Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I have been truly blessed in my life in so very many ways. Two of the greatest blessings in my life have been my parents. From both of them, I inherited a deep piety and a strong devotion to the Church and to the Immaculate Mother of God. I also learned what it means to love God and neighbor in a home overflowing with both. My parents embraced everyone they came into contact with irregardless of that person's skin color, ethnicity, faith tradition etc.

My father was a career soldier. And after his tour in Korea with the U.S. Army as a tank commander, he crossed over to the Air Force where he remained on active duty for twenty years. Growing up in a military family had its advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage was making new friends and having to leave them behind every year or two. That was very difficult to say the least, but it also shaped my personality in so many ways. For one thing, I never take anyone for granted and I never forget a friend. One advantage, however, was that I was exposed to a wide variety of people and circumstances. I had friends from every race, religious creed and socio-economic background.

When I was five years old, I had a best friend named Irwin. We did everything together. We ran and jumped and played with a kite, two carefree children enjoying our summers together. And then one day, a neighbor noticed that his scissors were missing from his garage. And Irwin and I were playing across the street in my parent's yard. The man walked to the end of his driveway, and started to yell something at us. Soon I realized what he was saying, even if I didn't understand exactly what he meant: "You, nigger, what did you do with my scissors."

Now Irwin hadn't taken the scissors. He had been with me the whole time and neither one of us had gone anywhere near that man's house. But I remember thinking (something which was actually encouraged in my family), "Why didn't he accuse me of taking the scissors?" Today I know the answer to that question. And the answer has haunted me to this day.

In grade school (I attended Johnny Appleseed Elementary in Leominster, Massachusetts), I had another good friend named Jeff. We would enjoy talking about religion and the two of us would make paper boats, launch them in the brook near my home, and would race them or attempt to sink them with large rocks. I always wondered if this had any bearing on his decision later in life to join the U.S. Navy. Jeff was an extremely intelligent and gifted student with an incredible sense of humor. I remember him always talking about the news program Sixty Minutes (this when most of us kids were content to watch Happy Days or reruns of Gilligan's Island).

There are two things I will always remember about Jeff (not including his curly hair): His wonderful laughter and his incredible generosity of spirit.

The Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, New Hampshire would have a problem with Jeff. You see, Jeff is a Jew. And according to "Brother" Andre Marie, M.I.C.M., the Jewish People have a "tendency to undermine public morals," while his associate, "Brother" Anthony Mary M.I.C.M., told a conference that Jews are the "perpetual enemies of Christ."

Funny, I never saw Jeff as an "enemy of Christ" or as someone who "undermined public morals." He was just a friend. In fact, one of the only friends I ever had as a child with whom I could discuss religion.

Saints preserve us from such nonsense.

Paul.

1 comment:

Brenda Hillaire said...

Imagine hating an entire race of people and condemning them all as the "synagogue of Satan?" I wonder how Brother Anthony Mary feels about African-Americans? Or Hispanics? Or Asians?

On second thought, I don't want to know. Thanks for your beautiful post Paul.

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