A Father’s Day Tribute

As a tribute to any man who so courageously accepts and embodies that which defines Father.

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

“But the Common Man does not in the least want to found a sect. He is much more likely, for instance, to want to found a family.” – G.K. Chesterton

Anthony Malizia, was born on September 14, 1911 in Settefrati, Italy. Settefrati, is located in the mountains of the Province of Frosinone; in the Italian region Lazio, about 120km east of Rome and about 40km east of Frozinone.

My father emigrated, from Italy, to the United States, as a young man – entering the country, by way of Ellis Island, N.Y. He was sponsored by a cousin, and fulfilled his dream by becoming  a U.S. citizen. His name is one of so many, who shared that common dream, that is forever engraved, on “The American Immigrant Wall Of Honor,” at Ellis Island in New York Harbor.

In 1940, he would marry my mother, Antoinette, who was, herself, a resident of New York City. They would move to, and live…

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On Giving

    
Go break to the needy sweet charity’s bread; “For giving is living, and living is giving” the angel said.” And must I be giving again and again?” My peevish and pitiless answer ran. “Oh no,” said the angel, piercing me through, “Just give till GOD stops giving to you.” – UNKNOWN
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Who Am I?

 

 

 

I am what drove men to sacrifice their lives and fortunes to create a new nation under God. I am what, throughout this nation’s history, has compelled and still to this day compels men and women to do the same to preserve me. I am what motivates an aversion in any human being, especially an American, toward a tyrannical thumb that would seek to forcefully direct the course their hearts. I cannot be recognized by any of the senses. Yet my existence is confirmed when I have been lost. Man cannot give me who is inherent in all men and women, but man can take me away. I am FREEDOM.

Know, on this Memorial Day, that I can only be lost when I am taken for granted.

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Are We What We Eat?

This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. – John 6:50-54

Many who heard this thought He was speaking of cannibalism. As a result many disciples left. His eleven apostles, while gravely concerned, urged Him to stop those from leaving. Christ said to let them go. And asked the eleven: “Will you leave also?” Peter relied: “Lord, you have promised eternal life. Where should we go?”

Transubstantiation explains how the species of bread and wine, while maintaining their natural characteristics, become, in reality, the divine body and blood of Christ. This is accomplished during the Mass at the Consecration. It is NOT a symbol. If so, He would have said this is a symbol of my body and blood, rather than, this IS my body and blood given up for the expiation of sins.

How can man understand God? That is why Christ spoke in parables. In the crux of the story is found the truth. God’s shows Himself to us in an unspoken way of communicating. Nature and natural law reveals to us who He is.

How is it that we attain eternal life by consuming His body and blood? How does this move us to a higher level of life? To answer this, again, let us look to nature. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen shows it clearly in the following hierarchy of nature. Minerals in soil are absorbed up into plants and therefore achieve that higher level of life in dying to their present level of life. Plants then are consumed by animals and likewise achieve that higher level of life in dying to their former selves. Animals in dying to their level and being consumed by man attains that higher level. Consumption here then leads to consummation. The lower and higher life become one. And the lower gets the better of it. For in dying to itself it is elevated.

So, too, man in consuming the divine body and blood of the Christ dies to his human mortal limitations and faults. And thereby is raised to that level which Christ spoke of that drove so many away who did not understand. They did not understand because many are not fundamentally in touch with natural law and therefore not in touch with God. Christ in reverse manner sacrifices Himself to come down to us. He allows us to consume Him in divinity to become that highest form of life, as the other hierarchies were consumed to become higher. Here consumption also results in consummation. We become one with Christ. And we get the better for it, as well. For we, too, in dying to ourselves are elevated to eternal life with Him who is everlasting.

Faith will set us free we are told. And faith will truly free us from our present level of hierarchy of life to attain the promise of Christ; if we can only cast doubt aside and join our hearts and wills to His. Yes, it will take a sacrifice. We only need to look to the cross to see that that sacrifice is worth it.

Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. John 14:19

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Something Strong Inside -revisited

Something Strong Inside

April 11, 2012

I recently heard a story of a little girl who was playing with her inflatable “Bop bag” toy. Each time she struck the toy it would head to the floor, only to rebound to the upright position immediately, as is the nature of the toy. With each ensuing punch, the result was the same. Down the Bop bag would go, and right back up it would return, as though awaiting her next best shot. Meanwhile from an adjoining room, the little girl’s mother was watching. With tongue in cheek, she asked her daughter, “Why do you think the Bop bag keeps coming back up?” Her daughter’s answer was; “There is something strong inside it.” Out of the mouths of babes.

In the first of the “Rocky” movie series, Rocky Balboa is depicted as somewhat of a patsy, when not in the boxing ring. He is a good-hearted person, somewhat gullible. In his efforts to steer one neighborhood youth in the right direction, he is reviled rather than revered. When Rocky meets Adrienne, who would one day become his wife, he soon finds purpose. He would no longer be fighting for himself, but for another. His good heart, now had someone who appreciated it. His heart was no longer his alone, but Adrienne’s as well. Life’s jaded dross  that surrounded his heart of gold, is now burned away by purifying love. For the first time in his life he feels complete. He who fought the least in his sport, is now ready to stand toe to toe with its champions.

In the last installment of the Rocky series, we find Rocky, a shadow of his former self. Burdened, not only by age, but the void left by the recent passing of Adrienne, and a growing distance between he and his son. As many former sports greats, Rocky is an owner of a restaurant. When not visiting Adrienne’s grave, he is at the restaurant, posing for pictures, signing autographs and reliving his greatest moments as a fighter, for the entertainment of his patrons. His estranged son is bearing his own cross, as he mourns the loss of his mother,  and struggles to find his own identity, as the son of a celebrity. He often is not addressed by his own name, Robert, but rather, as “Rocky’s boy.”

As in all of the Rocky movies, an opportunity comes out of the blue, providing him with a test, as a means to overcome his present life dilemma. That opportunity, would be an exhibition match headlined as a fight between a retired champion, noted for his lion’s heart in the ring, and the present youthful champion, in search of his. Rocky accepts, because he hopes he can fill the void left by his lost love and regain the respect of his son. Robert, however, spurns his father’s endeavor. He expresses his embarrassment, not solely in terms of his father not acting his age, but Rocky’s renewed popularity would further hinder his (Robert’s) goal of independence and finding his own identity. Rocky realizes his son’s resentment is due to a selfish fear. The fear that he will not measure up to his job, nor earn the acceptance of his colleagues. Rocky, in an example of tough love, let’s Robert know, in no uncertain terms, that he is a unique and valuable person. That he doesn’t have to measure up to someone else’s opinion of him. He further tells Robert, what he already knows. “That life is hard, and nothing in this world, is going to hit as hard as life.” “It will beat you down, and keep you there, if you let it.”  “What’s most important; is not how hard you can hit back, but rather, how hard you can be hit and keep getting up, keep moving forward.” They part, leaving Robert, with something to think about, and a request, “be sure to visit your mother.” The next day Rocky finds Robert at Adrienne’s grave. There Robert tells him he has quit his job. Rocky feels terrible and that he didn’t intend for that to happen. Robert assures Rocky that the job was never really for him, and has come to realize he was trying to be someone he wasn’t. Here is where he wanted to be for now, in his father’s corner. Figuratively, where he had not been for some time.

There is always a moment of truth in a Rocky movie. The exhibition match mutates into a battle of wills. It is late in the fight. A fatigued and bloodied Rocky goes down, seemingly for the last time, after a flurry of punches from the much younger champion. Rocky wearily looks to his corner where his son is pleading with him to stay down. Robert tells him he has done enough. He doesn’t want his father to be seriously hurt or worse. He’s lost enough in his mother’s passing, he feels he couldn’t bear losing his father, with whom he has just been reconciled, and desperately loves. However, Rocky knows that  he has to finish. The door of doubt and regret is left ajar, by the task not completed. Then the familiar sound of the ringside bell,.. CLANG! CLANG!! CLANG!!!  As the music intensifies, Rocky’s words to his son reverberates in his head and heart; GET UP! GET UP!! His opponent, and all there present, gaze with admiration and disbelief, as Rocky continues the fight to the end. The young champion, winning by decision, achieves rejuvenation of his own waning heart. Rocky has healed himself and those who love him, each in their own unique way, by his refusal to give up or give in. The words to his son, on that night prior to the fight, would have been meaningless, if he had heeded the plea, to throw in the towel.

So, what is your trial? What is the obstacle before you? What problem weighs you down? Trials are to be endured, then overcome. Obstacles are to be analyzed, then circumvented. Problems, in the light of common sense and persistence, can be solved. As with the little girls’ opinion, regarding the Bop bag’s resilience, and the substance of Rocky’s story; that “something strong inside,” is in us, as well. What is that “something”, that commands; GET UP!?  What is it for you? I know what it is for me. Perhaps, it is one and the same, for all

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The Empty Tomb

“Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard. – Matthew 27: 65-66

“The king lay in state with the guard about Him. And the most astounding fact about this spectacle of vigilance over the dead is that the enemies of Christ expected the Resurrection, but His friends did not. It was the believers who were the skeptics. It was the unbelievers who were credulous.

None of the apostles expected a Resurrection. They had to be convinced. They had to be convinced the hard way, as Thomas had to be convinced. Believe me, the skeptics of today cannot compare with the skeptics of those days, namely the apostles. They were the doubters, and when they were convinced they proved that they believed by having their throats cut for the cause of Christ.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” He is not here, but has been raised.” – Luke 24:5-6

And as the risen Christ had overcome death, so too, the apostles would rise above their fear. Having again seen and eaten with their master, a presumed illusion had become reality; restoring their faith. The cowards would become heroes. They were now prepared to let go of the lives they knew and give them over to and for Christ; completely. All that was Christ was conferred upon them by Him. They would do what He had done. And through the apostles the gospels would be proclaimed throughout the world resulting in a growing, vibrant, Holy and living church.

As a result of the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday all that was is changed forever. Suffering once seen as a dreaded error of life now has a valued purpose and meaning; for it is the precursor of a greater good; and in the case of Christ, the greatest good. His success is our success. The entrance to heaven that had been denied to all humanity by the disobedience of one man, has been reopened, and access reinstated to all humanity by the obedience of the One man.

From the apostles and succeeding disciples to the present day priests, the consecration of the Holy Eucharist continues in the presence of the ever vigilant Paraclete. The Paraclete is the love of God that binds the Father to the Son and the Son to us all. The Paraclete guides, protects, inspires, consoles and sustains. And through that continual Eucharistic consecration, Jesus keeps the promise He made that comforted and encouraged his apostles then; and comforts and encourages all today, who take up their cross and follow Him. “And remember that I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” – Matthew 28:20

The stone that sealed the tomb of the Savior was found fallen away. And the place where His body had been laid was empty and free of darkness. For that which harbors not life, but death, had not the power to contain “The Light Of The World.”

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The Banquet

“Jesus Washes the Feet of His Disciples at the Last Supper”

When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. – John: 12-17

Two groups invited to a banquet sat at separate tables. Each table was served the most remarkable foods that satisfied to the limit the senses of sight, smell and taste. The excitement built to max as the last of the fare was delivered. The host of the banquet bid all the begin the feast after fulfilling one stipulation. Each had to use the one utensil at each place setting. That utensil was a fork with such a long handle that it would be impossible to partake of the feast before them that they so desired with their very souls. The host then bid them begin. At one table the frustration was clear and evident. There was grumbling and angst throughout for no one could feed themselves. However, at the second table not a sound was heard except those of satiated appetites. For each person was found feeding the person opposite them. Each banquet table is an example of either hell or heaven.

Humility is the main virtue addressed in each case. Christ humbled himself to wash the feet of His disciples. The disciples humbled themselves to accept it. The members of the second banquet table humbled themselves to feed the other. And in so doing received the greatest joy of enjoying the feast.

There are those who are hopelessly selfish and there are those who are hopelessly selfless. There is a place for each.

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