The story of two souls
On a forty-two-year long Crusade.
By Louis Zdunich
May 16, 2014
Why this dual autobiography?
A substantial part of the confession of faith of a devout Catholic can entail a forthright defense of his own life and conduct, especially in times of persecution, even if such a self-exoneration "goes against the grain", requires one to abandon much of his precious peace in dredging up things he would rather simply let "rest in peace", to be rewarded or punished as the good God sees fit. A God for Whom mercy, forgetfulness of our sins, after due contrition, as Jesus said to the victim-soul Sr. Josefa Menendez in the early 1920s, causes within the Savior the experience of "rest", a kind of deep satiety within the very Heart of Our Blessed Lord. Yet ironically enough it is within the very rueful confrontation and exposure of his own moral shortcomings, the weighing-in-the-balance of this very burden of human miseries and ineptitudes, tepidities and laxities, even perhaps an occasional crime: it is in this that the soul too finds a proportional deep satisfaction, a sense of rest which somehow urges him on, providing for one thing the most convincing backdrop to his confession-of-faith, putting it into the context, not sparing garishly-revelatory colors where required, in which the story properly belongs. Making it all-the-more believable by far. But far-and-away the most compelling reason for this confessor's revelatory self-defense is the well-disguised but implacable aim of inevitable accusers involved: their assaults skillfully fashioned not so much to convict him personally as to drag down to perdition along with him his very Catholic Faith itself. The demonization, the criminalization of which is the real prize so remorselessly sought, for which purpose are skewed, throwing into question or disrepute, not only his sins but even more by far his most virtuous or innocent actions and motives in loyal devotion and service to God. Thus in the most profound way denying to him that very witness which he would lay, like Hebrew children on Palm Sunday, in the path of the Savior, tributary fronds in the form of his most-devoted thoughts, words and deeds, his much-misrepresented life. The very mounting of a virile defense nonetheless, finally and predictably, being caricatured as a mere matter of "seeking to justify himself" against a history of folly and sin, the common knowledge of which his critics throw up to him at every turn.
This little autobiography—of two souls knit into one, as the encyclical on marriage Casti Canubii puts it so well—was however most immediately brought forth in response to recent "canonizations" of antipopes who reigned during the past few decades, men who impacted our little family in the most catastrophic way over these forty-two years of married life, who in spite of highly-impressive personas and words brought apocalyptic misfortune to the Catholic fold as a whole. Our story is however one of hope, of a refusal to "knuckle under" to the popular brainwash which has been part-and-parcel of the whole phenomenon of Vatican II. Thus is the book an account of an existence real and passionately-committed, ours having been a microcosmic universe in our struggles ultimately torn from our grasp, with one offspring indeed becoming one of those bizarre national celebrities with which the media of today is so full, after leaving our home. There being involved in a family a kind of noble defenselessness, a natural frailty of a social body not at all meant to stand on its own: as we were so cruelly required to do. This native fragility calling forth the harboring of Holy Mother Church, meant to guard vigilantly and affectionately over the family home, most notably in civic laws inspired by her Gospel "Way", holding as she does supreme authority here on earth (Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam). In the absence of which rigorous exercise and official recognition of this churchly authority—by a state whose aims are precisely the same as those of religion, hence accounting for its subordination to the latter, being plainly of a lesser realm, employing a less-exalted set of tools—the home quickly becomes the perfect proving-ground for today's secularistic forces to try out their radical, order-overthrowing ideas. The Church's authority in such matters finding authentic parallels in certain non-Christian nations whose religious leaders strive to achieve similar family-harboring ends. The contrary but much-celebrated upwardly-mobile Yankee idea—of the family as a sort of a stable full of prize race-horses, or even a kennel full of upwardly-mobile pit-bulls—finding rebuttal in the Catholic family as a culture of love, of personal interdependence of hearts, souls and minds, preparing citizens loyal, cooperative, industrious and devout rather than self-seeking and smug.
Coming as our marriage did ten years after the opening of the Jacobin-revolutionary Vatican II, ours not surprisingly was an existence far removed from such a solicitous cultivar, but we dared to attempt the ardent practice of our Faith all-the-same, finding ourselves quickly and completely outside the mold. Entailing an unforeseen vulnerability to being made a kind of vanguard "test case" for a newly-established American church/state officialdom of these post-Vatican-II times: a secularistic partnership discouraging solid and familiar things otherwise taken for granted in the family home. Parents with strong moral convictions being focused upon in a special way, both now and then, to prove them wrong, to modify or "water down" the way their children are raised, all the while such parents suffer from a social and legal helplessness never before known. The law of God being denied any impact upon custom and civil law and its administration, frontiers of personal or family sovereignty were then callously overthrown, with a celebrated right-wing success-ethic and an equally-aggressive culture-of-promiscuity forming together a killing-field for the most promising souls. The agonies of our home life however at last finding us defiant, ready to take on the whole ugly and inhuman monolith of modern government/media-fostered American life, engaging in what we call Crusades, being forced because of our uncompromising school, society and workplace-prohibited moral integrity for the most part to live in campers and trailers, mostly out on the Arizona desert, tent-dwellers in winters of twenty degrees, finding higher elevations in hotter months. With child or children with us while working where we could, myself often carving sacred statuary for sale in desert wood of mesquite, palo verde, cottonwood or high-elevation Mogollon-Rim pine, or in carpentry work across the USA. Finally coming to carry signs painted on these various "rigs" in six or eight inch letters about the turn the country must make in order to be political and morally saved. Broaching subjects like sodomy, calling them precisely what they are, with this abomination in particular utterly detested by God, an honest word however whose use and true meaning alike are denied and rigidly proscribed today, in an ingratiating sort of legal and linguistic word-smithing almost as bad as the crime itself. The Catholic miasma depicted here being only the final outcome of a U.S. Catholicism largely inspired by the Judeo-Masonic sociopolitical creed, American Catholic and political Calvinism growing up together in the dark forests of New England, coming to tumultuous adolescence in shared Jacobin adventures on the Western plains of the nineteenth century. Joann and I having "taken the road less traveled by", scarcely having a clue where it would lead, being frequently waylaid for having thus "chosen God before men". Although we nonetheless await the divine deliverance and vindication with a confident heart.
This book is a work in progress, having seen many changes since I began writing it in May of 2014, as it is the most difficult writing I have ever done, its subject-matter sometimes almost unrenderable, as well as being "too close to home" to be as objective as I would wish. Hence I make many grammatical and other mistakes, which I try to correct as quickly as possible, being engrossed in a demanding task, of getting-across near-inexpressible social or interior realities, with little ability left for lesser verbal-mechanical things. But I think it is critically important to release this story as soon as possible, even if bit-by-bit and in this haphazard way: each initially-unsatisfactory addition acting a spur to describe in a better way things of the subtlest kind, in attempts to recapture experiences bewildering as well as profound, in the midst of grueling persecutions of all genuinely Christian souls, and the desperate acts of Godly defiance which they so strongly call forth. Hopefully, there is much to be gained in reading this unprecedented account, of personal travails during a period in Catholic history of the most unparalleled kind. Apologies for some of the daunting or unreadable passages you may have come across in prior efforts to read this digital book, some of which you may indeed still encounter in pages ahead.
With this preamble I will draw in following pages a sketch of my own life, of how my good Old Country upbringing by devout Catholic parents from Croatia was fatally impacted by the "American Church": a political protégé from its Revolutionary-War-era beginnings plainly designed by first plenipotentiary Bishop John Carroll and his Judeo-Masonic mentors to be a "dry run" for a universal-Catholic acceptance of radical new things. Aimed at from the start being indeed not only the embrace by the U.S. Catholic fold of a noted heterodox political-doctrinal secularism but also a "softening up" of an entire world for these and other radical doctrinal and other changes by way of the extensive American global influence, a hijacking no doubt foreseen to be accomplished through the then far-in-the-future rogue-council, Vatican II. This catastrophic revamping of the Church Universal leaving only a sort of superficially-impressive shell scarcely suggestive of a glorious past: the totality indeed being the "odd new church, built against all the rules of architecture" foreseen prophetically by Venerable Anne Katherine Emmerich of the early nineteenth century when these plans were first taking well-defined form in secret-society minds. The whole misadventure thus launched being an experiment in church/state alchemy of which the USA would be a sort of laboratory, out of whose glowing coils and bubbling beakers a frightful preternatural Mr. Hyde would come lumbering forth. While this autobiography covers an unprecedented time when so many of us tradition-minded Catholics—all of us mortals, sinners, myself at first only a lad—were trodden-upon by our coreligionists, some of us denied the most basic of human rights, with our "worst enemies", the very biblical "those of our own households", being armed with excuses provided them by the whole ranging anti-culture that came out of Vatican II. An onslaught with a philosophical base in the evolving "progress" phenomenology of Heidegger, with elements taken from Schopenhauer and Proudhon, Freud and Marx. While those tradition-faithful who remained, frightfully diminishing in number with each passing day, were by dint of Vatican II to bear an onerous burden of proof, being subject to new "tests" administered by even the more pious, who together with the compromised motley crowd generally held back all compassion or assistance to such as we, assaying the assessment, like ancient Jews, "wait, let's see if Elijah comes to take Him down from the Cross." So entirely abandoned were all tradition-loving Catholics, held suspect by treacherous phrases spun skillfully into the wordy fabric of Vatican II, being left to hang on an artfully-contrived, apocalyptic new Cross. New Church Catholics meanwhile being powered by cheap-bought generalities, radical conjectures, outright errors and implied heresies that filled the sessions and documents of the noted synod: while anyone who clung to anything soberly specific was doomed with dire inevitability to hang on that selfsame fateful tree. With media-"bomb-shells" being exploded at nightly Vatican-plaza news conferences by major church-revolutionary-prelates involved, with cleverly-inserted council-document "time bombs" punctuating with unnerving concussions the interminable aftermath of that fateful gathering in Rome. Vatican-II from the start constituting a communicational deluge designed to overflow directly into every Catholic home.
As the "pushing in of a rotten door" imagery of Marx gained uncanny new reality, the fact that the whole revolutionary overthrow, predicted by saints, seers and the popes of the nineteenth century, was carried out basically without a hitch: this has inevitably been held to seal, by terms of a kind of ironclad internal dialectic, a resounding vindication. Thunderous being the unanimous judgment that "fuddy duddies" like Leo XIII or Pius IX, or earlier modern popes in decades before, were dolefully "backward", "wrong after all": this stunning blanket-repudiation being inherent to New Church attitudes to this very day, in a round rejection of centuries of Catholic doctrine and practice, a denial which isn’t even frankly and mercifully acknowledge, being rather dismissively chortled-over as not worthy of recognition by bishops, leading laymen and ordinary men-of-the-cloth, in Judeo-Masonry's signature-sardonic way. With the rapid and manifold collapse of Catholic institutions allegedly providing a kind of "proof in the pudding" of rectitude unsurpassed, indeed the Church's very infallibility and indefectibility held to argue conclusively in favor of same, plying the logic that "if it wasn't from God, it wouldn't have marched forward in such a relentless way". Or the corollary "everything that happens in the church is ipso-facto ex cathedra, unquestionable in any way at all": departing decidedly from the sound definition of the Church as having a frail and human aspect, one which has failed to the extent of giving us antipopes and rogue-councils several times, depending in many ways upon human actors whose missteps can sometimes be catastrophic in their effect, notably in prudence-related or "disciplinary" things. Even as the same irrepressible Vatican-II crowd will turn on a dime and trivialize a thousand years of teaching and practice as entirely dismissible in the face of "new and better" things: which is to heretically and schismatically deny that the Holy Ghost was at work in the Church, if in the council's signature quibbling and cowardly way. While finally in the wake of the custom-quashing, grandma-dumping coarseness-of-soul and mind inevitably incumbent upon the whole lengthy and bewildering affair the voicing of grievances of the kind found here is undoubtedly regarded as a sure sign of being a sissy in the Brave New rock star church of post-Vatican-II: a time when all expectations have so radically and seemingly-irreversibly changed. To all but a few, it were better that men like me should have grown a harder chin, gone forth, maybe on a Harley, and "tore up the road", gone on a spree. And then returned and "given ourselves to God" in the anti-pope-minted "new evangelical" way. In this new ritual ablution in which is found a whole new sort of delirious liturgy, a religion with "heroic virtues" of a kind more proper to a board meeting or a hippy band, foreign to anything Catholicism had ever previously known.
What was most blithely, resolutely and catastrophically abandoned at Vatican II was any attachment to the Gospel-Catholic Way as objectified in beloved customs of each nation, passed down from generations past: all this in an orbital hubris held suddenly to be passé. True Catholicism as noted above having for millennia invaded every precinct of a believer's life, in the development of a local-Catholic continuum stretching for centuries in time, forming a sacred heirloom not to be replaced by a lot of "beam me up, Scotty" space-fantasy off in the intergalactic void, effort-thrifty televised declarations of "love, love, love", or a great flourishing of rapturous papal, clerical and secular facial-agonies or smiles, New Church's sole admissible emblems of Faith. Every previously-embraced practice or attitude, handed down from mother to daughter, father to son, suddenly being held suspect in the rosy progressive glow, and those who practiced or cherished them "backward", dangerous or even mentally ill. In a transformation as noted above often wrought through the instrumentality of a mere embarrassed chuckle, a stifled laugh, an up-the-sleeve cough, as if someone had said something obscene. So overwhelming had the overthrow proven to be, one quickly embraced by an ever-cynical Kennedy clan which would produce a jet-set Jackie to champion a miniskirt which might otherwise have been shamefully rejected out-of-hand. Here however being introduced into Catholic social and conversational culture no innocent injection of humor—as in the constantly repeated saw of the times, "you have to learn to laugh at what you love"—but rather a shrewdly-conceived host of hyper-sophisticated subterfuges and deceits which would vitiate the Church's spirituality, contaminate its finest childlike qualities, to this very day. While in the same off-handed way were untested ideas of every revolutionary crackpot, Catholic or not, let in through "Saint" John XXIII's "open windows of the Church": moral bomb-throwers, deniers-of-dogmas, revolutionaries and cynics of whom there were legion back then, but of whose existence modern-day New Church apologists scarcely seem to be or to have been aware. As in Ratzinger's media-buried calling-into-question of the Catholic doctrine of the Resurrection—while he was head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrines of the Faith, no less—thus aligning himself perfectly with blasphemous fables of first-century Jews, of grave-snatching by the Disciples, a slander often dramatized in fantastic Hollywood productions, bolstered tremendously by the heretical departure of a future (anti)pope. A great many above-noted incendiary men-of-the-cloth left the Church a few short years after their ugly, noisy stints—not all of them became popes—but not before they had with uncanny indelibility left their searing mark, while many another remained to wreak mortal havoc, as the later papal accession of this hierarchical heretic Benedict XVI—and the freemasonic John and Paul, and the stage-grade, long-time locally-despised Wojtyla—would so graphically portray. While among other airy assays and disclaimers the ongoing church-emptying catastrophe-for-souls that came with Vatican II was characterized as having been a sort of "sad but necessary" house-cleaning, an ejection of the "over-pious", "sickly sweet", unconvinced and ill-motivated, a crackdown every bit as effective on its own peculiar plane and in startling ways as Mao Zhe Dung's "Cultural Revolution", Hitler's "Night of the Blackshirts", or Stalin's decade-long Purge. A serving of notice as well, to those poorly-disposed, to follow antipope claims of a universal divine call to "the highest holiness", allegedly incumbent upon layman and cleric alike, or in effect be barred from the parish doors. Little did the unwary realize that the whole imposture would be used efficiently and expressly to exclude those weary persecuted who could make no such "good" and fervent "first impressions", they who fit in poorly with the new rock-star church and all its shallow and noisy "fervors", prolonged embraces, pretenses and displays. The need to "crack a few eggs" meanwhile being the less-articulated conviction, revealed in grim clerical faces remarkably-interchangeable with the smiley-face "love, love", amply accounting in more candid minds for the wholesale decimation of congregations and masses of a Saturday night or Sunday morn, and indeed even of church-buildings themselves, sold off in major dioceses by the score. With former throngs of the faithful to be fractionally replaced, starting in the halcyon Robber-Baron '90s, by a kind of earthly-reward-seeking New Church Catholic-convert who bore little if any resemblance to the faithful of old. Blackwater, Inc.'s Prince family—fabulously-rewarded, hyper-nationalistic, unscrupulous and secretive participants in genocidal-aggressive wars—being a classical example of a staggering new "Who's Who out there in the pews", even as the newly-apostate together with the pious broken-hearted or ruined were considered reasonable price to pay for "catching up on centuries" of alleged Church stagnation, of a religion which indeed showed up in modest proportions before the new hippy-church so quickly gaining Vatican-II-sanctioned ground. Putative backwaters of nationality parishes being utterly rejected out-of-hand, a Christ-like but now embarrassing Catholic admiration-for and attachment-to virtues inseparable from poverty: hard-won, benign, "never putting on airs". While in place of salutary interior processes of Divine Faith were to be found charismatic displays of a shallow new breed, providing a thin veneer for things of a supremely well-disguised kind.
After the smashing debut of John Paul II, a man despised by a Polish Cardinal Wysnewski of genuine heroic sanctity, who languished in a communist prison for years while Wojtyla plied his theatrical charms, the genuinely, traditionally devout were to hear a lot of redoubled "oh, come now", as every aspect of Catholic practice on every level was to undergo an even-more-thorough uprooting than had already occurred, with old virtues like modesty-of-dress or childhood respect and obedience being blithely smiled upon, condescendingly patted on the head. A media-legendary John Paul II universally perceived as one who "wouldn't bother himself about such dated and trivial things", Catholics worldwide having been introduced to elements impressive, progressive and photogenic as well. One of the saws heard incessantly back then from dominant men-of-the-cloth being the shibboleth "modesty is irrelevant", often smilingly rattled-off at embattled parents just then in a desperate struggle to save the souls and characters of their young.
All forms of stamped-and-inspected "holiness" requiring above all things the broad Medjugorje or imitation-Polish grin, or one was considered "sick" or an "insufferable bore", while amid all the bathos and sanctimony a further installment was a "Catholic Traditionalist" movement, founded or quickly taken over in its several major branches by infiltrating Jews and their surrogate fellow-traveler moles. By this means then were gravely compromised, pitifully marginalized the earnest efforts of truly tradition-loving souls, many of whom actually uprooted themselves, sold their homes, moved to St. Mary's in Kansas or one of the other traditionalist colonies, to attend a more-or-less-outlawed ancient Tridentine Mass, with many likewise hoping to find some vestige of a Catholic way of life among like-minded souls to be found there. These hopeful immigrants being however and in nearly every case "handed a stone instead of a loaf", these enclaves proving quickly to resemble experimental laboratories of behavioral control, of a kind of Red-Chinese-like "thought police" which quickly gained unquestionable sway, and with even the very inviolable confessional being used now and again to achieve these nefarious ends. While new combustible instability would be added to the already-incendiary mix by tumult-breeding actors on both sides, the foregoing antipope Paul VI—(invalid post-Pius-XII conclaves discussed on our website, notably in links about Fatima)—having been universally regarded as having been a "weak pope"—a failing for which the grand new JPII dutifully supplied in spades. The contrasts-of-personalities involved in this string-of-antipopes was however only another mere distraction, while it was something entirely different which slipped through Catholic spiritual fingers in this grand exchange, successfully transmitted through each of these pseudo-papal reigns: the noted substitution of secular humanism for the Faith as practiced in every age. As each group of age-cohorts found itself in more-and-more unfamiliar waters, with an unequal bargain being closed that was exceedingly subtle, fine-grained, impossible with mere natural powers to adequately gauge, a larceny full of big smiles, prolonged and inappropriate bear-hugs that began everywhere in New Church (as opposed to traditionalist) circles to prevail, between child and adult, male and female, male and male. Irregularities which would suffice to cover-over, to stifle in a world of tumultuous feelings, a host of vague but troubling apprehensions. While the attack of the new antipope by an assailant with a gun, with the discharge of a half-dozen shots, none of them lethal, would be the final Molotov-reminiscent convincer, the allegedly-incontrovertible "proof of heroic virtue" for sainthood required, this almost certainly an unprecedented Vatican false-flag operation as cynical as any on the historical secular scene. For in this Brave New Huxlian World, clerical or lay, the only real law is that the end always justifies the means. According to at least one source of the times John Paul crying out amid the hail of bullets, "why are they shooting me?", plainly being aware that the shots came from only one gun (as I myself can attest from battlefield experiences on the receiving end of hostile fire). This an exceedingly strange exclamation to which some have added the explanatory addendum, "Since I have played my conspiratorial part to a T."
My youth in the American Church
and first acquaintance with Vatican II.
From the above summary of the deluge-of-evil that debauched on our little family through floodgates so ably smashed by "canonized" antipopes of today, I go on to early phases of my own life which I will however sketch only briefly: as in duties as a kind of overseer/playmate/collecting-point for nieces and nephews generously left at grandma's (my mother's) door, kids who were forthwith consigned mostly to my care, if I wasn't at school, starting from my own tender age of nine or so. That I did rather poorly in this task on occasion would hardly seem a cause for harsh backward-looking rebuke, among now-deceased sibling parents, or their nowadays censorious kids whose "noses" I so often "wiped". While during those halcyon career-climbing days their parents scarcely seemed to give the matter a thought, when dropping the youngsters off on their way to work, "club", or shopping, as to whether the untried nine-or-ten-year-old was competent or not. Then too by the time I was fifteen came the near-simultaneous homecoming of three of my siblings, the very three who together would quickly and with grim determination prove to be a lifetime's worst enemies—yes, I use the forbidden word—by far: each in his/her own way scarcely a devout Catholic, one of them to leave the Church forthwith, the other two to ply a strange observance indeed, all of them strongly bent on molding me into something I wasn't at all. Taking special umbrage as they all did to devoutly-Catholic attitudes and practices we had all learned at my mother's and father's knee, but which these "savvy" ones had discarded either recently or long ago. These new arrivals, if living there at home only sporadically or temporarily, nonetheless made their influences felt in the strongest possible way, as if allied in some strange sort of cause. The three converging with special intensity upon a newly-discovered Oiji board, which they breathlessly plied on weekends almost non-stop for some weeks or months, and after which strange pastime there seemed to develop a sort of confederacy among them, all of its own kind. Thereafter condescending and sardonic overseers plainly feeling they had been sent just in time to save me from a Croatian-Catholic fate worse than death, striving intently to make me into a hedonist, or the latest Freud-quoting model of modernity, or in the case of the one who would later do a stint as a biker, and pride himself on the name "Black": my putative place plainly being as a sort of macho-male paragon, flourishing an era-notorious vaguely-threatening lingo and body-language. This sort of neo-barbarian, typically irrupting with coded symbols and tattoos, always seemingly with cheaply-bought bravery ready to "do a job on someone", a stock type developing over time into "dudes" and "rappers" of the illegal drug trade, with these original predecessors of which they who lived through the seventies are all-too-familiar. But here it seems as if it was always Mom who made sure unlimited leniency was shown to these attitudinally-outsized older siblings: a policy she was to pursue even more rigidly later on, when Joann and I, on occasions we had to live back there at home, to be described on a later page, were struggling to raise our own kids under far-more-difficult circumstances than my older career-climbing siblings had ever known, when nearly twenty years before they dropped their own youngsters off for Louie to keep track of. Those desperate later times when nonetheless the whim of some hostile relative always took precedence over our starter-family needs: for otherwise, were these dear-ones thwarted in any way, "they might commit suicide", "turn into an alcoholic", perhaps even run away from home (at the age of thirty), or something like that. At the same time that our strong Catholic Faith was acknowledged by Mom, telling me and Joann that we were "more like her and Dad than any of the rest", we were expected to carry the scapegoating onus for a whole restless breed. Those three noted above being veritable deadbeats, at least in terms of our prior raising, whom Dad would probably have sent away long ago, knowing their destructive effect upon my own developing mind and soul, and later upon the family of grandchildren that he loved so well, that wife and I were by then so earnestly and piously trying to raise.
Unfortunately, I myself at fifteen—and much earlier on periodic visits of "Black" from a U.S. Army in which he spent ten fruitless years, and from which he would emerge as I remember a private around '61—was relatively fertile soil for noted contaminations, in a see-sawing deep in my soul in which grace fought with evil on a daily basis, sometimes in a truly-dire sort of way. Amid signal graces for which I was monstrously ungrateful, and did little to correspond-to, life was a confused medley of darkness and mottled light, after high school falling frequently into serious sin, and while still there almost losing my Faith, with the siren-song of domestic relativism ever droning in my ear, but for the signal help of God, through the person of an old Carmelite priest at Catholic High, during my senior year. While in grade school my markedly-Mediterranean features—among Croats who are as easily black haired as Nordic-looking and blonde—drew down upon me the ire and dislike of a string of Jansenistic (an exceedingly-complex heresy one might briefly term as lacking in the human element) and prejudiced nuns at the St. Mary's Nativity School I attended: prime examples that they were of the heterodox, "exceptionalist" John Carroll Catholicism of which generations of doughty American Catholics have been so proud. One of which sisters, a big, heavy-set woman who must have been all of six feet tall, would leave my face a red welt on at least one side, pounding me on many occasions with a resounding clap, with her open palm, having been called ceremoniously up in front of the class and given a classical roundhouse blow, being taunted as a "parasite", apparently for my tendency to laugh quietly but uncontrollably at the antics of a little white-haired kid from across the room: a guy who was scarcely ever reprimanded at all. I who on occasion was rapt in prayer while serving Holy Mass: another phenomenon openly-scorned or marveled-at by at least one of these nuns, denizens of an American Catholicism which had conquered the "Red Man" as lustily as had Jacobin Protestantism and Jewry. Although I must hasten to add that some number of these religious women at St. Mary's Nativity School were good, kindly, truly-pious souls, who did a great deal to form my faith in a solid way: thus unstable being the state-of-the-Church in the USA even back then in the '50s, rendering it a sort of battleground of good and bad, sick and sane.
How was all this spiritually-desperate tumult on many fronts and in many quarters, of this brainchild of theirs, regarded by these self-important, head-shaking siblings? As "proof in the pudding" that I was alternately stupid or unstable: while were I to hurl myself into complete cynicism or loss-of-faith, then I would have been a sort of predictable quantity—always a chief aim of our "freedom loving" age—of the sort they expected to come out of their heady-if-provisional behavioral lab. But instead I struggled, I agonized, over a kind of lost paradise of my youthful Catholic past, powerfully rejuvenated every time I made another retreat at the Trappist monastery outside Dubuque, my first such week-long visit at the age of sixteen. These holy influences being however contested tooth-and-nail by this other sibling gospel, strongly assisted by their strange or trendy friends, of a caustic, mockingly-worldly sort, an invasion even there at home given far more practical standing than pieties of old. Ah, all this too was going on during those council years of '62 to '65, and shortly before and after, when everything was being thrown in the air, up for grabs, often even in the most pious sorts of homes. Hence were the difficulties I encountered to be classed, with the growing approval and support of Mom herself, as mental aberrations, as folly: thus basically the whole clan, with the exception of Dad, nicely tying up embarrassing traditional-Catholic "loose ends" in the tidiest possible way. I a young lad of fifteen to twenty, until my entrance into the U.S. Army, being no doubt an interesting subject of coffee-clotch discussions into the night, of how I had to be saved from an "overly pious", backward Catholic past, and from all those monks from the Dark Ages up there around Dubuque.
Thus unforgiving is a modern world which sees a love of silence and solitude as a dangerous mental ill, most sin as either desirable or some sort of permanent or incurable clinical condition, while likely rating any decisive break with evil habits or attitudes not as a saving transformation wrought by grace but as a frightful "personality change", to be mercilessly, systematically uprooted, run-to-ground. This modern psychological determinism being likewise much at the base of the present-day "born again" open-armed acceptance of sodomites and every other sort of perverts into their folds, accepting sin equally with sinner, with cynical tones of Sigmund Freud cheek-to-jowl with fervors of swaying throngs. No love being realized here, but the railroading of souls into an act of despair.
If things were bad before I went off to Vietnam, they were to prove even worse upon my return, with the atmosphere of contempt, incessant subtle or open rebuke, even an odd sort of reprisal, growing fourfold for a decorated veteran of a war: a conflict so unpopular to the same old crowd of liberal relatives described above, with some exceptions among others of a large family. A regimen of quiet or confrontational hostility being unleashed that was to intensify beyond measure after my conversion of heart—a transformation-of-soul at last, after some five years of see-sawing, lukewarmness, self-pity, relativism and frequent serious sin—a few months after leaving the Army, upon the fervent prayers of the good Guido Delrose, whom a monk at New Melleray in Dubuque had referred me to. Guido's counsel that I confess my own powerlessness and at the same time place absolute confidence in Our Blessed Lady having had instant effect upon me, after my earnestly-uttered plea for prayers, for advice, to this pious grade-school teacher, this fine and noble man. For when I returned to my place in another pew, after this brief whispered conference there at St. Mary's Nativity just before Mass of a weekday, while both I and Guido prayed in the recommended way, I actually felt claws being withdrawn from my back, and a sensation as of a fever being broken, as it might be described, with the removal of something foul and deadly from my insides. After which stunning experience my soul for another full year and more was destined to be filled with profoundest peace, and my moral life to undergo a complete change, to go forward by leaps and bounds. However with nothing especially emotional being involved, just the peace of God, although there was a steady increase of what I later realized were experiences of a mystical kind. But oblivious to—or even alarmed by—such inner happenings "those of my own household" and liberals-at-large continued subjecting me to a veritable artillery barrage, whether in pedestrian confrontations so commonly known by Viet-vets back then, or at church, where pulpit rosary-tearings-and-flingings had become a rather common thing, or among avant-garde or Catholicism-repudiating older siblings who either still lived at home or incessantly and imperiously visited same, increasingly laying down the law of a new and strange age. So that I finally resolved to make a break with it all if I could, deciding upon a pilgrimage to Marian shrines and various monasteries and other houses-of-prayer in Europe: this first overseas trip destined to be succeeded by another about eight or nine months later. This journey too in fulfillment of a promise made—in event of my survival—during a desperate Vietnam firefight in which six or eight out of twenty died, and that many more were wounded, after we of the "first of the ninth" had been dropped into a ruefully-regarded "one ship LZ". In the swift extrication-from-which by the same gun-ships and choppers, minus the one I had just gotten off, shot down just behind me, I played a decisive part. Furthermore, I knew from experience that I had to depart as it were in secret, as my mother, may God rest her soul, would have made an emotional display which I could not have withstood, an outpouring which, as I knew from experience, would have demolished my resolve to do what I must. Knowing myself not of the metal of that medieval who stepped over the bodies of his parents, lying on the threshold to block his exit to a monastic life. My mother a woman considered by many in our parish to have been extremely devout, who however shared the common family opinion of me, as noted: that my Catholic fervor, given a tremendous boost during the noted combat in Vietnam, and later confirmed in the saintly intervention of Guido, was all sheer mental instability, or as they would no doubt say today, some sort of "syndrome". Mom being especially undone by my levels of absorption in prayer, about which she cautioned me with alarm, "people shouldn't pray that way!"; while also objected-to was my long-time insatiable love of silence, of which my whole desire for years was to be a kind of contemplative reservoir, and the fact that I fasted and prayed a lot.
The way in which this happily eventless departure was achieved was through the arrangement of an intermediary retreat at the Camoldolese hermitage in Steubenville, OH, of which my family was indeed duly apprised: a reclusive house-of-religion long since closed, the undisciplined American occupants of that marvelous place already at the time of my retreat staging a sort of revolt against the pious authority of the Polish-born superior, a fatherly, mystical man whom I greatly admired. These rebellious monks mounting a veritable uprising traces of which even an uninitiated soul like myself could detect back then, but that were to grow to epic proportions, so that I would hear about these by-then-notorious in-house troubles a couple of years later from the superior of another contemplative house in Europe. This fledgling foundation suffering the fate of so many others in the USA since Vatican II, even as before that fateful gathering the monastic life had been growing by leaps and bounds, with scarcely enough block-and-mortar to raise the buildings required to house the novices and postulants arriving by the month. This in a surge of vocations however dismissed by New Church heretics and fanatics as "not of the right caliber", or as "Thomas Merton vocations", and so on. Merton's books on the contemplative life, regarded by the same all-powerful post-council-avant-garde as "passé"—especially the first two or three, before he himself came strongly, indeed fanatically, under the influence of Vatican II—although admittedly not up to the level of writings of a St. John of the Cross—having nonetheless been highly-catalytic of this massive influx of solitude-hungry souls. Indeed, it was his autobiography, Seven Storey Mountain, which had powerfully induced me to make my first retreat at New Melleray near Dubuque when I was sixteen.
But returning to the hermitage near Steubenville: my initial stop-off had actually been planned as a sort of last-ditch chance that I might decide to stay in the USA after all, and enter religion there at the hermitage in the Appalachian foothills. But as it turned out I felt I wasn't disciplined enough for acceptance into the monastic or eremitical regime, noting with profound disappointment and indeed with tears to the good superior himself my own chafing at his sometimes acerbic commands, administering to me as he did a sort of rough-and-ready pre-postulantship, probably secretly hoping I would prove better material than the dross he, almost without exception, already had there on hand. (There was also a very devout Irish ex-missionary to Africa there, a man who was perpetually sad, who lived in a world apart from these highly-agitated American born, men who prompted the inner query: why did they ever enter the peace-pursuing eremitical life at all?) The noted administration of "corrections" for the tiniest of infractions being a tried-and-true part of an ancient monastic regimen meant to prepare warriors for a Cassian-celebrated "single combat with the devil", making a whole abbey or hermitage into a regiment of invincibly-strong souls. A virile approach of course dismissively discarded at and after Vatican II. But alas, the good superior's hopes for me were to be forlorn indeed, mingling sadly with my own regrets. (I was to visit the holy place again around 1985 or so, in company with my wife and youngest daughter, who stayed in the vehicle while I climbed over the chain that now blocked the road, to find its lovely secluded buildings, newly constructed sometime in the sixties, abandoned, forlorn and in decay for years already.)
Hence onward to New York and its international airport I went, hoping that while on pilgrimage to various Catholic European shrines—fixed upon as the fulfillment of a sort of adaptable promise I had made during the firefight noted above, basically to spend a year doing something costly for God—I would be granted the graces I needed to put "bit and halter" on myself, to use the beloved biblical phrase. Before aerial departure I sent a letter or postcard to inform the folks at home of my decision, a missive which seems unfortunately somehow to have gotten lost in the mail: although after all these years I suspect the hand of "Black" in the affair, as he was to become noted for precisely such underhanded things. I did however indeed send a letter from Europe some time later, meanwhile having no idea that an understandable panic had set in back home as to where I had gone, or what had happened to me.
How then was this departure of mine, and unintended loss-of-contact, to be treated by a large family thereafter at home, regarding a journey so full of pious and fervent hopes for the good of my soul? When I came back home, under circumstances to be related below, and indeed already long before, I was to be permanently classed as a madman, which seems indeed to have been a consensus about me since I had first become attracted to the contemplative life back in 1962, at the age of 16, after my first retreat at the Trappist monastery, noted above. A view of me that only intensified after my entry into the Army at the age of twenty, temporarily abandoning my pursuit of a college degree. Hence despite abundant evidence of calm and sanity to the contrary, a complex policy of surveillance and frustration was inaugurated over me: Freud, with all his false, rabidly-anti-Catholic fabrications, was in short deified, largely taking the place of Catholic Faith in our home, and object-lessons engineered in my very person toward his absolute sway. The counselor of Vienna commanding as he did from nether realms an unforgiving regimen that would last for decades, in which any enormity expended upon me was considered fair, as long as it prevented me from acting upon my devoutly-traditional Catholic sentiments and beliefs. Brothers and sisters taking it all as a kind of new mission in life, with myself undoubtedly and as noted the subject of wee-hour coffee-clotches, heroic sleep-walking exertions to see that all the soul-harrowing principles of Freud were upheld in "The Family", controlled at the time by a sort of gang-of-five, to the bitter end. A coterie who rode herd on Mom and Dad as much as they did on a youngest son who so took after them. The very term The Family coming by stages to take on—in my own mind and later in that of my future wife as well—all the frightful dimensions of the deranged and incendiary crowd outside the scientific compound in a '70s Charleton Heston movie The Omega Man. (I don't generally recommend the viewing of movies mentioned here to anyone, the latter-named in particular having one incredibly lewd scene, as was so characteristic of the films of that moral-revolutionary decade. Productions which even present-day, scarcely-innocent generations generally regard with unqualified disgust.) These mutually-promoting siblings no doubt finding welcome breaks from rote monotonies of their upper-middle-class ladder-climbing flights, in the laborious interdiction of what to them was only so much deranged folly. But the sum effect of all these tireless kinship exertions has been to severe for me every earthly tie: the very aim I had in mind at the start, when I was first so strongly attracted to the contemplative life. Joann my soon-to-be-spouse too having had similar longings-for-solitude and the religious life already in childhood, well before becoming a Catholic, in this resembling the sainted Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks, who seemed to have had a Catholic soul from earliest years, well before having received any instructions in the Faith. Both of us being cut adrift from most earthly cares, becoming strangers to enervating preoccupations of most other souls of these times, an externally-imposed cruel regimen brokering not despair or surrender but rather a complete abandonment to the will of God. On a solitary path mottled with a mixture of grief and Heavenly consolation, a trail grimly flanked by ostracism and petty persecution, the loss of contact with our children, our slander-based singling out as far worse than felons in the estimation of nearly all.
Indeed, through at least the first thirty or so years of married life this fanatical campaign continued—by people whose production of slander and misinformation—coupled with that of a hostile secular world—had ruined every chance we ever had to succeed. An obstreperous family to whom we were therefore admittedly and in a cruel twist-of-fate forced to turn now and again for help. With one brother in particular, self-appointed pointman of the whole policeman-like charade, jetting or motoring around the country to interfere with things, wherever we might have gone to "make another start", telling outright lies to church, business or other associates of ours, recently during many arduous labors acquired: thus in effect insuring that we would "show up back at home" not long afterward. Indeed on two separate occasions this bleak, undertaker-mannered brother even sabotaged carpentry and other building projects—in one case indeed right in front of my eyes—crucial initiatives which I had contracted, as if he were on some sort of special-ops demolition-mission such as he had indeed been trained to conduct while in the U.S. Army for ten years. His being a veritable KGB program utterly devoid of any legal basis at all, from a brother the whole family was afraid to cross, but were eagerly willing to let loose on me. He who had indeed been the guiding spirit in two separate sanity hearings, one before and one after my marriage—of course with the whole clan's hearty cooperation—at the last of which he was however roundly rebuked before everyone by the judge involved—a good justice who saw through the whole "for his own good" charade—sternly scolding this genuine madman for the temerity of pretending to know better than the court. Obviously, such treatment, such an interminable torment, was going to produce some startling anomalies in my life—was indeed going to "make me look" quite off balance—and in many practical respects I unavoidably was—as would have been the sanest man alive. There being some circumstances in which a rigid self-possession can be the sure sign of a twisted mind, a note of confusion or bewilderment by contrast the mark of a human fragility unthreatening and benign. In a life now commandeered as if it weren't my own life at all, in a "story of a soul" indeed which few to whom it is told can even believe could have happened at all.
Ah, yes, I know, one is supposed to be covered with shame by such things, and go off and never open ones mouth again. But there is a confession of faith which I must make, come what may: hurling my whole life in the face of those who would deny this testimony to me, would make of abundant tears and bloody footprints of decades, on this indubitable way of the cross, the sheerest folly, indeed into callous rebellion against God. I care not at all what anyone, least of all the cowards who did these things to me and mine, thinks of me or my life, as long as I can make this witness, defend those treasures so long so remorselessly trodden upon. While in these words I speak of one accord with Joann, the two of us together indeed forming only one soul, as the encyclical Casti Canubii of the beloved Pius XII so marvelously enjoins.
What happened to devout and genuinely-tradition-loving Catholics during the five decades since the end of Vatican II, during which occurred the reigns of these two "popes", to be "canonized" tomorrow—laymen who resolved to remain true to the "faith of our fathers" come what may, who rejected all of the many "angels of light" that the council had so glibly and treacherously released upon us all—was that we were veritably used up, and this for a fathomlessly-depraved and systematic purpose. As we would be the last group to remember the Faith for what it truly is when practiced sanely and authentically, incommunicable except as something "passed down to you": being for that very reason held to be mortal enemies to the unfolding ironclad, largely-socially-arbitrated agenda of apostasy. Here being a classical case of the Marxist sacrificing of "one generation for the sake of the next": my "generation" having been those who wouldn't countenance the folly and madness of a deliberately Faith-destructive Vatican II, its documents and deliberations indeed, wherever not patently heretical, designed to confuse rather than enlighten. As now in fact officially admitted in a recent edition of Osservatore Romano. Do "saints" do such things? That's an answer which you yourself can easily supply.
What did I meet with at St. Hugh's?
At St. Hugh's Hermitage in England, entered during the last half of my first pilgrimage in Europe, thinking that I had found the place to live the eremitical, contemplative life which had become my sole ambition or aim, against entry-to-which particular retreat however I had been interiorly warned, a discernment which I foolishly ignored, I was to be subjected to a seven-month-long cross-examination by one of the monks there, the Procurator, who was in charge of we lay-brother aspirants and postulants. I being in most ways suited to a life of hard toil, to which can be joined, as in the case of my beloved model, St. Joseph, the most intimate union with God. Little did I realize that there was to be some communication—probably indeed a great deal—between the Procurator, a Father Sullivan, and my family at home—in letters and even phone calls which no doubt gave this veritable apostate plenty of ammunition with which to assail my soul. My relatives—as entirely distinct from my Dad—having been quite taken by all the latest New Church ideas, including inevitable Freudian misgivings about anyone who grew so "strangely quiet" as I had allegedly done in months after my two tours in Vietnam. Showing a love of silence and solitude which I had however always before evinced, especially after the above-mentioned several retreats at the Trappist monastery outside Dubuque, starting when I was sixteen. Having also immediately after my military service been likewise introduced by an also-noted Guido Delrose in the parish at home to True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis DeMontfort, together with the latter's The Secret of the Rosary, as well as the Little Office of Our Blessed Lady. My mind and soul in fact knowing that "peace which surpasseth all understanding" which is the legacy of the Catholic Faith in general, and especially of the contemplative life: that very cultivar in which the deepest sanity has the most abiding home. Here being found the same thing which had held me so motionless when serving Holy Mass as a boy, or when in the basement of the church, arrived in thickly-falling snow for the 6:00 a.m. low mass, I donned the white surplice in the immaculate silence, in midst of sacred vessels, to the smell of incense and beeswax, ensconced in the ineffable purity of early youth. But for this priest in England all this was subject-matter to be examined under a microscope, probed-at with cynical observations, smiled-at, mocked and ultimately spat upon. A host of psychiatric evaluations having no doubt been exchanged across the swelling sea, together with an eastward-bound run-down on sins from which I had broken in the most decisive way, over the past year since I had consecrated myself to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary according to the method of St. Louis DeMontfort, with the good Guido back at home too having prayed for me. But although God Himself is willing to forgive, indeed to forget that we ever sinned, these "liberals" of our times, these biblical accusers (the translation of the word Satan) will "hold your feet to the fire" until the day you die. Denizens that they are of a biblically-accursed world which knows only how to drive souls to fiery depths of despair.
But back then, at the beginning of 1970, a third-year college-student, a decorated veteran of a war and a three-year enlistment, a few days shy of the age of twenty-four, I was ill-prepared to wrestle with the phenomenological serpent of Vatican II, and was to come out of that hermitage in England a thoroughly confused, indeed a crucified man. Having been veritably broken in that seven months by a process akin to that imposed upon an imprisoned Cardinal Stepinac and others under the communist iron fist, one which uses humility itself to demolish souls. Returning home thereafter to people, except for my good and kindly Dad, with their "teeth set against me", after leaving that psychological-warfare-ambush not indeed morally ruined but bewildered and demoralized. For at that early time in my life I had as yet scarcely any idea of all-determining things just then happening in the Church at large, reverberations of which were being felt everywhere. Thinking—as is now ceaselessly alleged on stations like EWTN, when discussing the decade or two just after Vatican II—that bizarre goings-on among Catholics of the time was the work only of a tiny and noisy fringe.
While at St. Hugh's, I endured all the probing, all the desecrating psychoanalysis, all the gloating, overbearing sadism simply because I wanted to be as pliable as possible to whatever God wished me to do or suffer, at the hands of this insufferable bore, this Fr. Sullivan. But like most people of my age I was too young to understand the limits of human nature—this palpable pious imprudence being uncovered by St. Theresa of Avila as the chief pitfall of the fervent but untested soul—among other things failing to grasp that there really are places where "angels fear to tread", and that you cannot allow yourself to be misused beyond a certain point. All these being lessons of course that the sturdy old Catholic peasant class would have known like the backs of their hands, and probably from earliest years, but which to a callow modern youth like myself, trained to be so "meek", "humble" and abjectly "tolerant" of the Judeo-Masonic program-of-centuries, such prudence would easily have been a total or relative unknown. For meekness is only "for as long as within you lies", and by the time I left that one-time place of prayer, having been kept there by an idea of obedience which was an unforgiving caricature of the real thing, the tremendous dauntless vitality-of-soul I had so recently known seemed crushed beyond repair: a gift of the sort of which you must take consummate care, out of gratitude if nothing more. As this cleric had laid his foul hands upon things central to my very spiritual tryst with God, in a sort of daily mental ambush, much indeed as that endured by Cardinals Stepinac or Mindzenty under communist prison-interrogators and guards, whose agonies only a spiritual soul would at all understand; a dirtying which only the pure could possibly perceive. This in a morally-brutal psycho-regimen much indeed like that developed "scientifically" at Pitesti in Romania in the early 1950s, sprung there upon 1000 specially-chosen, especially-brilliant university students, summarily taken into custody for just such ends, guinea-pigs in a program aimed deliberately at the twisting and perversion of the very finest sorts of minds and souls. Thus being prepared a sort of hideous handbook on the bringing low of the virtuous and gifted, to be employed in every kind of setting scholastic, religious, occupational and official over following decades: hardly a work achievable by any disjointed fringe. At one point toward the end of my stay, in what would prove a kind of "last straw", this Jacobin cleric pulling out an ugly picture of Christ on the Cross with one big nail driven into the wood just below his genitals, in a picture which as I remember probably represented Christ-on-the-Cross as having been perfectly naked: an iron projection upon which the Sacred Body would regularly and unavoidably come to bear in breath-gasping agonies of crucifixion involved. Where did they find this guy, to put him in charge of anything there at St. Hugh's, indeed to even let him in the huge double doors? The fact is that men such as this were fast becoming stock fixtures in the "Odd New Church" of Anne Katherine Emmerich's visions, nothing new at all to saintly prophesies of a thousand years, one which was falling ever more deeply under a long-time-seer-predicted diabolical sway.
I had no idea that my treatment was in any way unique; I thought that all initiates to the monastic life there were put through some such things, as some sort of test: although when I finally did realize something was wrong, some months into the ordeal, I began to see it as incumbent upon me to try to help someone progressively come to be regarded as a pitiful wretch of a priest, of the New Age type I had found here and there in the post-council Church at home, although I had no idea how powerful they had become. Ah, here again, "rushing in where angels fear to tread", the mark of the fervent but highly-imperfect and untried soul. But the strain would prove too much after such a daily cross-examination, before, after or in the middle of daily monastic chores, easily lasting for as much as an hour or two, causing "cell time" of four or five hours at a stretch, normally fraught with Heavenly peace, as in first few months of my stay, to become by stages a sort of daily nightmare, as I struggled in the quiet seclusion to overcome a nameless morbidity, an unrenderable and unbearable sense of spiritual defilement which for the first time in my life had been inserted deep in my soul. As all the mockery, the soul-alien psychoanalysis, the faith-questioning, the innuendo began to take its profane effect, and I began to imagine myself prey to any number of defects, shortcomings, tendencies. While at this point humility takes on a whole different nature than the virile and positive, rampant and constructive thing it had begun to be, and is meant to be: being mutated, as it were, to become an implacable enemy within. Suggesting again the fathomless ordeals of Cardinal Stepinac in a Croatian-communist torture cell, out of whom pitiful self-accusatory confessions were finally wrung. This inner racking being a far cry from a felicitous humility I had hitherto aspired to realize in my life, one now displaced from a reasonable "median" wherein all true moral virtue lies. Humility having mostly been presented in the twentieth-century Catholicism I had thus-far known, in book and spiritual direction, as distinct in this respect: together with Faith, hope and love somehow held to have no bounds, especially when one is in holy religion to be found. And although there is some truth in this fathomless character of heroic or saintly humility—of which with purity one can indeed never have "enough"—yet humility requires counterbalancing by a spiritual prudence every bit as fundamental, equally unlimited in depth and scope. Lest ever virile and positive genuine humility become deadly, suicidal morbidity instead. This indispensable spiritual prudence constituting a discerning "inner eye" which if "darkened", "how dark then the darkness be".
But as intimated above as much as I was the son of indomitable Croatian-immigrant parents I was also the product of an American Catholic educational and parochial formation which for all its fife-and-drum-militant patriotism aimed to produce nothing so much as a personally-and-politically-tractable sort of mind and soul. For we U.S. Catholics had been served notice early on, starting in days of bishop John Carroll, himself of Benjamin-Franklin Vatican-arm-twisting choice, that unless we behaved like good little boys and girls—and stopped "being so Catholic"—we might be firebombed or hanged, find odd-looking crosses burning on our front lawns of a morning-time. Although by the time I came along, for most of us in places like Illinois this frustration of our deeper Catholic character was to be seen less in threatening symbols or outright hostility than in seemingly-inane object-lessons guaranteed in time to make their mark: as in endless counsels not to "take things too seriously", or in related intimations, played out in parable-like events, that there is supposedly something about a Catholic that is especially comical, as in movie-land role-models like Bing Crosby, exponentially to the degree one took after a first-generation Italian or Croatian Dad. A Catholic hilarity found in the vaudeville of a Bishop Sheen who managed to insert the most radical of false or even heretical ideas into his highly-theatrical TV sermons, wherein bolts of thundering sanctimony alternated with waves of zaniest comedy, half-hour vignettes much the rage in the 1950s among Protestants and Catholics alike, bent on glorifying, sometimes ever so subtly, not so much God as a much-vaunted, ever-militarily-insinuated "American Way". While any cleaving to such a solidly-Catholic ancestry as mine was sure to find you joining the Blacks and Mexicans in undeserved persecution and disrepute: even as a Black, let alone a Croatian, who behaved and took on the role of a perpetual comedian or fool, found doors of all kinds open wide instantly. The symbolism here being of a partial or complete surrender of human dignity and self-respect, for which capitulation from time immemorial there are always ample-if-ignominious rewards. Blacks, Mexicans and other minorities being much despised when I was a boy—and still now in subtler but as I understand much worse ways—whether embracing their subjection or rejecting it, or settling for some middle ground. Men and women by the 1830s sometimes literally hounded down—together with various also-fleeing, often-Catholic Indians—in posse-like dragnets of plantation owners in internationally-illegal forays into a then-prostrate Mexico, where their Black or mestizo quarry had sought refuge from a life degrading beyond any degree, in an American slavery worse by far than any history had hitherto seen. (cf. Foreman, Grant, Advancing the Frontier: 1830-1860. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1933; and Hubert H. Bankroft, History of the North Mexican States and Texas. San Francisco: The History Company, 1886.) All-Catholic Mexicans and largely-Indians too by the 1840s suffering manifold barbarities and cold-blooded shootings at the hands of adolescent-minded manhood-cult gun-slinging cowboys out West: they whose whole order-overthrowing mystique had been assiduously cultivated by a half-dozen or so early pre-Civil-War travelers along the Santa Fe trail, most of them undoubtedly Jews or crypto-Jews, who wrote wildly-popular accounts of their travels, published around the world. Narratives in which they lavishly and sometimes fictionally glorified this "wild-oats-sowing" breed, with incalculably dire moral consequence for Americans to come. (Cf. for instance Garrard, Lewis H., Wa-To-Yah and the Taos Trail. Palo Alto, CA: American West Publishing Company, 1968. This a vanguard written work, written in a precociously-twentieth-century-flavored adolescent pugnacity, describing trail-experiences in 1846, whose juvenile-delinquent-flavored style and format would be reproduced hundreds of times in writings over subsequent decades, roundly justifying everything from the slaughter of the tribes, to the extermination of the buffalo to the persecution of Mexicans out in the Western mountains and plains). "Cow-waddies" who still had "plenty of lead to spare" after leaving an average of one cowhand dead on every major trail drive, in point-proving co-worker gunfights along the Chisholm Trail. While for most of the cold-blooded homicides of native and of the Hispanic, so I gather from extensive readings, no adjudication was ever required. But worst of all, broad traces of hateful "exceptionalist" attitudes have survived swimmingly-well in American life to this day—being for one thing fantastically bolstered since the rise of the iron-bellied Neo-Cons during the Reagan years, and the subsequent reign of the Bush presidents—since revolutionary times with a genuinely-devout Catholic lad with Mediterranean features, unless he learned to mock this formation and "play the clown", to be met by a mind-boggling regimen both exacting and bizarre. With American pathologies of the noted mentally-brittle machismo in particular—of which he would be inevitably, and on another plane indeed happily, found wanting—being expended upon him ceaselessly, at unexpected moments, without any mercy or reprieve. And what is infinitely worse this regimen-of-abuse from both adult and child, at odd moments sometimes indeed erupting in actual physical brutality, will continue with little if any acknowledgement from parents, relatives or authority-figures of any kind. For the child would always feel as if he himself were at fault, and as this whole subject, of a genuine if insidious persecution, in an abominable sort of "dovetailing", was held to be taboo around the family table and among local notables, "off limits", to be patched over with a laugh, a quip, a "don't take things so seriously", and so on.
But the lesson in St. Hugh's for me was that no matter how talented, advanced or perceptive we are we nonetheless remain always human and vulnerable, that our strength is based both on God and on a host of contingent things, indeed upon the biblically-acknowledged human infirmity itself, and notably upon people who uphold us in ways of which, unless we are already saints, we are seldom fully aware. Also learned, if over the course of further years, was that life isn't meant to be either an unbroken triumphal progress, a standup comedy-act, or a bleak act-of-despair, but is rather a series of episodes which leave their marks upon us like the blow of a hammer on heated copper or brass: forming our character, arbitrating for us Heaven or Hell. If we remain alike malleable and faithful, keeping our integrity, patiently permitting life's joys and sorrow to mold our character in positive ways, managing somehow to keep at least some trace of a genuine sense-of-humor as well, then salvation will be ours. While if on the contrary we surrender completely to the hammer's blows, accepting any weird or unnatural shape that the infernal blacksmith, let loose upon us of necessity by a metal-testing God, might wish, descending without any resistance into morbid self-pity or craven, honor-less comedy, or unrestrained sin, then all is lost. But returning to St. Hugh's: there I was in a place with a number of saintly souls within, ensconced in lovely forests in a mild-mannered and cultivated country to which I remain undyingly attached, its truly-virile people themselves the victim of an epic bout of Revolutionary-War-related character-assassination which continues to this very day, yet myself unable by then to profit by any of it.
Plainly, this kind of guy "needs a rest", after eighteen months in Vietnam combat and a seven-months stay in such grueling circumstances as these: a veritable eternity. But rest was the last thing I was to find back at home, in a USA where everyone is mortally afraid of anything like inner agony, a quantity which inhibits your ability to be a "go-getter", which latter generally has a whole lot more to do with clowning or boot-licking than with work, this thoughtful quality a less-happy thing accepted as a fruitful part of life among people on the other side of the pond, a "condition" to which Yanks must rather attach the most fatal interpretations. Any significant amount of soul-searching not fitting neatly with a two-dimensional mentality which feeds so well into Wall Street earnings, with the whole Puritan-and-Huguenot-cultivated idea of American life being uncovered as revolution not only against all fatherly authority, "all of which comes from God", but against a certain fundamental good order itself. The American settler obsessed with a "noble experiment" to pan-out as "proof in the pudding" that the pious, orderly, obedient Catholic Way left behind in the Old Country was milk-toast, unmanly, craven, supine, a mere "hocus-pocus" to be shown up in vaunted material achievements unsurpassed, for which oceans of human blood would be spilt and mountains of folly performed. This kind of democracy, with little in common attitudinally with ancient Greece or Rome, having a kinship with Satanism which is impossible to wisely ignore. In a pan-institutional spiritual-and-political revolution, just as in Cromwell's Ireland, imposed by implacable "fire and sword" both at home and overseas: there being no borders for American "liberty-loving" force-of-arms. All this "heroism" vaguely recalling the spoilt child who stands up to his father, his chin jutting forward, enduring without a flinch the peach-tree-limb or broad-leather belt, as if doing some heroic deed for mom. This notorious Oedipus-complex breeding-ground for every pathology known to man being imposed in an especially radical way upon immigrant Catholics of every kind, so that inevitably Mom and siblings at home would consider me censoriously as someone vaguely disloyal, who had to be "uncovered", having opted for the old pious persona I had seen everywhere in Europe, even at so late a date. Especially after having left home in such haste, stayed away for just over a year, begun to behave in a way that suggested medieval Croatia rather than space-flight USA. Having in all respects too, as I gather, been associated with my Dad, against whom since days of a ceaselessly-eulogized, undyingly hostile maternal grandmother, whom I had never really known, cruel animosities had perpetually been stoked. Among children to whom, in his continual heavy, sometimes dangerous labors he had long been so arduously devoted, remaining still quietly despised there in a final family home he himself had built at the young age of 70, while I was away at war, himself still as youthful as a man of 40 year old.
But there were other factors involved in the utter inability I experienced just then in mid-1970 in trying to reenter American society in necessary ways, having in a sense "been away" for four years, whether in the military overseas or in Europe, only vaguely being aware of the radical changes that had taken place, in religion, in social relations: earth-rocking realities ignorance-of-which would be paid out in painful ways. The sole hiatus in my lengthy absence being the noted spring semester of 1969, of my 3-month-early ETS or release-from-service to attend college, the spring of my moral conversion of that year. For in the military, entered in April of 1966, even state-side, one was cushioned to a degree from the otherwise-devastating impact of tsunami-like changes being wrought on life-as-a-whole back then, a soldier not really partaking in the culture around him that deeply, unless he makes sizeable efforts to do so, with cunning and remorseless agents-of-change in particular not being able to wreak their will upon you quite so thoroughly, as all that subterranean skullduggery takes some amount of time. Military life being a sort of womb-like existence-all-its-own—something I positively loved, and which indeed I almost decided to make into a career—as there can be little thereafter to equal the camaraderie of an airmobile "first of the ninth", to which as a non-elite artillery forward observer or "recon sergeant" I had been so gratefully permitted to be "attached". This storied "best of the best" forming a veritable ecosystem of its own, suspended within a wider domestic life from which of course eighteen months of combat separates you entirely. (Little did I realize back then how unjustified was a foreign policy which disingenuously worried us into involvement in Vietnam, alternatives-to-which were numerous indeed. The whole imbroglio, as in the whole "nutshell" of American adventures of centuries, being fed into by above-noted fantasies, bolstered, "expedited" by nefarious false-flag operations of every stripe.) Even as the next year overseas was spent first in pilgrimage at Marian shrines in Europe, then for a term at college at Maynooth in Ireland, where I had some thought of training to become a priest, and finally the seven months in a hermitage as detailed above.
Hence upon my arrival at home, shaken and confused, I was confronted with unfathomable things, with a whole different kind of America than I had effectively left four years before. The USA just then in mid-1970 being just then in first "in your face" manifestations of a "let it all hang out" hippy culture, soon to become the "keep on truckin'" or "get otta my way" hippy-biker culture, followed by "long haired country-boy" voyages for a host of people—if decidedly not for me—into drug-induced parts unknown. While "The Family" would pass grim adjudications on this relative-youth of twenty-four, trying earnestly to get a grasp on things: as what the spiritual man experiences or enjoys goes utterly unregistered in the seismology of the shallow or spiritual-topographical confined, being known only at deepest levels where the magma of divine love heaves or ebbs away, leaving even the soul itself mostly unaware of what has actually taken place. Commencing, in short, as little as I then knew, was a mystical dark night of the soul, potentially involving a rich spiritual harvest yet-untold. But we aren't after all pure spirits or angels, our body/soul composite requiring a segregation away from vulgar things, if we would hearken to this "soft breeze at the mouth of the cave": a sequestering few of us were allowed in those fateful decades detailed here. While strikingly prophetic of consequences of these contaminations in the contemplative soul is the rueful caveat once found in a booklet describing a certain contemplative order: namely that if a soul thus gifted isn't allowed to pursue this interior lodestar they will be prone to fatal shipwreck, to a loss of sight of bearing-stars that it is given for only them to see.
More travels and searching trials.
Accordingly, then, back in July of 1970, did I come back home to an American life captive to a paradigmatic fervently, fanatically believed-in, with all ideas or relationships built upon this maniacal principles, in the words of one pop-song of "people in motion": but more actually like shells from a massive artillery piece, each speeding off to its heroic ultimate demise. While anyone in a family or circle who doesn't quite "measure up" to this fantastic and suicidal barrage is regarded as sadly maladjusted, someone to be given certain object-lessons, any hesitation in the wholehearted embrace of which is considered a black treason of some kind. At the very head of the rushing caravan of coaches—to use the image of a train—being a brace of "engineers"—economists, industrialists, technicians, philosophers, financiers—who now-and-again come up with some "new vision" of a "new direction" the train must take—ahead of which however track has scarcely yet been laid—and sheer folly and bankruptcy is the inevitable result. Hence there was really no home anymore, in the old and familiar sense, but a kind of station-platform open to public view, when back in my native town, while in society at large the sense-of-peace that used to fill the streets in Joliet, where my parents lived and where I was born in 1946, the "city of steeples", where the angelus bells had once tolled in twenty churches as a foretaste of Heaven itself: the heart of it all had been burned away, even if a few near or distant church-bells still stubbornly rang. Suffice it to say that I got work back at the steel mill where my Dad had retired, but I really had only one thing to throw myself into: namely a prayer I had written, which had gotten a certain amount of good reception in Fatima, Portugal, where the Christmas before, just before entering the hermitage, I had dropped it off to John Haffert and this Canon Galamba, as I remember his name, from Portuguese Africa: both of them dignitaries in the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima of the time. So I found an excuse to leave again for Europe, with translations of the prayer, ultimately in twelve languages, soon to be newly obtained overseas: again in temporary-secret departure, since Mom was even more hoveringly "concerned" about me than before, and of course the whole clan looked upon me as a sort of brooding madman, for not being so "wired up" and "wired in" as everyone else there at home. And I sincerely feared their decisive interference in anything meaningful at all that I might do. The occasion of my departure was the marriage of one of the guys from Croatia whom my Dad had been so kind as to sponsor for American citizenship: a Tony Abrams, an orphan from a Croatian (then Yugoslav-run) orphanage: a smiling, wistful sort of guy who by then was a seaman on a cruise or cargo ship of some kind. Indeed, I was to find his new father-in-law to be an exceptionally congenial soul, himself with his sacred statuary out in his yard, sad over the turn things had taken in the Church, if not, perhaps more hemmed in by circumstances, quite so adamant in his refusal to "go along" as was I.
Certainly, I must ultimately have been careful to inform my parents of my intentions to embark to Europe, at least by way of a postcard some days later from New York, but I don't really remember how this matter went: and again and as noted above there was at least one person at home whom subsequent events would prove entirely capable of intercepting such a missive and throwing it in the trash. But if I was indeed remiss on this point to any degree then it was a cruel act of neglect for which I am sorry, and anything I say in my defense isn't at all meant to absolve me from such insensitivity: events of the prior years and more having indeed rendered my life a welter of extremes, some no doubt blameworthy, some less-so, in a sort of see-sawing which was doomed to continue for years, and gravely affect first crucial events of married life as well. I was like a man drowning, flailing his arms to escape somehow a life rushing forward with its whole meaning suddenly gone. There being this "pearl of great price" which I had lost, the contemplative life, and like the householder in the Gospel I was willing to "sell all I had" joyfully to regain it: every tie, every affection, life itself, and I was to prove within this context quite insensitive to the needs of others for quite some time. Yet in my defense I must say at least this much: that the atmosphere back at home and everywhere in the post-Vatican-II Church was like an armed camp, the statue-smashing, banner-fluttering "love, love" crew who had taken over without real contest, so indulgent to everyone else, turning their pikes and halberds implacably against anyone with any such desires as mine, regarded as either criminally out of step or mentally ill. Hence a sort of underlying theme of defiance, of desperation, to run through this chapter of my life, in a sea of confusion experienced by no small number of other Catholics of the times. The sorts of heartfelt reactions, again, which the spiritually lukewarm or uninitiated can never understand, having no experience of profundities involved, having no knowledge of the inner dereliction to which the soul can be brought in desperately "searching the streets of the city" for the bridegroom of the Canticle to no avail.
There in New York City where Tony lived I tried for a short while to "make a go of it", answering an employment-referral to a construction company somewhere downtown, and the owner really liked me. Yet there plagued me, in the interview, for the extremely-good job of an expediter—in view of my previous construction experience, building a whole new house with my Dad, as well as helping my sister Mary Ann and her husband Jerry Taylor to finish their ranch-style house next door, on a lot from out of my parent's farm-land—there came across a lack of confidence, a lack of a certain spark which is expected to light a young man's eyes. I was just too upset and confused inside to make much of a first impression, and so the job never actually materialized. As for one thing there were lots of guys just then "beating the street" looking for work, and this good (Italian as I remember) contractor would have no problem finding someone with building-trade skills.
But one thing I did do that spring in the Big Apple was to go to the all-night vigils at a local Catholic Church, where I met up with the whole body of the then-existing Garabandal Movement, headed by a lady named Maria Soracco. This was a fervent little band, numbering no more than a dozen at its core, and "Joey" Lomangino hadn't yet "taken over" as he was destined to do, nor the seers themselves moved here from Spain, married, and adopted a rather conventional sort of life and point-of-view. Today in Garabandal digital circles one hears nothing of that old group, they who remain ever somewhere in my heart and soul, having not only proven loyal children of Our Blessed Lady but warm-hearted friends to me, no doubt helping me save my mind, startling new apparition that I myself was to them. But at last I realized that I had to go to Europe again after all, in completion of the work on this prayer I had composed at least a year before. To wit: a consecration to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Offertory of the Mass, invocations woven into the whole sequence of the Offertory Prayers themselves, having found a way to adapt them to same in the New Mass as well, when it finally appear a few months later, while I was at the Divine Word hospice in Maynooth, Ireland. Prayers for whose printing I somehow obtained "ecclesiastical permission" from the Archdiocese of New York, dated on May 4, 1971, during that very stay in the big city, lodging in a hotel somewhere around the Franciscan monastery downtown, a place that especially catered to immigrants from Eastern Europe, with whom indeed I blended extremely well. Actually, for all the Vatican II hoopla then gaining steam, the monsignor or priest with whom I met at the Cathedral had seemed quite taken with my prayers, and seemed to share with me a recollected spirit which seemed to embrace us both at that moment, before sending the writing up to the diocesan seminary for theological examination.
The Europe I found in '71, after the seven or eight months that I had been gone, during which the New Mass of Paul VI and Bugnini had been imposed (quote Paul: "maybe this will wake them up in their pews") had been totally transformed morally, spiritually and in most other ways as well. What you could see, if only you had supernatural "eyes with which to see", was that in most cases grace was no longer being imparted at this new and invalid version of Holy Mass: producing this dreadful transformation in cities, villages and souls: although at the time such a bottomless lack of the very Body and Blood of Christ was an unknown to me and almost everyone else, even if we could sense that something was missing indeed. This mammoth change, from an oceanic profundity-of-spirit to an air of jaded triviality that met you everywhere in the Old Country, now as much as in the New, becoming the commonplace "new normal": evident in blank or hysterical faces which once had known profound peace, the empty and over-excited words, the restless activity without a meaning at its core. These chaotic elements now having completely supplanted a one-time rock-like personal-interior and societal stability, an universal Catholic "peace which the world cannot give", such as the European once so uniquely bore about himself. While a certain sort of fervor experienced by some New Ordo souls in the reception of what they invariably call by the more-exotic expression the Holy Eucharist—the old and far-more-common traditional term Holy Communion, or the yet-more-beloved "the Blessed Sacrament", being utterly abandoned since Vatican II—almost certainly greets no Sacred Species at all: despite all the excited, prolix, but strangely fervor-less commentaries of EWTN's Scott Hahn. He only one of a bevy of converts who have gained control of that globally-influential station, although Mother Angelica herself, the originator of this media initiative, had harbored a similar spirit from the very start. The big-bucks station “killing many birds with one stone”, being among other things a perfectly-non-critical auxiliary to aggressive American foreign policy, coming to exert an insurmountable influence on a post-Vatican-II American church, and increasingly on the Church worldwide as well. This new breed of "leading Catholics" plies an incredibly sophisticated deception: although somehow vaguely attempting to accommodate a sort of “tradition” within their approach—like sewing an old and threadbare patch on new clothing—even featuring certain highly-dramatized and emotionalized versions of the rosary, the stations of the cross, and some few other traditional devotions—nonetheless promoting a view of the Church which in all important practical terms would regard in the most dismissive way nearly two thousand years of Catholic discipline and practice, and ill-admittedly but much like the Reformers cleave to an Early Church at whose primitive doorstep alone is Revelation or any sort of divine inspiration actually held to lay. Indeed, so obsessed with this signature-Protestant if artfully-disguised “mission” are the folks at the station that saints are flagrantly misquoted, in one case rendering the exact opposite of what St. Augustine meant to say: all this in order no doubt to “update” everything according to the live-wire “spirit of Vatican II”. This archaism or hearkening back—so that thereafter things might be “reformed” out of any recognition—being the inevitable mainstay of heretics since Tertullian, the whole clever methodology showing little more than condescension or even breezy disregard for Catholic trials and crosses intermediate in time. Here in the station being a handy factotum for interlopers and liars, as so little is actually known about that first century of the Church's life, while the living and actual Holy Mother Church, much like one’s own trial-beset earthly parents, is so easily slandered by the ungrateful child. So that given a little imagination we can mold the Apostolic Age—holy indeed, but full of full-blown scandals though itself self-admittedly was—into almost any fantastically “spirit filled” form we might wish. A false apparition whose emergence is allegedly only to be had with a lot of swaying, hugging, hand-holding, Vatican “love, love, love”, and emotional display. In fanciful modifications for this new breed mostly designed to take away anything "too Catholic" for sensitivities of New Agers, Protestants and Jews.
This EWTN view of the Early Church does indeed extend past the Reformer-preferred Apostolic Age by some few centuries, to include much or all of the Patristic Era, about which we know only slightly more than the one before, these first Christian centuries held to be the infinitely-preferable replacement for the remaining fifteen-hundred years or more of Catholic teaching and life: although Christ Himself spoke of no such intermediary hiatus-of-grace, while rather in high significance speaking at length about one such mortal calamity to come in our own very latter age, when all these high-handed infiltrators were to take charge. The age-old Catholicism of hard-won triumphs and lengthy trials, of a magisterially-developed Catholic theology: all this is downplayed and virtually dismissed by the station and its ubiquitous ilk, held no doubt to be too demanding and inconvenient for a “busy workaday world”, seldom held to deserve more than a mildly-amused pat on the head. As noted above, how well these New Churchmen would fit in with age-old remorseless enemies of the Church, mouthing their deadly stock-in-trade at every turn! Little appreciating the mysterious contrapuntal of the centuries, of God working directly and exhaustively with both lay and ecclesiastical society through the anno domino ages, producing a woven fabric of the most ineffable, mercifully-applicable kind, involving some fanfare, but often in humble liniments of an almost pedestrian kind. By contrast everything after Vatican II had to be theatrical, revolutionary, had to evoke the carrying of some sort of tumult-breeding progressive firebrand: capsulating not by accident and in a nutshell the Jewish futuristic messianism by which a seer-predicted "Odd New Church" is today completely enthralled. Innumerable heretically-charged sanitary ablutions most especially disregarding with smiling, masonic-flavored contempt those "hard sayings" of a high-medieval Hildebrand or a Boniface VIII, on relations between church and state: New Church eagerly-if-ignominiously capitulating to the secular realm in that interminable controversy often termed Lay Investiture—basically an all-points state overshadowing of the church—a dire conflict which has gone on since Constantine. The Church's age-old position, found in formally proclaimed dogmatic form in Unam Sanctam of around 1301—a document having essentially to do with Church (essentially moral) jurisdiction over all secular as well as ecclesiastical affairs—being formally rejected in "Saint" Paul VI's arch-heretical Declaration on Religious Liberty of 1974. That masterfully-deceptive handbook of fatal Catholic de-contextualization which directly opened up the floodgates of evil and perversion which now cover the earth, removing the last practical barrier to this mudslide as found in that dogmatic Church influence over the formation of law and culture which Boniface and St. Thomas Aquinas had so ably defined.
But returning to the Blessed Sacrament: a palpable spiritual comfort is indeed today imparted to many by its invalid reception—more properly termed a non-reception—this being a Heavenly concession predicted in saintly prophesies regarding this self-same sacramental void: "solace in the midst of woe" being thus discoverable even in a travesty so foul, part of a New Church rebellion against-whose-advent seers of the ages and popes of the nineteenth century had constantly warned. While in this concession of a kind of joy and peace a divine clemency is revealed, of a God Who wishes at so dark an hour to yet sustain a sense of His loving presence, among those ignorant but of good will. Of course, on the other hand, scarcely can those who understand what is happening be excused for the reception and/or adoration of what is undoubtedly only bread: while even if there does indeed remain in some cases a degree of uncertainty about the matter, reception is still proscribed: as the Church has always wisely ruled that a certain moral certainty of the Real Presence must obtain before we can receive. New Church thus undoubtedly possessing today—for all its voluble "Eucharistic" fanfare, an impressive cover indeed for many-a sin—an abiding not really of Christ's own very living Body and Blood, but rather a presence of a whole different and lesser, yet at times extremely comforting, order-of-its-own. This lack of actual sacramental reception being indeed precisely as predicted for this latter-day era by Venerable Anne Katherine Emmerich, quoted frequently on our website to be found at louisdejolietpublishing.com. A time when noted papal admonitions and communications of saintly seers and stigmatists is mocked without pause, visions of Emmerich, of Fatima or La Salette commonly intoned with a sing-song wagging of the head, as if mere children's or "old women's" fare.
Hence in the new Europe, the new Vatican, when I distributed my little Offertory-companion prayer, of which for the past forty-three years I haven't a single copy left, in an interval like a journey over a war-zone in so many respects, I was back then met with blustering hostility by one of the Vatican officials out at the entrance to St. Peter's Plaza. Having just then or the day before left a stack of the attractive little cards, printed up by some marvelously helpful and kindly Italian nuns, atop the tombs of the popes. Me and this bishop, as I remember him being, communicated in a combination of Latin and English, German and Italian—the latter on my part being a sort of phonetic guessing-game at best—getting along tolerably well, myself insisting with holy passion on the centrality of Mary to the Church, at Holy Mass. That role namely which my own little offertory prayer was so focused upon. She being immemorially acknowledged as the Church's model and prototypical priest, the spotless, all-worthy offerant of the spotless propitiatory Victim, her very own Divine Son: a long-traditionally-accepted characterization which this prelate objected strenuously to, repeating over and over again that Our Blessed Lady's place in the Church was merely "lateral" (a term our common rough-and-ready Latinized language supplied). But despite these controversies with high dignitaries, this was a rare happy time in a life abysmally confused and unhappy for the previous year, and to be thus mostly for years to come: a traversing of Rome during which I was inwardly directed to churches of whose existence I hadn't a clue, in each of whose vestibules I left a little stack-of-prayer-cards, about 3 by 5 inches each, of a lovely semi-gloss paper. All ten thousand of them provided by these publisher-nuns for free, taking crucial time out of their production timetable just for me, who had an airplane departure soon to meet. Austerely-comforting little prayer-cards, finally, which I then sent to monastic houses around the world, with my "ecclesiastical permission" duly stamped at the bottom of the back of each, with the date 5/4/71. The nuns were quite astonished that I called myself Luigi. Their kindly innocence, their smiling but recollected souls, with their rolled-up sleeves-of-habits and ink-stained hands, was like visiting a garden of lilies the like-of-which I would not see again to this very day.
I think back to those times which were so seminal to my entire life, and I care nothing at all what are the consequences of these revelations: for these relatives of mine—half of them now deceased—together with encompassing alien contaminations of Vatican II/New World Order crew—have taken every possible good thing from me, except my Catholic Faith and my good and pious wife. If they can again chase me down and lock me up, claiming that I am some sort of dangerous lunatic for saying these heartfelt things, then I will stand by my Savior before today's once-again-sodomite Herod's court just as did He, and thank Him for the privilege.
Returning to the USA, I was a subject of scrutiny indeed by these ever-hovering "for your own good" siblings, and one of them, the noted special-ops veteran, attached himself to me in the most adhesive sort of way, feigning friendship, even indeed going with me to devotional exercises with which the diocese of Joliet back then was so full, frightening pious souls now-and-again with stark flashes of his legendary startlingly-grim face. For which unsettling countenance he claimed with obvious satisfaction to be called by the nickname "Black" on his high-dollar construction job. This brother attending the monthly all-night reparatory vigils such as I had likewise frequented diligently almost a year before, when together with the good Guido Delrose I sometimes indeed led some of the prayers or songs from the pulpit. That magnificent, indeed sometimes-rapturous interlude of the Spring of 1969, just before Bugnini's vulgarization of Holy Mass, when I was able to throw myself into something good, holy, pure, after years of lost moorings: a time when I was also the baritone soloist for the parish choir. Back then before the entire liturgy had been gutted in favor of rock-music, over-emotional schmaltz or African-tribal concoctions like Kum Bai Ya, swaying-and-hand-holding melodies which actually aroused an envious fury among competing tribes in Africa itself: as I was to learn from a pious Irish missioner-turned-hermit at the above-noted retreat at the hermitage outside Steubenville. He who seemed to have fled to that prayerful shelter to hide from the horrors of what was happening to his beloved mission field, in an invasion of monstrous things which Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre of the at-that-time proverbially peaceful Archdiocese of Dakar would himself come to volubly lament. All this magnificent fabric-of-memories having taken place during that grace-fruitful period when the Diocese of Joliet was being solemnly consecrated to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, according to revelations of the victim-soul/seer Berthe Petit of Belgium, and as inaugurated in prior decades by Cardinals Bourne and Mercier of England and Belgium respectively, episcopal confidants that they were to this laywoman of the early-to-mid twentieth century. She whose parish in Brussels, where so many of her raptures and prodigies took place, I was privileged to visit on that first European pilgrimage of mine, where I too was showered with blessings if not wonders of so signal a kind.
But returning to escapades of this sinister brother: he would tag along to meetings of the Legion of Mary with me: with the prime purpose as later emerged of being an "objective witness" of lunacies of every kind. While most important of all to his plans were lengthy discussions about the steadily marching "legalization" of abortion, baring my heart to him as I did, to a glib guy who had completely won my trust by then. This credulity marking me out truly, if only by one sole standard, as a child of God, as I proved repeatedly and often-enough catastrophically to not at all be "wise in the ways of this world". Hence as more and more state courts and legislatures sanctioned murder in the womb, I became transfixed by an interior argument that ran thus: Were I to see a woman being raped or attacked in some way on a street-corner I would be morally obliged to come to her aid: which indeed a few times I have in some sense done. Hence all the more am I morally obliged to stop murderous abortion if I possibly can. Men thus sane, just and aware being constituted a sort of posse comitatus, whether with others or alone: a citizen doing a citizen's arrest of a rough-and-ready kind. As the courts had plainly been taken over, together with an increasingly brainwashing media, by a subversive cabal, scarcely one or two percent of the citizenry. One clearly identified by that Birch Society to which this brother had once—and perhaps still then—belonged. Both of us being combat-trained veterans, there was a certain cryptic camaraderie that seemed to have developed, full of symbolic tokens of confederacy of every kind. Finally I found myself in the position of discussing possible battle-plans, drawn up on a sheet which I may also have shared with another brother, now deceased, as well. However, that's as far as it ever went, and after some soul-searching I resolutely changed my mind.
Yet I had "stuck my foot in the bear-trap", this snare prepared for this "madman" who went on pilgrimages overseas. Alas, I wasn't even allowed to change my mind: no, I was to be grimly taken at my word, in a project which had been entirely tentative from first to last. Within a few days after informing this Judas brother of my change-of-mind he showed up with the whole crew, the ringleaders of my repeated demise, this little all-controlling family clique—the noted sort of "gang of five"—who descended on my parent's house where I lived and demanded that I go with them to the psychiatric ward of the local hospital. This grim association, this Orwellian Big Brotherhood, resembling for all the world a frowning team of undertakers, I meekly acceded to, as I had perfect trust in God, and a desire to submit myself to any indignity if it could help to atone for my own many past sins. And indeed the staff at the VA hospital where I eventually went didn't find me to be mentally ill at all—a condition I was never by any court or doctor in all these complex maneuvers to be branded-with—although Mr. Black has ever afterward insisted that he was given cryptic personal warnings by the VA doctor in charge of my case that I "must be watched carefully". This penchant for receiving secret instructions, or carrying confidential information about me to other people, being a phenomenon I would meet with in this brother for a very long time to come.
After that, I went out to Arizona for the first time in my life, now having just turned the age of 26, where my sister Diane, I won't say "invited", but rather gave me permission to come. But it was to be a magnificent time in many ways. I got a job with Bechtel, which was just then building Pinto Valley Project, a new copper mine, where I worked on a surveying crew for the "pioneer work"—standard "rod-man" tasks of brush-cutting, assisting the engineers in various ways—found out in rueful encounters how rattlesnakes love to lay out in the morning cool, blending in well with surrounding cacti and sage, palo verde and mesquite, discovered the feel of cholla and barrel-cactus finding a way to bury their spines in your skin. But other than that, it was a good time in my life, in the magnificent desert scenery, in the midst of which charms and happy distractions I met my future wife, the owner of a café in Miami, AZ: nearest neighboring town to the job. A good, kind and lovely woman, slandered like me, a widow and the mother of three wonderful children, we spent hour after hour simply talking, going over events of two lifetimes, tokens-of-affection no more than a peck on the cheek, going to the weekly square-dance at the YMCA where I was by then staying, just up the street from her café, from whence I took her quality meatloaf or some other lunch-fare to work everyday. But what was to be the alarm over such a development! Over the life of a pilgrimage-taking guy whom courts or teams-of-psychiatrists refused to certify as in any way deranged, but whom this goose-stepping family of quasi-Catholic and fallen-away-Catholic overseers was going to wrestle down to complete, permission-seeking submission over every detail of his young life. Hence did the ex Green-Beret-in-training come jetting out, this time with forged diocesan papers, no less, claiming that any marriage I attempted to contract would be "null and void". But the good Father Reinweiler at Holy Angels Church in Globe wasn't at all fooled by the grim-faced "Reverend Mr. Black": the ceremony was delayed for only a week while I was given yet-another sanity-test by the county counselor, who gave me a perfectly free pass to do as I pleased.
Married life, Raising kids
In the vale-of-tears of post Vatican II.
Ultimately, I was to visit at least twelve contemplative monasteries or hermitages before I finally gave up, and decided upon married life if I was ever to know any happiness at all, in the numbingly-lonely if wildly-giddy wasteland of post-Vatican-II. Having stayed for a week or a month or three in some of these places, with each new religious house to which I went more mentally or spiritually unhinged than the one before. This with the notable exception of the Comoldolese of Frascati, just outside Rome, of whom I know nothing now, but whose fine and kindly American superior of the times thought I was far too troubled of a soul to admit at the time. All this was el trabajo de Vatican II: but I myself was to keep full confidence in everything and everyone but myself for years, as I met with rebuttals, round rebukes, in one case an angry lunge by one burly monk only inches away from being a jailable case of battery as well. I just couldn't see how all the new "holding hands out in the forest" idea of monasticism could possibly be from God, the new "love, love, love" that threw "out the open window of Vatican II", hurled into unceremonious disrepute sober things passed down from monastic forefathers of old. The monasteries and convents, suffice it to say, emptied out in a mere matter of ten years, or at most fifteen: venerable old houses like the Abbey of Our Lady of New Melleray in Iowa, one-time-home to the saintly Irish Brother Joachim of popular mid-western veneration—where I used to take retreats as a young man: this holy place became a simple retirement home mostly for those few old monks who could no longer leave. Whether or not the new La Crosse playing set has refilled the beloved place on the rolling prehistoric hills is anyone's guess, but you can be sure it will be a spiffy arrangement indeed. Hence was the new irruption of a veritable hippydom in monastic or parochial garb to continue without a brake in the Catholic world until the appearance on the podium of media-prominence of such seemingly unrelated factors and actors as Ronald Reagan, Mother Angelica and first beginnings of an also-halcyon "War on Terror". For it is generally only a momentary aim of the fiend to introduce heterodox or heretical movements that are formless, undisciplined and permissive, full of overflowing sentiments of every shape and size: his more lasting desire being rather to establish overbearing and implacable instruments of rigor and reprisal, interspersed with a kind of loud or trite, tasteless or sarcastic humor without any peace. All this being much more according to his own infernal method and personality, which spends some short time lulling souls to sleep with intoxicating pleasures and distracting excitements but generally a great deal longer in weary decades of shame, condemnation and despair. Thus then the regimen placed before the Catholic soul over the past nearly sixty years: first the wild and serendipity of the post-council years, then the sudden cooling of ardors, the curt refusals of welcome to Catholic parochial life—now become something you almost have to fill out an application for—in parishes which were once the universally-recognized refuge of the poor and the wayfarer, magnets for the lost, friendless and confused, now taken over entirely by wealthier classes of a whole new condescending sort. (The wholesale sodomy which basically the same class brought to the Church in synagogue-piloted seminary and other infiltrations—set with strategic precision to cost parishes a cumulative hundreds-of-millions in damages—having likewise gravitated toward a "generous" collection-basket requirement which effectively bars the old laborer from any Marcus-Grodi "Welcome Home".) This whole new subculture of scarcely-closeted sodomites—rich or poor, in this case it mattered not at all—steadily gained prominence in parish life as well, being meekly surrendered ownership of the whole Franciscan trademark, of those allegedly detached from this world. Gushy and effeminate popinjays wearing big crosses on their chests, never far away from some overbearing boor who is their current morbidly-humorless, heavy-handed partners-in-crime. On the "Global Catholic Network" with Raymond Arroyo embarrassing a host of studio guests with his brazen, hand-flourishing repartee. (Note: lots of sodomites have lots of kids). This same Mother-Angelica-dotted-over original staff-member turning his partner-anchor shades-of-purple during recent "papal elections", bantering out of the blue "I guess your wife is jealous of me now". The older and distinguished interviewer, the recipient of this abominable communication, never being seen on the show again. All these strange, scandal-mongering passengers on a newly-"conservative" spaceship-like Odd New Church allegedly rescuing the Faith from one-time-ubiquitous "liberals": but judging by the flagship-upper-middle-class-Catholic EWTN's startling espousal of every crackpot new charismatic idea—and its exquisitely-placed heretically-loaded misquoting of key phrases of saints like Augustine—all this cheek-to-jowl with solemnly-intoned Latin hymns—we must conclude that the liberalism the churchly-neo-conservative New Church execrates is more accurately termed liberality. The New Catholicism being filled with a deafening and unearthly silence about the plight of the American poor, even if Scrooge-like visages give way—for "merciful" comic relief sake, if nothing more—to old-guard hippydom as aired in antics of Francis I. With comic kernels of apostasy being planted as well with noxious seeds in youthful watchers of generation-gap-perpetuating catechism-lesson cartoons. Although grim or comical faces give way to "compassionate embraces" for an "up and coming" Latin American job-commandeering crowd, they whom Catholic Charities is bent on housing and educating at all costs, while White and other Americans are anonymously thrown out in the heat or cold. This Wall-Street-contrived "emergency on our borders" having been quietly condoned by our Bishop's Conference from day one: a carefully-constructed path dependency being involved whereby many Latinos accept slave-rate wages, evince standard-alien uncritical political opinions, display long-time PRI-apprenticed doughty groupie-conformisms and liberal-Catholic moral modes—"It's just their culture"—which New Church and corporate America together love so well. While of course too there's lots of rich New Church Catholic folks of the jet-set or TV-studio crowd nowadays heading off on global excursions to feed the hungry or clothe the naked in Africa or Nepal, while also stirring up lots of Tea-Party-incendiary, Bush-era feelings where Muslims and Christians had lived together peacefully for fourteen hundred years. Prestigious jaunts which can no doubt, as it falls out, find ways to fit neatly into a flag-waving corporate resume as well.
Odd indeed was to be the new life laid out for me as well, having had my standing in front of my stepchildren undermined by all the drama over my fitness to do anything at all. The first thing you saw about the kids was how much they were and had been loved: this being a quality which is evident almost instantly when it is present, this being loved. Gracing its possessor—of this greatest treasure of all—with a kind of easiness of bearing which all three exhibited, a quickness to smile or laugh, a natural gracefulness. The boy, Frederick, was an exceedingly good lad, a perfect mirror of the generous personality of his mother, being thirteen just then: however he had received a brain-injury during natal delivery by an intern at the hospital where he had been born, and so he had to go to special education classes. The way in which he was injured, a matter of gross negligence, is somewhat like the present-day VA scandal extremely difficult to formally substantiate, involving the sort of indictments over which doctors and hospitals tend to run laborious cover for one another. So although the incident remains unrecorded, and was in fact bald-facedly denied by her family doctor—who said that "he himself" made the delivery "without incident"—Joann obviously saw and experienced what she saw and experienced, wrought upon her own racked body and that of the child she bore. Namely her own doctor's late arrival, the fact that the intern had prior to that instructed orderlies to set her down on the metal examination table—to her loud cries of agonized protest—her entire weight coming down crushingly upon the baby's already-protruding head beneath, being already partially born, a fact she had been screaming for quite some time. The plain fact of this intern's callous, indeed criminal oblivion, perhaps even attempted homicide—no doubt on some sort of hippy-age wonder-dope—being something which no amount of solemn doctorly statements can ever change, of which there were to follow the usual barrage
as are typically so airily noised in such callous affairs. (This vindictive, sanctimonious covering-over of medical or "therapeutic" abuse being a subject about which Joann and I, because of certain shared occupational and volunteer connections, could write a hefty book). I spend some time on this here because later many allegations would be made against Joann, about her being biologically, genetically guaranteed to have a brain injury in every male child that she ever bore. Thus has the good woman lived out her life, with crosses of the most heavy kind joined to slanders and misrepresentations from all sides.
We could have purchased a ten-acre ranch when we first got married, and Freddy would have had a marvelous place to run and play, something he needed badly, more indeed than we realized: but there intervened decisively the matter of the parochial education of the two good and thriving girls. Young ladies who were quite willing to practice modesty of dress: something utterly unheard-of among youthful and not-so-youthful ultra-miniskirt-wearers back then, and this before the girls had even become Catholics, as had their mother on the day of our marriage. Our placement of a modestly-clad Evelyn and Ellen at Holy Angels School, in Globe, AZ, back then in the fall of 1972, being met by the bulk of the student body with incessant cat-calls, forms-of-address as if to some sort of aliens from outer space, interspersed inimitably by notorious deadly looks of drug-abusing schoolyard cholos, of which there were already some number there, in so early a year. Globe just then being on the infamous Mexican "drug route" into the USA, its institutions just then being honeycombed by pushers and other operatives of the drug-mob, some of them indeed at an extremely high level of political and other power. All of which we were to find out from certain tragedy-stricken, morally-embattled parents of the times, as well as in rueful encounters later on. But when we went to talk to the principal, another of the school's "pious Irish nuns", we were given the shortest shrift of our lives: being informed after about two minutes of conversation that "if we didn't like it we could leave and take our girls with us". Hence goodbye to the lovely ranch, on historic western ranch-land, and as it turned out, not long afterward, goodbye to Freddy as well. For when he became unmanageable, as his condition often made him do—wandering off away from home, who knows where, causing some fright, in the cramped apartment conditions, by his too-close hovering over the first child, Nicholas, when he was born, constantly instigating behavioral problems he couldn't prevent—a conduct exacerbated, again, by the cramped apartment-style life to which we were forced at length to turn—we put him in a state home for the developmentally disabled, in Iowa, where we had finally gone, and found a tolerably-good Catholic school, back in Dubuque indeed, the home of my soul. But these administrators put him in an experimental program in which the clients would "discipline one another". We objected, but to no avail, being told that "he belongs to us now". And in about six months he was dead, "disciplined" with a kick to the esophagus by an unruly six-footer, when in the midst of an innocent habit of his of lying on the floor. The whole matter being something which to this day we can barely think about, the grief which wells up being so immeasurably great. A terrible official crime being involved over which we could have sued for millions: but there intervened with us this fanatical interpretation of Holy Scripture so typical of post-Vatican-II zealots of every kind, this conviction somehow that we should "just be meek". That all-embracing virtue of all these years which has seen the total destruction of so many good and Christian things. God having put in our laps, as it were, providentially, by the untimely and brutal death of our son, the key to all our many material problems, and I in particular was too blind to see the deliverance extended in so signal a way.
Hence in the midst of all these struggles, some of them small, many titanic, I had also to contend with my own ineptitude: close-contender that it was for worst opponent of all. Being humanly-speaking the most untried sort of stepfather for two fine girls that could have been found. A long-time haunter of monasteries and hermitages, until only recently bent on a celibate life, in grips of a clueless condition not really arising from any defect in my training but rather part-and-parcel of the universal Catholic non-recognition of what was happening in the Church and the world at large: a state of shock and oblivion in which I was hardly alone. Our own familial practice of Catholic virtues to so heroic a degree—including these girls who still had to be instructed and received into the Church—being prudent at any other time, but had we known the extent to which the Church herself had been undermined, we would no doubt have proceeded with a far more cautious sort of zeal. Yet that is of the essence of treason, is it not? That those you trust most deeply turn on you, stab you in the back, just when you expect their strong support? Truly, I would fairly soon begin to recognize what was happening in the Church: again beneficiary of the good and singularly-well-informed Guido back at home in Joliet, whom I was able to see from time to time until his (by my own sparsely-informed reckoning strange and untimely) death in around 2005. But the poor girls, as well as Nicholas our son when he arrived, were to have a father unrealistic, too trusting, ultimately of a kind of natural necessity too impulsive as well: as panic sets in where assiduous care has repeatedly proven vain. But as suggested above the most catastrophic eventuality of all was my five-year-long intense involvement with a "Catholic charismatic movement" heretical to its noisy core: this "wave of the future" having been touted to me enthusiastically by folks back home when I first came back from Europe in July of 1970, shaken and confused. Ah, this was the cure of the ages for every ill: with one trendy teenager at the Carmelite retreat house outside Chicago where the biggest veritable tent meetings were held, monopolizing most of the sessions, ceaselessly claiming, in electrifying up-to-date lingo full of all the latest drug-culture expressions, that after his very first taste of Catholic Pentecostalism he had been able to get off drugs "cold turkey". While every other inner or outer ill was recommended as curable by the same means.
My fatal espousal of what was for-all-intents-and-purposes nothing but warmed-over Amy Semple McPherson Pentecostalism was in some cases to make erstwhile minor blind-spots in my soul and mind as broad as the side of a barn. Much of the subtle discernment, mentioned above, which I had learned over the course of the past three years since my conversion was to be abandoned, a whole new idea of spirituality to be embraced. For just when Catholics needed to be "as wise as serpents" a great many of us—I was hardly alone—rushed headlong, driven by a lack of guidance, by near-universal bewildering circumstances, into things of the most extreme, doctrinally-heterodox kind. Many undoubtedly were looking for an "easy way out" from rigors of the Catholic past, while I myself was trying to make sense of a life which was buffeted like a cork out on the waves of the sea. Remember, we of a conservative, traditional bend-of-mind were typically at the time undyingly loyal to popes whom we regarded as validly-elected, while thus feeling willy-nilly bound by a whole array of revolutionary policies which they had put into play. New departures for which responsibility was universally back then claimed to lie among conspiratorial figures in the Vatican, or among the French, German or American hierarchy, or by way of misrepresentation in the media, and so on and on. Hardly would we have thought that the deep well of Catholic truth had been poisoned at its very pontifical source: nothing new to Catholic history indeed, yet the merest hint of the idea was frowned upon as schism or treason of the highest degree. Hence could a Catholic back then wade into the nebulae of movements like Pentecostalism, which just then seemed to involve no formal breach with a Catholic doctrine suddenly full of porous holes, while hoping to be illuminated by some new rapturous revelation of some glorious kind.
But there was always to be trouble back then: in Dubuque it would be the job I had gotten, as a cook-in-training at Loras College, under the instruction of a nascent institutional food-preparation company soon to go prolifically nationwide. Everything was just fine, I was learning diligently, while having a natural aptitude for the trade, but as it turned out the issue of abortion was reverberating in hallways of college and state, of commerce and home, and Loras College was no exception: with the Supreme Court itself set within a few months at most to hand down its criminal landmark decision of Rowe versus Wade. While the moral quandary in which a Catholic was placed by this gathering maelstrom was capsulated for me in the seemingly-unthreatening guise of a cartoon. One placed in the New Yorker Magazine around the same time: New York being with California a pole for radical legislation, court decisions and fringe-liberal opinions alike. The owner of the business, with whom I rubbed elbows from day-to-day, one fine day opened up the latest issue and showed all of us there, busily at work, this cynical illustration, depicting a couple of hunters with their shotguns, out in the winter snow, one of them aiming his long-gun upward at a stork carrying a tiny baby, the corners of its blanket firmly in the grip of the big bird's beak, the incipient homicide uttering some vindictive phrase about ridding the world of an egregious overpopulation. My response was instantaneous. Quote I: "Why don't you go home and show that to your kids"?
Well, as it happened, next day at noon I was handed my instant termination, right there at lunch in front of the rest of the crew. It was like being drawn up for punishment in front of a firing squad all of its own kind: even though it was a Catholic college that I worked at—which acted as a residence for the Catholic religious teaching-order involved as well—I was being fired without notice for openly taking a Catholic position. I don't remember if I ever appealed this decision to the college administration itself: if I did, it was to no avail, in a flurry of events I attempt to recall after forty-two years. While I remained the sort of meek soul who wouldn't have thought of fighting to keep a job: probably reasoning that I couldn't possibly work for such a fiend anyway, when all was said and done, even as I had learned by dint of hard experience to forego confrontations of any kind, of which I always somehow ended up being "on the short end". And indeed, before the reader comes down with the gavel of "irresponsibility" upon my idealistic and untried person of the times: things had not yet gotten to the pass, back then in late 1972 or early 1973, that one couldn't do just what I did, and have some substantial hopes of finding work somewhere else. For one thing, the Vietnam wartime boom was still in relatively high gear, and there were jobs to be had. And as intimated above neither did many realize the direction in which the job market was going, the increasingly-rigid opposition it would quickly come to show against all things Christian in the moral or cultural order. As with a workplace "piped in" or eardrum-shattering construction-site "boom box" music that often already delved-into or bordered-on the satanic. Or a painfully embarrassing ultra-miniskirt or "hot pants" feminine clothing of provocatively-dressed waitresses, imposed upon you amid inevitable intimate-close-quarters behind the counter of a restaurant. A situation in which you could be waylaid by a gal who found you yourself to be attractive, who might even contrive to bend over whenever you passed, in a space scarcely more than two feet wide, so that physical contact of the most sexually-aggressive kind would quite deliberately be made, or conversely bend over you with all-body front contact upon your back, while you were putting stacks of dishes under the counter out front. The proof of whose intentionality was however all-but-impossible to secure. All these things were to happen in my case at least a hundred different times, at the culmination of which, over the next four years or so, when matters got to a point I considered unconscionable, I would simply leave, and "trust in God".
Actually, when you consider the rocket-fuel of my fervor in the Pentecostal movement—coupled with a Catholicism of the most traditional sort of piety—all the ingredients were there ready-made for the development of a sort of unorthodox lay apostolate all-its-own. A missionary sort of traveling discipleship that would ultimately come to define the outer details of our married life, yoked together as I was with a Tennessee-raised woman devout since early childhood, ready instantly to obey her husband, as well as to suffer for the law of God. Yet there would be added to this mixture another and yet-stronger fuel-of-mobility in the person of this aggressive and overbearing brother noted above: at first in bizarre harassing phone-calls to my first job-site back at home, where at length I was forced by circumstances to return. Where I logged-in semi-trailers at a liquor-distillery warehouse, and thus unavoidably could be phoned, there at the traffic desk, at any time of night or day. Thus an incessant ringing, a long pause, and then a sort of vaguely-threatening slow-and-deliberate hanging-up. Finally too there would come an occasional guttural rasping of my first name, from the other end of the line, in which the voice of this brother was unmistakable, and indeed meant to be. For if I could be provoked to report this behavior to anyone, the "proof" would be "in the pudding", as they say, that I was, you guessed it, "paranoid". Since "everyone knew" that this meticulously-proper-acting madman "was only concerned about his ailing veteran brother", "only had his better interests at heart", couldn't possibly be brought to do anything malicious. No, rather, it would be "Louie again", going off on another illusionary rant. Having for a brother a guy who had been a military "wash out" after ten wasted years, and was bent upon discrediting a militarily-distinguished relative at all costs.
How does any of this relate to Vatican II? Very simply because the traditional-morality-conscious were firmly placed behind the eight ball by all the serendipity, the suddenly-super-sanctified "habit of questioning" every moral standard, every doctrine, every pious practice, discipline or belief. "Fanatics" we were styled to be, who were often decisively surpassed in public approbation by every slob, genuine crackpot or fool: they who without much effort managed to "keep that job", to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps", and so on. (No doubt many of the ever-censorious "love it or leave it" neo-con crowd who were so rancorously to come in a couple of decades did their apprenticeship in academia, the media or government swimmingly well, with major Fox News figures having no doubt enthusiastically grown long hair and smoked their weed while in an honor-less climb to the top.) People were readily brought to believe you were deranged if you remained committed to any of these "outdated" rules and beliefs such as we so faithfully observed, which went way beyond "thrift", "hard work" or the corporate bottom line. Was it all then just "an exciting new time" as one wide-smiling cleric on EWTN recently exclaimed, being old enough to remember, indeed to have himself wallowed-in, those to-him-plainly-halcyon days? Only if you thought "exciting" the butchery of newly-introduced abortion, the wholesale immodesty of the most revelatory kind which gripped girlhood and womanhood everywhere. Only too if you thought it especially exhilarating to witness devout Catholic families being evicted for lack of funds, or men or women who devoutly told their beads, or were "too scrupulous", being locked up in mental hospitals "for their own good" by hovering "friends" and relatives who had no such moral apprehensions to answer to, with which to inwardly and in social and occupational life contend. No, in "new and exciting" Vatican II practical terms bringing in the bacon was ironically-enough to be the first and only duty of a thus-liberated man, and that of his wife indeed to "ride herd on him" until he did. And in fact, strangest of all, had we had any clue of how permanent and ironclad this allegedly-advanced but in fact abysmally-regressive change-in-mores and attitudes was going to prove to be, we would probably not have been quite so adamant about so many things. But we weren't the sort of people who "gave up at the drop of a hat", and I was willing to take the most menial and even abusive of jobs, to move to any state or town, if only we were allowed to practice our faith, to keep our peace, to save our souls. Hence then did I finally see the futility of trying to stay there in Joliet, my greatest fear being that I would lose control and have a big and violent fight with this deranged brother of mine who then did, and would for at least twenty more years do me, so much cleverly-concocted wrong to me and mine. (Among which would be included an un-provable but indubitable phoning of people, notably one unmarried middle-aged woman, in convincing impersonation of me, filling her ears with lewd remarks). Hence indeed was the noted ready-made vocation there in front of us, decreed as it were in such events, ready to be taken up, comprised in truly-adventurous travels across the entire land, in the midst of which we finally went to the Portuguese consulate in Los Angeles, attempting (hopelessly, since we weren't rich) to arrange residence where the faith had been practiced, to my own experience, better than anywhere else on the globe. If with the possible exception of the magnificent Catholics of Vietnam.
Finding our way in the darkness of post-Vatican-II.
Difficulties were to surface immediately with regard to the children, and I take upon my own back most of cause of these. As noted above, I was a recent aspirant to monastic life, a raw recruit indeed for married life, with three mostly-grown children already there, and very little time to prepare. Really, considering how green and in certain ways foolish I was back then, I can understand their rebellion very well: although I must add for the sake justice that one doesn't expect to enter married life under a state-of-siege, whose sources are those very people and institutions you depend upon in the most fundamental way, and in such a case expect to do very well. One good doctor in Paris, TN, told me that I had "bitten off more than I could be expect to chew", or words to that effect: a good doctor in a marvelous old town hardly more than a stone's-throw from that Pea Ridge where my wife's mother, a Walker, had been born and raised, one of the places we tried to live: a guy who had been a pilot in a combat helicopter unit (two-twenty-seventh or two-twenty-eight transportation squadron) with which we of the "First of the Ninth" had dealt frequently in Vietnam. A good doctor who spoke to me in the finest tones of manly compassion, not really faulting me, but marveling at what all I had taken upon myself. I look back now at what fine kids they were, and I am aghast at the manifold and egregious mistakes I made: finally falling back to a kind of entrenched paternal inflexibility, as a last resort. Although I had started out in the most conciliatory way possible, almost mopping the floor with myself, really. And then too the girls had a fantastic range of realities to confront in their pubescent minds: the ceaseless persecution, although granted a laudable reprieve in the grade school at Dubuque, yet met with full force in trips downtown almost anywhere, and later in Joliet when we moved yet again, after the catastrophic job-termination described above. The kids at JT (Joliet Township High School) found Evelyn to be a laughable specimen at best, what with all the race-based gangs, heavily into drugs, taunting and teasing her at every turn for her modest dress and cultivated speech. While Ellen was to find among the nuns at the Polish grade school, Holy Cross, on our second stint in Joliet, about six months after the first, a champion in her "struggle" against an unfair and myopic step-dad.
Alas, as in so many other case to come, things had been "about to mend", were beginning to settle down, there at home. We were starting to really "bond", as they say: I was starting to lose some of my propensity to be stiff and remote or to "fly off the handle", the girls were starting to be more candid and kindly, dropping what I had come arbitrarily to call their "sullenness". That which was as I wager partly a sort of natural shyness in the presence of a man who had been a perfect stranger until a very short time ago, and partly the sheer incomprehensibility of a life coming in on us all like a rushing stream. How many of my past strict judgments of others would come back later to haunt my soul, as in this matter of other people we must be as clement, relenting and circumspect as we can possibly be, as it can take years to really understand "where they are coming from", especially when one is as impatient and intractable as I have so often been. But many times I just didn't seem to have it in me to hold on until "things came clean", whether in a spiritually-all-determining Church or in daily domestic events, and this all the while responsibilities were rushing in at me like charging bulls. We had earlier gone to confer with "Catholic Charities", and their case-worker a certain Sr. Margaret: she whom we however and forthwith found to be gallingly communistic and dictatorially inclined, to utterly and indeed contemptuously ignore the parental dignity in the home. In her staggeringly female-chauvinist worldview our household was imperatively not going to have its own special signature, its own customary existence: no, the Church was marching off into a Brave New World, with hip-booted nuns in the lead, and hardly would parenthood, fatherhood be revivified, that which above all things needed reinforcement if our family were ever to survive. Today rather is the family a partnership of officialdom/bureaucracy and the child, and the parents are to fit in where they are allowed to by both these grimly-self-assertive parties. Thus did we move to a new location, but this ever-maneuvering nun got a court order to track us down through the Federal Postal System, no less, as if we had been guilty of interstate crime: by what Orwellian authority your guess is as good as mine. Almost without any doubt my own mother and siblings had by then been fast-at-work, undermining us with the diocesan authorities, to whom they knew we had gone for "guidance": we with our old-fashioned ways being a force which "must be stopped at all costs". You would think we towed around a battery of eight-inch artillery, in the estimate of those blood-related and official/ecclesiastical adversaries among whom the things we stood for—a generous modesty of dress, kindly and moderate speech, classical music, and so on—were considered by these "religious" souls to be backward, "neurotic", passé indeed.
What touched off the last of all the confrontations was the fact that my wife had become pregnant again, this time with a girl to be called Edith Maria, named after my wife's maternal grandmother, Edith Routin Walker. A lady who had ancestors back to the first doctor in Kentucky and at least a half-dozen lines going back to pre-Revolutionary-War times. Joann my wife had as usual extreme difficulty with this pregnancy: indeed, when we got back up to Joliet from Tennessee—from whence we had come in this second stay in Joliet—the "Catholic" doctor we went to advised a DNC, spreading the impression that "the baby was already long-gone, anyway": but thankfully we demurred. Next month the presence of a live and healthy, kicking baby in her womb was obvious, and she was to spend a month or so flat on her back, needing all the help she could get.
It was at this time that disciplinary problems in the house came to a head, what with a couple of nuns agitating for the girls from the outside, and a paternal grandmother commiserating with them whenever she could "get their ear", strongly championing any degree of childhood revolt: much as she and my grandmother, who died when I was only six months old, had opposed my own Dad for decades, in a domestic guerilla warfare that was subtle and even subliminal as it was intensive, as I would only begin to appreciate for myself in early adulthood. A female fifth-column which family scuttlebutt before that had narrated in its own to-me-hard-to-visualize way. But regarding the pregnancy, it was difficult indeed to get the girls, especially the eldest, to do much to help, so that their mother and/or the child wouldn't simply die. That's honestly how dire it all was: Joann had to be spoon-fed for about six weeks, couldn't even lift her head off of the pillow without provoking a frightful hemorrhage, and I couldn't even get the girls to do the dishes without a lot of foot-dragging being involved. Of course, the "doctor" would have just simply let the baby die, or have dispensed with it long ago, while it was still small enough to just be flushed down the medical-center toilet, the size of a pea. I got exasperated with the girls finally and for the first time gave them both "the belt". Well, next day or the next after Evelyn took a certain amount, allegedly an overdose, of aspirin—although she didn't really get extremely sick—and got herself in the hospital—where nothing was found in her stomach—and as it turned out, "sprang" herself out of our home. While not that long afterward, while Joann and I were both gone, Ellen the youngest had this nun from the Polish grade-school, who had apparently been planning her removal all along, pick her up, being likewise as I remember in touch with Sr. Margaret from Catholic Charities as well, and no doubt with my own relatives, who were always eager to mount another crusade against our little family. Thus was a veritable Hollywood "Great Escape" pulled off. In incalculable numbers of cases the traditional-minded being dealt with that way back then, as if in raids of the Nazi Gestapo: in mental-and-moral agonies ninety-nine percent of which are never owned up to, being a source of intolerable grief and unearned shame. But no doubt it would be much worse now: I would probably have ended up behind bars, and easily still be there, for asserting any fatherly authority at all.
Actually, Freddy at this time was still in "the program" at Woodward in Iowa, and would remain alive for another several months, before being waylaid in so brutal a way. And although Evelyn and Ellen, at the custody hearing, seemed to us to be grooming and ingratiating themselves for acceptance into foster care, lavishing charming smiles: yet we were later to be told by Evelyn that they had been desperately afraid of consequences if they didn't act that way. But it was hard to understand or accept that neither of them so much as spoke to us at the hearing, nor directed toward us so much as a kindly glance, and seemed convincingly charmed, almost hypnotized, by the judge and officials in charge. For all of which, although we still did and still do love the girls, the invariable New-Church injunction that we must "forgive" them even though they aren't sorry is hardly sane or fair, despite New Church sermons of sixty years sternly enjoining just such an unreasonable course. Sorrow being partner to forgiveness like ducks are to water or lungs to air, being after all the biblical requisite— "if he be sorry"—for pardoning-of-wrongs. Any departure-from-which simple sorry-pardon sequence is a formula-for-disaster, for the breakdown of all discipline and sanity: this indeed being the insidious synagogue-directed aim. But later, when Joann, myself and Nicholas were living outside Douglas, Arizona, and got word of Frederick's death, Sr. Margaret would call us and beg us to take Ellen back. (We had made sure to keep custody of the boy, at the time of the hearing, when Edith hadn't yet been born, by leaving him in the care of a pious, conservative Protestant couple just over the Iowa border. The judge at the noted hearing had been greatly astonished by this move, had asked how far across the border the kid was, seeming poised for a few moments at the custody-hearing to send the Highway Patrol across the state line to gather him up too.) But returning to the call from "Catholic Charities", and the plea of Ellen to return home—being heart-sick at the death of her brother, needing the comfort of a loving Mom rather than the status of an upper-middle-class foster-mom at such a time—just then intervened the reaction of a conservative-minded father, in the person of myself. In a harsh jerk-knee such as Joann herself would never have contemplated. In a very real sense it seems one of the biggest mistakes of my entire life, a gross case of over-reaction: yet a fraction of my minds still nags at me about the justifiable utter lack of trust we had for Sr. Margaret, the imperial-minded caseworker, and still have for her black memory. A sister whom we suspected would try to gain control of the raising of our youngest two children (Edith soon to be born) as well, were we to reconcile with Ellen Ann, and admit her back into the home. All somehow thereby, so it seemed likely-enough, perhaps by some insidious means, coming under the authority of this dictatorial nun. Little did we even reflect, amid all the rushing, humiliating and catastrophic events, that under present circumstances, of the victimized lose of a son in barbaric circumstances at the hands of another arm-of-the-state, we possessed the moral and psychological high-ground as it were: that for the state-empowered Diocesan Authorities to keep custom of our children at the time could easily be viewed by all—especially if publicized, as we could easily have done—as a black-hearted tyranny indeed. No, as we realize as we look back now, these New World Order warriors were ready to drop our case like a hot potato, having in many ways impeached themselves beyond reprieve, having become involved in a dubious overreach gone horribly bad, having been pulled along by the cynical team-of-horses of my ever-scheming avant-garde siblings.
But as suggested by all of the above, we were "simple as doves", just didn't know how to come to terms with people in such a tactical way, while likewise having been crushed to a powder as well by events since and indeed before our marriage, our very morale itself having been pulverized entirely, incapable at least for the all-determining moment of operating in anything like a defensive or militant way. The Vatican II Church having succeeded in neutralizing us very effectively, at least for the time: only just beginning to get our bearings in the most tentative way down in Arizona where we had gone before this new chapter in our lives suddenly opened up. Being utterly skeptical of the motives of this religious, who had come to represent everything about modern American totalitarianism that we hated, feared and despised: she who had indeed boasted that she "always finishes what she starts" at the time she tracked us down by court-order through the Post Office. I too being firmly of the opinion—Joann no doubt less so—that Ellen had "cross the Rubicon" when she to all appearances so enthusiastically opted for foster care, and had had no good thing to say for her parents in front of a court-of-law. So my judgment was that a stern rebuke was what she needed for the very sake of her soul, and an equally-stern refusal to take her back, for the sake of the unity of what was left of our little family home.
Alas, after a short space-of-time, I think it was no longer than a couple of weeks, we repented of our decision, and got back in touch with Sr. Margaret: as of course we couldn't talk directly to Ellen at all. Whereupon predictably-enough this nun, this image of a nineteenth-century Bismarck, adamantly refused our heartfelt conciliatory overtures, speaking to us, as usual, like criminals, as if belonging somewhere in the state pen. For we had fatally lost the momentary high-ground, our initial refusal to take Ellen back easily placing us in a reprehensible position before ever-judgmental family, authorities, or even perhaps before a readily-censorious popular mind. This too was indeed the nun's cue to prevent a family-get-together which would likewise no doubt have impeached her initial judgments of us beyond reprieve: thus slowing a stellar climb into politically-correct bureaucratic stardom of the times. For amid all the overflowing humanism which knows no bounds of parenthood or propriety there was to be no room for conservative Catholic parents such as we, and the sorts of agonies into which we had been placed, being people abominated, despised, hopefully indeed hounded out of the Catholic fold, for once and for all. This then being the "spirit of Vatican II" so much noised but so little understood back then or even now: simply a Marxian "no turning back", a disavowal to the very bowels of rudimentary aspects of the Faith: barring which come punishments of the most heartless, cruel and sinister kind. From out of which furnace-of-annihilations would come marching a hideously-light-hearted post-council "believer" who, as unwittingly described to-a-tee in an address in French at a Bishop's and Priest's conference I had been able to attend when at Fatima in 1969 entitled, "the soul of man under socialism": "he laughs outside, while inwardly he cries".
What you are talking about in this story of a family is the remorseless criminalization, the launching of multiple bitter attacks against the traditional-Catholic soul, with our close-knit home to become a multifaceted test case for totalitarian laws and court-decisions just then being contemplated, legislated or handed-down: in assaults as detailed above even before our marriage, in such unique chastity being just then prepared. For as we could hardly have realized at the time we were some of only a tiny few who had "shown any fight", law-suits and close-brushes with family-services authorities thereby becoming during the first ten years of our marriage a highly-familiar phenomenology for us, as we refused to be "ashamed of Christ before men", nor "humble at the expense of Christ" in the way we treated of family life and parental responsibility. Thereby drawing down upon ourselves the most implacable reaction, a veritable blitzkrieg from official, blood-related and "Catholic" circles. As if this unlikely and incongruous jumble of relatives, men-and-women of the cloth, and atheistic-minded judges, attorneys and case-workers were some sort of natural allies in a bitterly-fought war. Revealing in startling relief indeed that in the USA-of-today there is really only one firmly and fervently held belief: in the goddess of Progress, of a gourd-rattling-fabled sociological advancement, contemptuously overturning every sacred loyalty of man. An idol whose statue, also called Liberty, global shedder of blood "to a horse's bridle", is to be found in New York Bay. A talisman we on this Anti-Sodomy Crusade wish to see refashioned to Blessed contours of the gracious and ever-merciful Mother of God, holding aloft the torch—not of a pagan liberty—but of her own Immaculate Heart, surmounted by ship-guiding flames as in Catholic art. The libertine enthronement of satanic principles like public sodomy to be replaced by devotion to chastity and other forms of moral goodness and purity, the law of God recognized as the sole source of valid law, sole fountainhead of true and rigidly-impartial freedom. The latter hardly authentically conceived as the public imposition of the will-and-whim of a perverted few, rigidly institutionalized with all the force of "law". An abominable "liberty", thus ironically caste in concrete, which summarily and systematically uproots a mild, clement and uplifting divine law observed in most places and in most respects for millennia. A Civilization-uprooting moral-anarchy—with staggering contradiction given all the force of law—making impossible any fittingly noble, honorable, adequately-conceived common good, fit for human beings. Freedom after all not reasonably being a matter of removing all brakes on ribald human conduct, allowing the most bizarre and revolutionary of moral-fanatics to rule the day. True criminals who wrap themselves in a public notoriety which has become the most familiar fixture of our wild and tumultuous times. A diabolical element—many of them indeed formal worshippers of satan—with signature blank-faced impunity polluting public, domestic and neighborhood space with abominable irruptions of every kind, preparing the way socio-morally and indeed ceremonially for every sort of vicious, life-destructive crime. This element being only a tiny minority at its militant knot-like core, being composed mostly of Christianity-undermining Jews: ever fulminating toward the thundering collapse of both church and state.
So much of a blinding snow-storm did our family life enter back then that we must back up a few months in our narrative, having neglected to include in chronological order yet another court-case, this one again brought by my siblings, immediately upon our return home from Tennessee, alleging perjurously—at least in the original complaint, although the accusation was never voiced during the proceeding—that I had assaulted my father, hoping again for the same old undyingly-sought-after outcome: commitment to a mental institution. But God was with us in the most staggering and overpowering way, Joann being guided, after fervent prayers down at St. Joseph's Church downtown—just after I myself had once again been "locked up", again "for my own good", on the second floor at the local Catholic hospital—to chose a certain law-firm. They who as it turned out conducted a brilliant defense, doing it indeed pro bono, putting my skulking brothers, the actual complaintants, to bitter shame. This being the noted case when the judge, the honorable Amos DeLorenzo, sternly rebuked the brotherly ringleader, this "upholder of right and good" who rebelliously returned to the bench his signature violence-suggestive murderous black gaze. But upon my return home triumphant would be recorded one of those times when my purely-temporary adherence to the Catholic Charismatic Movement would leave its evil mark: myself having opened the Bible to a page that seemed to indict the two girls as having somehow been disloyal. (Opening the Sacred Book can indeed at times bring us a message from God, but fanaticism is indicated when one depends too often and too lightly upon such things). Ah, what catastrophic folly! Yet neither should a newly-married couple be put through such an incredible ordeal, from out of which many anomalies of mere mortals are doomed to occur. The "betrayal" seems to have related to the girl's lack-of-enthusiasm in helping Mom at home while I was confined at St. Joseph's, as well as to the younger of two, Ellen, having a month or so earlier lied to police about a fictional attempted abduction, on the way home from school in Paducah, KY. We at the start of the school year having migrating there, uprooted once again, having found the environment in Tennessee impossibly cruel and prejudicial—the very reason Joann had left that state a dozen years before—more recently having watched, shocked and riveted to the spot, a young Black scholar take refuge in the front yard of our upstairs apartment, holding a rock in his hand to ward off a large mob of White students who plainly meant him physical harm. Paducah being indeed a decided improvement in this regard, as well as having the only Catholic school anywhere near the Paris Tennessee where we had just been. Although not surprisingly we were to experience the same round rejection in Paducah from their own Catholic school, being told that the girls "would have to dress"—namely in miniskirt-uniforms—"like everyone else". (Indeed, no small number of nuns back then were actually beginning to adopt that profane and revealing style as well).
I can't remember all the motives of my scorching, unjust and abusive accusations, upon return from the hearing downtown, direct at the poor, unhappy girls, in remarks which were an unrestrained display of bitter zeal: but they inevitably set the stage for in-home rebellions described above that were soon to come. Yet what you were dealing with just then, the day of my arrival home, when I thus vented such a vindictive spirit, was a man who had been pumped with so much Thorazain, a notorious health-destructive drug soon afterwards pulled by the FDA, that my heart-beat had grown dangerous faint, and thereafter, after the hearing, for long periods I had to keep my arms extended down between my legs, hunched over, since otherwise I had this sensation that these limbs were going to go flying off somewhere. Indeed, this bizarre experience took place right after the hearing at a favorite old restaurant there on Chicago Street, cattycorner to the court house, where Joann and I had gone for a celebratory cup of coffee, and were greeted there by that marvelous local-color artist, John Hudac: a true Jolietan of the highest order, who was to prove a friend in all respects in all that we were yet to endure. This evident nerve-damage—which subsequent VA and other doctors, had I told them about it, would inevitably have made a great show of identifying with "Agent Orange", hoping to get me into one of the many ever-mutating guinea-pig VA programs—something that goes light-years beyond the notorious scheduling scandals of our times that are child's play by comparison—a condition however which hadn't at all been experienced until my barbarous confinement—is still with me, and seems on occasion, as when weak from some sickness, to be approaching those initial levels-of-intensity once again as I get older. It no doubt accounts for a tremendous difficulty I have, something I had never known before, to simply "be patient", and a burdensome struggle I sometimes have with any task which requires that virtue. You might say that the sensation is as if my very arms, rather than threatening to "take flight" as before, are nowadays often painfully anxious to "find something to do", refusing very long to submit to inactivity of any kind. Not indeed being something noticeable to others, except perhaps by way of an irritated expression, or a rare tendency to pace. Thus was taken from me a major element of that peace which I had always so loved, and which "those of my own household" had found so dangerous and offensive. They were getting their way, on a certain plane, after all. But righteousness is in the will, and like so many others who have been thus victimized, I was to learn what it is to be forcibly denied the piloting of ones own little ship-of-life. Yet such sorts of tutelage are of a kind which God prepares for souls with a special task to perform, an exacting regimen which "separates marrow from bone", a cipher from out of which one learns to communicate with Heavenly beings.
and the call to go
on our first Crusade.
After our brush with "Catholic Charities", a bruising encounter we wouldn't wish on anyone, and this latest bout of our battle with relatives, we wanted to get as far away from such opponents as we could. "The Family" having proven itself an entity which had branded itself on the mind like the thus-named deranged and depraved antagonists of Charleton Heston in the movie, The Omega Man: a film which—ignoring lamentable lewd scenes already inevitable in new releases of the early seventies—we had watched, transfixed, just before our marriage, already finding a strong note of the autobiographical in its fantastic scenes and lines. Douglas, Arizona, then, seemed to be an ideal place to go. Gathering up our son in Iowa, we turned southwest, and there remains in my haunted memory of that trip—a fugitive, as it were, again, not knowing what had happened to my world—a hit song of the times, playing on the radio as the lights of Douglas first became faintly visible, traveling just then late at night, the town still at least twenty or thirty miles off, glimmering like an electrical mirage. "The Cisco Kid was once a friend of mine" was the mocking little piece for so many years thus lodged: how such scraps of noxious barbarity manage to find a place in any sane mind would be the good subject of a study—one which those who inflict such things must indeed have assiduously performed—an obvious drug-culture lyric which seemed to be mocking much of the reason for our travels afar. Since my desire at the time was to immerse myself as deeply in the Mexican culture there on the border as I could, as I had already so happily experienced it in Globe. How fitting were the mocking line to prove I had no idea, since the Mexicans I would come to know more and more plainly in the Southwest were to have less and less in common with the kindly-but-virile, religious, morally-and-mentally robust and healthy souls I have always so revered: people who had been so plentiful such a short time ago. I having often indeed placed them in worth above my own Croatian stock. The change was already evident, back then in '74, and was to grow dramatically in a few short years: although all along there would be a number of the old and venerable element left, like my Compadre Santos Villegas (Baptismal sponsor for our coming daughter, Therese), Rudy Morales and friends in Globe at the mine and at the college. Mexican people who were singularly unprepared and un-forewarned against treacheries of Vatican II: except perhaps for a certain Lupe Yanez, a marvelous and fervent woman of Holy Angels Parish there, who was also an outspoken opponent against devastating changes being introduced almost by the day in parish liturgy, preaching and life. This especially after the departure of the good father Reinweiler, a genuine father of a Anglo and Mexican parochial family of a little then magnificently-picturesque town in the Pinal Mountains. But at this intervening time while in Douglas I was to get a job at Jones Construction, a job I enjoyed a great deal: working in that carpentry which I so love. But one of the sons of the owner Mr. Jones, who was also from Illinois, had sustained a severe head injury in an auto-accident, and I found myself being depended upon to tolerate his dangerous behavioral bouts, being at last put with him with increasing frequency on projects, the two of us largely alone or in close quarters, where he vented his mysterious spleen against me. In a last incident, which made me choose to leave the company, he threw parts of scaffolding around as it they were toothpicks, with me below on the ground, speaking disparagingly to me the while. But the job did last for about six months, as I remember. I actually think the problem which made for the intolerable work-assignment was that I spoke of too many philosophical subjects out on the job, so that the boss wasn't too keen on keeping me there himself. This no doubt another result of my incessant Charismatic approach to life: that which had become a sort of emotional and spiritual lifeline for me. A false form of religion which however I believe that God used in His mercy to keep me from utter despair, as the Catholic way of life I had known since infancy was basically nowhere to be found. Indeed, genuine miracles were to be seen in coming months and years, such as will be described in lines below.
The first of these was beyond dispute to be the greatest of them all. As always since our marriage, we made implacable enemies immediately, drawing attention to ourselves—which wasn't at all our aim—by Joann's striking modesty of dress. And I furthermore had "funny ways", like riding a bicycle to and from work, some three or four miles each way, after quite stupidly selling our car. You see, back then, I had to do everything in a kind of Franciscan fervor, be counted as one of "God's poor", and I was still very much a contemplative. I would actually experience genuine ecstasies, becoming "as one dead", lying or sitting, deep in prayer, in a "binding" of senses and other faculties described in Catholic mystic books, powers which could scarcely function at all, as long as the mystical experience went on. Indeed, many, many times, when I found myself in ecstasy once again, Joann by entering the same room, and especially by touching my arm or shoulder, would go into ecstasy herself, and we would remain together, faculties suspended, for as much as a half-hour. But as it turned out, in the midst of this simple life, experiences what can only be described as oceans of peace, I antagonized a neighbor-woman when on the way past her house to and from work I had to hold out my framing-hammer—taken out of my holster-like leather tool-belt—extending it toward her snarling dog, to keep him from chewing on my leg, which he had already started to do a time or two. Well, this Bell Star came out on her front porch one fine morning and bellowed, shotgun in hand, that she would "blow me off that bicycle" if I harmed a hair on the big pooch's head.
Thereafter, following weeks of these tense daily standoffs, there would occur another of Joann's bouts of asthma, a condition with which she had been afflicted since gross childhood conditions of poverty, of local-West-Tennessee medical ignorance of causative irritants inevitably involved, of a seemingly-mistaken motherly or doctorly decree that all milk be removed from her diet, of her mother's insistence that she "recuperate" on a bed piled up with feather pillows: the very worst irritant an asthmatic can possibly have. Thus was a bright-eyed, beautiful, strapping little seven-year-old, when in school in Akron, Ohio while her dad worked at B.F. Goodrich, doomed to go back home to Huntingdon under those conditions, some of them likely indeed imposed as a sort of stealthy punishment, as we shall directly see. A set-of-circumstances out of which she would come with punctured ear-drums from so many allergy-related infections-of-the-ear, a hearing-condition never addressed causing her tremendous difficulties in learning, whereas her performance in Akron had been so good that she had been placed ahead by a year when she got back to Tennessee. Joann having been raised by a mother who had only wanted two kids, and she had been the third. This eminently good, indeed saintly little girl being at the center of a family tug-of-war, her father against the boy, the eldest of the children, her mother against her: all of it in a regionally-notorious to the bitter end. And worst of all, when Joann at that early age of seven ultimately proved to be a poor overseer of her mother's conduct, when her Dad was away on his sixteen-hour shifts at the tire plant, making tires for flying fortresses then beginning to bomb Germany and the possessions/acquisitions of Japan, it was then that a father she loved beyond measure disowned her. Back there in Tennessee, at the very moment when he had come back home at last, back where Mom had fled, with Joann adamantly unwillingness to tolerate any substitute for her beloved Dad. Joann who had in fact kicked the interloper in the heels all the way to the train station in Akron, to which she had been dragged away, kicking and screaming, from her Dad, just then off on another of his 100+ degree exhausting shifts. After a number of which proofs-of-hostility the intruder went on his way, stayed on the train when mother and daughter got off. Her dad, when she tried to jump up into his lap, upon his long-awaited arrival home, threw her across the room to the floor, calling her a traitor for not having apprised him of "what was going on". For as it turned out, as she realized just then, she was only a pawn to her father, a child ecstatically happy to see him there at home at last: where no doubt she thought everything would finally be "set straight", and she could at last duly respond if questioned about what had taken place. A time when for the first time in her life she realized, with all the unimaginable stark realism of a crystalline-innocent soul of such tender years, that she was all alone in the world. Being denied all love and every advantage or natural right of a budding little girl, hurled with contempt and with unseemly readiness thereafter into some category of incompetence, courtesy of an "advanced" and "progressive" world which eagerly searches out such unfortunates for object lessons, or even, so we firmly believe, to experiment upon. This girl, this image of the stable-sleeping, stepmother-hated St. Germaine, who would later join a Catholic Church to which she had converted already at the age of nineteen, having been instructed by mail by the Knights of Columbus, but due to her own extreme circumstance of the times had been unable to get to a Catholic priest for that Baptism for which she was now prepared. But a woman who also felt herself completely unworthy, having been made to think of herself as the worst sort of rejected scum, that she felt that the priest, had he been accessible, wouldn't have even accepted her into the fold. And when finally finding herself conditionally baptized and admitted into the Church on the day of our marriage, how crushed would she be that her Catholic in-laws would do all they could to prevent her from raising her children as Catholics, would indeed be principal actors in tearing them from her embrace, would show their utter contempt and rejection of her as a Catholic herself.
"At the cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last!"
Hence too the asthma, which had remained during intervening years a threat to her life. In this particular instance, my lack of an automobile was a definite liability: but having made the acquaintance of some neighbors, I was told by one of them that there was a nurse nearby who might be able to help. What this lady did was to promise to bring some pills that evening, back from work, perhaps some sort of sample-pack. Joann took the pills when things got bad in the night, like they do with asthma, and by morning she couldn't get up. She lay there moving less and less, until she was finally motionless, and her eyes, although closed, were sunken into her skull. I concluded that she was dying or dead. This however was something I could not easily accept, and making a firm act of confidence in Our Blessed Lady, I went into the living-room, knelt down and started saying the rosary. And indeed the instant that I made the sign of the cross at the finish Joann walked into the room, bidding me to make her a cup of coffee. What she was to relate was the most supernatural thing I have ever known.
Actually, in order to understand what had happened, we have to back up in this story a couple of weeks, to one of those times when Joann experienced another of the ecstasies such as were described above. This time it had been accompanied by a vision of Our Blessed Lady, an intellectual vision—not actually corporal, or as of seeing a person in the flesh, a kind we would indeed together know thirty-some years later—rather an apparition seen with sharpest supernatural crystal clarity in the soul and mind, a phenomenon of the most utterly-absorbing, belief-binding kind. Mary gave Joann the command that the two of us must take a voyage through the seven westernmost states, that we must "take my image through these", or words to that effect. To which words she added the stern warning that were her command not fulfilled then "you will die". The image referred to was immediately recognized as that of Our Lady of Kazan, a fine copy of which Russian icon we then had in a beautiful frame. An image which would easily fit on the dashboard, which could be devised to face forward, in imitation of the original carried in front of Russian armies chasing Napoleon Bonaparte from Russian soil. The sacred image being one with which I had my own intimate connection, stemming from mysterious events attending my presence at the solemn enthronement of the original bejeweled, silver-ensconced painting, a work-of-art according to tradition from the very hand of St. Luke himself: a ceremony taking place while I was at the Blue Army Byzantine Center in Fatima, Portugal during the Christmas season, in 1969. That wonderful institution of the time having been dedicated to the conversion of a Russia which was herself a central focus of the Marian Apparitions at Fatima in 1917. Predicted there in Fatima by Our Blessed Lady being not only the trials which Russia would suffer so long under communism, and which agonies would indeed commence that very month (October of 1917) when Mary appeared on the rolling Portuguese Serra, speaking to the shepherd children in such solemn tones, but also Russia's subsequent conversion to the Catholic Faith. An event which would somehow indeed signal "an era of peace" for the entire world. But regarding my own connection to the precious Icon: it was during this now-long-past Christmas, in happenings interwoven as it were with daily masses in the Byzantine chapel where the consecration of the Icon was performed, that I experienced a first taste of deepest mysticism, of its complete suspensions-of-faculties, of a sense of an indelible kind of spiritual fusion with the Byzantine rite conducted by Father Moffat in his mighty and sonorous baritone, and at which I attended faithfully. Most of these Heavenly experiences taking place quite privately, almost entirely when I was in my room there at the Blue Army House, where I was already practicing a sort of anchorite existence such as I hoped to know in a hermitage in England in coming days. While there were only a handful present at the enthronement ceremony that Christmas—hardly the pilgrimage season of Spring to Fall—I myself being there in spiritual preparation to my going into St. Hugh's in January. The Eastern rite liturgy was intoxicatingly rich in odors of Byzantine incense, of tiny processions in and out the little doors of the iconostasis, of father emerging at last with the Blessed Sacrament truly present, held under a veil in his priestly hands. And although these mystical experiences seemed to betoken a singular calling of some sort, yet I had no idea what that commission might be, unaccountably knowing experiences of the most genuinely-supernatural kind, of which indeed Fr. Moffat was duly apprised. The realization of which task on the part of a shameful sinner being destined to come about only very gradually. While my personal connection to Our Lady of Kazan would only become evident in very recent years, in the realization that the Russia of the Fatima Message is the very one being unjustly pilloried today in an American-led global media, the Russia whose sacred Icon had just before that Christmas so long ago been purchased from a London museum by the Blue Army of Our Lady, and forthwith been solemnly installed at Fatima, in the pious organization's home, against the day when it could be returned to a Russia which would venerate it joyfully once again. A homecoming such as indeed took place sometime in the '90s, as I remember. Meanwhile that interim ceremony-of-enthronement—as spiritual Queen of Russia—having indeed been a signal event, one amply worthy of the commissioning of a young man's entirely lifetime in dedication to same. This Russia to whom under Mary I am heartily devoted being a land that will soon be seen to wholeheartedly embrace the Catholic Faith, having already proven herself more Catholic than the Catholics by far, in virtue if not yet in formal belief. This by her heroic championing of the Christian moral order, especially in her resolute opposition to an institutionally-imposed sodomy so rampant today in the West, and especially in the USA. That Russia with supporters in the eastern Ukraine which is ready to go to war—just as are we, here at the New Confederacy and Anti-Sodomy Crusade—against abominations such as these. So that it is indeed to Russia that our Confederacy and Crusade are undyingly, indissolubly linked.
But getting back to Joann's dream/vision and the commission delivered to her by the Queen of Heaven herself: I really think Joann had been instantly quite ready to go on this veritable crusade, when so directed: already ties to this earth and its familiar and beloved domestic routine, so dear to the wifely and motherly soul, had been loosened for her by the news of Freddy's death, received a month or two before, and she was beyond question inwardly ready to face any number of dangers if so commanded by Almighty God. I was the over-cautious one. Freddy meanwhile having consoled a mother in deepest throes from his new Heavenly home—where we think he went directly—by "playing a trick", one such as he had done innumerable times on earth. The lad used to love to turn a hose on Mom in particular, and now-and-again on his sisters as well, from out of all whose reactions he got the greatest laugh. Well, we were having a "gully washer" just then, a torrential downpour such as the desert used to display back then in special splendor, the landscape thereafter perfumed in an unearthly way from the stimulus of the rain: back then before the weather went entirely awry. This time the shower finally came to an end: but whenever Joann or I tried to go outside for some reason, having gotten some distance from the house we would get amply "hosed" or sprinkled upon. It happened a half-dozen times or so in quick succession, over a period of a mere half-hour at most, before we finally realized that it was Freddy himself who was directing things up there in the sky, and we were greatly consoled. But Joann's ties had actually been severed to a cruel earth long before that cruel event up in Woodward, Iowa, and she was always docile to divine commands. I was the one that was hesitant; being just then engaged in attempts to get a job at the local Phelps-Dodge mine, where a good friend, Jim Fabby, worked: a geologist whom I had once accompanied for a day or two on "mine claim validation" work, on horseback with a pack-drill, as Jim was entirely averse to bulldozing unnecessary roads for bigger sorts of drill-rigs. That was back when I had first gotten to Globe, one morning sitting in the Job Service waiting room, hoping for any sort of work that might materialize, told I didn't need much horse-riding skill anyway (I had almost none). Well, Jim lived only some twenty miles away, up in McClean, where he had his own ranch. A great and Christian guy, I went up there and asked him about work, my carpentry job having come to an end, and he didn't express a lot of hope. But this was only one of several "irons in the fire", and I was in no hurry to leave at this point, what with our fine little rented house with a whole acre or so of lovely desert land, a clothes line for Joann, a place to recuperate from so much.
But recuperation wasn't—nor has it really ever been—what God had in mind. Thus when Joann came out of the bedroom alive, I was not only beside myself with joy but also knew instantly what it all had meant. We had to go on the trip designated by the Heavenly Queen. So as soon as Joann had had her cups of strong coffee, and felt much better, I biked downtown and got a car: one which the dealer told me frankly would probably not make it to Tucson, about 150 miles away. Thereafter I started to pack: in the midst of which flurry there drove up in one of the smart new mine-trucks a personal representative from Phelps-Dodge, to tell me that "I had been hired" into the Engineering department, the personal recommendation no doubt being helped by my two-plus years of college and engineering-assistant experience on the Pinto Valley Project up in Globe two years before. That was indeed the way things might be done back then, when things might still fall out in such a friendly and informal way. Of course, my reply was "no, thanks", that we had decided to move, and the bewildered engineer went off scratching his head. But regarding Joann's mysterious experiences while I had so fervently prayed:
She had felt her soul leaving her body from the extremities up, and then she had found herself suspended above, around the ceiling, from whence she could not only see her own body there below but also a brilliant light speeding toward her from an immense distance away. In that interval she felt somehow that she "knew all things". But before it could arrive, she pleaded to be able to stay there with me, because I needed her: that was how selfless the woman I had married was, that she temporarily turned down eternity for me. Instantly, she was back in her body, there on the bed, with the a firm Heavenly voice telling her that if she wanted to live that she had better have me fix her some coffee. But with regard to the reason for her sudden mortal turn-for-the-worse: all we ever found out for sure before we left was that the nurse was a good friend of the lady with the shotgun.
Crusade of Our Lady of Kazan
Through seven Western states.
Just outside Douglas Joan's asthma cleared up instantaneously, completely and forever: and she was destined to go from a frail and sickly woman perpetually on death's door to a sturdy matron ready ably not only to take on the most onerous of domestic tasks but also indeed to help me in my carpenter work as well: drawing both upon her own knowledge and native genius for design and her experience as a child when she had helped her own Dad on various independent jobs, a Carl VanCleave who had also been a carpenter. This good wife of mine having gone from being carried out to the car to literally running around it, there on the edge of the road, where we had stopped to admire the lovely landscape on the way North toward Tombstone, the first leg of the long journey we were to make. The big old eight-cylinder I had been able to buy with the meager amount saved up in the six or seven months we had lived in Douglas was a real "bomb", but far from only taking us half way to Tucson before "blowing up", as the dealer had indeed candidly acknowledged as possible there on the lot, it would over the next few months travel thousands of miles, climb up steep canyons in Idaho and Montana, start up each morning rather nicely and speed us on our way. As we followed for perhaps half the time the old Lewis and Clark Trail, the silver-framed icon of Our Lady of Kazan facing majestically to the fore, leaving in our wake some forty or fifty bumper-stickers, on fences, rails, posts along the road, which read "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us". Little did we know then that once the pilgrimage was over the aged vehicle would never move again, would have to be towed away from the spot at which we finally came to a halt, our journey complete, back in Globe, AZ. The mechanic who towed it away marveling that it had ever gone anywhere, as the cylinders visibly wobbled around in their chambers, the Apache technician ascertaining dumbfounded with his instruments that the old V-8 was incapable of producing any compression at all. But by then such unearthly facts had become quite familiar to us: as in the one case when out of gas in some bottomless canyon not far from Lewiston/Clarkston the gas-station owner had given us barely a gallon, knowing it wasn't even enough to get us up out of the mammoth hole, whose bottom had indeed been a hard thing to find, seemingly descending at least three thousand feet to some river gorge. But we said a Hail Mary—a prayer so much mocked today, when said in just such circumstances—in fact we said many of them as we went up the grade, going at least eighteen miles before reaching the top—already having gone about twice as far as the little bit of gas could naturally have taken us. But after that, up on the flat, we went non-stop as well the other twenty-some miles into the next little town, in Idaho as I remember, in the midst of which travels we suddenly became aware that the customary engine roar had become a gentle hum: among other marvels we were to experience not a few times hence. Thereafter, getting into the little place, we then coasted, out of gas at last, until we were directly across from a church where help was given us forthwith, having as always explained what we were doing. Much of the time inserting an exhortation toward modesty of dress, to priest and minister alike: the lack of which, together with an increasingly-paganistic school-system and media, we could see was the real driver behind rapidly accelerating numbers of abortions and well of other social and moral ills of every kind. This first soul-seared evidence of Original Sin, experienced in the Garden by a just-then-fallen Adam and Eve, this primeval, natural-law injunction "written in fleshy tablets" on the human heart, this fundamental attachment to modesty-of-dress of men and women of goodwill being a primeval absolute the callous denial of which would more than anything else open the floodgates of modern-day vice. Immodesty and related provocations—finding a strange new refuge of all places in Catholic schools, as we had already found out so well—providing today's underlying lack of immunity to hideous moral diseases of every stripe of our shameful and perverted times, permitting the inescapable dynamic of Original Sin to incubate beyond anything before seen. This promiscuous display of flesh—or its tightly-drawn outlining which can sometimes be more provocative than nakedness itself—this epidemic being at the base of the incitement of inordinate lust, immodesty thus by stages opening the way, in wholesale departures from a Civilization of two thousand years, for a soon-to-appear "tiring of the natural". As an open-ended lack-of-self-control gravely blinds our rational minds, gives to the evil one more and more power over our hearts and souls; and with him at the reins, it is entirely unpredictable where things can so easily go.
Then too, in recalling a dozen other events of a miraculous or near-miraculous kind, this processional Crusade of Our Lady of Kazan would find us attempting to include a large part of Wyoming in our crusade, although we weren't quite sure if that were in heaven's design, this rerouting being found advisable as we traveled north from around Provo, Utah, skirting the metro area amid hills just then from top to bottom exploding in every color of flower beyond anything ever before seen. The immediate cause for the change-in-plans having been the patently-communistic attitude of a highway patrolman to whom, out of gas once again, we naively explained what we were doing out there. He who thereupon immediately began a malignant interrogation which was reminiscent of some "child protective service" caseworker gathering of incriminating evidence, the sort of thing with which we were of course already ruefully well-acquainted. And we were just barely able to get out of his grasp: perhaps we were too far out in the middle of nowhere for him to get a "team" out there to do the increasingly-common, uprighteous "gang busters" thing. (Utah, as we had indeed already found out south of there, just over the Arizona border, was however a "place apart" when it came to most Western states, which generally had no such radical-interventionist axes to grind.) But having gotten on our way at last, hardly following the portly middle-aged trooper's command that we go to the welfare office in the next town, when we finally got moving again we turned due East toward the Wyoming line, where however we found that we had for one thing started too late in the day. Finding the road narrowing as it climbed, dusk setting swiftly in. What we finally did—out of gas again at last, probably having received the customary "gas can" full from some passing good Samaritan, the old tank having guzzled the stuff alarmingly as we made the unexpectedly-astronomical climb—was to turn the car around in the dark. Me and my pregnant wife somehow managing, with no prior experience in such a rare art, not to get impossibly marooned against the dirt bank at the wrong angle for coasting down. A feat we managed handily if with a lot of Heavenly help, rolling into motion at last, picking up good speed, coming to a stop some ten or fifteen miles down at a place where we could safely spend the night, parked on some gravel "pull off", just to the side of the road. So much for Wyoming, at least for now.
But actually the above lines are somewhat out of chronology, as when we got to Tucson from Douglas, which was about as far as our gas would take us, with a little money left over for motel and food, we suddenly once again "got cold feet". For after all, neither of us had ever begged before, and as much as one might admire St. Francis of Assisi to actually imitate him in such matters is an entirely different thing. So, as I recall, after the memory-dimming passage of decades, we were undecided as to whether we should stop and "save money" or just continue on, throwing ourselves Francis-like on the providence of God. Somehow deep down we knew that the latter was the will of God, but it was exceedingly hard just then, utter neophytes that we were, to "come clean" with ourselves, or indeed with the Creator. This time He showed us His usual extension of mercy on our behalf: I got a job with a remodeler, first just as a sort of "extra hand". This boss a humble young westerner, probably a few years younger than me, who was a joy to work with, in his manly and unassuming way, a guy who had a great sense of humor, who was also the first to introduce me to not-inconsiderable marvels of Gatorade. These Tucsonians and others I met who were so numerous during those years above all things had no "chips on their shoulders" such as we from back East typically seemed to have, "attitudes" largely born of over-possessive mothers and brow-beating teachers, each of them somehow thinking to mold you in some way, likely taking certain random habits and characteristics as indicative of certain Freud-pronounced-upon frightful or sick-minded things, providing rare avenues-of-control otherwise not to be attained. This whole take on the training of youth having redundantly proven disastrous, having ended up cultivating the very things it was meant to prevent; being in fact in our own opinion part of a deliberate morbidity-saturated scheme to destroy the American character, and thus control the land. As one failed Pavlov's Dog experiment succeeded another, with the professional appetite only whetted with each new catastrophe-auguring statistical survey, each new foray into the utterly unknown. The Westerner back then by sharp contrast being no believer in any sort of human engineering, knowing full well that all such things are best left in the hands of God—in an approach more-or-less polar-opposite to sissy-makers back home—with strong inducements toward virtue, rather than morbid pokings at imponderables, alone being expended generously. (Alas, there were problems out West too, like the perfectly-undemocratic three-way dominion of the Mormons, their close-cousin Freemasons, and regionally-ubiquitous crypto-Jews: among well-to-do Mexicans many of the latter descending from Spanish-Habsburg times, when they were comfortably sheltered from an Imperial "monopoly" honored only in a 99% breach. Families like the Goldwaters and leading ranchers, together with other masons following in the footsteps of most of the major and minor trail-drivers of the 1800s, themselves also Catholic-despising lodge-hall-hands to the core, forming a loose alliance aimed principally at keeping the historically-potent Catholic origins of the whole Southwest thwarted, discouraged, trivialized.) But somehow on that particular job I was able to keep the noted sort of inwardly-fragile disposition, which of course hadn't been helped at all by bizarre and bewildering events in England noted above, at bay. Hence after a week, the boss wanted me to stay, telling me that "all he knew" was that I "knew my stuff", was diligent and friendly, and didn't need to be prompted about anything. But by then Joann and I realized that we would never save any money for any such crusade in this way, that everything went for necessities like lodging, while during that short stay we had heard the same inward voice as before, earnestly urging us on. While one last tentative desultory resurfacing of Joann's asthma of course sounded an alarm that couldn't be ignored. And although we made a short stop over to see my sister Diane in Globe, and had second thoughts up there too, north of Tucson, for a day or two, we quickly realized that it was "now or never", and with much trepidation made the plunge north to Flagstaff, and from there, as if "off the end of the earth", over the Navajo Reservation toward Page.
What one scarcely anticipates at such pivotal times is the tremendous sense of the divine care that will instantly descend upon you when your vehicle finally rolls to a stop, yourself out of money and gas, at the bottom of some vast slope, surrounded by prickly pear and sage, saguaro and palo verde: wrapped in a "peace which surpasseth all understanding" which you will infallibly know if you are out there doing the work of God. It is so delicious an experience that you are ready to kick yourself for having been so hesitant in days and moments before. An utterly unrenderable freedom-from-solicitude being at such times known, as of a boon companion dwelling "in the inner chamber" of your soul, indeed walking alongside you as you carry the gas-can up the road, a Divine Person abiding there too with wife-and-child left momentarily behind, making them joyful as well beyond compare. A first and most-incontrovertible evidence of the divine aid, this inner confidence is what put the broad smiles on our faces so many times, when visiting back in Joliet or in Globe, in the midst of what for most others would have been considered the most terrible poverty. A genuine Gospel joy, born not really from "pretending to be a Franciscan" but from the utter repudiation of human respect, preferring God before man. The Divine Companion having had something more important for us to do just then, than just to "bring in the bread". This happy and uncompromising conviction, displayed repeatedly whether in travels and travails voluntary or by dint of a growing culture-of-persecution, an inner satiety indeed which "up to date" Vatican-II-loyalist and fallen-away-Catholic relatives, themselves completely consumed by will-mincing biblical "cares of this world", could only take as conclusive proof of some pathological state, as evidence that they had been "right all along". These "mature", "practical-minded" souls indeed continuing in every possible way in coming decades to live up to Gospel warnings about who your "worst enemies" would prove to be.
Just outside Flagstaff going north on highway 89A you climb through ponderosa and fur to a kind of rim, down the other side of which opens out to you a stark desert moonscape, a bowl descending for miles to a whole different climate, there on the wide-ranging Navajo Reservation. In this adventure a sense of relinquishment, of both free-fall and free-flight was succeeded, as the gas-gauge steadily approached empty, by the above-noted experience of Heavenly peace and unshakeable confidence. It was sometime in September of 1974 and still extremely hot at lower elevations such as this, and I walked for some distance, perhaps a half-mile, until I came to a small settlement on the left or northwest side of the road, where in front of one of the stucco or mud-sided houses or hogans there stood an elderly Navajo of the most noble and silent bearing and manner, to whom I only knew to plead in heartfelt tones for whatever help he could give me and my family for gas. For by then, as I approached the cluster of buildings, the initial sense of confidence had quickly been succeeded by the older and more-typical panic, as again the whole thing really was like walking off the end of the earth in every regard visual and emotional, and I suddenly felt like the world's biggest fool, who could hardly hope for a hand-out on the strength of some "mission", which I felt that all who saw me would instantly impeach me of without giving it much of a thought, calling me a charlatan "out to fleece the Indians" like so many others in such very guises had for so long indeed done. But to my astonishment the old gentleman, having advanced a few paces to greet me, literally rushed back to his dwelling and re-emerged in an instant with his cupped hands full of dollar bills, probably his resources for the whole week, perhaps from the trade which most of these little outposts did, in long shaded stands by the side of the road. All I could do was to thank him, clasp his shoulder and pump his welcoming extended hand. Not a word of English had been exchanged, and so I assumed he didn't speak any, so that communication thus concluded I went on my way full of profoundest joy. Alas and after all, my confidence hadn't at all been fanatical or misplaced!
As it turned out this sequence became less and less difficult to accomplish, this begging, with a brief exhortation and description of our mission rather artlessly, sometimes indeed clumsily or even sheepishly attached: and as you might gather it never really became easy at all. But most importantly in a very real sense I was gradually losing the chip on my shoulder referred to above, this sense of being such an important person, such a noteworthy soul. For I was taking help from the humblest, noblest and yet most abandoned of people, I was witnessing their marvelous personal virtue every day, while likewise receiving as a mendicant the assistance of the more well-to-do that happened to live in the neighborhood or were passing by. And the whole experience—part of an inner universe of the soul the memory-of-which is completely lost with mortal sin, or the loss of sanctifying grace—was just what I needed, being the most purely-spiritual, egotism-quashing experience in the whole world. I felt freer by the day, and it began to seem as if I would burst for joy. Here alas prudence being indeed required, as I would ruefully learn in no great length-of-time, yet for now God was happy to just let me revel in this ecstatic and unique Gospel "liberty of the sons of God". If I was later indeed to prove a fool in more ways than one, my confidence easily outrunning my discernment or "inner eye", a chief pitfall of mystic souls such as St. Teresa of Avila indeed forewarns so vociferously, yet there would be the same loving God waiting to pick me up or scrape me up off the road of life, dust me off, forgive me my sins and follies, help me regain this inestimable interior freedom once again.
But the problem fated to reappear time after time was that none of those officials and both lay and clerical Catholics who managed somehow to wield such great power over our little family back then believed any of this. They however for whose scathing opinions, as the years went by, and as towering and inescapable as these figures would prove to be, I cared less and less with each passing day. Rancorous family members having indeed put forth a standing rule—one actually verbally pronounced more than once by the above-noted ever-scheming brother-in-charge—that we were not to be return to my home town, that "there would be trouble" if we ventured there for any length of time. This near-comical bit of "get out of town by sundown" megalomania being announced over a mortally-struggling little family considered to be a shameful liability to "respectable people" like themselves. But as might be imagined, given various hard socioeconomic "facts of life", this mandamus would in fact make multiple returns on our part inevitable, as all my prior personal connections had been severed beyond reprieve, and one cannot just camp out on the street. Our little caravan finally falling into a kind of routine of a return visit home every six months or so, perhaps having circled half the nation in the interim. As for one thing I had abruptly had to leave the economic-security-assuring employ in Joliet of an exceedingly good man, a certain Mr. Kiley, the owner of a J and R security-guard firm, a guy who—indications were—had stellar plans for me: being as I was a fellow-Catholic, a "hometown boy" decorated veteran, college-educated, respectful, responsible and fluent in speech. That job which I finally and with great sorrow and reluctance abandoned through stalking activities of that shameless brother who, as noted above, kept calling me—on the older phone system which had a dire dearth of security features—simply to gloat over all the various lies he had told, and tricks he had performed, toward my family's demise. As indicated in a previous chapter penetrating the plant I guarded through the telephone I had to answer dutifully as an integral part of my job. Myself knowing the limits of my own patience, in a situation at the hands of a sociopath which one has to experience to understand, realizing in a very imminent way that I would either (truly) lose my mind or end up in the state pen if I continued to endure the inescapable morbid harassment at that post. (The lengthy history of this kind of malice in my family is a story I decided to mostly leave out of this account, only suffice it to say that it involved the occult, and had been virulent when I myself was a newborn child, often placed in the care of those affected. The story of the persecution of my wife and I and our family at such hands however being only another staggering example of the way in which the innocent and devout are placed "behind the eight ball" by the whole formidable New Church "reform", even more than they had been in "innocent" forties and fifties before.) While likewise I was probably afraid to broach the subject of this job-site harassment with Mr. Kiley, who although upright and good, a classical "law and order" man, had no time for "nonsense": this indeed being another standard trait of men of his fine breed. On the other hand "out on the road" we faced, and many times barely escaped, a growing "child protective service" parent-despising state, one which, especially in certain regions, was eagerly ready to put your children in foster care. After which, if you didn't become a "model citizen", in other words an opinion-less worm, you would never see them again, and the authorities would likely introduce them to a regimen of heartbreak and desecration, no doubt including measures mediating a veritable forced-apostasy. A potent cocktail staggeringly often, so scant obtainable evidence about ever-"uprighteous" foster-parents starkly reveals, to end in daily "come to bed to mama" concubinage or rape.
But as indicated to ever-hovering folks at home our transformation-in-Christ was all sheer hysteria, fantasy, "schizophrenia", "illusions of grandeur", and so on. As for one thing to such "enlightened" minds religion had been boiled down nicely to a lot of holding hands at mass or at some "prayer meeting" in the basement of the church, and humility confined to remaining a mousy-if-noisy nobody, certainly with no political "footprint", in your little Alinsky/Marxism-inspired BCC or Basic Christian Community. That which was a chief byproduct as well of a conspiratorially-related Vatican II, these communistic little parish-cells allegedly encompassing ones whole personal compass, beyond which the Catholic was not to "proudly" venture forth. This mousy quality, this utter repudiation of the universality of the Church, and of a related innate political-virility in particular of the lay-Catholic fold, one of her four ineffaceable marks, this sheepishness hardly however to be found among radical-progressive interventionist souls whose line-crossing personal oversteps held carte blanc in parish and family life.
Another phenomenon which emerges out there on the crusading road is that ones "tongue is loosened", to use the biblical phrase, and people like me who had always thitherto preferred to linger in the shadows are likely to come out like roaring lions, aggressively hounding down or hammering out new ideas, engaging others in an ebullient way about any number of worthy things. All this too of course being considered a tell-tale "major personality change" by the folks back home, rather than a manifest gift from God. Anything so positive, energetic or singular being considered an infallible sign of some frightful pathology, in a synagogue-sponsored demeaning view of humanity which in fact considers a major percentage of mankind—as it turns out largely that very percentage which imitates Christ in any serious way—to be "incurably" mentally or "emotionally" diseased. (Oh, of course, if you consistently act like a Jew or a pagan, leaving your Catholicism conveniently behind in all practical regards, then you're a "real trooper", an "OK gal or guy".) The more sincerely devout being urgently advised to go on a dangerous and addictive regimen of "therapeutic" drugs, to basically "take nothing too seriously", to "avoid controversial subjects": all this so that they won't be "a danger to themselves or to others". This complicated recourse in fact like lighting a time-fuse for a future personal implosion of a catastrophic kind, while of course arbitrating the appearance of a spineless nobody, hardly preparing Catholics to take our places among those doughty democratic legions of which America is allegedly so proud. The "ideal" personality—to whom blandishments of Catholic piety mean nothing at all—and toward which each and all are urged—is on the other hand precisely the blatant chuspah of worldly, cynical, ever mocking and trivializing Jews, who undoubtedly will make no character-related demands on anyone, thus "putting them under a strain". These biblical "enemies of mankind" who quite-the-contrary historically through the dope trade and incendiary programs of political extremism will make destructive, ultimately miserable and useless wrecks out of their fellow countrymen, hardly challenging them to anything exalted at all: except of course an aggressive-warrior's jerk-knee willingness to "do or die". Producing a populace they may effortlessly "divide and rule", pitting now easily-roused reckless passions of races and groups against one another. Hebrews thereafter, perhaps armed with popcorn or beer, censoriously "watching the fur fly". But the Catholic who actually practices his faith—no ETWN, this doesn't just mean "receiving the Eucharist" or attending some high-brow lecture on "apologetics", but actually being Catholic in both humblest and most-visible facets and recesses of ones life—is a "new creation", and treads such treacherous lies contemptuously under noble feet "that bring the Gospel of peace". This whether formally or in humble daily virtuous behavior and virile community-minded activities of lay throngs.
Essentially indeed the outline of our future family existence is to be found in this crusading mode, a fact which dawned on we ourselves at odd and mystified moments and by bits, as we were with much trepidation but undaunted spirits repeatedly forced back out on the road, where attempts were made daily to secure employment, but where circumstances for same were lacking in the extreme. A condition however blame for which—and here's a big difference indeed—I seldom really took upon myself, like most others in similar straits inevitably, under "shame, shame" admonitions of Horatio Alger stock-in-trade, do. Being aware as I have always been of possessing habits-of-industry if anything above all my siblings, having from the age of about nine had my own night-crawler and shoe-shining businesses, having thereby contributed hefty sums to the family purse each week, while giving a much bigger amount to the "pagan babies" charity for Africa, to which I sometimes sent, giving it into the hands of the nuns at school, as much as $50 or more at a time (lots of money indeed back in '58). While this virtue of industry was to reveal itself consistently as well in manifest recognitions received wherever I went to work, being at U.S. Steel in Joliet one of a select number of summer-working college students who was called back at Christmas time, for the luxurious "gravy job" of almost-leisurely cutting billets (rail-car axles) with an acetylene torch for the two weeks of vacation time. Although of paramount importance is the understanding that the Crusade was initially and in every respect a call from God, rather than something that was forced on us by man, even if later it began to take on that aspect as well. So essential in fact in my own person was this initial aspect of having been chosen for something that while on pilgrimage in Europe in the first year of my conversion I become aware, almost as soon as I touched European soil, of an urgent and insistent calling to be a layman who travels in the name of God, in imitation of St. Benedict Joseph Labre. He who had had an early history remarkably like my own had turned out, Benedict a profoundly-contemplative soul who had tried innumerable monasteries and hermitages in Europe, all of which either rejected him or he himself found them ill-suited to the needs of his soul. Although sadly for me I ended up stubbornly and decisively resisting this inspiration, to be a holy lay-traveler for God, when I came to the doors of St. Hugh's in Partridge Green: having this grand illusion in my mind that "you couldn't possibly lose" by entering those doors. Being like Sr. Lucy of Fatima, as I myself understand her life-story, enchanted by the idea of the "pure" contemplative life in a cloister: something to which as I allege neither of us had actually been called. Pride, imprudence, folly, call it what you may, I almost destroyed my soul in taking this heedless step, just as I think it did destroy the divinely-enjoined mission of this Fatima seer, who plainly ended up being more a hindrance than a help to Heavenly designs. Although in my own case it is my hope that my initial calling to "travel for God" found its providentially-intended fulfillment in this dire married condition, in circumstances necessarily savaged—but for all that all the more testimonially powerful—by the havoc-wreaking world of a newly-unleashed Vatican II.
Losing battles serve as obscure preparations
For victories of the most signal kind.
Thus are we assured by spiritual writers that some of the thorniest of spiritual combats that we seem always to lose—against some deep-seated doleful habit, some bad temper, some ingrained propensity which seems indeed inseparable from our very being—are with expenditure of due patience and penitence reserved for a final victory of the most auspicious kind. Indeed among the saints their erstwhile worst failings were inevitably fated to be transmutated into corresponding opposing virtues in the most solid and immovable way, "in God's good time", and with continued seemingly-useless labors of every kind. These healings from former faults being indeed like the weld on a metal stock, making the soul stronger at that particular place, in that personally-specific regard, than anywhere else, making one-time most conspicuous virtues pale in luster compared to the newfound burnished drachma, swept up in some routine detail of an inner housecleaning, discovered, done a "double take" upon, in the most unexpected and startling way. Humiliations in the interim having arbitrated numerous otherwise-unsought triumphs never otherwise hoped-for let alone achieved, which God for His own reasons wanted us to have first: the Creator thereby assembling in matchless order and good-taste St. Francis DeSales' celebrated celestial "bouquet", good and holy embellishments we would otherwise scarcely have known how to cultivate, let alone to gather up so abundantly in this way. This way-of-the-saints being a sometimes-scarcely-discernible trace through the forests of this life, a thorny path upon which the long-awaited vanquishing of failings long bitterly lamented is put in proper and realistic perspective. Indeed a trail upon which the accurate grasp of the nature of the whole contest is gradually achieved, being tried and tempered in such a forge, our insights purified in foot-weary climbs, in dross-consuming fires. Finding perhaps that we had attached superficial or worldly qualifiers to a sought-after virtue meant to be practiced with childlike Christian simplicity, thus (to some ironically) becoming much more easily achievable, fraught indeed with concomitant adumbrations of inseparable Gospel joy. Once-insuperable moral ogres now vaporized, annihilated under the brilliant sunlight of a life whose pet or popularly-encouraged illusions had been thoroughly and unsparingly hounded down, run through the sieve of an unbendingly taught school of penance, prayer and inseparable "hard knocks". This happy uncovering of immature and overwrought perceptions of what it means "to be good" finding a chief case for instance in a male virility—a manliness polar-contrary to dim Judeo-Calvinistic view of all such things, found on these shores—a true virtue which positively thrives with the kindly encouragement of other men, rather than requiring some remorseless point-proving contest, as if between bulls or bull-antelopes out in the prairie or field. This only-genuine human manliness indeed marvelously understood by those women who know better than anyone what it is that makes a desirable man, a dependable "provider" and unconquerable defender as well. While the contrary pitiless versions of "courage" and virility which the USA spreads around the globe by the point of a guided bomb is the bitter divider of nations, neighborhoods and the marital bond, being a chaos-breeding "wild card", leading today more-or-less directly to sodomy and other manifold perversities of our times. The mild and salubrious understanding of virtue, minus all the heretically-cultivated sharp edges, being indeed an heirloom of the human race, not at all unique to Christianity, if meant to be uniquely cultivated thereby. A kindly and womanhood-honoring, neighborly and hospitable approach to manhood constituting that chivalry as "when knighthood was in flower": a quality whereby each ministers to each in a rip-rap that rises to the very sky, being as suggested too one of the chief vessels of Christian joy, brokering too the welcome return of a childhood sense of humor, indeed of habitual logical proportion. That probity which is one of the first boons brutally driven-to-ground by a craven, treacherous, Gospel-cursed "world". This "liberty of the sons of God" being much of the purpose of a life of penitence, of crosses willingly borne, this veritably "becoming once again as a little child". Copying those little ones who if not ruined before their time in a very real sense have much more maturity than we ever give them credit for: possessing securely an early treasure that is indeed perfectly annihilated by today's perverted media and scholastic regimen. That which would turn out wound-up robots rather than functional reasoning and loving agents, voluntaristically, exponentially multiplying the common moral and material weal. While one who thus re-secures these ineffable boons-of-youth is thereafter outfitted to storm mighty citadels of falsehood and evil, not being encumbered by illusions and misapprehensions of every foolish, wrong-headed, foot-snaring kind.
But at the start of it all, depending upon the depths of the purgation decreed by God in your case, it can all seem like a hopeless maelstrom, pulling you irresistibly into its clutching undertow. So then would be the decades to follow our first Crusade, carrying the icon of Our Lady of Kazan through the far-Western states, as decreed so forcefully to us by Almighty God. While adding yet more murky silt to this violent and deadly downward-pulling struggle was the developing demise of the Catholic Church, steadily becoming the "odd new church" of Anne Katherine Emmerich's visions of the early 1800s. Even as in our own case a persistence in the "Charismatic Movement", jerk-knee reaction that it was to the absolute bewilderment then inhabiting ours and other-people's disoriented souls, would lead directly to mammoth mistakes in judgment which would ultimately set the stage for our little family's demise: itself indeed already much reduced in size. As for one thing we weren't people to just "take things laying down", not being at all impressed by the way things were going in the USA, finding no concrete leadership in a Catholicism whose authentic elements, oblivious as we were, had been systematically silenced, driven "underground". Thus did we take this new departure "at its word"—even accepting the "gift of tongues", at length trying desperately to fit this anomaly into a theology which condemns these manifestations in no uncertain terms. Daring likewise in odd moments to try to rationalize a "laying on of hands" manifestly heretical, usurping powers which only the Sacrament of Holy Orders can bring. We somehow with great vain labors, "begging the question", concluding that divine inspiration had somehow decided to become more personalized, "spread abroad" among the laity in new ways, in alleged biblical "latter day" outpourings, as among "young men who will see visions and old men who will dream dreams". A passage eighteen-hundred years before given its proper exegesis by grave and sublime saints and martyrs far more qualified than today's serendipity and mediocre anti-pope breed. After all, we reasoned in our doleful reverie, hadn't this been much of the celebrated "spirit of Vatican II", that which we ourselves still heedlessly embraced as being the "wave of the future", the authentic recreation of the "life of the Early Church"? Little realizing as we did that the latter much-noised post-council concept had formed the standard slogan of heretics from Tertullian to Calvin to Amy Semple McPherson, the "what a man, what a man" quadruple divorcee and foundress of the Four Square Gospel Pentecostal Church. Grand and cheaply-bought phrases now being plied to smugly betray a Church Militant which must constantly battle the inroads of the infernal foe, which is thus inevitably formed by successive experiences of earthly kinds, and for which perilous and continuous onslaughts it is itself then hypocritically blamed. That genuine Church—hardly any Quietist institution, being deeply, passionately enmeshed in critical practical affairs of men—hardly the fountainhead of such monstrous illusions as now multiplied in parishes around the globe. The One True Church being called "corrupt" simply for possessing an unassuming mortal human component none can part with this side of the grave: that very vulnerability however causing the Church, not to despair, but with the Apostle to "glory in my infirmity", being ceaselessly dependent upon prodigal measures of the divine aid. (As were we ourselves indeed so often to be out there on the road). "The gates of Hell" accordingly never triumphing over a doctrinal continuity pristine, "spotless and without blemish". Sole possession that it is of that embattled Church to which despite its present humiliations we remain undyingly attached.
Most crucially provided for me nonetheless by the Pentecostal Movement—to give it its more honest name—sorely faulty and inadequate though it would prove to be—was a sort of temporary all-purpose vehicle for the continued practice of a traditional Catholic faith whose most familiar and beloved manifestations were now more and more seldom to be found. This new veritable irruption in the Church, which by dire circumstances it seems I had no time or opportunity to evaluate in any sober or systematic way, being thus a provisional temporary shelter from an inner bewilderment more intense by far among the spiritual advanced, a factotum likewise giving me a cultural and social framework for a personality still lingering somewhere in the early-sixties, one which as noted in a previous chapter had been "left behind in the dust" during recent upheavals in the American character or soul. These having been wrought on this land over the four years I had been in a sense "gone" from ordinary American existence, going from the Army to Ireland to England, on pilgrimage in between, being spared the full traumatic impact of things like the ultra-radical American version of the Vatican II reform, the growing anti-life movement, the mounting civil unrest, the all-determining Hippy movement in its myriad media-lionized, deliriously-promoted offshoots and branches, and so on. While also much at the crux of things for me and Joann—completing a kind of troika which impetuously drove us down the road—was an uncompromising opposition to a steadily-advancing elite-sponsored legalized abortion which I was just barely able to peaceably abide: hardly able to tolerate its murderous shadow on the American soul, its butchery of the most innocent of human lives. So that impinging directly upon our circumstances in a most desperate way was my decision, agreed to by my wife, to never earn enough money to have to pay income taxes at the end of the year. As potentially disastrous as this decision might have been, its symbolism meant worlds to us, being an act of defiance without possible sanction, its costs coming "out of our own hides", as it were: much like some American Indian on an arduous rite of passage that would somehow establish him in a personally unimpeachable way. The fact that the children suffered too we thought to be an unavoidable corollary cost to a battle not really chosen by us at all, but forced upon us by those synagogue-brokered secret societies that had controlled the USA for so long, most notably since multiple social revolutions and other disorders noted above.
Hence only within this framework do my continual firings and quittings make any sense at all: my own personal formation, wrought in years of contemplative prayers, in stints in the monastic life, now so much a part of my character as to be inseparable from me—an identity desperately clung to through mechanisms described above—being alien to universally-"cool" bosses and co-workers. While I brought upon myself the further liability of necessarily rubbing elbows with some less-than-savory elements, who unlike me had to take jobs at such low pay. But I must give myself due credit: I took things as long as I could, I tried in every possible way to accommodate myself to those around me, to never be censorious if it could be avoided at all. However, as I was so ruefully to find out: it isn't exactly that such workplace associates want you to be kindly and accommodating. No, a large plurality of them won't be satisfied until you become a copy of themselves, taking spells at being a sort of foul-mouthed humanoid, or at least greeting such behavior with loud and sincere protestations of glee, these people being expert at spotting any piety-preserving pretense from a mile away. Accordingly then do attempts at tolerance or mollification only make you that much more contemptible in such a workaday world. Thus it was always under impelling reasons that a job "didn't pan out": sometimes indeed my life was under threat in random ways: once in a refusal of other carpenters to accept my supervision, three stories up on the framing of a roof, in a hot-tempered confrontation which could easily have found me "accidentally" falling to the ground. While in another incident a giant pulley for an overhead door, weighing easily a hundred pounds, which we on some job were taking down, was dis-attached of a sudden and came careening toward me, suspended on stout chains, missing me only by an inch or two. The one responsible having for days been mockingly unfriendly toward me in the extreme. While more commonly I just wasn't given anything to do, until I finally "got the message" and went home. Yet with the loss of each succeeding job came some period of weeks during which, having no funds any longer even for lodging, we would once again travel far and wide, speak of holy but gravely-neglected things, confess our Catholic Faith to all who would hear: even though shadows were inevitably closing in upon us, tragedy stalking us, fated soon again to reappear.
Once while in Gallup, doing our usual round of activities, as there was indeed little else we could have done shy of going to a welfare office where we were likely to be grounded for good in the worst possible way, we went about, on the streets, or within some soup-kitchen or Indian center, simply telling people what we were doing, how we put our trust entirely in God and the Blessed Virgin Mary, how I did St. Joseph's very own carpenter work whenever and wherever I could, asking them first of all for information on possible jobs for either of us (but mostly for me, as Joann had the (by then) two kids to see after). One badly-crippled Navajo at the local Indian Center, hearing this "word sower", threw his head back and laughed in the most disconcerting way, in company with a woman of the same tribe who added a few mocking observations as well, such as The Dineh indeed can be uniquely adroit at doing when they so choose. As it turned out, later having just been indignantly scolded by a priest at the door of the local Franciscan friary, we went brokenhearted back downtown, only a few blocks away, and as it happened found the very same mocking, crippled Navajo standing in the shady doorway of a shop of some kind. He whom I thereupon, apparently somehow inspired, "laid hands upon" and prayed-for: something which the laity actually can legitimately do, as I understand, as long as they don't make any vaunted claims of priestly powers, as the Charismatic Movement so plainly does. Thus indeed had one divinely-gifted pious old woman cured my own mother in the Old Country when she was yet a little child, when suffering from a constant watering-of-the-eyes whenever a wind came up while she tended her little flock of sheep. The "auntie" bade her lay her head on her lap so that she could place her hands on those afflicted eyes and say a fervent prayer. Being firmly assured by this Heavenly visitor that she would be OK, Mom thereafter went on her way, never in her ninety-eight-some years to experience the infirmity again. Thus then too did this erstwhile mocking Navajo begin violently to shake, as if a mere leaf in the wind, as if somehow my hands held forth a potent electrical shock, after which he loudly exclaimed that he had been completely cured. This however I didn't at all believe, he having lost all confidence from my own quarter, being convinced that he was only laying out a clever snare in order to mock me some more. But in fact later in the day we ran into him again and he was walking normally, calm, smiling and happy, without his crutches, and extremely kindly and grateful toward us. Then too in the same Gallup, perhaps at some other time, this being a frequent node on our journeys across the West of those times, we were candidly asking the ticket-agent at the bus station for a "break" in order to get on a bus and head somewhere. Thereupon this guy launched into a fiery diatribe against what we were doing, accusing us of the standard "child abuse", of gross negligence, of shameful failure at living up to the "American dream". We left crestfallen, but before we could get more than a few paces from the front door someone brazenly drove off in the agent's own car, there in the bright noonday sun, at which darting mass-of-metal he himself made an Olympic lunge, seriously abrading the whole front of his body as a result. A man who got up and dusted himself off, we ourselves hardly more than an arms-length away, he being understandably mortified and humiliated in the extreme. Plainly to us having been thus instantly chastised for saying such awful things. While in this spotty recall of miraculous events, of which over the years there were to be no small number, I must add one from years before, before my marriage, when up at Madonna House in Canada, looking for a vocation to the religious life of any kind at that point, out in the northern woods of Ontario. Just then the Charismatic Movement was being volubly discussed, at one of the over-the-plate after-meal discussions customary at the noted Lay Apostolate during those time. As it turned out, when I got up to lend a heartfelt defense of the Traditional Faith and older forms of devotion, before I could even speak, the whole building literally "shook as of a violent wind", which had indeed come up of a sudden on a perfectly calm day. Madonna House having been a place where one of my sisters had been a staff worker some years before, but with which I would take serious umbrage both then and especially during a later visit in company with wife and last child, Therese.
The life of "progress", of "exceptionalism", of "success" of the modern American involves a forging-of-chains of which he is mostly if not entirely unaware: being increasingly confined to a path dependency, a toboggan-run narrower and more blindingly-fast as time goes on. For with every modern-day "advancement" come a hundred varieties of "security" with which to guard such rapturously-swooned-over boons, by doughty terms-of-which acceptable or harmless types of behavior become more and more rigidly defined. If we had all been born with the required "street savvy" we would instantly recognize this for what it is: a radical change in values, customs, civilization smuggled in as it were by the back door. That sort of thing namely for which the Jews are notoriously well-armed, morally and by way of social habits cultivated for thousands of years. This is the way they "hustle" mankind down any number of dead end roads, and indeed our ancestors used to instinctively sense when such odious maneuvers were taking place—often indeed in the name of some glorious ideal—and they had a wealth of personal and political policies in place to resolutely guard against such very underhanded, dishonorable and insidious things. But we of our own day had no such prudence, hardly being the biblical "wise as serpents but simple as doves", some few of us being alarmed at the general drift of things in Church and world but having no idea to what a dismal cul-de-sac the barreling train was bound, both in our own case and in that of society at large. Gospel-shrewd ways of the "old timers" who grew up back in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries having been held up to withering ridicule and dismissive scorn for so many years, from so many directions, that it would have been a near impossibility to retrace ones notional paths back to their good, upright and stolid standpoint: had you indeed any idea that this was precisely what was required. Being helped little by the Odd New Church predicted in Catholic prophesy, sprung so formidably out of Vatican II, that would resolutely turn its back on the wisdom of forefathers of old. For which radical revamping-of-souls New Church was to have the benefit of modern means of communication, and brainwash, that would intensify exponentially as the post-council decades wore wearily-if-excitedly on.
With this preamble in place regarding our own personal lives after our first Crusade, that specifically of Our Blessed Lady of Kazan, I think it is enough to lay down a bare skeleton of facts, without getting into any more of the frightful and intractable details involved. Suffice it to say, then, that difficulties out on the road, looking for work, spreading the Faith, both the best we knew how, came to a climax in a loss of custody of the younger two children, Nicholas—whom we had trustingly named after one of the brothers most intent on our total demise—and Edith Maria, named after Joann's maternal grandmother. This having taken place in Georgia in 1976, after a great many "evangelical" travels as detailed above, with a Baptist minister to whom we had gone for help fulminating against us to the court, being bitterly averse to our Catholic Creed. As it turned out, the court and agencies involved realized rather quickly that there was nothing sinister about us or what we were doing, but they made the mistake, which the judge assigned to our case later ruefully regretted, of placing the two kids in the "temporary" custody of my brother Nick. Instantly, he and my sister Diane—the one back in Arizona—hatched a plan whereby we would never get our children back again. This little conspiracy, for such it was, ultimately finding us regaining custody, but having to fight for it all over again in an Illinois court in which a civil suit had been instantly filed by my brother himself, inspired by a just-then-enacted revolutionary state-supreme-court ruling that replaced the previous "fitness" standard for parental custody with the arbitrary, borderless, Jacobin, family-demolishing "welfare of the child" doctrine. Putting all the families in the USA from then onward basically "up for grabs" by shrewd or wild-eyed family-services functionaries of every stripe. For as stated above, our little family was a test case from the word go, one upon which many-another family-butchery to come would be based. Indeed, even our own attorney, a Chicago Jew obtained through efforts of Father Sinsky, the pastor and a hardened enemy of my father back home, took the side of my brother against us, after the first few personal sessions with him, once he found out our conservative Catholic view. Claiming nothing less than the new radical court doctrine as his justification, alleging that he wasn't after all there to represent we the parents at all, but only, you guessed it, "the welfare of the child", he thereafter if without open admission became the mortal enemy of our cause, although it was by then too late to find anyone else, or so we reasoned, having already given the man thousands and thousands of dollars as a mere retainer, to the tune of $600 a month. (By then I had obtained an excellent job at the local copper mine in Arizona, doing "doubles" on a "twenty turn" shift, getting triple-time for holidays. This while Joann had an excellent job with the State of Arizona, at a group home for the retarded of which she at the time was often left in charge.) This Judas-counselor having nothing but scorn for us, going out to lunch repeatedly with my brother, the "complainant", and Charlene his wife, the venal manipulator discussing strategy with them, stoking up mutual fires of contempt for all we ourselves held dear. This latter-day Thomas Cromwell going so far as to suppress vital testimony on our behalf, while veritably coaching Ellen, the younger of the two daughters of Joann's previous marriage, the one who would later be known by that familiar name on national TV, to lie-about or misrepresent her mother there under oath on the stand.
But after all, this was what to expect back then, although you would have to have been privy to a great many hidden things to know what sort of an ambush you were going into in such a case. People like us had no hope, but went about our three-and-four-year-long court battle with legendary stars in our eyes. Only to be brutally disappointed when the gavel came down, in proceedings which had obviously been manipulated from several directions, my then holy-roller-minister brother having a host of friends in high places indeed. Intimidating anyone, including a court psychiatrist who like so many others in my own past gave us a favorable hearing, the poor soul to be subjected to Nick's notorious hysterical, white-around-the-mouth rage, at the doorway of his office as we left. Indeed, when I realized the way the case was headed, although hoping "against hope" that God would somehow save the day for us, I couldn't bring myself, nor could probably have Joann, to face the grim-faced probable verdict, and so we didn't go to hear the "sentence", as it would essentially and punitively turn out to be, leaving that to our attorney to do. A verdict which gave my brother, so I understand from our lying "attorney", full and permanent plenipotentiary powers over our children, by a court fiat of the most unprecedented kind, he being able to demand any number of counseling sessions which we would be required to dutifully attend, as well as to regulate our conduct with regard to the children from then on. We then being condemned to endure episodes of heart-baring such as we had thitherto refused to do, this being the "let it all hang out" sole litmus-test of sincerity of the times. A "hanging of ones heart on ones sleeve" which we had resolutely refused to entertain during the various hearings, being incapable of the bathos and sanctimony of Nick and Charlene over intimate reaches of our hearts, minds and souls. The "too quiet man" being here drawn up once again for implacable judgment, indeed for a kind of drawing-and-quartering, as a self-retailing USA will always do, in judicial scourgings together with his humble and unpretentious wife. We hardly wishing to begin baring our deepest feelings there in the court, sentiments so earnest and heartbroken that we could easily have lose complete control over ourselves, with who knows what consequences. (Indeed, at an initial out-to-dinner meeting with Nick, just before the hearing commenced, when I began to tell him in simplest terms of our insupportable grief, he became enraged, right there in the restaurant, and accused me of "laying a trip on him". Oh, how many times such cowardly hippy-language would come to the rescue of this ignominious fiend. A veritable "ripping apart" of heart and soul taking place there, across the table from this supercilious fool, and the consequences of any repeat performance, in the court, before a "team of experts", or elsewhere, were entirely beyond my reckoning.)
Thus although not really in "family court", this being a simple civil hearing, of a "brotherly" complaint brought forth, yet it was expected to have all the emotional bouts associated so closely with same, but none of its mitigating benefits for honest people such as we. An ordeal inflicted upon us by a sibling who after a decade of relentless slander and misrepresentation had finally run me aground, allegedly constituting me a psychological "basket case", one of his favorite terms of the times. And requiring me to be meek as a lamb before his probing hand. Ah, Nick, but there's another gavel soon enough to thunderously sound.
Plainly, there are limits to personal endurance, and this extended desecration wasn't something either Joann or I could abide. As both after the verdict and during the hearing it was once again "all about me" in particular, or else the judicial spotlight would turn to some stark-but-untrue "revelation" about Joann, which our attorney would ignore as if of no bearing on the case. Throughout which train of slanders and pillories we would have to coolly prove that our children wouldn't be "better off" under my brother's roof: much like the real-property decision to come a decade later, after which some Midas can take over your property, representing the struggles of a lifetime, simply and allegedly because he could "more profitably" turn-a-dime. To such depths would be taken the rearing of a child. While in the midst of these court intrigues, these formalistic showings of "causes why", we would be expected to turn on a dime, pull out the cry rag and do the wring-your-heart-out marathon of the century, or otherwise we would be counted cold-blooded monsters and con-artists without a soul. And if we went to these "counseling sessions" I was to be forced to "confess" after all that I was "in dire need" of psychiatric care, or we would never be able to care for our children again. The younger of the two, Edith, by then being a stranger to us, although Nicholas recognized us after a mere half-hour or so, in a court-arranged brief get-together for which Nick scarcely showed up. After which incipient recognition this Judas brother found an excuse to quickly remove our little boy from the house, entirely violating the spirit if not the letter of the court-order itself. While very soon thereafter Nicholas would be permanently institutionalized, where he remains to this very day: thus the great "welfare of the child" paragon of the century would do our beloved and grieved-over child. All this agony before a final decision having gone on for three years, in this strange and illegal tri state compact, another administrative first never in American history seen before. The self-pillory of the traditional-minded Catholic soul, which wife and I were expected to inflict upon ourselves, being indeed the whole onus of Vatican II, which this Catholic-apostate brother seemed to have embraced in the most wholehearted way, big-paycheck-earning Pentecostal minister though he was. And furthermore, a kind of frosting on the cake, any subsequent tragedies in the lives of these two innocent little ones—and there would follow, and already had followed, staggering ones—would be sanctimoniously laid at our own doorstep as well, by the whole clan and their numerous associates, our name thus being blackened with a condemnation worse than any felon ever had to face. Being assessed as "not caring enough" to carry the thing through: as if our input would have made any difference for the good at all. And yes, we can bare our hearts now, just barely, after all these many years.
But our simple logic too was that we didn't intend to abdicate whatever respect we might still have in front of the kids. We intended to be remembered as honorable and self-respecting parents, and not as the spineless parasites my brother was bound and determined to make us into. Hence were there heroic degrees of resignation involved, together with a refusal to be emotionally mauled by a certifiably sick man and his deluded wife, who as we understand would later at an untimely age die a mysterious and brokenhearted death, having been completely rejected by the man she so genuinely loved. While as noted above we also knew that we had long ago "had enough", that a highly-possible place on death row or in the state pen would have done neither we or our children any good at all. This being the old and tried way that crime had always been prevented, by keeping unpredictably passions at bay, rather than according to a modern behavioral doctrine which would have us "let it all hang out", and let some Orwellian functionary pick through ugly, personally-abdicating, juvenile-emotional details involved, like some ancient Roman oracle poking at the entrails of a bird. With unpredictable reactions to be "cured" with lifetime "cocktails" of addictive drugs.
Thus then did we turn to the raising of our last child, Therese, who had been born less than a year before the hearing in Illinois. This girl who was to be with us on so many adventures, Crusades which she, the unique and marvelously-buoyant human being that she was, would remember mostly as having been a great deal of fun, as a "way apart" from the humdrum of an ironically oppressive "progressive" modern-day life. A home-schooler who ended up getting three offers of scholarships when she appeared at the collegiate doors a year or two ahead of time. Although much later she would be brought to make strident claims to the contrary, as she too fell into the net of this alien family of mine, who filled her head with faithless, alien ideas. For as it turned out we were forced once again repeatedly to return to the family home, the welcome-mat having been generously kept out for us by my good father, until his death in 1989, while the extended court cases in two states had finally required a severing of my job at the mine, and the taking of several there locally in Illinois, as the hearings lumbered on. Our years in Globe of prosperity thus having come to a close, during which we could easily have bought property had not everything gone for litigation, while with Joann's uncovering of several major scandals at the group home there, hers had ended even sooner, being betrayed from every direction, the complicit put in charge. After which she couldn't take the strain, just then carrying Therese, afraid she would lose the child. Yet I must say that as the little one grew I myself was to be of very little help to her, experiencing a kind of fulminating "break down" at last, after the Illinois court case, thus fulfilling my family's every morbidly-anticipated dream. My life having been totally ruined by a series of catastrophic interventions, hearings, meddlings and drawings-up before tribunals of every hyper-vindictive sort. It had been a young lifetime before various types of "Peoples' Court" proceedings at unexpected and bewildering moments, in their own odd way strikingly like those that the Chinese had had to endure under Mao Zhe Dung, during his notorious Cultural Revolution of the 1950s. A pathological panoply which beyond question served as a blueprint for tyrannies to be imposed insidiously in the USA, and for which we were as noted an obvious "test case". And one cannot be too much blamed for a kind of personal collapse which might so easily ensue under the unbroken, unmitigated onus of such utterly-unnatural things. Hence as might be expected there were still to be found some number of "monkeys on my back", gathered there by the backlog of nightmarish experiences since my return from Vietnam, genuine personal traumas which I had never had any chance to properly attend to, and Therese was to be helped by none of it at all. While I also possessed a usual number of ordinary individual blind-spots or personal vulnerabilities which everyone has, and which require a certain degree of peace and tranquility to be resolved: in an atmosphere of at least marginal confident order which I was basically never again to know. Excepting of course those times of spiritual fruition, in the deepest reservoirs of the soul: imparting a strength however "not of this world", a stability of the most rock-solid kind which yet with ineffable irony can leave you as it were abandoned and forsaken in many ways, as if repeatedly and at frequent odd moments hanging from the cross. As "no man is an island entirely unto himself", and somehow it was God's good dispensation that there was to be no relief for people such as we in the "glorious and happy time" of post Vatican II. Our little family of three destined with hardly any exception to be at most a curiosity both to stoutly-proclaimed "friends" and the rest of those around us everywhere we went, in every setting whether at church, at school, in jobs of both of us at various times. As we did the one thing that was utterly anathematized in New Church circles and everywhere else as well: we actually and laboriously tried to live our Catholic Faith. Not just make theatrical gestures which had become the rule of the day, whether among liberals or traditionalists, it didn't matter a fig. Catholicism having for almost everyone become a routine matter of bear-hugs and laughter, "good jobs", photo-finish "correctness", and a house in an impressive neighborhood: all this completing a picture of a modern-day paragon "ashamed of Christ before men".
Religion become point-proving.
In the "Catholicism" of New Church there is always some ulterior motive involved, as "the faithful" since Vatican II have become almost incurably distracted from their one-time intimate tryst or commitment to God. Churchgoers utterly lacking that inner and outer mortification so critically required, finding true devotion an immense embarrassment, as if somehow they were unfairly stealing time away from the demanding, monopolizing attentions of the herd, just now poised to thunder over the brow of the biblical cliff. Grimly resolved, this milling, stomping mass, not to leave anyone behind in such a blind and binding act of camaraderie. Hence if you perform some act-of-fervor it is instantly assumed that you did it to gain attention, to "carve out" a place for yourself, perhaps even to fill out an otherwise-embarrassingly-empty spot on a resume. This pre-eminently then was the "St. Mary's College" in St. Mary's, Kansas that we found, in our fifteen-year-long occasional stays there. It was like a kind of Living History Museum of the traditional Catholic Faith, in which crypto-Jews and various upper-middle-class actors played their minor or major roles in the most meticulous way, with only discrete back-stage smiles-up-the-sleeve allowed. A place stiflingly controlled by Jews, indeed with some of the most prominent figures of the place sporting standard Jewish names, and with boorish hauteur imposing standard mocking and overbearing Jewish personalities on anyone who passes their way. These the enforcers par excellence of the new column-and-line discipline which is the watchword of New Church in all its various compromised, heavily-synagogue-controlled branches, but no doubt especially in a "land of the free" USA. St. Mary's having been erected as the global center where "traditionalist" resistance to New Church would be astutely gathered into one place, there to be harried, tormented, its helpless families—having dutifully "burned" their occupational, financial, and housing-related "bridges behind them"—rigorously experimented upon. The perpetually-miniscule populations of these various traditionalist parishes guaranteeing the movement eventually to die on the vine: enclaves awash with carefully-cultivated peevish suspicions, ceaselessly stirred up by certain professional agitators such as I myself had known so ruefully well back at home. Fulminating in particular against any newcomers who might drop by to attend a Latin Tridentine Mass: these invariably viewed as at best Johnny-come-lately slackers who "had their chance", at worst as infiltrating "moles". Every few years some "new departure" being launched among the same old crowd: like this Today's Catholic World enterprise which last-we-heard claims to have had a sitting pope and a whole college of Cardinals "at the ready" for the past twenty-four years. Ready for what, to blast off to Mars? In a Church in which the last vestiges of Faith—which the Savior will have a hard time finding when He so soon comes back—are fast fading away—and which can ill afford such fingernail-inspecting, luxurious delays? The last traditionalist couple we ran into near Albuquerque being completely buffaloed, confirming for us in their own persons our own most-anticipated expectations and fears in spades: having plainly been brainwashed, rendered infantile-credulous toward the patented con-artists by whom they are ruled, placing their very souls blindly into the hands of monsters and fools. There's precious little love of God or man in these mass-centers, mostly involving a search for social or financial security, for spouses, or for other things much worse, with the great ironic rollicking market-oriented cynicism unleashed by Ronald Reagan being the only real spirituality involved. Indeed, once you get a good whiff of the Movement, you realize that the New Ordo for all its heretical folly has at least got an occasional earnest soul out there somewhere in the pews, still capable of some rudimentary devotion or sequence-of-thought.
Into this boiling stew, then, our little family of three landed, back around 1979: St. Mary's being a place from which we first initiated our end of the above-described court battle set to rage so long several states over in Illinois. My first memory of "The College" being of my own long-hour labors, having been informally hired as a carpenter to replace all the window-panes in the front college building of red brick of the mid-nineteenth-century. The venerable old structure built on ranging acreage originally belonging to the Pottawatomie Tribe, having been donated by them to a short-lived Jesuit mission: with these pious Catholic Indians having been instructed in prior centuries by the French in Canada. That land from whence indeed, like so many other tribes out on the Plains, these Catholic neophytes had fled before murderous bands of Yankee "soldiers", bent on extinguishing the One True Faith on the entire Hemisphere, indeed the entire globe. This initially during a war with Canada of the mid-1750s, a conflict utterly unwanted by a benign and enlightened English Throne of the much-slandered Georges, hostilities somehow loosely but with scant honesty associated in the history books with an English-French Seven Years War overseas. This northward aggression actually being the sole product of Colonial hatred and greed, pulling the English reluctantly into the ever-vindictive Puritan fray, forerunner indeed to so many aggressive American wars to come. These marvelous Indians at early St. Mary's being gifted with a miraculous apparition of Our Blessed Lady almost as soon as the newer American Jesuits arrived, with these latter been instantly and generously gifted lands by the tribe, meant for the spiritual and intellectual tutelage of the Pottawatomie. These mammoth parcels being then essentially expropriated—no doubt "legal" niceties and all—to accommodate sections of fertile farmland, the town of St. Mary's, and a posh college for Catholic Anglo men as well, operating for some seventy coming years. All this in a variation of a tiringly-familiar expropriating saga to be seen across the entire West, with Catholic clerics often somewhere with conspicuous sanctimony involved. This having been the grand way of a John-Carroll-Catholic USA, imbued with the spirit of Manifest Destiny far more than by the Holy Ghost, this "frontier spirit" a ready close-cousin to a Vatican II a century later to appear.
But back to my seemingly-endless labors on that old structure, being myself a glazer of the best sort of freehand-cutting skills, to match odd shapes of the windows involved, I had to pass by the rest of the crew several times a day, down on the ground floor. They whom I would almost invariably find gathered together, sitting or lying around on sofas, stools and folding chairs, having a good time. These then were the uniformly Anglo-Saxon "saviors" of the Church in doughty full form, and I an invader to be ruefully regarded with suspicion, being far too Mediterranean looking for these budding homeland-security paragons. I guess the assessment was that all my protracted labors were only to "wheedle my way in", among geniuses who forthwith scraped the second-biggest boiler in the state of Kansas, with heat-bearing pipes leading through walk-able underground chases to the dozen or so major buildings on the plant, needing basically only a knowledgeable hand. These doughty patriots taking it apart by torch and hauling it to some salvage-yard for a penny-to-ten-dollars reclamation at best. And then too there was the beloved old college church, a landmark where many locals and college students had "tied the knot", a magnificent structure which a careless worker burned completely down—a recent hippy-era beach-comber from California, a true Jew in attitude if not in belief—allowing the wiring on his power-saw to short out—or so goes the story. He among the most characterless persons whom wife and I have ever known. This was the St. Mary's which you could never quite convince of your Catholic Faith and loyalty, a place rocked with continual scandals of every kind. By the time we left for good being under Fr. Angles' tutelage taken over by the well-to-do LaCrosse-team set, while true to form among signature-traditionalist scandals of an unspeakable sort was the female sex invariably treated in a callous and cavalier way.
No, none of us mere laymen were a match for this global coterie, this Society of St. Pius X, a "rebel congregation" of a Catholic Church to this day in the clutches of a remorseless conspiracy. All of it predicted a hundred times, but even these predictions mostly stifled, silenced, out of Rome, out of every chancery office, for the past century and more. From which quandary we were told by Pope St. Pius X (a real pope, a real saint) that it would be "the laity who will save the Church". This then the Anti-Sodomy Crusade initiated by this brutally-beset little family, represented now solely by my wife and I. Taking the holy words of this early-twentieth-century pope and saint as our cue, an effort humble indeed, yet known extensively across the USA and indeed around the world. We however whom hardly anyone dares to help, even if they sincerely support the efforts we so stubbornly make. Being even now "grounded" once again, our transmission having been sabotaged—as had been two engines beforehand—by a sodomite mechanic. One who in this last case for the twenty days that we were stranded in front of his shop—his services allegedly being paid for by a Presbyterian church—kept on declaring his perverted "love" for this Crusader, myself. A pervert who finally let us go with a van so defective, pulling a heavy trailer behind, that it could easily have caused our deaths, a lead-vehicle which for one thing could not downshift in descending the region's many 8-percent grades. But back around 1980 when above activities were taking place, we didn't have a clue about where it was all headed: all we knew was that we had to very simply, in the Gospel childlike manner—"unless you become as little children"—be good, the best we knew how. The one thing that was actually no longer allowed.
Regarding our time spent there at St. Mary's in eastern Kansas (there's another tinier one far to the west), to do events and myself justice I should relate, as classical-paranoid as it may sound, that around 1988 I was the object of some sort of doping or drugging while there, something which I believe was slipped into a drink I was having, at a house to which I had been invited quite unexpectedly, in some iced tea or something that I remember thinking was rather gratuitous, not really required in the cool of the night, as well as, if I remember rightly, again with the dim memory of twenty-seven years or so, tasting rather strange. Well, within a very short time I began babbling things from out of my past to anyone who would listen, as if everyone were my closest friend, along with which broken dam of palaver came a repeated fainting, something I had never in my life known, when exerting myself on some especially hard construction job I had contracted. Just falling down like someone near death. It seems I was the target of some sort of truth-serum or something, either because I was suspected of some kind of deceit by this tight-knit little cabal to which this guy belonged, as was indeed anyone there who acted as "different" as did I, a crime I could thus be induced to "confess", or just to make a complete fool out of me, which of course it very quickly did. Anything there was to "confess", I did indeed. I lost very quickly lost any respect I had built up for myself there in that town, and it was the cause of an incredible amount of misapprehensions about my character, for anything that crossed my mind, the most bizarre and outlandish things, was likely to come out to whoever was there. This condition only lasted perhaps a week, but obviously the damage that resulted would be quite permanent. The guy I suspect to have done this to me was a member of a right-wing political set there, one with stout connections back in southern Texas where he came from, and perhaps in some other states as well, a group much criticized for trying to entirely, ham-handedly politicize the traditionalist movement, essentially to convert it into a privileged refuge for a certain well-to-do "Bircher" (as they were at first called at the college) "go-getter" crowd, and their rough-and-ready hangers-on. That very element that would later wear the moniker of "neo con", first irruptions of which seem to have been felt among Catholic traditionalists and conservatives well ahead of most others, a driving influence at St. Mary's indeed from its inception ten years before, around 1978 or so. Here again the constant theme, that a Catholic in those post-council times will likely find his worst enemies around the vestibule door, and marching stoutly in the communion line, rather than out in the wider secular world.
After many attempts to make a go of things at St. Mary's, as well as at a few other Traditionalist enclaves around the country, our little family finally broke with this sanctimonious/materialistic set. Finding an odd assortment of Jews and bustling upwardly-mobile creatures everywhere firmly in charge, having suffered several acts-of-sabotage on construction projects not only from a brother as noted above but also from a certain traditionalist "builder" who totally ruined a ceiling I had subbed-out to him, applying drywall compound not in smooth uniformity but in big rock-like globs. While I was likewise treated like a public enemy for above-described political activities by this same traditionalist cabal, as described above: subject to an "investigation" that jetted to Kansas all the way from Econe in Switzerland, but which never once spoke to me. Rather studiously gathering up old-wives-tales about myself and my family, with tight-lipped clerical-apparatchiks in charge including the notorious bishop Fellay who is now seeking absolute reunification with an antipope Rome. Hence free at last were we to travel in several types of trailers or campers, I to work mostly on carpentry framing jobs, driving vehicles on whose sides were painted large signs at first in favor of Catholic or Christian monarchy, and later, as it turned out after Therese's wedding at the age of eighteen, in a twenty-six-state-and-running National Anti-Sodomy Crusade. In 2007 going all the way to D.C., circling it during two or three weeks three times around, as we (numerically mistaken, as it turned out) remembered Joshua circling the pagan Jericho. Everywhere as noted above people positively love what we are doing, take many pictures of us and our rig, but they are mortally afraid of "getting involved": since everything in the "land of the free" (what a bad joke) is as it were tied together in the most restrictive possible way. Your e-mail likely to be monitored by your employer, with surveillance likely-enough as well of your associates and points-of-view: all this in doughty synagogue-patriotic "united we stand" form. Does anyone see any likeness to Orwell's fists-in-the-air-unanimity in his apocalyptic book, 1984? To think such a thing would be unspeakable treason to employers who give out pink slips—and sodomy-peddling grad programs which run you out on a rail—for any such disloyal things.
More events and insights on the Crusade.
The intervention of miraculous things.
Our Crusade has been a continual saga of the intervention of divine providence on our behalf, but there have also been a great many plainly miraculous occurrences as well. Thus for only one of many such instances, in a recent campaign, traveling between Gallup and Holbrook in Arizona, out of gas again, I took off with the can, traversing an extremely hilly terrain. After about three or four miles of walking I was picked up by a guy in some sort of service truck: an extremely pleasant and likeable Mexican-American, much like many we had known in Globe for so many years. He had only a five to spare, after I told him what we were doing and why, when he dropped me off at a station only about a mile or two from where he had picked me up. Well, the first inexplicable thing was that on my trip back, during which I got no ride, the ground was no longer hilly but extremely flat, extending in one gradual bowl-like formation for about three miles, and then descending back to where Joann was patiently awaiting my return. However I was so absorbed in my task, and growing hot and tired, so that I didn't really notice this discrepancy in a landscape that had been so different only moments before. In a transformation which of course you hardly expect to simply materialize. But the big surprise, reserved in His inimitable way by Almighty God, came some two months later when we returned along the same route, on a Crusade which could sometimes, depending upon the inspiration and resources of the hour, be a circuitous New Mexico and Arizona path. This time having ample gas in the tank, what was our shock to find that the distance from where I had run out of gas months before to the gas station where I was taken to get fuel wasn't a mere five miles but twenty, ascertained as we clipped off mile-posts in a flurry one-by-one on this latest trip. A distance I would have had a hard time walking indeed, being a forty-mile round-trip. Then there was another such miracle-of-distance, experienced on the state highway going west toward Wickenburg off the Black Canyon freeway in extreme northern Phoenix, a prodigy this time shared by the man who picked me up to get some gas: the stretch being shrunken from four miles to about two, and this guy quite shaken from the experience when he dropped me off. What actually happened was that a whole intersection and set-of-signals, together with its paved interval to the next set-of-signals, simply disappeared. Always, wherever we ran out of fuel, we display our big signs right there, sometimes even coasting to some "pull off" providentially provided in God's own unmistakable way. These painted announcements being of course eminently readable as well while traveling down the highway: especially on interstates where drivers in the opposite direction, just across the median, often gape unabashedly at bold statements on our rig. But among the most staggering experiences, this one like the first not noticed until later, was when a guy who had helped us out the day before, and whom we ran into again the next day in a neighboring town, mentioned having the evening before introduced his little daughter to me at a convenience store some miles from where we had met, they being on the way to a ballgame in which she was to play. But in fact I had not been to that store that night, Joann and I having gone directly to a motel to get some rest, and I for a chance to put some more articles on the website. Then too there is the case of what seemed to have been an actual physical apparition of a holy soul, taking to himself a form visible to the eyes and not just to the soul, as in an "intellectual" vision: this apparent flesh-and-blood event occurring while we were parked at the RV park in Superior, AZ, around 2008, and had only that day, as I remember, printed-up and taped-to-the-wall a picture of Cardinal Stepinac, from off the internet. Well, a knock was heard at the door, and there before us in the dark was a young man who looked exactly like the youthful Cardinal Stepinac in the portrait that day so reverently if humbly installed. He asked us if he could use our telephone, spoke only a few short sentences to someone on the other end, and then remarked upon the newly-printed picture's uncanny resemblance to himself. In the few moments he was there we told him how we had been married up the mountain some twenty-five miles in Globe, some thirty-three or so years before, whereupon he mentioned "what a nice lady Anna is": this a strange way to name a single person in a town that large. As I remember he said he would be back—and he has no doubt been back spiritually—but he never returned physically again. But it was Joann who made the connection about who Anna seems to have been: a Croatian-American lady we had known way back in the mid-seventies, a lady who had died back then and for whose soul we had prayed a great deal. The Cardinal being of course himself a Croatian, if the visitor was indeed he, was telling us that Anna Lubich was safely in Heaven with him, where he was enjoying her engaging company.
I could go on to describe my return to college, and then my stint in grad school, but it would be a rote repeat of the very same thing. People of my formation were dinosaurs, and although the young people with whom I sent to school were marvelous, magnificent human beings, yet they were inaccessible, impenetrable, behind iron barred cages of "don't speak to strangers", "stay with your group", "avoid people with 'incorrect' ideas", and so on, interior dungeons inhabited since pre-school. This latter institution itself an invention of a Mao Zhe Dung bent "capitalist" world, with an odd sort of "free market" grimness enforcing a "we work together, we learn together, the good American way"—our old "Catholic" elementary school song, sung each morning just after holy mass—a patent collectivism gradualistically imposed on us by the guinea-pig pragmatists that have peopled basically-all private and secular education departments for the past century and more. This repugnant collectivism, now under guise of a vaunted "Exceptionalism", being a paganistic, hedonistic, materialistic morally-killing-field now likewise imposed upon an entire globe by American force-of-arms. Yet perhaps of interest in this connection is our newest experience, of "in the know", "in crowd", groupie, ex-hippy Boomers, those of my own generation who so thoroughly disowned and injured us in the past. A great many of whom are "all crippled up" from their "new and exciting" excesses, denizens of a just-after-Vatican-II era praised so volubly by so many on the "Catholic Global Network", EWTN. We run into these people everywhere we go, in rueful encounters in which they often bitterly vent their spleen against such unthreatening people as well. Why? Simply because we are so unthreatening, which to them somehow signifies a contemptuous rejection of themselves, as we honestly share so little of their trenchant animosity, their bitterly-vindictive, Viagra-driven take-on-life. They still think anyone who thinks differently from them is "sick, sick, sick", in the teenage parlance of the late-fifties already, as read in the local newspaper back then in Joliet. These unfortunate people still up to their old tricks, of "one-upmanship", of cleverly "fixing your wagon", of trying desperately to make friendliness look like an invitation to instant intimacy, but nowadays in a geriatric invitation to another arthritic-but-drug-enhanced bout of "free love". The sorts of atrocities we have seen committed by some of these "exciting" people are the very stuff of legend: but with St. Paul, "I spare you".
Yet as much as God has been generous to us with his grace, it is difficult to render how demoralized one can at times become, after having been subject to forty-some years of comprehensive, systematic abuse, both as a family and as individuals, much of it organized by external elements of a Catholic Church to which one has remained undyingly attached: a Church however whose genuine adherents are nowhere actually in power. This experience being for us especially evident in treatment meted out at traditionalist centers, where the most arbitrary "disciplinary" measures are carried on—against those perceived as potential or actual dissenters, as somehow not having the right attitude, even as being too suspiciously quiet, and so on—all this with an overwhelming degree of intensity uniquely-achievable in small, embattled "reforming" groups. Full advantage being taken of psychological "high ground" thus attained, those who come to these mass centers being typically and quite-naturally ready to "bare heart and soul" to the clergy involved, they who however in many cases forthwith use the very confessional itself for the most cynical and visceral of control-tactical purposes. In a sort of new "crowd control" from which the cops in Ferguson might indeed take a page. This then a latter-day Catholicism which has completely lost contact with its own spiritual roots, which has taken on the lowest paganistic methodologies of a Gospel-condemned secularized "world", with the most conservative or traditional of Catholic elements as eager to get-on-board the Spaceship Enterprise of modern Western progress-worshipping materialism as are those more liberal in character, for which purposes are adopted all the Godless customs, values and loyalties of same. Any who hold by the old being held in suspicion in the most unnerving way, most particularly and with staggering irony among those who stoutly claim the name traditionalist. For if you show any degree of actual fervor in your attachment to the Faith—something really quite impossible to sanctimoniously "fake"—if you aren't an absolute sphinx when it comes to your outward demeanor, say at Holy Mass, with only the most truncated of mechanical gestures-of-piety allowed, or if indeed you show any exceptional piety in the way you dress, speak or conduct yourself anywhere at all, then you will instantly become a "suspect" of sorts, of "trying to start a new religion", of trying to "be holier than the priests", and so on. The obvious aim being the production of the kind of compromised Catholicism that was alone acceptable to the Nazis in World War II Germany: one heretically Quietist, a "religion" which doesn't "inconveniently" "intrude" into ordinary daily affairs. Since what the world lives under today, with the partial exception of Russia, eastern Ukraine and perhaps more-recently Hungary, together in their degrees with other Slavic lands, is a Caesaro-Papist globalist regime, a new Barbarossa empire: one which is both Nazi and Communist in political and economic character.
In such circumstances, then, those under such scrutiny can easily find themselves taking "harmless" moral shortcuts, and going down paths of otherwise-unthinkable folly of every kind, trying to relieve the strain, ending up in big trouble morally and in many other ways. All this especially as there really are no counselors to turn to, no books written, to guide a soul caught in such a frightful, intensive, unprecedented bind. The plain aim of it all, of those proxy-synagogue forces secretively in charge, being to make you simply give up, to drop your hands to your side, to join that group-think of blank-faced persons I once saw in a prophetic dream forty-five years ago, getting ready just then to dive into a sulfurous, fog-blanketed lake which I instantly understood to be Hell. These damned souls demanding that I dive in with them, their millions being an army amply large enough, or so testified my stark terror in the dream, to make good on their infernal demand.
Hence our adherence to the cause of Russia today, and our closely-related mounting of A New and Better Confederacy and National Anti-Sodomy Crusade: seeing the fulfillment of the Fatima Message coming about in no other way than by the accession of Russia, as predicted in Fatima in 1917, to full Roman Catholic Faith. With a newly-replenished Catholic Church then no doubt subsequently placing a Russian bishop, at that point part of the Catholic hierarchy, on the Papal throne. With the papal tiara—signifying St. Peter's authority over all earthly as well as spiritual powers—being again thunderously reclaimed. A Russia which is alone capable of providing the leadership required, against a form of Christianity in the West which is a Jewish-value-ridden mockery of the Savior, as against a One True Faith to which most here are shallow and often insincere strangers. Indifferent or contemptuous of His millennially-developed Civilization, his moral law. While it will be in this ultimate form, arbitrated so closely and in every way by Russia, that Christianity, finally united under Catholic Rome, will "spread palm branches on the ground" as did Hebrew children during Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem just before His cruel death. This eminently-fitting and necessary, practical and ceremonial honoring by civic, military and spiritual institutions alike in anticipation of the Second Coming of the Savior a glorious panoply to be seen immediately after the short reign of that final Antichrist of whom present-day crypto-Jews like Barack Obama are a foreshadowing, as were Barbarossa, Henry VIII, Napoleon, Roosevelt, Hitler and Stalin, who came before. Each new successive approximation of the long-predicted offspring-of-Hell being increasingly evil and perverse, until the last conceivable dregs of wickedness are achieved in the biblical "man of sin".