This is the time of the year for so many state of the union or state of the state speeches that this editor wants to humbly propose our "State of the Soul" speech. Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 come to mind as we head down the home stretch of millennium two. He speaks of running in the race and running not just to run, but to achieve something special; that, of course, being our eternal salvation as he refers to the prize as "imperishable." He urges us to practice what we preach, else the cheers will turn to jeers and our victory will be hollow. He refers to being prepared by conditioning or "chastizing" the body, but we would like to point in the direction of conditioning our heart and soul so that we can be assured of the prize. We're presently at 360 and counting. The race is coming down to the final wire and if we are not in condition spiritually we will falter and fall behind, possibly tripping up and never realizing both our potential or aspirations.
We enter 1999 as we left 1998 with the balance of justice and decency turned topsy-turvy just as the Blessed Virgin Mary has predicted to so many of her messengers over the past two centuries. To give you a glimpse of how messed up this world is, consider how the world perceives things: Adultery and lying are considered commendable, while chastity, commitment to one's spouse and honesty are considered weaknesses. Doing your own thing and exercising free will - whether that be doing whatever one selfishly wants to do from eliminating responsibilities through abortion to dismissing the problems of old age or sicknesses with euthanasia - is considered a God-given right, even though no such thoughts have been given by Our Lord. The only freedom we can achieve in our free will is choosing wisely, and the only wise choice is to submit our will to God's will. Then and only then will we truly realize freedom! Three-fourths of the globe is at war. The only reason we can't consider it World War III yet is because these countries have not united into two camps. When they do, look out!!! Look at the pathetic situation is China and India where religious are being persecuted and subjected to unspeakable crimes. The same with the myriad of African countries where rebels and shaky regimes use priests as bullet-ridden punching bags to get back at the other. In Russia communism still writhes beneath the surface as people are starving everywhere and the Roman Catholic Church has basically been shut out by the stubborn Russian Orthodox Church. In South and Central America unrest is reaching an all-time high as the bishops and clergy seek a resolution to the killings and persecutions by being one of the few stable voices in a sea of madness. In Australia the bishops are desperately trying to hold control over a frenzied laity, many of whom are trying to take the Church into their own hands. The same for America where the liberal modernists have made alarming inroads not only in parishes from sea to shining sea, but in many diocesan chanceries as well. The United States is also faced with a dilemna: forsake the strong economy and material matters and do the right thing by upholding not only the laws of this nation but God's laws, or turn our backs on the Almighty's graces and selfishly cling to temporal matters, bedazzled by satan's emissary in the White House and his legion of spin-meisters? We speak, of course, about the Clinton fiascos and abrasive amoral atmosphere that permeates from inside the belt-line. Something is seriously wrong when that man from Arkansas finishes first in a poll of "most admired men in the world" and the runner-up is the most admired man in the world in practically every country - Pope John Paul II. Talk about topsy-turvy! The senate can do the right thing by bringing the president to trial, but too many are afraid to "throw stones" because they're afraid their glass houses will break and they, too, will be exposed. Like the Roman courts of the great Roman empire, immorality has flooded the ranks of congress and its tentacles have reached to the highways and biways of this great land where once values and virtues were regarded with honor. But over the years we have become jaded by so many murders and explosive violence, explicit sex, and the game of cheating...all brought into our living rooms on a daily basis through satan's tabernacle, that our souls and hearts are dulled to the tremendous damage wrought.
Now a great cancer surges through America's body. Who can save her? Not the doctors, who, for the most part, have forgotten their Hippocratic oath and present themselves as hypocritic oafs; not the lawyers, who, for the most part, have forsaken morals and ideals and fabricate the fabric of truth and decency for the almighty dollar through that twisted excuse known as "loophole;" not the politicians, who, for the most part, have disregarded the reasons they were elected and use their positions to forge their own ambitions at the expense of their trusting constituents; not the parents, who, for the most part, have submitted to their children's demands for more to the point of excess and access - access to things that undermine all that God intended the family to be; not the children, who, for the most part, are ignorant to the wisdom passed down by the elderly, rejecting their sage advice as inane and out-of-touch; not most of the religious leaders, who, for the most part, speak in hollow tones afraid to tackle the tough questions for fear it would not be politically correct - instead men like Jesse Jackson embroil themselves in an agenda that defies spirituality; not the lukewarm, who, haven't got a clue of God's Infinite Mercy and Ultimate Justice and, by their inaction and apathy, couldn't get a running start if they even thought of trying...which they won't simply because they are lukewarm souls and we all know what the Almighty has said about the lukewarm! So, then, who can save America as well as the rest of the world? Only God can! But God needs arms, legs and strong-willed men and women totally in alliance with His Holy Will to effect this. That's where we all come in. Loyal Catholics, members of Mary's Little Army are the ones the Triune Divinity is counting on to come through in this great race.
As the race heads for a frantic finish, we have to kick our spiritual lives into overdrive or be run over by these same vices that have afflicted so many others. We can fall back on the merits and exemplary lives of the saints and upon some who are with us today. Besides our Holy Father, there are good and devote parish priests, educators and lay people who strive to live the Divine Will. In addition we have such outstanding bishops as Cardinal John O'Connor, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Cardinal Bernard Law, Cardinal Anthony Bevilaqua, Cardinal William Keeler, Cardinal Adam Maida and Cardinal James Stafford as well as Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., Archbishop John Donoghue, Archbishop John Favalora, Archbishop Justin Rigali, Bishop David Foley, Bishop Thomas Daily, Bishop James McHugh, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, and Bishop John Meyers to name those who immediately come to mind. Two other Bishops we want to give a strong kudos to are Bishop William K. Weigand and Archbishop Edwin O'Brien. Congratulations to Bishop Weigand of the Sacramento Diocese for not bowing to pressure or political correctness when California's Governor-elect Gray Davis, a purported Catholic who advocates abortion, wanted to use the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament for an ecumenical service that is considered more political than spiritual. Because of Davis' stance on abortion and the culture of death, the good bishop flatly denied Davis access to the Cathedral. We need more bishops like that who will stand up to the pressure of society, men like Archbishop O'Brien, head chaplain of the archdiocese for US Military Services, who bravely spoke out against the concept of "my country, right or wrong" when he boldly stated that military personnel have an obligation before God to question orders if they are in "violation of the moral law." That took guts for we can imagine the repercussions that may come for daring to question both the commander-in-chief and the Pentagon. But that's what it takes and what both bishops have shown by their actions and words, we, too, have to have the guts to gut out the long, grueling race. And it takes conditioning. We can exercise through attendance at daily Mass, reverent recitation of the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy, learning our faith better, living the messages and conducting ourselves above reproach by being all that Jesus and His Blessed Mother ask us to be. As mentioned above, as of today, Tuesday, January 5th there are exactly 360 days left until the Third Millennium. Think about it and pray what you can do to run a better race. It's time to put it in a higher gear for we all need to amend our lives more in order to be able to run in step with God. With 360 to go we need to take heart and do a 180!