.


So he worked hard and cut his own grass.


With that blasted green and yellow always-in-need-of-repair riding mower.


Every Saturday.


Finished, he would come in, covered in sweat.


Next came a cold Stroh's beer and a liverwurst sandwich.


Great memories.


My older brother inherited that mower after Dad died.


I inquired.


Too far gone, he said.


Old green and yellow was headed for the trash heap.


Like Dad, grass cutting  days over.


My wife stifled her objections when I rescued that thrown away tin heap.


She sensed what it meant to me.


Into my garage, where I began a series of missions just like I used to.


A wheel here.


A bolt there.


My neighbor sports a shiny new Craftsman extra-wide with double blades and a giant capacity grass catcher.


It's quite impressive.




I'm cutting my grass on the old green and yellow.


I have to coax the engine to start.


A coat hanger improvises to hold the chute open so it won't clog.


Front fender dented.


Dad hit a tree once.


Am I channeling Dad?


No, not really.


I must be a sight as I chug along, row after row.


But I do think of him.


How he loved us kids.


All nine of us.


I want to be a good father and a loving husband.


Like him.


I don't know if I'll get there, but I feel his presence urging me on.


Praying for me.


From heaven?


Yes, from heaven.


How else can you explain it?


Old yellow and green is hanging in there as I will it to keep running and cutting.


Do you have something that belonged to someone you've lost?


It's okay to cherish those old things.


Not because of their value.


Because of their meaning.


And because they remind you to love as they loved.


Thanks, dad.


I'll follow your example.


Just don't expect liverwurst.






Friday, August 3, 2012

It's not hate: It's about love and a sandwich

Since the early 1990s, the issue of same sex marriage has been placed on the ballot 32 times.


In each and every one of those elections held in 32 different states, the public has voted to uphold the concept that marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman.


Those are the facts.


Does this mean that the United States of America is dominated by people that hate homosexuals?


No, of course not.


It merely means that Americans recognize  it is healthy for the perpetuation of strong families that we offer our children a definition of marriage that includes a mom and dad living in a heterosexual relationship with one another.


You can argue that this position is biblically based and you would probably be right.


 There's nothing wrong with that.


Many of these same Americans have no problem with the establishment of something called a civil union that permits two of the same sex to be recognized in a relationship that gives them the same rights extended to those who are married.


This civil union idea therefore creates the opportunity for gay couples to live together without any form of governmental discrimination whatsoever.


Just don't change the definition of the word "marriage".


 The word itself represents an institution deeply respected as expressed at the ballot box.


Which brings us to the Chick-fil-A controversy.


Chick-fil-A was established  by a very religious Christian named Truett Cathy.


Mr. Cathy suffered through many failures and hardships before his little chicken sandwich took off.


He was determined to keep all of his stores closed on Sunday, following the third commandment: Keep Holy the Lord's day.


Cathy lost millions  in sales because of this Sunday closing concept.



So it was no surprise when Truett's son, Dan Cathy, as the new head of the Chick-fil-A empire, told an interviewer that he opposed same-sex marriage because it was inconsistent with biblical teaching.


The firestorm launched by the media was merciless.


The mayors of Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco excoriated  Cathy, pledging the power of government against Chick-fil-A stores within their jurisdictions.


Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee started a  counter response, urging supporters of heterosexual marriage to eat every meal at Chick-fil-A last Wednesday.


The cash registers at Chick-fil-A rang up their  largest single day sales Wednesday.




New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a local radio station that he  supports same-sex marriage but  opposes the idea of government punishing a company because of the personal views held by its owner.


Here's what I think.


Those who oppose same-sex marriage don't hate gays.


They love children.


They  want children to strive for the ambition of the bedrock institution behind the stability of the American family: Marriage defined as the union between one man and one woman.


Bloomberg  doesn't want to alienate the homosexual culture, but he knows that Americans consistently vote to protect the traditional definition of marriage.


In every state.


One vote at a time.


One chicken sandwich at a time.


Bon app├ętit.