Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I must confess that I thought I would have for more to write about today than I did yesterday. One would think that meeting a politician is worth spilling ink/typeprint over - especially when that politician is the infamously pro-abortion and self-identified "Catholic" Illinois State Representative John Fritchey.

Mary Fitzgerald (the St. Ben's Parish Nurse) and I scheduled a "political tour" of the Irving Park/Ravenswood/Uptown/St. Benedict Parish area on Monday; Alderman Gene Schulter's office was the first stop on the whirlwind tour. He was and is still a parishioner at St. Benedict, though being a politician has naturally led him to attend just about every church (Catholic or not) in the area for *COUGH*pandering*COUGH* - I mean, public service purposes. I'm told he's still a member of the St. Benedict High School Advisory Board, and Helen Schott, an elderly parishioner, recalls how active he was in the parish only 2 decades ago before his Aldermanic candidacy. He's currently the Democratic committeeman for the city's 47th Ward; his office is a "triplex" of sorts that's shared not only by his staffers (he's rarely in the office, and today was no exception), but the staff of Commissioner Forrest Claypool and Senate President John Cullerton. In short, it's the political bigtime here in Irving Park, and as a pro-life Catholic who has nothing but disdain for the way in which Fritchey, Cullerton, and Claypool have acted, I was eagerly trying to find out how the political climate here allowed these guys to get elected (this neighborhood is also the political home of Rod Blagojevich and Rahm Emmanuel, as well as the newly-elected congressman Mike Quigley).

Fritchey's office is a tad farther from St. Ben's than I thought it would be (in fact, Greg Harris, the State Rep. from the next district over, has his office closer to St. Ben's than Fritchey does), and he quickly proved himself to be a schmoozy, cynical politician that I already knew he was. We arrived at his office in the midst of a demonstration; various groups protesting proposed cuts to human service programs (youth programs, senior benefits, etc.) were all gathered outside his office protesting his recent "no" vote to Gov. Quinn's proposed income tax hike. He did his best to play the crowd with lines like "we need an income tax hike" (!!!) using the excuse that the proposed property tax hike is what made him a "no" vote on this issue.

His chief-of-staff also struck me as a bit of a "tool," so to speak. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I don't buy the story of "I'm actually a chef, and I just wanted to help other people, so here I am with John, just trying to do the right thing, you know?" to be convincing. I'm sorry, buddy, but "John" just recently ran for the 5th U.S. congressional district open seat. He's not a nobody. He's a powerful politician with connections to some rather unfortunate political lobbies (like Planned Parenthood, for example). I'm not willing to buy the idea that he just recruited a chef to be his chief-of-staff. Something else is at play here.

Anyway, Fritchey himself was all too happy to speak with the non-confrontational guests such as Mary Fitz and myself (with a cameraman setting up a nice shot angle just off to the left side of us, naturally). "Oh, I love St. Ben's!" he said. "I've got Alphonsus over here, but it don't beat Ben's!" John Fritchey really turns me off. I can smell that political patronization from a mile away, buddy. You can fool your constituents, but you can't fool me.

And that's why I made sure to pray for him during my holy hour today. I realized that my disdain for this man's behavior is certainly qualified, but that disdain can't sit still - otherwise it becomes resentment and hatred. Fritchey, like so many other Catholics of all occupations, really just needs a conversion of heart. He is just one of many who lost his moral bearings and his sense of objective justice a long time ago. He needs to be renewed, just as I do. Praying for him as I meditated on the 5th Joyful Mystery was probably the most prayerful part of my day. It was worth meeting the scumbag if only for that reason. May God bless him and heal him!

The follow-up to Fritchey was a short tour of the "mothership" Senior Center. Despite the fact that the St. Vincent DePaul Senior Center dwarfs this other center in size, it seems to me that the "mothership" still offered far more in terms of service. It once again confirmed to me that Seniors in this part of the city are indeed well-off. But another question came to my mind, and Mary Fitz's comments certainly didn't eliminate the question from my mind: Why do all these Seniors need this simple, basic care? The obvious answer: they have no family willing to help them out! Just another example of the degenerate state of the family here in Westernized, consumer-driven, "Christian" America :(. May God have mercy on us!

I'm relieved that they have the care, though, even with the obvious implications of the collective failure of the faithful to obey the fourth Commandment. At least the Elementary School Board Meeting injected a bit of hope into me. I'm continually impressed by Rachel Gemo, the principal, in particular. She knows her stuff, and she's tireless in her efforts to make St. Ben's elementary as great as it can be. Many of the Board members are, as well. What's really needed at this point is some extra grace to push them along. They're not doing badly at all, but a little push on the spiritual side of things, and St. Ben's could really skyrocket! Is it a bit presumptuous of this 2nd-year seminarian to be saying so? Well, yeah. But even a second-year seminarian can tell when parents have put the cart in front of the horse, and the business "focus" of these meetings is leaving everyone there spiritually decayed. Dear God, through the intercession of Christ's Blessed Mother, show to them the glory that only you have! Take away the obsession with the minutae of business life and give to them the pure joy of You! They need You. I need you. We ALL need You! For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Jesus, we trust in You! AMEN!

1 comment:

  1. "America" (USA) ain't Christian. It's Calvinistic. Which is at odds with a Catholic ethos. And, as Cardinal George says, "We all are infected by it!"

    As for senior care, let's talk.... better yet, come by and visit my grandfather some slow day and allow me to tell you the story.

    Things aren't always as they initially seem.