CATHOLIC PewPOINT:

Be sure to take time to smell the flowers!

     We're writing this tome a bit late in the day as the sun has already set on the Pacific. Though normally a midafternoon task, today was soooo beautiful - 76 degrees and balmy southsea breezes that we packed the family, including the pooch into the car and trekked the seven miles to Carlsbad State Beach where our two sons frolicked in the surf with their boogie boards. The furry one - Sir Smidgeons - pranced on the sand, tail wagging all the time as he frittered in between tan-getting beachgoers poking his cute little nose in every bag hoping to strike gold: mooch goodies. The amazing thing is, they fed him. Guess no one can resist when those big brown, soulful eyes look at you like he's starving. Yeah, right! Time for the Shi-tsu to go on a diet! As for Mom and I, we sat back to take in the rays and thank God for this great weather while saying a chaplet and other special prayers for all those suffering from the terrible effects of El Nino this winter, especially the snow-bound in the midwest and the flooded in the southeast. We almost felt guilty basking on the beach during work-hours, but then again, we deserved it since yours truly often works well into the night to get the next issue out on time when computer glitches threaten to delay the process. So a little hookey now and then can't be all bad. Anyway, it was a day to admire the beauties of nature and this region. If one stands on one of the high hills of the north county overlooking the crashing waves below, one can see the majestic and ample snow-capped crest of Palomar Mountain beyond the spectrum of flower fields that blanket five to six acres on sloping hills facing the Pacific. Talk about picturesque and a statement of God's beauty!!!

     As we lounged on the sand, we had to dodge a few diving seagulls and the sorts. But nowhere was there to be seen a swallow. Of course not, they don't return until a week from today eighty miles up the coast at Mission San Juan Capistrano. They have returned faithfully every year for God knows how long, possibly ever since Father Junipero Serra oversaw the construction of the Mission - one of a series of twenty-one Franciscan edifices that grace the California coastal areas from San Diego to north of San Francisco. As the thoughts flittered on every wave and soared like the great gull, Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus and chaste protector of Mary came to mind, more so than usual. For it is his feastday that we celebrate next week. So little is known about good St. Joseph, the silent saint, who patiently taught Jesus the crafts of carpentry and aided the Blessed Virgin in every way he could. After Mary, Joseph was the first to receive the Living Eucharist for he nurtured the young Christ-child Who was obedient always to his earthly parents while knowing He must fulfill what His Heavenly Father had sent him to do. Never did St. Joseph stand in His way, always encouraging and guiding, knowing one day He would leave their modest, spartan-like home in Nazareth that was probably no bigger than a postage stamp. But size didn't matter for love ruled. Fast forward to today where so many, if not all, have bigger domiciles and much, much more modern - most with all the latest conveniences available today. That's because we regard them as necessities! But they really aren't. They're really traps, albatrosses that keep us from focusing totally on God. But few are those who can chuck it all and retreat to a hermitage. Worse yet, try to tell your kids the TV's go, no more microwaves, radios, cd's the works are off limits. Talk about rebellion: "But, Dad, Ma, everyone's got 'em!" or "That's not fair!" We've all heard it, but what's not fair is the way satan has taken hold of our younger generations and turned them into soft, spoiled, procastinators. For the most part, the work ethic which we were weaned on, is non-existent. Get it done as quickly as you can at the last minute and don't worry how good it is. It's a chore that's "not fair!" Forget pride in being the best you can be. No wonder the Marines are getting fewer and fewer good men! So many times we discuss late into the night, "where did we go wrong?" "What could we have done to enrich our sons more?" The answer is that we have done everything we could. We've brought them up in the faith with a deep respect for the Holy Eucharist, tried to instill in them a fearful respect for authority, and tried, oh how we've tried, to censor the things they watch and the companions they associate with. But no matter how much we've hammered away, the world still wins out. How many parents lament the same thing? Thought so. At least eighty to ninety percent. You could call it "misery loves company" but we prefer to call it striving to fulfill God's Will in the face of the onslaughts of His greatest enemy - lucifer and his legions of doomed ones. Think about it. If the evil one can't get to the parents directly, he goes through the backdoor by tempting the kids. What a better way to get to the parents than tormenting their offspring. Ninety percent of the arguments between husband and wife evolve from something to do with the kids. Usually the Mom, the heart of the family, is more lenient - the "dove" , while the Dad, the stern head of the family, calls for stricter measures as the "hawk." It's a constant struggle as the kids play one against the other. Guess that's an inborn trait, because we don't ever remember the manipulation game with our parents. If our parents said to do something, or gave us a command, it was "Yes, Sir." "Yes, Maam." Teens are great at bargaining and cajoling. They get what they want by using the guilt trip in such subtle, intelligent ways that one wonders why they are not all Rhodes Scholars at the age of fifteen! It's a common malady that probably afflicts every family household in America and beyond. Why is it that nearly 2000 years ago this wasn't a problem in Nazareth whereas today it is a major roadblock to growing closer to God? We could probably write countless tomes on this subject, but suffice it to say, dads everywhere should take notes on the example of St. Joseph; moms on the attributes of the Blessed Mother. That, of course, in this day and age is easy to say but nearly impossible to implement. But God understands this, yet He doesn't condone just rationalizing it with "Oh, well, everyone's doing it so it can't be all bad!" That's one of satan's favorite ploys, to wear us down where we compromise to the point of surrender. How many times have we exclaimed, "the inmates are running the asylum?!?"

      The horned one has succeeded phenomenally well in deceiving all of us. He's convinced so many that he doesn't exist, that hell is a figment of our imagination, something the Church cooked up to keep the faithful in check. That truly sounds preposterous, doesn't it? But do you realize that there are a vast majority out there who actually believe that garbage??? Look how he's slithered into the sanctuary and changed our precious Church into something few recognize today as "Roman Catholic." Look how he's taken the good and turned it to the realm of disgusting in our entertainment, our daily lives, our work places, in our homes, and even in our church activities. That's his methods and the only antidote is prayer and exemplifying the lives of saints. That's where St. Joseph pops up again for no one is a better role model for dads than this humble, accepting foster father who took on the responsibility of a family with none of the marital privileges of a husband today. But he willingly accepted it in joy and love and fulfilled his duties with never a complaint. To be perfectly human, we must say it: He had to be a saint to have lived with such a beautiful woman as Mary for those many years with nary a temptation of the flesh! Actually, being human, he did have temptations, but he was always able to overcome them through self-denial, prayer and prudence, not to mention keeping himself busy. Probably the comment from non-Catholics that chaps this writer's hide the most is when they claim Mary had many other children after Jesus with Joseph. Bullcrap!!! Mary was ever-virgin, always Immaculate! God did not choose His perfect human vessel to conceive His Only-begotten Son and then tell Mary and Joseph to "go at it!" Protestants, so quick to jump on the fact that the bible doesn't say anywhere that Mary was always a virgin and Immaculately conceived, forget the fact that no where is it mentioned that Mary and Joseph had other children. They always conclude that when Jesus says, "these are My brothers and sisters." They don't realize Jesus didn't mean blood brothers and sisters but rather that all are His brothers and sisters who follow His Holy Will. Isn't it amazing how they take one thing out of context in one passage, but refuse to see the obvious in another passage?

      We've rambled a bit in this piece, but that's the way the thought pattern has been today when so many things waft through the brain waves under a high sun as the surf laps the sand on an absolutely pristine spring day that defies description. It was quality family time that we treasure. Had we had a laptop, we'd probably still be on the shore taking in the spectacular sunset, but alas, duty beckons and it's time to get back to work. Even though three of our four computers have been wiped out by last week's virus, we're still limping along on the mainframe and the Daily CATHOLIC must continue. Because of our little "vacation" today, this editor didn't get the on-going series on the Church today "WHERE IS HOLY MOTHER CHURCH HEADING AS WE NEAR THE MILLENNIUM?" written completely, so we'll save it for next week. Such are the perils of journalism for today was a reminder for this editor, which many can appreciate, regarding those special moments in life. Amid the deadlines, the chaos of computer crashes, and satan's shenanigans, we took time to enjoy God's gift of nature. We think St. Joseph would approve! The feature article can wait another week for, afterall, family time is too precious to put off. For those who are still thawing out, wringing out or digging out, it won't be long and soon everyone will have the same opportunity to bask in that perfect spring day. When you do, here's some loving advice to parents and workaholics everywhere: be sure to take time to smell the flowers!

Michael Cain, editor


Daily CATHOLIC          March 12, 1998