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Showing posts from November, 2014

The Wussification of America

My 4 year old niece : "Cross my heart and  multiply - stick a cupcake in my eye."
I listened to my niece repeat this cute little saying over and over again.  But this sterilized version was definitely not the version we all knew as kids; that one went more like this:
"Cross my heart and  hope to die- stick a needle in my eye."
For the squeamish this sounds a bit macabre, but it is the original version.  My horrified little niece's mouth dropped open when I recited the original self mutilation hoping for death version to her. Poor kid. Her response was just a result of what she was taught at school. Things have really changed over past 20 years or so.
Let's face it - we are living in softer times.  
We are given trophies just for showing up.   Male aggression is blamed for all the violence in the world. We are taught that children should be nurtured rather than challenged. We are taught that it is more important to feel confident than to actually accomplish s…

My Great Grandparents - Heroes in World War II Czechoslovakia

Note:  Some of the content of this post was taken from a blog that I wrote in 2010.

Recently I visited my mother and we were discussing the history of her family. I was struck by the real life drama that she described in detail. Let me introduce to you my great grandparents Andrei and Rosalia Budik

The year was 1939 the place, a small peasant village in eastern Czechoslovakia, now present day Slovakia called Kaluza.  In many ways Kaluza was just a plain, unassuming village located near the Western Ukrainian border. But this tiny, simple village would be caught in the middle of the Nazi death machine that just recently finished conquering Poland.

In many ways the war was over before it began, Czechoslovakia's fate was sealed in September of 1938 with the signing of the Munich Pact which guaranteed Hitler no opposition to annexing the Sudetenland.  So after Germany invaded Poland in September of 1939, The Nazi's crossed through Slovakia en route to their next location.  Hitler a…

Tights In Gym Class - Not Cool

    Me: (at 8 years old:) "Mama don't make me wear these tights!!"     Mama: "Grandma got them for you....They will keep you warm."     Me: "But I don't like them."     Mama: "Oh, sweetie you look so cute in them."     Me:  "Everybody will laugh at me!!"     Mama: "They wouldn't dare. You are my angel."     Me: "Angels don't wear tights!"     Mama: "Hurry, put them on, you're going to be late."     Me:  "But Angels, don't wear ti-i-i-i-ghts!  (Mama pulls my arm forcefully.)
There I was nervously looking at the clock.  It was 9:25 AM, only five more minutes till gym class.  I knew that once that clock would strike 9:30 my whole world would be over.  As each second passed I became more and more anxious imagining the worst possible scenarios: Little Johnie giving me a wedgie,  little Umberto hurling one of his gargantuan boogers at me, or little Melissa not being my steady girlfriend anym…

Scarfs can be evil

When I was a child, my mom had the typical habit of over bundling my brothers and I in the winter; but with an Eastern European flair.

At the first sign of snow, she would dress all of three of us in the thickest, most impenetrable coats, and Russian ushankas which were fur hats with flaps on the side. (Come one!what kid wears a Russian hat in America during the height of the cold war?) Then came the dreaded multi-colored wool scarfs that were so tight that you had to keep loosening them every ten seconds so you wouldn't choke. How about itchy? Can we talk about itchy? She dressed us like we were going on some Arctic expedition instead of going to school in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  We kind of resembled Ralphie's brother from a Christmas story...


Maybe it was her Eastern European upbringing that inculcated in her such a fervor for winter wear. We always heard about how when she was little girl, they never canceled school even in 3 ft of snow. (Later on we found out that the scho…

Adolf Nicki Minaj

Can we all at least agree that at some point it stops being art?

It is a common thing to hear today that art's primary aim is, "self expression." The problem with this is that not every human urge needs expression.  There is such a thing as legitimate and illegitimate expression.

For example, I might have the urge to punch someone out. Acting on this urge is not legitimate expression  Yes..the urge to punch needs "expression."  But what separates a human from an animal is the ability to control these urges and to express them in their proper context.

Not too long ago there was an artist who dipped a crucifix in urine and another artist who covered the image of the blessed virgin in elephant dung. ( Those artists would never try the same thing with an image of Muhammad,)  This was defended, called artistic expression and even publicly funded.

There was a time when the sole purpose of art was to promote truth and beauty, to lift the spirit to heights unattainable…

Duty before Holiness

"Duty before everything else, even before what is holy." - Saint Padre Pio  There is a mistaken notion that assumes that holiness consists of shirking duties for spiritual pursuits.

This is a misplaced, romantic concept of holiness that attaining holiness means escape.  It's also not consistent with what the Catholic faith teaches.  The Catholic faith teaches that true holiness comes from the fulfillment of one's duty within their vocation.

So if you're a priest, your path to holiness will look much different than if you are a married person.
However, the thing that unifies both vocations or states of life is their faithfulness to their respective duties.

So what is a duty?

A duty is an action which places a certain responsibility upon the person.  Duties are not usually optional.  They are the things which everyday existence is based upon. For a priest, it may be reciting the breviary.  While for a married person a duty might be to work a 50  hour week  to pro…

The Good Samaritan Experiment

I was inspired to write this while reading, Anton Chekhov's short stories.
So here it is...The Good Samaritan Experiment.

A very rich man who was bored with his life thought of the following scheme:  “I’ll disguise myself as a homeless person and beg. I will then give one million dollars to the first person that helps me!”  After a self congratulatory nod he began to enact his plan:  He went to a local thrift store and bought the worst looking clothes.  The clothes were so tattered and worn that the shop owner offered him a free shirt.  Each time he moved he felt the itchy polyester against his skin. In order to further his derelict appearance he tore some more holes in his already tattered garments, wiped his hair with vegetable oil, and put some dirt smudges on his face. He looked in the mirror and uttered; “Now I am ready to go to the streets.” He quickly exited his mansion so he wouldn't be seen by any of his wealthy neighbors.  Just the mere look of him in this dilapidat…

Conversation with A Struggling Believer Pt. II

Person: "That is sheer nonsense. You definitely have left me. How many times I have prayed, followed the commandments, endured abuse, and yet you have the nerve to say that I left you? What about all the other people that you have let down in the world;  the numberless victims who are killed each day without the hope of a better day?"

God: "I am the same God who has always existed since I created the world. The way I operate is through faith. Every single, great follower of mine has had faith. Look at Noah, Abraham, even look at all the miracles that my son did. He did them all through faith. It is faith that provides the means for man to become great.  As for the numberless victims that you mentioned I am answering their prayers in ways not understandable to you or others. Take for example that you are running a company.  Times are tough and you are not making enough money to cover your expenses. Now as the executive you are forced with the decision to ei…

The Old Man And His Harmonica

As I was having lunch with my wife something caught my attention...

There right across us sat on old man in a wheel chair assisted by a caretaker. The scene was unremarkable until he pulled out his harmonica and began to play "jingle bells."  At first I was amused, who would be playing "jingle bells" on Halloween?  It sounded like a clever prank, something that me and my brother would do except in this case the one doing the prank was an old man with Alzheimer's.

By the look of him it seemed like he was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. He was mostly unaware of his environment, and he did not respond to the caretaker talking to him. But whenever he would begin playing that harmonica he would almost instinctively spring to life, smile, and serenade the entire room with his tunes.

I don't think that he knew it, but each time he played that harmonica it brought a smile out of all of us in that room.  It didn't matter what we were doing at that mo…