Monday, July 30, 2018

The Future of the Catholic Church in Jeopardy?

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) – Pennsylvania’s highest court is allowing a landmark grand jury report into clergy child sexual abuse and efforts to cover it up to be released, but for now without the names of priests and others who have challenged the report.The Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling Friday that directs the redaction process be completed by Aug. 8, when the 900-page report is expected to be made public.The court says it will still consider the challenges by priests and others who say their constitutional rights to their reputation and to due process of law would be violated by naming them and making what they have called erroneous findings.The opinion says the grand jury investigation identified “over 300 ‘predator priests'” in six Pennsylvania Roman Catholic dioceses.
On Friday, KDKA's report stated that the largest sexual abuse case in Pennsylvania against six dioceses of the Catholic Church will be made public no later than Tuesday, August 14, 2018. Greensburg and Pittsburgh are included in this massive expose.
In today's Tribune-Review (July 29, 2018), Pope Strips Cardinal of Title, Pope Francis stripped US prelate, Theodore McCarrick, an 88 year old cardinal of his title. McCarrick is remanded to an undisclosed location living  'a life of prayer and penance' before a canonical trial is conducted.

Having been born and raised Catholic, I am deeply saddened by the horrific allegations against these men of the cloth. However, at the same time, I'm extremely impressed with the Vatican, the Supreme Court, the news media, and especially the long-suffering victims who have valiantly decided to move forward with prosecution. Having been allowed to engage in crimes of abuse for decades without being identified or punished is despicable and deserving of the longest prison sentences permitted by law. 

I am Catholic and have no intention of leaving the faith. These beliefs have been ingrained in me since childhood, and I embrace them wholeheartedly. As I matured though, I realized the priests and bishops were human, mere men just as capable of evil as they were of good. I offer no excuses for any of them, but I can see how such tragedies occurred, overlooked and unchallenged without consequences. 

So once the findings of the court have been disseminated, what will happen to the Church? We've already seen a great reduction in Mass attendance, contributions have dwindled, and very few have been ordained over the last decade or two. Will all the buildings owned by the six dioceses simply shutter its doors and leave the remaining faithful to fend for themselves? Or after all has been said and done, and justice has been rightly served, is there a return and renewal in the offing? 

In either scenario, I suspect there will be a dramatic change in what the Catholic Church will look like in the future, not only in these six dioceses, but around the world. The authoritative powers of the priests and bishops will be diminished. Instead congregations will elect boards to oversee the daily operations of churches, there will be disciplinary committees to handle serious infractions, and the faithful will be expected to tithe. Although the pope will still be considered the leader of the Catholic Church, how each individual parish is managed will be left to its members.

I realized long ago that the Church is not the clergy, not a body of man-made rules, nor a vast assembly of buildings. The Church is Christ and our faith in His teachings. For me, the faith is what will survive and continue without waver. 

Blessings and Peace!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Sharing A Dream

'Like many peace activists, I have a dream. While I first formulated my thoughts and spoke on it in 1968, I articulated it two years ago on social media. I thought I’d share it again:
“I dream of a world where every person is seen, heard, and appreciated for the sacred piece that they bring to the puzzle of creation. A world where diversity is sacred, and rather than trying to press for everyone to try to be the same, we honor and hold precious, our differences!” '
Rev. Patrick McCollum
July 2016

My hubby and I celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary a month ago. We were married on June 22, 1968, just weeks before the reverend delivered this speech, and I've been dreaming the same dream for at least that long. Coincidence? I think not! 

I sincerely believe there are millions of us out there who share the same dream as Patrick expressed so long ago. His words are as crucial to our society today as they were then, perhaps even more so. Diversity is such a beautiful thing, I can't for the life of me understand why people fear rather than embrace it! Imagine for a moment that everything in our world was the same. Every single person looked alike, thought alike, acted alike. Every place in our world was the same. The land was flat everywhere, no mountains, hills, or valleys. There were no rivers, lakes, or streams, and, God forbid, the ocean was nonexistent! Day after day the sun shone brightly, never any clouds, no sweet rain, no refreshing snow, no warm summer breezes. What a sad environment!

How could we possibly progress? Not able to think differently than those around us, any forward movement in society would be severely limited. Without anybody able to think outside the box, invention and creative expression would be minimal at best. Initiative would be unheard of. We would remain stagnant, leaving us depressed and uninspired! 

Thankfully we don't have to live under such dire circumstances because there are differences abounding all around us! No face is exactly the same, thank God. No body is an absolute replica of another's, no skin, the same color, no voice, the same tone, There are as many different thoughts floating through our minds and words being spoken on any given day as there are grains of sand on our world's beaches. We are capable of acting differently to similar stimuli; we express ourselves in countless diverse ways when a particular event occurs because we can, and our behavior js as justifiable as that of the person's standing right next to us. 

As Reverend McCollum stated, "...diversity is sacred..." honoring and holding precious our differences is a dream we eventually must share in order to achieve world peace. John Lennon's 'Imagine' tells us 'it isn't hard to do' If only we could set aside our egos and 'live as one!'

Blessings and Peace!

Monday, July 16, 2018

True Friends

First I would like to share my definition of a true friend with you: 'A true friend is one who has been with you long before birth. You bonded in the heavens, fondly embracing each other's entirety, and vowing to walk throughout your earthly journeys and beyond together.'

Aside from my immediate family, I've been blessed with five true friends: Barb, Dolly, Anita, Ruthie, and Karen. Barb and Ruthie have returned home, while Dolly, Anita, and Karen continue to travel with me towards eternity.

You probably find my idea of a true friend strange, but it makes perfect sense to me. When you initially meet somebody, if it happens to be one of your true friends, there's an instant connection however subtle it might be. There's something about that person that is familiar although you can't seem to put your finger on it at the moment. It's like you know so much about each other, you think alike, your experiences are very similar, and even any quirkiness that presents itself is considered 'normal' to you both. As time goes on, you begin to recognize each other, certain qualities, some negative traits, and a sincere understanding of the importance each one is to the self-actualization of the other.

Of course your ability to recognize a true friend takes a while, maybe as long as ten years or so. Yet, for some unknown reason neither of you entertain any thoughts of walking away from this relationship because, in truth, it's not possible to relinquish the love of a true friend. Once a true friend, always a true friend! At times you may find yourselves miles apart having little to no contact for years, and then, out of the blue, one decides to call the other. From the first hello, your conversation flows easily, laughter resounds, and fond memories are recalled. You make plans to meet and, come hell or high water, nothing in the world will stop you from getting together.

A true friend is happy for the successes of the other; a true friend grieves when the other half suffers loss;  and a true friend is more than willing to stand up for the other in times of chaos and conflict.

True friends have disagreements, but none are ever so divisive that would threat to sever their ties. Explanations are offered and apologies are always accepted.

Your definition of a true friend most likely is different than mine, you are entitled to your own opinion. But, for me, my definition is not only plausible but in my mind, a certainty.

There may be more true friends out there I've yet to meet, or have already met but don't entirely recognize. If so, I eagerly await our reunion! For now, though, I'm quite happy with my five true friends and cherish our relationships beyond measure!

Blessings and Peace

Monday, July 9, 2018

You CAN Teach Old Dogs New Tricks!

Our sweet Shadow will turn sixteen this October. For the past two or three months, she's been slowly losing her eyesight. Now, completely blind, with a large percentage of her hearing gone, and very little in the way of scent, the only way she gets around is by touch. When she comes downstairs in the morning, she feels her way with her paws, touching the carpet of each step which signals that she's on the right path. I've laid throw rugs in the kitchen so she can make it to the family room door without much difficulty.

Once outside, her challenges however increase dramatically. In the beginning, she'd walk briskly and crash head-first into the patio bench or rocker which diminished her drive to find her favorite potty spot. The poor girl would simply lay down and refuse to continue. I'd have to pick up all thirty-five pounds of dog and carry her into the grass. If she needed to do more, I'd let her wonder around the yard, but without a good sense of smell, her ability to defecate was limited.

I began searching the internet for a solution to dog blindness. I read an article which strongly advised against coddling older dogs with special needs, but suggested to try and teach them how to navigate their world differently. Since the ideas presented in the article weren't very helpful, I thought that with my dog's apparent reliance on touch, I needed to come up with a plan that utilized touch to the fullest extent.

Now when it's time to go out, I give her a pat on the butt and say, 'outside.' I think she recognizes the intonation of that word and immediately gets on all fours and heads for the door. When I open it, I touch her head and say, 'down.' She feels for the doorstep with her paw and carefully steps out. From that point on, I use my knees, calves, shins and hands to guide her to the grassy area, just a little nudge here and there is all she needs.   I've stopped picking Shadow up and she is bumping less and less into obstacles that once kept her from moving forward.

I've also used loud clapping to inform her of my location. She'll turn towards me and slowly follow the sound as best she can. If she stops, I realize she's waiting for my touch so I approach and first pat her head, then knee her butt indicating she should begin to walk again. I stay by her side, using my legs and hands to lead her to the patio. This time when I say, 'up' Shadow knows to climb the step which brings her safely back into the house.

Shadow is living proof that you CAN teach old dogs new tricks! And I am living proof that she CAN teach this 'old dog' a few new tricks as well!

Monday, July 2, 2018


Last weekend, I received a lovely wall hanging from a sweet lady for our 50th  Wedding Anniversary. When I say I, it's because my hubby had never met her before, and she specifically stated it was one of her favorite sayings and it was for me. Now that I've established sole custody, I'm ready to write today's post.

Aside from the soft, beautiful pastel artwork that is the canvas background, the quote goes like this:
                                 'And now here is my secret,
                                  A very simple secret,
                                  It is only with the heart
                                  That one can see rightly.
                                  What is ESSENTIAL
                                   Is invisible to the eye!'

I placed this hanging on the wall directly beside the bed so I could see it first thing in the morning. I especially like its simplicity with a slight touch of mystery...any time a secret is involved, there's got to be an unknown, and after reading the quote for the umpteenth time, I realized 'the unknown' for me was, 'What is ESSENTIAL?' Those words keep rolling around in my brain demanding I give them my time and thought.

I believe the root word for essential is essence, and essence in my mind refers to 'the totality and the core being of one devoid of any superficial trappings or add-ons.' So what is my essence, the totality of me, my core being devoid of any superficial trappings or add-ons?

Since I've never taken the time to seriously consider this query, my explanation may be primitive, but nevertheless as honest as I can be. Thought, heart, and spirit best describe my essence. Thoughts are a large part of my existence, they enter my consciousness many times without provocation, and demand immediate attention. If an idea is truly persistent, it will keep popping up until I sufficiently give it the respect it deserves. At times, a solution is called for, at other times, mere reflection is enough. I think a lot so maybe that's why some see me as quirky or strange, both of which are not far from who and what I am. No offense taken...ever!

Heart is synonymous with love in my opinion. And love is the Life Force that permeates my core being. I call it, 'Life Force', you may refer to it as 'God,' 'Divinity,' 'Creator,' or any number of titles that suit your beliefs.

This Life Force infuses me with energy in the form of the 'Spirit.' and it is this Spirit that calls upon me to love all people and being somewhat instrumental in bringing about world peace. Now if I always did what the Spirit requests, I'd be canonized Saint Florence Frances Agnes and there'd be a statue of me in our church.We would be at peace within ourselves, our families, our communities, and ultimately in our world. Since we obviously are not totally at peace in any of these categories, I must confess that I run rogue often, ignoring the Spirit within  choosing instead the superficial trappings and add-ons that are fleeting and oh so unproductive!

There you have it, folks, what I've determined to be my essence, at least for now. I also have decided that my essence is always changing, so you can be assured that another post dealing with this topic isn't far behind!

Blessings and Peace!