Ground Rules, Rule Changes, Suspended Games


It is November 1st.  Throughout the Christian the world today is know as All Saints Day.  In days gone by this was a holy day of observance.  In the Catholic world, in 2008, it still is.  But like with a pop fly and nobody out, with men on first and second, single and celibate, the obligation to celebrate Mass is lifted since it falls on a Saturday.  I called it the “infield fly” rule of the Roman Catholic Church.  It was a lot like that 5th game of the World Series that was suspended the other night.  These rule changes are relatively recent.  In 1982, I had to ask my dad if the “infield fly” rule would apply when the Minnesota Twins moved inside to a dome stadium.  There was really no need for what I always considered a ground rule from the old stadium, all the old stadiums in the American League, where baseball was played outdoors.  In Minnesota, flies flying around during a ballgame were things of the past.  Apparently the theology of baseball was not based on real flies.  By the way, owners changed the rule on suspended games, reverting to the score at the top of the inning, also in 1982.  And I don’t get why all these rule changes.           


Now as my mother will tell me, if I called to get her ruling, I could go to Mass any way.  Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.  But a lot like these overworked priests, with weddings, wakes, and funerals, I like to sleep in.  Especially on Saturdays.  The priests were overworked, and were not allowed to complain.   I like the idea of an authority telling me stuff.  It was why my relatives did not get many gifts from me except on Christmas and birthdays.  It was all about observance. 


My mother was always the closest thing to the Pope in my neighborhood.  She was the eldest daughter of what I think was 11 kids.  I just used my fingers and confirmed the number.  She has 3 sisters, one of whom was, as I have written about, a former nun.  There were 7 brothers, three whom were at one time or another priests.   Two of the uncles left the priesthood.  The eldest died a priest.  Her youngest brother was a Passionist brother.   


It was twenty years ago that my mother said she did not want me publishing any books while she was around.  As the local Papal authority, I have chosen to observation of her request, except for this blog.  And that is why you hear nothing more specific about me, or my curriculum vitae. 


Three of the people in the above paragraphs have died.  The two former priests mentioned both married former nuns.  If they had reality shows then, the family could have been the basis of a “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” show of the ecclesiastic world.


So I am Catholic.  And very orthodox.  And what was orthodoxy except the search for the authentic Truth.  I think my grandmother, the matriarch with all of these religious vocations at her Thanksgiving dinner, would approve of my orthodoxy.  She did not approve of a few of the goings-on, in the days post Vatican II.  At the time, she reportedly was not real enthused when my mother elected to take my dad up on his marriage proposal.   She pointed out that he only went to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. 


In 2001, I visited Poland.  I sent a post card to the former priest married to the former nun.  It dealt with all these papal skullcaps found in vestibules in more than a couple Polish churches.  It was a lot like finding those signed Joe Mauer jerseys in the pubs of St. Paul.  The papal skullcaps normally had a news clipping exclaiming, “Habimus Papa.” 


The message of those jerseys, of those papal skullcaps, was that these local kids were a lot like those kids running around in the neighborhood.  A lot like kids, like you were, and like I once was.  One of the biggest surprises I had as an adult was hearing my cousin who is a priest as well as a very good friend who is a Jesuit tell of the sermons they get from lay people over their dress when they were out in public.  Apparently, some Catholic wanted priests to golf in either their vestments or their Roman collars.  Some Catholics want priests to sleep, when allowed to sleep, in some kind of ecclesiastic pajamas.    


There are a lot of people with opinions, that continued even after all these commercial were over this political season, which would chase a normal guy away from a life of service.  It seemed to be a lot of these rigidly orthodox who wanted to take observance to a new level, who could not see that priests were as normal as your brother.  These have been tough times to be a Roman Catholic priest.  If you know one, you certainly know that.  The statistics show that the spotlight shown on individual priests on issues of sexual abuse involved well less than 5% of the class.  And the sexual abuse involved more often than not, men with women.  Those statistics are a lot worse, with minors, when it comes to teachers and youth.  (Do a Goggle search on this, if you did not believe it.)  For the longest time, the entire class was paying the price for the lowest common denominator and their ecclesiastical authorities that did not know how to deal with the issues.  Guys with miters wielding power who did not know how to discipline.  Yet all along nuns never had that problem.  (Look up the original ending, the last line, of the Gospel of Mark.) 


On another note, it is “turn back your clock” weekend.  Tonight.  The observance has now been changed from October to November.  Some ground rules have been changed.  Advance at your own risk.  


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