Happy Birthday Jim,
71 years old! I sang Happy Birthday to you this morning. Did mom sing it to you? Mom loved to sing.
Except for mom, we aren’t a musical family. I tried with the harmonica, but I can’t sing in key. That’s been one of my greatest disappointments. You took a singing class at state when you were in your thirties. You liked it. But I don’t remember you joining a choir.
You liked classical music but hated rock. I have tried to like classical music many times, but it really frustrates me. One movement of the symphony will be great, then the next one will be boring. It drives me crazy.
I like Aaron Copeland, the New World Symphony, On the Steppes of Central Asia, and a 20th century Polish composer who wrote beautiful church music, especially to the Blessed Mother. It was a thrill discovering the Polish guy. His music is very peaceful. Very transcendent.
We’ve lost our belief and faith in transcendence. It’s worse today than when you were alive. It’s not so much that the average Joe thinks God is bullshit, but that educated people think God is bullshit.
When you were alive somebody could mention God in ‘Progressive’ circles without being hated. Now Progressives are as intent on destroying God and annihilating religion as the Evangelical Christians were to make America a theological police state in the nineties. The Left has progressed from hating God, The Church, and religion to hating those who adore God, lust for God, love their church, and love their religion.
One of the recent popes said that even if there was no God, we would need to invent Him in order to make western culture value something greater than man or money, value something other-worldly. I said something similar to you. Even if there had been no Indians who worshiped nature and were attuned to nature, we would have to invent a group of people who did so we could set ourselves on the right track. You said to me when we were talking about The Church and Africa, that the reason The Church is succeeding in Africa but failing in America is that Africans bring their native religious sensibilities to Christianity while we in America have nothing spiritual from our hedonistic and consumerist culture to be ignited by The Church or to contribute to The Church.
I wonder why you left the seminary. I think you said you weren’t worthy to be a priest. But you loved the education. You loved chanting too.
It’s amazing how many seminarians and priests left The Church in the sixties. The Church had always had abusive priests and priests who had girlfriends. But after Vatican II The Church got swamped by the immoral modern world it was supposed to adjust to and save.
In the late eighties you told me about a guy you had talked to who had recently dropped out of the seminary because he said it wasn’t spiritual. I think the trade-off The Church made was that it would become less spiritual in order to be more relevant to the isolated souls of America.
The parishes said nothing about out-of-wedlock births, “We’re living together man,” and the increase in homosexuality. At the same time priests said to themselves if everybody else is immoral then we can molest. The willingness of The Church to tolerate or accept everything made priests feel as guiltless and shameless in their immorality as the rest of society did.
I think priests and seminarians resigned and dropped out in the sixties for a lot of reasons: there was lots of pussy to get; the self-discipline of the past had been dumped in the trash bin – just say no to guilt; maybe with the heightened social consciousness of the times, many priests and seminarians were unwilling to tolerate their colleagues having girlfriends and molesting; maybe the embrace of immorality and the increasing lack of spirituality of the parishioners made them say FTS. There were isolated souls like me who would have loved to have a spiritual church to struggle with, but the priests and seminarians who left might have felt The Church had lost its soul and had nothing to offer isolated souls or those who wanted to help them.
You would have made a great priest Jim – your sense of reverence, your understanding of how easy it is to sin, your patience, your love of God and His church.
I remember that guy you went to the seminary with. Everybody adored him. He loved everybody. He became a priest then resigned in the eighties or nineties. Even back then when I had lost interest in The Church, I was sick that he had quit. I knew he loved being a priest and that he was the type of man The Church could not afford to lose.
Jim, I love you. I miss you. Hug mom for me.
Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko