Mr. Scratch: A soul? A soul is nothing. Can you see it, smell it, touch it? 

The Devil and Daniel Webster 1941

 

Yesterday at the end of Mass our Pastor informed us of a special local event for the year of mercy. There will be a 24 day of prayer and mercy taking place at St. Joseph’s Church in Fitchburg stating at 3 PM EST including confessions being heard round the clock.

What jumped out at me about the announcement was the designation of St. Joseph’s as a place of pilgrimage for the holy year.  This means that if a person meets the usual conditions (1. receiving holy communion, 2. Praying for the Pope’s intentions, 3. Confession either within seven days before or after ) they can receive an indulgence which can be applied to themselves or someone who has died , by simply entering the church any time during the Holy Year. (A Full Plenary indulgence if you have no attachment to sin, a partial if you do)

It is quite possible or even probable that your local bishop has designated a place of pilgrimage in your area.  If he has then you will also have this opportunity to earn this indulgence regularly.

This should be cause for excitement & joy for faithful Catholics.  If it’s not then today’s first reading from morning’s mass about Naaman the Syrian is made for you:

Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, was highly esteemed and respected by his master, for through him the LORD had brought victory to Aram. But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.

Now the Arameans had captured from the land of Israel in a raid a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife.  “If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,” she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went and told his lord just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said. “Go,” said the king of Aram. “I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments. To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

When he read the letter, the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed: “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”

When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king: “Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel.” Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. The prophet sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”

But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left.

But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.”

So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.

2 Kings 1-15AB

There are few things that better illustrate that most deadly sin of pride than this reading.

Consider Naaman.  Here is a guy who has come to Israel because he’s been told in such a way that he believes it, that he can be cured of his leprosy by this trip.  This is not an easy trip.  He is traveling by caravan from Damascus to the king of Israel with his servants and a bunch of valuable goods in an age when the fastest mode of land conveyance is a horse or camel, and he’s doing it at a time when even Roman roads are far in the future.

His party has to stop to eat, to water and rest their beasts of burden.  The closest thing they have to headlights are torches fueled by oil so they are likely only traveling by day.  Since they’re carrying valuables they have to post guards at night and depending on how many are in the caravan might even be securing their camp with stockade.

Maybe,  if they’re very lucky,  he’s averaging making 3-5 MPH during the travel time from Damascus to the Capital of Israel where he delivers his letter.  That’s 135 miles as the crow flies but God knows how many miles via the trails available at the time, 150 miles?  200 perhaps?

Given all that let’s say he and his people traveling 10 hours a day make the trip in 5 days to a week if nothing goes wrong.

After all that time, all that trouble to get down there in the hopes of being cured of this horrible disease, what does the  prophet do?  He tells him:  Go wash in the local river and you’ll be fine.

And that’s when Naaman gets pissed off!

How DARE he not have me go on a heroic quest.  How is it possible that I don’t have to slay a dragon, climb the highest mountain,  storm a heavily maned fortification through a rain of arrows or recover the lost Ark of the Covenant (rumor has it that’s it’s in a pit somewhere in Egypt)  Naaman the warrior is thinking:  Cripes If all it took is a bath I could have taken one back home and saved the trip.

Some thing never change.

Fast forward to today.  Think of the sacrament of confession.  All you have to do is show up, wait your turn (and it’s not a long wait these days) confess your sins, be sorry, do your penance,  usually just a few prayers and BOOM!  You’re forgiven!

You don’t even have to go to your own church if you’re embarrassed to do so, and in my experience most priests will consent to hear your confession outside the normal hours if you just ask.  How hard is that?  It’s a piece of cake!

So why don’t Catholics go?   The church and Christ offers them the gift of a clean soul practically any time a person wants it and most people don’t bother.  Yet if those same people were given a card unlimited washes at any car wash of their choice they’d be driving through once a day and twice on Sundays.

That’s what confession is, an unlimited car wash coupon for your soul people don’t use it, why?  Usually Pride, I don’t do anything that wrong, and anyways God will forgive me.  Why should I bother confessing to a priest?

Even though Christ tells his disciples directly in the Gospel of John :

“Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

It’s the same with the Holy Doors and the indulgence.   Even if you’re a person who only goes to Church on Sundays it means that once a week you can earn an indulgence to shorten or eliminate your time in purgatory either for yourself or a loved one , a parent, a friend, a spouse a child simply by taking the extra time to drive to a particular church and walk in?  Here is a chance to completely or partially remove the temporal punishment for forgiven sins and yet how many people are doing it?  I mean if a policeman said, all you have to do is walk though a door and you’d be excused of a Traffic ticket or fine you’d do it in a second.

We look at the story of Naaman and laugh at the idea that he is so offended by the simple task that Elisha give him to be cured.  Yet all over America Catholics are doing the same thing turning down the forgiveness of Christ out of pride.  And remember, if Naaman’s had refused Elisha generous offer the consequences for Naaman’s would have lasted a lifetime.  When you refuse Christ’s generous offer of forgiveness, the consequences.

Naaman was lucky he had servants with a lot of guts willing to challenge his pride saying to him in effect:  Cripes why are you upset that he’s making it easy for you?  Just do it!  Thanks to them he finally consents to bathing in the Jordan and washed clean of his illness.

When pride keeps us from accepting the mercy that Christ & his Holy Catholic Church offer, will we have the wisdom to hear the voice of those telling us, Just do it and have our souls washed clean of our sins?

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It’s Monday and thanks to you we’ve reversed our slow weekend making our goal by 2:30 EST today and dropping our current deficit for the year at $1289 & 21.1 days.

Thank you so much.

To those both able and inclined you can help us close that gap by hitting DaTipJar.




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The 2016 Presidential primary season continues to unfold with much drama, intrigue – dare we say subterfuge – and ongoing suspense.

At this present juncture, the Democratic Primary looks as if it may finally be coming to a resolution.  Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton handily won the South Carolina primary on Saturday, February 27, 2016.

The final results were not even close.

Mrs. Clinton overwhelmed Vermont Independent (Democratic-Socialist) Senator Bernie Sanders by producing a spectacular turnout of African-American Voters.  One clearly recalls in 2008 that a young Senator by the name of Barrack Obama took control of the nominating process by beating then Senator Hillary Clinton in South Carolina and then going on to amass an impressive vote tally of delegates during Super-Tuesday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won an even more impressive total of African-American voters than was produced by Senator Barrack Obama in 2008.

If Mrs. Clinton receives anywhere close to this level of African-American support throughout the rest of the South, then Mr. Sanders’ incipient campaign will limp along for a few more months, but in reality he will be all but finished.

The long-awaited coronation of Hillary Rodham Clinton will at long last commence.

Or, will it?

The “Sword of Damocles” still appears to be hanging over the head of the Clinton campaign in the form on the ongoing F.B.I. investigation into her unsecure e-mails while she was Secretary of State.

Where will this all lead?

Who knows?

It would be the ultimate irony is Mrs. Clinton received her party’s nomination, went on to wage war against her Republican Party opponent, only to be indicted months before the November election.

This is the ultimate nightmare scenario if you are a Democrat.

The great Agatha Christie could not have written a better crime drama then what is taking place with the Clinton Presidential campaign.

Stay tuned!

Things are no less interesting on the Republican side of the political house.

The Republican Establishment – whatever this truly means – has gone from amusement over the campaign of Mr. Donald Trump, to believing that he would eventually fizzle out to a near panic mode as “the Donald” continues to win primary after primary with ever-increasing strength.

Meanwhile, a list of Republicans that have quit and suspended their campaigns is breathtaking:

  • Governor Scott Walker – he left early as he was most likely burned out after having to run for Governor three (3) times in a four year period (including one unsuccessful recall)
  • Governor Rick Perry – His second run for the White House was not the charm…
  • Governors Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee never really got traction with the Conservative Catholic-Evangelical vote… One might argue that the two Governors along with former Senator Rick Santorum were viewed by republican party voters as yesterday’s news
  • Finally, Governor Jeb Bush… If there was an establishment favorite, this was the man.  Bush had amassed a war-chest of over 100 million dollars and he had the powerful Bush Dynasty backing his efforts.  Unfortunately, although Governor Jeb Bush is a man of extraordinary gifts and talents, he had two major hurdles that he simply could not overcome.
  • The mood of the American voter in both the Democratic and Republican primaries is one of tremendous A-N-G-E-R!!!!  Jeb Bush is a soft-spoken technocrat
  • Secondly, Governor Jeb Bush both benefited and was handicapped by his last name B-U-S-H.

Americans have an innate distrust of dynasties.

We violently broke away from Great Britain and have maintained the world’s longest running Democracy or (Republican form of Governance) for nearly 240 years.

We should ALL BOW and Thank The Great Almighty GOD who rules over the affairs of men for His Gracious provisions to our marvelous and imperfect country.

Now, I have written the above synopsis in order to get to the heart of what I wish to say and that is barring some incredible political maneuvering that Mr. Donald Trump will most likely be the Republican Party’s nominee for President this year.

I grieve for the nation that I greatly L-O-V-E!

In my lifetime, I shudder to think that our nation has come down to this scandalous path where we are about to nominate two people who have lived most of their adult lives shrouded with much drama, intrigue – dare we say subterfuge – and ongoing suspense.

We have Mrs. Clinton who the late and great journalist William “Bill” Safire once described as a “congenital liar.

Please feel free to look up the essay that Mr. Safire’s wrote on January 8, 1996 in The New York Times.  The title of his piece is called “Essay; Blizzard of Lieshttp://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/08/opinion/essay-blizzard-of-lies.html.

On the other side of the political aisle we are left with Mr. Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump comes across as a bully.

Mr. Trump has NEVER HELD ELECTIVE OFFICE (his supports see this as a badge of honor!!)

The Donald has yet to issue any consistent position paper on anything!!!

Mr. Donald Trump appears to be a political chameleon…

Which Trump do we believe?

Do we adhere to his recent conversion to “Conservative Thought” or do we look at his past track record when he ran for office in 2000 as the titular head of “The Reform Party” when he was pro-choice and anti-traditional Judeo-Christian family?

Will the real Donald Trump please stand up?

I leave you with a series of questions with regards to appraising the candidacies of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump:

  • Does Character no longer matter?
  • Does the ends justify the means?
  • Do we really wish to teach our children that we are to WIN at any Cost?
  • Do we rationalize our voting by backing the ultimate nominee of our favorite political party – Democrat or Republican – because we are more committed to political ideology as opposed to ultimate truth?

A vote for either Mrs. Clinton or for Mr. Donald Trump means that we as an American people have chosen that we will employ “ANY MEANS NECESSARY TO WIN” and that our so-called commitment to our much vaunted JUDEO-CHRISTIAN heritage is simply a facade.

Is this really the way that we wish to live?

Please do not tell me that you must vote for one of the two party’s nominees.

In the discipline of LOGIC, this is known as a “False Dilemma.”  A false dilemma states that a person must make an either or choice when in reality there may be other [painful] alternatives available.

Please feel free to write me with other constructive alternatives…

I am Praying for the Spiritual Revival and Renewal of Our Country!

Pastor-Kelly

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – We are more than halfway through the legislative special session in Baton Rouge meant to solve the staggering $900 million state budget deficit and there does not appear to be any clear or painless way to solve the crisis.

You might remember a couple of weeks ago when I reported on the financial crisis in Louisiana which led to newly elected governor John Bel Edwards and his staff promising to close down Louisiana State University among other schools, and to halt TOPS scholarship payments for students already enrolled. Panic raced throughout the state as the legislators convened in Baton Rouge to attempt to solve the crisis.

At this point, the universities are still open (thank goodness) and Governor Edwards says TOPS scholarships will be funded through the spring but next year is dubious. Minimum requirements to earn one of these scholarships will be based on some new astronomically high ACT score.

Team Edwards has been able to push through a new one-cent sales tax which is supposed to earn the state about $210 million in new revenue and giving us the dubious distinction of having the highest combined state and local sales tax rate in the nation. Governor Edwards has also picked up about $350 million by juggling money from one fund to http://theadvocate.com/news/14991870-184/louisiana-house-advances-1-cent-sales-tax-increase another. He’s also cut the Department of Education by $44 million – because apparently education hasn’t been cut enough.

Have no fear though: there’s no longer a work requirement for welfare and Governor Edwards has expanded Medicaid.

Still to come:  a new $0.22 per pack tax on cigarettes, a new tax of “a penny or two” on beer, wine, and liquor, and several measures to remove corporate loopholes and close several corporate tax exemptions.

It’s all pretty dire and even Moody’s has downgraded our credit rating for the first time in a decade.

But for now, the lights are still on and the doors are still open here in Louisiana.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

One final word on Trump’s appearance on Jake Tapper, it reminded me of a famous story about Mickey Mantle in 1968 his final season in the Majors.

The Date was September 19th 1968 The Yankees were losing to Detroit 6-1 in the their final game of the year at Tiger Stadium when Mickey Mantle came to the plate with one out in the 8th for the final time before the fans in Detroit.

In three plate appearance Mantle had a hit and two walks and had scored the only Yankees run on a bases loaded walk with two out in the 6th when he stepped into the batter box to face Denny McLain but while the Mick was having a better day then his team, in truth Mantle was, by this time was a shadow of his former self.

Only his 106 walks (2nd behind Carl Yastrzemski’s 119) gave any sign of the player he once was. In 1968 he would hit a career worst .237 driving in only 54 runs. And while his 18 home runs would lead that Yankees that season it would be his lowest power production in a season when he had played more than 100 games and had 400 plate appearances.

Meanwhile the man on the mound Denny McLain was on his way to one of the greatest seasons ever for a pitcher in the modern era. He would win the Cy Young AND MVP with a 31-6 record and a 1.96 ERA despite leading the league in Innings pitched (336) complete games (28) batters faced (1304) and ironically home runs surrendered (31).

Mantle had been a hero to McLain and with the game in hand decided he was going to let him make some history. I’ll let the Mick himself tell the story himself:

Mantle didn’t swing at that first pitch dead center over the plate that he knew was coming and describes the look Freehan gave him as if to say: “How did you not clobber that pitch?”

Forgetting all the circus that has come since, the bottom line is you don’t get a much fatter pitch in the game of politics than: “Do you denounce the KKK and David Duke?” and when Trump didn’t knock that fat pitch out of the park the look of disbelief on Jake Tapper’s face must have been very much like the look Bill Freehan gave Mantle that September day in Detroit.

*******************************

It’s Monday and we hope to reverse a slow weekend where we failed to make our quest for the $61 a day both day extending our annual deficit for the year at $1334 22 1/2 days behind the mark.

We would be delighted to reverse the trend of this weekend. To those who already have kicked in thank you so much. For those who can’t afford it, don’t worry about it but I do ask you to promote the site.

To those both able and inclined I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us close that gap by hitting DaTipJar.




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Please consider Subscribing. If less than 1/3 of 1% of our February readers this month subscribed at $10 a month we’d have the 114.5 subscribers needed to our annual goal all year without solicitation.

If less than 2/3 of 1% did, I’d be completely out of debt and able to attend CPAC

If a full 1% of our February readers subscribed at $10 a month I could afford to travel across the country covering the presidential race this year in person for a full month.

Plus of course all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.


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Either way thanks for reading and don’t be shy about letting us know what you think. One can’t improve without critique.

Leonard: Okay, fine. Live with cats. Be like my Aunt Nancy. She had dozens of them. And do you know what happened after she died? They ate her.

Sheldon:You don’t have to sell me on cats, Leonard. I’m already a fan.

The Big Bang Theory: The Zazzy Substitution 2010

There has been some fun in watching the GOP establishment in sheer Trump induced panic to the point where they supposedly think that Mitt Romney is going to ride in and play savior.  That insanity has been the bright side to my disappointment that Trump voters don’t know or remember that my man Ted Cruz has been fighting for all the big causes that Trump has been espousing.

However  there is one part about all this nonsense and panic that might not make sense to someone paying attention.  Why is the GOP so dead set against Donald Trump?  After all he is a dealmaker and it’s highly likely that he will make plenty of deals that favor the party big wigs to get the votes in congress that he wants and who says that the big money donors who finance the various candidates will not see a deal or two thrown their way?

What you have to remember is the difference between how an activist sees the GOP and how the party Establishment does.

To an activist the GOP exists as a vehicle to advance a certain set of principles that matter to them as the best thing to the country for the sake of generations to come.

To a member of the establishment the GOP exists as a vehicle to a comfortable job / office in government and/or party, a source of profitable influence in same, an even more comfortable living post government and entré to all of these things for family friends and children.

To the big money donor it’s an investment in his interests to either guarantee a favor or to ensure a hearing.

For the activist it’s what the office can do for their cause, to the establishment it’s what the office can do for you and other members of the club and for the donor that put them all there.

And that’s why the party wants to stop  Trump if they can because they envision a scene much like Tip O’Neill described on page 183 of his autobiography when he and a group of Massachusetts congressmen went to see President Johnson to pitch a friend from Boston in the General Service Administration for the head spot of that agency when it opened up in 1964.

As Tip explains things didn’t go as planned:

When we arrived at the White House, Johnson came in to the room and said, “Boys, I know what you’re here for.  You want this Kennedy man to get the GSA job, this guy who looks down his nose at me like I’m shit.  Well, you can tell him that he’s not going anywhere.  He’s damn lucky to be where he is.  Every time I see that elongated son of a bitch with his PT-109 tie pin, flaunting it in my face, I almost go through the roof.”

“Wait a minute—” somebody broke in.

“No, I will NOT wait a minute,” the president replied.  “No Kennedy man is going to get that job.  I’m giving it to a Johnson man.  Now let’s go in and have a drink.”

When people think of jobs in a president’s administration they think of secretary of state, Attorney General or chief of staff, but the reality is there are thousands of positions that carry prestige, pay well and guarantee a well paying position in the private sector later on that an administration fills not just at the start of their term but all during it.  (another argument for Glenn Reynolds revolving door surtax)

What happens if those positions go not to a party man, but to a Trump man?  What happens when the head of an agency like the GSA doesn’t owe his position to a party or to a donor but owes it to the Donald™ and it time to make a ruling that affects the party or could affect a chance in a big donor’s fortunes?  Even worse for the GOP what happens when Donald Trump remembers who treated him fairly and with respect and who did not?  There are few men in the this history of the world that can hold a candle to Lyndon Baines Johnson in terms of ego and remembering a slight but I suspect Donald Trump is one of them.

I can see that scene from the LBJ years being repeated over and over again as a President Trump remembers who granted him a favor when he needed it (Like Chris Christie) and who did not.

Cue Captain Picard:

I suspect a variant of this conversation is happening right now with a lot of Republican Establishment types being given the choice between joining the establishment “destroy trump at all costs” forces, waiting till after Florida to make up their mind or jumping on the bandwagon before Super Tuesday, although I suspect the language being used by the Trump people is not as diplomatic as the Captain Picard’s

For myself I’m a Cruz man. I urge all voters to support Ted and will keep doing so as long as he’s in this race.

But if I’m ever in a position where my choice is Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president, I won’t have to think twice and if nothing else the man who gets my vote will know it was given honest.

*************************************************************************

It’s Monday and this weekend was the first time since I lost my job and Stacy McCain lost his Twitter rights that we’ve had a setback in our quest for $61 to make a living back here at the blog. Saturday DaTipJar was completely and utterly silent and as of this writing (Sunday 4 PM) DaTipJar is $49 short for the day and remain with a deficit for the year at 21 days and $1335 dollars.

To those who already have kicked in thank you so much. For those who can’t afford it, don’t worry about it but I do ask you to promote the site.

To those both able and inclined I’d really appreciate it if you’d help us close that gap by hitting DaTipJar.




Olimometer 2.52

Please consider Subscribing. If less than 1/3 of 1% of our February readers this month subscribed at $10 a month we’d have the 114.5 subscribers needed to our annual goal all year without solicitation.

If less than 2/3 of 1% did, I’d be completely out of debt and able to attend CPAC

If a full 1% of our February readers subscribed at $10 a month I could afford to travel across the country covering the presidential race this year in person for a full month.

Plus of course all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.


Choose a Subscription level



Either way thanks for reading and don’t be shy about letting us know what you think. One can’t improve without critique.