There’s a whole family of these available on You Tube.
Views of a new Catholic in an old world on the joy and inexhaustible meaning found in the Faith
There’s a whole family of these available on You Tube.
|Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf|
Without a strong master, they are worthless. Destructive. Bored. Good for nothing but trouble. These descriptions, for those who have owned (or do own) herding dogs, would be the end of this post. Their experience with dogs like these would make the truth of these statements self-evident. Frank knows herding dogs.
For those of you who have not owned dogs bred to herd animals, you may need a little more convincing. And where has Frank gotten his bonafides on cattle and sheep herding dogs? Experience. Since 1993, I’ve owned three dogs: two of them were Australian Cattle Dogs, and now I own a Border Collie. None of them are “black sheep dogs” with malevolent stares, though they all have had black coloring in their coats. Yes, this is a post that is tangentially about the Corapi kerfuffle. Because you need to know.
Put down your pitch-forks and torches for a second and come meet my dogs. Besides, that kind of stuff (scary Hollywood style mobs, milling about earnestly looking to lynch someone) doesn’t scare Joe Six-Pack, USMC. Nor does it scare my dogs.
|St. Davy at age 12|
First up is Davy, also known in my household as “St. Davy of Queensland.” Why, pray tell? Because Davy, my first Australian Cattle Dog, could do no wrong. He simply was Our.Best.Dog.Ever. Davy was my and my wife’s first born, see. We bought him the same week we bought our first home, back in the Fall of 1993. He was six weeks old when I brought him home to surprise my wife less than a week after moving in.
|Mad Max & his dog|
At the local pet store, the sign in his cage said he was a “Queensland Heeler.” I had no idea what that was, but he looked a bit like a Corgy as a little pup and I wasn’t enthused about that favorite of the Royals. I headed to the local library (yes, this was before the days of Google) and did a quick bit of research on this breed. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was the dog that Mel Gibson had at his side in Road Warrior. Cool!
Here’s what I learned about the breed from the Readers Digest Illustrated Book of Dogs,
The Australian Cattle Dog was developed to be a strong biting dog, one able to drive cattle over long distances. Its speckled coat camouflages it when nipping at bovines’ legs. Its punishing jaws are essential to a cattle dog in mustering and moving wild livestock. Protecting its master’s family and home is a responsibility the Australian Cattle Dog takes as seriously as driving cattle.
When Australian stockmen required a herding dog to help control half-wild cattle and sheep, they set out to breed one. The process began in the 1830′s when a stockmen named Timmons crossed a Smithfield, a tough but noisy working breed, with a Dingo. The resulting “Timmons Biter” had the Dingo’s silent ways but proved difficult to manage.
A further cross with Border Collies enhanced tractibility, but barking became a problem once more. Again, the Dingo was used. Later, to improve temperament, Dalmatian stock was introduced. To further develop working ability, the Australian Kelpie was interbred. This final cross produced just the versatile canine the stockmen were searching for. Their creation, possessed stamina, reliability, and uncanny intelligence.
So consulting my checklist, Smart? Check! Medium sized? Check! Not too yappy? Check! Cool looking? Check! I headed back to the store and bought him immediately.
When fully grown, Davy weighed 45 lbs, so he was indeed medium sized. If there is a MENSA equivalent for dogs, Australian Cattle Dogs would be one of the most numerous members of that society. Davy was simply the smartest dog I have ever had (and my family had several dogs while I was growing up). He was house broken in one week, and for the rest of his life (and he spent all 13 years of his life with us) he never had an accident indoors. He’d let you know when he needed to go out. And be advised, he was an outdoors dog. We lived in Southern California for most of his life and he lived and played in our fenced-in backyard, sleeping in a wooden kennel outdoors.
Within his first six months, he could pee and poop on command. My wife and I went to the Universal Studios tour and among the attractions, we saw the animal talent show there. I took the tricks I saw performed there back home to Davy and in a matter of weeks, he could sit, shake, roll-over, and speak (bark) with hand signals alone. Dogs like these make their masters look like professional animal trainers (think “Cesar Milan“). Life was very good.
Davy died about a year after we moved back to my hometown. I still get teary-eyed thinking about it because he was such a loved member of our family. He was great with our kids when they arrived. He would herd me along when I came out with the laundry heading to our washer and dryer out in the garage. He loved catching frisbees and loved going on walks on the two mile circuit my wife and I staked out around our neighborhood. He loved the water. Quiet? He only barked when something was out of the ordinary.
True story time: Once, when he was about a year old, he saved our neighbors car from being stolen. One morning, about 1:00 o’clock, Davy awoke and sounded the alarm by stationing himself at the gate to our backyard, barking his head off. When Davy barked, you knew something was up. It turned out someone had smashed the window of our next door neighbors car in a bid to steal it. Davy saved the day.
|Bull Mastiffs love me too.|
Here’s another one from when Davy was 5 years old. I had just rejoined the Marines as a Reservist and was getting ready to head to Colorado for annual training with my artillery battery. The Friday evening right before I left, Davy started barking. Herding dogs are smart, and vary the pitches of their barks in a way that is difficult to explain, but you know it when you’ve experienced it. He had this higher pitched barking sound whenever a possum wandered into our yard along the top of the fence, for example.
So I went out back to investigate. He had boxed something into the far right-hand corner of our back yard, somewhere between the block wall that fronted the back of an apartment building, and the oleander bush in the corner, next to our cypress trees. As such, he was sweeping in an arc around that back corner and barking with his “I’ve caught a possum” bark. He wouldn’t stop, so I went back in the house to get the flashlight and a broom (to knock it off the fence, and the flashlight because it was about 10 PM). When I came back out, Davy still had it cornered. When I flashed the light toward the oleander, a man’s voice cried out with “Man, can you call your dog off?!”
My hackles immediately went full tilt and I said “Hell no, I’m calling the Police!” and I scampered back inside to do just that. I knew this dude would never get past Davy. He evidently climbed back over the back wall and ran away, because Davy quieted down and the cops found nothing when they arrived shortly thereafter. My wife was less than pleased that I was leaving her alone with my 2 1/2 year old son for two weeks the next morning, but we were confident that Davy would guard my family’s safety. That is how life is with a well-trained Cattle Dog.
After Davy passed on, I didn’t want to get another dog for a while. But I missed having one around. So I went looking for another Australian Cattle Dog and found one at a Cattle Dog rescue place about an hour from our home. This is where Riley came into our life, a few short weeks after St. Davy left.
|Riley, loyal to Frank (only).|
It turns out that one of the reasons Davy was so saintly is because a) he was six weeks old when I bought him, and b) I spent a lot of time with him. I trained him, and he was very obedient to me and my wife. We both worked outside the home at that time, and Davy was fine when left to himself in the back yard, foraging avocados, and figs, and the occasional squirrel. When we came home, he was with us the whole time, you know, fetching frisbees, learning new tricks, and hanging out until bed time. Riley’s story is completely different.
First off, he was about 1 1/2 to 2 years old when we got him. You see, he had run away from his owner in Kentucky and the owner had never come looking for him at the pound. So the Cattle Dog Rescue place swooped in and saved him and we adopted him. As a result, training Riley was a bit tougher than training Davy, but the characteristics of the breed still won out. Though he was crate-trained (something I had never had to do with Davy), house breaking him was a chore.
He had trouble obeying my wife, but since I was around, I ignored this warning sign. Because in short order, Riley was catching frisbees with the best of them. He was so athletic, and jumped so high, our next door neighbor would invite folks over just to watch him go. He too loved the water, and throwing frisbees into the lake nearby, he would happily swim out for them 25-30 yards from shore, swim back and demand that you throw it out there again. He was an Olympian.
Riley was silent for the most part too, much to the dismay of UPS truck drivers and the post office letter carriers who brought us packages. He would not bark until he was right on their heels. So we were added to the “do not deliver to” list promptly. Our neighbors happily received packages for us whenever they came.
As long as I was around, all was well. Then I went back to work outside of the home again about a year after he joined the family. He took this hard. See, when I went back to work, the master who kept things on an even keel with him was gone. Riley tried then to take my place on the Alpha Dog roster, growing ever more disobedient to my wife and children while I was away at work.
When I got home, all would be well. But when I was gone, which was 5 days a week, for close to 10 hours a day, he tried to fill the void. Loyal only to me, he started growling at my family, and when he snapped at my daughter, he went right back to the farm where I had picked him up. Our relationship with Riley lasted 2 years. Then we went without a dog for about 1 1/2 years of decompression. Enter Cody, the Border Collie.
|Cody at 6 weeks old.|
The long dog-less dry spell ended last June. My youngest son and I picked up this dude when he was six weeks old, just like with Davy. Unlike Davy, and Riley, Cody has grown up with a family of 5 from the get go. House trained pretty rapidly, and only a few mistakes since, he’s a fun addition to the family. Spirited, he barks more than the Cattle Dogs ever did, but look at that face! Look at those eyes! Not a malevolent stare capable in this brown-eyed handsome dog. Don’t let them fool you though, because though a pushover with his family, he’s fearless with outsiders.
And he’s as smart as his Cattle Dog cousins, and has a whole vocabulary of sounds. I’m learning to translate them now. Sam Sheepdog (see the photograph at the top of this post) is really a Bearded Collie. Lots of training and supervision have been needed by Cody, and we have provided it. That and lots of exercise, which he gets mainly by running around the borders of our yard. Want to see the effect of genetics on a breed? Ride a bicycle in the yard and he will herd you around like you are a lost sheep. Your bicycle is alive, as far as he’s concerned, and he will not stop trying to get you to go where he knows you need to go. No matter how fast you pedal, or for how long.
And that brings me full circle to the point about herding dogs that I started this post with. Left to themselves, they aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Bored, they will be destructive, troublesome and worthless for their intended job. They need strong shepherds. Period. Someone to tell them what to do, and where to take the flock.
Which brings me to the part of this post where I’ll share these wise words written by Fr. Joseph Jenkins about the Corapi kerfuffle entitled Black Sheep Dog or Black Wolf? He covers everything that anyone needs to know about this situation.
As you read it, keep in mind what I have shared with you from my own long experience with herding dogs and how important their relationships with their masters are both to their own happiness and to that of their families (the pack). Light your torches and bring your pitchforks if you must, but you won’t make it into my yard. That much I can assure you of.
|Cody, the next generation|
The Rose of Sharon
by Anonymous. Arranged by Barney E. Warren (pub. 1911)
Lord Jesus, my sweet Rose of Sharon,
My Prophet, my Priest, and my King—
To Thee I will sing all my praises,
For blessings Thy mercy doth bring.
All glory and honor to Jesus,
Who offered His life on the cross,
To open a fountain for sinners,
And purchase a world that was lost.
Sweet Rose of Sharon,
Blooming above for me.
Oh, come help me sing of my Savior,
For He is the joy of my heart;
Come join in His service forever,
He will His rich graces impart.
I gaze at the wounds of my Savior,
From which that great fountain doth flow;
His word is my shield and my buckler,
By faith I’m made whiter than snow.
Sweet Rose of Sharon,
Blooming above for me.
In love’s verdant vale I am resting,
In Christ all my hope I confide;
My heart and my life He is blessing,
As humbly I walk by His side.
I’m living low down in the valley,
Where sweet Rose of Sharon doth bloom;
Oh, glory! its heavenly odor
With fragrance my soul doth perfume.
Sweet Rose of Sharon,
Blooming above for me.
Come, sinner, thy heart like the desert,
With sweet Rose of Sharon shall bloom;
’Twill blossom as flowers of summer,
His Spirit thy heart shall illume.
He paid all thy debt on Mount Calv’ry,
He suffered that you might be free;
Oh, look, guilty one, there is mercy,
There’s life and salvation for thee.
Sweet Rose of Sharon,
Blooming above for me.
This first ran back in September, 2010 during the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette. I think it deserves another look…
Today I heard the best explanation of the parable of the “Unjust Steward” that I have ever heard. Or maybe it is the parable of the “Shrewd Manager.” Either way, thanks to the homily of my pastor today, I think I may finally understand this parable.
The title of this post gives it away. Jesus, Our Lord and Savior is the unjust steward, the shrewd manager. How else to find favor in the hearts of us all than to write off or write down our debts completely? How else could this steward’s master find favor with him, unless Our Lord is the steward and God is the rich man? Let’s look at the passage from today’s gospel reading.
Luke 16: 1-13
Jesus said to his disciples,
“A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said,’What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship,because you can no longer be my steward.’
So far, so good. The conventional wisdom appears to be holding sway. Prepare yourself for a contrarian twist.
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that,when I am removed from the stewardship,they may welcome me into their homes.’
He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said,’How much do you owe my master?’
Now. Start thinking this is Our Lord speaking of himself. You know the popular “What Would Jesus Do” question? WWJD? This is it. Back to the debtor (insert character of yourself here).
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’
He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Note the lack of any complaint or push-back on the part of the debtor. This guy knows a good deal when he hears it. A little while later,
Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’
He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’
The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’
Another bargain, and another taker. Right about now, the conventional wisdom lover in you is getting angry, right? This son-of-a-mule is undermining his masters wealth and business. Bad manager! Only one problem. The bad manager gets commended for it.
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”
Read that sentence one more time. Go ahead, I’ll wait. He says the worldly are more prudent in their dealings with others than are the special ones, these “children of light.” Is this cutting you to the quick a little? It did me.
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
Remember how the Scribes and Pharisees were always chiding Our Lord about him hanging out with unsavory types, you know, those nasty sinners, publicans, and tax collectors? Ahem, yes, the saavy ones instead of the “righteous” ones. Be clever like the former and not disdainful like the latter.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?
Do these two sentences have your head swimming? What a paradox, right? Sentence A = conventional wisdom, and we nod our heads in agreement. Then, Sentence B turns sentence A on its head and we shake our heads and yell “no!” We’re all left scratching our heads so He says,
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
Because we individually don’t own anything, see, but we are all, instead, in debt up to our eyeballs. We are indebted to God, because everything we have is a gift. A gift which we must be stewards of. Good stewards, who pat ourselves on the back for our good work? Or unjust stewards, like the model we see here?
Quick, lean your head back so you can breath (!) or else you will drown in debt. And then give thanks to God that He sent His Son, the unjust steward, to write down all of our debts to zero. In that way, through the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, can our lives be truly restored. For He also said,
Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. (Matthew 9:13)
If you knew what this meant, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned these innocent men. (Matthew 12:7)
He taught us to pray “forgive us our debts” which he does for us so easily, and as the unjust steward did, so readily, so cleverly. But he also asks us to pray these words: “as we have also forgiven our debtors.”
Now this is agape in action.
Speaking only for myself, I know I need to work on being more forgiving. How about you?
from work. Glad the week was over. Looking forward to a busy weekend (a birthday, weeding, cutting the grass, preparing to send a child to camp, etc.) It’s been a busy week, both at work and here on the blog. Lots of news to digest.
But maybe it doesn’t need to be digested. Oops, lookie there. My little yellow fuel tank light just went off. Looks like I need to stop in at the gas station. Ease up on the throttle and set the cruise control to double-nickels.
Slow-lane time. Hey, how about some tunes? Nah, I don’t want to listen to Matt Maher. I did that on the way into the city. What’s on the radio? Do you think the Holy Spirit works through the radio? With God, you know, anything is possible. Here’s what came on,
Foo Fighters, My Hero. This band is led by the former drummer of Nirvana, Dave Grohl. Dave can play every instrument, and did so on his first solo album after Kurt Cobain committed suicide. What event do you think this song made me think of?
Guess what came on next? I kid you not. Dig the background color.
Duran Duran, Hungry Like the Wolf.
And then I said a quick prayer, stopped for gasoline, and continued on home.
-Solemnity of Corpus Christi
Today we celebrate the Body of Christ. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote a chant that is beautiful in Latin, and beautifully translated into English by Gerald Manly Hopkins, S.J. (poet extraordinaire).
Elegant and clean, it points to the signal fact that Faith in a hidden God is what we are called to. For in the words of the prophet, “truly you are a hidden God,” though one whom we are allowed also to physically perceive in the Eucharist.
Pondering these mysteries, St. Thomas penned this chant. Here is the English translation:
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, faith and nothing more.
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed.
What God’s Son hath told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly, or there’s nothing true.
On the Cross thy Godhead made no sign to men.
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken;
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
And what prayer is that? A simple and powerful one.
The good folks over at Catholic Answers have the scoop:
Q: “Did Fulton Sheen support Vatican II? Sheen is a favorite of some who reject the Council, so a quote from him citing his support for Vatican II would be quite helpful for discussions with them.” [Read more...]
How I handled the Corapi bombshell. Don’t try this at home folks. And please… make sure you listen to my words with Robin at the end. -Batman [Read more...]
I missed doing a music post yesterday. I had a few other things on my mind. But I came up with a few selections today, and it being Tuesday, I figured you all might enjoy a Two for Tuesday music post.
The first two songs are to celebrate the official first day of summer. Who better than the Beach Boys for that? The remaining songs are all for Mr. John Corapi, and for those who may have followed him. You see, I have to say goodbye to John Corapi, much like I did for Anne Rice.
Now some of you may think that this isn’t the Christian thing to do. Well, I’ve prayed for John, but nowadays I’m praying more for those who he has let down. As for saying goodbye to him, I’d like to turn your attention to this,
Avoid foolish arguments, genealogies, rivalries, and quarrels about the law, for they are useless and futile. After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned.
—St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Letter to Titus 3: 9-10
And taking it up the chain-of-command, Our Lord said,
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 7:15-16)
Okey, dokey? So let’s play some tunes now as I say goodbye.
The Beach Boys, Catch A Wave. It’s the first day of summer. ‘Nuff said. And it turns out that since Mr. Corapi’s announcement, the web surfing has definitely been “up.”
The Beach Boys, Deuce Coupe. Live, in Mono. Lip synching? I think not! However, the fans are a little rabid in their adulation, no? Screaming me-mees give me the he-bee ge-bees.
Chris Isaak, Wicked Game. This might actually be the official song of Black Dog Up! Enterprises. The title is dead-on, for sure. And Chris Isaak and his band flat jam too. And what a clean video!
Chris Isaak, Wrong to Love You. Well, let’s just say that today’s readings clarify how we should live and where our allegiance should lie. As for this song, I enjoy Isaak’s voice-over about teamwork and faith, not to mention the message.
Billy Idol, Catch My Fall. Alrighty then. Two things. A) This musician has exactly the right name for a post like this, and B) we all fall down and need the Church and her Sacraments to catch us when we do.
Billy Idol, Daytime Drama This is kind of how I feel about daily Mass. It’s where I meet my Hope, and your Hope, for the future day in and day out. It couldn’t happen without a priest dutifully providing the Sacraments. And not just 10% of his time, but nearly all of the time. Also, Steve Stevens is a great guitar player!
Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dirty Pool. You all know I love SRV. He’s singing about a girl here (I think), but I believe lots of “dirty pool” has been played lately by a certain someone.
Steve Ray Vaughn, Tightrope. It’s tough to be a “rock star” priest. In fact, it just might need to be outlawed going forward. Just my two cents. Listen to Stevie Ray for a second and you might agree.
Sting, If I Ever Lose My Faith In You. Pretty self-explanatory, except I haven’t lost my faith in Christ or His Holy Church.
Sting, If You Love Someone, Set Them Free. Why can I let John go? Because I must. Free will demands it. As St. John of the Cross said,
Live in this world as though there were nothing in it but God & your soul, so that your heart may not be detained by anything that is human.
That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the Two for Tuesday format. I’ll try to get MfM back on track next week.
A few thoughts on the character of a rebel found in a new addition to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. I found this in the first few pages of a compilation of quotations published in 1827 by John Timbs. Entitled, Laconics: or, The Best Words from the Best Authors, the following thoughts are those of one Samuel Butler.
Butler (1612-1680) was an author, poet, and satirist in his day. He is best known for the poem “Hudibras,” which was directed at lampooning the Puritans. What follows though are from his character sketches that were published long after his death in the year 1759. Compiled in a volume entitled The Genuine Remains in Verse and Prose of Mr Samuel Butler, behold “The Rebel”.
A rebel is a voluntary bandit, a civil renegado, that renounces his obedience to his prince, to raise himself upon the public ruin. He is of great antiquity, perhaps before the creation, at least a Preadamite; for Lucifer was the first of his family, and from him he derives himself in an indirect line. He finds fault with the government, that he may get it the easier into his own hands, as men use to undervalue what they have a desire to purchase.
He is a butcher of politics, and a state-tinker, that makes flaws in the government only to mend them again. He goes for a public-spirited man, and his pretences are for the public good; that is, for the good of his own public spirit. He pretends to be a great lover of his country, as if it had given him love-powder; but it is merely out of natural affection to himself. He has a great itch to be handling of authority, though he cut his fingers with it; and is resolved to raise himself, though it be but upon the gallows.
He is all for peace and truth, but not without lying and fighting. He plays a game with the hangman for the clothes on his back; and when he throws out, he strips him to the skin. He dies in hempen sheets, and his body is hanged, like his ancestor Mahomet’s, in the air. He might have lived longer, if the destinies had not spun his thread of life too strong.
He is sure never to come to an untimely end, for by the course of law his glass was out long before. He calls rebellion and treason laying out of himself for the public; but being found to be fake unlawful coin, he was seized upon, and cut in pieces, and hanged for falsifying himself.
His espousing of quarrels proves as fatal to his country, as the Parisian wedding did to France. He is like a bell, that was made on purpose to be hanged. He is a diseased part of the body politic, to which all the bad humours gather.
He picks straws out of the government like a madman, and startles at them when he has done. He endeavors to raise himself, like a boy’s kite, by being pulled against the wind. After all his endeavors and designs he is at length promoted to the gallows, which is performed with a cavalcade suitable to his dignity; and after much ceremony he is installed by the hangman, with the general applause of all men, and dies singing like a swan.
There’s a little bit of this guy in all of us. For more sketches of Butler’s, head on over to the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. If you are like me you’ll agree that the more things change, the more they stay the same.