After the March for Life, the students and I spent the weekend as tourists in the Washington, D.C. area.  The nice thing about our nation’s capital is the plethora of free activities — the monuments and memorials, the Smithsonians, and National Archives — and we tried to see as much as we could.

Our first stop was the Natural History Museum, partly because there was an interest in seeing the Hope Diamond.  It’s a fun and beautiful museum, although it unfortunately feels the need to push an agenda on its visitors.  But we all just ignored it and enjoyed seeing the animals, vegetables, and minerals.  Until I was pushed too far.

We were in the Hall of Mammals, which the museum feels the need to present as if you’re looking at photo albums from your great-great-grandmother.  There’s already an exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s Origin of Species– I don’t see the need for them to tell me while I’m walking through the Hall of Mammals that I’m looking at my family history.  Thanks.

But the museum is beautiful and the animals impressive, so we were enjoying ourselves.  Until I saw the following seemingly-innocuous plaque:

I’m sorry… what?!

I pointed it out to the students and used it as an opportunity to show them (and everyone within earshot of my big mouth, extra loud with indignation) what is wrong with that statement – a statement that most people — teachers, children, adults– pass by and take in without the least thought.

Yes, my physical traits place me in the classification “animal,” and I don’t deny that I’m a mammal.  But it’s that second statement that worries me so.   “Your cultural traits  — such as language and art — help make you a human being.”

Those help make me a human being?  Or are those outwards manifestations of something else that sets me apart?

If we follow this to its core, what about the woman in vegetative state, lying in bed, unable to communicate or appreciate Monet or Vivaldi?  Is she human?

What about the newborn baby, depending on the outside world for its very survival, its blue eyes shining up at its mother with utter trust?  Is she human?

Yes, our ability to produce great works of art and our faculties that enable us to communicate orally or in a written way do set us apart from the other mammals.  But we have these abilities because of our intellect– something that other mammals will never have, regardless of how smart Lassie and Flipper seem.

And, to go farther (at which point we’ll lose the Smithsonian crowd)- we have a spiritual soul, given to us by God.  The immortal soul of man sets him apart from the mammals, allowing him to paint like Raphael, sculpt like Michaelangelo, speak like Cicero, write like Shakespeare.

Last night, on a special on television, I saw a 1 lb 6 oz baby lying in her incubator, perfectly and beautifully formed, facing the world, albeit a little earlier than she expected to — and I thought back to this statement.  This little girl had no art, no language– nothing but her immortal soul, her little body, and a loving family.

I started to cry, out of the sheer joy and thankfulness that we live in a world where she will survive, despite her early departure from the womb.  But in the pit of my stomach, there was a knot– thinking of the cruel world we live in, where society is willing to define man by his work, his abilities, his potential.

The March for Life was a beautiful witness.  But is our work in vain?  Are the philosophical underpinnings of our society so rotten to the core?  If they are, and if society continues to brainwash us with such ridiculous statements, the unborn will never be seen as people.  Because we will have shown with false philosophy that they aren’t.

The real battle is in the culture, in the hearts of the people.  Will you fall for the rhetoric?  Or will you see the lies when they are sold to you?

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I have about ten posts in my head.  I wish I could write all day.

I definitely wish I could write more about this: the Manhattan Declaration.  It is a declaration signed by leaders from every branch of American Christianity, announcing that we will stand firm against the tide as it pushes against the sanctity of life & marriage and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.  We will not compromise our beliefs, even if it means civil disobedience.  (You can read the Declaration and sign it here.)

I wish you heard more about it on the news, because it’s kind of a big deal.  Depending on the road down which our country chooses to travel, it may go down in history, a phrase bolded in textbooks.

(Do you ever think of life like that?  That someday a junior in high school will be reading his textbook and one of the paragraph headings will be “Healthcare Reform” in the chapter on the early 2000’s, or one of his vocabulary words will be “the Manhattan Declaration” ??  It could happen, you know.  People in the 1940s probably never thought “the Manhattan Project” would be a vocabulary word in a textbook, and it was in mine.  Well, they didn’t even know the Manhattan Project existed.  But that’s besides the point.)

Anyway, I really believe the Manhattan Declaration will be huge.  It is huge, but no one is paying attention to it.  Because it’s inconvenient.

So I don’t have time to blog about it, but here is an interesting article written from an international viewpoint, by a very good journalist in Rome, Sandro Magister: The Manhattan Declaration: The Manifesto That’s Shaking America.

Please consider signing the Declaration yourself.  Stand up for your rights.  Witness to your faith.  Take your place in history.

This post was intended for November 2nd, but I’ve learned that I can’t force a post– and it just wasn’t coming to me on the 2nd.  Everything was there but the words.  Since the entire month of November is dedicated to remembering those who died, though, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to write today.

This subject has been on my mind for quite some time, actually, and the only reason I haven’t written about it before now is that it’s definitely bigger than what I’m prepared to tackle in a little blog post.  Whole books have been written on the subject, and since I haven’t read any of them, it’s daunting to try to come here and say anything coherent.

But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

I had a conversation a few years ago with my mom about mausoleums.  I never had to face a mausoleum until my grandfather died.  It wasn’t the first funeral of a grandparent I experienced, but it was the first time I stood inside a building to watch a burial.  And it was strange-  I won’t lie.  In fact, I had to leave and walk outside.

There was something odd about mourning in a sterile, staged environment.  The armchairs in the hallway, the Catholic muzak piped throughout the rooms, the coldness of the air-conditioning in the Indiana summer day.

Everything was thought through to be perfect– comforting and pleasant to grieving families.  So it wasn’t.  It was as if the world was telling me, “It’s okay.  We’re here for you,” … in that fake smiley sort of way that reeks of superficiality.

It wasn’t okay.  My grandfather had died.  I didn’t need any fake sentiment, and I certainly didn’t need to hear Be Not Afraid ala dentist’s waiting-room.

To clarify, this is to say nothing against that particular cemetery/mausoleum.  I don’t doubt that sincere, well-intentioned people work there and I’m sure they would never want to convey a mere superficial attitude toward grieving families.   It was the mausoleum environment itself against which my insides rebelled at that moment.

I stood facing the reality of death, and the raw feelings inside of me did not want to be soothed by an attempt to mask the reality.  They sought the tumultuous, unrestrained surroundings of creation.

I wanted to stand in the elements of nature – the grass under my feet, the wind against my tear-streaked face- and watch my grandfather’s casket go into the earth.

Death is real.  It faces us all.  And I think the more we try to whitewash the reality, the harder it is to accept.  Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Our society, this culture that John Paul II named ‘the culture of death,’ fears death.  It believes in killing a baby in order to save a woman’s life.  Why?  Fear of death.   This world condones euthanasia — not because it really believes in “good death,” but because it can’t stand to face something it cannot control.  Through assisted suicide, man can control what he fears most.

The Christian does not fear death, because the Christian knows it has been conquered in the cross of Christ.  Christ’s death on the Cross meant that death was no longer an affliction, but a victory.  Only the culture that understands death and embraces it for what it is– a return to the Creator and an embrace of what man was made for (eternal Trinitarian communion)– can fully live.

Even with this understanding, however, facing the reality of death is a heart-wrenching act.   Even your faith and hope cannot erase the natural pain you feel at someone’s death.  In his Confessions, St. Augustine writes about his feelings at the death of his mother Monica.  His full understanding of heaven and the nature of death did not change the grief his heart felt.

“We felt it was not fitting that her funeral should be solemnized with moaning and weeping and lamentation, for so it is normal to weep when death is seen as sheer misery or complete extinction.  But she had not died miserably, nor did she wholly die.  Of the one thing we were sure by reason of her character, of the other by the reality of our faith.  What then was it that grieved my heart so deeply?”

Augustine finally accepts that grief is a natural emotion in response to death. “Because I had now lost the great comfort of her, my soul was wounded and my very life torn asunder, for it had been one life made of hers and mine together.”   He eventually let himself weep.  “Now I let flow the tears which I had held back so that they ran as freely as they wished.  My heart rested upon them, and it reclined upon them because it was Your ears that were there, not those of some human critic who would put a proud interpretation on my weeping.”

The Christian grieves and rejoices at the same time.  These two contrary emotions were reconciled to each other on Good Friday, as our Blessed Mother stood and watched her Son conquer.

The one who fears death cannot rejoice in it.  And the one who does not embrace death cannot grieve.

We must face the reality of death to fully understand it, and we must understand it in order to more fully live.

Cemeteries lie overgrown and unvisited, for our world would rather not be reminded of their own mortality.   If we’re going to be reminded of it, at least let the surroundings be comfortable–staged and sterile– so it’s a little less disconcerting.  We don’t want to think about our bodies being dropped into the cold earth.

Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father,
who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,
who suffered for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
who was poured out upon you.
Go forth, faithful Christian!

May you live in peace this day,
may your home be with God in Zion,
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
with Joseph, and all the angels and saints. . . .

May you return to [your Creator]
who formed you from the dust of the earth.
May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints
come to meet you as you go forth from this life. . . .
May you see your Redeemer face to face.
-Prayer of Commendation

Archbishop Timothy Dolan has an excellent piece in his diocesan newspaper.  Too excellent for the New York Times, who wouldn’t publish it as an op-ed piece.

Anti-Catholicism

October 29, 2009

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

FOUL BALL!
By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

  • On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

  • On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.
  • Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.
  • Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription — along with every other German teenage boy — into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm — the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives — is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

Over a month ago, the Holy Father traveled to the Czech Republic.  Next month, the county will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, when the Communist regime was overthrown and freedom was restored.  Not surprisingly, most of the Holy Father’s addresses and homilies drew upon the ideas of freedom, justice and the reign of truth.

The day before he departed to return to Italy, Pope Benedict addressed the academic community of the Czech Republic with a speech in Prague Castle.   It’s not a long speech, and I’d recommend reading it here.   As always, he teaches with such clarity and insight.

He focused on the idea of academic freedom.   As in his other messages during those days, he recalled the effects of totalitarian rule in the country.  He reaffirmed the importance of the universities’ autonomy — as we all know, when a totalitarian regime takes over a country, it will always take over the academy and attempt to control thought.  The Holy Father reminded the academy, however, that “the proper autonomy of a university, or indeed any educational institution, finds meaning in its accountability to the authority of truth.” (emphasis here, and in the following quotes, mine.)

He reminded his audience that academic freedom has a purpose.  It is not freedom for the sake of freedom, but freedom to pursue truth.  “The freedom that underlies the exercise of reason – be it in a university or in the Church – has a purpose: it is directed to the pursuit of truth, and as such gives expression to a tenet of Christianity which in fact gave rise to the university.”

This perhaps brings up the age old question of Pilate: What is truth?  Is it subjective or objective?  Can it be found at all?

In his address the day before to civil and political authorities, the Holy Father answered Pilate: “For Christians, truth has a name: God.”

After referring to the triumph of truth over totalitarianism that the country witnessed in 1989, the Holy Father cautioned the academy.  He first warned them against the “fragmentation of knowledge” that arises today in the face of the “massive growth in information and technology,” where education is viewed as a gathering of facts, severing reason from the pursuit of truth.  Then he warned against the relativism that comes from this weakening of reason:

“The relativism that ensues provides a dense camouflage behind which new threats to the autonomy of academic institutions can lurk.  While the period of interference from political totalitarianism has passed, is it not the case that frequently, across the globe, the exercise of reason and academic research are – subtly and not so subtly – constrained to bow to the pressures of ideological interest groups and the lure of short-term utilitarian or pragmatic goals?”

These are powerful words from our Holy Father.  Anyone with the slightest bit of contact with a public university has to find themselves nodding to that last sentence.  And let’s not just point fingers at public universities.  We all know of examples of private universities, who so proudly wave the banner of “academic freedom!!” whenever they do something to betray their founders or identity.  They too are bound in chains to public opinion, political correctness, and… money.

The Holy Father continues:   “What will happen if our culture builds itself only on fashionable arguments, with little reference to a genuine historical intellectual tradition, or on the viewpoints that are most vociferously promoted and most heavily funded?  What will happen if in its anxiety to preserve a radical secularism, it detaches itself from its life-giving roots?”

He has an interesting answer:  “Our societies will not become more reasonable or tolerant or adaptable but rather more brittle and less inclusive, and they will increasingly struggle to recognize what is true, noble and good.”

Exactly the opposite of what they all claim to be, no?

It all comes down to truth.  When you get that wrong, you get it all wrong.

“In the end, “fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom” (Caritas in Veritate, 9). This confidence in the human ability to seek truth, to find truth and to live by the truth led to the foundation of the great European universities.  Surely we must reaffirm this today in order to bring courage to the intellectual forces necessary for the development of a future of authentic human flourishing, a future truly worthy of man.”

What is the goal of the university?  To become a premier research institution?  To have an acclaimed faculty that is published and esteemed?  To raise large endowments?

What is education?  Is it an accumulation of facts?  Acquiring a warehouse of skills?  Completing a certain number of requisites in order to earn that piece of paper that says “diploma” on the top of it?

In my favorite part of his address, the Holy Father reminded the professors that their mission is far greater:  “From the time of Plato, education has been not merely the accumulation of knowledge or skills, but paideia, human formation in the treasures of an intellectual tradition directed to a virtuous life.”

Wow.  Tell that to a state school.  Can you even say the word “virtue” in those halls?

He continues, “While the great universities springing up throughout Europe during the middle ages aimed with confidence at the ideal of a synthesis of all knowledge, it was always in the service of an authentic humanitas, the perfection of the individual within the unity of a well-ordered society.  And likewise today: once young people’s understanding of the fullness and unity of truth has been awakened, they relish the discovery that the question of what they can know opens up the vast adventure of how they ought to be and what they ought to do.”

Is that what is happening in our universities, who are so quick to hide behind the phrase “academic freedom”?  Do they realize that true academic freedom calls for the pursuit of truth and acquisition of virtue, not the lemming march to the politically-correct drum?  That it requires fidelity to what is true, noble, and good, not the pledge of allegiance to the latest ideological trend?

A society which allows itself to be hypnotized in the academy by the State will soon be conquered and ruled by the State.  Where are we headed?

Sometimes I have posts brewing in my head for awhile.  It’s usually a good thing that they sit up there and simmer so that when they finally come out of my fingers, they’re a big more refined.

This post, for example, is completely different than the post I was about to write last night, partly because my nightly reading included a passage from 2 Tim 2, which reminded me, “Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.”

The subject of the controversy and quarrel I was going to write about is not stupid or senseless, nor are the possible effects of the quarrel.  Indeed, both the subject and the possible effects are quite grave.   But I think Paul has some good advice, both in 2 Tim and in today’s first reading, Ephesians 4.  The more people who stick their noses in controversies, the greater the fight that breaks out, and the greater the disruption of unity, which is so damaging to the Church.

I was going to detail the controversy here, but changed my mind after I realized that the biggest problem is the prolonging of the quarrel by the interference of outside parties.  To simplify, there is a fight amongst prolifers that has become public and messy.  What began on a blog with a priest warning prolifers against becoming hateful and self-righteous, soon turned into false accusations and hateful remarks being thrown around by various people, many of whom know little about the real, original situation.  It seems  everyone wants to get the last word in the argument, even prolife leaders who had nothing to do with the initial discussion.

As a result, the devil is succeeding in further dividing both the prolife movement and the Catholic Church.  It is a shameful display of disunity, perpetuated by passions and egos and misunderstandings, all contrary to the Gospel message.  As Paul reminds us in today’s first reading, “I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4).

This did not need to be a public fight.  It did not need to splinter the Church or divide the prolife movement.  But it has, and it will continue to, unless we all rise above it.

Much of it comes down to this: there are radicals in the prolife movement who do nothing to help the cause by their self-righteous, bull-headed behavior, and they eclipse what the prolife movement is really about: imago Dei.

Abortion is a horrible crime against humanity and needs to be fought.  But it is part of a much bigger problem.  Our culture no longer recognizes the imago Dei in each person– the fact that each person– regardless of age, health, color, education, or political stance– is created in the image and likeness of God and has an inherent human dignity.

When members of the prolife movement engage in verbal denigration, backbiting, or public displays that lack respect for anyone involved… well, their message begins to ring hollow.  Do we have the obligation to speak up when the truth is attacked?  Yes!  Do we have the right to speak with passion for what we believe in and hold dear?  Yes!

Do we have the obligation to always speak with gentleness and compassion?  Yes.

St. Paul continues in his reminder to Timothy, “Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth,  and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

I was thankful I read that passage before posting.

Let us stop attacking each other and work together to bring about the civilization of love in this country.  Not a false love that lacks truth and settles for false unity under the banner of relativism, but also not a false truth that lacks the virtue of charity.

Tonight I had the privilege of picking up Father Thomas Rosica, CSB from the airport.   For many reasons, Father Rosica is one of my personal heroes.  Here is a man who truly is a John Paul II priest– someone who loves the youth and calls them to something higher– because he knows their capacity for greatness.  Here is a man who transformed a university’s Newman Center and was then appointed to head the entire 2002 World Youth Day and Papal Visit to Canada.  Here is a man who, through the grace of God and a stubborn Italian man, agreed to become CEO of a Canadian Catholic Television Network, Salt+Light, a network that has brought the Church, the Pope, and the saints into average homes and made the Church accessible to everyone.  Here is a man who has been appointed by the Holy Father to work at the 2008 Synod of Bishops– and as a result of his work, set the American Church alive with excitement of the Synod.  Here is a man appointed by the Holy Father as consultor to the Pontifical Council of Social Communications.

Here is a man who has eaten breakfast with John Paul II.  Who shares inside jokes with Pope Benedict.  Who just had an exclusive interview with Bishop Fellay (a man who has only granted one other interivew in his entire life) and who just emailed the Vatican this afternoon about said interview.

Who has helped water the seeds, planted by John Paul II, that are blooming into the new Springtime of the Church.

This was the man I picked up at the airport.

While I stood with my mom and waited for him to arrive, there was a slight commotion about three feet to my left.  I watched as people surrounded a short African-American man, putting their arms around him to take pictures with him and impeding his walk to the exit.  Clearly annoyed with being held up, he stood still for “just one more” picture, then went on his way with his entourage.

After years of saying, “I just want to see someone famous.  Randomly.  Like in an airport” … after months of living in Nashville and complaining that I still haven’t seen that famous person, despite living a few miles away from Al Gore and Nicole Kidman, here was my chance.  I saw a famous person.

I just didn’t know who he was.

I finally asked the airport workers who were standing there next to me, who had witnessed the event as well.  Why, that was Randy Jackson.  The American Idol judge.

Hm.  Here was a man being fawned over by random people in the airport.  Here was a man who is known by the average American for his work [sic] sitting behind a table and critiquing people’s vocal skills.  Here was a man who seemed to care less about the strangers who rushed to get close to him.  Here was fame.

When my mom thanked Father Rosica for coming, he said, “I wouldn’t let her down.”

Me.  Little me.  And you know what?  He proceeded to talk to me this evening and actually cared about me.

Here may not have been “fame,” but I’ll tell you what– the man with whom I walked out of the airport is making a difference in the world.  Far more than any American Idol judge.