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Speaking of power, that is what Steinbrenner has always wielded. This is a man who is known to be set in his ways - few can tell him anything. If he wants his team to start at 1 p.m. on Good Friday, the hell with the rest, they'll play! But he's met his match, not only in the Cardinal, but in the bigger Boss upstairs Who reminded ol' George he is, afterall, only human! Just as the temple was rent asunder when Jesus died, so also the temple of greed - that 75 year old edifice that has become a shrine - is beginning to be rent asunder. The beam that plummetted into the plastic seats was a strong reminder Who's really "the Boss." Ol' George was forced to vacate his temple and trek across town to Flushing Meadows, home of the Mets at Shea Stadium to play the Angels - something you just know had to gall the Yankee head man. Though the Angels lost that game, the Angels above had to be weeping that society has become so immune to the sensitivities of the sacred that "the game" is more important than the soul. This editor is a big sports fan, always has been, but I too draw the line when it comes to interferring with my faith. Yet I've always loved the game. Baseball is America! Baseball is mom and apple pie! Baseball is family and relaxation. Baseball is green grass and a blue sky. At least it used to be. Now television rules the roost, dictating when most games are played such as the World Series at 9 p.m. at night when most kids should be getting ready for bed and school the next day. Ironically, had the Yankees waited until the evening of Good Friday to play their Opening Day game, they would have garnered higher Nielsen ratings since it would have been in prime time. But Steinbrenner and the League offices opted for their own agenda and the results are evident. The end has to justify the means. When it doesn't, it doesn't mount to a hill of beans. And beans is what ol' George may be left with as he tries to construct a beanstalk out of the decaying house that Babe Ruth built in the Bronx. Yankee Stadium is falling apart just as society is falling apart. It is not one big explosion, but rather an implosion for America's soul is rotting away just as the beams and wood structure of that hallowed hall of Murderer's Row is also rotting away. Building a new ballpark may be easier for ol' George then rebuilding his soul for Jesus said in Matthew 19: 24, "I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven." And sadly, George may have a lot of company trying to push that dromedary through the opening because today the age of family-owned teams has gone the way of the dinosaur. Now we have filthy-rich barons such as Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner, not to mention our old nemesis Disney, who wield the power and if it's good for the bottom line, then forget ethics and spirituality. They have a business to run and they'll do it their way, thank you. Even if the Cardinal won't be chomping down on a hot-dog and enjoying some Crackerjacks, there are plenty who will compromise and rush to take his place at the ballpark and that's all that matters to this new breed of owners: Filling seats and their own coffers along with their "chattel" in uniform who strive to get by on their guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts!
The Cardinal carries clout and hopefully by lambasting his beloved teams and the entire League it will make a dent in the thick-headed skulls of the decision makers. If not, watch for more ballparks to begin imploding as God sends a message that "it's only a game" and that the real contest is between our priorities in this temporal, fleeting world or celebrating for eternity with Him. It's the bottom of the ninth, two out, bases loaded, you're down by a run. Who do you send up to pinch hit? Bud Selig, any of the other owners, Steinbrenner, or O'Connor? Selig is too unpredictable. The other owners, because they can never agree, won't know which side of the plate to hit from, and as for "the boss" he's got enough problems with his crumbling edifice and million-dollar cry babies. We all know this self-proclaimed "boss" will have to ultimately answer to "The Boss!". So who do you go to in the clutch? It's a no-brainer! Go with the one who's got the clout and providence to hammer home the winning run everytime! Go with O'Connor in a "New York minute!"
The century began with two of the most stalwart saints this world has ever known - Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic whose legacy resulted in the conversions of millions through their orders - the Franciscans and Dominicans. The same year that Francis trekked barefoot from Assisi to Rome to request approval from Pope Innocent III for his fledgling order of Friars Minor, a future saint and king was born in Poissy, France, the son of King Louis VIII and Queen Blanche of Castille. His mother, a fervent Catholic raised him loyally and when he was but a mere twelve-years old his father died, bequeathing the throne to young Louis. Blanche had all she could do to thwart the coups against the throne from those usurpers who tried to take advantage of the monarch's death and pounce before young Louis could grow to maturity. But his mother prevailed through God's providence and when he was twenty Louis was married to the daughter of Count Raymund Berenger from Provence - Margaret. When he turned twenty-one Louis took full reign of France and, through Blanche's sage guidance, was able to fend off revolts throughout southern France. It was from 1242 to 1249 that he gained great notoriety as a great warrior with victories over King Henry III of England at Taillebourg, Poitou and Raymond VII at Toulouse. Though Louis and Margaret went on to have eleven children, Louis would be gone from the home hearth for great lengths of time, primarily because of his involvement in the Crusades. Though everyone expected the German Emperor Frederick II to lead the Fourth Crusade, when he dragged his feet Pope Innocent IV turned to Louis who willingly took up the cause. In 1248 he led crusaders to a stunning victory at Damietta in 1249 but a year later, his troops were ambushed and soundly defeated by the Saracens at El Mansura. Louis was captured and imprisoned by the infidels. Because of his resources, Louis was able to ransom himself and his men and were directed to the Holy Land where they remained until 1254. Louis returned to France that year due to his mother's death and, through a series of battles, wheeled and dealed other territories in order to solidify France with the acquisition of Normandy, Anjou, Maine, Touraine and Poitou in the Treaty of Paris in 1259. In 1258 he gave up Roussillon and Barcelona in the south in exchange for Provence and Languedoc from Aragon with the Treaty of Corbeil. In 1270, at the age of 56 he embarked on the Sixth Crusade. This was a trying time for the papal chair was empty after the death of Pope Clement IV in 1268. It would remain vacant, due to intense in-fighting among the conclave, until Pope Blessed Gregory X was elected four years later in 1272. But Louis would not live to see Gregory become Pope for he contracted typhoid fever soon after landing in Tunis where he, along with his devoted son Philip, died on August 25, 1270 uttering the words of the psalmist, "Into Thy hands I commend my soul."
Though he was a great military mind, that is not what he is remembered for. His monarchy was one of great kindness and sympathy to all his subjects and he sought to enhance the faith by founding several religious and educational institutions. He also forbade any kind of fighting between feudal lords in an effort to bring about peace in France and protect the vassals for he had a great love for all people, especially the poor and dessolate. He was always a man of his word and gave back much more than he took. He will go down as one of, if not the greatest of all French monarchs. In 1239 he was gifted with the original Crown of Thorns by Emperor Baldwin II and he rebuilt the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris to house this very special relic. In 1257 he founded the world-famous Sorbonne University and numerous other places of culture, the arts and religious edifices in the Gothic architecture which would incorporate all of Europe. It was Louis who instituted France's first navy. However his greatest contributions were not to France but to Holy Mother Church for his wise counsel and insistence when the popes wavered kept her on an even keel through the troubled seas of the that century. His wisdom was a breath of fresh air compared to the treachery and schemes of the German emperors who played Rome like a fool. Louis promoted peace and prosperity for not just France but all his European neighbors offering the pen in treaty negotiations rather that utilizing the sword. "The sword is only for those who deny Christ," this holy king is quoted as saying. Louis ruled for forty-four years and 27 years after his death Pope Boniface VIII canonized him. He immediately became patron saint of France.
One of his dearest friends was a Dominican who taught at the University. That man was Saint Thomas Aquinas who we will feature in the next installment of this on-going series.
There She bore witness to the Truth, giving all honor, glory, praise and worship to the Trinity, for she declared to My child Bernadette "I Am The Immaculate Conception". This, you must believe if you are Mine in My One Holy, Catholic Church. I Myself tell you yet again. This dogma is truth! Believe, My children, for Truth is Light and you are suffocating in the darkness of satan's half truths.
O! You must be full of My Truth, My children, for yet one more and final dogma is to be proclaimed by My holy, beloved Vicar Pope John Paul II. With what eagerness does Heaven await this dogma, for by it the Divine Will is fulfilled.
But My enemy does not want this dogma; he lays a million traps so that never shall it be declared, and thus he tries to seal the lips of My Vicar. But I, your God, alone Am Truth and Light and My Spirit shall speak through My beloved Vicar and the dogma shall be proclaimed! Pray much for this. You do not pray enough for this, little children. Sadly, you do not know how to pray.
I solemnly tell you, My children. Pray as I taught you. Pray as My Mother beseeches you, and then, little children,, you will be able to fulfill that Spiritual Work of Mercy which tells you to FORGIVE ALL INJURIES with patience, love, fortitude and an honest and pure heart!
Let us begin then with the first word of this particular Work of Mercy. In the previous work of mercy I explained to you that if you truly love Me you must BEAR all injuries. To bear means an acceptance, spiritually and with your whole heart, of all wrong done unto you. That is, My children, to pick up your Cross daily and follow Me. Now that you have accepted your Cross, be it large or small, be it one or many, you follow Me!
And what example did I give unto you throughout all of My Sacred and Sorrowful Passion? Let us look at this together, dear children, for then you will be able to succeed in this Spiritual Work of Mercy which commends and commands you to FORGIVE all injuries.
Dear little children, do you think I do not know how difficult it is for you to forgive? Did I not create you? Do I not know you? And, o! How I love you. It was Love which allowed Me, the Son of God, Savior and Lord, to FORGIVE.
From the beginning of My earthly life My heart and soul were fully one with the Eternal Will of My Father. Love alone spurred Me on, and My lips were ceaselessly in prayer, while I was among you. So many countless injuries were done unto Me, your God, the full martyrdom of body, heart and soul. Yet each and every one I forgave so that My Eternal Father in Heaven would also forgive, that man might return to unity with The Blessed Trinity.
Walk with Me now for a little while and you will understand more clearly that, for you, my weak little children, forgiveness must be an act of your will. First it thrives in your soul, animated by the Holy Spirit, who enflames you with love for Me. This Love then prompts your weak, yet stubborn, human will to forgive. This is a cry, a plea that rises to Me, an echo of My own words as I hung upon the Cross and beseeched: "Father, forgive them, They do not know what they are doing." And I send down graces. Nay, I bend down and give to you My own heart so your "will" to forgive transcends the mere human will and becomes a great spiritual work of Mercy.
Remember, little ones, I speak to you today about the Spiritual life, that purely mystical life of your immortal soul which is made in My Image and Likeness. The life of the soul-grace-flowing from the Holy Spirit and the fully-lived faith of My One True Church, lifts up your heart, detaching it, as it were, from the lower human ego, will, and intellect which are the driving force behind your human emotions and feelings, which are very strong.
Being lifted up to the Spiritual level your heart slowly transforms by means of My Merits, My grace, and empowered by My love enables you to place all human emotions, feelings and their consequences upon a higher, purer plane-the mystical ladder that leads to Me.
Therefore, by willing to forgive, and by repeatedly willing to forgive you join your heart to My Most Sacred Heart, and your willingness to forgive must not cease, but pour out from your heart as a libation offered unto Me. In this way you are united to My Passion. My Heart was pierced. By its piercing I welcome you into Its Refuge. There you learn and become strong in the spiritual life, and your weak humanity is slowly subdued and finally conquered by the sublime mystery of My Passion, Death and Resurrection; by all grace and workings of the Holy Spirit in you.
So, little children, do not seek so much, or ponder so fully, upon "forgiveness." To feel forgiveness is not what this Spiritual Work of Mercy speaks of. This forgiveness is the continuation of My words upon the Cross. Forgiveness of all injuries is recognition that I, Jesus Christ, willed to forgive you for all the injuries you would do unto Me in your life, and in recognition of this Infinite Love you offer this very same forgiveness to all of your brothers and sisters who do you injury-in any and every manner!
By this Spiritual Work of Mercy you seek no judgment of the person who has committed the injury. That is, you recognize the evil deed or sin involved against you, but you defer all judgment of the soul to Me, asking that this sin not be counted against the person. To FORGIVE ALL INJURIES is to call down Divine Mercy upon yourself and to share that Mercy with everyone!
O! How eagerly I await to forgive you. How little you seek forgiveness from Me. So very few of My children allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten their souls so that they may see every crack, crevice and spot of debris which has gathered there. How very few of My children will to root out the tiniest speck which separates them from Me. Those who do this are they who fulfill this Spiritual Work of Mercy and forgive all injuries as I forgive.
All of you are called to become like Me, to be transformed by the Holy Spirit in heart and soul into My own Image. Unless you are humble, unless you first recognize and acknowledge your own need to be forgiven, you cannot FORGIVE-not even one injury much less all injuries!
Therefore, I do solemnly tell you that in these end times you cannot be Mine and be stubborn and proud of heart! I ask each of you to thoroughly examine your heart and soul with the aid of The Holy Spirit and to go to the Sacrament of Penance. Then, having been forgiven, go and do likewise to everyone in your life, and you shall know Mercy and be Mercy in My Name, for I Come!
NEXT INSTALLMENT: #83 PRAYING FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD