Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thoughts of Home...

Been sad all day, my Papaw (my mom's dad), is in hospice care and close to the end. He's 83, a nice long life. The last 14 and a half years lived without his one great love.

Memaw and he raised six kids, saw 11 grandchildren grow up and I have lost count at the number of great-grand-kids he has seen.

The thing I will always associate with my grandparents is stability, we moved around seemingly at the whim of my dad's work in the grocery stores, but Memaw and Papaw's house was always home. It was always the same. I think you could show me the daytime TV schedule for any year of my youth and I could tell you what shows Papaw watched and which ones he wouldn't have been caught dead watching.

I can close my eyes and call to mind so many memories of him sitting in his recliner working his crossword puzzle while watching The Price is Right or Scrabble or the Today show. I think a lot of the way I am about needing to know things came from his crossword puzzles. I remember he would sometimes get up and leave the paper folded by his chair I would sit down in his chair and look at the puzzle. I can't count all the times I would read a clue and have no idea, but he had it filled in.

He's also the reason I want to get on Jeopardy! He never did but he should have. I used to marvel at the knowledge he had at his command, and the ability to remember it and shout the answer at the TV. Well, okay, there was no shouting in his house while Jeopardy! was on, hell loud breathing could get you tossed out.

As I got older, we never kept any kind of score or had any official contest or anything, but I started noticing I was holding my own against him. One day I noticed I usually did better than he did, I never told him that, but it sure made me feel good.

I have him to thank for shaping a lot of my faith too. Once when I was a young pup we were at Mass in Carlsbad and I was not yet old enough to share in Communion. I remember hollering something about not wanting the stupid cracker anyway. I've never made that mistake again.

He always liked the wrong teams though. The Yankees and The Cowboys. I had to give him a pass on both though I mean he was sort of born into the Yankee thing I guess. And the Cowboys were his team from the first day of their existence.

But in the middle 90's when that Cowboy-Niner rivalry was boiling it was hard for me to accept his liking the Cowboys. In 1994 the Niner-Cowboy game coincided with deer hunting. I remember seriously telling my dad I might not go out that Sunday and instead watch the game.

If I would have had a little more faith in my team I might have. I was so worried I would be watching the game with Papaw and see the Niners lose. I just couldn't do it. So my mom and dad and I listened to it as we drove the boonies, whooping and hollering as San Francisco won the game, 21-14.

He always likes to remind me that I once told him he wasn't my Papaw anymore. He always did the grocery shopping and one morning I got to go with him as he collected the week's groceries. I decided I deserved and/or needed some piece of candy. He wasn't going to let me have it and I hollered at him in the store that he wasn't my Papaw anymore.

He always was and always will be my Papaw.

May the angels welcome him to Paradise and may Memaw be there with them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Liberty, Tyranny and The First Amendment

In the years after America won its freedom from Great Britain the colonies drafted and eventually approved a Constitution. To secure ratification of the new founding document concessions had to be granted, including the addition of a Bill of Rights. These first ten amendments were intended to secure our basic liberties. Including the right of a person to observe their faith as they see fit.

The Obama administration has put that basic First Amendment right under attack. The Health and Human Services department, issued a mandate declaring that because Catholic social service programs don't serve only Catholics they aren't worthy of a conscience exemption regarding provision of contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs. So in essence the church is being punished for living out the words of Her founder....Matthew 25:34-36, tells us what Christ expects of us, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick. He didn't instruct us to only do those things for people who believe the same as we do.

In fact one of His most illuminating parables is the story of the Good Samaritan, a man who did all of those things for someone who was essentially his enemy.

The HHS mandate was for all intents and purposes crafted by the ACLU. The ACLU wrote a mandate that is in effect in only three states (California, New York and Oregon.). Even within that mandate there were ways that Catholic social service agencies could find relief. However the new mandate from HHS closes all of those avenues.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the head of the HHS is herself a Catholic, which makes the forcefulness of this legislation all the more disturbing. However it is heartening that Sebelius has been denied Communion both in Kansas and Washington, D.C.

All of this leads me to the thought that we once fought a war to ensure our freedom of worship, now it is under attack by our very own government.

So our government is now telling us how to practice our religion, how to live our faith. That doesn't sound very much like "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out in force, with 169 of roughly 183 bishops issuing statements condemning the new mandate. The assorted Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals all urge the faithful to action.

Indeed action is sorely needed. As most of the letters no doubt urge us as faithful Catholics to do we should fast, pray and contact Congress and the President as well as Secretary Sebelius. Urge them to reconsider and rewrite this mandate.

Support Marco Rubio who recently introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 to Congress.

These are the times that try men's souls...Words as true now as they were in late December of 1776. Thomas Paine was referring to the then months old War for Independence.

He might just as easily be describing another tyrannical act by a far more worrisome menace. Duly elected officials trampling on the rights won by the blood of the very people who Paine wrote to some 236 years ago.

Surely the great martyrs of the past, men and women who were fed to lions; or boiled in oil; or crucified; or burned at the stake, must be looking at this persecution and urging us to fight and defend the faith they died for; the Truth that cost them their lives.

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.