The New Old Evangelization

(Originally written in 2011)

The Catholic faith is constantly under attack, not only by those directly opposed to the faith but by Christians as well. Our stance against abortion and contraception, sexual promiscuity of any form and also for tenants of the faith are examples of issue which seem to be stumbling blocks. But we Catholics understand the truths handed down to us from the apostles through the church and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We know these to be truth and with our eyes set on the things not seen we focus on the eternal. To gain the eternal, we must live a fruitful life through witness to the gospel in this world.

However we have a real problem here. The issue is that we have two types of horrible Catholics both in and out of the clergy. So many hypocrites exist but the biggest problem I fear are twofold, The disconnect that is often between the actions of our authorities within the church and what is preached and taught.

We often have Bishops and or priests that when the secular public makes a scene about the teachings of the faith they back track. In one instance in the Diocese of San Diego a Bishop twice back tracked when they denied a Christian funeral for two non-practicing catholic homosexual that owned gay bars. It has always been understood and is canon law that anyone who lived in obvious sin without any signs of repentance cannot receive a Christian funeral. But when they tried to enforce this rule public opinion and condemnation swayed the Catholic authority.

The attempt to prevent scandal in actuality created a double scandal. Not only did know they allow it, which then sent the message that it is ok to live in Sin. However then they also affirm that church teaching is essentially meaningless. If they are willing to back down to popularity, then they have lost all authority to teach. They have condemned themselves because these actions will certainly drive others to sin instead of show them the truths of the faith.

Had the Bishops stood up and in a loving manner explained the teachings of the faith and why the funerals would not be allowed it would have sent a signal that we stand for the truth. Now it appears to others that we stand for nothing that could not be changed with a popularity contest. I cringe when I see these types of reports; this is more hurtful to the conversion of souls than the actual sins perpetrated by others within our midst.

Another issue is those within our midst that do not live the Gospel but want to hit others over the head with our teachings.  What I mean is that we cannot change the hearts of others by attacking them with the truths or condemning their actions. So, often I see many people get into arguments instead of dialogue. To dialogue you need to have a loving respect for the other person. It is only through love that we will ever change the hearts of this society.

Recently, I have had a change of view about a serious issue. I may be wrong but the whole gay marriage issue I think is overblown. The civil form of marriage has little value in my eyes. I never thought highly about it when I got married, and I think less about it now. When we fight those trying to propagate this highly political issue we give these people a stage to call us all kinds of names like hate mongers and the like. Meanwhile the courts grant divorces at the drop of a hat. The fact that marriage is a business transaction in most cases should be made apparent. So, it is meaningless.

I believe we should drop this fight and instead focus on teaching within our own church the proper meaning and understanding of marriage.  But when we talk of marriage in the Catholic Church we speak about two people, a man and a woman, who join together in a complete natural union created by God that will bring the gift of life, which is children, if God wills it. Marriage is a gift of love which is a gift that comes from God. That way we understand and become open to life. At this time unfortunately most Catholics are not. It is that mentality that allows people to accept contraception and abortion since we think we are the arbiters of life and not God himself.

But the point I am trying to get at it is this. We need to focus on our own household. We have to build the proper supports and understanding that will lead to a life of living the gospel and the teachings of our faith in everything we do and say. That is how the church was born. That is how the church grew. It was by giving and loving and not by arguing with others. When others see the joy we have within our communities and in the way we live our lives and that we are faithful then they will join us. Then their hardened hearts will change. But when you look around at how poorly we are behaving it is no wonder that few truly believe that we have a real and vibrant faith.

We must turn our faith into one of love for our Church community but also for love of all outside our church as well. Even the sinners need our love. How will we save souls as God has asked us to do if we do not show them love? It will be by loving the world that we can affect the most change not by entering into political arguments or popularity contests. Hence it is the old way of evangelization that becomes new again.

As Saint Francis was quoted as saying, so we must live “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”

On Doubt

Life is a difficult journey. Even more difficult than everyday life is the ability to maintain our faith. Over the years I have, lets’ say, been in and out of my faith. As a youngster, it was out of ignorance. As an adult, it was mostly due to complacency. Then as I grew older, it has been through temptation. It would be so easy to forget the faith and just roll along with what our society wants us to accept.

The times I have been tempted to forget our faith as if our Lord never existed are many. To turn my back on God is the biggest sin I can commit. Isn’t that what we do every time we fail to live the gospel? Every little sin is a step away from God.

By committing any sin knowing full well that it is against the wishes and demands of our faith, we are turning away from Jesus.  Jesus is still there for us, always waiting. All we need to do is ask forgiveness and turn back to him and the teachings of the church.

Wait, it isn’t that easy. Satan and his tempters are always close by to show you the easier, better path.  They are also there to point out to you how ridiculous and unbelievable our faith is. That the gospel we hear was contrived, and his followers were nothing more than propagandists.

The logical and austere mind easily succumbs to such diatribe. Even the most faithful are weakened at the knees by the argument. How can this be true? Is this all a farce to keep simple folk under control? It would make my life easier to cast it all off and do as I will.

These arguments are tempting and have some truth. But it is the truth turned inside out. Yes, life may appear to be easier if we cast it off, but it would be devoid of love and life. Yes, it is an unbelievable story, but it is true and holds the answers to our purpose and future. It is the Gospel that holds the key to the understanding of life here on earth and the one to come.

Even knowing and accepting this, I became like the wicked asking for a sign. But no sign shall be given. Why won’t any sign be given? Simply put, God does not serve us. He has given us his words and prophets that we may listen to them. Why should he give us more signs?

With that in mind, I began to ponder. Several times I was close to the precipice of despair. My soul felt thirsty and dry. I was drowning in the mire of confusion that the world offered. I finally focused on prayer and asked for the wisdom to see.

Then one day, as if an angel came to me and whispered in my ear, it came to me. It was with me all along. The Gospel stories and those of the apostles are so unbelievable! Their teachings, depth of meaning and love so intertwined that I cannot believe that any men even if they had a thousand years could have written this story.

The reason became suddenly obvious. The word, the teachings and the church are the sign we will be given. They are the contradiction against the society. It is obvious it was not built, written or designed by men. These things all point to the existence of God and the truth of His Son Jesus Christ and the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

Nothing Hollywood has or ever will come up with can rival the depth of the Gospel story. None is as incredible. But what convinced me was that it is certainly not the handiwork of mankind.

I do believe in one God, the Father Almighty, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Sure, it sounds crazy, but the simple fact that I know it makes me all the more certain.

The Mad Hatter

Overslept a bit
This morn
The beeping alarm
Laughed with scorn

I rose and
Went about my day
From my routine
I did not stray

Upon arriving
In the city
I walked, stammered
It wasn’t pretty

Worse than that
Was the sight
Of a strange cat
At a bizarre height

A man walked
With a strange gait
I looked up to see
What caused this fate

Not believing
What I saw
A cat perched upon his head
A shocking awe

I slapped myself
It was no dream
No drama needed
No need to scream

Truly pointless
Is this matter
A rhyme
That’s all
For this Mad Hatter!

Pregnancy is a Gift, It is Human Life Not a Disease!

The Truth Revealed

In general, our society has become one of quick fixes and denial. We deny responsibility for almost everything, we have people suing others for things they do to themselves. People always decry that they are suffering because of others and not because of their own actions or inaction. It seems to me that whoever cries or screams the loudest gets the most attention and action whether they are in the right or not. The individual seems to lose more and more responsibility and becomes less and less important at the same time.

There is no real logic or reason. The people are so conditioned not to use their brains, not to analyze. Simply put they are for the most part conditioned not to look for the truth. Truth has become relative but not because the people believe in relativity it is because they are being trained to live life in relativity. But there is still a chance for this tide to be turned if we ourselves live life by truth.

Quo ist veritas? What is Truth? That is what we need to train our children to seek. They need to weigh all components and listen with both heart and mind. If they do so it will be apparent what is truth.

The biggest competition though is the constant barrage of images from the major media outlets. Whether it is music, movies, television or the internet our society just never take the time to think it is all set to keep you off guard. To be able to seek truth you have to remove yourself from a situation and look at it objectively. In general, our society does not do that and in fact it just promotes the acceptance of a status quo of where we are. It also promotes the idea that someone else will solve your problems. This is the reason, the basic truths of life are not understood.

I believe it is astonishing that two plus two still equals five. In a society where it is constantly promotes the false concept of “Gay Marriage”. This lie that is being perpetuated and successfully so is a great example. Everyone knows that there is no physical way that two people of the same gender can be joined together to procreate. But yet, we have sane men and women supporting these people so that they can feel accepted. The truth is they want us to make a lie a truth.

Under the same guise in the business community from which the world suffered in the economic collapse of 2008 they managed to perpetuate a lie. The lie was one of earnings, with no real production or growth. Products that did nothing but hide truths, such as Sub-prime lenders that lent money creating false growth to people or businesses that do not have the ability to pay. Notice just like gay marriage a lie twisted to appear true for the incipient purpose of the persons who benefit. In this case, the brokers and others involved made off with billions of dollars.

Then finally and the saddest of all is the twisting of the truth of life. There is only one point at which Human Life is created. The point at which Human Life is created is called conception at that point a Human Being exists and is growing totally independent of the mother who carries that baby and feeds it from her body. We know by the science that at that exact moment a new DNA has been created and a new person exists.

But instead we have an abortion industry, originally promoted in the USA by Planned Parenthood to control the growth of the undesirable population of minorities, is perpetuating the lie that it is not a baby, that it is not human life and that it is something else. They purport it to be a disease, a mistake not anybody’s fault. This is simply a lie they propose as a truth. Sadly, it feeds on the irresponsibility built into the society these days that enables the individuals not to accept responsibility for their choices and at the same time not look for the truth because it may not be convenient at that time.

The truth is that pregnancy is a gift it is a human life. One that will continually change anyone’s life for the better even if the baby is infirm. I have seen many blessings brought to families with children with disabilities, but our society does not like to see this truth either.

Another lie being purported as a truth is that abortionists are pro-choice. Their goal is to kill as many children as possible because that is how they make their money. The only real group that is Pro-Choice are the Pro-Life advocates which believe that the choice is actually before conception. The true choice is whether one should or should not have sexual intercourse with someone to create a child which is the act’s primary function. To propagate that we humans are not in control of ourselves is an insult to our intelligence. The solution to a mistake is not another mistake. Yet, that is the lie that is constantly promoted. The problem lies in that there is big money in contraception and abortion and that is why this lie has such a great rate of success. The solution lies in teaching our children the truth because we know that unfortunately neither school systems Public nor Catholic can be trusted.

So, this leads to the point of the most heinous of crimes attempted in this country. The Freedom of Choice Act, which thankfully never passed, was not about choice but about murder. It is the freedom to kill act. Any society that kills their own children is not far from killing anyone for any reason. Acts such as these should be fought with a passion by all people of good will.

From an article, I read recently at a pro-life rally in front of a church a pro-abortion woman tried to chase the children who were there away. The children replied that they would stay. Then one of the young boys asked no one in particular, “What’s the matter with her? Everyone knows that abortion is murder.” It was a simple truth.

Now if only everyone would stick to the truth life would be much easier for everyone.

The Story of the Three Belts

The Story of the Three Belts 

This story begins a little more than a year ago when I was buying cheap belts. I had bought a few belts that looked nice and were inexpensive. In price, they ranged from $15 to $25 at the department stores. One was reversible of man-made leather and the other was supposed to have been made of leather, but I am not confident that it was, but it  had a nice buckle that had a little give and spin action which made it feel like a comfortable fit. The one thing they both had in common, they were made in China.

Since I wear a belt every day, they got good use. One, I wore with my dress slacks the other I wore with my jeans and in more casual settings.  A few months went by, and they already began to look worn which was disappointing, but I continued to wear them, of course. Then what I should have known would be coming, happened. The leather on the reversible broke at the buckle. This most likely caused by my increase in weight. But I always go up and down in weight, so the product has to be able to withstand pressure at least to some extent. I began to wear the second belt daily and within a few weeks the buckle on this belt broke. It was at this point I decided that enough is enough. I am going to bite the bullet and buy top quality belts. This to me means buying Made in the USA. 

The last time I had bought an expensive belt it had lasted me at least five years, that belt was made of 100% natural leather. The only reason I stopped using it was that it was looking really beat up. It never broke,  I just decided to donate it to Good Will with other clothing. Recalling this experience I went on a mission to find quality again.

I went online instead of going to the store. I searched for belts made in the USA and settled on three different brands. The first, the GRIP6 Web belt is of a simple design but made of strong man-made material this product cost $30 on Amazon. The second is the Groove Belt brand which is also of exceptionally strong man-made material and a much more complex buckle than the first (PLEASE DISCLOSURE BELOW). This one cost around $60, not cheap. Then finally I bought a 100% made in the USA leather belt classic design by Bullhide Belts company. This cost about $65 because I bought the double layered version casual design that, I believe, can also double as a dress belt. There was a version which was less expensive and not as thick, but I wanted a rugged belt to last.

I received all three belts within seven days. I have been using them regularly and that is why I am writing this review. I was going to write this several weeks ago. Honestly, if I had, I would have had to retract my original thoughts. Sometimes a little procrastination does come in handy!

***** I recently found out that the Groove Belt is manufactured in China and assembled in the USA. this means I strike them from being Made in the USA.*******

Simple and nice

Here comes the big reveal the most inexpensive of the three is an excellent buy. It’s big positives in my book is number one it’s inexpensive. The second, it is simplistic, easy to slide through your belt hoops, and it is effortless to adjust and readjust to your size. The buckle is metal and durable and super cool,  and interchangeable. This makes it exciting because you can order different color buckles, and you can even get some with images. I don’t know how well these belts resist wear and tear but by the quality of the workmanship of the one I have I would not hesitate to buy more buckles. The only downside of the product is the material does take on the shape of the user, which of course is the same thing that happens with leather belts. One other point I can add is that the look is not that nice with dress slacks opposed to hang out clothes such as jeans and khakis which they go great with.

Made for Star Trek?

The second, is the one where I was about to write a very erroneous review. The Groove belt, is a little more difficult to adjust and so to me at first this was a turnoff. The second issue I had right away was that it was a little more difficult to slip through the pant loops. In comparison to the GRIP6, I was disappointed. Then I decided to wear it regularly to get a better feel of its value. It was after a week of wearing it that I realized its true worth. The magnetic buckle is a breeze to engage and disengage. The belt itself is made of a miraculous material that does not take the form of your body but instead has enough stretch to it that it snaps back and looks unfazed after many uses. Hence, this to me was a major plus, and now I have begun to wear this belt almost exclusively.

Why am I wearing the Groove Belt so much? Well, remember I first complained about the process of adjustment. Yes, it is not as easy as either the GRIP6 or the Bullhide belt, but it has one major advantage. Once I adjust it the first time, I have not had to adjust it again. I go up and down 5 pounds in weight as if I am on a see-saw. With the other two belts I have to adjust the belt but with the Groove Belt, I haven’t had to do it yet. I like that and it still looks like new. However the belt buckle itself is showing some wear in terms of the color getting nicked off. To me, this is not of tantamount importance. After a few more months I will return to this review and give an update.

I Love Leather!

Then finally, the review of the Bullhide 100% leather belt. Well, for $5 more than the Groove Belt, I got a super strong hand made leather belt. It is the classic design and just like the wheel, it is difficult to top something of such quality and excellence. The feel, the smell, the look and the ease of use puts this on the top of the list. Additionally this brand is first in its class, it is like wearing a Rolex around my waist. I love this belt and the company offers many options.  To keep the leather looking beautiful it is best not to give it too much punishment. I can tell you I am certain that there are people that work with their hands that would prefer this belt for its strength and reliability whose least concern is appearance.

Now comes the summary. I am happy with all three of the belts, and I am proud to say they are 100% Made in the USA. All three belts are meant to last. The GRIP6 winds on cost, if money is an issue this belt beats any of the cheap Chinese made belts. I bet that it will last for many years, and you can change buckles just for fun and that is just one of many options.

The Groove Belt is also an excellent product. I was at a conference the other day and met a colleague  who was also wearing one. He has also sung its praises. It cost more than the GRIP6 because it is of a unique material that stretches, and the buckle is a heavy duty magnetic design. This is now my everyday belt that will wear for most occasions. Kudos to the manufacturers for an excellent product! $60 still feels expensive for something that is not leather, yet the design has sold me on that this truly is a real value and will last.

The Bullhide belt is excellent, and I love leather belts, as I have already said.  I recommend you watch their video on how they are made. The company is made up of true artisans. I will be using this belt with dress slacks though the design I purchased is not for that purpose. My reason is that when you have a product that is of such high quality and has that obvious natural beauty you can’t recreate, it becomes something special. Hence, for special occasions it is!

Bottom line, top quality all around on these three belts, which means I will not be buying another belt for at least five years. All three manufacturers have other styles than those I have linked to from my purchased items. I also believe these products would make a great gift for someone in your life.

I would like to add, I am happy I bought three different belts that are all good. It gives me flexibility in my own personal expression and style. I am typically a very practical man and this sounds weird coming from me. But, hey, I guess I am getting more artistic in my mature years.

The Lady in the Van or The Snake in the Garden

I watched recently on Amazon Prime the 2015 movie The Lady in the Van. This film was obviously produced to the highest standards. The actors were of the highest caliber. The scenes were exquisite and the production quality, the best in its class. Artistic talent was not left for want in this film. 

Maggie Smith, A Master of her Art

The movie is centered around an unhappy vagabond old woman and her benefactor. Loosely based on the true story of Margaret Fairchild, there is no doubt that much artistic license was used in the creation of this fanciful story line. 

The main character who is truly the writer of the story is meant to be a protagonist, but in truth of which this film has no connection to, is that he is an antagonist. In the true story, Alan Bennet had allowed this cantankerous woman to live in his driveway with her van for fifteen years. In this movie, there is no doubt of the twists and turns taken to fit modern narratives and themes to get the support needed to make such a cruel film. 

Basing what I write here from what I saw in the film and some research, I would like to bring to you my take-aways as we often call what we learn at educational business meetings from the film. 

The first is that the film is a veiled malicious attack on the Catholic Church and the faith. Its careful nuance is to project the Church as being puritanical and uncaring. First by intimating that Ms. Fairchild’s mental illness was caused by her being told not to play piano while undergoing discernment for vocation to focus on prayer. It imputes this to be some sort of punishment when it was most likely meant as a discipline which enables one to be less selfish and more attentive to the needs of others. This is a very necessary trait to be able to live in a small, closed community with other people which is called a convent. The fact that she was difficult would indicate that she may already had begun to suffer from some mental illness, and it was beginning to manifest itself. The scene in the film where a nun viciously shuts the piano, though theatrically effective, is questionable at the least. 

The second, the implication that in confession she would have heard that her desire to play piano may be a window for the devil is something puritanical. The Puritans were a sect of the Church of England which began after its separation from the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century. As any student of music would know, the Roman Catholic Church has always supported and promoted the use of beautiful music to elevate the soul to the worship of God. Hence, her musical talent would not be ascribed to the devil, but her selfishness and lack of discipline may have been. This again to cast a dark view of the one true faith. 

Then continuing in its same path of lies, the writer and producer paint the nuns to be uncaring and vicious because of Ms. Fairchild’s past insubordinate behavior after she becomes ill. This is ignoring the fact that local nuns did assist in her care though she was not in their community. Also, ignoring the truth that the Catholic Church on a whole does more for the sick, elderly and dying than any institution on the earth. Most importantly, it does it with love and sacrifice. The works of St. Teresa of Calcutta are but one small example of the many works of this blessed institution. 

The movie ends with the death of Ms. Fairchild. The author uses this event to mock, almighty God, the assumption of Mary and the existence of Heaven with a scene where the deceased asks of him to write a glorious ending to her life. The interesting point is what it really points to is the unhappy life that the writer lives, knowing full well his internal twisted unhappy existence, which he cannot accept when faced with truth. So, to reject truth, he needs to destroy God. This is oldest of stories, since beginning of creation and the fall of mankind from grace in the Garden of Eden. 

How did evil and death come into this world? It was with the rejection of truth which is given to us by God mostly embedded in our hearts but also through scripture and tradition. All those who reject His words of good will live-in a constant state of misery while those who work at perfecting virtue find true peace and love in their lives. In this film, the author is in no way a character any human looking for joy would want to emulate. And I thank the makers of this film for raising my thoughts to see through the smoke of Satan for the lies that they are. 

Cuba – An Island of Slaves

An Island of Slaves

In these last few days, we have been witnessing a revolt of the people of Cuba against the much-heralded Cuban dictatorship. A dictatorship regime that from the start has been known for human rights atrocities and puppet courts to destroy any voice against their “so called” leadership.

The Cuban people over sixty years ago did not believe Castro would make them communists, but he did. The people that had no way to leave or thought that they could make change stayed behind. But from all the failed socialist and communist experiments on the island an escape from their economic disaster was only made by asking increased sacrifices from the ordinary people. Anyone who spoke against the regime was either imprisoned or silenced. By silenced, I mean murdered. The more public profiles who had celebrity were protected from death, but the unknowns would just disappear. The Castro regime survived through brute force, instilling in the people a constant fear that their lives and that of their family’s would be destroyed.

Photo by Matthias Oben on

As the years went on millions of native Cubans would leave and the diaspora would be spread out throughout the world. These people would not forget their homeland and would send much needed currencies, many from the USA, to sustain their families. Of these monies that came the Cuban government stole a good chunk of cash.

Most recently, they made it so all external remittances would be under the control of the government. They extolled a severe taxes some visible and some hidden. All the goods needed to survive for the public have of late been put out of their reach. Whatever they had been able to acquire before was now no longer available. Essentially they are starving to death and living in a constant state of malnutrition.

The people can no longer be fooled with the lies that the US embargo is their problem. Access to the internet has enabled them to know the truth. They came to realize that as the government officials lived in mansions of former millionaires while eating and drinking comfortably, that they were actually their slaves.

The time has finally come when the slaves have realized that they outnumber their oppressors. That no matter how much support the oppressors receive from their international accomplices from Europe, Latin America and China, they can throw off the chains of slavery. They will no longer accept the lies and propaganda of the ruling dictatorship. 

For a person not to be a slave they need to have representation. They want liberty to speak, to move and to assemble. They want the right to have leaders they have chosen. This is for us in the USA, a basic right given to us through the wisdom of the founding fathers that we take for granted.  

But for these people it is something they must risk death to overturn. The world is witnessing a real human tragedy before their eyes and still do not lift a finger to save these people from slavery. At least the slaves in the USA had the Underground Railroad and finally the Civil War that affected real change. This being over 100 years ago and yet we claim to be so enlightened here, but I do not see one of those civil rights leaders lifting a finger to support these oppressed peoples.

All those that stay silent are accomplices, though they act otherwise. It is time for all people of good will to unite to free these poor people from slavery to this cruel and evil dictatorship. 

People who want to see what slavery and suffering look like in this modern age only must turn to Cuba. But the propaganda of the cruel regime is parroted by the globalist media because it does not fit their world view. They hold up the dictatorship as a government to be praised. When the truth is they are leaders to be despised and are not much different from any evil governments that have stepped on the human rights of people in the past.

If Cuba were not an island, these people would have freed themselves years ago. Sadly, even now the media in the USA is under reporting the news and by doing so assisting the dictatorship as they have shut down the internet to hide this away from the outside world. It is sad that it will literally take much more blood (death and torture, sweat (hunger and a sacrifice)and tears (the loss of many loved ones) for them to be freed if the foreign powers that can, do not help them.

While I was writing this piece, I received news of the already occurring brutality of the police and military towards this mostly peaceful rebellion. They literally beat one young man on the streets kicking the teeth out of his head, removing his eyes and finally merciful death came upon him. Will the world just let this evil continue?

Hometown Blues

This weekend I walked around my hometown because I was staying at my mother’s house. I needed to get my steps in, and I did not want to go to the park because it had rained a lot the day before and that would mean a lot of mud. Since I took my dog with me it would be extra messy, so onto the streets we went.  

Sunday morning on the Fourth of July I ran into some friends. I ran into my dear friend Ed and his wife and another friend Kathy that was out walking her dog as well. It is such a wonderful thing when you get to pleasantly run into friends and have a quick chat. These chats lasted a total of 10 minutes of my one-and-a-half-hour walk. So, what did I do for most of this walk? 

This was yesterday and for the most part, as I walked through the different areas, I recalled many memories of my youth. One, I recalled in grade school when my buddy Robert and I went to some older kid’s house, and they were smoking marijuana. That was the first time I had ever smelled it or even known of its existence.  

Second, I recalled the drinking homemade red wine at another friend’s house and how delicious it was. I have not stopped drinking red wine since. 

Finally, I was walking by one house that from the street view has not changed much since my childhood. A young man living there came out of his garage to load something in the trunk of his car. He looked at me and said, “good morning.” It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him how I recall playing spin the bottle in that house when I was 13 years old. Instead, I gave the glib standard response. 

The following day on the fifth of July, I went for a walk again. This time I walked through other neighborhoods. I walked by the house where I lost my virginity, do not worry, I will not be revealing it. 

Then I began to see homes of my childhood friends and classmates. I saw a home of a fellow parishioner at our local Catholic Church. It looked like there may be another family there, but I had not heard anything about them, so I called my brother who lives in town to find out. I learned that the father of the household was recently hospitalized, and the wife was still in the home. It was, most likely the grandchildren I had seen playing in the backyard. I had a sense of relief. 

However, then I began to ponder it and the sense of stability of life that we all long for is truly just a form of hope. I accept change, but something’s we do not want to lose. What has most value I realize is family. I am not speaking about only the immediate family or blood relations. I am referring to the real family of all the people that make up our lives. These are truly our brothers and sisters and if all were able to accept this at a younger age, I believe this world would be filled with more love.  

I was raised with that belief in my parish and church. My faith and love for all the men and women of good will that have entered my life is deep and strong. Though we move down different paths their presence in my heart will never be lost. This may be why I was feeling sad about all the changes and the lack of permanence that is our life on earth.  

I was finishing my walk, the dog was tired, and it was hot as Hades. My heart turned blue. I want to be able to stop things from moving so fast, but I have no control over it. The only thing I can hold on to is the hope that I have loved all the people in my life with true love, concern and compassion and that they remember me after I also have moved on to the heavens. As the old saying goes “Time and tide wait for no man.” 

The Worst Ice Cream in the World

A few good laughs to cheer the day.

Life is full of different experiences. You never quite know what will be the novelty that will disrupt your normal course of life. And sometimes, the event will just want to make you laugh.

In this occasion, my wife and I went away for a long weekend in the Saratoga Springs New York area. We were blessed with incredibly beautiful weather; this should have been a sign. Since when does anyone take a vacation, whether long or short, and everything work out perfectly? Not ever.

Arriving in Saratoga Springs, there was a light shower of rain. We had reservations at an Italian restaurant called Forno Bistro. It is situated attached to a converted brick building which also houses a Rug store.  Out front are beautiful trees, bushes and flowers. Beneath the tall trees were lawn chairs for the waiting guests.

When we arrived at the restaurant, they had our reservation, but the table was not ready yet. Meanwhile, I could see a row of tables for two under patio umbrellas not in use. They asked us to wait, and we took the opportunity to sit under the trees and have an order of drinks sent to us. It was quite pleasant and cool as the very light rain fell, but not enough to be felt. Rather quicker than I hoped our table was ready, I was quite enjoying the relaxed environment on the lawn with a glass of Woodford Reserve in my hand.

We were then taken to our seats. The interior of the restaurant was loud and the crowd boisterous. Once I sat in my seat, I could feel a cold breeze from the air conditioning units hitting the back of my neck. We moved the table ourselves a few inches away, hoping that would correct the situation, but it did not. I then went out to the hostess and asked to be reseated.

The manager came over and after having checked the weather forecast believed that the worst had passed and sat us outside, this time on the porch which is where we actually had wanted to sit from the start. We ate to our hearts delight and skipped dessert. After our dinner the rain once again began to fall and still only as a mist.

We decided to seek out coffee and dessert. We stopped in at a small jazz club, where there was barely room to breathe, let alone shout over to the bartender to get a drink. We left after a few short minutes. Walking around town, you could hear loud music emanating from the many nightclubs while scantily dressed young woman and loud young men strolled the streets looking for their next adventure. But we, being over a certain age that does not seek the same, could not find a place to have a cup of coffee. This is something unheard of in New Jersey, where you can find diners all over the state and most are open 24 hours a day. We retreated to the hotel where the restaurant bar was still open, only to discover that they would not serve us coffee either! Explain to me how they can’t make coffee at a bar at 10 o’clock at night?

The next morning we went to Lake George to spend the day there with my wife’s sister and her partner. We met at a restaurant attached to the Marriott Courtyard called Charlie’s Bar and Kitchen for breakfast. We waited only a few short minutes to be seated.

Actually, our waitress seated us. As she walked us to the table, she giggled, telling us there was no reason we had to wait, that the new host was just not skilled yet. I thought her giggling was odd, and appeared to be more of a nervous one. When she asked if we wanted coffee, I asked if they made iced coffee. She responded in the affirmative with yet again another giggle. Later, when my wife’s sister asked what type of bacon they served, she went into a full out cackle, and responded “from pig of course”. Then my wife’s sister read from the menu that it was applewood smoked. The waitress confirmed that and went away.

The giggling did not stop, and it was constant after everything the waitress said. It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized the effect she had on me. She basically gave me the creeps! In conversation that evening I brought it up and realized how grateful I am that we were not staying in the Marriott in Lake George because I would have had fears of a Psycho movie type occurrence with that waitress on my mind. We all laughed about it, but the truth is I can still hear her crazy cackle in my mind, and the mere thought of it send shivers down my spine.

Finally, on our last evening, we were lucky enough to get the last seat to a wonderful jazz show at Café Lena’s. The three-piece band performed masterfully, and we were so happy to have had the experience. When it ended, it was still too early to go back to the hotel, and we decided to seek out dessert. I really wanted a sit down café, but we ended up at an ice cream shop called Kilwin’s. We ordered a scoop each, one flavor was pistachio and the other coconut. We ate it sitting on a bench on the same street and the ice cream itself, for us, was not special, but we did enjoy it.

As we finished our ice cream, we noticed people coming with ice cream cones in their hands from the other direction. We got the idea to go to the other store for fun and order the same flavors to compare.

We found the store, and it was called Saratoga Gelato. We went in and ordered the pistachio and coconut. It was expensive, but the girl behind the counter was very sweet, and we gave her a nice tip any way. We proceeded to go out of the store and sit at another bench to eat the ice cream. The pistachio had a strange flavor and the coconut was worse than bland. I kept tasting the coconut because I could not believe there was absolutely no flavor at all. We disliked it so much that we threw them in the garbage. It was the first time that either of us have ever thrown away ice cream. Hence, we claim that we have made a great discovery and found the worst ice cream in the world! Of course, this could have just been bad batches, but we won’t be returning there either way.

These simple observations and memories will bring joy and laughter for years to come. Life is truly full of twist and turns, and one does not have to look so hard to find the joy in every one.

The Catholic Church and False Mercy

The Catholic Church and False Mercy

The Catholic Church, of which I am but one very small part of the body, represents to hold to the truth of the teachings of the Jesus Christ and the Church he founded. This I hold to and believe with all my heart. At the same time, it is made up of men and women, of which we are all fallen and sinful creatures. As sinful creatures we must always be repenting and struggling to reach a life of saintliness. This is the true goal of every member of the Church. Simply, we believe that by abiding by the teachings given to us by Jesus and His Apostles we will attain everlasting life. This is the faith simplified.

The Church of course, outside its direct goal of teaching love, saving souls and bringing them into eternal life, is also full of beauty. The sacrifice of Christ, the ultimate gift of love and beauty, surrounds us at every turn. The actions and lives of the Saints declared by the Church show us the path to eternal life. They also give us the inspiration to turn from evil and temptation. Their inspiration has driven artists and poets for centuries and will continue to do so as they attempt to put to canvas or words the beauty of love, they so espoused.

However, in those words and paintings there is plenty of expression of the repentance they had to face, the suffering they had to persevere, and the insults of the evil of their times they had to accept. The tough decisions they had to make, and the tough love and teachings they had to share.

Our modern society has forgotten what it takes to do the right thing. It has forgotten how to show true mercy and love to an individual. It instead has turned to accept the basest of ideas of what humans should be or are. It has created generations of spoiled children demanding rewards for their wrongdoing. It has created selfish egocentric individuals whose primary thought is always of themselves and to gain position and importance by destroying instead of building. They seek the demise of the good for the purpose of forcing their evil ideals on others. This will pass.

Yet, the question is: Why has the authority of the Catholic Church vacillated? Do the leaders of our Church have the right to sit by and let this happen? As individuals, they have the right to take whatever action they may wish, but as consecrated religious they do not. But those who do not take right and proper action to defend not just the faith, not just morality but most importantly the souls of each and every soul entrusted to Her are in direct contradiction with the true teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church.

Just like Satan had convinced Adam and Eve that they would be enlightened by doing evil, so has he entered into the Church to project a false mercy. Through what is falsely portrayed as concern for sinners, we have a cowardice to teach the truth of the faith to all peoples. Where do these cowards who hide behind mounds of words and twist simple truth into a vague cloud of smoke or deception come from? I can only assume that they work for the evil one and have rejected Christ and his Church.

There is simply no other way to see this. If some leaders of the Roman Catholic Church who equivocate, genuinely believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ, they would have the courage needed to teach the truth. The Apostles left us a clear understanding of the meanings and teachings of Christ. It is not mercy when some bishops do not correct sinful scandalous behavior. It is not mercy, when they stand by and support a man or woman that spends their energy in the murder of innocents and claim to be Catholic. It is not mercy when in the guise of love, we protect sexual promiscuity of all kinds and in turn deny the holiness of marriage and the family. Because simply put, when you deny them the truth and accept evils, it is not love but condemning souls to eternal damnation that may have been saved.

All persons whether they be in a state of grace or living in sin deserve our love. But that love has to be real and honest. It has to care for the individual first but then teach them the truth simultaneously.

For those who are obstinate in supporting evil even when knowing and understanding the truth of the teachings of the Church and claiming to be part of the Church, they must be corrected. If they are public in their obstinacy, then they must be corrected publicly. It cannot be acceptable that they lead others to sin. Those in the Church’s positions of authority to do so and do not are also guilty of that same sin and worse because they are allowing this error to resonate and appear acceptable to those inside and out of the Church.

The Church and its members spend much of their wealth and energy sharing their love by caring for the sick, the imprisoned and the sinner. We walk with them in their times of struggle and try to lead them to the way of the Lord. However, it becomes increasingly harder to share the truth when many bishops would rather win a popularity contest with politicians and the public rather than focus on their principal function which is the saving of souls.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones* who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matt 18:6)