Sunday, February 25, 2018

March 2018 Bulletin: Ice Cream

Lead article from the March 2018 bulletin, online now.

I tend to struggle with the Lenten tradition of giving up some perceived vice or indulgence in order to suffer to some extent as we consider the profound suffering of Christ in the time leading up to His passion. I will of course follow all the Lenten rules. I also have much admiration for those who give up significant habits and routines so as to draw them closer to our Savior's suffering.

I have given up things in past Lenten seasons only to feel underwhelmed about my sacrifice as I resume them after Easter Sunday.  Did I suffer much?  Nope.  Did it bring me closer to understanding His suffering? Not really. So what should I do?

I may have had some small revelation in this regard on our recent trip to Florida. We were staying at a Daytona beach hotel.  Hotel guests were venturing out to the beach to see the strange family who were swimming alone in 65-degree cloudy-skies weather.  They came wearing parkas and took our pictures and asked us where we came from that we would be swimming on this day.  We told them and a look of "Oh, I get it now" came over their faces.  We hit the hot tub for a bit then decided to walk downtown where we could see a boardwalk and amusement park waiting for our arrival.

There were some Hurricane Irma-ravaged hotels along the beach as we made our way, a few lined with fence and under repair and others seemingly abandoned. We noticed that the homeless were taking up residence in some of the lower floors of the abandoned buildings. Makeshift homes consisting of wood, cardboard, worn mattresses and the like. A young couple caught our attention as they moved a mattress out of the chill drizzle that was falling at the time. They were in the middle of a heated, obscenity-laced exchange about some grievance between them. There were many homeless along our way. Their deeply lined faces spoke to the nature of the untold witness they held from us. We made it downtown, and the homeless quickly slipped from our minds.

We had much fun looking at shops, walked the pier and listened to the Atlantic. We had a great meal and started back. My youngest noticed a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream shop and grabbed my arm. We made progress across the street via skyway where a vagrant was taking some rest.  As we approached our destination, a tall, thin, elderly, homeless black man was speaking to each passerby with his head down. I grabbed my eldest daughter and shifted her to my left as we neared the tall man on my right.  I could barely hear him speak as we passed: "Could you please buy me some food, good sir?"  We hustled our step as we passed him a glance.

My eldest told me that he looked hungry. I mentioned some nonsense about his life choices, and we joined the line at Baskin-Robbins. We were waiting about a minute for our 1,000-calorie indulgence when the brick fell upon my head. I looked at Marina and told her that she was spot on. He did look hungry. We bolted out and found the same tall black homeless man making his way down the sidewalk. When the distance was made up my daughter ask him if he was hungry still.  He affirmed this, and we crossed the street to the Burger King restaurant.

Marina then bought him a meal with a $20 bill and gave him the change. We could barely hear him say as we left, "God bless you." I think it's more likely that God dropped the brick on my head than blessed me. What value was the cash to me? Very likely much less than it was to him. What did he give up for Lent? What did the homeless couple moving the mattress out of the rain give up for Lent?  Unknowable. Here is what I am going to give up for this Lent.  I am going to give up making assumptions about homeless folks.  I am going to give up judging them.  I am going to give up donating nothing to their empty pockets.  Hopefully it will continue long past Easter.

I will end by quoting our new homeless and hungry friend: God Bless.

Gary Frandsen
Grand Knight

Thursday, February 1, 2018

February 2018 Bulletin:
Chaplain's Message

Lead article from the February 2018 bulletin, online now.

Spirituality is what a person or community believes and how they act on that belief.  As Catholics we believe that God is the Author, Sustainer and Goal of every human life and society, and thus every human life should be protected at conception and nurtured by society, starting with the family.

We believe that a person can discover the basic dignity of every human being at any stage or condition of life by reasoning with the natural light of truth.  This is what the Founders of America did.

The pilgrims of the thirteen original colonies came to America mostly to get away from tyrannical officials who oppressed those less powerful.  Many rulers, Catholic as well as Protestant, ignored the Church’s teaching and God’s natural law and disrespected the dignity of those less powerful than themselves.  This is sinful, and if it is of grave matter that is placed into law it becomes “institutional sin” for the society.  Unfortunately that is the state of our country with regard to abortion and so called same sex “marriage.”

Our Founders inscribed in the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Our country was founded on principles that call for respect for every person and their freedom, so long as they respect the “laws of nature and Nature’s God."

These natural laws reflect that God is the Creator of natural rights and responsibilities of which mankind is called to participate; as well, that  God is the “Supreme Judge of the world”, not the imperfect courts of man, including the Supreme Court of this country which failed to protect black people in the Dredd Scott decision (1857), nor has it protected unborn babies with their faulty decision of the recent Roe v. Wade decision (1973), nor the rights of children to have a Mom and a Dad in their 2015 decision.

The Founders used objective reason to discover these natural laws and thus reasoned that  there must be a Lawgiver, namely God.  However, since people can choose to follow or break theses natural laws, God calls us to participate in protecting and promoting these self-evident truths, especially for those with little power like unborn babies and children, who have a right to a Mom and a Dad.  This is clearly revealed in the Divine Revelation of Sacred Scriptures which upholds and builds upon natural law, both of which come from the heart of God.

The Founders also relied on God to provide for the victory of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that flows from God, but not without their struggles and sacrifices.  The last sentence of the Declaration of Independence reads: “And, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

To be pro-life and pro-marriage as God intended, so as to protect unborn babies and children, we must measure candidates for public office with the natural law standard.  We have a moral duty and obligation to participate in the protection and promotion of God’s will by upholding the principles of our country.  To do less is to watch our country sink further into sin and thus jeopardize our salvation.

In order to have good political candidates from which to choose, and propose laws that conform to God’s natural law, we should participate in the precinct caucuses for whatever political party you align with.  The Secretary of State has declared that Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, at 7 p.m. will begin the caucuses.  Google "Minnesota Secretary of State Precinct Caucuses" for more information.

Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Thomas McCabe
Council Chaplain

Thursday, January 4, 2018

January 2018 Bulletin:
Holiday Concert

Lead article from the January 2018 bulletin, online now.

For the first time in a long time I was able to attend a holiday concert to watch and listen to my daughter sing. In previous years my job prevented me from getting there on time, if I could get there at all. I showed up an hour early this time to grab a great seat.

I found said seat and opened up the program and began to read: STMA High School proudly presents "High School Holiday Concert." My mostly under-control cynicism nerve was involuntarily activated,and I immediately started complaining about the secular public school dissing (disrespecting) Christmas and its true meaning. 

How cliché and predictable of me. I have no idea where Joseph Osowski or Brandon Berger are located in the spiritual and religious spectrum. In many ways that would be reason enough not to assume the program would be antithetical to the Christmas message. But go there I did. My doubts lasted about 10 seconds into the first bars of this magnificent performance.

As I mentioned, I have no idea if the producers of this event were Christian. I can, however, unequivocally claim with confidence piled high that Jesus Christ was not only in attendance, but indeed held the invisible baton and occupied the director's podium for this Christmas present to all who were in attendance. The traditional carols were delivered intermingled with witty arrangements of some classics, world premieres, and above all, music singing the praises of Jesus Christ. Indeed, music fit for the celebration of the Mass including the Angus Dei from William Albright's Chichester Mass. 

Our children's voices were pitch perfect (in my estimation) and quite professional in execution. The story of the first family and the birth of Christ never left the auditorium. I am quite sure Jesus was the one who locked up after the last had left.  We had starting Knights football players standing in front of the crowd to sing God's messages. Choir concerts have traveled a great distance from my high school days!  

For those of you that are worried about God's departure from the public school, go ahead and give your pillows an extra punch tonight and rest easy, because at least in our district, thanks to the wonderful work of Joseph Osowski, (Mr. "O"), Brandon Burger and a bunch of great kids, Jesus is alive and well.

God Bless,
Gary Frandsen
Grand Knight