Saturday, June 26, 2021

(254) THE BAPTISMS OF TWO BABIES CREATED FOR ETERNITY........One in Byzantium (Byzantine Rite) and the Other in Rome (Latin Rite).......John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II and Anselmo Dante Spiotta Land Safely on Planet Earth and Expand the Sebastian Extended Family

AMDG

In the space of three days (May 26 & May 29) the Sebastian extended family quickly increased by two to eleven. The family gathers after the Baptism of Baby Anselmo Dante Spiotta.  From left to right are grandparents Paul & Jaga, Daniel, Stephanie, & Baby Anselm Spiotta; John-Paul I, Elizabeth, & Baby John Paul II; Joseph, and Naomi Sebastian Faro.  John Faro, a medical student at the University of Cincinnati, could not come due to an important capstone end of  the third year exam.

        When the Archangel Gabriel asked Mary if she would be willing to accept the great mission that God had for this young and simple virgin in her teen years and she gave her “Fiat” or "Yes" for the ages. He also informed her that her cousin Elizabeth was with child and was already in her sixth month. “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste......” to help. In that same spirit Jaga with me tagging along traveled to Dallas to help our daughter-in-law Elizabeth and daughter Stephanie who were both with child. So began a ten week (May 1 to July 7) shuttle between the two homes a couple of miles apart.


Overdue and ready to be induced, John Paul takes his wife Elizabeth to the hospital.  Because of Covid-19 only her husband and mother were allowed to be with her.   

    On Monday evening May 24, already two days overdue, our son John-Paul took his wife Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian to the hospital to be slowly induced because Dr. Carmichael didn't want the baby to be too big.  Our daughter Naomi, a labor & delivery nurse, gave Elizabeth some reassuring coaching through texting from Cincinnati while her mother Nancy Herrera was on the scene with her support. 

    After 46 hours of labor and suspenseful waiting......It's a boy!  John Paul and Elizabeth wanted the gender of the baby to be a surprise and indeed he was.  He's no longer "Little Nugget", his prenatal nickname, but John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II, who made his appearance on the world stage and came home this past Friday to a joyous welcome as Act 2 began in his life with his Mom directing. Elizabeth's theatrical plays at Nimitz High School are fantasy. This is for real as Baby John Paul will have many scenes full of adventures in his life.  A second John Paul entered the life of Elizabeth and her life has changed forever.

Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian joyfully introduces to the world her new born son on May 26, John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II (a.k.a. a.k.a. JP, Juan Pablito, Jasiek, and Jasiu), both having come out of the ordeal like champions.

    Elizabeth came through it all like a champ with John Paul I and her mother, Nancy Herrera at her side.  On May 26 at 6:43 pm Baby John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II tipped the scale at 7 lbs 11 ounces....... 20.5 inches....... long fingers....... big Sebastian feet as expected (his father wears size 14 boats).  

"I might be sleeping, but I got home before you were born, Cousin Anselmo.  I’m looking forward to being your friend."

        They brought him home to a joyful welcome two days later.  We all took turns holding him, and thoroughly enjoyed it......Grandpa Tony and Grandma Nancy Baeza Herrera with daughter Victoria, Jaga, and I.  In the following days more relatives and friends came to take their turns holding this gift from Heaven......great-grandmother Agnes Herrera, great-grandmother Manuela Salas, great-grandfather Oscar Baeza, aunt Elaine Bowersock, cousin Jacob Bowersock, etc.

The JP2 Grandpa Club......Tony Herrera, Paul Sebastian, and great-grandfather Oscar Baeza, a career army veteran.

    With the compound last name, Tony Herrera has a grandson to carry on his family name.  We're very happy about that. My grandfather, Rev. Vladimir Mihalich had five daughters with no one to carry on his name. I did to some extent in Peru, signing all of my articles in the city's two newspapers as Pablo Sebastian Mihalich. It's customary in Hispanic countries for the child to carry the surnames of the father and the mother in that order.

      Including Herrera as part of the surname honors the Latin Amercan heritage of Baby John Paul II. That name honors his Polish heritage and the great St. Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) from Poland, now a canonized saint for the ages.  See  "Accomplishments of St.  Pope John Paul"

http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2011/10/accomplishments-of-blessed-pope-john.html and "Memories of Seeing St. Pope John Paul II Three Times When He Visited Detroit September 1987"

http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2012/10/memories-of-seeing-blesseed-pope-john.html.  Baby John Paul grandparents were there.  At the same time Baby John-Paul II was named after his father.

    One born, one more to go.  Anselmo already named was due on June 5.  So the day after little Juan Pablito came home, May 29, we were happy to have a few days to relax and enjoy him.  However, it seems, Anselmito didn't like the idea of being upstaged.  Stephanie came to greet her new nephew for the first time on that Saturday morning. However, since 9 am, Stefcia was starting to feel contractions and vomited.  She asked Jaga, her mother, to accompany her to her home and to the hospital when the time comes.    

    I started to write an e-mail requesting prayers, but after Stephanie took a shower as her sister Naomi suggested from Cincinnati, the frequency of Stephanie's contractions decreased.  Seeming like a false alarm, I got ready to take a shower myself and a text message came from Jaga: “Water bag broke. We're going to the hospital”.  

    It was a race against time and traffic. The contractions were getting more intense. They arrived at the hospital, a labyrinth of buildings in Fort Worth, with an entrance difficult to find. In the parking lot they somehow ran into their obstetrician, Dr. Melisa Weider, who led them to their room.   Later she related: "I wondered to myself what would have happened if I had not met them in the parking lot."  The doula, Kaitlyn G'sell admitted that she was nervous that the baby might be born in the car.  


Stephanie Sebastian Spiotta joyfully introduces to the world Anselmo Dante Spiotta (a.k.a. Elmo, Anselm, and Anselmito) on May 29.  Both mother and son came out of 
their 7½  hours of  labor beautifully.

      In contrast to Elizabeth........after 7½ hours of  labor it only took a couple of strenuous pushes and the baby popped out within half an hour with the support of her husband Daniel along with the coaching of her mother Jaga and the doula, Stephanie had a relic of St. Therese the Little Flower with her and prayed for a birth that was not too hard because she is too little for a difficult one.  

       Baby Anselmo landed on planet Earth at 4:24 pm, Saturday May 29. Jaga promptly sent another message as I finished my shower:  "Baby is here."  Wow!  This baby means business!......Anselmo Dante Spiotta checked in at 8 lb. 9 oz, 21 in, and of course, big Sebastian feet.

Baby Anselmo comes home.  “Here I am, folks!  I’m right behind you, Juan Pablito, three days after you were born and I’ll catch up.”  

     The name Anselmo Dante Spiotta honors his rich Italian heritage.  His patron saint to follow as a model is St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), a noted Doctor of the Church and Archbishop of Canterbury, England.  Born in the Italian Alps, his birth name was Anselmo d'Aosta.  Among his more noted books is “Why God Became a Man”.  His theological method stressed by Augustine is “Faith Seeking Understanding”.  The latter by its Latin name is “Fides quaerens intellectum”, which is the motto on the emblem of Thomas Aquinas College, the alma mater of Baby Anselm’s mother.  For more detail on St. Anselm see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm_of_Canterbury.     

         Jaga, Joseph, and I helped to clean the Spiotta house the next day. Daniel's parents Ron and Anne Spiotta arrived early in the evening after a 14 hour drive from Chicago.  Daniel's brother Raymond was about to drive north to Chicago from Kansas, but instead went due south to Texas.  The next day May 31 there was another joyous welcome for mother, father, and Baby Elmo. Daniel's family and our complete family were there for a second joyful welcome.

Grandma Spiotta full of joy with her first grandson.  Notice the beautiful peony flowers she brought from her garden especially for Stephanie (one of her favorite flowers).  Ron and Anne enjoyed the scent throughout the 14 hour drive.  So little Elmo was born during the peony season.

     Joseph was already here since Baby Juan Pablito came home, doing his software development work for Epic from our bedroom which served as a makeshift office.  Naomi arranged her schedule and vacation time to be with us for these momentous occasions in our family, having arrived the previous night.  What does Naomi do as a labor & delivery nurse?  Take a look at her t-shirt: “We take people out of tight spaces.

    Grandpa Spiotta made an exquisite Heirloom Baby Cradle with a lot of love put into it not only for his first grandchild, but also for all of his grandchildren and great grandchildren that will follow.  It’s something out of pioneer days that you can’t buy anywhere. Ron Spiotta wrote a beautiful message for them to be handed down with the rocking cradle through many future generations of Spiottas.  See Ron Spiotta's message in its entirety in the Appendix and how he did it.  

     Ron leads a family office, which provides wealth management and financial administrative services for high net worth families.  Yet he has a remarkable versatility outside of finance to have fine woodworking as a hobby.  The heirloom baby cradle is in the photo below. 

Mom and Dad Spiotta admire their Baby Anselmo and his grandpa's work.

    Thank you, Lord for allowing me to live to see my first two grandchildren. What magnificent creations!  And God allows us to participate in them.  As He intended, each of our babies is the product of a man and a woman deep in love in complete mutual self-giving.......a certain reflection of the Holy Trinity.

Two new families and the two cousins meet......Daniel & Stephanie Sebastian Spiotta with Baby Anselmo; John Paul I & Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian with Baby John Paul II.  

   The union of a microscopic sperm and ovum forms the baby's first cell, including the unique DNA molecule which has the complete complex program to form a unique little human being as a baby in the womb and after birth continue to develop him/her little by little into a mature adult while the parents provide loving care and food. Imagine, even if it were possible (of course it is not) to write a computer program to create a comparable robot.........that would require perhaps millions of lines of code. 

    God in His magnificent providence, planned and designed it all.......making the following Bible verse very true.

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.

I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!

My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)

The two little angels seem to be flying with their wings as one asks the other, "Who are you, Bub?"  "Don't you know I'm your cousin?"  Baby Juan Pablito is on the left and Baby Anselmito is on the right.  May the two cousins be good friends for the rest of their lives.

    These two tiny babies really were created out of nothing for eternity as were their parents, grandparents, and ancestors dating back to Adam and Eve. The little baby has its intricate mechanisms and complex systems in place.......skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous, reproductive, etc. and after further development able to think, to talk, to see, to hear, to express ideas, to feel, to walk, to run, to work, and to create. One must see design in it all.  For more detail see

"God's Most Magnificent Creation........From the Perspective of an Engineer........Design, Design: You are amazing; you are a walking miracle".

http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2016/12/183-gods-most-magnificent-creationfrom.html

         Juan Pablito, one month old, learns how to smile, not only cry.    

    It's fascinating to watch the baby develop each month in the womb through ultrasound and after birth continue to develop physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually for the rest of his life. The human being is God's most marvelous work, created according to His own image and likeness for eternity, each with a special mission. The human being has added dignity because Christ, the Son of God suffered and died to redeem him/her. To destroy that marvelous work of God......that's the tremendous evil of abortion!


Their first Father’s Day together……John Paul I and John Paul II

      Multiple Languages. You may have noted above that both babies are addressed by their official names and alternate names depending upon the situation or context.  One is the language spoken.  Both babies will have at least some knowledge of three languages……English, Polish, and Spanish.  Grandpa Sebastian, Grandpa Herrera, Great grandmother Manuela, and others will speak to them only in Spanish.  John Paul, Stephanie, their mother Babcia Sebastian, and relatives will speak to them in Polish.

      According to research a child is capable of learning an unlimited number of languages and will not confuse one language with another as long as each person consistently speaks to the child in one and only one language.  Then the child identifies the language with the person.  

Three generations celebrate Father’s Day with a painting of the Holy Family behind them........Daniel & Baby Anselmo Spiotta and John Paul I & Baby John Paul II Sebastian with Grandpa Sebastian in the middle.

The Miracle of Baptism

        Our two babies were baptized, one in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and the other in the Byzantine Rite, thus becoming baby Christians.........Anselmo Dante Spiotta on Friday June 4 in “Rome” at Mater Dei Latin Mass Parish in Irving, Texas and John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II the next day on his father's birthday in “Byzantium” at St. Basil the Great Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church also in Irving, a suburb of Dallas.  For an explanation of the rites of the Catholic Church to adapt to diverse cultures, go to  "The Diverse Rites of the Catholic Church........Our Byzantine Catholic Experience Deep in the Heart of Texas During the Eastertide"

https://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2021/05/251-our-byzantine-catholic-experience.htm 

        The bi-ritual Benedictine monk from New Zealand, Fr. Christopher Andrews baptized them both …....Anselmito in the Latin Rite and Juan Pablito in the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church. He also married John-Paul and Elizabeth. 

The Byzantine Catholic Exorcism Ritual on Baby John Paul with Godmother Victoria Herrera and Fr. Christopher Andrews.

    Both baptisms have a short exorcism ritual of any possible evil spirit affecting the one to be baptized.  That makes sense when one considers that the devil (sometimes called accuser and divider) has been very active throughout history.......persecutions from shortly after Pentecost until now still intense, heresies, schisms, the negative consequences in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation to Catholics and Protestants alike, internal corruption, plagues, human sacrifice, abortion, genocide, wars, conquest, revolutions, terrorism, slavery, racism, discord, exploitation of the poor, strikes, crime, the drug epidemic, family breakups, abuse of women and children, promiscuity, etc.......in sum, old fashioned sin while the Church miraculously survives crisis after crisis, century after century because Christ is always with us as He promised (Matthew 28:20).  The battle between good and evil is constant

Fr. Christopher Andrews baptizes Baby Anselmo Dante Spiotta in the Latin rite while his godfather Raymond Spiotta, godmother Claire Galin, and his parents look on.  Since Baby Anselm’s parents belong to Mater Dei Latin Mass parish, naturally the Baptism was also conducted in Latin. 

    In the Latin Rite the form is pouring water over the baby's head while saying “I baptize you Anselmo in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.  If a baby is in danger of imminent death and no priest is available, anyone can baptize using this form. 

Baby John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II is baptized by immersion up to his forehead in the Byzantine Rite by Fr. Christopher Andrews.

        In the Byzantine Rite the words are the same, but the baby is immersed in a large brass bowl of water, including his/her forehead. Then the baptized puts on a new robe or garment, signifying that s/he is a new person in Christ, aspiring to live a new and holy life.

The Anointing of Baby Anselm

    In both rites the baptized person is anointed with holy oils or chrism. That continues the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in anointing the baptized as priest, prophet, and king.........priest in the sense that we assist the priest in offering Christ in the Eucharist, prophet in the sense that we must speak for God with our witness and evangelize as revealed in the Bible, and king in the sense that we are to serve others as heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven and as heirs we have the authority and mission to restore God's proper order in society.


Baby John Paul with his godmother Victoria Herrera and godfather Joseph Sebastian at his side is anointed with the holy oils as part of the sacrament of Confirmation.  His parents look on.  

Baby John Paul in the arms of his godmother receives his First Holy Communion in the presence of his mother and altar server Andrew Gill. 

    Baby Juan Pablito received the three sacraments of initiation all at once.......Baptism, Confirmation to deepen the first sacrament, and the Eucharist with a morsel.  The child will make his/her first confession at about the age of seven or eight.  In the late 1990s we attended a Byzantine Catholic liturgy with Jaga holding our Baby Joseph.  The priest came through the standing room only congregation, dispensing Holy Communion.  We were taken by surprise when our Roman Catholic Joseph received his First Holy Communion at the age of one.

Parents and Priest consecrate Baby Anselm to Mary.

    At the end of the Byzantine liturgy, the priest raised Baby Juan Pablito over his head and processed with him around the altar, consecrating him to God the same as Mary and Joseph consecrated their first born to God in the temple.

Baby John Paul in the sanctuary being consecrated to the Lord  at the altar in front of the tabernacle  

    Godparents. Baby Anselmo's godfather is his Uncle Raymond Spiotta, brother of Daniel. His godmother is Dr. Claire Galin, a dear friend. 

From left to right are Godfather Raymond Spiotta, Anselm's father Daniel Spiotta, Fr. Christopher Andrews, mother Stephanie holding Baby Anselm, and Godmother Claire Galin. 

      Baby Juan Pablito's godfather is Joseph Sebastian, the kid brother of John-Paul. His godmother is Victoria Herrera, Elizabeth's sister.

Baby Juan Pablito's parents John Paul and Elizabeth Sebastian together with the godparents Aunt Victoria (holding her godson) and younger brother Uncle Joseph Sebastian.

         The godparents speak for the child in making the Baptismal promises……rejecting Satan and all his works (sin) and also to profess basic Catholic beliefs.

         Being asked to be a godparent is not simply an honorary formality, but a great responsibility, a lifelong commitment.  A godparent should supplement the baby's spiritual formation and more so if his/her parents are negligent in that regard.  For the rest of his/her life the godparent should keep in contact at least yearly and keep the child in his/her prayers.  Thus it is important to choose younger godparents who are faithful Catholics.  I should talk (that's easy); I lost contact with my goddaughter Alinda Alegre Chalco in Peru and must work on it. 

        Godparents are special and really become part of the extended family if not already a part. That link between parents and godparents solidifies the extended family.   In Latin America godparents become “compadres” or other parents.

  Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments.......outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace.  According to St. Pope John Paul II the Great, it is the most important of the sacraments. Christ instituted Baptism when He himself allowed St. John the Baptist to baptize Him (Matthew 3:11-17; Mark 1:4-11; Luke 3:15-22) to show His solidarity with the human race. At the same time, the Holy Spirit anointed Him as priest, prophet, and king. 

The sin of Adam and Eve was blatant disobedience, a rejection of God's word and acceptance of the deceitful words of the devil.  As a result all humanity was deprived of Heaven and the children of the first parents bear much of their shame for committing the original sin.  Thus every human being that comes into this world bears that stigma inherited from our first parents, a spiritual disease, a state or condition of sin, a propensity to sin with an absence of sanctifying grace or holiness.  This is called original sin.  

        It took a redeemer, namely Jesus Christ, the Son of God to make reparation for the original sin and all the sins of the world.  Christ instituted Baptism as a gift to be received by faith in order to wash away the stain of original sin and all other past sins, purify the soul, and instill in it a sharing of the divine life of God which is sanctifying grace.  The water is a sign of life and of cleansing.  Baptism opens the gates of Heaven to all who accept God and follow Him. 

       With Baptism one is reborn as an adopted child (son) of God, and united with Jesus into His death and Resurrection…..dying of the old self and rising to a new and fullness of life in Christ. 

   Baptism joins us to Christ’s priesthood as well as to His prophetic and kingly mission. Our priestly mission is to offer sacrifices to God……our good works, praise, our crosses (suffering), and participate with the priest at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  We share in Christ’s prophetic mission by being living witnesses to Him.  We are royal heirs to the kingdom of God.       

     Furthermore, the baptized person is initiated into the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ.  As St. Paul said, “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).  See https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/baptism .     

Is Baby Juan Pablito praying with a decade rosary?  May he frequently pray the Rosary as Our Lady of Fatima asked for the conversion of sinners and for world peace.  

    The two boys will never be so pure in their lives on this side of eternity. May each one of them, Anselm and John Paul, be always faithful to the Church and the special mission that God has for each one of them. May they lead their future siblings in that direction.


Everybody loves newly baptized Baby Juan Pablito, the center of attraction for the Sebastian-Herrera Extended Family.  Left to right are Daniel & Stephanie with cousin Baby Anselm Spiotta hiding in his blanket, Aunt Naomi Sebastian Faro, grandparents Paul & Jaga Sebastian, John-Paul & little brother Joseph Sebastian, Aunt Victoria Herrera with her godson Baby Juan Pablito and her big sister Elizabeth, grandparents Nancy & Tony Herrera, and Fr. Christopher Andrews.


John-Paul & Elizabeth with newly baptized Baby Juan Pablito flanked on the left by cousin Jacob Bowersock soon to be a West Point plebe.  On the right are the two great grandmothers, Manuela Salas and Agnes Herrera followed by Elaine Bowersock, Elizabeth's aunt.

John-Paul & Elizabeth Sebastian with their heavenly gift and Tony Herrera's lovely sisters.......Stella on the left with Christina and their mother Agnes at his side.

        For more photos of the birth and baptism of Baby John Paul, you may request a large collection of photos and videos from his mother, Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian.  Her e-mail address is: “Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian” <eherrera1@udallas.edu>. 


What's the old man doing?  Reading to his son Anselm?  Doesn't look like a story book.  OK then, multitasking!  Early exposure to Shakespeare?  That's the way to study for a PhD........get this future scholar to help his father!  Actually Daniel is re-reading Shakespeare's "King Lear" in preparation for the in-person class he's teaching at the Catholic University of Dallas.  Daniel's dissertation topic is on the works of Shakespeare, who some scholars believe was a closet Catholic in Elizabethan England.
   
The Spiotta Family increases by one.  From left to right Ron & Anne Spiotta, Stephanie & Daniel Spiotta with  Baby Anselmo, and Raymond Spiotta.


The Spiotta-Sebastian Extended Family.  From left to right Raymond Spiotta, Ron & Anne Spiotta, Daniel & Stephanie with Baby Anselmo, Jaga & Paul Sebastian, Joseph Sebastian, Elizabeth & John Paul Sebastian with Baby John Paul, and Naomi Sebastian Faro.  Missing is John Faro, a medical student at the University of Cincinnati, who could not come because of the very important capstone exam after the third year.  

 For more photos of the birth and Baptism of Anselmo Dante Spiotta, write “Daniel Spiotta” djspiotta22@gmail.com. 


APPENDIX

Mama Stephanie admiring her baby Anselmo and the Heirloom Baby Cradle built by his paternal grandfather, Ron Spiotta.


Ronald J. Spiotta

“Heirloom Baby Cradle”

Woodsmith Magazine – Issue 48

May 15, 2021

TO MY GRANDCHILDREN

         This Heirloom Baby Cradle was handcrafted by me, Ronald J. Spiotta. It is constructed from solid 4/4 walnut, and was completed on May 15, 2021. The cradle plans were originally published in Woodsmith Magazine, Issue No. 48 (December 1986).

        When our oldest son, Raymond, was still in the womb 33 years ago, I purchased from Woodsmith Magazine the “Heirloom Cradle Kit,” consisting of 22 spindles and 6 knobs. I intended to build this cradle for Ray in 1988 – but only after completing the changing table I was then making to match a hutch that Anne’s dad (Paul Maxwell) made for her in 1981.

        By the time I finished building Raymond’s changing table, it was obvious that the cradle could not be completed before Ray would outgrow it. So, I literally shelved the project, putting the spindle kit in my woodshop cabinet … and I waited … for over three decades!

        In October 2020, upon learning that Daniel & Stephanie were expecting their first child in June 2021, I recovered the spindle kit from my woodshop cabinet and committed to build the cradle for my grandkids instead of for my own kids.

        Soon thereafter, I began studying the published plans, devising my modifications thereto, and developing a production program. Walnut stock was purchased on January 15, 2021, and construction began in February, as time permitted. 

            This cradle was by far the most challenging of my woodworking projects – and in myriad ways, it was the most satisfying. Excepting the lathe, every single power tool in my woodshop was utilized in the cradle’s creation. Many new construction processes, joinery techniques, and finishes were employed in achieving the final product. Very fun! 

            Most delightful, however, is the hope that this “Heirloom Baby Cradle” will become just that – a Spiotta Family Heirloom to be shared by Daniel and Raymond (and their progeny) as future generations of Spiottas are rocked to soothing slumber within the lovingly-built basket of this cradle. 

A MESSAGE FROM MY HEART TO MY GRANDCHILDREN AND THEIR CHILDREN 

           Although you will have no memory of spending any time in this cradle, know this: Your Grandpa built this cradle with you in mind, and the basket in which you slept was filled with my love for you.

          Anne and I have been praying for you from before you were even a twinkle in your parents’ eyes. It has been our fervent prayer: 

§ That you will grow up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

§ That in God’s perfect time, you will repent of your sin and cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, grace, and redemption – for “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) 

§ That, like Jesus, you will keep “increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) 

§ That you will become a godly man or woman: embracing the gospel, zealous for the glory of Jesus Christ, and pursuing a life empowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit. 

        In Psalm 139 King David records a beautiful expression of God’s majestic, omnipotent, and creative power. Anne and I have marveled at these verses for a very long time – since the days our children, Raymond and Daniel, were yet in the womb. Even now, decades later as our first grandchild is being prepared by the Father to commence “the days that were ordained for me,” our marvel is rekindled afresh!

            Psalm 139:13-18 – 

            13 For Thou didst form my inward parts;

Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Thy works,

And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from Thee,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.

16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Thy book they were all written,

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

17 How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

                               When I awake, I am still with Thee. 

           May you never cease to wonder at the mighty, magnificent, and skillful craftsmanship with which God wove you together and imparted life to both body and soul …

         May your heart cry out with David’s: “Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well!” … 

            May you cling to God’s infinite thoughts as intimately precious … and … 

            May you rejoice that He is still with you when you awake from sleep in your cradle.




Saturday, June 19, 2021

(253) Juneteenth: Reconciliation, Racial Equality, Racial Harmony, and Racial Justice.....But Not With the Fist

AMDG


Reconciliation, Racial Equality, Racial Harmony, and Racial Justice, but not with the fist!

    It was June 19, 1865. Two months had passed since General Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9,  marking the end of the Civil War.  On paper all slaves were free. However, there were still holdouts in Texas who refused to free their slaves and at least make them paid sharecroppers. Finally, the union army freed them. Thus we celebrate Juneteenth Day, recently passed by Congress with a large bipartisan majority and signed by President Joe Biden, that commemorates the liberation of the last slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865.

    The Catholic Church Under Pope Paul III was among the first to condemn slavery of any sort in 1537 particularly in the New World. Only recently has slavery become illegal in every country of the world. For a timeline since the sixth century B.C. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_abolition_of_slavery_and_serfdom.

        Slavery is a huge blot upon our history. But let us also remember that 360,000 whites of the Union Army died to abolish slavery. However, the fist symbolizes  violence and that is not the way to go nor will the so called critical race theory solve any problems because it breeds bitterness among blacks rather than reconciliation. Yes, we should feel guilty as a nation, but to say that we are a racist society is not true, although there certainly are vestiges of racism that remain among some people and must be eliminated through education and promotion.

    Slavery became an institution in the United States. We are paying for that great collective sin, (perhaps analogous to the original sin of Adam & Eve that every newly born child bears until Baptism) in the racial unrest and strife that we have today. We ask for forgiveness. There's no other way to achieve reconciliation and racial harmony.

Barack Obama 44th President of the United States (2009-2017)

   Blacks have come such a long way since 1963 when I was the officer in charge of a bus of army reservists heading to North Carolina from Baltimore for summer training. I refused to have the troops eat at any restaurant that would not serve all of my men including a handful of blacks. I made sure that everybody eats or nobody eats. After a couple of restaurants refused to serve our black soldiers, I finally found one that did accept all of us.


Dr. Ben Carson

    Indeed 75 years ago it was only a dream that a black man would become President of the United States, that Dr. Ben Carson would become a renowned neurosurgeon and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump Administration. That Clarence Thomas would become a Supreme Court judge, succeeding another black Supreme Court judge......Thurgood Marshall who served from 1967 to 1991.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall

    That Four Star General Colin Powell would become Secretary of State to President George W. Bush. In the same Republican administration Condoleezza Rice succeeded him and is currently Director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. That Susan Rice would become Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor in the Obama Administration.

Four Star General Colin Powell

     That only recently Elaine Bryant, a black woman would be named police chief of a major American city, Columbus, Ohio.  She is responsible for 1,900 police officers.  Police Chief Bryant was chosen for her experience in community relations, emergency preparedness, strong administrative background as well as investigative and proactive policing while Deputy Police Chief of Detroit and previously commander of the city’s major crimes unit.  Bryant promised inclusion and equity for all. Mayor Andrew Ginther lauded her experience, sound judgment, empathy, and a commitment to community policing.

Columbus, Ohio Police Chief Elaine Bryant

    That so many blacks have served in both the Trump and the Biden administrations, both conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats not to mention mayors of large cities, governors, senators, and congressmen. There are many blacks who have become lawyers, medical doctors, priests (including the Catholic Archbishop of Washington D.C. Wilton Cardinal Gregory, even canonized saints), teachers, college professors, obtained PhDs, achieved the highest ranks in the military, started their own businesses, etc.  For an extensive list of black billionaires, go to 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_billionaires.


See also the article, "29 Notable African Americans Who Helped Change the World" at https://6abc.com/black-history-month-notable-african-americans-most-influential-famous-people/5888312/.

  

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas   

    Since overcoming the color barrier, blacks have dominated football and basketball while also doing very well in other sports such as baseball, soccer, golf, and tennis.  At one time black major league baseball managers, black pro football head coaches and black quarterbacks in the National Football League were unheard of.  That has certainly changed.

Condoleezza Rice
      Despite racism and segregation blacks have done well in the military, gave their lives, and fought valiantly in World War II, ---as for example the famed Tuskegee Airmen which included three squadrons---, all for the freedom of whites and blacks alike in our wars over the last 160 years.

A few of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. Black families were more solid then, helping them to excel despite segregation.

    They did it and every black kid in the country can be successful, but that means not depending upon welfare checks (unless desperate and only temporary), not being bitter, but study with remedial tutoring when necessary, hard work, both parents helping their kids to be successful in school and staying out of trouble.  Dr. Ben Carson and other blacks have been preaching that for years.

      There is one common thread in the above black success stories……..EDUCATION.  The successes all took advantage of educational opportunities and worked hard.  As the late Clyde Evans, an educator in southeastern Ohio and a former Ohio state legislator, promoted……..”EDUCATION IS THE PATHWAY OUT OF POVERTY”.  Many scholarships are available at the best colleges in the country for hard working and talented minorities.  State supported community colleges are very economical.    

    Joining a church and being active in it at least every Sunday is very conducive to family stability and keeping the children as well as us all on the straight and narrow.  Solid nuclear families are indispensable if not a prerequisite for black success.  Nevertheless, despite the odds, his single mother heroically helped and inspired Dr. Ben Carson to be a great success.

Susan Rice

        The Effects of Abortion......as of 2018 there have been about 63.1 million abortions since the Roe v Wade decision legalizing the procedure in 1973. The abortion rate for black women (25.1 per 1000 pregnancies) is four times the rate for white women (6.6) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7436774/). In 2018 of the 619,591 abortions, 39% were white; 34% were black; and 20% were Hispanic. Using the same percentages, gives an estimate of 24.6 million white abortions, 21.5 million black abortions, and 12.6 million Hispanic since the Roe v. Wade Decision.  Would the number of black success stories have been much higher were it not for the evils of abortion, notwithstanding the poorer socioeconomic conditions of black women?  

    Without abortion the black population would have increased by 48% from the current 44.5 million to 66 million or an increase from 13.4% to 19.8% of the total population.  Isn't that collective genocide by choice?  Baby black lives matter too.  The data was taken mainly from the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute.  


      We as a nation must make sure that minorities have equal opportunity. At the same time, blacks must study and work hard to qualify for the best jobs. The civil rights laws must be enforced and to a large extent they are.  Anyone who feels discriminated against in hiring or in treatment in the work place can sue through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1967.  See https://www.eeoc.gov/federal-sector/filing-formal-complaint.

       Attitudes. In the early 1990s I spoke to a black African and also to a black American. The black African unencumbered by the baggage and heritage of racism stated: “I trust a white until he shows me otherwise”. The black American frankly said: “I don't trust a white until he shows me otherwise”. An attitude of suspicion makes reconciliation difficult.  

    Unfounded and irrational fear due to ignorance rather than hate is a major component. Even my own mother, a top dentist, was afraid to work on black patients.  Should I cancel my dearest mother?  We must learn to trust even if there might be some risk at least at the initial stages of the relationship.

 Sometimes there is oversensitivity and understandably so.  Racism has wounded generations of blacks; naturally such painful wounds and even scars are very sensitive.  At the same time whites can be very insensitive without even realizing it.  Back in the early 1980s I taught a course in Quantitative Methods in the graduate program of business at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.   After the three hour evening class, I gave special help to several students, one of whom was a black woman.  Since she needed more help, I tutored her last so that I could give this student unlimited help without worrying about the time.  I received good student evaluations, but the black woman accused me of being prejudiced.  I felt bad about it and could not understand why until years later.  I realize now that I should have been more sensitive and simply told her why I was helping her last.    

    The Cancellation Craze. George Washington owned slaves; so did Thomas Jefferson and other early presidents.  (see (207) THE FOUNDING AMERICAN IDEALS & RIGHTS BETRAYED: FROM SLAVERY TO ABORTION.......May we make the ideals of our founding fathers a reality in our businesses, communities, and ultimately in our nation

http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2018/04/207-founding-american-ideals-rights.html). 

    Many of the founding fathers owned slaves. They rationalized justifications, even thinking that enslaving them was civilizing, bringing them the faith, and thus improving their lives as long as the owners treated them well. They were wrong, but were they evil? They were in a sense victims of the culture and mentality of the times. Does that excuse them? No, but does that justify toppling every statue honoring them? We can still recognize the good that they have done and forgive them as we ask God's mercy to forgive us.

    Many if not most great historical figures had significant flaws because they are human........John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and even the great King David of the Old Testament among others. Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).  

    It's too easy to judge historical figures based upon what we know now and learned from the mistakes of the past. If we had lived in that era, would we have thought as we do today? The movie, “Gods and Generals” explores the motivations of the protagonists on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line in the great Civil War (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqVVDgPrxOU). Both sides deeply believed that their cause was right, heroically fought, and prayed to the same God for guidance and victory.

    Many of the founders realized that slavery was wrong; they wanted to do something about it, but realized that the southern states would not have joined the union if the Constitution had asserted that all men and women had the right to be free. Southerners really believed that their economy and their good life depended upon the institution of slavery. Thus the founders decided to kick the can down the road, letting future generations deal with it. We as a nation dearly paid for that sin and are continuing to reap the consequences to this day.

    Let's educate our children to realize that there still is racial injustice and they must do their part to change it.  At the same time they should realize how much progress we have made. Martin Luther King, I think, would agree.  He would have never approved of the violence we had last summer when even black owned businesses were looted.  Pray that it does not repeat this summer.

       Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a body of legal scholarship and an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists in the United States that seeks to critically examine U.S. law as it intersects with issues of race and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_race_theory.

  To study the negative effects of racism on economic opportunity, housing segregation, quality of education, criminal justice, social mores, the culture of the country, its laws and government policy in order to correct the situation is healthy.  But to harp on all of the negative effects of racism as injustice and oppression by a privileged white class, portraying the situation as hopeless while ignoring black success stories and the great progress that has been made is dangerous.  That approach can encourage hopelessness, helplessness, and bitterness, which discourage effort while breeding crime, violence, and racial strife.     

    Police brutality is real........white on white, white on black. In 2020 a very high 895 persons were shot to death by police officers.......457 whites, 241 blacks, 169 Hispanics, and  28 others (see 

https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/)Out of the 800,000 law enforcement officers in the United States, some bad eggs are unavoidable.  With better selection and better training that number can be minimized. Law enforcement is not bashing heads. Rednecks must be weeded out and never hired in the first place. In a tense situation when his own life is on the line, a police officer may overreact and make a grave mistake in using lethal force. Thus constant training to defuse tense situations without the need for excessive force is essential.

     Blacks must be recruited for the police force in proportion to the minority population in the area. Currently 12.4% of police officers are black while 13.4% of the population of 332 million is black. More neighborhood policing is necessary where police officers and the people work together in an atmosphere of trust.  Bicycles and scooters could be valuable tools. Of course, this is no easy task.  

    Invariably when a person, white or black, is killed in a confrontation with police, he resisted arrest.  We must educate every citizen to cooperate when arrested. Allow the justice system to work as it is designed. Every day police officers risk their lives to maintain order and protect us. In 2020 alone 366 police officers were killed in the line of duty. Let's appreciate the great work of the 99% of the police force who are competent and dedicated to serve the community. Defunding the police can only make it worse for all of us. The subsequent increase in crime is inevitable and automatic.

    Let us remember the words of the great Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” With the help of God we can achieve that dream and we are little by little. 

    Diversity shows the beauty in God's creation. Diversity and different ways of thinking breed creativity as in organizational work teams. Hearts don't change overnight, but we must continue to strive for racial justice. Hear and read the text of his epic speech in its entirety at https://www.npr.org/2010/01/18/122701268/i-have-a-dream-speech-in-its-entirety.  Let us all strive together to achieve that dream.

        The key to reconciliation is forgiveness which derives from Christian love.  We must forgive each other; the excess baggage of racism in resentment, hostility, and hate can destroy all of us.  Applicable here is the message that Fr. Ubald Rugirangoga has been promoting in Rwanda “The Secret of Peace is Forgiveness” (see www.secretofpeace.com) as a pathway to reconciliation in a country torn by two warring tribes in mutual genocide.  Christian love, a genuine concern for the good of the other, can renew the nation and all of us.  

    Let us recall the words of reconciliation of Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address as the great Civil War was drawing to a close: "With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds......." (See the Appendix for the complete text).  

      After all, scars of racism with its roots in slavery remain and wounds are still healing albeit many times reopened.  Although we have largely achieved political reconciliation between the free states and the slave states, reconciliation in regard to the bitter wounds of racism is very much a work in process.  Let us pray for God's help and strive to achieve it.    


APPENDIX


Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address March 4, 1865

"Fellow countrymen: at this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends is as well known to the public as to myself and it is I trust reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

"On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it ~ all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place devoted altogether to saving the Union without war insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war ~ seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

"One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves not distributed generally over the union but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen perpetuate and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered ~ that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses for it must needs be that offenses come but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which in the providence of God must needs come but which having continued through His appointed time He now wills to remove and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him. Fondly do we hope ~ fervently do we pray ~ that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'

"With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."  See https://www.nps.gov/linc/learn/historyculture/lincoln-second-inaugural.htm for a reenactment of this historic speech.