The Lovey Club, Inc. – Anniversary

Lovey Club CoverForWebIt’s been a year since I published my first book on Amazon.  Although not many copies sold, I am very proud of my first “published” work.  I hope and plan to release a second edition plus others in this series.  If you are willing, please go check it out and maybe even purchase it!  It’s only 99cents.

SUMMARY: The book is for children ages 8-12, which has a great but simple message for today’s children: kids should embrace their youth and not feel pressure to grow up too quickly!  The protagonist is a fifth grader named Hannah, who struggles to maintain her independence, youth, and identity under the pressures and intrigues of some very confused and mean classmates. The novel teaches important messages about non-conformance, forgiveness, and compassion, yet it is in no way preachy.

If you do not have a Kindle, you can order it through the free Kindle app.  Hope your kids enjoy it as much as others did!

http://www.amazon.com/Lovey-Club-Incorporated-Patrick-Cherry-ebook/dp/B00ND7MU00/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1412337607&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lovey+club

Refusing to Give up Hope

Not sure if any Catholics read this blog, but enjoying Pope Francis’ visit is quite the challenge for me.  Are you struggling as well or do you find this historical event a joyous occasion for the Catholic community?

On one hand, it is amazing to see how he touches people.  For example, when he spontaneously stopped his car in Philadelphia to bless a boy with cerebral palsy, I was instantly brought to tears along with the boy’s mother and father.  It is also refreshing to see his approach as a commoner, a Pope of the people as he has come to be known.

On the other, it is completely disappointing to hear him talk about climate change and the sanctity of life as it pertains to criminals but not to the unborn.  He references family but never gets to the point of the attack on marriage and how we must uphold the definition being between a man and a woman.  He hugs and kisses Obama but does not scold him for the religious persecution that is occurring in this country as a result of Obama’s laws and Supreme Court appointees. I also find myself wondering where is this Pope’s scolding of socialism and communism, two ideologies that have led to the genocide of tens of millions of people????

I spoke to my Priest about my feelings, looking for a reason to like and trust this Pope.  My Priest expressed to me that the Pope’s approach is bringing people back to the Church.  At first, I felt good about this.  Logically, in order for the Catholic Church to thrive and survive, we need more parishioners, right?  My initial response to this question was “of course that is right.”

However, the more I thought about it, the more I questioned it,  I found myself asking “what good is it to bring people back if they support issues that are in direct conflict with our Faith like abortion and redefining marriage?  How is that good for the Church?”  The only outcome that I see for the Church is a Church that is watered down and weakened, and, in fact, is not the Church at all.  In a society where morality and good will are already falling apart, we need the Catholic Church to stand as a beacon of light even if it stands as a minority.  As I heard in the Homily yesterday, no matter how bad things seem, good always wins out over evil.

Well, that may be true, and I do believe that message, but if the only good (the good that is created by a true Catholic identity and moral law) we know fades away by way of its own doing, attempting to be more acceptable to a backwards culture, then, we may find, there is no hope.

Having said that, I refuse to give up hope, and so, I beat on, knowing Christ will triumph in the end.

FBF

Thoughts on Pope Francis

I have been watching with great interest the coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to America.  I watched his address to Congress.  I watched his speech in the rose garden.  I watched the prayer service in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and, finally, I watched the Mass at Madison Square Garden.  I now await his arrival in Philadelphia.

In watching all of this, I was hoping to find something about Pope Francis that would inspire me.  Leading up to his visit, I had already formed my own opinion of the man, and, to put it as diplomatically as I can, my conclusion is not a favorable one.

As I listened to the Pope speak, my goal was to find a message that was bold and truly Catholic.  I was looking to hear a direct proclamation to all Catholics that told them you cannot believe in or show support of certain social issues and still call yourself a Catholic.  Instead, he made indirect references in certain areas while being direct in other areas where, in my opinion, the Pope should not be inserting himself.

To keep this post as concise as possible, I have focused on two points he made during his address to Congress.

The first, was about life.  To quote his Holiness, “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.”

When I heard this, chills went up and down my spine.  Thinking about the recent atrocities from planned parenthood, I was certain he was going to address the millions of babies that have been murdered in America.  Unfortunately, my heart sank as he went on to say, “this conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.”

Wow.  What a disappointment.  He had a captive audience.  He had a chance to end abortion right then and there.  Yet, he chose to focus on the evildoers of our land.  He chose to speak up for murderers, drug dealers, and child molesters.  So so sad.  If you want an example of what he should have said, please watch the following:

This was from a prayer breakfast in 1994.  When the camera pans out in the beginning of the video, you will see two people who are not clapping.  Take a guess at who those two are.

Moving on, the Pope had another opportunity to speak to all Catholics, and all people of America for that matter, about what marriage means to not only Christians, but also to society.

Again, I became extremely hopeful when he said, “I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”

Again, he continues but rather than talk about the sanctity of marriage, he talks about children and the youth and abuse, etc., which, do not misunderstand, is important and a great message.

But, he had the moment.  He had us all listening.  He could have talked about marriage and clearly said it is between one man and one woman.  He could have talked about the destruction of the family as a whole, addressing illegitimacy due to our free-sex society.  He could have talked about our material obsessions causing us to leave our children in daycare as opposed to raising our children the way parents did for generations before us.  He could have tied it all back to traditional values and the importance of gender differences and the importance of a traditional mother-father relationship and what it means to recognize marriage as one thing and one thing only: a union between one man and one woman.

The Pope chose to give us ambiguity on these important items, yet he was quite direct about immigration, “climate change”, the death penalty, et al.  I ask myself, as do millions of other Catholics like me, why?

For now, I do not have the energy to focus on why I think he is doing what he is doing.  Quite frankly, my answer is too upsetting to put into written words.  All I can say is that, as a recent convert to Catholicism, I am sadly disappointed in the first Pope I have ever paid attention to.  I only hope I live to see and follow a Pope who is as frank and brave as Mother Teresa was in the video above.  From what I have read about Pope John Paul II, I pray that I live to see the day when a Holy Father presides over our Faith the way he did.

For now, I continue to pray for Pope Francis.

FBF

“Up From Slavery” – A Modern Lesson

Growing up, many of us read the book “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington.  I am currently reading this book again as it is part of my daughter’s reading material for school.  This book is serving as an incredible lesson not only for my daughter, but also for myself.

Without going into too much of a summary of the work, it basically is an autobiographical account of Mr. Washington’s life and his family’s transition from slaves to free men.  If you have not read the book or if it has been a while since you have read it, I suggest you add it to your winter reading list!

Anyway, trying to make a quick point here, which I am finding hard to do when I start writing, but the book is serving to be a wonderful reminder as to how lucky we are in the modern world.

One aspect of life that we take for granted is education.  Early in the book, Mr. Washington peeks into a schoolhouse and he writes that “I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study in this way would be about the same as getting into paradise.”

What a statement.  In today’s world, many kids will tell you they hate going to school.  My daughter, as responsible as she is, will, from time to time, complain about school work but in reading this book, she is now awakened to the fact that education is not something to be taken for granted.  In fact, this book has afforded me the opportunity to open a dialogue with her that there are still millions of people throughout the world who do not have the opportunity to learn to read and write and that a proper education is crucial to our growth as a human race.

Because it is so readily available, most children take their schooling for granted and simply do not place the same value on what it means to have the opportunity to learn.  They do not have the perspective to know how powerful an education is.  They also are not taught how to learn, which, if done properly, turns the process from a chore into an exciting adventure of the mind!

Instead, education has been turned into a a factory-like institution where we mass produce “educated” peoples.  The mystery of it, the logical process, the deducing of decisions from a presentation of facts, the wonder of the written word, etc. all seem to be removed from today’s educational experience. In other words, the majority of our youth do not respect and value education the way Mr. Washington and many people of his time did.

That to me, is a travesty.  This must be addressed.  Our youth must be made aware of how fortunate they are to have the ability to learn.  They need to understand the power it gives them. Most of all, they need to learn how to enjoy the adventure that an education affords.

A true education sets us free for if we become more educated than our ruling class, i.e., today’s slave owners, we can change the world for the better.  A true foundation of the classics, arithmetic, history, and the written word needs to be placed front and center in the world of education as opposed to the focus on social issues and ideological indoctrination.

From a true education, we are provided the ability to think and reason the way our Forefathers did.  With that, we are truly empowered.

It is my opinion that many of us are slaves.  We make think we are free, but the lack of a true thought-provoking education enslaves us much like the slaves who worked on the plantations, replacing the physical slavery with a slavery of the mind.

Once we learn how to think and reason based on facts and knowledge, we will finally move up from slavery ourselves!

FBF

It’s Why I Attend

It’s Sunday.  I love Sundays for many reasons but one of the best reasons is Mass.  With so many distractions in the world, going to Church is the one place where I do not feel guilty shutting out the world and focusing on one thing: my relationship with the Lord.

Don’t get me wrong.  My mind still drifts and I have to bring myself back to the moment.  I know it is okay if my mind wanders as long as I refocus, but last week I was reminded of how important it is to fight back and bring my mind to the present.

The Homily was pure perfection, beginning with a simple story, but spoke so profoundly to me that it has remained in my mind for a full seven days.  Imagine that!  The story went something like this:

“A teacher gave her students an interesting assignment.  She handed each one a piece of paper that was nearly blank save for one small black dot in the middle of the page.  She then asked the class to write a few sentences about the page and what they thought it meant.  Each student wrote different things but they all focused on the black dot.”

The point of this story was as simple as a child’s whisper, yet the message was louder than the roar of a jet engine.  As humans, we all tend to focus on the black dot, which, in this case, represents certain negatives in our lives while we ignore all of the white space around us, which represents the good in our lives.  We are so laser focused on the bad that we forget to celebrate all that is good.

Why do we do that?  I cannot answer that question other than to say it is human nature, but we really need to stop for a minute and remember the blessings in life and stop focusing on the negatives.  It is so easy to get trapped and zero in on the bad, but we must find the strength to temper it by realizing how much we have and how beautiful life is.

The next time you are feeling down and out, try looking at all the good life has to offer.  Think about your children.  Think about God and look at the world, understanding its overall simplicity but complex nature that seems to work so perfectly.  Be thankful to have a roof over your head and technology that has given us comforts that generations before us did not have.  Look at a sunset or a sunrise and celebrate its beauty.  Read a book and remember how fortunate you are that you were afforded an education.  Watch a child laugh and laugh with them.

I could go on and on, but I think the point is clear.  Today, when I attend Mass, I refuse to let my mind be pulled from the moment over the stresses of life.  My focus will be on the Word of God.

For that Word is the reason I attend!

FBF

I’m NOT Writing About 9/11 Today

Because everyone else is, I am not writing about 9/11 today; rather, I choose to write from another perspective.  In general, are we safer today than we were on September 10, 2001?

I do not pretend to know the answer to this question but my opinion is that we are NOT  safer than we were 14 years ago.

Right now, we have no leadership.  We seem to be more divided than we’ve ever been, at least since the Civil War.  From my purview, the way to defeat us is to weaken our leadership and create division that could breed anarchy.

Think we are not divided?  Think again.

Look at Ferguson and Baltimore.

Look at our politicians.  They have become a ruling class, who stick it to us whenever they can or whenever it serves the lobbyists and the people who funded their campaigns.   In many ways, it is us versus them as opposed to them working for us!

Look at the division in our beliefs on social issues.  We spend our time arguing about “gay marriage” and women’s reproductive rights and religious freedoms.  Don’t get me wrong, these are important issues, but, meanwhile, we face $20 trillion (and growing) in debt and $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

We are as unstable as ever and if we do not come together (like we were on 9/12/01) to fix the REAL problems this country faces, terrorist attacks will pale in comparison to the ultimate implosion we face.

FBF

 

New Challenge – Week #2

To recap week 1 of my new challenge, there are some things I should highlight.

First, the people.  I have met a few people on the way that surprisingly, were quite helpful and interesting.  In general, I find people to be annoying, self centered, and rude.  I am not sure why I have that general feeling and, quite honestly, last week seemed to disprove my feelings.

I met three people and all of them were willing to talk and help me navigate through this new challenge.  Not only did they confirm that I was on the right platform, heading in the right direction, but they also were more than willing to provide me with invaluable advice.  Things like, “make sure you use google maps”, or “download the public trans app so you can always know the status of your next train” were more than helpful and made me understand that, as much as some people are rude and untrustworthy, many are kind and wiling to help a fellow brother.  I would like to learn more about these people and highlight their life stories without mentioning names of course.

Second, part of my new commute is that I walk to and from the train unless the weather is bad.  Walking along roads that you typically travel by car certainly gives another perspective on not just everything around you but also your own mental view of the environment.

For example, I noticed a creek as I walked the road I have probably driven on a million times at this point.  I never knew the creek was there and suddenly this new world appeared right before my eyes.  Confirming my general disdain for people, I saw lots of garbage strewn about, causing me to wonder about the origin of the trash.  I am no environmentalist but why do people think it is okay to throw their crap out the window?

It’s just a total lack of respect.  This is God’s house but most do not see it that way.  I am sure, however, that if they were in His house and He were there staring at them, they would not be so disrespectful as to discard their cigarette butt on the floor or toss their lollipop wrapper at God’s feet so why do they do it now?  I do not like cursing in my writing.  It shows a total lack of creativity.  BUT, in this case, I am calling it like it is …. because they are complete ASSHOLES!  That’s why they throw their crap out the window and into God’s house.

Second, and conversely, you then see beauty that is completely hidden to the driving commuter.  Beauty that you miss when you fly by at 45 MPH.  You see the random purple flower standing tall amidst weeds, empty cigarette packs and gum wrappers.  You see a bright, red cardinal in a bush staring at you.  You see and smell the honey sickle bushes and many other flora not viewable when driving.

Third, you find yourself challenging the elements.  As I walked to the train on Friday night, black thunderheads were looming as they typically do in the late summer afternoons.  As I walked and looked to the west, it was all blue skies and puffy, white, cotton ball clouds.  Then as I walked straight to the south, it was complete darkness with flashes of purple as if God was in the sky taking pictures.

What are you going to do?  I was totally exposed and unless I hitched a ride with a stranger, was at the mercy of whatever the weather had in store.  Interestingly, however, I was not scared.  I felt a sense of energy and symphony with nature, and I simply kept my stride, enjoying the beauty the skies provided.

I made it to the platform energized.  No rain.  No lightning.  In fact, I made it in time for the earlier train.

Now, I look forward to the week 2 of this new challenge.  Stay with me.

FBF