Monday, October 31, 2011

(19) Why Canonized Saints?


        Being canonized a saint is somewhat analogous to being inducted into the Hall of Fame. They are recognized for extraordinary holiness and heroic virtue as models for us to imitate and learn from. The process of canonization takes years and sometimes centuries. A committee closely scrutinizes the persons life, looking for evidence of great holiness and heroic virtue. One of the members of the committee is nicknamed the “devil's advocate” because his job is to look for significant faults and any evidence whatsoever, that the person does not deserve to be canonized. Furthermore, at least two authenticated miracles, as a signs from God, are required as a result of that person's intercession. There must be no doubt that the cure was supernatural and could not have happened by natural or psychological means. An example may be the sudden disappearance of an advanced malignant cancer.
       Do Catholics pray to the dead? How could we? Canonized saints are alive and with God in heaven. We're certain of that by virtue of the fact that they are canonized. Thus we can honor them and have a devotion to them. Of course, Christ is the only intermediary between man (in the generic sense) and God. However, we can ask a saint to pray for us in the same manner that I am asking friends and the sick I minister to pray for the success of our Newman Club and offer their crosses for itl
        Do Catholics pray to Mary and saints? Some do ask them for prayers, the same as I may ask you to pray for me over a problem or illness. Some saints may have a certain power that God may give them to use according to His will. The Hail Mary prayer to Mary is Biblical, found in Luke 1:28,42. Mary's role is to nurture the faith and bring people closer to her son, protect them, teach them, etc. She is so intimately united to her son that she is always aware of His will and is subservient to it. 
          Above all, Mary prays for us, nurtures our faith, and serves as models of heroic virtue and unusual holiness. In no way can a saint ever replace God. Devotion to Mary or a saint is completely optional. Of course, one may go directly to God. However, Mary purifies our petition and magnifies our prayers, sacrifices, and offerings. Mary interceded at Cana for the newly weds , who were out of wine. She told her son: “They have no wine.” A few minutes later. She told the servants her servants” “Do what He tells you”. You know the rest of the story from John 2:1-11. Mary also intercedes today as the Queen Mother in the heavenly court. Similarly in the Old Testament the Queen Mother had a place of special honor and influence in the King's court.......much more so than any of the King's many wives.
       Every prayer directly or indirectly has the Bible as its root, e.g. petition – “Whatever you ask in my name shall be granted to you”. The Bible is a prayer in itself and inspires more prayer. Every saint must be inspired by the Bible or s/he cannot become a saint. The saints inspire us to holiness by their example of heroic virtue and love of God, which lead us to a greater interest in the Bible. Their stories and writings are great supplements to the Bible, which help us to understand the Word of God in greater depth.
        Can you become a saint? Of course you can. Anyone can become a saint, although probably not canonized. By definition, a saint is anyone who makes it to Heaven. We are all called to be saints; we are all called to holiness. Practice the ten points mentioned in Blog #18 and some day you will be a saint honored on “All Saints Day”, one of millions of other unknown saints who loved God above all things and loved their neighbors as themselves .


Sunday, October 30, 2011

(18) Called to Be Saints........Each One of Us



       Tomorrow is Halloween. It comes from the two words, “hallowed eve” or holy eve of All Saints Day on November 1, a holy day of obligation for Catholics. Unfortunately, the day has deviated from its original meaning and it has become spook night. Even the Satanists have tried to take it over and consider it their night for their festivities. A former student of mine stumbled on a Satan worship ritual one Halloween night and quickly got out of there. He said that “it was really scary”.
        Some people put out displays in front of their houses that rivals Christmas displays. One neighbor of ours had the works.......ghosts, witches, demons, graves, skeletons, etc. The owner happened to be there when I passed by and I remarked: Someday we'll be that way......skeletons in the grave. How true! Thus we should be ready when our time comes, i.e., preparing for eternity through out our pilgrimage on earth.  At Halloween parties in some Catholic circles kids dress as saints and have a good time doing it.
            The name given to us at Baptism and the one we choose at Confirmation should be a saint for us to emulate.  We celebrate a saint's feast day almost every day throughout the year.  But what about us?  Can we become saints?  Yes indeed!  In fact, you are called to be a saint......each one of us.  Anyone who makes it to heaven is a saint, most with a stopover in Purgatory.  We are called to be holy.

To enter heaven and stand in the presence of God, we must be holy.  The question is: Do we become holy here on earth or in Purgatory which is much more difficult and arduous.  We could be stuck there for decades if not centuries as we develop holiness.  The greatest torment is the intense longing for God.  Yet it’s a happy place because Heaven is only a matter of time.  The souls there don’t want to go to Heaven until they are ready with the proper wedding garment so to speak.  It’s much easier to become holy here.  Once we make it to heaven, we are saints.  Thus the song: “When the Saints Come Marching In”.  May we be among them some day.  May we become holy on earth so that we can have a direct flight to Heaven.  
        Canonized saints are persons of unusual holiness and heroic virtue, recognized by the Church as models to imitate.......a canonization is analogous to induction to a Hall of Fame after thorough investigation by a committee of scholars backed by at least two miracles authenticated by experts as beyond natural explanation, such as the sudden healing of an organ ravaged by cancer. All faiths have people who are looked up to as heroes and recognized for their unusual holiness and heroic virtue.
        How can you become a saint? None of us will be canonized, but we must all aspire to be saints in heaven. We must aspire to be holy. At the same time, we use the canonized saints as models to emulate. We may ask them to pray for us the same as I might ask you to pray for me. The saints show us that they did it and so can we. If we can imitate a virtue or two of a canonized saint even to a small degree, we are on our way to become a saint. Let us look at the common characteristics of canonized saints and use them as models to develop a virtue to a small degree at first and keep working on it.
Common Characteristics That Canonized Saints Have in Common
  1. They all loved God above all things. God was first in their lives over everything else.                 
  2. They all loved people since Christ is en each person......”Whatever you do to the least of mine, you do it unto me”. They served God by serving others either by charitable works or prayer.        
  3. They were all men and women of prayer, therefore close to God and united with Him.                
  4. They all had a complete trust in God, completely abandoning themselves to Providence.            
  5. They all sought the will of God in everything they did.......even in little things.                           
  6. They all had trials and suffered, all of which they united their crosses with the Lord's cross and offered them all up to God as a dynamic prayer for the Church, the Missions, for repentance, and a better world........often called Redemptive Suffering. 
     
  7. They all had a devotion to Mary, who nurtures the faith and brings us closer to her son. At the Cana wedding feast, Mary took the initiative to help the bride and groom when they ran out of wine. She told her son and said: “Do what He tells you”. This was Mary's first act of intercession. Today in the tradition of the Old Testament, the Queen Mother has a special place of influence in the heavenly court, from where she intercedes for us. Since Christ gave her to us from the cross as our mother, she nurtures our faith and brings us closer to her son. Thus we have the saying.......”To Jesus through Mary”.
     
  8. They all had heroic virtue.......Some virtues were more salient than others, depending upon the individual saints and his/her personality. They all exercised self-discipline to develop them.
     
  9. They all had unusual holiness closeness to God through prayer, loving Him intensely, knowing Him to the point of having a deep personal relationship with Him, serving Him with great dedication, and seeking to discern and do His will in every action.                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  10. They all loved and regularly listened to or read the word of God, the Bible. For the first 16 centuries before the invention of the printing press, the Bible was copied by hand onto parchment, which made it prohibitively expensive and thus were chained to a table for security. Furthermore, until modern times most people did not read. If one attends Mass every Sunday for three years or daily Mass for two years, s/he will have covered the highlights of the entire Bible.
        Follow these points; practice them at least to a small degree, little by little, more and more every day, gradually developing each virtue. It's loving God and neighbor, serving them, the little things done well for the love of Christ, prayer, seeking and following His will that make us saints.

         As a postscript, let us see Bishop Robert Barron talk on saints.  Striking is his point is that the only real failure in life is not to become a saint.  We climb the ladder of success and discover that it's on the wrong wall.  Only saints can enter heaven.  We honor the saints and should try to emulate the saints.  He quotes St. Paul (Galatians 2:20).  "It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me".  That is Christ dominated his life and should dominate ours.  See  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6qCBNHCZkc.  We should strive not for wealth, pleasure, power, honor, but rather holiness......to become saints while being detached from everything else.  That's what life is all about.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

(17) School Tax Levy Passage: A Grand Slam For Kids

Note: Three  days ago I posted Blog #14 "A Little Sacrifice, Huge Return".  It described the campaign to pass the School Tax levy which the State of Ohio would more than match to build three new high schools, an elementary school, remodeling of others.   This blog is a follow-up and shows the euphoria in the victory celebration and reflections about it.
 
A GRAND SLAM FOR KIDS
(Originally published in the Gallipolis Daily Tribune November 2005)

       At the electrifying election night gathering in a packed Gallia Academy auditorium, a red dot blinked on a map of southeastern Ohio, indicating victory to a standing ovation as red dot balloons popped like fire crackers. With youthful exuberance, kids with red dot tattoos on their faces cheered: “We got a red dot” with the tune, “Celebration” in the background, realizing that it indeed was a historical day. The levy for new schools passed in both the city and county…..a grand slam for Gallia County.

It was a landslide for the City Schools “Red Dot for Kids” (71% of the vote) and a clear majority for the County District “Quality Schools for Quality Kids” (55%). It was a great victory for the Community that worked so hard in a campaign that attracted the greatest local interest and best voter turnout in years at 55%.

All parts of the community pulled together. Businesses, in a demonstration of social responsibility, provided the funding ($60,000 for the city campaign with Holzer providing half) while school administrators, teachers, parents, and the kids themselves did the leg work. The campaign was beautifully organized down to the precinct level….. billboards, yard signs, posters, newspaper ads, pamphlets, auto decals, buttons, t-shirts, rallies, information meetings, a display in the library, newspaper ads, and even a website. Precinct captains and their volunteers got out the vote, making telephone calls through election day.
The Daily Tribune gave unprecedented support for the campaign with frequent front page coverage and acceptance of some 100 articles and letters from the community on the editorial page. Teachers, parents, and other citizens wrote on both sides of the issue. Even many of the kids themselves were able to put their writing skills into practice and learned a lesson in democratic civic participation as little citizens. One day the paper had two full pages of letters and articles. I’ve lived all over the world and never saw anything like it.
May the momentum of this community spirit and civic pride carry over into other activities, future campaigns, elections, projects, etc. The Community showed their willingness to sacrifice their resources for our kids. Those who own considerable land and property will have to bear more than their share of the tax burden. To them, we owe special gratitude, not to mention the out of county taxpayers of the State of Ohio, who will not benefit directly.

       The kids can repay the sacrifices of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of property owners and other taxpayers by studying hard and making their investment pay off for the Community. May the teachers and administrators repay the sacrifices by renewed dedication and enthusiasm. May the Community and especially the parents continue their involvement in education and support the teachers, particularly those who stretch the students by demanding their maximum effort and excellence. Teachers cannot do it alone, especially in regard to discipline and motivation to study hard. Let’s put a greater value upon education now more than ever.

       Finally, may we echo the beautiful prayer of thanksgiving given by Brent Saunders, the Assistant Principal of Gallia Academy, at the close of the victory celebration. We will certainly need divine guidance in spending the millions of dollars wisely with effective design and planning.


(16) Mel Simon: A Career Serving God & His People*

Published in the Gallipolis Daily Tribune November 2, 2011


        Today Dr. Mel Simon officially retired from surgical practice as a urologist and past president of the Medical Staff at the Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant, WV after 39 years there. Tomorrow October 29 he will be 76 years old. You would never think that; he does have the right genes.......his mother bore and raised 12 kids and died at 102. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Mel and a happy fulfilling retirement! He will however, continue at a reduced scale in his private practice out of loyalty to his old patients with whom there is a bond.

          Although Dr. Simon will never retire completely ---this dynamo of energy has been too active for that in every facet of his life for so many years---, this occasion is a good time to recognize his many achievements, thank him for his many contributions, and encourage him to continue serving God and His people. Retirement can be liberating in giving more time to serve the Church and the community in related and other ways while being able to spend more time with grandchildren and extended family while getting closer to God.

        A book could be written about his life of achievement and service. So for the purposes of this blog (a comprehensive collection of short commentaries), I will focus mainly on his contributions to the Church and the community that could inspire all of us, including those who are outside the medical field.

        Dr. Mel Simon is literally the fulfillment of the American dream and his wife Lydia, always at his side as faithful friend, personal financial secretary, and sometimes manager, had a lot to do with it. Her help and encouragement made it easier to spend more time in his professional and community activities. Mel grew up in the strongly Catholic Philippine Islands during the Japanese occupation.  As a boy Mel narrowly escaped death when the city hospital was bombed a few minutes after he left it.  He was there when his hero, General Douglas MacArthur was forced to leave and two years later when he kept his pledge, “I shall return”. Mel studied Medicine in Manila and completed his residency in Chicago. 

      In 1966 Dr. Charles Holzer, a pioneer in medicine in southeastern Ohio and founder of an extensive health care system that bears his name, invited the young immigrant to find the American dream through hard work as Chief of the Department of Urology in Gallipolis, across the Ohio River from Pt. Pleasant. Soon he became a very successful and eminent urologist on both banks of the river, serving both communities. Dr. Simon is active in medical societies and was a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

        Immigrants such as Dr. Mel Simon made America. They are the best that their native countries have to offer. That is their intelligence, ingenuity, self-confidence, courage, resourcefulness, and spirit of adventure to take the risk of leaving their countries of birth and adapting to a new culture and a new system.  The timid, the lazy, and the less able stay home.  Most are willing to work hard, pursue new paths, and do what it takes to be successful. They give the country new blood and fresh ideas; they come to America seeking opportunity and freedom. Then they work hard to achieve the American dream and so often find it.

        Mel has enjoyed the fruits of his success, but is very generous with his time and financial resources in giving back so much to the twin sister communities that gave him the opportunity as well as to his country of birth that raised him. That's what makes this prominent physician stand out and led to his being chosen for the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame (http://www.aging.ohio.gov/news/halloffame/) in Columbus. That makes him an example to both the very successful as well as to the many unknown people who think that they can only contribute in little ways.......not realizing that many little deeds done over many years are also very important and also add to greatness.

         He exemplifies Christian stewardship, which recognizes that everything belongs to God and comes from Him....... His providential help, one's endowed talents or gifts, opportunities in life, etc., all of which the individual has little or no control......that God gives us earthly possessions, property, and financial resources in trust as stewards to be used responsibly to provide for our own genuine needs and to serve one's fellow man for the common good of all. Greater wealth entails greater responsibility and God will hold us accountable for the use of these gifts.

        Thus Dr. Simon has contributed significantly to his parish, St. Louis Church, to the University of Rio Grande, and many other charitable causes. He has given his time and energy as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Rio Grande (www.rio.edu) since 1994 to assist in its growth and guide it through a severe financial crisis. Mel contributed significantly to the restoration of the historic Ariel Theater (www.arieltheatre.org) in 1990, originally built in 1896 as an opera house in the gas light era for this steamboat stop on the Ohio River. That led to the birth of the Ohio Valley Symphony Orchestra (http://www.ohiovalleysymphony.org/Board.htm) at the same time and his subsequent participation as a member of its Board of Directors. Dr. Simon is also a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus (www.kofc.org), a Catholic men's fraternal and service organization.

        Operation We Care (http://www.opwecare.org/4.html). Perhaps Dr. Simon's most significant contribution of all is his very active participation in the Rotary Club (www.rotary.org). As President of the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America in 1988, he organized an annual medical mission to the Philippines and in 1999 he strengthened the mission by obtaining the sponsorship of the Rotary Club while its District 6690 Governor. Usually every February for 24 years, Dr. Simon recruits a team of some 35 doctors and nurses and obtains donations of medical supplies and equipment to do diverse surgeries for a very intense two weeks.......cleft palate, some genetic deformities, tumors, eye surgery, dental surgery, etc. Each participant in the mission pays his/her own travel expenses. At the same time the team members train their counterparts in a real people to people outreach.

        From his own resources, he and Lydia furnished a 100 bed surgical ward of the 400 bed Region One Medical Center in Dagupan, Pangasinan in the northern Philippines. In gratitude for five years of bringing the medical mission and numerous donations, it was officially named as the “Dr. Mel & Lydia Simon Surgical Ward in 2007. In addition they helped in the construction of a 30 bed community hospital in Mangaldan, Pangasinan, where deep water drinking wells were also constructed in 17 surrounding villages through the generosity of Filipino and American Rotary Clubs. These wells helped to greatly decrease the incidence of gastro-intestinal diseases and improved the quality of life. Dr. Simon and Lydia also initiated nutrition and literacy programs for hundreds of undernourished school children.

        The French 500 Free Clinic is Dr. Simon's most recent ongoing community project. My having observed free clinics as a lay missionary in Peru that the American Maryknoll Fathers (www.maryknoll.org) (http://www.maryknollsociety.org/) established in their parishes in Peru and based upon Mel's 24 years of experience with medical missions, I asked him in early 2009 whether such a model would work in our own Gallia County. He jumped on the idea, recruited a very capable and dedicated cadre of doctors, nurses, and lay people to organize and run a free clinic. By August we were off and running with our first monthly free clinic in an annex of his own Hill Crest Clinic.

        To date the French 500 Free Clinic has served 720 uninsured patients free of charge with the help of donations. Soon it will be joining the 41 member Ohio Association of Free Clinics (http://www.ohiofreeclinics.org ). Clearly, this model is more efficient than a trillion dollar government program. Could private neighborhood clinics staffed by nurse practitioners supplemented by medical doctors work on a larger scale financed by fees charged on the basis of ability to pay, donations and no strings attached matching government funds? Too often government programs entail expensive bureaucracies where it's giving without love and care without concern.

        Thank you, Dr. Simon for your many years serving God and His people. May you have many more years doing the same in your retirement. As the Polish people like to say for birthdays, “Stolat!” That is: “May you live to be 100.” Your mother did. May the Lord bless you richly on your day.


INTRODUCTION OF DR. MEL SIMON
TO RECEIVE THE KNIGHTS of COLUMBUS HUMANITARIAN AWARD
St. Louis Parish Hall May 20, 2013

          Dr. Mel Simon is the epitome of the American Dream.  As a little boy he lived under the yoke of the oppressive Japanese Occupation from 1941 to 1945.  At one point he narrowly escaped being killed by an American bomb.  He was there when his hero, General MacArthur kept his pledge, “I shall return”.

          Dr. Mel studied Medicine at the University of St. Thomas in Manila and completed his residency in Chicago.  In 1966 Dr. Charles Holzer invited him to be Chief of the Department of Urology at the hospital his father founded.  Soon Dr. Simon became a very successful and eminent urologist, serving his patients on both sides of the river.  He was a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force reserves and past president of the Medical Staff at the Pleasant Valley Hospital and also of the Rotary Club.  Currently he is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, the Board of the Ohio Valley Symphony, and the Board of Trustees of the University of Rio Grande. 

       Mel has enjoyed the fruits of his success, but is very generous with his time and financial resources in giving back so much to his parish, the twin sister communities that gave him the opportunity, and to his country of birth that raised him.  As President of the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America and before, he organized an annual medical mission to the Philippines and in 1999 he strengthened the mission by obtaining the sponsorship of the Rotary Club while its District 6690 Governor. Usually every February of the past 29 years, Dr. Simon recruits a team of some 35 doctors and nurses and obtains donations of medical supplies and equipment to do diverse surgeries for a very intense two weeks.......cleft palate, some genetic deformities, tumors, eye surgery, dental surgery, etc.  Each participant in the mission pays his/her own travel expenses. At the same time the team members train their counterparts in a real people to people outreach.

          In our own local community he was the prime mover in the formation of the French 500 Free Clinic in Spring Valley.  Since its founding in 2009 it has treated over one thousand uninsured patients of Gallia County on the last Thursday of the month.  I have some brochures here for those of you who know people who cannot afford medical insurance. 

All of this makes this prominent physician stand out and led to his being chosen for the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.  Today his fellow Knights and his parish have the opportunity to recognize Dr. Mel Simon for his achievements in serving humanity here and abroad.  Dr. Simon, thank you for all that you have done for humanity.  May each one of us follow your example in frequently serving our Church and community in little or big ways as we are able.  Thus it is a privilege to present to you the very first Knights of Columbus Humanitarian Award.  Dr. Simon, please step forward and Lydia as well who had a big part in it.     

Thursday, October 27, 2011

(15) The Awesomeness of the Mass (Short Version)

 "THIS IS MY BODY WHICH IS BEING GIVEN UP FOR YOU;
  DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME" (LUKE 22:19)
Long version is Blog #171, which has greater detail and is improved and more complete.

        The Thursday following Trinity Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi or Body of Christ, i.e., the Eucharist.  In many dioceses it is celebrated on the following Sunday to accommodate those who would have difficulty in attending.  In Poland it is a paid national holy day and the Eucharist is adored in a procession throughout the city as streets on the route are blocked off.  Many people kneel even on cobble stoned streets when the Eucharist passes.  Every few blocks the procession stops for prayer.  Many town and city authorities would cooperate if we would try something similar over several blocks.  It would be a marvelous profession of faith and a means of evangelization especially when people ask questions.

         Each year we journey with Christ through Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday.  Elements of all of them are present in the Mass which God uses to miraculously give us the Eucharist, the Body of Christ.  Let us examine the Mass and meditate on how awesome it is!  Then perhaps we won’t simply go through the motions and take the Mass for granted. 

       Some people say that they are lax about attending Sunday Mass because "it is boring"; because they "don't get anything out of it"; and because they are "busy".  What we gain from the Mass depends upon what we put into it.  If we would really understand the Mass in depth, really appreciate it, and recognize its awesomeness, we would be fascinated and never bored.  Then we would try to assist at daily Mass as well.  We would somehow make time for Mass (liturgy) every Sunday as the busiest of people can do. After all, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sunday Mass attendance is a grave obligation.  So much so that if a person misses Mass for no good reason that makes it practically impossible to attend (illness, physical impossibility, etc.), it is a mortal sin that puts one's salvation in jeopardy........a clear violation of the 3rd Commandment:  Keep holy the Sabbath Day. 

        Why is Holy Mother the Church so strict?  It's an act of love.  Attendance on Sunday is minimal contact in community with Christ who is physically present in a real way.  Being lax about Sunday Mass attendance will cause us to drift and eventually lose the faith entirely.  We need the nourishment, the graces, and the strength that the Eucharist gives, not to mention the intimate union with Christ Himself.  The illustration below sums up the purpose of the Mass.

       The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The Mass or Liturgy is first and foremost, a sacrifice, where the Last Supper and Calvary are brought to us in an unbloody and mysterious way that transcends time (see also “The Lamb's Supper” by Dr. Scott Hahn, once a strongly anti-Catholic Presbyterian Minister). God is not subject to time. At Calvary Christ offered Himself to the Father in reparation for all the sins of the world, past, present, and future. In every Mass somewhere in the world around the clock 24/7 our time, a great miracle occurs.  

         During the Consecration Christ in the person of the priest (persona Christi) invokes God (the Trinity) to send His Holy Spirit to sanctify the bread and the wine so that they may become His body and blood, soul and divinity while the physical appearances remain the same.  Hard to believe?  For God all things are possible! 

        Shortly after, with the participation of the faithful Jesus Christ in the person of the priest offers to the Father the consecrated Eucharist, i.e., His own body and blood, soul and divinity.  Thus the entire Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are very much involved in the Liturgy.  Each person of the Trinity acts in His own way, but in perfect unison. 

"THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, THE MYSTERY OF FAITH WHICH
SHALL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU SO THAT SINS MAY BE FORGIVEN.  DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME."
      The Paschal Lamb.  The Jews in the Old Testament would sacrifice an unblemished lamb. At Calvary Christ, the High Priest sacrificed Himself, the Lamb of God, to the Father. At every Mass Christ in the person of the priest with our participation sacrifices Himself, the Eucharist to the Father.

        Then the Jews would consume the lamb. Today we consume the flesh of Christ, the Lamb of God --as elaborated in the 6th Chapter of John and in the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper-- in a real and close Communion with Christ Himself. We have several intimate moments with the infinite God. At the same time all of those who partake in this Eucharistic banquet are in communion or fellowship with each other.  This differentiates Catholics from other faiths.  Only the Catholic Church and the Orthodox profess that the Eucharist is the true presence, not a simple representation or portrayal.  Anyone who does not believe in the divine presence, cannot consider himself a Catholic because the Eucharist is the source, the center, and the summit of Catholic life........the focus of the liturgy.  

       The Old and the New Covenants.  By consuming the Paschal meal commemorating the Passover and flight from Egypt (Exodus), the Jews in fellowship would renew their covenant with God.......”I am your God and you are my people”.   This was a profession of faith in only the one true God and a pledge of faithfulness to Him and His laws. The Last Supper, where Christ gave us Himself in the Eucharist, was a paschal meal.  We renew the new covenant of belief and faithfulness to God when we receive Holy Communion, also a paschal meal. When the priest says to the communicant, “the Body of Christ” we answer “Amen” in affirmation, a profession of faith. That is: "Yes, I believe".  For that reason non-Catholics are asked to refrain from receiving Holy Communion as at weddings, funerals, etc.  Thus we are seeing just how biblical the Mass is.

Heaven and Earth come together during the Mass (called Liturgy in the Eastern Church).
       The Mass is divided into (1) the Liturgy of the Word and (2) the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  The Liturgy of the Word consists of an admission of our sinfulness, supplications for mercy, praise, and four readings from the Bible.  We begin with confession and contrition for our sins.  That is followed by praise and scripture. On Sunday the First Reading and the Psalm (praise) are taken from the Old Testament.  The Second Reading is generally from the Acts of the Apostles or one of the Epistles, which are teachings by St. Paul and other apostles.  These readings often point to the Gospel, which narrates the life and teachings of Christ.  Either a priest or a deacon reads the Gospel and does the homily, which teaches or explains the readings.  These readings show that the New Testament is the fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament. To understand the New Testament, we must understand the Old Testament.   If one faithfully attends Mass every Sunday, he or she will have gone through the highlights of the entire Bible over three years.

       In the Liturgy of the Eucharist the priest first offers the bread and wine to God as did the high priest Melchisedech in the presence of Abraham.  God gives us "fruit of the earth" specifically wheat and the grapes which man (and woman) transforms by work into bread and wine.  During the Offertory we offer these products of our work to God.  In the Consecration we have the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ Himself.  Subsequently, Christ in the person of the priest offers together with the faithful in attendance the Eucharist as the sacrifice of atonement to the Father.......thus the name, "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass".  Then we consume the sacrificed Body of Christ in Holy Communion.  .  This brings to mind the prayer at the beginning of each decade of the Divine Mercy Chaplet: "Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world" as revealed by Christ Himself to St. Faustina, a great mystic of the 1930s, shortly before the beginning of World War II.

       The Consecration and the Communion bring the Last Supper and Calvary to us in a mysterious way that transcends time.  At the same time the Eucharist is the resurrected body of Christ.  Since we receive Christ in both His human and divine nature and because the Holy Trinity is really inseparable, we not only receive Christ in Holy Communion but in a sense also the Father and the Holy Spirit.  We receive into our hearts, the Almighty God, the creator of the Universe, Christ the King of the Universe.  Finally, the priest dismisses us and sends us out to be witnesses for the faith……..don’t just keep the faith; spread it.  This mission comes from the Latin, “Ite, missa est” (Go, you are sent) and thus comes the word “Mass”.  Now you know the rest of the story.


Clearly, the Mass is indeed Biblical. The Mass is about the Eucharist........the source, the center, and the summit of the Catholic Faith.  The Eucharist is the nutrient for the soul and a source of strength.  Because of its great importance, every Catholic is expected to attend Mass every Sunday as a very serious obligation.  Exceptions only entail significant sickness or circumstance that makes Mass attendance impossible.  The Sunday obligation is so essential because of the transcendence of the Mass as the unbloody Sacrifice of Calvary and the intimate union with Christ Himself in the Eucharist, the food of life.  What an opportunity to become close to God!  Prayer as community throughout the Mass is powerful.  Furthermore, we learn more about God in the Liturgy of the Word; through prayer and the Eucharist we know Him better and become closer to God. 


The Eucharist nurtures our relationship with God, without which our "good works" become sterile. Such weekly contact with God in a deep way is minimal for spiritual growth, so important for salvation, which is the ultimate goal each one of us is striving for.  That's why we are here on our pilgrimage to eternity, our final destiny........to grow through the earthly trials and prepare ourselves for Heaven.  That's what life is all about.

Appendix










Wednesday, October 26, 2011

(14) School Tax Levy: Small Sacrifice, Huge Return

AMDG


                         Rio Grande Elementary School

Note:  In my blogs #3 and #13 of October 15 & 25, we discussed the importance of taking advantage of an unprecedented multimillion dollar investment in replacing three high schools and one elementary school, all dedicated in August 2009 plus remodeling of others in the two school districts of Gallia County.  That is making that investment pay off by utilizing the new facilities effectively.  In blog #3 we also described the euphoria of winning the voter approval of a tax levy that the state of Ohio required to match part of the state's investment.  Over the years, the voters had rejected several similar levies.  One reason for the euphoria after the polls closed on November 8, 2005 was that citizens from all sectors of the community were united and campaigned so hard for the tax levy.  The following is my contribution to that campaign.  Perhaps one of our readers might find the article useful for a similar campaign in his or her community.  

THE SCHOOL TAX LEVY:  
SMALL SACRIFICE, HUGE RETURN

        Two years ago, I sent my daughter to Gallia Academy to begin Junior High. We were satisfied with the teachers, but the physical conditions resembled in some ways what I saw in the Third World during my 14 years of teaching in Peru (South America). Her home room was the gym and her study hall was the back of the auditorium. In addition, the temperature was 100 degrees. I quickly transferred her to Southwestern.

        This coming Tuesday, the voters of Gallia County will make their most important decision in years…..a decision that will affect the economy of Gallia County for the rest of the 21st Century. It will affect the future of our children and their children’s children after most of us are long gone. What kind of legacy will we leave to posterity? A myopic short sighted view that will leave us among the most underdeveloped counties of Ohio OR a magnanimous and generous investment in our precious human resources that will ultimately generate greater individual incomes and a more prosperous Gallia County? It takes sacrifice and money to make money.

No longer can we count on the mines, tobacco, and small farms, but rather on well educated people, especially in the technical areas, to develop our county and compete for the best jobs. The development of our human resources is the key to economic development and a higher standard of living. That can be done most effectively in modern educational facilities through dedicated and well prepared teachers backed by supportive parents. In some cases renovation is ruled out as a lower cost alternative because it is cheaper to build a new school than to fix it as determined by the Ohio Department of Education.

        The Sacrifice. In Gallia County, the average home (about $75,000 market value) will be assessed an additional 55 cents per day or $200 per year, the cost of a TV set. This is smaller than the previous school levies that did not pass. Our county property taxes will still remain among the lowest in Ohio. In addition, the Homestead Exemption reduces property taxes for certain low income owners.

        The levy would cover roughly one third of the total cost of the new schools and remodeling. The State of Ohio would pay the rest ($33 million) for the city schools and the power plants would absorb most of the burden for the county school district. Furthermore, the Holzer Hospital and Clinic have volunteered to contribute $1 million for each school district because they have a vested interest in the product of our schools. Can we afford to pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity and to effectively give away $34 million to a more forward looking community?

        The Return on our Investment will be substantial.
  • Our Children Deserve the Best. The modernization of our schools will be a giant step forward.
  • Enhanced Economic Development. The key is the development of our human resources, i.e., education.
  • Better Prepared High School Graduates would do better on the ACTs and SATs. That would mean our graduates would more likely be accepted in the top universities with greater chances for obtaining scholarships. Furthermore, they would do better in the colleges they choose. As a professor of Business at the University at the University of Rio Grande, I found it difficult to advance and teach in depth with students who had poor high school foundations. Thus poor primary and secondary schools affect the effectiveness of our colleges.
  • Better Jobs go to those with a good education. If we do not have qualified people here, employers will look elsewhere and import better prepared employees from out of state and abroad.
  • New Industry; More and Better Jobs. Many communities compete to attract companies to expand into their areas. Gallia County would have a definite competitive advantage with new and well equipped schools along with dedicated teachers. New industry breeds a multiplier effect as new and better jobs bring higher incomes which in turn bring more business to local establishments which then must hire more people. An important consideration for such companies in their investment decision is good schools for the children of the managers and technicians they bring in or recruit. For the long run, they count on a flow of well educated people to replace employees who retire or leave. Our Industrial Park has been growing at a snail’s pace. In the short run, there will certainly be more construction jobs.
  • A Brake on the Brain Drain. More of our best and the brightest raised in this area will stay here if the local economy develops and we have better schools. Many of our newly graduated teachers, especially in math and the sciences, doctors, and others will pass up jobs elsewhere and stay in the area..
  • Better Health Care. The local clinics, hospitals, labs, nursing homes, etc. need well prepared people coming from our schools. Furthermore, it is difficult for them to attract good doctors who demand good schools for their children. For example, a dermatologist is nowhere to be found for Holzer Clinic.
  • Increased Value of Our Homes. Property values are generally higher in areas with good schools and modern facilities.
Gallia County has a tremendous potential and the new schools together with their modernization will be a giant step for achieving it. Can we afford not to pass the levy? Please vote and vote YES to help our schools catch up to the 21st Century. The next two or three generations are counting on us the same as we depended upon the sacrifices of the generations which preceded us.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

(13) Going For the Gold In Our Schools

AMDG

Gallia Academy High School Lab

Note: In 2005 the schools of the two school districts of Gallia County were antiquated.  In an unprecedented move, the State of Ohio agreed to finance the major part of building three new high schools, a grade school, and remodeling of others all at the same time if the voters would approve a levy that was rejected several times previously.  The new schools were dedicated within days of each other in August 2009.  Although the figures in this article, originally published almost two years ago, are somewhat dated, they still give a reasonable picture of today's reality.  There are probably few if any significant changes since that time.  The principles I tried to demonstrate are certainly very current.  

 OUR NEW SCHOOLS:  GO FOR THE GOLD

Published in the Gallipolis (Southeastern Ohio) Daily Tribune December 2009

        Interesting is a recent article in U.S. News & World Report which recognizes America's Best High Schools. More details can be found at USNews.com or in the magazine itself. U.S. News in conjunction with School Evaluation Services uses a three-step process that analyzes first how schools are educating all of their students, then their minority and disadvantaged students, and finally their college bound students based on student scores on statewide tests, Advanced Placement tests, and International Baccalaureate tests.

       The top ten states with the best schools are in order of rank: Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Vermont, Washington, Maine, and Maryland. It was shocking to read that Ohio lags far behind at number 39, one notch ahead of West Virginia. Clearly, our legislators and the Ohio Department of Education have a lot of work and soul searching ahead of them.

        Of the 18,743 high schools analyzed, the only one in Ohio to receive a gold medal for making the top 100 or 99.5%tile is Walnut Hills High in Cincinnati at number 65. The diversity of having 37% minority students apparently helped it. The next 491 schools (6 = 1.2% of them in Ohio) are above the 97.5%tile and received a silver medal. These include two in Dublin and one each in Cleveland, Columbiana, Columbus, and Dayton. The next 1189 schools (39 = 3.3% of them in Ohio) are above the 90.7%tile and obtained the bronze medal. Those receiving the bronze in southeastern Ohio include Chesapeake High School, Clay High School in Portsmouth, Dawson-Bryant High School in Coal Grove, and Frontier High School in Washington County.

       The majority (51%) of the schools that received medals were rural or small towns far from the cities. These are comparable to our schools. Over a third (37%) of the medalist schools had over 50% of their students classified as being from poor families and many of these schools (13% of all) had 75% poverty rates. A fourth of the winning high schools had mostly minority students. Among these medalists, 13% of the total have student bodies where minorities dominate (over 75%). Clearly, they overcame many obstacles and became champions. So can we.

       Martin Luther King High School in Nashville received a gold medal for being ranked number 30 despite the fact that it is an old dilapidated rat infested school. This proves the main point of my article in the November 18 issue of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune that despite having three new state of the art high schools in Gallia County, it still boils down to Teachers, Students, and Parents. The greatest challenge is to effectively utilize the new schools and obtain an excellent return on our investment and not waste our newly acquired educational resources.

       Having a long range plan for continuous improvement and accountability along the way, it is very doable for our high schools in Gallia County to obtain national recognition for “consistently outperforming state standards” and receive at least a bronze medal. We can do that in five years especially considering that several of our schools have already reached the State's standard of “Excellent”.

       Why not aspire to be the best with teachers and administrators that demand the best of themselves and their students? Because the teachers can't do it alone, just as important is the role of parents to supplement, support, and reinforce the hard work of the teachers from the time the kids are toddlers. We must educate the parents to work effectively with the teachers, to take greater responsibility in the education of their children and insist that they do their very best and more outside of the classroom, using home and community resources during the school year, holidays, and vacations. May the parents support their children in academics as well as they support them in athletics. In the final analysis it depends on the kids aspiring to be the best on their own initiative. They want to be the best athletes. Why not also the best scholars? May our new schools be a catalyst and a turning point as we reach for the gold!.
        
       Even if we do not reach the ideal at the top of the mountain, a few steps in that direction is progress. At least we have something to aim for.....the gold. Address any comments to pauls@rio.edu.

Monday, October 24, 2011

(12) Business From a Christian Point of View

 
      Basically, Economics, one of the liberal arts, is the study of how individuals and societies choose among alternative uses of scarce resources to produce and distribute both goods and services. Business executes these functions on the micro level. The firm utilizes human, material, and financial resources in order to produce a good or service at a profit....a great motivator, indispensable for survival and growth. To be competitive, the firm must be innovative and efficient to improve quality and reduce costs which make lower prices possible. Profits can be maximized by the efficient management of these resources in planning, organizing, leading, and controlling the main functions of human resource management, finance, production, and marketing.

       But profit maximization as an end in itself can lead to unchristian exploitation and social injustice, as the person becomes a simple commodity. Then profits will eventually fall since it is people that produce and they must be properly motivated. It is people who have buying power and discontent may lead to lower sales and government intervention. Even secular schools teach business ethics, business law, and social responsibility. But if they do not have a Biblical basis, executives will do what is legal to avoid lawsuits and what is ethical as Society views it for public relations purposes, but not what is necessarily morally right. The Atlanta based "Fellowship of Companies for Christ" found over 1200 Biblical verses and a number of parables that they claim relate directly to running a business.

       Marketing is not manipulating the customer to buy a product that s/he does not need, but rather as Philip Kotler promoted....to look for customer needs and then adapt the organization and its products to better satisfy these needs at a profit. Salespersons should be honest about their product and strive to help the customer with his/her business, admitting that their product may not serve the customer well in certain applications. This builds up trust, customer loyalty, and ultimately the best possible form of advertizing.....word of mouth.
        Human Resource Management and Labor Relations boil down to treating people with love, dignity, and respect as espoused by Wayne Alderson and Tony Campolo in their "Value of the Person" movement. They call it Theory R....to practice this "not because it is expedient, but because it is RIGHT". A person has value and dignity not because of wealth, position, or achievement, but due to the fact that s/he is created by God for eternity according to His image and likeness and because Christ is in "the least of mine"....the unborn, the poor, the uneducated, the handicapped, the aged, etc.

        Thus the employee is not simply another resource to be hired, used, and discarded when no longer useful for the good of the organization in our throw-away Society. There must be more Christian and more creative ways to handle personnel moves. Once a person is hired, s/he becomes a member of the organizational community. If the firm makes an error in selection, everything possible must be done to develop that person and find a fit somewhere in the organization. When a cutback is essential for survival and cannot be done by attrition or incentives, then the company must give the laid off employee every assistance in making the transition.

        When Management values and cares about its people as an interdependent Christian community where its members are aware of their individual importance and contribution, people identify with the organization, thus becoming more loyal and more motivated. There are Christian principles in conflict resolution (labor relations) as shown by Ken Sande in his book, "The Peacemaker". Richard C. Halverson, the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate said before retiring, "There is a lot of rhetoric about reconciliation, but it gets down to this: Can you love your neighbor and respect your enemies and those who spitefully use you? Keep greeting and loving people who won't talk to you. Sooner or later they'll break".

        As one Christian scholar in the area observed: "All the principles of modern Behavioral Science (in business) can be summarized in four words.....Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John". I like to tell my students: "I challenge you to make your work place more human where people care about each other". The college administration should reflect these values....relying on faith when conventional business practice may dictate compromising these values for the sake of survival.

        Finance. Banks mobilize savings from members of the community, all of whom are stewards of what God gave them. These funds can then be used to serve other members of the community. That is loans to or capital investments in firms as well as for home and consumer loans. It is capital investment that creates jobs and consumer demand that sustains them. Thus banks and other organizations in the private and public sectors are also stewards. In his Christian radio program on personal finances, Larry Burkett relies on Biblical admonitions against excessive debt. Many of the over leveraged firms which are in financial trouble could have learned something from a verse in Proverbs: "Hasty speculation brings poverty".

        A Christian Model of the Firm. God created us as social beings with many but different gifts to be used for the benefit of all of His children. Community is a natural manifestation of this, from the family to the Church and the nation. In general, a community is a group of interdependent people living or working together with common interests or goals. The key is interdependence....different abilities, skills, and resources are utilized for the common good through market exchange, taxes, government services, and voluntary sharing.

       The Core Community of the Firm consists of stockholders, managers, and other employees organized to produce a product or service at a profit. The Extended Community of the Firm extends the core community to include mainly suppliers and customers, but it may also include debtors, creditors, and distributors. Again their is mutual dependence.

       The Total Community of the Firm further broadens our concept of the business as community to include the surrounding population and its organizations, including governments. The firm depends upon a prosperous immediate political community for its sales, its supporting infrastructure, and services, its financial, material, and human resources. The surrounding community depends upon the firm for jobs, investment, and taxes for government services.

        Now with this model of the firm as a community and also as members of local, national, and global communities, it is easier to see God's plan in making us interdependent social beings. We can also see His will that all people become members of His Mystical Body. Community is a Christian concept and works with much greater efficiency if we love one another, i.e. care about each other. Inner conflict, on the other hand, can even destroy a firm. Mistrust by customers can bankrupt the company.

       With this model, business social responsibility, ethics, labor relations, personnel management, marketing, finance, accounting, and operations all fall into place. Christian morality is an excellent guide for business ethics. This foundation should also make it easier to understand how Christian principles can be applied to Business. It is our hypothesis that such Christian principles will lead to greater profitability in the long run and other positive results such as greater customer loyalty, better employee relations, social responsibility, etc. By applying the concept of Christian community and by practicing Christian principles, we can in little ways build the Lord's Kingdom and without imposing, integrate people more fully into that most sacred community, the Body of Christ.

        Therefore, we not only work for the organization and ourselves. There is something higher. Sincerely caring about colleagues and subordinate employees within the internal community or organization and serving the customer and the surrounding community are very compatible with profits. Interdependence and the common good are characteristics of both the internal and the external community.... Christian concepts that begin in the local church or parish community. Such social and ethical responsibility mean greater profits in the long run. In addition, such an attitude gives meaning and importance to the job and makes it more motivating, fulfilling, and satisfying.

        Community Awareness should be inculcated in the employees. It is a recognition of the importance of one's job as a significant contribution and a genuine concern to the point of greater effort for the welfare of fellow employees, the customers, and the surrounding community. There's nothing inspiring about working hard to maximize stockholder wealth or to make management look good. Workers can more easily identify with their fellow employees, who depend upon a prosperous company for higher wages and job security. They can easily identify with the customer who will use the product or service. And workers can identify with the surrounding community that needs the company as a source of jobs and taxes. Working for something higher can indeed be motivating. "Whatever you do, do for the glory of God". "Whatever you do to the least of mine, you do it unto me". "Love thy neighbor". Community Awareness thus gives meaning and importance even to the mundane job and makes it more motivating, fulfilling, and satisfying.

        A Christian community or any organization for that matter advances when each member humbly recognizes that s/he is endowed with some gifts and deficient in others. When all of these gifts are effectively pooled and every person does his/her part, there is a tremendous synergetic force for maximizing organizational effectiveness. That is diversity and discussion in an atmosphere of Christian love, trust, and openness to new ideas in working together for the Lord and His people, the common good.

        A study of Social and Economic Development from a Christian perspective would show that a mentality of greed, exploitation, laziness, dishonesty and corruption manifests itself in all parts of the economy in high costs, low productivity, high prices, poverty, conflict, social chaos, more crime, and more economic crises. Without God having to raise His hand, man punishes himself...."the wages of sin". The greatest obstacle to human progress is man himself. On the other hand, a Christian culture and mentality can foster economic development. For example, Israel and Judah in the Old Testament went through numerous cycles of greatness and disaster, including defeat and captivity. They rose when close to God and fell when they drifted from God into idolatry and corruption. When they would finally come back to God, they returned to greatness. This cycle repeated time and time again. Will this pattern repeat in the United States.

        Economic development is more effective when it follows the Christian principle of subsidiarity, i.e. the higher entity (government) should not do what the lower level (local government, private groups, and/or individuals) can do for themselves. In other words, the people concerned should be helped and empowered whenever possible to decide their direction and to do what is necessary. Then a tremendous energy, creativity, and resourcefulness may be tapped. The little church on the corner can often do more for the inner city community with $10,000 than a government bureaucracy can do with $100,000.

        The Free Market System and Christianity. Our free enterprise system can only work if for the common good if it is subject to the constraints of the God-given moral laws, professional ethics, and social business responsibility. Given our human nature, profit is a great motivator although the Christian should also be motivated by service. Then healthy competition with sufficient opportunities for entrepreneurship stimulates creativity, mobilizes resources, maximizes quality, and minimizes prices. Government should not interfere unless the private sector cannot or will not do what is necessary for the common good.

        If Business will not control itself against abuses, then Government must do it. The State does have the role of promoting social justice, protecting the public against abuses, preserving and providing incentives for individual initiative, stimulating private investment, facilitating small business formation, retraining displaced workers if necessary, providing information on the economy, promoting cooperation among companies and with the Government to increase exports in the face of foreign competition, doing basic research which is beyond the capability of the private sector, etc. When feasible, the Government should leave social services to private charities who are much more efficient and personal.....using matching grants and more tax incentives for voluntary charitable donations which enrich spiritually. Too often impersonal government agencies give without love and help without concern.