First of all, consider that this past year the president of the United States has degraded the office and torn people apart, making a mockery out of morals and family values. Actually he has been doing this for seven years but it's only in the last few months that most people have woke up to the reality of what we have said all along about the character of Bill Clinton. Add to this the rollercoaster ride of the stock market and people were in a frenzy, not feeling all that good about themselves. Enter Mark McGwire and his friend Sammy Sosa a Catholic ballplayer from the Dominican Republic who have not only energized the game but brought back a feeling of family, an essence of goodness that has long been lacking in an era of big business sports, greed and the drug culture. All that is good about mankind, all that Our Lord has asked of His children over the years seems to be coming to the fore. Yes, folks, while there is much rotten in Washington D.C. there is virtue in St. Louis and it's spreading. As the media plastered the headlines and airwaves with speculation of how much the Ruth-tying homerun ball, the Maris-tying homerun ball and the record-breaking homerun ball would garner on the open market, three young men retrieved those balls and didn't ask for one red cent! That in itself has got to be one of the most laudable traits that shows there is something right in America. On top of that, here's a superstar who doesn't take himself too seriously. Unlike the spoiled demigods who have no time for the fans but who have plenty of time to get their names in the news for all the wrong reasons and who are in it for the almighty dollar, McGwire downplays his greatness and gives credit where credit is due, thanking the Man upstairs - number 25's regular reference to God. No Hollywood script could have written a better script. It had to warm the cockles of your heart to see him hit his 61st homer on his father's 61st birthday. How fitting and appropriate that fatherhood took a front seat on this day and the next when the first person big Mark embraced, squeezed and lifted to the air was his own ten-year old son Matthew who has been interning as the Cardinal batboy throughout the summer and returned for the big weekend. It was about family in that the entire Maris family was in attendance, save for Roger's widow who was hospitalized at a local hospital. Just as the excitement took its toll on her husband back in 1961 during his record march in that magnifying glass known as New York, so also the renewed attention was too much for her. But it was McGwire who put everything in perspective by placing Roger and his memory as well as Babe Ruth on the diamond pedestals they've always belonged.
Now that pedestal has been elevated higher, not just because of the physical feats of Big Mac but because of the virtuous feats of the Cardinal slugger, father and devoted son. But he is human, and he is the first to admit this from his failed marriage to striking out at a record pace when most expect him to hammer a homerun everytime at the plate to his incredulity of the media madness that follows him day and night in his unintended quest for immortality. Yet he has remained the same man from childhood on. He is just a big kid playing a kid's game, but the difference between McGwire and the rest of today's primadonnas is that he has handled all the adulation as a mature, responsible adult, giving credit where credit is due and most of the time that is to God. He has admitted that the attention showered on him has done more than bring people back to baseball, it has brought people together and in this day and age when doom and gloom blare across the airwaves in all aspects of our lives and morals are scoffed at, the good old-fashioned values rise to the top in the breadbasket of America - the gateway to the West in a city named for a great French saint and king who held honor and virtue as his highest shield. No, McGwire has not entreated the people to pray and fast, but then again he has brought many to their knees praying that he would hit number 62. So has the Cubs' Sammy Sosa. In fact, in a recent game at Wrigley Field Sosa had gone hitless until Cardinal Francis George, OMI entered the pressbox with the WGN crew. Almost immediately after Sosa, acknowledging the presence in the ballpark of the head of the Chicago archdiocese, sent one out onto Waveland Avenue. No doubt the Cardinal had asked for some intervention as well. We suspect Archbishop Rigali was also entreating the Heavens to intercede on Mark's behalf this past Tuesday and we can just see the Blessed Mother approaching Jesus and asking for the favor as a small birthday present for her. We all know God can't refuse His Mother. Therefore the record many thought would never be broken was shattered with still seventeen games to go. Who knows how many more Big Mac will hit? Who knows how many Sammy will hit or if he'll even pass McGwire thanks to the friendly confines of the ivy-covered walls on the north side of the windy city? Regardless, both men have things in perspective in an industry that is just realizing character and virtue have its rewards and those rewards are not in endorsements or how much money they can make, but how they can bring people together from all walks of life to feel good about themselves. After all, it's the first step in the conversion process which is coming as we near the Third Millennium.
We doubt there will be an asterisk next to McGwire's name when the great book is finally written and revealed, but we wouldn't be surprised if McGwire and Sosa are given a little credit for bringing people together in a time when it is sorely needed. But everyone who experienced the goosebumps Tuesday night during McGwire's impromptu jog around the bases where, like a little kid who got so excited, he missed first base and had to awkwardly go back, and hugged everyone in sight on his journey gave credit where credit was due - pointing his muscular arm upward toward the Almighty. Yes, there is a God and He is smiling at the way McGwire's feats have brought His children together when another of those who has been given much responsibility is tearing the country apart. One has misused his talents, hiding them under a bushel basket along with a lot of other secrets that are just now coming to light as Sister Lucy writes about in her column this weekend, while the other has utilized all the talents at his disposal. Our Lord said it best in Luke 12: 48, "But of everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and of him to whom they have entrusted much, they will demand more." Mark McGwire has not disappointed the people. He has not disappointed God for he has taken his God-given talents and used them to the ultimate even while the media and the masses demand more. McGwire is no saint, but secularly he's the next best thing. Babe Ruth was called the "Sultan of Swat." In this city famous for its Gashouse gang, Dizzy Dean, and then Stan "the Man" Musial and Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, and company it would not only be appropriate, but nice if Mark McGwire was forever remembered among this collage of Cardinals as the "Apostle of Good Will."
The life of Christ is our example in everything we think, do, and say. Or, rather, Christ's example should be the slide rule of life for all, but sadly, it isn't. His life was one of poverty, suffering, and sorrow, interlaced with the joy of doing the Will of God the Father. Mary's life was no different. The joy of the Annunciation was the beginning of the Sorrowful Mother who gave her Divine Son to God, who gave Him to the people, who gave Him over to a cruel death, who saw Him buried, and rejoiced at his Resurrection and Ascension.
To get to the Resurrection and the Ascension Our Lord suffered, died, and was buried. Our Lady was there throughout the Sacred Passion of her Divine Son, and her tears were no less copious than any mother's would be for their child.
We have completed Labor Day, upon which the majority reflects that it is a day when the daily grind of work gives way to parties, picnics, and the like. We have watched the school year start in earnest, have seen the undue pressures and stress this causes upon children of all ages, the unspeakable costs of a private education which is now for the elite, rather than the common working people, and we've witnessed the sad but true decline of morality in our country from the Presidency, to the kids on campus, even in elementary school.
In reflecting upon the upcoming feasts we will celebrate, I am inspired by the Holy Spirit to tell you that, on these days, as on all days, our entire being should turn to God. We should seek the intercession of His Holy Mother, who is our mother in the most sublime way, and seek to give to her our tears as well as our joys.
We do this in the hope and trust that even in the time of trials, we are moving forward on the road to Heaven, that our feet will not become mired in our trials, but like true disciples of Jesus Christ, we will pick up our crosses daily for love of Him. We have only to look at Him, and we will know that He has suffered everything for us already, and is there to help us on our journey. We have only to look at the Blessed Mother to understand that she, too, has suffered more than all mothers, and by her suffering has fulfilled God's Will perfectly.
That should be our goal, our only goal-to do God's Will perfectly, despite the moral climate of the world, despite the flux of the economy, the crisis within the church, within our schools and within the political arenas of the world. What does it benefit us if we spend our entire day being bombarded by the news, from the paper, to the radio, to the endless TV news programs? What good does it do our soul to play the stock market? What good does it do us to cave in to the moral decline, while we watch our children slide further along the road to perdition?
What are we to do? In human terms, there is no easy solution. In terms of faith, the solution is very simple, and it forms the most beautiful melody upon earth. The simple solution is to live our faith-go to Holy Mass, receive the Sacrament of Penance regularly, go to Holy Communion as often as we can, and at all times to make our lives a living prayer to God. If we seek Him, then our Heart is safely within the Refuge of His Most Sacred Heart. If we are in this refuge, then the world can go its deadly, merry way and we will not be affected.
Do we pray? Do we go to Holy Mass prepared, or distracted? Do we receive the Sacrament of Penance with a humble, obedient attitude, or is it just something we do because we feel obligated to do it.
Our Lady's feasts are all intertwined. They are intertwined, as a symphony is intertwined by many melodies, with the life of her Divine Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To celebrate one is to respect and honor all of the feasts, even if we are unaware of the total picture.
This coming week is a time for us to get into harmony with the angels and saints. We have to be in harmony with God's Will if our symphony is going to be perfected. God's graces are there, but we need to ask for them, and we do so with prayer from and with our heart. We turn to Him with trust and He responds with Loving Mercy. He gives to us His own Mother to guide, guard and protect our symphony of suffering, for she joins it to her own symphony of suffering, which is now perfected in the eternal embrace of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
On the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, and on the Feast of the True Cross, let us remember that we are an intricate part of an intricate melody, whose strains are heard in Heaven. If we are to gain Heaven, then let us petition God, through the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the intercession of Mary Most Holy, to grant us the graces necessary to make beautiful music here on earth, so we may sing His praises forever in eternity.
According to yesterday’s news, President Clinton intends to continue to fight this matter. He does not want to let go of the Presidency; he does not want to let go of his power.
We can say truthfully, that Clinton should have weighed all of this sometime ago. What is it about his way of thinking, that influences him to be immoral for years? (Remember Gennifer Flowers? He did finally admit to having an affair with her! And not just once either, but rather, according to Gennifer, over a period of 12 years.) His immorality is not in sexual matters only. It is also immoral to lie, to obstruct justice.
Is our country finally coming to see his character as it really is? Is Congress really going to conduct the proceedings based on the “Rule of Law?” Are Democrats really afraid they may not be re-elected to office because of Clinton’s bad behavior? Does our country have a moral conscience after all and is willing to act on it?
I am getting stronger vibes every day that the answer to all of the above questions is: “YES!”
I don’t mean we are a perfect nation, but I am getting the impression that most people (according to what I read on internet posts) think Clinton’s behavior has been abominable and that he should resign or be impeached.
Could this be part of the “turning point” of our country wanting a “MORAL” President again? I certainly hope so.
As I’ve observed Clinton on the news the last few days, I conclude a few things. At present, he is desperate. He’s depressed. He’s afraid. He’s shocked. He has expressed sorrow a bit more believably, but frankly, I feel there’s a lot missing in his expressions.
What am I really saying? Our President really needs God. He really needs a moral conscience. He needs a tremendous about of humility so that he removes himself from the center of his life and puts God there. He needs a deep, deep, deep religious conversion.
We need to pray hard for Clinton. Our Lady of Medjugorje said that his conversion is possible. Maybe he needs to be brought way low in order for him to come to realize that God does exist and that He gave us the Ten Commandments because He knows that when we stray from them, we cannot be happy.
I learned in my novitiate that through humiliations, we can become humble. Jesus shed every drop of His blood for Clinton, too. I don’t like our President. Never did! But I do want his soul to be saved because God does.
Let’s pray hard for him that he cooperates with the graces he will be offered by God during these next many months. While there’s life, there’s hope!
God is ever Faithful. May He bless you!
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