CATHOLIC PewPOINT for Monday-Tuesday, June 19-20, 2000
It's time to start cookin'!
The onion seems to be the watchword for today's commentary. As strange as that may seem, once you read this you'll understand. First of all, the onion is an important vegetable that can both enhance the flavor of some dishes or really stink it up depending on where your tastes lie. In other words, for one it might be a bon vivant, to another a bete noire; that is great with cuisine masters like Chef-extraordinaire Emeril Lagasse, not so with finicky kids. Sadly, our sons go "pew" everytime onions are served and order their burgers sans onions. Yet this bulb plant, belonging to the Alliaceae species, was a staple in the days of Christ for its origins are the Middle East. Of course, we're not here to extrapolate the origins of the onion nor its pros and cons; just that it carries a a sort of imagery that we can tie in with our subjects for today's PewPOINT.
Michael Cain, editor
The idea of the onion was actually planted while watching the first segment of EWTN's coverage of the June Plenary Conference of American Bishops that took place last week in Milwaukee. The subject was how to increase vocations and Father Jim Gould, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Arlington, Virginia, served as the expert commentator along with EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo. Father Jim explained how to find out why vocations aren't working and how to correct the problems by using the analogy of an onion. He related how one needs to peel away the layers from the top on down to discover the true fruits. It made perfect sense for so often some bishops and Chancery lay leaders are trying to dice the onion rather than peeling it. By dicing it, they miss the essence of how a vocation is nourished and many potential fruits are discarded. Fr. Gould explained that each layer must be examined in order to find out where corrections can be made to improve the flavor. The steak is already there; we need to enhance the sizzle and that can only be done through prayer and example. That is why he suggested careful scrutiny from the top down, for often it is some of our seminaries that are instructing young priests in ways of the world and not enough in the ways of Our Lord. How can a young priest or seminarian be blamed when he is being taught things that are not harmonious with Church traditions. Just as the odor of a raw onion is hard to get rid of immediately, so also it is difficult to make corrections overnight and expect the tears to dry up. We still have plenty of crying to do, both in the growing pains and the shedding pains. As we peel each layer, there is both hope and sorrow; sorrow that things deteriorated to such a sad state, hope that the situation can be corrected and new vocations will flourish, multiplying abundantly in the rich soil of prayer, sacrifice and total submission to the Will of God.
One of the bishops made an excellent point from the floor in extolling his fellow bishops to examine their consciences and realize that the only way vocations can increase is not through "quick-fix" programs, not through advertising, not even through word of mouth, but through attitude and prayer. He emphasized the atmosphere that many older priests were raised in where becoming a priest was an honor and parents and friends encouraged it. Today, peer pressure and public opinion deter young men from embarking on a life of sacrifice, opting instead for the easy way, the good life. Though it's hard to admit, it has to be acknowledged that the Church itself, after Vatican II, didn't help the situation by eliminating the minor seminary sytem that had been so successful earlier in our century in developing and molding future priests. By doing away with this tributary of vocations and turning parish grade schools into glorified private schools taught by lay teachers rather than dedicated nuns who were tough, American Catholics were softened too much and, over time, values and goals greatly diminished.
During the hour-long summation on EWTN, a few of the more liberal bishops even brought up the argument of married clergy again. Pat Ludwa addresses this in his VIEW FROM THE PEW column in this issue and syllogizes that eliminating celibacy from the clergy will spoil the meal faster than anything else. There are many tears a priest sheds for his people as he daily peels away the layers of his flock in helping them on their difficult journey toward Heaven. This is a healthy and necessary role he plays as shepherd and Alter Christus. To be married like the permanent diaconate allows today would reduce him to a "part-time priest" and no one in the Church really wants a part-timer. We depend on our priests to be there for us in our spiritual needs. The answer is to designate more of the temporal matters to the laity, including the same for the bishops so that prelate and priest alike can devote the majority of their time and energy to ripen the fruits of vocations through the nourishment of prayer and example. In that way they can be the "onions" of hope and tears of joy can be shed throughout eternity!
The onion is also a good analogy for the upcoming presidential elections. On one hand one candidate - Al Gore by name - is stinking up the country through his absolute disdain for human life and for sacred institutions such as the Roman Catholic Church by his actions and words. It is no secret that he is currying the gay vote by slapping the Church in the face through his endorsement of the gay agenda both here at home and abroad in Rome. Yet the media strives to keep it a secret, conveniently ignoring his numerous faux pas by burying them in the back pages if they even mention them at all. Yet they are quick to magnify the bungling of Gore's opponents in anyway they can. From Gary Hart to Dan Quayle; from Bill Bradley to George W. Bush they've tried. Like in 1982 and 1986, the modern, secular media is endeavoring to elect the next president again. We can't let that happen. Like satan, the false prophets love to plant the seeds of doubt and confusion in destroying those they do not like. Gore is becoming a master at it and so was John McCain. They're throwing bad onions on more bad ones and man does not live by onion alone.
Onto this scene, into the frying pan, so to speak, comes Alan Keyes, a man of unparalled principles, ethics and honesty. Because of this, and because he is such a staunch Roman Catholic, the media won't give him the time of day. In the primaries he came in a distant third. With very little budget and not getting the media spin, he was engulfed by the "popular" candidates whom the media coronated as the heir apparents. But a strange thing is happening enroute to November. During this lull before the storm there are those out there on the internet who are amassing necessary staples for the future by launching a strong write-in petition of signatures and comments to pursuade Bush to pick Keyes as his running mate. As far-fetched as it sounds on the political scene from the experts, it makes perfect sense and reminds us that we can move mountains if only we have the faith of a mustard seed (cf. Matthew 17: 20). The question is: Do we? This is a golden opportunity for Catholics and Christians who truly want our country returned to God to assure it can happen by electing a ticket that can defeat the culture of death in November. Think about it. The media can't ignore Keyes if he is Bush's running mate and in fulfilling that role he will astound the nation with his oratorical skills that surpass any politician this country has ever seen save for Abraham Lincoln. We need a statesman in the mold of Adlai Stevenson, yet infinitely superior in values, to return America to the right path of morality and compliance with the fundamental principles this great country was founded on.
If you agree, go to Alan Keyes for Vice President at www.petitiononline.com/Keyesvp/petition.html and sign the petition to George Bush and the Republican Committee to insure the defeat of the culture of death in November. We can't stress this enough for though many have doubts about Bush because of his stance on gun control and the death penalty, those pale in comparison with Gore's agenda for promoting the gay lifestyle and the advocation of killing even more babies while, like his White House comrade, continues to lie and disregard the Laws of God in all aspects, even flaunting it in the face of Catholics and Christians. With Keyes in Bush's corner, the Republican Party will increase their platform as the pro-life party and send a clear message that will be evident to the voters: Either you are for the sanctity of life or you are promoting the culture of death. If you vote for Gore, you'll have to answer to God for it is a sin to condone sin and by voting for him you are condoning and supporting satan, not God. We can't say it any stronger. Regardless of what the Democratic Party once stood for as the party of our parents and grandparents...the party so popular with working Catholics, that is all history. The Democratic Party today is controlled by satan and, besides prayer, getting out and campaigning for the Republican ticket is the only way to defeat the evil one, his legions and the culture of death.
Those are pretty strong words and we'll probably get our fair share of letters from die-hard Democrats who'll tell us to stay away from politics. But Jesus didn't mince words and He didn't avoid "politics." Neither will we. Besides, this is not politics but morality and therefore we are speaking out and will continue to speak out. That's another reason we carry Dr. Frank Joseph's no-nonsense column on a weekly basis. We won't speak on the economy or on other things that don't relate to morality for, in the long run, all those things don't matter as Our Lord says in Matthew 16: 26, "For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
What will we give in exchange for our soul? Will we give up the freedom to vote for a ticket that includes a man who truly lives the Gospel as an outstanding Catholic layman? That's who Alan Keyes is. We elected a Catholic president in 1960 and Keyes is ten, nay one hundred times better caliber than John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Keyes is not going to be Bush's choice if we remain silent. We need to speak out now before it's too late. Tell your friends to sign the petition to Bush to choose Keyes as his running mate. The great silent majority is often too silent. This, folks, is our only opportunity to make a difference. If we don't act now, we may forever be silenced.
Finally, in returning to the onion analogy, Keyes can be that savory onion that will peel away the mistrust that has crusted up in Americans' minds for so long and be the ingredient to make the lives of every God-fearing citizen of the United States more palatable in the years ahead and, even more important, shorten everyone's time in Purgatory because we answered God's call when He placed at our table, as it were, a master chef and prophet who truly can make a difference. We've got all the right ingredients. It's time for us to start cookin'!
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