Friday Five – Volume 111

Friday Five-Mere Observations

— 1 —

As a Red Sox fan I had no horse in this year’s World Series. While I generally say that the Cubs are my second favorite team I have to admit that it’s really the Cubs of the 1980s. Those were the years from my childhood when I would watch them almost daily on WGN with Jack Brickhouse, and then famously Harry Caray, doing the announcing. I watched mostly day games, and then the first night game in Wrigley Field history (1986). I watched Marla the Ball Girl (until she was fired for posing in Playboy) and the Bleacher Bums. I remember the brick backstop before it became littered with blue screens of advertising. And of course the players: Jody Davis, Ryne Sandberg, Greg Moreland, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Cey, Ivan DeJesus, Andre “The Hawk” Dawson and Lee Smith. And many more.

I’m also painfully familiar with long World Series droughts. It took the Sox 86 years to break the dreaded Curse of the Bambino so I was rooting for the Cubs more than the Indians. But like the Cubs, who had familiar Red Sox faces of recent memory like Jon Lester, David Ross and front office wizard Theo Epstein, the Indians had Greg Napoli, Coco Crisp, Andrew Miller and manager Terry Francona.

What I guess I hoped for the most was a memorable Series that would hopefully go the full seven games. And did it ever deliver, with the Cubs winning Game 7 in ten innings, 8-7 after falling behind 3 games to 1 and having to win the last three to clinch it all for the first time since 1908.

Congratulations to Cubs fans everywhere. Soak it all in and enjoy these days and months between now and Opening Day in 2017. This is your time.


PS: I do have to say however that I am sick to death of hearing “Go Cubs Go“. I much prefer the 2004 Sox anthem “Tessie” but, for this year at least, maybe that’s just me.

— 2 —

I have said very little about this year’s election and I still will hold to my silence. I’m tired of all the nasty and uncivil campaigning. So I thought I’d go back into history when our nation was pristine and unspoiled.

“I’m John Adams, and I approve this message because Jefferson is the son of a half-breed Indian squaw raised on hoe cakes. And Hamilton is a Creole bastard brat of a Scotch peddler.”

Well shoot. Nevermind.


— 3 —

But my sin was this, that I looked for pleasure, beauty, and truth not in him but in myself and his other creatures, and the search led me instead to pain, confusion, and error. – St.Augustine

Last week Father Dwight Longenecker wrote a brief article on his blog about why he predicts trouble ahead for America no matter who wins the election. After a few paragraphs discussing the passions and divisions revealed during this campaign season, he gets to the root of the problem.

Here’s why: when people are not penitent they blame others for their unhappiness. Because of our fallen nature we believe (in our pride) that we are right, we are good, we are okay, we are the best. If this is the case, then when we are unhappy it cannot possibly be our fault. If it is not our fault, then it is somebody else’s fault.

So the default setting is that it is someone else’s fault.

We must therefore find someone else to blame. We cannot possibly admit that we are to blame for our unhappiness. That would be to admit that we are not the perfectly right and correct and good people we think we are.

So we blame the blacks, or we blame the whites. We blame the rich. We blame the poor.  We blame the immigrants or we blame the citizens. We blame the liberals or we blame the conservatives.


If we are not penitent then we must blame someone else. It’s logical.

If this is the problem, then the solution is simple.

“Only the penitent man may pass.”

Saying “Sorry, Yes. It’s me. I’m to blame. It’s my fault. I’m responsible for my problems.” That is the only way our country can avoid the division, strife, and (I fear) violence that lies before us.

“Too Much Pride” is a cut from Cass County, Don Henley’s 2015 solo album. I was listening to the album again yesterday and was reminded of this song as I read Fr. Longenecker’s blog.

How many heavens are hopelessly lost?
How many tender loves has vanity cost?
Lord, help the soul that can’t be satisfied
Too much pride


Empires rise and empires fall
Stick around here long enough, you’ll see it all
Now it looks like it’s gone nationwide
Too much pride

— 4 —

Every other fall I have been attending Ignatian retreats at Broom Tree in southeastern South Dakota. I failed to make it this year and have been regretting it for the past month or so. While I intend to go next year I’ve also been excited about a new retreat center being constructed much closer to home here in eastern Nebraska. The Cloisters on the Platte was announced a few years ago and once the website was constructed I quickly registered to be on their mailing list as well as their retreat list. Last week I received an email from them updating us on the progress. It also contained this video that provides a look at the construction progress so far.

Be sure to watch the video on the website’s main page as well. It does a great job of explaining the planning and goals involved for the creation of this place. I can’t wait to experience it for myself.

— 5 —

On a personal note I’m sorry to say I missed pretty much most of what has always been a favorite time of year for me: All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. Yes, I handed out candy again this year, though my daughter mostly did the honors. Yes, I attended Mass on All Saints Day. But I missed out on praying the Divine Office on that day and on All Souls Day November 2nd. On that day we pray the Office of the Dead which has always been something I look forward to.

I missed these events mostly due to spending time with our oldest son. He returned from his deployment in Iraq earlier in mid-October and arrived at our home for his leave on Saturday. We hadn’t talked to him in person or on the phone since his departure in late March. I took the day off from work on November 2nd in order to assist him with his goal of purchasing a truck. So after doing our research for a few days we hit the road in my car early Wednesday and drove from Lincoln to Bellevue and finally Seward where he was able to meet his goal of purchasing a newer 4×4 Ford truck. He paid for it mostly out of his own pocket and financed the rest. Yesterday I helped him obtain three auto insurance quotes before we decided the local route through my own auto insurance agent, a long-time friend of our family, was best. He asked if I’d go with him but I knew he needed to do this on his own and sent him solo. At some point they have to be the one’s meeting face-to-face with agents, or dealers, or bankers, etc. in order to gain the experience, but more importantly the confidence to tackle these things on their own.

And so he’s grown up. Before he turns 21 in January he has purchased a vehicle, is paying for the insurance, and paying for his mobile phone. He has also been deployed to a part of the world torn apart by endless war. On our hour-long drive from Bellevue to Seward we had an opportunity to talk a little about what he’d experienced in Iraq. He quietly but matter-of-factly told me about the wounded Iraqi soldier casualties he’d treated. To me, settled comfortably in the Midwestern United States on the other side of the world, he was describing a horror show. One casualty in particular, an Englishman killed by a roadside bomb, will stay with me a long while.

I thought of these things while reading this article today.

Seven young women in Kirkuk credit the Virgin Mary for their safety after spending a harrowing eight hours hidden underneath beds while Islamic State group fighters used their room as a hideout during an assault on the city.

“The Virgin Mary was with them,” Father Roni Momika told CNA Oct. 23.

The priest, who ministers in the refugee camps of Ankawa, Erbil, in northern Iraq, was in cellphone contact with two of the girls while they hid under the beds. They gave him a play-by-play account of what was happening.

Seven university students in Kirkuk found themselves threatened by the Islamic State group’s assault on the city on Oct. 21.

“ISIS entered the house of our students, the girls,” the priest reported.

When they heard the militants coming, the women quickly darted under four beds in one of the rooms, where they remained undiscovered for eight hours as ISIS fighters used the room as a refuge to eat, pray and hide from Iraqi Army forces.

“I was speaking with them all the time,” Father Momika said, noting how there was “a strong girl” who told him, “Father, I will continue speaking with you and tell you all our news and what ISIS is saying.”

For the duration of their time there, the militants not only ate and prayed, but used the beds to care for two of their fighters who were wounded.

“On one bed there is a lot of blood,” the priest said.

He shared with CNA some photos taken of the room after the soldiers left. He explained that “when ISIS was attacked by our army (the Iraqi Army), there were two people from ISIS injured, and ISIS put them here on these beds … and under the beds were the girls.”

This is why I am an advocate of prayer and need it in my life. It keeps me tethered to the Divine while having my feet here in this fallen world.

The Office of the Dead is not reserved solely for All Souls Day. For that reason I plan to pray it soon.


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