|Venerable Solanus Casey, “The Doorkeeper”|
IT MAKES SENSE TO ME
By Larry Peterson
“Laudato Si” is here and I think many people are thinking/suggesting,accusing/ (pick your own medicine) that Pope Francis has turned into a “pol”. Yup, he is just another politician on the world stage trying to advance an ideology. So everyone had better take a deep breath. Pope Francis has released a magnificent piece of work that demonstrates how WE (air/water/ trees/marine-life/plants/animals and human beings are all interrelated and depend on each other. Think how true that all is.
The earth is, in fact, our primary home. The sun and the rain nourish the earth’s soil and it gives forth food for animals and people. Some animals eat only plants and then other animals may feed on them (ie: Impalas feed on plants and grass while lions are carnivores and eat Impalas). People feed and survive from the plants and the animals. There is a magnificent balance in nature and we human beings are the most intricate part of it. That is because we are not only the ones who can nurture it, we are also the ones who can harm and destroy it. This is what the Holy Father is telling us. Start taking responsibility for our primary home, the planet we live on.
Pope Francis has nailed it. We are all an extension of each other in this world. Laudato Si reflects the very first chapter of the Bible: The Story of Creation (Please, before reading Laudato Si, re-read the first Chapter of Genesis).
At the end of the first chapter, v28-29; God blessed them saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” God also said: See, I give you every seed bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened, God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good. Evening came and morning followed, the sixth day.
Pages and pages have already been written about this encyclical. It is being torn apart and analyzed by many and then all of these folks are offering their opinions as to what the document REALLY says. Naturally, almost all viewpoints differ. How fortunate we are to have such a wide variety of “expert” opinions to choose from. Well, here is an opinion no-one really gives much credence to–my own.
My opinion is simply this–Laudato Si is foremost a spiritual document reflecting the Word of God as set down in the very beginning of the Bible. God’s primary creation, people, were given dominion over all things on Earth. The Pope is reminding us that we are all connected and all depend on each other and have to nurture and look out for each other. The plants, the animals, the air, the sea, all do what they have to do without reason. They just DO.
On the other hand, we, the people, reason and think. We have pride and ego and greed infiltrates many of our species. We have poured poisonous chemicals into our pure waters, we have polluted the air and sea and lakes, we have destroyed the rain forests. I need not go on. Laudato Si tells us to take care of our primary home, Mother Earth. It is the responsibility of all of us. It is not political but that it is how it will be viewed.
I, for one, wish to thank Pope Francis for “smacking us upside the head” and reminding us that our planet is more than a big blue marble. It is our primary home. Therefore, it is our God given responsibility to keep our home neat and clean.
©Larry Peterson 2015 All Rights reserved
Comedian Bill Maher said, “I think religion is a neurological disorder.” Christopher Hitchins said, “the person who is certain and claims divine warranty for his certainty belongs now to the infancy of the species.’ And of course, Frederick Nietzsche, the consummate atheist says, “In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point.” Oh yeah, he also said, “God is dead.” WHEW!!
Look, I am just a blue-collar guy and sparring with this cerebral, high-browed, intellectual stuff is a bit intimidating for me. But PUH-LEASE. How did they ever come up with such “facts”? As far as IQ tests are concerned I know some folks that, based on IQ scores, have brilliant minds sans much commons sense. Some of them seem to have a bit of a problem as they navigate the pathways of life itself. My hybrid observations have shown me that those folks are easily offended and, as a defense mechanism,mask their true feelings and become downright obnoxious when all they really want is to be like everyone else. As for myself, I hated taking IQ tests and received lousy scores which explains my simple perception of the geniuses around me.
I hate to disagree with these uppity University findings but it seems to me that many of those who believe in God and a religion to worship Him have no problem with self-esteem even though the findings show differently. Hey, University of Rochester folks–did you factor in humility? Yeah–religion can instill a sense of humility in people which would negate the self-pomposity caused by pride and not be self-esteem at all. Did you ever hear of the word Ego? These findings need to be re-evaluated immediately.
We live in a seemingly secular world. The combined media of print, broadcast, cyber, and instantaneous, promotes self-gratification, self-indulgence and swats away like a pesky fly the idea of self-control and self-denial. We are in the Age of Relativism. If it “feels good” it is okay. I say that is nonsense. I say that there are millions and millions of people, all over the world who believe in God or a Divine Entity they might call a different name. I say that most of these people worship God guided by some kind of religion. The pseudo intellectuals who are “intelligent” enough to have rationalized away the existence of a Creator have waltzed themselves right into a barren field empty of Hope. They have used their smarts to outsmart themselves. It is actually sad. At this point in time they seem to be getting their way with the anti-God, no-God propaganda but their narrative has been built on sand and will fail. That is what I call “natural selection” when God is in the equation.
As a Catholic man I shall ask God to give them the necessary grace so they might take an objective look at the perfection in the natural world around them. A rising sun every 24 hours, not 23 or 25. The change in seasons, the new birth of a springtime, day and night, sunshine and moonshine, baby ducks following their mom.
The most sophisticated iPhone did not build itself. The folks who did were able to do so only because of the perfection in the world around them. Without that perfection we could not have the certainty of mathematics or the laws of physics. That iPhone could never have been. As for me, I choose to admire with awe those baby ducks.
The election season has fried my brain. The pundits, the commentators, the campaign officials, the editorial writers and, of course the candidates. My God, MASSIVE EGOS–everywhere. They are all experts in everything you can think of and they villify each other, name call, besmirch each other and even attack their opponent’s families. It had finally gotten to me. And then you hear this Machiavellian disclaimer, “Hey, that’s politics”. You know what, I have a different word for all of it, “DISGUSTING”. To the Point—–
As a Catholic I decided to check the Catholic Hall of Fame for someone “egoless”. You know them as saints but to me, they are the Catholic Hall of Famers. The best of the best, the creme de le creme. Let me tell you about one of them, a simple man who never aspired to be anything more than a simple priest. His name was Bernard Francis Casey and his family and friends called him Barney. There are many guys like Barney in our Catholic Hall of Fame and they, like Barney, probably never even knew what the word “ego”meant.
Barney was born in Oak Grove, Wisconsin back in 1870. He was the sixth of 16 kids of Irish immigrants. When Barney was a boy he contracted diptheria and it left him with a permanently raspy sounding voice. Barney would never have qualified for American Idol. Barney felt the call to the priesthood but his goal was detoured by jobs in Minnesota and Wisconsin as a lumberjack, a prison guard, a street car operator and a hospital orderly. Barney Casey always did whatever job he had to the best of his ability wanting to serve his God in all things. At the age of 21 he was able to enter St. Francis High School seminary in Milwaukee and spent five years there before being able to move on and join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Upon his acceptance he took the name of Solanus after St. Francis Solanus, a 17th century missionary.
Solanus Casey was finally ordained a priest at the age of 33. He had to study extremely hard to reach that goal and when he was finally ordained he was given the title “Sacerdos Simplex” which means “simple priest”and he was not permitted to preach or to hear confessions. He never complained and took joy in being a “simple priest”. Father Solanus Casey’s main job at the monastery where he lived in Detroit was that of “doorkeeper”. Father Casey was probably the finest doorkeeper that ever lived. He did this for well over 20 years and also became known for his service to the sick and the advice and consultations he would have with visitors. People began attributing cures and other blessings to his interaction with them or others.
So there it is. A man who opened and closed doors for people. A man who had no ego and was happy to serve God in the simplest of ways. He died in 1957. A man who, because miracles have been attributed to his intercession, was declared “Venerable” by Pope John Paul II in 1995. This is the first step toward canonization as a saint. He is the first man born in the USA to be on the road to full sainthood. And all he did was humbly and happily open doors for people and talk to them if they wanted. A Catholic Hall of Famer for sure and quite the contrast to the gaggle of egotists that bombard us daily with their “I think” wisdom. Solanus (Barney) Casey has re-charged me.