The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Although I am an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church, the opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. In offering these personal opinions I am not acting as a representative of the Church or any Church organization.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Ancient Prayers For Hard Times

With the exception of my daily Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary, my prayer usually takes the form of conversations with God. Sometimes it's based on a meditation, often originating in a passage of Sacred Scripture. Sometimes it's more contemplative in nature, more praise oriented, and focused on a single aspect of God's glorious triune divinity. But I'm really not a very adept contemplative, so my undisciplined mind often wanders off into other more self-absorbed territory. And sometimes my prayer really is just a simple conversation during which I bare my soul to God, and try to define and articulate my thanksgiving for all God has done for us, or what I think are the needs only God can fulfill. I'd like to say that these conversations center on the needs of others, but that wouldn't be completely true. I may start out addressing others, but again I usually end up telling God all about me. Once I recognize this happening, I've learned to shut up and just listen for God's response. So often that response arrives perhaps hours or days later, and does so through others I encounter. God is like that. He likes to use others, often the most unlikely others, to teach me. It's a very humbling experience.

Yes, I'm still learning to pray, still a rookie, but, heck, I'm just 74 years old, so I still have plenty of time to get a handle on this prayer thing. Until that happens I often rely on my memory of some of the ancient prayers I learned decades ago. I have found these prayers to be especially useful when life has become particularly stressful, when the right words are hard to find, when I think I need to discern God's will but don't have a clue where He's leading me. Anyway, that being said, I thought I'd share some of these wonderful prayers and encourage you to pray them when times are hard and words are even harder to come by. And if you take the time to memorize them, these comforting prayers will always be there for you.

Prayer to St. Michael. I've already addressed this wonderful prayer in an earlier post -- Prayer to St. Michael. In this prayer we ask God's heavenly angelic warrior to protect us from Satan and his demonic pals. I won't address it here again except to say that it's a prayer the Church (and that's all of us) should be praying daily. Once again, here's that powerful prayer:

St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Anima Christi (Soul of Christ). This prayer, originally written in Latin and dating from the fourteenth century and possibly earlier, has often been credited to St. Ignatius Loyola who included it at the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises. Although Ignatius certainly made the prayer more popular, we know for certain that it predated the saint by over 100 years. Who wrote it, however, is unimportant. In fact, the anonimity of its author seems in keeping with the deep humility of the prayer itself. As we pray, if we meditate on its words, we enter into a deeper communion with Jesus and an awareness of all that He promises us. I have found it to be a source of great comfort and peace, and always pray it immediately after receiving our Lord's Body and Blood in Holy Communion. Come to a greater understanding of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, and pray these words of praise daily.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints,
I may praise thee
Forever and ever.

Memorare (Remember). How often did we as children turn to our mothers when we needed help, or comfort, or healing? As adults it's sometimes hard (and humbling) to remember that we remain children. It's true, you know, for we are always children of the Father thanks to our Baptism. And as children of the Father, we are also children of Mary, our Blesed Mother, a relationship highlighted by those words of Jesus from the Cross:
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home [Jn 19:26-27]
26Yes, indeed, as disciples of our Lord, we too have been given a Mother who will be happy to enter our spiritual home and love us as her own children, if only we will ask her. As daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mary has unparalleled intercessory access to the Holy Trinity. The Memorare, then, is a prayer of confident intercession through which we approach our most approachable Mother, asking her intercede for us. It's the prayer to which I inevitably turn when the need seems so great that I want some serious help. Who better to turn to than Mary, the Mother of our Lord?

The Memorare has been around for a long time. Again like many of the old prayers, it was composed originally in Latin and is attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvoix in the 12th century. The prayer was popularized centuries later by the priest, Claude Bernard, who called on Mary's intercession as he ministered to the impoverished and imprisoned in 17th century France.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, 
that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence, 
I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; 
to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. 
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, 
but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Morning Offering. In various versions the Morning Offering has been around for hundreds of year, at least as far back as the 13th century. I'm fairly certain I first encountered the current version back in 1954 when my fifth grade teacher, Sister Leo Christine, O.P., had our class recite it together at the start of every school day. I'd like to say that I've recited it every morning since, but that wouldn't be true. I can say that, at least in recent years, it has become an active part of my daily prayer life.

And what a wonderful prayer it is -- one that reminds us to dedicate all that we do, all the "joys and sufferings" of the day, to the will of God. It's the perfect prayer to set the tone for the day, to help us keep focused on our vocation as disciples of Jesus Christ. Pray it now and pray it again every morning as soon as you awaken. Believe me when I say that it will make a real difference in your life. 

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.

There are others, and I'm sure many of those who might read but these words have their own favorite prayers, but these are prayers I've prayed almost daily for years. As I stated above, they have helped me call on God's mercy and goodness when the world seemed to be crashing around me and my own words seemed so very inadequate.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cancer, Football, and Cheer

Today I once again drove our friend, Nancy, to Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. She is undergoing a regimen of chemotherapy and must also receive regular transfusions of platelets. Things have not been easy for Nancy and her husband, Joe. They lost their youngest son, John, 41, just a few weeks ago, but Nancy's illness prevented them from attending John's funeral in South Carolina. (I've written about John in a recent post: John Hathaway) And then, to add to their difficulties, Joe suffered a heart attack here two nights ago. We immediately called the absolutely wonderful Sumter County (Florida) EMTs who treated Joe and transported him to our local hospital in record time. Joe's being treated there now and we hope to have him home here with us sometime tomorrow.

And yet, despite all these sorrows and burdens, Nancy, in the midst of her procedures, was cheered today by the arrival of a few members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These young men, all rookies and accompanied by several of the team's lovely cheerleaders, stopped by the infusion ward and shared some Halloween candy and smiles with the cancer patients. They were cheerful and friendly and very large. The three who visited us were Vita Vea, a huge defensive tackle, tight end Tanner Hudson, and safety Godwin Igwebuike. They certainly endeared themselves to me because of the gift of small packages of M&Ms. I realize our local NFL team has faced some competitive challenges, but they earned my respect and have become my NFC favorites. (I remain a Patriots fan, but after all they're in the AFC.)

The below photos, taken with my iPhone, show these young men and one of the cheerleaders as they overwhelm Nancy, who swears she was smiling broadly beneath that mask.

Nancy, overshadowed by Vita Vea, DT and Godwin Igwebuike, Safety

Tanner Hudson, Bucs Tight End, with Nancy and a Bucs cheerleader

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Broken but Beautiful

Once or twice a month Diane and I are privileged to minister as on-call chaplains at our local hospital here in The Villages, Florida. This involves being available for a 24-hour period, and spending a few hours during the day visiting the newly admitted patients. In most instances the patients we visit have been hospitalized for surgery or other procedures, or for treatment of injury or illness. After a few days of healing or treatment, the majority of patients recover and return to their homes or perhaps go to a local rehab facility. Of course, we live in a retirement community, so some patients must deal with terminal illness, and many of these, depending on the progress of their illness, will enter hospice.

On occasion, and so often these calls arrive late at night or early in the morning, we are asked to minister to the dying or to the families of those who have just died. Inevitably, when the phone rings at 2 a.m., I wake up grumbling in my own uniquely human way, "Oh, great!! There goes my night's sleep." But then, as the hospital operator relays the situation and the need, my heart melts and I know Diane and I are being asked to take Gods merciful love to those in real need of it. 

We try to offer spiritual comfort and hope to the dying, perhaps share a prayer with the family, and just listen as family and friends struggle to cope with the loss of one who is loved. But about the last thing a family needs at this time is for someone to preach at them. Over time I've come to realize that so often it simply means being quietly present. I suppose for many our presence in some way assures them of God's presence. We are just a sign of God's real, enduring, loving presence, especially at a time when God can seem so distant. I believe that often enough it's in the silence that God manifests His presence, and like Elijah at Horeb, we must draw away from the noise and distractions of the world and listen for God's "still small voice."
Recently, though, I've been the recipient of that voice thanks to Nancy and Joe, our dear friends from South Carolina. For the past few months, Diane and I have been their on-again, off-again hosts at our home here in The Villages, Florida. As I mentioned in a previous post, this has involved my driving them to Tampa so Nancy can receive frequent treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center.

While Nancy is being examined, poked, prodded, treated, and transfused with blood and platelets, Joe is usually with her. This leaves me to spend considerable time in one of the many waiting rooms. Thanks to my trusty iPad, I can take work with me and usually do. But occasionally my aging brain refuses to cooperate and the Spirit leads me to strike up a conversation with someone seated nearby. And, believe me, chatting with cancer patients has been an enlightening experience.

Unlike the waiting rooms of my dermatologist, eye surgeon, and primary care physician, the waiting rooms at Moffitt are populated with cancer patients, family members, and caregivers. I guess I'm among the few exceptions since I fall into none of these categories. In truth Nancy and Joe insist on calling me their "driver." And a happily content driver I am...and surprisingly patient too since I spend so much time putting the wait into waiting rooms. And thanks to those waits, I have learned much about courage, and faith, and thankfulness, and hope, and fear. 

Here I am, 74 years old, reasonably healthy, and certainly not focused on, as Nancy calls it in true disco fashion, "Stayin' alive." But on every visit I find myself in the presence of some truly wonderful people. The hope, faith, and courage, and yes, even the fears, are there, plainly evident in the faces of those seated around me. But all are so courageous in their own unique ways, and for many their faith just overwhelms the fear. Interestingly, the courage and faith of the patients also seem to dampen the fears of family members, especially that of spouses.

As I chat with these good people, they talk about their families, their illnesses, their faith, but not about their work or their jobs, and never, or rarely, about the past. For so many people today their work is life-defining; but for the seriously ill cancer patient work is all but forgotten, replaced by something else, something truly life-defining. It's all about relationships with others; in a sense it's all about communion.

And here I sit, secretly thankful that I don't suffer from this dreaded disease, but quietly wondering whether such suffering might help me find the path to the salvation God wills for me. And so I pray, and ask you to pray with me. I pray for Nancy and Joe. I pray for all those patients whose names I don't know, all those broken by illness but beautiful in faith, all those who taught me as I waited. And I thank God for every day He has given me, for today, and for every day I have yet to live.

Praised be Jesus and forever!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

John Hathaway - Our Newest Saint

Our dear friends, Nancy and Joe Hathaway, have been staying with us at our home in The Villages, Florida. Nancy, who is battling leukemia and more, is being treated by the wonderful people at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Because the Hathaways live in South Carolina, they needed a place to stay during Nancy's treatments. And so our home became their home away from home, a far greater blessing for us than for them. 

I'm also the driver, tasked with ensuring they arrive in Tampa (75 miles from our home) in time for Nancy's frequent appointments. I am more than fairly compensated for this since I drive for pizza -- my daily reward is a single slice from the hospital cafeteria, along with a diet Coke, and is reward enough. Of course Diane and I have tried to make this challenging time a bit less difficult for our friends.

But then today everything changed. Early this morning their son, John Hathaway, the youngest of their four children, died at the age of 41 in South Carolina. The call came in the predawn darkness, just a few hours before we had to leave for our drive to Tampa. As you can imagine, it was a time of tears and prayers, a time filled with phone calls and text messages from family and friends, and a time for more tears, and more prayers.
John Hathaway, Heaven's Newest Resident
Indeed, as I write this, Joe and I are shuttling between Moffitt's many waiting rooms while Nancy undergoes transfusions, biopsies, and tests. Yes, it's been a very hard day and I suspect more will follow. But Nancy and Joe, a couple with a deep and living faith, will make their way through this sorrowful time. It's a journey they must make together, but not alone, since they are strongly supported by family and many dear friends. Diane and I will certainly be there for them, able at least to hold a hand, share a comforting word and prayer, and give a hug. 

During my 74 years on this beautiful planet, I've known many saints. Some have returned to the Father and a few are still with us. John Hathaway is now among the former. Truly a most remarkable young man, John suffered his entire life from Marfan Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the body's connective tissue. Because connective tissue is just about everywhere in the body, Marfan Syndrome and the many disorders that stem from it often affect the heart and the body's blood vessels, as well as lungs, bones, joints, eyes, and skin. It can be a devastating illness. (Click here to read more about Marfan Syndrome.)

But despite the pain and the suffering John did not let his illness define him. Once, asked if he were angry with God because of his illness, John replied, "Of course not. Why would I be angry at God for the greatest gift He's ever given me?" Unlike most of us John realized early in life that everything is a gift, especially life itself. And he was always thankful that God in His wisdom knows what is best for each of us, what will lead us to the salvation He has planned for us. 

John Hathaway's life was the very personification of those famous words of St. Paul: 
"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" [Rom 8:28]. 

And, oh, did John love the Lord his God and strive mightly to fulfill that purpose, God's holy will. (If you'd like to read John's own view of his illness, written in 2010, read his brief essay on The Ministry of Suffering.)

Interestingly, although I have known John's parents for at least a dozen years, I met John only once, back in 2013. He was a patient in a Charleston, SC hospital recovering from one of his many surgeries and medical emergencies. At the time he could hardly speak but seemed truly happy to meet Diane and me. I gave him a blessing and asked for his prayers. He no longer needs any blessings, but I still need his prayers and trust he will continue to intercede for all of us who know and love him.

The photo below shows John surrounded by his wife, Mary, and their wonderful children. 
John, Mary and their children
All four of their children -- Allie, Gianna, Josef, and Clara --are young people of deep faith, thanks to the loving example of their mom and dad. How blessed this family is to have a husband and father who rests now in God's embrace. I know John is asking the Father to shower His goodness and grace on the family he loves so deeply. 

Diane and I have a special affection for John's eldest daughter since we got to know her when she accompanied her grandparents on one of their brief visits to our home. Allie is now a senior in high school and, like her father, has Marfan Syndrome. But I also expect that, like her father, she will be the strength of her family during the days to come.

John's funeral will be celebrated next Friday in South Carolina. Diane and I will head north with Nancy and Joe so they can say good-bye to John and be with their other children and grandchildren. Given Nancy's health issues this will be a most meaningful visit for the entire Hathaway family. Please keep them all in your prayers.

Oh, yes, one more thing: John posted regularly on his blog, The Lewis Crusade. It overflows with prayerful, funny, thoughtful, and thought-provoking words and is certainly worth a read.

Thank you, John, for touching my life.

Monday, October 8, 2018

St. Michael, Defend Us in Battle

Do you remember the prayer to St. Michael? If you're my age, or even a few years younger, you should. The prayer goes back to 1886 when Pope Leo XIII composed it and asked the faithful of the universal Church to pray it at the end of every low Mass. And because we prayed it so often, I'm sure some of you still remember the words.

St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
The prayer seemingly fell out of favor in the late sixties, shortly after the Second Vatican Council. I recall asking our priest, at the time a Navy chaplain, why he had suddenly stopped the tradition of this prayer after Mass, and he replied: "Everything is wonderful in the Church now. We really don't need St. Michael's help." It was only later, much later, that I realized how foolish those words were. As it turned out, during the past half-century we've needed the great Archangel's intercession more than ever. 

Given all that's been happening in the Church, I've thought a lot about St. Michael these days; and have included him in my prayers, asking for his intercession. And it's only right that we should do so, for St. Michael is the great cleanser. Just as he cleansed the heavenly precincts of Satan and his ilk, so too can he cleanse the Church. And, oh, does it need cleansing.

Anyway, this got me thinking that perhaps, during this difficult time, we should restore the tradition of communal prayer to St. Michael. So I looked into it and, to my surprise, discovered that a number of dioceses have done just that. I don't know the exact number, but at least a half-dozen bishops in the U.S. have asked the priests of their dioceses to reinstate the Prayer to St. Michael after Mass. What a wonderful thing! The bishops who have done so include:

Archbishop Alexander Sample (Portland)
Archbishop Joseph Naumann (Kansas City)
Bishop David Zubik (Pittsburgh)
Bishop Robert Morlino (Madison, WI)
Bishop Frank Caggiano (Bridgeport, CT)
Bishop Rick Sitka (Knoxville, TN)
Bishop Thomas Paprocki (Springfield, IL)

There may well be more. I hope so. And last month, other bishops -- Cardinal Timothy Dolan (New York) and Bishop Robert Baker (Birmingham) -- asked the faithful to pray a novena to St. Michael in preparation for his feast day. 

As he called for the novena, Cardinal Dolan stated: "I hear from so many of you, God’s People, that we need again the weapons of prayer, reparation, and penance, ammunition the Devil dreads...Enough of you have suggested this to me that I’ve concluded it’s from the Lord: that we seek the help of St. Michael the Archangel in fighting Lucifer’s invasion of the Church."

Note that Cardinal Dolan credits the pleas of God's People for leading him to this decision. Brothers and sisters, never forget that the Church is far more than pope, bishops, priests and deacons. We are all members of Christ's Body, laity and clergy, and most of the good done by the Church is done by God's People, the holy ones who pray and serve.

It seems the Church is beginning once again to recognize the power of St. Michael. Praise God! And take a moment today to let your bishop know that you support the return of the Prayer to St. Michael in our churches.

St. Michael, defend us in battle...

Homily: Monday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time

Readings: Gal 1:6-12; Ps 111; Lk 10:25-37
Jesus was always teaching, wasn't He? And like any good teacher, He was always being questioned.

Even as a child, as a twelve-year-old in the Temple, Jesus answers the questions of the wise. Luke tells us that "all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers" [Lk 2:47]. And the questions continued right up to that final barrage, as He stood before Pilate facing death. Yes, even Pilate, the upper-class Roman who no doubt considered the Jews little more than rabble, even Pilate sought answers from Jesus, this strange teacher whom he must judge:

"Are you the King of the Jews?" [Jn 18:33]

"Where are you from?" [Jn 19:9]

"Do you not know that I have power to release you and power to crucify you?" [Jn 19:10]

"What is truth?" [Jn 18:38]

Pilate, of course, instead of sneering that final question, should have asked, "Who is truth?", because he was in the presence of "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" [Jn 14:6].

Almost everyone Jesus met asked Him questions, as if they all knew He had the answers, as if they all sensed He was far more than just another teacher or holy man...that He was Other.

What did the centurion realize as he stood at the foot of the Cross?

"Truly, this was the Son of God" [Mt 27:54].

In today's passage from Luke, Jesus is again asked a question:

"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" [Lk 10:25]

Jesus didn't need to invent an answer, for the answer was already there in the Revealed Word of God. And so the Incarnate Word of God answered with a question of His own: "What is written in the Law?" [Lk 10:26]

The scholar responded correctly, didn't he? He simply went to Scripture:

"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself" [Lk 10:27].

You see, it's not necessary to be a scholar to know God and what He expects of us. Indeed, just moments before Jesus had prayed to the Father:

"I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike" [Lk 10:21].

But unlike the childlike, the scholar, hoping not so much to learn as to justify himself, asks Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" [Lk 10:29] With that Jesus offers us a gift, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a parable both scholar and childlike can understand: 

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho..." [Lk 10:30-37]

But what exactly did the Samaritan do, this man despised by the Jews and thought to be outside the Law? Quite simply, he listened to God's Word. He obeyed the Law. At the very least, he listened to his conscience, a well-formed conscience, and acted righteously. This set him on the path to eternal life.

Remember that original question? "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" [Lk 10:25]

But two others encountered the wounded man on the road, didn't they? A priest and a Levite. Two men so wrapped up in the minutia of the law, so afraid of becoming unclean by touching the wounded man that they passed by with hardly a glance.

Only the Samaritan stopped, only he did anything to help. Only he looked beyond the letter to the spirit of the Law. How did Jesus put it? "Many are called but few are chosen" [Mt 22:14].

And so today, let's reflect on our own lives.

Who are the wounded you and I encounter? The physically wounded? The mentally wounded? The spiritually wounded? Do we even recognize them amidst the busyness of our lives? Or maybe we see them, but turn away, preferring not to be bothered. Anyway, someone else will take care of them. Is that how we'll inherit eternal life?

As Christians we should know better. To inherit eternal life, we must come to know God, to know Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. But this knowing of God is knowledge of Love. As John reminds us: to know the Truth that is God is to know God, who "is Love" [1 Jn. 4:16]. 

It always comes back to Love, doesn't it?

Just as Jesus rebuked the scholars, the "wise and the learned", so St. Paul in our first reading rebukes the Galatians for forgetting that the Gospel fulfills the Law, that the Gospel calls us to love.

Thank God we need not be scholars. We need only be childlike to love. We need only be childlike to inherit eternal life.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Decline of Politics

My, oh my, oh my...aren't our politicians absolutely wonderful? 

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I usually vote Republican. My political leanings were formed first by my parents in a home where faith and patriotism, God and country played important roles. My political formation continued when I read Russell Kirk's seminal work, The Conservative Mind, as a high school junior. 

I registered to vote in 1965, when at 21 I was finally old enough. In those ancient days, no one was considered an adult until he turned 21. I had always believed this was arbitrary, and that anyone old enough to fight and die for our nation should be old enough to vote for those who send him into battle. The problem, of course, is that, unlike our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, many 19-year-olds, especially college freshmen and sophomores, are mentally and emotionally ill-equipped to elect our nation's leaders. I've always believed that the best measure of another person's character is my willingness to trust him with my life. Think about it. If your life were on the line, to which 19-year-old would you turn for help? The marine or the sociology major? 

I've not always been a happy Republican. All those years living in Massachusetts ensured that. Politicians of every stripe are generally weak-willed, unable, or at least unwilling, to resist the zeitgeist and remain true to the values that led voters to support them. Quite simply, far too many politicians cave under pressure because their first loyalty is not to the nation or its foundational principles. They are instead loyal only to themselves -- another reason I support term-limits. Because of this, I've tended to support candidates whose roots are apolitical, who don't view politics as a career. Yes, we need a government -- as James Madison reminded us, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary" -- but we should be represented not by those loyal only to themselves and the moneyed special interests, but by those who come from and represent the people. After all, in the United States it is the people, not the politicians or bureaucrats or large corporations, who are sovereign.
Senator Schumer wows the mob
Today some in our nation seem to be trying to relive the turbulent 1960s, the political Petrie dish of the Schumers and Pelosis. These and others like them carry the water for the hard left's true believers. Most of their followers, confused and inexplicably angry, couldn't tell a fascist from a communist. Indeed, the folks protesting today outside the Supreme Court in Washington, remind me of the 1960s protesters.

Between 1962 and 1967 I spent a year in Army R.O.T.C. at Georgetown U., followed by four years as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. During those and subsequent years of protests and riots, I'd occasionally visit college  campuses and chat with students at the local pub. I encountered very few students who actually believed all the leftist drivel screamed by the protest leaders. Most joined the protests just because it was "cool." Once you poured a few beers into the guys, they revealed their true feelings: they simply didn't want to go to Vietnam and maybe get shot. In other words, they were driven not by politics, but by their cowardice. The left has always relied on the mass of Lenin's "useful idiots" who don't have a clue and can be discarded once they are no longer useful.

The "Useful" Ones: Flush the Rule of Law
Since the election of Barack Obama, the Democrat party has raised the curtain and openly embraced the far left. The televised theater of the Senate's Judiciary Committee -- a theater of the absurd -- is simply a symptom of what we can expect in the future. 

The rule of law, the principle of presumed innocence, the tradition of civil discourse, the Constitutional protections of our Bill of Rights, the very idea that elections, the voice of the people, must be respected -- all of this is cast aside and trampled on by the Democrats. Why? Not because they actually believe the completely unsubstantiated charges leveled against Judge Kavanaugh. No, they strive mightily to destroy this good man's reputation and life simply because it is politically expedient to do so. They hope to energize their base in advance of next month's elections. They might instead discover that they've energized their opponents.

You see, even after two years, the party leadership cannot accept the fact that Donald Trump was elected president. Their hatred of the man apparently blinds them to his  accomplishments. But the issue that truly drives them is abortion. At the national level pro-life Democrats no longer exist. It has become the party of death and, dare I say it, the party doing Satan's work. Satan, the "murderer," seeks nothing but death, especially the deaths of the most innocent. How did Jesus describe him?
"You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies" [Jn 8:44].
Pray for our politicians of both parties. And pray, too, for our bishops since too many seem to mirror our politicians who fear unpopularity more than God. I once heard a pastor tell a deacon to "ease up on the pro-life homilies" because they upset some of the wealthy parishioners. When the deacon mentioned this to his bishop, he was told to "listen to your pastor." Priorities, priorities...Yes, indeed, the "smoke of Satan..."

Satan Cast Down (Doré etching)
In the long run, of course, if we are faithful we need not worry about Satan. For as Paul told the Romans, "the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet" [Rom 16:20]. That will indeed happen, how quickly we just don't know. 

So...what of the future? I expect the population of supportive "useful idiots" to grow. And if the far left ever takes full control of the government, I can't envision a return to normalcy. Of course, far left governments inevitably fail because true socialism always fails. Unfortunately the failure can sometimes be catastrophic. From a human perspective, then, I expect my grandchildren just might experience the end of the American experiment, an end that will come suddenly rather than gradually.

But God can, and often does, change everything. The Lord of History steps into His creation and manifests His will in ways we can never imagine. And He sometimes chooses the most unlikely person to carry out His will in the world. As for you and me, we should be good citizens, vote our faith, and not be afraid to speak the truth. 

Pray for our Church and our nation. St. Michael, be our protection...