The scoop on keeping cool in God's eyes during the summer and beyond
Many our age grew up with the worn-out, but always fun refrain "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream." It was just around the turn-of-the-century when Charles Minches ran out of containers to sell his ice cream at the St. Louis World's Fair during a summer similar to this one heat-wise. A booth next to him sold pastries and he worked out a deal with the bread maker to buy up waffles, fold them and let them harden - then scooped the cold concoction into them: Voila: the ice cream cone was born ninety four years ago this weekend. But ice cream itself has been with us for centuries, dating back to the ancient Chinese who were the first to combine frozen ice and milk into a delectable dessert. There are even reports that the Roman emperors dispatched runners to the nearby mountains to fetch containers of ice and race back to the forum where the emperors' food preparers mixed honey and fruit juices for the first known "snow cones" or "icees." It's a known fact that the Italian explorer Marco Polo brought back to Europe from the Orient the recipe for ice cream and sherbet in the thirteenth century. Throughout the next several centuries the only way to savor this delicacy was by sawing up frozen ice from the rivers of northern Europe and storing the blocks in sawdust. However, more often than not by the time summer arrived, they were left with a puddle of soggy sawdust. In the mid nineteenth century there was a breakthrough in America when a woman named Nancy Johnson invented the ice-cream churner with a hand-crank that made it easier to make ice cream at home. This was great for the winter, but summer time and the making of it wasn't so easy. A few years later Jacob Fussell, a Catholic gentleman from Baltimore, Maryland opened the world's first ice cream business in Baltimore so that more people could savor this delicious treat. Until the 1930's this frozen delicacy was delivered via horse-drawn cart and by the end of the route it could develop into quite a soupy mess. But with the advance of electricty and refrigeration - well, as they say, the rest is history. Today, we don't understand the trouble our ancestors went through for a few minutes of icy ecstacy in the middle of a hot summer. We are so used to either picking up a half gallon of our favorite brand at the local supermarket, or grabbing an ice cream bar at the AM PM or 7-11, or popping down to the Baskin-Robbins where there are so many flavors we can't decide, but relish the opportunity to taste test half a dozen or so. Despite the plethora of flavors, this editor always comes back to good ol' chocolate. Butterbrickle and Mint Chip come in a close second and third.
But this editorial is not about ice cream on a commercial basis, but rather on a spiritual basis. Bear with us for this is also about how we have lost the work ethic as we stand at the brink of the third millennium. How many of our ancestors would turn over in their graves if they could see how lazy and out-of-shape our society has become. We have become so spoiled that if our flavor isn't in the store, or they run out of Ben & Jerry's or Hagendaas, we are furious at the poor clerks who sometimes take more heat in the summer than even the sun can dish out. All the modern conveniences have made us a slovenly civilization where to wait in a bank line, check-out counter or in traffic can cause tempers to flare. We have become impatient and selfish. It is a sad commentary on today's society. But God, in His wisdom and finger on the pulse of mankind, is beginning to push buttons that will bring man back to the age of hard work and instinctive innovation. But man is not always such a willing animal and so the Almighty has to send our way ways to wake us up, to motivate us to return to what His will demands. He is doing so through a natural means, better called "Mother Nature" but do not be deceived - it comes from the Father. Up until recently, most of the natural disasters claimed great amounts of property but few lives. After the tragic events on the highly Catholic island of Papua New Guinea last weekend and the searing mercury in Texas and the southwest, that can no longer be said. Earthquakes, volcanic activity, avalanches, floods, droughts, fires and pestilence throughout the world are taking the lives of more people. No sooner do the fires in Florida finally die down, then this terrible heat spell is searing many spots on the globe, especially in the United States where temperatures everywhere have reached record numbers. As we say goodbye to El Nino we have no choice but to say hellow to La Nina which could be even more consequential than her brother. This fall many are expecting massive fires in the overly lush canyons of Southern California when the fierce Santa Ana winds settle in where one spark can turn into a thousand acre inferno in no time at all. So many still wonder why?
Our question is why would anyone question what is happening? God is not happy with His children and, like He has done to past generations - from Adam and Eve to Noah to Sodom and Gomorahh and many others in Old and New Testament chronicles - He will not stand for insubordination. He will not stand for disobedience. He will not stand for modern thought that man can do anything he wants without God being first and foremost. The Blessed Mother has been warning us since La Salette that these natural disasters would increase. Why should we be surprised? It is an omen that we need to return fully to Him. The terrifying disease of Aids cries out that homosexuality and promiscuous sex are against the Law of God, but too many ignore His commandments. If a child refuses to obey his parents, he is going to be rightfully punished until he conforms to their will. Isn't this the same for God in reference to His children? Today cancer is one of the most prominent of killers. Is this a new disease? Relatively so, corresponding with man's lazy, convenience-at-all-costs, dog-eat-dog temperament that has rendered mankind a selfish race, that lives for the now, with little thought to the hereafter. God is equally merciful and just. What He is doing now is both merciful and just. It is merciful that He has not wiped out the entire population for Our Lady has conveyed many times that this generation is more sinful than the era of Sodom and Gommorrah. And it is just that he exacts His Justice, weeding out the chaff so that the wheat can be harvested. Many don't understand this and cry out, nay, lash out at God with a scream.
And that brings us back to the analogy we began with: ice cream. God is preparing us in His special "dairy" - mixing in the milk of life's experiences with the cream of faith, sweetened with flavors of our culture. Then that mixture is heated in a pasteurizer - the confinements and freedom of spirituality - in our case His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The dogmas, doctrines, teachings and traditions homogenize us to where our lives are molded to a creamy, smooth texture of mind, heart and soul. That mixture is cooled and whipped by our regular participation in the mystical Body of Christ, allowing us to form into a solid entity that can be of value to ourselves and to others as Christ has commanded. As we grow older and more mature, we are packaged into containers that either edify or scandalize. If we can effect the former by living our faith to the best of our ability, then we are pleasing and delectable in the eyes of the Triune Divinity and will be highly instrumental in enticing more to God's will. If we falter and cause harm to others by breaking any of His laws, then we are not palatable to the Heavenly Court and we melt under the heat of satan's wiles and deceits. While the package may look the same on the outside, inside, in the heart of the ingredients God created, would be a puddle of iniquity that can only be made firm again through the refreshing refrigeration of sanctifying grace. During this summer heat, think about that the next time you bite into that cold concoction or sip on that malt or McFlurry. It's something to consider because, in spiritual dairyese, that is basically the scoop on keeping cool in God's eyes during the summer and beyond..