Recently I came across a study of sociopaths. I can recall many years ago, in a discussion with a psychiatrist friend, his saying that sociopaths are fun at a party but hell to live with. Sociopaths are attractive, often charismatic figures; they are very intelligent and use that intelligence to advance their own agenda, at times ruthlessly. They can be very witty and have great facility with language, sometimes to the point of sounding poetic. Sociopaths can look you right in the face-- and they will, eventually--and lie to you.
Two elderly Sisters who had been involved in the Pope's primary school education in Buenos Aires recently opined that Jorge was 'a devil, a little devil...like most little boys' that age. One even asked him when he came for a visit after being ordained a priest if he had 'changed' for the better. He must have been bad!
Every once and awhile I am channel surfing and pass by EWTN, the Catholic station started by Mother Angelica. Imagine my surprise when this evening I saw Raymond Arroyo giving a talk on Mother in celebration of her 90th birthday. Now I know 90 is the new 60 in Monterey but in a monastery in Alabama?!
I will be honest: there are some programs on EWTN which make my skin crawl. The filmed daily Mass is, again being honest, off putting for me; in my view the preaching can be lifeless and uninspiring. Having said that, I have to pay EWTN and Mother as well some tribute.
This past week has been an especially horrific week for many of us. The bombing that came at the end of the Boston Marathon Monday last not only destroyed human lives and seriously maimed human beings in the vicinity but revealed that anyone who wishes to rain down terror in our country can do so rather easily.
"Consider the source!" as the Sisters of Notre Dame used to tell us as we grew up in Watsonville. Especially now, when we have media 24/7 literally at our fingertips, it is safe to take almost everything with the proverbial grain of salt. Some examples: First, white toy poodles, darling creatures, were sold to people who then found out they were--weasels!! Next, popular Evangelical pastor Joel Osteen was reported on the internet to have renounced Christianity. Anxious queries from all over the world came in asking for confirmation.
This weekend we will have three extra Masses for our First Eucharist class: Fr Peter will preside at two on Saturday and I will have one on Sunday afternoon. Because so many family and friends come to these celebrations, we use the Hall as we did for the crowds on Easter. I know the children will be neatly dressed, there will be good music and pretty flowers,....and then the moment will come when each child receives Jesus for the first time.
"But their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them"--the reaction of the apostles on Easter morning after Mary Magdalen and the women accompanying her announced the empty tomb and an encounter with 'two men in dazzling garments' who said Jesus was alive. Ironically we in 21st century America are inundated with nonsense-- from the government, the media, the entertainment industry, various brands of 'spirituality' and a whole host of other sources of information. Yet the sharpest scorn of many is kept for religion, especially Christianity and certainly Catholicism.
With the installation of Pope Francis last week, this is as good a time as any to look at the pattern of leadership that is given us in the Passion proclaimed this Palm Sunday. Of course, we start at the door of the cathedral with the Gospel of our Lord's entry into Jerusalem: he is greeted with wild enthusiasm, the crowd even laying down cloaks for his donkey to walk on. Within a week another crowd [or the same?] will be screaming for his death on Good Friday. Lesson: Jesus does not take his guidance from crowds, polls, whatever is politically correct.
This week we will be gathering in the cathedral on Thursday evening at 7:00 to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation. Six priests will be assisting--in three languages--and after the Word people will approach one of us to confess sins, receive absolution and a penance. As is often said at this time of year, those who have been away for 20, 30, 40 or more years are our special guests.
At a recent Evening Prayer, there was a petition involving the retirement of Benedict XVI and, it was hard to hear, something to do with Father Peter. I was sitting in the congregation and a parishioner turned around with anxiety in her face and asked 'What's happened to Father Peter?!!' I laughed and hastened to assure her he was not going into retirement but on a sabbatical. Having been to Resurrection [whose new church he built] this past week for an Anointing Mass and observing all he has accomplished with the cathedral's renovation.