To Run Against the Wind -UPDATED

What do you seek? I mean once you come to grips with your mortality. Especially when your best laid plans fall apart in an instant via illness, an accident, or perhaps a death in the family. There you were sailing along majestically, deluded by your own good fortune to the point that you actually thought you were controlling your destiny.

Perhaps you felt you had figured out the game of life. You believed you could will your way to an earthly heaven. Yes, you are a winner, and winners never quit. And then everything you had mapped out for yourself slipped away from you.

Your dreams slipped past you like a stranger in a crowd. Or just when thought you knew what would make you happy, and when your idea of what you would spend your life doing was coming to fruition, it became unobtainable through no fault of your own, either for the reasons outlined above or because the economy takes a dive.

The gifts given to you are not yours, see, but they are on loan to you. Besides that, your gifts span various disciplines, while the world forces you to specialize in one discipline to the exclusion of the others. Surely you’ve noticed that. The jack-of-all-trades is lampooned as a “master of none.” “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” And so it goes.

Suppose, for example, that the occupation you think will bring you the most personal satisfaction becomes impossible for you to do. Or perhaps there is no market for that pursuit which brings you the most personal fulfillment or happiness. Or it’s likely that many share the same calling you love, but the competition is so cut-throat that only a few actually succeed. Ideas of “follow your bliss” ring hollow then. Folks who are disabled due to an accident encounter this moment of truth in a rude awakening every day.

Or suppose the person you love reneges on their promise to love you back. Often that is how you come face to face with the supposed virtue of selfishness. Which brings me to this scene from the movie Forrest Gump. Remember it? Forrest’s mother has died, the love of his life is gone, so he goes running back and forth across the country. Why?

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There you are running back and forth through this life for no apparent reason. And then it dawns on you that the winds of the world are going every which way. They are blowing you hither and yon. At some point you realize that you need to stop. Time to head home.

Did you here that last song in the clip? That’s from Bob Seger’s eleventh album. It came out a few month’s after Pink Floyd’s The Wall. In a way, it is a song-story exactly like what I’m writing about here, only better. The album went to number one on the charts because it resonants with our experiences in this world. This could be a theme song for YIMCatholic.

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G.K. Chesteron, in his biography of Charles Dickens, weighs in with some thoughts to conclude this post with.

“If we are to save the oppressed, we must have two apparently antagonistic emotions in us at the same time. We must think the oppressed man intensely miserable, and at the same time intensely attractive and important. We must insist with violence upon his degradation; we must insist with the same violence upon his dignity. For if we relax by one inch the one assertion, men will say he does not need saving. And if we relax by one inch the other assertion men will say he is not worth saving. The optimists will say that reform is needless. The pessimists will say that reform is hopeless. We must apply both simultaneously to the same oppressed man; we must say that he is a worm and a god; and we must thus lay ourselves open to the accusation (or the compliment) of transcendentalism.”

And that is about all I have to say about that.

Because John Galt Is Really Ayn Rand, Not Jesus Christ (Nice Try Though)

What does it take to snap Joe-Sixpack, USMC out of his reverie? That’s easy. Keep attempting to redeem the ideas of Ayn Rand and Christianize them. I’ll fix bayonets and come running like a teufel-hunden responding to one of those silent dog whistles.

Reverend Robert A. Sirico of the Acton Institute (which I generally admire) recently wrote an article entitled Who Really Was John Galt Anyway? Therein, Rev. Sirico tries to tease out Jesus Christ from the persona of Ms. Rand’s fictional character John Galt. Or perhaps he tries to tease out Ms. Rand’s longing for the Lord. [Read more…]

From the Treasure Chest: The Catholic Religion and Art

I’ve got this hobby of finding electronic versions of great books about the Catholic Faith. I share this pastime with everyone who stops by here too, via the YIMCatholic Bookshelf. At last count, I’ve added 853(!) fully searchable volumes to the shelf so far. There’s no cost to read or download them, and we’re open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Just the other day I found some books that were digitized from the collection of the Monastic Library of the Abbey of Gethsemani. Yes, the one in Kentucky where Fr. Louis was a monk and priest. They also spent some time on the shelves, and possibly still do, at the University of California in Berkeley. Who knew?

[Read more…]

Introducing Fr. Manuel de Zumaya, Composer-Priest (1678-1755)

I think I once heard someone famous claim that the Catholic Church could never produce artists of the caliber of a Beethoven, or Tchaikovsky. Maybe I heard them wrong, but I’ve been working at disproving that assertion lately. It all started when I learned that Vivaldi was a Catholic priest. And then I bumped into the beautiful polyphony of Fr. Tomás Luis de Victoria.

Of course, there have been beautiful composers of chants and polyphony since the Church began. Remember St. Romanus the Melodist? Awesome story, and amazingly beautiful music. Which brings me to this morning.

There I was just minding my own business, looking for some music to share with you, and somehow I stumbled upon another composer-priest story.

Have you ever heard of the baroque composer from Mexico named Manuel de Zumaya? Me neither. And sadly, I can’t find very much on him in English, though there is a Wikipedia page about him. He’s been called “the Handel of the Americas.” The first video shared below had this in the liner notes: ” a mexican priest and composer, from Mexico City; he was Kappelmeister of Mexico City Cathedral (1715-1738).”

That is what got me started on the quest for more information. On the site (you have to LOVE that as a website name!), I found this citation on him.


Manuel de Zumaya or Manuel de Sumaya (c. 1678 & ndash; 1755) was perhaps the most famous Mexico|Mexican composer of the colonial period of New Spain . His music was the culmination of the Baroque music|Baroque style in the New World ; of Spanish, French, Dutch, British, and Portuguese colonial composers, none stand out as much as Zumaya did. He was the first person in the western hemisphere to compose an Italian-texted opera , entitled Partenope (Zumaya)|Partenope (now lost).


Manuel de Zumaya was born in Mexico and was a mestizo (of mixed Native American and European descent).

In 1715, he was appointed chapelmaster of Mexico City ‘s cathedral , and was one of the first Americans to become one. He served there until 1738 when he moved to Oaxaca , where he followed his close friend Bishop Tomas Montaño against the vigorous and continuous protests of the Mexico City Cathedral Chapel Council for him to stay.

Manuel de Zumaya died on December 21, 1755, in Oaxaca, where he had resided since 1738.


His works are a multiplicity of his talents and styles. He was a master of the older Renaissance style and of the newer Baroque style.

In 1711, the new Viceroy, Don Fernando de Alencastre Noroña y Silva. Duke of Linares, an devotee of Italian opera, commissioned Zumaya to translate Italian libretti and write new music for them. The libretto of the first, La Parténope survives in the National Library of Mexico | Biblioteca Nacional de Mexico in Mexico City , though the music has been lost.

The Hieremiae Prophetae Lamentationes is a Gregorian chant|Gregorian —style antiquated notational piece. Zumaya authored the charmingly jolly ‘Sol-fa de Pedro’ (Peter’s Solfeggio) in 1715 during the examinations to select the Chapel Master at Mexico City’s cathedral.

Zumaya’s other famous piece, Celebren Publiquen , shows his ability to handle the polychoral sound of the high Baroque era. With his distribution of the choral resources into two choirs of unequal size, he copied the style that was favoured by the Spanish and Mexican choral schools in the early 18th century. The rich textures and instrumental writing reflect Zumaya’s “modern” style and are at the opposite end of the spectrum from his anachronistic Renaissance settings.

Zumaya’s recessional Angelicas Milicias presents his ability to superbly combine the Baroque orchestra and choir to create a sublime and stately piece worthy of the Virgin Mary herself (to which it is dedicated). The interludio, Albricias Mortales , is done in much the same style as Angelicas Milicias.

While I keep digging for more information, check out the following four pieces that I found via YouTube. I think you’ll agree that they are wonderful.

Look out below —Angelic Militias!


“Angelic militia, armies of heaven, that you protect the divine sovereign palace of the Monarch of the Holy Empire: To arms!, That the most beautiful and pure, triumphant Queen on a par, goes up, to be gratefully crowned. And this way rubs the strings, and the resound of trumpet and timpani, applauds her glories, with sweet roars of gun salutes.”

I don’t know about that translation, but the piece is sublime.

Something like “Guilt, as if?” I don’t speak Spanish, so help me out here readers! Here are the liner notes from the person who posted this,

This aria was composed by the Kapellmeister Manuel De Sumaya, New Spain’s Händel. He was born in Mexico City in 1676 and died in Oaxaca City, 1755. (some of Sumaya’s music can be heard in Jack Black’s “Nacho Libre”, when he climbs up the cliff to get the eagle eggs) Manuel de Sumaya is the most important composer of the New Spain and he’s the composer of the second american opera “La Parténope” after Torrejón y Velasco “La púrpura de la Rosa”

The Greatest Miracle music for the 1709 dedication of Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico. So says the person who posted this video.

Joyful Light of Day. Try to stop from turning pirouettes. I dare you.

I’ll keeping looking to see if I can find more information of him and his contemporary named Ignacio de Jerusalem.

Because Blogging For Christ Is Like Being St. Philip

Above is a snapshot of the last 500 visitors to this space. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then this one is worth 1500. As such, I’ll be brief. After baptizing the Ethopian eunuch, the Holy Spirit whisked Philip away to evangelize somewhere else. That is what it is like to be a Catholic working in the apostolate of St. Blogs.

the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away suddenly and the eunuch saw no more of him, but went on his way rejoicing.—Acts 8:39

I could kid myself that no one reads the stuff that is shared here, or on the other hand, that I “know” many of the readers who stop by. But the humbling truth is, I don’t know you. I didn’t e-mail you to please stop in. Something, or more accurately, someone, prompted you to stop in here today. You may have had no intention to do so, and yet you wound up here.

From the looks of it, you come from all over, from “every clime and place.” You are all welcome, all brothers and sisters of mine. And you are all God’s children. And you are not alone…

Thanks for stopping by. I pray your visit was a profitable one. Come back again soon.

Update: The Holy Father on Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age

Because the Sexual Abuse Scandal is Like The Ribbon Creek Incident

All of you who have never heard of the Ribbon Creek Incident, say “aye!”

Now, all of you who remember those pesky SAT analogy questions that went like this,

apple is to tree, as fish is to _________. a) Christians; b) water; c) sharks; d) pole

say “aye!”

I hope when reading that expression, you went with “b” as your answer.

Otherwise, I’m going to have to take all of you out as a group to the sand pit behind the squad bay and p.t. the lot of you until you can see yourself in the reflection of your own pool of sweat. Black Flag conditions be damned!

If you haven’t guessed it by now, this post is being brought to you by my alter-ego,  Joe Six-Pack, USMC. Remember the first time he showed up? And as the poor, hapless, civilians that you are, I (he?) probably lost many of you by using the jargon that every Marine knows like a second language. And I’m not gonna give you the scuttlebutt on those terms either. That is what Google is for! Go look up the words you didn’t understand on your own.

So, where in the world is this post going? Well, Archbishop Dolan recently said something very wise regarding the sexual abuse scandals that have occurred aboard His Majesty’s Ship. To paraphrase His Excellency, he says we can never forget.

Never Forget!

So what is the Ribbon Creek Incident and what does it have to do with the Church? The Ribbon Creek Incident took place in 1956 at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in lovely Parris Island, South Carolina. P.I., see, is across the Port Royal Sound from it’s polar opposite, Hilton Head Island. The one is where Marines are made, and the other is where tourists forget their cares for a week or so. It’s analogy refresher time.

Hilton Head Island is to Heaven as Parris Island is to ___________ a)Fort Dix, b)Fantasy Island, c) the Emerald Isle, d)Hell.

You guys are getting better at this, but you’re still too slow. Yes, this time “d” is the correct answer.

On April 8, 1956 at approximately 20:00 (that’s 8:00 PM) a Drill Instructor named Staff Sergeant Matthew McKeon took his platoon of recruits on a little punitive march into the wetlands around Ribbon Creek. Six of his recruits didn’t make it out because they drowned. And that is when the Marine Corps started aggressively fixing the problem of overzealous Drill Instructors destroying the raw material for the finest fighting force the world has ever known.

Would the Mothers of America continue to allow their boys to become Marines if sadistic D.I’s killed them in the process before they had even earned the title? That is highly unlikely. Just a few short years before this incident, the First Marine Division destroyed 8 Chinese Red Army divisions during it’s fighting withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir to the coast at Hungnam. And don’t forget the successful, though brutal, island hopping campaign in the Pacific during the recently concluded World War. Would you believe this storied history was sullied by the disaster at Ribbon Creek? The tabloids were having a field day, as were the mainline newspapers.

In reaction to the incident, did the leadership of the Corps cover it up? Not no, but hell no! Because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that recruitment would be harmed by more incidents like this. And thus, national security would be put at risk.

Another institutional perspective that caused the leadership to act swiftly to correct abuse of recruits in training was the ever threatening prospect of the dissolution of the Marine Corps altogether. Lot’s of bright, well meaning folks continued to point out how redundant it was to even have a Marine Corps. These whiz kids could always break out ideas, and the budget numbers to support them, for folding the Corps into the Army, Navy, and that new-fangled branch called the Air Force.

Do you think I’m kidding? Check out this quote from an Amazon review of John C. Steven’s book Court-Marshal at Parris Island:The Ribbon Creek Incident,

An extremely informative & detailed read! Stevens iterates a tragic event in Marine Corps history with a direct, thought provoking style. As the current Commanding Officer of the Recruit Training Regiment at Parris Island, I am encouraging my officers & drill instructors to read this book in order to better understand how close we, the Marine Corps, as an organization, came to being disestablished because of the actions of just one man.

Another book of interest on the same subject matter is Keith Fleming’s, “The U.S. Marine Corps in Crisis: Ribbon Creek & Recruit Training.” That is another important book in helping to understand how the recruit training process has evolved.

So being entrepreneurial, and forward looking, and bent on survival, you see, the Marine Corps changed. You can read all about it in the two books mentioned above by the Colonel, as well as briefly over at Wikipedia. But suffice it to say, for the purposes of the simple analogy I have proposed here, that the Marine Corps decided to fix the problem ASAP. The Corps moved swiftly to address this issue. Now true, the actions taken would never bring these dead recruits back to life, and never restore them to their families. However, the Corps takes care of her own, and changes were made at every level to insure that these six young men did not die in vain.

Now, swiftly is a relative term. It took years, nay, decades for Headquarters Marine Corps to effect institutional changes to successfully prevent on-going abuse of recruits. Ribbon Creek was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the immediate actions the Marine Corps took only began the long, slow, crawl away from the abyss of institutional extinction. I was at Parris Island in 1981, and by that time many training changes had been put in place. Ribbon Creek happened 25 years before I arrived on the Island, and yet the institution continued to tune and fine tune the process of how Marines are made for another 20 years after I graduated. I would argue that the transformation in recruit training from the time of the incident in 1956, and the amount of time that elapsed until its gruesome effects on the reputation of the Marine Corps subsided, is about 40 years.

So by no stretch of the imagination am I saying that the Church is in the 9th inning of the game here. If anything, She is in the second inning, and for all we know, she may be playing a double-header. But I can tell you this assuredly. The Marine Corps never forgot Ribbon Creek, just as surely as she never forgot Belleau Wood, Tarawa, or Iwo Jima. Nowadays, training recruits isn’t done by the seat of the pants, but it is done as 1/4 art and 3/4 science. To even become a Drill Instructor nowadays is one of the hardest schools to successfully complete as an enlisted Marine. The future of the Corps depends on high quality recruits being successfully transformed into high quality Marines, by impeccably qualified Drill Instructors and Officers. Mistakes still occur, but the organization is intent on discovery of personnel problems. Transparency is the rule.

And that’s it folks. Joe Six-Pack, USMC’s analogy is complete.

The Ribbon Creek Incident is to the Marine Corps, as the Sexual Abuse Crisis is to the Roman Catholic Church.

It isn’t pretty, and it won’t be quick, but the change that has to come about to identify the causes of the sexual abuse crisis, identify the parties involved in propagating it, rooting out and turning over to authorities those who engaged in this criminal behavior, has arrived.

With leaders like Archbishop Dolan, and Pope Benedict XVI at the helm, I have confidence that the changes and procedures needed to root out abusive priests, and keep them out going forward, are being developed and will be implemented, and they will continue to evolve. Like the Marine Corps and Ribbon Creek, the Church must never forget is right! And might I remind you that this means us lay Catholics especially. We must be ever vigilant going forward, much like the passengers on Flight 93 were back in 2001. It took everyone in the Marine Corps, from the Commandant to the lowliest Privates, and every rank in between, to change the culture of the Corps after Ribbon Creek. Similarly, this participation at every level will be required by Mother Church if indeed She is to avoid the lee-shore of scandal that she found herself heading towards. “All Hands, Prepare to Wear Ship!” is the command, and incidentally, you are one of the hands, savvy?

And if the leadership needs an example for best practices in this department, please feel free to forward this post to Headquarters, er, I mean the Vatican. You might even recommend Dr. Zimbardo’s book too.

Semper Fidelis

UPDATE: I just saw, An Archbishop Burns While Rome Fiddles. Regarding that article, some clarity (and footnotes)from Elizabeth Scalia.

For Guerilla Catechesis Like This By Stephen Colbert

Ok, so I don’t get to watch television much. I’m not saying I never watch television, but I rarely get to sit down and take in a show, you know, in its entirety. I’d rather be writing, or reading, or watching one of my children’s ball games.

Today, though, I was reading Mark Shea’s blog and saw this video clip of Stephen Colbert teaching a class on Free Will, Satan, Sin, and Hell, courtesy of an interview he was doing on his comedy show (the Colbert Report) with Professor Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University.

Dr. Zimbardo wrote a book called The Lucifer Effect about what happens when folks obey unjust authority mindlessly. His implication regarding what took place in the Garden of Eden is interesting. But even a layman who happens to be a professional comedian can teach the Doc a thing or two. Take a look.

The Colbert ReportMon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Philip Zimbardo
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Now, I’ve not read the good professor’s book, but I can bet you that he hasn’t read the Book of Wisdom. Maybe you haven’t either, because Martin Luther tossed it from the Canon after he took his scissors to the Sacred Scriptures. Right there, in chapter 2, God (via the Holy Spirit-inspired writer) says,

For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it. (2:24-25)

Bravo Zulu! Stephen was running short of time, so he didn’t have a chance to mention that fact. Dr. Z. got a little more than he bargained for though, wouldn’t you say? And another thing, I’m not all jazzed up about Colbert’s use of the F-word, so I’ll send him this link too.

Well Done!

Dear YIMCatholic Readers…

There is something about the month of June that brings about change. Palpable change, just like when the Spring season gives way physically to that of the Summer.

This time last year, I was a junior partner of this blog, having been aboard for a mere six months. Allison Salerno, was even more junior, having officially been brought aboard by Webster Bull at the end of March 2010. We were junior members of a new endeavor called Why I Am Catholic.

By last June, Webster had effectively handed the conn over to me and Allison. Prior to that time, I hadn’t posted more than a couple of times a week. I didn’t really know much about blogging or writing. I still don’t. I remember though that something prompted me to continue plugging along, even as Webster had to turn his attention to completing a big writing project. Muddle through and continue sharing what it is that called you to be a Catholic, is the vibe that I got. So, along with Allison, I continued to do just that.

And a funny thing happened in that readers still came to the blog. Webster made appearances occasionally, and stepped up big time when I went on vacation at the end of July. And Allison was an able partner, bringing her perspectives on the life of faith to our readers as well. She was transitioning to a new career as a teacher last summer, and was able to post her thoughts consistently.

When classes started though, Allison understandably had to focus on her new vocation. Webster was immersed in his project still and after Labor Day, this space effectively had only one voice sharing posts with the world. Yep, that of the unintentional blogger. If you want to see what you have to look forward to now that the unintentional blogger is the only one here, check the September 2010 link in our post archive.

The last post for September was Webster saying he was back, but alas a few weeks later he was gone permanently. Allison was up to her neck in lesson plans, and the mine field of a new career (and she still is…pray for her!) and so the little newbie who could, just kept plugging. And miraculously, good folks like you kept stopping by and reading the posts. By October, Allison was able to post occasionally and Webster Bull’s brainchild continued to flourish.

And it still flourishes to this day, because as it turns out, this blog wasn’t the brainchild of Webster Bull. Webster himself was prompted to start YIMCatholic through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit; at the insistence of the Advocate of the True Vine, even if he wasn’t sure of this at the time. Is it any surprise, then, that the unholy trinity of Webster, Frank, and Allison are all still blogging, (Webster at Witness and Allison at Rambling Follower), all still working for the same Boss? Not to me it isn’t.

So once again, June came around the calendar, and brought change along with her, just as surely as she did last year. Change, if I’ve learned anything in my short life, is a constant. Embrace it, or run from it, it will effect you one way or another. I’m the embracing type. I saw this thought once and it always stuck with me,

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”– William Arthur Ward

Stand by to come about!

I’m still learning how to be a writer, and like most of my prior education, I am finding that the best way to learn to write is by experience. Maybe I’m supposed to be a writer during this next stage in my earthly sojourn. If so, it will be as a self taught Catholic writer, because frankly I don’t have the time or the money to be taught by professionals. The same is true for learning about the faith. I won’t be cutting tuition checks to any schools of higher learning chasing degrees in theology anytime soon. Because the next folks named Weathers that I will spend money for tuition on are currently 15, 12, and 10 years old, and frankly, they have first dibs on any college money in my bank account.

But continue blogging for the Lord, I shall. I can’t promise that there will be something up for followers to read every single day of the week. My life outside of blogging is pretty full, what with my responsibilities to my wife (22 years come October!) the aforesaid three (almost) teenagers, all of their activities, and my day job.

So now, everyone is current on the situation of the blog. YIMCatholic will continue, as will my friendships with Webster and Allison. You’ll have a self-trained, retired Marine, ex-stock broker, ex-logistics manager, who currently works as a bit player in a sleepy archive at the helm as your intrepid blogger. An unpublished writer who (when I can’t think of anything to write myself) shares stuff that he finds along the way with you. Sometimes deep stuff, sometimes off-the-wall stuff, but all of which speaks to the reasons Why I Am Catholic.

And you get all of this for free! That’s not a bad trade.

For the Faith and Courage of St. Justin Martyr


St. Justin Martyr, André Thévet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s the first day of a new month on the calendar. Summer breezes are blowing, and the grass is green. In my neck of the woods, school is out and the pools are open. Some folks have already made trips to the beach to enjoy the sun and the sand. You know, to get away from it all.

Juxtaposed against the fantasy of a relaxing vacation to the sound track of the rolling surf, I present you with the trial of the Samaritan named Justin Martyr. What you are about to read took place in the year 165 AD. Let me do a little math in my head, hmm. Yes, about 132 years after Christ died.

Say you were Justin. If you were in his shoes today, in the Year of Our Lord 2011, you would be about to be executed for believing in something that you knew occurred in the year 1879. Not so long ago as to have lost much significance, especially given that the Fall of the Temple in Jerusalem happened in the year 70, or in the year 1916 from our modern day Justin’s perspective.

Let’s have a look through the glass,

from The Martyrdom of Justin and Others

Though nothing is known as to the date or authorship of the following narrative, it is generally reckoned among the most trustworthy of the Martyria. An absurd addition was in some copies made to it, to the effect that Justin died by means of hemlock. Some have thought it necessary, on account of this story, to conceive of two Justins, one of whom, the celebrated defender of the Christian faith whose writings are given in this volume, died through poison, while the other suffered in the way here described, along with several of his friends. But the description of Justin given in the following account, is evidently such as compels us to refer it to the famous apologist and martyr of the second century.

What follows is a snippet, or two. As you read them, imagine how the ordinary rank and file citizenry, say like the denizens of the various portals at (for example) would tsk, tsk, in astonishment at the behavior of this fellow named Justin. Perhaps they would lament all the while the demise of this noble, upright, possessor of radically unbalanced views.

After they had been brought before his tribunal, the prefect Rusticus said to Justin: “First of all, you must obey the gods and submit to the orders of the emperors.”

Justin said: “There is no blame or condemnation in obeying the commands of our Savior Jesus Christ.”

The prefect Rusticus said: “What are the doctrines that you practice?”

“I have tried to become acquainted,” said Justin, “with all doctrines. But I have committed myself to the true doctrines of the Christians, even though they may not please those who hold false beliefs.”

“You miserable fellow,” said the prefect Rusticus, “are these then the doctrines that you prefer?”

“Yes,” said Justin, “for I adhere to them on the basis of a correct belief.”

The prefect Rusticus said “What belief do you mean?”

The Prefect, see, was a very busy man. He probably didn’t realize that Justin had done a lot of reading, and thinking, and had figured out that Christianity is true. He wrote a book about it too. But time being of the essence, he gives Rusticus the Cliff Notes version here,

Justin said: “The belief that we piously hold regarding the God of the Christians, whom alone we believe to have been the maker and creator of the entire world from the beginning, both visible and invisible; also regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, the child of God, who was also foretold by the prophets as the one who was to come down to mankind as a herald of salvation and a teacher of good doctrines.

Now I, being but a man, realize that what I say is insignificant when measured against his infinite godhead; but I acknowledge the power of prophecy, for proclamation has been made about him who I have just now said to be the Son of God. For you know that in earlier times the prophets foretold his coming among men.”

“The Maine,”Havana 1898

Oh, my dear fellow, Rusticus may have thought, if you would only be reasonable, and stop being so damn sure of yourself! But Rusticus is the one being closed minded here. Justin was willing to live and let live in the name of religious freedom.

But force him to belief in something else? Sorry.  Being only 132 years removed from the death of Christ is like being as sure today that your great-grandfather was killed when the Maine was blown up in Havana. “Remember the Maine!” Justin’s behavior, then, in a word? Intransigent. Which is poles apart from “balanced.”

… the prefect Rusticus said: “If you do not obey, you will be punished without mercy.”

Justin said: “We are confident that if we suffer the penalty for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, for this is the confidence and salvation we shall have at the terrible tribunal of our Savior and Master sitting in judgment over the whole world.”

And guess what his companions said?

Similarly the other martyrs said, “Do what you will. We are Christians and we do not offer sacrifice to idols.”

I love esprit de corps and camaraderie.

The prefect Rusticus passed judgment, saying: “Those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to yield to the emperor’s edict are to be led away to be scourged and beheaded in accordance with the laws.”

And thus the happy conclusion.

The holy martyrs having glorified God, and having gone forth to the accustomed place, were beheaded, and perfected their testimony in the confession of the Savior. And some of the faithful having secretly removed their bodies, laid them in a suitable place, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ having wrought along with them, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Stick that in your “balanced” pipes and smoke it. St. Justin, and Companions, pray for us.

The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500: Feast Day for Gearheads-UPDATED

It’s no secret that I’m a gearhead, unless you just stumbled in here today for the first time. If it is fast, I like it! I don’t care whether we are talkin’ cars, boats, planes, go-karts, even the pine-wood derby. You name it.

Speed, and the drivers with the skills to thread the needle and run across the razors edge, and win, is a testament to the wonderful human creature that God created.

Because as creatures go, humans are pretty slow. Think you can out run a lion, tiger, or bear? How about the cheetah? You’d be lucky if you can keep up with your pet daschund, at least in short bursts of speed. No. Mankind has had to use our God given intelligence to figure out ways to go faster than all of the creatures mentioned. But to bring speed to the common man, it took the invention of the automobile. And eventually, folks started competing to see who could be fastest on any given day. Thus motor racing was born.

In my mind, the big show in motor racing is the Indianapolis 500. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 24 Hours of LeMans too. Indy cars cutting it up on the streets of Long Beach, or Toronto, is a close second. Trans-Am cars (remember those?) were awesome to watch as well. Formula One? You don’t even want to know.

But Indy is where the best eventually land. It is among the only oval track races I ever bother watching. Here is an example of why,

Silly announcers. Ha! Ol’ Sammy schooled them. That dude Hornish can drive. The Andretti Curse at Indy lives! Mario Andretti won in 1969, but no Andretti has ever won the Indy 500 since. The closest finish ever was in 1992 when Al Unser Jr. defeated Scott Goodyear by .043 seconds. The Top-10 finishes of all time are listed here.

In about an hour, the show will get off the ground. Jim Nabors, who for the past 30 years or so has sang “Back Home Again in Indiana,” won’t be able to attend this year due to being ill. Please say a prayer for him. And say a prayer for safe racing for the rest of the field too.

Oh, check out the warm-up act for today’s race. PUNCH IT!

I don’t think Evil Knievel ever made a jump that successfully. Awesome! The back story of this feat is here.

Speaking of the field, it is one of the most closely matched fields in the history of the race. This is the closest matched field by time in Indianapolis 500 history — 2.5399 seconds separate fastest qualifier Alex Tagliani and slowest qualifier Ana Beatriz. The previous record was 3.0622 seconds set in 2010. Sweet!

Other cool factoids for this years race can be found here.

Ladies (four of them this year) and Gentleman, Start Your Engines!

UPDATES: Congratulations to 2011 INDY 500 Winner Dan Weldon. Another amazing finish!

UPDATE II: The “didn’t see that one coming,” finish.