The spiritual siren of the Two Pillars! |
Michael Cain, editor
Today, as you know, is the Feast of Saint John Bosco, also known as Dom Bosco. This Italian saint touched countless souls and is today remembered as the "Apostle of the Young." Recently, former Vatican Ambassador Ray Flynn told Raymond Arroyo, moderator of EWTN's "The World Over" of a conversation he had with Pope John Paul II as he accompanied the Holy Father back to Rome after an exhilarating three days in Denver in August 1993 for World Youth Days. Flynn recalled the Pontiff's encouraging words to him, "The future of America is very promising."
And the future has become even more promising over this past week and a half since President George W. Bush has taken the helm. His latest volley that has the liberals reeling is his Faith-based Initiatives. The ACLU, the bastion of all radical causes that, most often have no merit, is shaking in their boots. Their director Laura Murphy said yesterday, "We're very worried." Good, it's about time! She even challenged the integrity of faith-based agencies with the question, "How can we be sure funds go to drug treatment and not to the minister?" She has a point if she's referring to Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, but they, thank God, are in the vast minority among a minority that has been greatly mislead by the Aarons of this world, while the Moses they should be listening to - men like Alan Keyes, J. C. Watts, and Colin Powell and that calibre of black leadership are left holding the tablets as the grifters build a monument of gold in the name of Baal.
I ask you, would you rather trust a government agency to treat your body, mind and soul, or Catholic Charities? Would you rather trust in the St. Vincent de Paul Society or the federal government? The great difference is that those who operate religious agencies do so not because it is a "job," but because it is a vocation - a calling from God to love and help our neighbor. Give me a Mother Teresa or a Father Benedict Groeshel or a Father Joe Carroll anyday over a sterile agency where you are merely a number and funds to the agency are top-heavy in upper management salaries. The three Catholic missionaries mentioned previously take no monitary benefits, watch every penny, and live their entire being to help others. Now multiply this one hundred fold, one thousand fold. I believe there are that many out there, not only in the Catholic faith, but of other Christian and Jewish religions, and yes the Muslim and Hindu persuasions, too.
The great difference is the ideals they hold. Accredited, true non-profit organizations watch every penny, cut down on overhead and excess for the sake of ministering to others. Can you say that of government? Definitely not. Every government agency is pork-barrel upside down. I speak from experience on this. During the 80's I was Production Director for the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, designing, editing and producing millions of pieces of collateral exhorting tourists to come to this Shangrila by the sea. I often felt it wasn't fair to be paid to promote this corner of paradise, but one has to eat. The Bureau was funded by the City of San Diego and therefore had to account for all spending. I had an annual million-dollar budget I was responsible for and, being conscientious and meticulous in my accounting, I prided myself in coming in under budget by $240,000. Instead of being rewarded for my actions, my budget was cut to $750,000 for the following year. In other words, I was punished for my accomplishments. Meanwhile, two other departments went well over budget including the marketing department by half a million dollars and, yep, you guessed it, their budget was increased. Yes, government, up until now, has always rewarded mediocrity.
Now, Bush, like a man who went before him two decades ago, President Ronald Reagan, wants to hold government agencies accountable. We know this did not happen once during Bill Clinton woeful regime. There is a malaise that happens with government workers. They might have ideals when they first begin working, but, after time, they are swallowed up in the "everybody's doing it, they won't know" mentality that encourages sloughing off, spending freely, wasting time, money and talent for the sake of bureaucratic banality. There are more than a few welfare recipients who have complained about the impersonal, uncaring attitude extended toward them as they go through the humiliating process of seeking help. That in itself can be dehumanizing, but when government workers treat them like lepers or puppets who had better step to their music or else, then any good that is intended to help is washed down the drain of despair.
You're not going to find this attitude in faith-based organizations. If you do, I guarantee you they're not faith-based, but imposters like Jackson and his coalitions. I would venture to guarantee that you'll find overwhelmingly a lot more unknown Mother Teresas, Father Benedicts and Father Joes among all faiths than you'll find Jacksons or Sharptons who command the false prophets' podium. And you can bet their ideals are not going to be tainted because they would now be eligible for government funds. They will still continue to keep track of every penny and now be able to extend services to help even more. That's what it's all about - helping others. The government agencies have long ago lost sight of that. Their motto is help yourself, me first! That's not what Jesus said. Throughout the Gospels He reinforced love and care for one another. You seldom hear that from government agencies. You almost always hear that in faith-based agencies.
Yet the rhetoric is already beginning to fly from the small, uninformed minority of progressives who cry that Bush's action is a threat against the laws between Church and State. First of all, there are no laws determining the division of Church and State. The only rules the founding fathers established is that there would be no set state religion. In other words, were John F. Kennedy to have declared that everyone must become Catholic after he was elected in the early sixties, that would have been totally wrong. This is not the Roman Empire, Bush is not Constantine. Yet, he has exhibited a Constantine-like love and determination that can make America not only greater, but good and decent again. America was founded on the principles of freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. They never intended God to be excluded. That came from mortals like Madeleine O'Hara whose remains were found the other day deep in Texas soil. Imagine her surprise when she discovered that indeed, there is a God. Unfortunately, her epiphany might have been too late. But it's not too late for the morons who still live and preach this fallacy. As I wrote Monday, we need to inform the masses of right and decency and what Bush has initiated is right and decent and in accordance with God's Ordaining Will.
However there is the other side of the coin and that is to tread softly. Faith-based organizations, especially Catholic ones, must be assured that they won't have to compromise principles and teachings to be eligible for funding. If it means they must accept contraception, or abortion, or homosexuality in their programs, then it's not worth the price. Catholic hospitals and other institutions are faced with these problems today. Most of this was forced on them by the Clinton administration and it is our hope and prayer that they can be undone by the conscientious directives of the compassionate and conservative Bush administration. If not, then we advise all to remember Our Lord's words 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?"
Given that these obstacles can be hurdled and faith-based institutions are given a level playing field to compete with secular agencies, is it going to be smooth sailing? Definitely not. With the volley Bush has fired by reinstituting the Mexico City Policy established by Ronald Reagan in 1984 to ban overseas funding of abortions, the enemy is scuttling below deck, loading the cannons. The fleet had better be prepared.
It is reminiscent of the vision St. John Bosco had, and the same one we have adopted as the theme of The DAILY CATHOLIC from day one, of the great battle on the sea that was similar to Lepanto where the Vicar of Christ - the successor of Peter - steers the ship - the Barque of Peter - amidst a raging sea of sin and opposition. As St. John saw, there were casualties on both sides with men of the cloth falling in both martyrdom and desertion. The battle seemed hopeless, but suddenly he saw two pillars and the closer the embattled ship drew closer to the pillars the smoother the seas became until it became evident the only sure path was steering directly between the beacon-like pillars of the Most Holy Eucharist on one side and Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the other. You'll note our masthead on our homeport entrance page depicts this vividly as the pillars shimmy in the waves below. It is not something we adapted because it looked good, but because it is a vision that has to be carried out. We have to put it into action. Through countless prayers to the Heavens, through the dauntless, tireless grass roots efforts of the Whittaker family that secured three and a half million Rosaries pledged to ennoble President Bush to carry out his Pro Life inititatives, we can make St. John Bosco's vision a reality. No vision is without completion in God's time.
But also remember, anything worth while comes with a price. And it could be a price many are not willing to pay. Our easy lifestyle and spoiled economics can blunt the conscience and dull motivation. But if we're willing to man the sails and embrace the standards of our Faith by pulling together to steer the right route, then victory can be ours. But first we must dispense with the powerful armada of the culture of death
whose lifeline for getting rich at the expense of others has come from government funds. That is what is on the horizon. We must be prepared for an all-out assault from the opposition. Chief among these is NARAL, NOW and Planned Parenthood. Can you imagine faith-based agencies taking over the duties of Planned Parenthood? Why, they not only would advise abstinence and virtue, they would offer alternatives that help the woman, the children, the fathers, the whole family and ultimately society. It would truly be a lifeboat of faith, hope and love that will save America. Best of all, these faith-based institutions, supported by the prayers and deeds of those who ascribe to God's Will, just might, over time, put Planned Parenthood, NARAL and that ilk out of business. It can't happen soon enough! But it won't happen until we realize the goal and harbor love for one another within us in the manner Mother Teresa urged and lived. That is the only safe harbor in life. Our safe harbor does not lie within the pillars of the nation's capitol, but in the spiritual siren of the Two Pillars!
For past editorials, see CATHOLIC PewPOINT Archives
January 31, 2001
volume 12, no. 31
CATHOLIC PewPOINT commentary