Is Mary’s little lamb listening?’

I’ll confess at the start that I’m not a big fan of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).  To be clear, I believe we should be nice to animals and I like people.  But people and animals are different – PETA doesn’t understand that simple fact.

This came to mind last week when I read that PETA had conducted some undercover surveillance in Australia and had uncovered – horror of horrors – a sheep farmer using naughty language in front of his sheep.  From what I read it wasn’t clear whether the farmer was swearing at the sheep, at his sheep dog or because he stepped on a rock.  Maybe he was trying to convince a kangaroo to go away and stop bothering his sheep.  (Hmmm….I wonder how sheep and kangaroos get along – they have lots of both in Australia.)

Anyway…PETA was concerned that the sheep might be offended by the bad language, which made me wonder how you could tell.  Does an offended sheep complain?  Does its wool fall out or get tangled?  Do sheep cry?

Is it the actual language that might possibly upset sheep – or the tone of voice?  I can see where I might scare a sheep if I yelled at the top of my voice:  “Get out of here you dirty, no-good, ugly sheep.”  But what if I yelled with equal assertiveness:  “I love you and you are the greatest sheep I ever met.”

Sheep make great material for clothes and Sunday dinner (sorry, PETA, but lamb chops are permissible in my world).  But I doubt they have the ability to discern the difference between profanity and praise.

But koalas – that’s another story.

What we miss in common

Apple_iPad_Event03What sort of person doesn’t watch television or surf the worldwide web?  They would be so out-of-touch, so backward, so ignorant, so connected – a real loser, right?

Maybe not.  According to the UK Daily Mail, Pope Francis hasn’t watched television since making a promise to the Virgin Mary in 1990 – and has never used the internet.  Despite all this media deprivation, the Holy Father leads and Roman Catholic Church and would seem to be having considerable impact on the world.

He must be paying attention to other things.

Unlike the Pope, I do watch television (especially the Chicago Black Hawks games) and my work demands daily use of the internet.  But as shocking as this may sound, Pope Francis and I have both never seen some television shows I hear discussed all the time on the radio.  (I know, how old-fashioned can you get? – I like to listen to the radio – mostly AM talk.)

Mad Men, The Good Wife, Walking Dead, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Breaking Bad or The Sopranos.

Pope Francis has never seen these programs – and neither have I.  I have not given up television entirely, but at least I’m selective. (Go Hawks!)

Keeping the world safer and kinder

A terror-inspiring water-squirting flash mob
A terror-inspiring water-squirting flash mob

The world is better today than yesterday, as our culture moves forward to the perfection of the human character.

That’s right.  We have eliminated a titanic threat to civility and the dignity of the human person.

Did we crush the Jihadists beheading people in Iraq?  NO.

Did we convince the Saudis not to cut off the hands of thieves?  No.

Did we shutter the abortion mills that take millions of innocent lives?  No.

What happened was a bold, brave and unprecedented move by the Boy Scouts – they put an end to water guns.  The explanation has to do with water guns being unkind.

Sensitive young scouts need no longer fear getting squirted in the eye.  They need no longer fear a Cub terrorist spraying water on the front of their pants, making it appear that they have committed an unspeakable accident.  They need no longer fear that a Girl Scout might prove to be a better shot.

Frankly, I’m unconvinced that water guns are unkind.  Silly, goofy, even fun, perhaps.  But I don’t believe they were or ever could be a threat to national security or societal peace of mind.

And ain’t nobody gonna take my Super Soaker.

Society vs. the 10 Commandments

DeMilleTenCommandmentsDVDcoverEvery wonder how our society is doing with respect to the 10 Commandments?  Hint:  not so well.

I’ve always thought of the 10 Commandments as pretty much the foundation for good behavior.  If everyone actually observed them, the world would be a nicer place.  But our society – especially big government — apparently disagrees. Let’s do a little analysis…of how modern America responds to each commandment…

  1. I am the Lord your God. You shall worship the Lord you God and Him only shall you serve.
    • The feds take nuns to court to force them to pay for insurance that covers abortion and birth control.
  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord you God in vain.
    • Just walk down the street with your ears open.
  3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
    • Going to the mall doesn’t keep the day holy, but the parking lots are full.
  4. Honor your father and your mother.
    • It is not an honor to put granny in a nursing home.
  5. You shall not kill.
    • Abortion, euthanasia, drone attacks, nuclear bombs….the government does it all.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
    • We’re raised adultery to an art form.
  7. You shall not steal.
    • Actually, through high taxes and fees, the government has become the greatest thief in history.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    • If you like your health insurance you can keep it…the bad movie caused the riots…I guess the projects weren’t quite as shovel-ready as we thought…
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
    • No need to covet a willing sinner.
  10. You shall not cover your neighbor’s goods.
    • Anybody noticed how the federal government is promoting income redistribution? Whatever happened to working hard to get ahead – or is that a silly, old-fashioned notion?

So….that makes us 0-10, which doesn’t bode well for our long-term happiness or survival.  A person who lives by the 10 Commandments lives a Godly, honorable life.  That is getting to be a rare breed.

Gentleman motorcycle operators

76B0053274The Twin Peaks eating and drinking establishment in Waco, Texas hosted a social event involving a few gentleman motorcycle operators over the weekend.

A bit of a scuffle ensued, which required intervention by law enforcement authorities.  After some fairly difficult discussions, nine of the gentlemen were dead and more than 165 arrested.

You may be thinking that my account of this situation is a bit reserved. And it is; I’m working to refine my reportorial skills to the highly nuanced level of today’s major news organization.

My first instinct was to call these guys something more eloquent:  murdering, terror-inducing, biker thugs.  But then I remembered that when an army of 20,000 called itself the Islamic State Army, took over a country or two and started beheading Christians, the media were careful not to associate it with Muslims.  They were, perhaps, terrorists, but in a political sense having nothing to do with religion and the millions of peace-loving Muslims around the world.

I figure it is pretty much the same with the Twin Peaks patrons in Waco.  Their actions were not religious.  They were not political.  And whatever trouble they caused should not confer any reputation damage on the millions of peace-loving motorcycle riders, Vespa owners, mountain bikers and moms pulling little red wagons.

Just the same, if I were president of the Waco Chamber of Commerce, I’d be developing a safe dining program for local restaurants.  And I’d give Twin Peaks a scholarship.

Bless those nearing the finish line

AAWR68NIREI have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7

I expect some visitors to a Sunday Mass at my parish would be concerned that there are so many, well, old people.

Oh, there are young people (even teens) and families, but there really are lots of people bordering on elderly.  (Actually, some are far past the border.)

A visitor might be concerned.  After all, we often hear that the young are the future of the Church.  They are the lifeblood.  Without youth, the faith will die.

True enough.  But I see the beauty in the old folks, perhaps because I’m starting to relate to the category.  At 64 years of age, I expect some might consider me to be fairly old, or at least on the precipice…if think of myself as middle aged.

But I see the beauty in the gray hair and wrinkled faces because they reflect the beauty of perseverance.  Through the ups and downs of life, through the victories and failings of the Church, these are the people who have remained.  They understand that the human failings of members of the Church cannot deny the divine nature of the institution – perhaps even prove it.

The young may be swift and strong, but most of their race lies ahead.  The elderly are on track to finish the race.

I’m grateful for the shaking, gnarled hand that reaches for my hand during the sign of peace.  May God continue to sustain their faith as he helps my unbelief.

A spiritual site

Screen-Shot-2015-03-03-at-4.41.35-PMWhen I’m not playing Laughing Catholic, I’m working Regnum Christi — and living and breathing it.  So…I’m happy to report that Regnum Christi has a new website.  Whether you are a cradle, serious Catholic or just someone inquiring who this Jesus guy is, the site is a place you might want to visit.  And smile.  Jesus loves you.

Hang in there

Pope-Francis-1_3287516bI just Googled “Franco Rabuffi” and got more than 8,000 results.  News stories.  Blogs.  Commentaries.

A few days ago, I expect a search would have delivered a bit fat zero.  But that was before the skeptical Italian man hung up on a personal phone call from the Pope – twice.

Franco thought the call(s) was a prank.  But when the Holy Father called the third time, Franco decided it might be real, apologized and shared a laugh with the man in white.  To Franco’s great relief, the Pope thought it was funny.

The Pope forgave what to most anyone would be about the worst social effort possible. And then he invited Franco and his wife to the weekly general audience so he could forgive him in person and give him a papal hug.

Thank you, Pope Francis, for being so kind, so human, so…Catholic.

I’ve work in corporate offices where the failure to recognize the voice of a senior manager could be threatening to a career.  And I never worked with anyone nearly as important as the Pope.

Pope Francis takes his faith – our faith – as seriously as it can be taken.  But he is much more down-to-earth about his humanity.  What a blessing for the rest of us.