By Fr. George Welzbacher
May 22, 2011
Today to the vast majority of Americans the name Colley Cibber means nothing at all, though in his day (18th century England) he was a dramatist much admired for his comedies, though widely shunned in society because of his boorish arrogance. Students of English literature will remember him chiefly as the anti-hero in the final version of The Dunciad, Alexander Pope's piranha-like payback for Cibber's failure to appreciate Pope's genius. In particular Pope's celebrated couplet vis-à-vis Cibber's invidious critique of Pope's poetic output has entered into the mainstream of public discourse: "Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, and without sneering teach the rest to sneer."
I was reminded of Pope's couplet when I glanced at the headline chosen by the Pioneer Press for an article reprinted from the Washington Post on May first of this year. And the couplet seemed all the more apposite as I read the article itself, written by the Post's Michelle Boorstein. Her report, commenting on the beatification of Pope John Paul II, and lukewarm at best in its estimate of a man profoundly revered by a world-wide constituency, was laced with comments from self-described Catholics who are vexed with the Pontiff because of his rejection even of the possibility of ordaining women to the priesthood or for his supposed complicity in the sexual scandals involving some 4% of America's Catholic priests over the past half century. I won't burden you with the text of the Boorstein report, but the Pioneer Press headline is itself precious: "Ordinary Catholics look beyond any failings of John Paul II."
To its credit the Washington Post did solicit a comment of a few hundred words from my friend (familiar to all of you) Father John Zuhlsdorf, whose blog (fatherzonline.com) is probably the most widely consulted Catholic blog in the English-speaking world. Here is his appraisal of the beatification of Pope John Paul. (And the massive furious readers' response to his tribute, as displayed on the Post's website, is beyond belief) More than a whiff of satanic hatred there!).
* * * * *Pope John Paul II: Fearless in hope and love
From: The Washington Post
Posted at 12:28 PM ET, 04/30/2011
By: Father John Zuhlsdorf
In some cities in the USA when a local team wins a basketball game, crowds bum cars. But when John Paul II's body was lying in state in St. Peter's Basilica, one first responder, police officer and volunteer worker after another told me that there had not been a single act of civil disobedience or problem reported. That means something. During the days which preceded his funeral, I was able, armed with media credentials, to move freely through the checkpoints and channels for the millions, literally, of people who stood in slow moving lines for scores of hours to see the dead Pope's body for the last time. Peacefulness, prayer and patience reigned.
At the end of the funeral, the wind blew closed the cover of the Book of the Gospels. Men lifted John Paul's coffin onto their shoulders. They stopped before the open doors of the Basilica and slowly pin-wheeled, as if to give him one last public wave. A shout went up, simultaneous because of the huge video screens along the nearby streets. That shout, which echoed across a silent and motionless Rome, may have been the single loudest purely human sound ever raised on high in that City of over 3000 years.
There began the rising chant of the people, "Santo Subito ... Sainthood Soon"! It may have been a manifestation of the old adage Vox Populi Vox Dei... The Voice of the People is the Voice of God. I don't know that, but it was unlike any chant I had ever heard before. Of course in Rome, when you hear the word "subito," especially from a waiter, you almost never expect what you've requested to happen quickly. And yet here we are at his beatification.
Leaving aside the issue of the speed of the late Pope John Paul II's beatification (it took only 2220 days, 15 days fewer than was required for Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta), we should all be able to remember and agree on some of the achievements of his life as a good man, a faithful member of his Catholic Church, and a life-long disciple of the Lord and Savior he so obviously loved.
A pebble can prompt a tumultuous landslide. John Paul dropped a great many stones. Many of them are still gathering speed. On the geopolitical plane, the visit of John Paul II to his native Poland after his election as pope helped to diminish worldwide the soul-annihilating forces of atheistic communism. Within the Church, after a decade and more of internal rebellion and chaos, John Paul's manifest confidence, love of neighbor and focus on man's Redeemer initiated the gradual rebuilding of order and morale, especially among young people, which continues still under the pontificate of Pope Benedict.
From the early loss of his parents and the hardships of a youth spent under Nazi occupation, with forced labor and serious injury, to the sorrow of seeing his beloved Poland and her people suffer under communism, from witnessing open defiance on the part of clergy and theologians within the Church to being shot by an assassin in St. Peter's Square, from the horror of emerging stories about the abuse of children to the ever increasing agony of the Parkinson's Disease which sapped his vitality and imprisoned him in his physical weakness, John Paul radiated hope.
Even as he grew physically smaller, he seemed to become all the more great, for it was the presence of Christ that grew within him. Young people were inspired by his joy. The frail elderly man gradually brightened as a beacon of hope for us all. Let us not forget that we too are daily drawing closer to our own decline and death with attendant pains and challenges. We will be no less precious and valuable when we grow weaker. In his choice to suffer publicly John Paul taught us that love of God and beauty of soul are the truly human values which matter, not wealth or youthful beauty .... John Paul stood as a sign of contradiction in an increasingly shallow and materialistic age.
John Paul strode onto the Church's stage announcing a virile, muscular Catholicism even as he relentlessly emphasized in his writing and preaching the dignity of the human person, that we must not treat others - especially women, the unborn and the elderly - as objects to be used or discarded for our own selfish convenience. Each person, from the defenseless unborn to the defenseless senior, is precious in God's sight and is made in God's image and likeness. John Paul's "theology of the body," as it has been dubbed, presented a view of man with which countless young people were able to resonate.
As Blessed John Paul, or just plain pope, or simply Karol, he was a giant of a man who persevered in his simple message to his very last heartbeat: Do not be afraid to love your Lord with all your heart and strength and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Father John Zuhlsdorf, a convert from Lutheranism, is a writer for various Catholic publications. He wrangles a popular blog with frank commentary on Catholic issues (fatherzonline.com). He was ordained a priest in 1991 by Pope John Paul II.
* * * * *
Saying No to Marriage
Mary Jane Smetanka
Minneapolis Star Tribune
May 12, 2011
In a switch that highlights enormous changes in the American family, married couples no longer make up the majority of households in the Twin Cities area.
A new release of 2010 state data by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday shows that 48.6 percent of households in the seven-county metropolitan area were married couples. That's down from 50.9 percent in 2000. The rest of Minnesota is not far behind, with 50.8 percent of households made up of married couples.
"We've been going through a long period of social change," state Demographer Tom Gillaspy said. "Families with kids are no longer the largest single family type, and many couples are not together by contract. ... Changing families are one of the big issues we will face in the next couple of decades."
The proportion of married households in the nation has been dropping since 1950, when 78 percent of households were married couples. By 2000, that had dropped to 52 percent.
"People do value marriage, but it's more like an ideal, not a necessity," said Bill Doherty, University of Minnesota family and social science professor. Polls show that young Americans overwhelmingly want to get married. But people are waiting longer to tie the knot, and many don't feel the need to get married.
"You don't have to be married to be seen as an adult now," Doherty said. "Before, a 30-something unmarried guy was passed over for a management position, and a 30-something unmarried woman was a spinster who was seen as living a depleted life.
"Now we have a lot more opportunity and cultural permission for people to live big parts of their adult life outside of marriage."
Pam Riegel, 29, and Dax Flyger, 34, have been together for three years and are looking at buying a house. They've talked about getting married but are waiting until they're more settled, Riegel said.
"We're young," she said. "I'm getting my career started, and he was out of work and is getting back into the workforce. I never felt I had to get married by a certain time."
Justin Berndt and Jessica Nickrand also have talked about tying the knot. But Berndt, 25, said the thought of planning a wedding while Nickrand, 23, is focused on earning a Ph.D just seemed like too much.
"It's not a commitment issue so much as a time issue," Berndt said. "Maybe it's a generational thing. We're living together, this is working now, why step on it? We really care about each other.
"We'll go at our own speed, and when life is at a different place we'll look at it."
College-educated people still marry in large numbers, Doherty said, making marriage strong among the middle class. That shows in the census results. Counties that ring the Twin Cities -- Scott, Carver, Sherburne, Wright and Washington -- along with Dodge County in southeastern Minnesota have the highest proportion of married households in the state, at more than 60 percent. Hennepin and Ramsey counties are in the bottom three in Minnesota, at 43 and 41 percent respectively.
Among cities, wealthier suburbs such as Sunfish Lake, Victoria, Minnetrista, Medina and North Oaks have close to 75 percent of households made up of married couples. In Minneapolis that figure is 28 percent. About 43 percent of Minneapolis households are made up of people living alone.
Some experts worry that the decline of marriage, especially among lower-income people, creates instability for children and loosens ties between generations. Studies show that married fathers are most involved in child-rearing, Doherty said.
"We have more adult freedom ... but there's no way to view this as good for children," he said
* * * * *
St. John's Parish congratulates our young parishioner, Michael Hamilton, a senior at St. Thomas Academy, who, in an essay contest sponsored by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, with some three hundred contestants participating, was awarded First Prize for his essay analyzing the system of Kurzarbeit, "Shortwork", a governmental program currently prevailing in Germany under which industries are encouraged, during economic slowdowns, not to dismiss workers but rather to reduce their working hours, with the government providing the workers with a compensatory supplement. This approach has been shown to be beneficial to Germany's workers and to be considerably less expensive for the government than is America's unemployment compensation program. Michael's prize is an internship this summer at the Minneapolis Federal reserve. Congratulations, Michael!
* * * * *