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Archive for June, 2007

“Isn’t our choice really not one of left or right, but of up or down? Down through the welfare state to statism, to more and more government largesse accompanied always by more government authority, less individual liberty, and ultimately, totalitarianism, always advanced as for our own good. The alternative is the dream conceived by our Founding Fathers, up to the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with an orderly society. We don’t celebrate dependence day on the Fourth of July. We celebrate Independence Day.”

–Ronald Reagan / Remarks on accepting the GOP Presidential Nomination, Dallas, Texas, August 23, 1984

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“When I got to Dr. Warren’s house, I found he had sent an express by land to Lexington — a Mr. William Dawes. The Sunday before, by desire of Dr. Warren, I had been to Lexington, to Mesrs. Hancock and Adams, who were at the Rev. Mr. [Jonas] Clark’s. I returned at night through Charlestown; there I agreed with a Colonel Conant and some other gentlemen that if the British went out by water, we would show two lanterns in the North Church steeple; and if by land, one, as a signal; for we were apprehensive it would be difficult to cross the Charles River or get over Boston Neck. I left Dr. Warren, called upon a friend and desired him to make the signals.”

–Paul Revere, Massachusetts, April 18, 1775

Perhaps mundane but still fascinating, is a yellowed half-slip of paper from the Massachusetts state archives — the expense account “for self and horse” of Paul Revere for activities related to his midnight ride of April 18, 1775, warning colonial revolutionaries about coming British troops. By trade a silversmith, Revere was not wealthy, and he struggled to keep his business going while devoting time to the revolution. He requested reimbursement of 5 shillings a day, a typical working man’s wage, for several weeks of riding.

The provisional state government approved Revere’s bill, with John and Samuel Adams and James Otis, among others, signing off on it — after reducing the payment to 4 shillings per day.

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As we celebrate the 231st birthday of the United States of America, we honor our country and the ideals of our nation’s founding. Rarely, though, do we give sufficient contemplation to the Founders, who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to declare the united colonies free and independent states, with the separate and equal station of full nationhood among the powers of the earth.

Founder Benjamin Rush recalled Independence Day 1776: “Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the House when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress [John Hancock] to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?” He lamented, on the 35th independence celebration, “scarcely a word was said of the solicitude and labors and fears and sorrows and sleeplessness nights of the men who projected, proposed, defended, and subscribed [signed] the
Declaration of Independence.”

In our age of fillips and flippancies, we may find the Signers’ courage and character impossible to fathom. …Or, perhaps, better to use more classical terms — in all their senses — for our Founders were men of virtue and integrity.

One Signer of the Declaration of Independence particularly inspires us. We hope the spirit that motivated Samuel Adams imbues our work.

Adams provided the most complete expression of the ideas driving the American Revolution. He was also one of the earliest to recognize the ultimate objects of growing British tyranny in the 1760s, and his popularity waxed and waned with the temper of the times. When in 1770 the British repealed most of the burdensome taxes imposed on the colonies, his influence declined. His prescience and precision in language earned him the descriptor “incendiary”; his principles earned him the reputation of “radical.” But he was mistakenly so branded, as shown in this passage from October 1773: “We are far from desiring that the connection between Britain & America should be broken. Esto perpetua, is our ardent wish; but upon the terms only of equal liberty.”

Adams often wrote anonymously, as we do; among his more colorful pseudonyms were “A Chatterer,” “Candidus,” “Vindex,” “Determinatus,” and “Valerius Poplicola.” This, which he penned in April 1773, could as easily describe The Federalist today: “It is no wonder that a measure calculated to promote a correspondence and a free communication among the people, should awaken apprehensions; for they well know that it must detect their falsehood in asserting that the people of this country were satisfied with the measures … and the administration of government.” And Adams could have been paraphrasing our aspiration to humilitas, in “political literature … as selfless as politics itself, designed to promote its cause, not its author.”

Adams believed, as we do, that liberty and virtue are inseparable: “Liberty will not long survive the total extinction of morals.” And: “As long as the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader….If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security.” He was a devout Christian: “First of all, I … rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.”

Samuel Adams studied classics and science, eventually earning a master’s degree from Harvard College. From an early career in merchant trades, he later joined his father’s brewery business. He was never financially prosperous; at times, near poverty. But his natural genius was in politics.

Personally modest and unpretentious, he shunned such stylish affectations as powdered wigs. His cousin John Adams described him as “in common appearance, he was a plain, simple, decent citizen, of middling stature, dress, and manners.”

But John also coined the term “working the political machine,” complimenting Samuel as a master of those arts of practical politics: from forming activist groups like the Sons of Liberty and organizing galvanizing events such as the Boston Tea Party, to literary agitation and revolutionary philosophy. His oratorical skills incited passions for liberty, as John recalled: “Upon great occasions, when his deeper feelings were excited…nature seemed to erect him, without the smallest symptom of affectation, into an upright dignity of figure and gesture and gave a harmony to his voice which made a strong impression on spectators and auditors — the more lasting for the purity, correctness, and nervous elegance of his style.”

A delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congresses, Adams also voted to ratify the Constitution. When the colonial governor offered a blanket amnesty to colonials who would lay down their arms, he specifically refused to pardon only Samuel Adams and John Hancock.  Mid-career, Adams fell into disfavor over his vehement opposition to a strong national government.

His “The Rights of the Colonists,” also called “The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting, Nov. 20, 1772,” contained original outlines of the political philosophy undergirding both the Declaration and the Constitution. Indeed, the lack of self-promotion his virtuous modesty required means that Adams is rarely credited sufficiently for his contributions to our nation’s founding. Referring to this Adams essay, the Massachusetts colony’s Governor Thomas Hutchinson noted, “the Grand Incendiary of the Province prepared a long report for a committee appointed by the town, in which, after many principles inferring independence were laid down, many resolves followed, all of them tending to sedition and mutiny, and some of them expressly denying Parliamentary authority.”

And as John Adams wrote 50 years afterward, erroneously minimizing his cousin’s role: “As you justly observe, there is not an idea in it [the Declaration of Independence] but what had been hackneyed in Congress two years before. The substance of it is contained in the Declaration of Rights, and the Violations of those Rights, in the journals of Congress in 1774. Indeed, the essence of it is contained in a pamphlet voted and printed by the town of Boston before the first Congress met, composed by James Otis, as I suppose, in one of his lucid intervals, and pruned and polished by Samuel Adams.”

Samuel Adams speaks to the afflictions of our superficial age still — if we would but listen: He questioned the patriotism of anyone “who gives his suffrage for any man to fill a public office, merely because he is rich…. The giving such a preference to riches is both dishonourable and dangerous to a government, [which] argues a base, degenerate, servile temper of mind. I hope our country will never see the time, when either riches or the want of them will be the leading considerations in the choice of public officers. Whenever riches shall be deemed a necessary qualification, ambition as well as avarice will prompt men most earnestly to thirst for them….”

What would be his perspective on economic globalization? “If our trade may be taxed, why not our lands? Why not the produce of our lands, and every thing we possess, or use? This we conceive annihilates our charter rights to govern and tax ourselves. …If tastes are laid upon us in any shape, without our having a legal representation, where they are laid, we are reduced from the character of free subjects, to the state of tributary slaves.”

On representative leadership amid cultural conflicts? “We cannot make events. Our business is wisely to improve them. …It requires time to bring honest men to think and determine alike even in important matters. Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason. Events which excite those feelings will produce wonderful effects.”

About the friction between religious liberty and faith-based initiatives? “The civil magistrate has everywhere contaminated religion by making it an engine of policy; and freedom of thought and the right of private judgment, in matters of conscience, driven from every other corner of the earth….” And: “…our enemies have made it an object, to eradicate from the minds of the people in general a sense of true religion and virtue, in hopes thereby the more easily to carry their point of enslaving them.”

After the unsatisfactory conclusion to Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, we were sustained by Samuel Adams: “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

How, then, can we best honor Samuel Adams and the other oft forgotten Founders this Independence Day? By striving to rebuild the foundation they so carefully laid for our national home. As Adams himself would have chided us, “…no people ever yet groaned under the heavy yoke of slavery, but when they deserv’d it. …The truth is, all might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they ought. …If therefore a people will not be free; if they have not virtue enough to maintain their liberty against a presumptuous invader, they deserve no pity, and are to be treated with contempt and ignominy.”

He would have warned: “If the liberties of America are ever compleatly ruined, of which in my opinion there is now the utmost danger, it will in all probability be the consequence of a mistaken notion of prudence, which leads men to acquiesce in measures of the most destructive tendency for the sake of present ease. When designs are form’d to rase the very foundation of a free government, those few who are to erect their grandeur and fortunes upon the general ruin, will employ every art to sooth the devoted people into a state of indolence, inattention and security, which is forever the fore-runner of slavery. They are alarmed at nothing so much, as attempts to awaken the people to jealousy and watchfulness; and it has been an old game played over and over again, to hold up the men who would rouse their fellow citizens and countrymen to a sense of their real danger, and spirit them to the most zealous activity in the use of all proper means for the preservation of the public liberty, as ‘pretended patriots,’ ‘intemperate politicians,’ rash, hot-headed men, incendiaries, wretched desperadoes, who, as was said of the best of men, would turn the world upside down, or have done it already.”

He would have reminded: “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have receiv’d them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: They purchas’d them for us with toil and danger and expence of treasure and blood; and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlight’ned as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle; or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men. Of the latter we are in most danger at present: Let us therefore be aware of it. Let us contemplate our forefathers and posterity; and resolve to maintain the rights bequeath’d to us from the former, for the sake of the latter. Instead of sitting down satisfied with the efforts we have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude and perseverance. Let us remember, that ‘if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.’ It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers in the event.”

Samuel Adams knew the stakes are high: “Courage, then, my countrymen, our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.”

– PUBLIUS

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The lawyer runs a stop sign and gets pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy. He thinks that he is smarter than the deputy because he is a lawyer from New York and is certain that he has a better education than any cop from Houston, Texas.

He decides to prove this to himself and have some fun at the Texas deputy’s expense.

The deputy says,” License and registration, please.”

“What for?” says the lawyer.

The deputy says, “You didn’t come to a complete stop at the stop sign.”

Then the lawyer says, “I slowed down, and no one was coming.”

“You still didn’t come to a complete stop, Says the deputy. “License and registration, please.”

The lawyer says, “What’s the difference?”

“The difference is you have to come to complete stop, that’s the law. License and registration, please!” the Deputy says.

Lawyer says, “If you can show me the legal difference between slow down and stop, I’ll give you my license and registration; and you give me the ticket. If not, you let me go and don’t give me the ticket.”

“That sounds fair. Please exit your vehicle, sir,” the deputy says.

At this point, the deputy takes out his nightstick and starts beating the ever-loving “shaving cream” out of the lawyer and says, “Do you want me to stop, or just slow down?”

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A young lady came home from a date, rather sad.

She told her mother, “Anthony proposed to me an hour ago.”

“Then why are you so sad?” her mother asked.

“Because he also told me he is an atheist. Mom, he doesn’t even believe there’s a Hell.”

Her mother replied, “Marry him anyway.  Between the two of us, we’ll show him how wrong he is.”

This site has been nominated for BEST RELIGION BLOG. Click the “gif” here to vote!

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My dear friends,

We have been together for some time now, over seven years. I came to the rectory on Easter Sunday, 2000. Father Murray had moved out and had said his last Mass that morning before going on vacation. We were about twice the size we are now, with the grandchildren of many parishioners in our CCD and a few fervent military families from Summerfield.

I assisted Fr. Golden (who was dying from cancer) at Mount Calvary and at the nursing home. In exchange he gave our kids an in-parish rate at his school. We had a good team of servers for a while and even a youth group. But the kids quickly grew up with few replacements in sight. Our senior citizen population has gotten still older, but its faith and dedication remains undaunted. I said many times over that I felt like the lone sinner in a community of saints. My estimation of you remains the same. I have benefited from knowing you. As a small community we know quite clearly that everyone has value and a role to play in the life of this community and in the mission of the Church. We gave assistance and food to the poor. We had RCIA classes and prayer groups for advancement in the faith. There was bible study and book study groups. There were flea markets, bazaars, pot-luck suppers, and so much more. We were (and are) a family.

One of my sad duties has been to see so many of our good people get sick, move to assisted-living care centers, or pass away. We have lost many wonderful souls—surely our loss but heaven’s gain. I have wept with you on many occasions in grief over those whom God has taken home.

I cannot say for sure what time holds for the parish, but Holy Spirit will thankfully continue as a faith-community at least into the immediate future. Do not loose heart. Other parishes have struggled as well. Mount Calvary saw a 200 person drop in average weekly attendance in just a year. The local Knights of Columbus is also struggling with membership and advanced ages. We actually grew for a couple of years but then the closure of military housing and plain old human mortality set us back. We do not worry, but surrender to divine providence. God will take care of things.

In my time here we have had some fun. I was delighted by how well our 40th anniversary celebration went last year. The weekday chapel is bright and of sufficient size for the groups we get. Our main church is more beautiful now than at any other time prior in its history. It is adorned with a 16 foot tall wooden crucifix, a metallic tabernacle with the scene of Pentecost, and three wooden reliefs of the Holy Family. There is also an angel-shaped monstrance behind glass and a Sacred Heart statue in the side chapel.

Over the years we have had so many wonderful volunteers, too. I am afraid to mention names for fear of missing a few and hurting feelings. They have done everything from teaching the faith and fixing computers to singing in the choir and decorating the church. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.

This past Monday I saw Archbishop Wuerl and he gave me a new assignment. I did not ask for it, but it is a good assignment and a priest does what he is told and goes where he is sent. My last Sunday Mass will be 10:30 AM Mass on July 8. We will have a little goodbye reception afterwards. If you want to help, please call Betty Markauskas at [deleted online].

Starting on Wednesday, July 11, I will be the new pastor of Holy Family Church in Mitchellville, MD. My replacement here is a very fine Vietnamese priest, Fr. Tom Tran. I know that you will make him feel welcome. It is my prayer that Father Tom will have better fortune than I did in building up and maintaining the parish.

I really do love you all very much! I have been happy here.

God bless and keep you all,

Father Joe

This site has been nominated for BEST RELIGION BLOG. Click the “gif” here to vote!

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THE POWER OF BEER

A man is waiting for his wife to give birth. The doctor comes in and informs the dad that his son was born without torso, arms or legs. The son is just a head! But the dad loves his son and raises him as well as he can, with love and compassion.

After 18 years, the son is now old enough for his first drink. His dad takes him to the bar, tearfully tells the son he is proud of him and orders up the biggest, strongest drink for his boy. With all the bar patrons looking on curiously and the bartender shaking his head in disbelief, the boy takes his first sip of alcohol.

Swoooosh! Plop!! A torso pops out! The bar is dead silent; then bursts into whoops of joy. The father, shocked, begs his son to drink again. The patrons chant “Take another drink!”

The bartender continues to shake his head in dismay. Swoooosh! Plip! Plop!! Two arms pop out.

The bar goes wild. The father, crying and wailing, begs his son to drink again. The patrons chant, “Take another drink! Take another drink!!” The bartender ignores the whole affair and goes back to polishing glasses, shaking his head, clearly unimpressed by the amazing scenes.

By now the boy is getting tipsy, but with his new hands he reaches down, grabs his drink and guzzles the last of it. Plop! Plip!! Two legs pop out. The bar is in chaos.

The father falls to his knees and tearfully thanks God. The boy stands up on his new legs and stumbles to the left then staggers to the right through the front door, into the street, where a truck runs over him and kills him instantly. The bar falls silent.

The father moans in grief. The bartender sighs and says,

*

(Wait for it)

*

*

*

*

(It’s coming)

*

*

*

*

(Ready?)

*

*

*

(Don’t hate me)

*

*

*

*

(You’re gonna hate me)

*

*

*

*

(Take a deep breath)

*

*

*

“He should’ve quit while he was a head!”

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