Saturday, December 21, 2013

The REAL Tragedy

While “channel-surfing” one evening recently, I came across a documentary about the sinking of the Titanic.  At approximately 11:40 P.M. on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic, having left Southampton four days earlier, struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic.  By 2:20 the next morning, it disappeared beneath the waves, along with 1519 of its 2224 passengers.  In terms of loss of life, it wasn’t the greatest sea-going disaster of all time, but it was certainly the most famous.*  At the time, it was the largest vessel afloat, and it was considered by its builders to be “unsinkable.”  Since this was its maiden voyage, the Titanic was carrying much of the crème de la crème of American and British society, including the millionaire John Jacob Astor and others.  And since the ship was thought to be unsinkable, its builders didn’t think it needed lifeboats; and it was therefore outfitted with barely half the number needed.

One can only imagine what went through the minds of the Titanic’s passengers, when the realization hit them that they were going to die – that they were doomed, and that there was nothing they could do about it.  The sense of tragic irony must have been particularly acute for those wealthy passengers, many of whom sailed on the Titanic only because they wanted to “see and be seen” on this glorious “floating palace” – and who now realized that all their millions could not save them from the same fate that was befalling the lowliest steerage passenger. 

But the sense of frustration and dread must have been no less acute for those steerage passengers, most of whom had pawned their life’s savings to book passage to go to a new and better life in America.  For both the lofty and the lowly, their sense of impending doom -- of the certainty that they were going to perish in the icy waters of the North Atlantic -- must have been overwhelming.  One can only imagine the horror and the dreadful anticipation that passed through their minds.  This “unsinkable” ship -- as its builders (and the media of the day) so haughtily proclaimed it to be -- sank on its first outing: a sober and terrible reminder from our Creator that He is Everything and we are NOTHING.

While watching this documentary, it got me to thinking about another “T”: Terri Schiavo; and it struck me that, as horrendous as the Titanic’s sinking was, it did not compare with what happened to her.  The Titanic disaster was an act of God -- an accident. Terri’s death, on the other hand, was no “accident”: it was a totally pre-meditated, deliberate act of men, not God.  The Titanic sinking was God’s retribution for culpable men’s pride and arrogance.  Terri’s death wasn’t; it was the murder, by men, of a helpless innocent who did nothing to merit her fate, and whose only “crime” was costing her husband too much “insurance settlement” money – a man already shacked up with a new concubine, and who wanted to keep the money for himself and his bimbo. Terri’s continued care constituted, for him, a waste of money – and, in Anthony Cekada’s words, “a grave burden on society.”  Teresa Marie Schiavo expired on March 31, 2005.

While the Titanic’s victims died relatively painlessly and quickly, Terri’s death was a slow, painful ordeal.  Terri's final death agony lingered a full two weeks.  She didn’t die of “natural causes” or even of “malnutrition” – and she certainly wasn’t “terminally ill” or in any danger of dying; her organs weren’t “shutting down.”  The proximate (and official) cause of death was dehydrationforced dehydration by court order.  Anyone – even a child -- who tried even to wet her cracked, bleeding lips, was prevented from doing so by an armed guard; and anyone who tried to give her water or food would be criminally prosecuted.  It was a slow, methodical execution – for a crime that she never committed.

According to Fr. Frank Pavone, an eyewitness, Terri Schiavo’s facial expression in her last hours was one of dread and disbelief.  In his words, “to describe the way she looked as peaceful is a total distortion of what I saw.”  “Her eyes were open but they were going from one side to the next, constantly oscillating back and forth, back and forth.  The look on her face (I was staring at her for three and a half hours) I can only describe as a combination of fear and sadness….a combination of dreaded fear and sadness.”  “Her mouth was open the whole time,” he continued, “It looked like it was frozen open.  She was panting rapidly.  It wasn’t peaceful in any sense of the word.  She was panting as if she had run a hundred miles.”  Like the Titanic’s victims, Terri Schiavo knew that she was going to die, but couldn’t fathom WHY she was being deliberately put to death.  And, because of that, her feeling had to have been one of utter, unspeakable terror.

One of the many facts “overlooked” by Anthony Cekada (that is, ignored by him) in his now infamous account of her death is that Terri Schiavo was actually able to swallow – including the Sacred Species in communion.  Many of the nurses who attended to her (before she was condemned to death) attested to this.  Another piece of public (but not publicized) medical fact is that when Terri Schiavo was first “discovered” by paramedics, she was “face down” (her husband made no attempt to “turn her over” so that she could breathe more easily); and subsequent X-rays in the hospital confirmed that she had several broken bones – breaks that did not look like they were caused by “falling,” but which appeared to be more likely the result of physical beating.

Yet Phony Tony ignored all this evidence (and more) and instead trumpeted out a “make-it-up-as-you-go” pile of bone-headed gibberish (including his absolute absurdity about a feeding tube constituting a painful and “extraordinary means” of sustenance -- an especially outrageous claim, considering the fact that, at that time, one of his own parishioners was being fed from that self-same feeding tube!).  Equally outrageous was Cekada’s proffering his own crude, baseless medical opinion on Schiavo over that of an internationally known neurologist’s – where he not only questioned that doctor’s professional knowledge, but then FALSELY labeled his medical assessment of Schiavo as “presuming to pronounce on matters of faith and morals.”  It seems that the only time that Phony Tony is lying -- as they say – is “whenever his lips are moving.”  It is difficult to distinguish which is Cekada’s more dominant trait: his arrogance or his ignorance.

It is evident too, from what both Cekada and Dolan had to say about Terri Schiavo (both then and afterwards), that they had no REAL compassion for her – but it is not surprising.  After all, what compassion did they show for the scores of children who were abused at SGG over the years?  The only thing that passes for “compassion” from these two is the syrupy sanctimony that they pander day in and day out from their cult-center pulpit (or from the affected, insincere slop that Dannie drivels forth in his Bishop’s Corner column).  The only thing that is really surprising about all of this is that their followers actually swallow it: people who know better – who know who and what Dolan and Cekada are -- and yet who lend their continued moral support to this thoroughly immoral pair: surprising -- and tragic.

The Titanic was an act of God – and, indeed, a terrible tragedy -- but it was a lesson learned (albeit a bitter one).  Schiavo, on the other hand, was man-made -- concocted by evil men with an evil agenda -- where no lesson was learned.  It was simply the “trial balloon” -- the “testing of the waters” -- for euthanasia: the “test market before the rollout.”  What makes it even more tragic is that people like Dolan and Cekada never learned that lesson either.  As men who call themselves “Catholic,” it was their moral duty to stand up for the dignity of life – but they didn’t.  Instead, they stood up for the “right” of a man to have his wife put to death – a position that, to this day, they have never retracted.

But perhaps the greatest tragedy is that people who also call themselves Catholic – and who had supposedly learned that lesson – have apparently “unlearned” it.  Several of those who were thoroughly disgusted with SGG -- and who left in protest -- have come back to these lepers (as Lay Pulpit’s last article illustrated).  They, who not only have valid but legitimate alternative places to go for the sacraments, have returned to and re-embraced the toxic twosome.  What that says about these people is that they themselves are not Catholic, that they really haven’t any Catholic principles, and that “the show” means more to them than their convictions -- more than their Catholic Faith.  That is the real tragedy.


*An even greater maritime disaster (in terms of loss of life) was that of the riverboat SS Sultana, which exploded and sank on April 27, 1865, on the Mississippi River.  A couple of interesting coincidences it shares with the Titanic are that both carried roughly the same number of people (2224 for the Titanic vs. approximately 2400 for the Sultana), and both sank in the month of April.  Although the exact number of the Sultana’s victim’s is not known, it is estimated that 1800 perished.  Another interesting thing to note is that the Sultana was built by the John Litherbury Shipyard in Cincinnati, Ohio – not all that far from SGG, Dannie Dolan’s southwest Ohio cult center.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why Flattery? Because It Works!

A man who was once a parishioner of SGG (St. Gertrude the Great Church), and who had become thoroughly disgusted with Dolan and Cekada – especially for their part in the events of 2007-2009, left SGG shortly thereafter.  He deplored what they had done so much, that he even wrote articles (one of which will be quoted from later) about it -- as did others -- on a dissident website (“sgginfo).  He also had another, particularly personal reason to detest everything that they stood for: he had a daughter who was on both a respirator and a feeding tube at about the time when Cekada was trumpeting out his Schiavo travesty about how “painful” it was to have “a hole poked in you, a tube shoved in and then having to eat and drink that way [that] would be burdensome for any normal man. 

If this man had taken Phony Tony’s advice, his daughter would have died within days.  Fortunately, he didn’t.  (As just about the whole world knows, what Cekada said about Schiavo was utter nonsense – and a complete pack of lies.)  So, for this and the other aforementioned reasons, this parishioner left SGG, resolving never to return.  He then joined the scores of others who had left because of those same abuses of 2007-2009, and who had formed the new parish: St. Albert the Great (SAG).  Another parishioner, who had left SGG for similar reasons, also joined up with the SAG congregation.

However, both of them are now back at SGG.  Why?  The answer is simple: flattery.  The dynamic duo enticed them back with what has always worked for them: dazzling them with “the show.”  In both cases, it took the form of putting on an elaborate funeral for a family member of each man: in the one case, a deceased wife; and in the other, a deceased daughter.  In each instance, the parishioner fell for the dynamic duo’s naked, unabashed flattery, trading his principles and self-respect in return for a fleeting bit of pompous, pretentious (and insincere) adulation.

The funeral for the one parishioner’s wife was particularly ostentatious: three priests (yes, three priests) “simul-celebrating” Masses for the deceased (yes -- all at the same time) – something never done before (or since) for anyone at SGG.  What was particularly ironic about this was the fact that the deceased detested both Dolan and Cekada.  Not only that: while she was alive, she regularly attended a Novus Ordo church; she habitually never set foot inside SGG.  But why all the hoopla?  Why did Dannie and Tony put on their “three-ring circus” for someone who absolutely couldn’t stand them?  That answer is simple too: it wasn’t done for her; it was done for the husband.

He, like so many others who were (rightfully) outraged at Dolan’s, Cekada’s, and their SGG school principal’s disgusting behavior, left there to join the congregation at SAG; but he always harbored a lingering taste for “the show” – SGG’s elaborate rites and rubrics – which SAG couldn’t match.  He, who was also a board member of SAG, had some points of disagreement with SAG’s pastor, culminating in him resigning from the board.  This combination – his love of “the show” and his disenchantment with SAG’s pastor (coupled with the fact that his son’s family was still at SGG) – eventually caused him to return to SGG. It was probably the former that was the overriding factor: he was absolutely enamored with all the pomp and ceremony that went with “the show,” and was probably looking for some pretense to return.  The friction with SAG’s pastor provided that pretense.  It was a classic case of leaving SGG for the right reasons, but returning for the wrong reasons. 

Since this parishioner’s “returning to the fold” was a good public relations coup for Deacon Dannie – and as a “reward” for him having done so – Dannie then exploited it by putting on his shameless, over-the-top “triple play” pageantry – unprecedented in the history of SGG – for a woman who absolutely loathed him: the ultimate triumph of “show” over substance.  Another probable reason for this bit of brazenness was the fact that this parishioner “has some bucks” and hence represents a potential source of substantial revenue for the dynamic duo.  So, to ensure that his returning prodigal son was sufficiently “reconciled,” he felt the need for “something big” to “seal the deal” – therefore, the “triple-play” tomfoolery.  Let us hope that the parishioner’s conscience eventually supersedes his appetite for flattery, and that he comes to see their maneuver for the calculated ruse that it was.

In the case of the other parishioner (the one whose daughter was routinely nourished for decades on that feeding tube that Phony Tony so vehemently eschewed as prohibitively “painful”), it was also, as we said, a funeral Mass that was the bait that brought him back to SGG.  And, like the “triple-play Mass” parishioner, this man too was always enamored with “the show” – especially the “polyphonic music” part of it.  Also like the other parishioner, he had left SGG in disgust (he even wrote several articles for an anti-SGG website, lambasting Dolan, Cekada, and SGG’s school principal), supposedly resolving never to return).  The funeral Mass was for the man’s daughter, who finally succumbed to the genetic heart condition that necessitated her feeding tube (as well as a respirator).

For this parishioner, it was probably the “polyphonic music” that provided the primary impetus to drive him back into Dannie’s arms: he was at one time SGG’s choir director, and then SAG’s later on.  When SAG liquidated, he then went to “IC” (Immaculate Conception Church), hoping to get the job there.  But IC already had a choir director, so he was relegated to “second fiddle” there (which didn’t fill his needs).  His daughter’s funeral thus provided the “opening” to let him return to SGG in a quasi face-saving way, plus get his old job back.  I say “quasi” face-saving way, because here is a man who (apparently) thoroughly burned his bridges with Dannie and Tony; and it would seem that any return to SGG would be an embarrassing, “tail-between-the-legs”: ordeal for him, in light of what he had said about them in the past.

For instance, in a letter to the late Fr. Stepanich, he spoke of the SGG school principal’s “criminal abuses and the SGG clergy’s consent to his iniquitous and soul-destroying words and actions (all publicly proven in the objective, external forum).”  He further added that the principal “has abused, psychologically and even physically, many of the children put into his charge at SGG school.  Parents and teachers have prayed (as you [Fr. Stepanich] suggested) and reported the abuses to the pastor and assistant pastor, who both have refused to this day to take any substantive action to correct the abuses.  On the contrary, those who have tried to protect their children have been privately, and even publicly, castigated and even thrown out of the school and/or parish” [his italics].

And, as if that wasn’t damning enough, he added, “How is it even possible the horrendous crime of child abuse, practiced and rewarded by the perverts of the Novus Ordo, is repeated in our own midst! How is it possible that certain priests show an utter lack of compassion for children, let alone their struggling parents!  I personally believe that such an utter lack of basic human compassion, as typified by Bp. Dolan and even more especially Fr. Cekada, is a very real sign of demonic possession” [again, his italics].

In addition to the foregoing (from his letter to Fr. Stepanich), this man wrote even more damning testimony against Dolan and Cekada.  Yet, here he is, once again, swallowing his pride (and his integrity) and “sucking up” to them, because his penchant for polyphonic music outweighs his principles.  Apparently, he can conveniently forget what he publicly stated in the past, and can "let bygones be bygones” for the sake of being reinstated as choir director.  What makes his behavior all the more despicable is that he made similar allegations against an INNOCENT man (Bp. Paul Petko) -- which were proven to be patently false (but for which he has never recanted) -- yet he can “forgive and forget” when it comes to the serpents of SGG, whose wrongdoing has been proven to be patently true.  This is hypocrisy on a scale that puts this man in a category all by himself.

What motivates men such as these two to utterly abrogate and prostitute their Christian principles?  What motivates them to crawl on their bellies back to the serpentine “shepherds” of SGG?  Again, it’s flattery – and it is appearances, “the show” – that count. What also counts is having a short memory.  These two men conveniently FORGOT (or knowingly ignored) the heinous behavior of Dolan and Cekada because they wanted something.  They didn’t care about what Dolan and Cekada are, and what they stood for – as long as they got what they wanted.  They chose to “forgive and forget” – not for the sake of forgiveness, but purely for the sake of forgetfulness.  Their interest was in expediency, not ethics – and in serving themselves, not God.

Are they alone -- are they unique -- in this regard?  Not by a long shot: several others have emulated their behavior.  It is a sad fact that many who have sworn they’d “never go back to that place” are often seen back there on SGG’s doorstep.  They decide to go back “occasionally”; and their reason for doing so is that “they do a good job there.”  This is a NON-reason.  And, in a way, these people are even more hypocritical and cowardly than the two illustrated in this article, for these two had at least some vested (albeit selfish) interest in doing what they did.  Those who come back “occasionally” (for whatever reason) have no reason whatsoever (other than the pomp and the pageantry).  Their behavior is, at best, irrational – especially considering the fact that they have several viable and legitimate alternatives elsewhere.

The only “good job” that they can expect the SGG clerics to do is that of emptying their wallets – and, ultimately, emptying their souls; and all they are accomplishing by “occasionally” going to SGG is to aid and abet these hucksters -- to reinforce their behavior, and to reinforce the false impression in the minds of SGG’s parishioners that they are “legitimate.”  The only “safe” way for the “occasional” visitor to SGG is to stay away.  Going back there “every now and then” or “for old time’s sake” is, again, only enabling these vipers to continue their mischief.  The only real thing to do is simply not to go there – to STAY AWAY.  As another website so aptly admonishes, STARVE THE BEAST.

I am sure that Dolan and Cekada think that getting back those two parishioners (and, occasionally, the other “part-timers”) was a public relations masterstroke on their part.  Or was it?  These people may have been “won over” for now, but the memory of the dynamic duo’s track record still lingers in their minds; it may be “in remission,” but it has not gone away.  One day, Dolan and Cekada will inevitably overstep their bounds (because tigers do not change their stripes); and these two, who were foolish enough to take the vipers’ bait this time around, will not – let us hope -- be fooled the next time.  They will see through the “tinsel” and once again discover that there is no “tree” there – no substance.  They’ll see the dynamic duo for what they always have been and continue to be: a couple of self-seeking profiteers -- a sham.

This, of course, is something that they should have recognized long before – and probably did.  But flattery is a powerful thing, as is the glitz and emotional appeal of “the show.”  It deceives people, it blinds them, and it causes the weak-willed to relapse.  That is why it is used so often: because it works – and it worked on them.  No matter how nakedly obvious, no matter how insincere, no matter how amateurishly done, flattery always seems to work.  For the brain-dead, it works just about every time.  But for those with any spark of intelligence and principles left in them, it shouldn’t – at least the second time around. 

Let us hope that for those two parishioners – and those “part-timers” who occasionally “window shop” at SGG – that on their “second time around,” they’ll have the wits to “see through the tinsel,” and the strength of character to lay aside their self-interest (and their pride) and act on that conviction.  In the end, their spiritual survival may well depend upon it.