It's Still Better This Than Purgatory (or Worse!) in 2008, part 3
by Thomas A. Droleskey
Penance. We should embrace penance with gratitude. We should pray for opportunities to do more and more penance each day for our sins and those of the whole world. We should encourage all of those whom God's Providence places in our paths on a daily basis to love the penances that are sent to us each day, recognizing that each cross we are asked to bear has been fashioned for us most perfectly by the very hand of God Himself from all eternity. The graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross and that flow into our hearts and souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, the Mediatrix of All Graces, are sufficient for us to handle each and every cross, whether great or small, that we are asked to bear.
It is usually the case that most of the penances are most ordinary, most mundane and routine. Getting up for an early morning Mass when we would rather sleep a few more hours. Taking out the garbage when it's exceedingly cold or exceedingly hot or raining cats and dogs. Getting the laundry done. Dealing with broken down motor vehicles of one sort or another. Going to the "well," so to speak, to fill up three liter or gallon plastic jugs of water, which is a particular form of penance to which I must attend every two weeks or so. (This is a particular penance for someone who lives in a motor home and who does not trust his fresh water tank.) Each of us must do all sorts of things on a daily basis that our fallen, sentient natures simply do not like doing. We sanctify our souls in large measure by accepting these daily penances with joy, performing the duties imposed by our particular states-in-life with alacrity, and giving all that we do to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
There are those times, however, when special penances come our way. One of the reasons this travelogue is written, apart from satisfying the demands of those readers of this site who have expressed their enjoyment at reading about our adventures, is to provide a permanent record for our daughter to remind her of the experiences we have had as we have endeavored to pay back what we owe for our sins as well as to help the poor souls in Purgatory as best we can as the consecrated slaves of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Lucy has a very retentive memory, one that is as good as mine used to be before I turned fifty years of age in 2001. However, I do want to provide her with a record of what we have experienced as we have endeavored to sanctify our souls in this passing, mortal vale of tears.
Living in Close Quarters
As noted in the last installment of this travelogue, our "slides" have been inoperable since January 8, 2008. The slides extend the living room by about eighteen inches and the bedroom by about two feet. That's a lot of space in a thirty-one foot motor home. The situation remains now as it was five months ago. All efforts to to repair the slides, which have been repaired numerous times in the past, have failed to remedy the problem. This has probably saved us a bit of money on liquefied propane gas fill-ups in the winter, and is probably making the motor home a bit cooler than it would otherwise be right now during the scorching heat wave that has overtaken the eastern part of the United States of America. It would be nice, however, to have our slides working again. Alas, this has not been within the Providence of God to happen. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
The problem with the slides meant that I had to travel down to Long Island to Tag Motors in Medford. Doug, the recreational vehicle mechanic and jack-of-all-trades who works there, has fixed endless problems on our motor home since we started taking it there in the summer of 2002. Another trip down to Long Island in the motor home, however, was not something that I looked forward to at all.
Yes, although I am a Long Islander and am most at "home" in my native place, driving the motor home to Long Island from Connecticut is something that I despise. The Bridgeport to Port Jefferson Ferry is very expensive, although the cost of gasoline these days is making the ferry pretty cost effective. It is the most direct route to drive to Tag Motors in Medford, New York. Unfortunately, the ferry schedule is such that it is sometimes quicker to drive all the way down to the Throgs Neck Bridge on the Connecticut Turnpike (Interstate 95) and thence all the way out to Medford. The lack of a Long Island Sound bridge crossing makes the trip about 112 miles (it's about thirty miles via local streets in Connecticut leading up to the ferry and those on Long Island leading away form it). Still and all, if I-95 is moving, and that is a big if, it is sometimes quicker to drive than to take the ferry.
Thus it was on Wednesday, January 30, 2008, that I had to drive down to Long Island, leaving Sharon behind to spend the day doing laundry at a laundromat in Shelton, Connecticut, and to keep Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ company in prayer before His Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel in Monroe. I believe that it is best that one of us be close to Lucy in the event that she gets sick and is need of being taken out of school. Traffic on Long Island can get very heavy in the afternoon, and the traffic on Interstate 95 in Connecticut can be backed up from Exit 7 in Stamford to around Exit 27 in Bridgeport, a distance of about twenty miles. I didn't want take any chances that I would get back after the school day was over, leaving Lucy without anyone to pick her up. That didn't happen at all during the recently concluded school year. I wanted to make sure that it did not happen on Wednesday, January 30, 2008.
The trip to Long Island did not, however, resolve the problem with the slides. Doug at Tag Motors believed that the problem was caused by a faulty switch. A new one was ordered, although it did not come in for more than two weeks--and it did not resolve the problem once it had been installed on Friday, February 15, 2008. I had to pay for the labor costs of Doug's work that day, January 30, 2008, and thence proceeded over to Smith Point Park on Fire Island to do a waste water dump. (One of the banes of our existence during the winter was having to drive to Danbury at least once a week to pay $52.50 to dump our waste water at Dave's R.V. Center, paying also to get our weekly fill-ups of liquefied propane gas. It was a relief to have to pay only seven dollars instead of $52.50! I was so tired of paying that weekly fee that there was one Saturday in February, the twenty-fifth of that month to be precise, that we drove to an open campground in Matamoras, Pennsylvania, across the Delaware River Port Jervis, New York, some ninety-eight miles from Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. I know. We probably spent more in gasoline that I would have at Dave's R. V. Center. However, I was just tired of paying such an amount of money to do the dump.)
Smith Point Park was a place, I must admit, that I had never before been in my entire life, two-thirds of which has been spent in and around Long Island. There are places to park motor homes there year round. There is simply no running water at any site in the park during the winter. A bit of a problem, obviously. However, the place served my purposes on January 30 as I used its dump facility. It would have been nicer if the old sewer hose I was using had not been so worn out. Sparing readers full details of the matter, suffice it to say that the experience dumping the waste water was more than a little interesting. It's not the first time that something like that has happened. All I could say was, "All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!" Yes, I did purchase a new sewer hose shortly thereafter. (None of them last too terribly long, I am afraid.)
Commuting Between Connecticut and Ohio Without a Generator
Apart from writing, most of February was spent attempting to launch the video website. After over two months of discussions with the folks at WEBEX, it was determined at the end of January that it was not possible for them (or cost effective for me) to do what I wanted done: to store video lectures on a website. The WEBEX service is principally for firms that desire to do "real time" video-conferencing. I would have had to have paid $250 a month in hosting fees without being sure that there would be that kind of level of interest in the lectures. As it has turned out, of course, there is almost no interest in the lecture site at all, which was built eventually by the folks at Blue Modus who host this site and cost $1500 to construct (and which was funded by generous people who have helped us out so many times in the past). All of this in God's Holy Providence as I try to find some way to support my family while providing good Catholic material to those who are interested. A great deal of time was spent on getting all of this organized. The actual recordings of the lectures began in the latter part of February.
The end of February saw us make another trip out to Ohio, where I was to give two lectures at Saint Gertrude the Great Church in West Chester. We left on Thursday, February 28, 2008, shortly after 1:00 p.m., securing permission to take Lucy out of school early that day and to have her excused from classes the following day and on Monday, March 3, 2008. Her teachers, Sister Mary Philomena Therese, O.P., and Sister Bernadette Rose Marie, O.P., provided her with plenty of assignments to do in the meantime. And the trip was entirely without incident. No transmission problems. No overheating problems. The weather was decent, although cold. The motor home's generator was even working, having been repaired a few days before we left by Mr. Ronald Kusterer, whose son was the other first grader at the school with our Lucy. It was nice to have a fully functioning motor home once again. The 694 mile trip took eleven hours, forty minutes to complete, which is about as quick as it can be done.
The stay in Ohio was pleasant. We had an opportunity to assist at the Requiem Mass of Mrs. Martha Brueggemann, a longtime stalwart of Saint Gertrude the Great Church. Her husband, Mr. Bernie Brueggemann, accepted the condolences of his many friends on the day of the requiem, Saturday, March 1, 2008, the First Saturday of the month of March. It was, of course, most understandable that very few people came to my talk following the conclusion of the requiem Mass, which was offered by Father Anthony Cekada (His Excellency Bishop Daniel Dolan was in Mexico at the time.). A second talk, given after the 11:30 a.m. Mass on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Sunday, March 2, 2008, was much better attended.
Very tired from the long trip out to Ohio, I was sorely tempted to request permission from the school get Lucy's assignments for the weeks of March 3 and March 10 prior to the extended break for Holy Week and Easter Week. As an educator, however, and as Lucy's father, knowing that she needs the structure and regularity of the school environment, the thought of staying put in Ohio, as comforting as that was to my weary bones, was shelved and we set about our return to Connecticut on Monday, March 3, 2008, after the 11:25 a.m. school Mass at Saint Gertrude the Great Church.
Upon returning to the motor home after paying for gasoline at Marathon station on Union Centre Boulevard in West Chester, Ohio, at around 1:00 p.m., on Monday March 3, 2008, I noticed that the generator was not working. It had just been fixed by Mr. Kusterer, who did say before we left Connecticut that he thought that a tiny computer module inside of the generator might have gone bad, something that we found out four weeks later was indeed most correct. This meant that we had to drive all the way back to Connecticut without electricity and without heat (our coach battery has been unable to recharge itself while we drive, a problem that has been as intractable as the lack of dashboard air conditioning and as, it appears, the slides are at the present time). More penitential offerings in Lent. We just had to bundle up on the trip.
The drive itself was without incident. The transmission performed smoothly. The engine did not overheat. The new tires that had been purchased for us in Millersburg, Ohio, on Wednesday, January 2, 2008, worked well. The only real problems that we encountered were caused by the physical condition of some of the roadways.
Sick and tired of taking the usual route from Ohio to Connecticut (I-71 to I-76 to I-80 to I-81 to I-84), I chose to take Interstate 70 out of Columbus, Ohio, joining up with the wretched Pennsylvania Turnpike and thence to Interstate 81 near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, before taking Interstate 78 northeast of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to near Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. Interstate 78 in New Jersey was in terrible shape. It was worse than the Cross Bronx Expressway or Interstate 30 in Arkansas. The motor home was vibrating fiercely no matter the lane in which I chose to drive. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. we love you. Save souls!"
We got back to Connecticut around 12:45 a.m., on Tuesday, March 4, 2008, and I got back to the business of recording lectures for the video website that would not make its debut until Tuesday, April 15, 2008. A trip to Long Island was scheduled for Wednesday, March 12, 2008, to take our beleaguered motor home down to a place where the generator could be repaired. The men from that repair facility, located in Westbury, Long Island, New York, off of Brush Hollow Road (near two former Long Island landmarks: the Westbury Drive-In outdoor movie "theater" and the old Coca-Cola Bottling plant), were most friendly and cooperative. It appeared as though we could get the generator repaired in time for our trip out to Ohio on Saturday of Passion Week, March 15, 2008.
Monstrous traffic on Interstate 95 in Connecticut made this impossible. Traffic was at a standstill, making the Long Island Expressway seem like the Indianapolis 500 Speedway by comparison. An accident near Interstate 287 in Westchester County in the State of New York had closed two of the highway's three lanes. It was clear that I could not get to Long Island and back again to Connecticut in time to pick up Lucy from school, thus making it necessary for me to scuttle the attempted drive to Long Island, whereupon I returned to Monroe to pick up Sharon so that we could dump our waste water at Dave's R.V. Center and get yet another fill-up of liquefied propane gas. We would have to drive back out to Ohio for Holy Week and for Easter Week without the generator once again. More Lenten penance that had been perfectly fashioned for us from all eternity by the very hand of God Himself.
Right Down Memory Lane
A trip down memory lane occurred on Thursday, March 13, 2008, at a Shell gasoline station in Monroe, Connecticut. Indeed, the thought occurred to me after leaving the gasoline station that a veritable cast of scores upon scores of people from Long Island with whom I was once very friendly had driven past the property on which our motor home is parked. This thought occurred to me as I met the husband of a former student from Saint John's University whom I had taught twenty-four years ago now. I more or less knew that these good people were living in the same general area as we had been parked since October 14, 2008. I was also very much aware of their opposition to my work since I wrote an article following the death of Father Frederick Schell, S.J., who broke away from the conciliar establishment in 1977 when being told that he would have to distribute what purported to be Holy Communion in the hand in the Novus Ordo. As I noted in
When Told To Do So two weeks ago now:
Oh, yes, there are people who certainly flee from the sight of us. We had an incident about two and one-half months ago when it was in God's Holy Providence for me to recognize at a gasoline station in Connecticut the husband of a former student from Saint John's University in the 1984-1985 academic year. We had a pleasant enough exchange of greetings, although I saw the pained expression on his face when he learned of our going to Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel in Monroe. A little more consternation was visible when he realized that our motor home is parked within a stone's throw of where he lives, quite literally "down the street." We exchanged e-mail addresses before going on our separate ways, noticing, however, in the Trail Blazer's rear view mirror that he was taking the same route back to his residence that we were taking back to the property on which we are parked. I saw the gentleman pull off just before a bend in the very narrow, unpaved road, plainly not wanting me to know exactly where it is that he lived. An e-mail I sent later that evening on Thursday, March 13, 2008, was not returned.
Friendship is a free gift. No one can force anyone to be his friend in this passing, mortal vale of tears. If the circumstances of life and the events of our ecclesiastical situation make us unacceptable in the eyes of others, so what? We pray for them. We will their good. We commend them to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, praying for a good reunion in Heaven for all eternity, please God that each of us dies in a state of Sanctifying Grace. So what if people with whom we were once friendly think ill of us, think us a little "daft," think us "schismatic" or "disloyal" or simply are just sick and tired of us and want nothing, humanly speaking, to do with us for the rest of their lives. So what? We must remember that nothing anyone does to us or says about us is the equal of what one of our least Venial Sins caused Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to suffer in His Sacred Humanity during His Passion and Death and that least Venial Sin caused Our Lady to suffer as those Seven Swords of Sorrow were thrust through and through her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. We must consider it a privilege to be calumniated and rejected by others.
We pray for those who believe us to be schismatic or disloyal or just plain crazy for recognizing that Catholicism and conciliarism are mutually irreconcilable. "Seeing" things clearly does not make us one whit better than anyone else who does not understand that to fall from the Faith in one thing is to fall from It entirely:
If a person does not believe an article of our Holy Catholic Faith, or consciously entertains doubts whether it could or could not be as it is stated, in such case, the faith with which he believes in the other articles is not true and supernatural, but only a shadow and appearance of faith. The entire Divine Faith was destroyed by that infidelity.
For if he believes in the other articles for the proper motives – the veracity of God and of His Revelation as declared by the authority of the Church – then these same motives should oblige him to fully believe in all the articles. For God, who revealed some [the ones he believes] also revealed the others, and the Church who teaches the former also teaches the latter.
The heretic who confesses the Triune God, but denies the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, does not have a true faith in either of these points. For, as St. Jerome affirms in a similar case, in the first point he transforms the Gospel of Christ into the gospel of man, and in the second, he transforms the Gospel of Christ into the gospel of the Devil (Gal 1:11).
This is, affirms Arnobius of Sicca [an apologist in the 3rd century], the nobility and excellence of the Catholic Faith, whose light is similar to the light of our eyes: If we stab them anywhere, even if just with the tip of a needle, all the light goes out and we remain in darkness. If we offend the Faith, even if it is only in one point and with only one conscious doubt, we remain in the darkness of infidelity. (Father Manoel Bernardes, quoted in
To Deny any Point of the Catholic Faith Is to Deny it Completely.)
Pope Leo XIII, you see, was just reiterating the plain Catholic truth of the matter in Satis Cognitum, June 29, 1896, when he wrote:
The Church, founded on these principles and mindful of her office, has done nothing with greater zeal and endeavour than she has displayed in guarding the integrity of the faith. Hence she regarded as rebels and expelled from the ranks of her children all who held beliefs on any point of doctrine different from her own. The Arians, the Montanists, the Novatians, the Quartodecimans, the Eutychians, did not certainly reject all Catholic doctrine: they abandoned only a certain portion of it. Still who does not know that they were declared heretics and banished from the bosom of the Church? In like manner were condemned all authors of heretical tenets who followed them in subsequent ages. "There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition" (Auctor Tract. de Fide Orthodoxa contra Arianos).
The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium. Epiphanius, Augustine, Theodore :, drew up a long list of the heresies of their times. St. Augustine notes that other heresies may spring up, to a single one of which, should any one give his assent, he is by the very fact cut off from Catholic unity. "No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or may arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single one of these he is not a Catholic" (S. Augustinus, De Haeresibus, n. 88).
As noted yesterday in Catholics Care About Offending God, conciliarism's warfare against the Faith is founded in a rejection of the nature of dogmatic truth, which is an attack on the very immutable of God Himself. Anyone who asserts that the counterfeit church of conciliarism speaks in the same language and according to the same meaning as the Catholic Church is refusing face the reality of our situation. I was blind for a long time myself, wasn't I? We must continue to pray for our fellow Catholics, including those from our own past who have made it clear to us that the friendships of the past are over, at least in this passing, mortal vale of tears. We commend everyone whom God's Providence has seen fit to place in our lives to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. She will take good care of those who are devoted to her, no less those who are totally consecrated to her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, through her own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
The Trip to End All Trips
Many an adventure has been had in our motor home these last seven years. Many were the adventures I had had in various motor vehicles between the time I graduated from Saint John's University in December of 1972 (the degree was granted on January 31, 1973; a thirty-fifth year reunion took place recently, I believe; I wasn't there, and I won't be at the Oyster Bay High School Class of 1969's fortieth year reunion next year), some of which were chronicled in There's No Cure for This Condition. The adventures we encountered on Saturday, March 15, 2008, and in the two weeks that followed are certainly among the most challenging that we have ever faced.
It is probably the case that the problems that arose on Interstate 80 in western Pennsylvania on Saturday in Passion Week, March 15, 2008, could have been avoided if I had taken proactive measures to get the motor home's transmission examined after it had caused problems on the return from Ohio on Wednesday, January 2, 2008, and again a few days later on Long Island as the new fresh water tank was installed at Tag Motors on Monday, January 7, 2008. As we have no regular, predictable income, however, I could not envision taking the motor home to a repair shop and then be told that the transmission needed to be replaced. It is horrible--and I mean truly horrible--to have to raise money. I hated doing it when I ran my primary ten years ago against then Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato. I have hated doing it in the past sixty-two months since we received the last payment from a private foundation that funded my lecture tours between the Fall of 2000 and the Spring of 2003. And, truth be told, I am terrible at raising funds. Terrible. Miserable. The prospect of having to raise funds again was one that was not pleasant to consider. I thus prayed and hope that the transmission problems we had experienced in early January were caused by a leaking line, not by actual mechanical problems inside of the transmission.
I was wrong.
I had a hint as to how wrong I was when we we driving up one of the very steep mountains in the Poconos south of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area of Pennsylvania on Interstate 81. The transmission sounded to be grinding something fierce as the motor home, towing the equally dilapidating Trail Blazer, struggled to get up the mountain. "This is not good," I said to myself, praying all the while that we make it out to Ohio in time for the High Mass on Palm Sunday at Saint Gertrude the Great Church in West Chester, Ohio, where such glories are given to God throughout the course of the liturgical year, never more so than during Holy Week. The adversary did not want us to get to Saint Gertrude's. He did not want Lucy to receive her First Holy Communion on her sixth birthday, March 27, 2008, Easter Octave. His plans were foiled, thanks in no small measure to the generosity of those of you who came through once again when the going got real tough for us at around 3:00 p.m. that Saturday, March 15, 2008.
Yes, it was as we were driving up a mountain in western Pennsylvania, at mile marker 140 of Interstate 80 (I never give exact locations when we are in the midst of adventures; there are just too many people out there in cyberspace who have tried to cause problems for us over the years, people who have gone to considerable time, effort and expense, one or two to the point of obsession, to cause us great harm) that I began to see smoke emerge from the engine as the motor home was unable to drive any more. I negotiated the motor home/Trail Blazer assembly to the shoulder of the Interstate 80. In unison the three of us said, "All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!"
My first thought was to get Sharon and Lucy out of the motor home and to send them on their way to the nearest exit, where they could get a motel room for a few hours as I reconnoitered what to do about the problem. I had to detach the Trail Blazer from the motor home as Sharon gathered up clothing and toiletries that would be necessary if it turned out that we would be displaced from our motor home. I just wanted out of motor home and off of the side of the road as I phoned for assistance and tried to figure out if there was anything I could do to get the coach running once again. We said our travel prayers for Sharon and Lucy's safe drive to the nearest exit, at mile marker 130 on Interstate 80, and I set about calling for a tow truck.
Although I telephoned our insurance company to arrange for a tow truck, I was also trying to pour some transmission fluid into the fill line as I had done late on Wednesday, January 2, 2008, and again on Monday, January 7, 2008, both times being successful in getting the motor home going again. The tow truck, was being sent from Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania, about nine miles away east of where the motor home broke down. This gave me time to try to move the motor home after I had poured more transmission fluid into the fill line. I went for about a mile before the unit starting to emit smoke pretty badly once again. I thought that it might be the case that I had not poured enough transmission fluid into the fill one, telephoning Sharon to ask her to get more fluid and another funnel (the one that we had purchased on January 7, 2008, had gone the way of $2.75/9 a gallon gasoline).
We had come about 330 miles from Monroe, Connecticut, from which we had left after Holy Mass on Saturday in Passion Week at Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. We had another 364 miles to go to reach Olive Branch Campground in Oregonia, Ohio. Did it make more sense for us to go back to Connecticut and thus be closer to the motor home, which was going to be have to be repaired, it appeared at the time, some place in Pennsylvania? Where would we stay if we returned to Connecticut? Motels are not inexpensive in the Nutmeg State, and none are all that close to Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. Could we get accommodations near enough to Saint Gertrude's if we proceeded on to Ohio?
Well, we decided to forge ahead to Ohio in the Trail Blazer. Sharon and Lucy drove back to the motor home from Kylertown, Pennsylvania, at just about the time that the tow truck operator had arrived. A pleasant man, John, emerged from the tow truck, explaining after an examination of the problem that it was probably our transmission that had died. This made sense. The transmission had powered the motor home up and down the Rockies sixteen times, having also negotiated many of the mountain chains in the Appalachians in the southeast and their cousin chains in the northeast (the Poconos, the Catskills, the Berkshires) and the Alleghenies in western Pennsylvania, the motor home loaded down with our own personal effects and towing the old Saturn (before it was destroyed in 2004 when were broadsided by a reckless teenage driver near Middletown, New York, just the day before my fifty-third birthday) and then the Trail Blazer, frequently with loads of unsold books in the tow vehicles. It appeared as though 135,000 miles was meant from all eternity to be the limit of the motor home's original transmission.
John, the tow truck operator, told me that the nearest Ford dealership that could handle a motor home was in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, eighty or ninety miles east of where we had broken down. This meant that I would have to drive about five-sevenths of the distance from West Chester, Ohio, to Monroe, Connecticut, to pick up the motor home once it was repaired. I was also told that I only had seventy-five dollars' worth of coverage on the towing, something that just didn't sound right to me, and that I would confirm from our insurance provider was incorrect. At the time, however, we needed to get the motor home off of the road and ourselves back on the road to Ohio. We had joked that everything in the motor home would start to fall apart after the loan that we had secured in 2001 to pay it off had been paid back in full. And that paid-off motor home would have to spend two nights on the lot of the tow truck operator in Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania, before it could be towed to Sunbury Ford in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, on Monday in Holy Week, March 17, 2008, which was, of course, also the Commemoration of our glorious Saint Patrick.
Telephone calls were made to several people who had been so generous to us in past crises. A notice was placed on the home page of this site to ask for assistance. We were gratified to have gotten responses from eleven of you good readers within hours of that notice being posted. All we can do is to continue to repay you by means of our poor prayers. Another eleven responded by means of online gifts within the course of the ensuing week. About ten more envelopes were waiting for us upon our return to Connecticut in April. Although our situation would be regularized if more and more readers simply sent small donations on a regular, predictable basis, living as we do keeps us on our knees at all times in supplication to Our Lady and her Most Chaste Spouse, our good Saint Joseph, and in gratitude to them for providing us the generous souls who come through for us repeatedly in times of crisis. (I will note, however, that that's thirty-two contributors out of 2718! readers, less than one percent of the readership of this site.)
We said our goodbyes to the motor home around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 15, 2008, driving off in the Trail Blazer for Ohio. The Trail Blazer itself was not in the best of shape. Its front end was making all sorts of terrible noises, something that I have discovered is not entirely unheard of (Mr. Kusterer reported to us after he had repaired the Trail Blazer in early May that his father's wife's Trail Blazer had almost the exact same problems as we experienced) in this four-wheel drive Chevrolet product. And while I wanted to drive straight to settle in at a Travelodge hotel in Sharonville, Pennsylvania, we had to stop to feed Lucy, choosing to stop in Du Bois, Pennsylvania.
Countless have been the times that I have seen signs on Interstate 80 for "Luigi's" restaurant in downtown Du Bois, Pennsylvania. We are always been in a rush to get to a true offering of Holy Mass in the catacombs where no concessions are made to conciliarism or to the nonexistent legitimacy of its false shepherds. Additionally, I never veer too far off of an interstate highway when we are involved in point-to-point driving trips, being even less inclined to do so when we don't have the motor home. As Lucy was very hungry, however, and as we were all very exhausted from the ordeal of the unexpected problem, we ventured into downtown Du Bois, Pennsylvania, discovering "Luigi's," far from being a hole-in-the-wall, as one might surprise from the rather primitive nature of its highway advertising, was quite a nice place. Too bad that we won't be back there anytime soon. The cost of gasoline is going to keep whatever summer speaking I had intended to do to a minimum.
We got back on the road again around 6:30 p.m., a little concerned that the Trail Blazer was going to break down en route to Ohio. "Dada, you may have to get a rental car to get us to Ohio." Our daughter's words almost proved to be all-too prophetic as the Trail Blazer's front end went "snap, crackle and pop" around 8:00 p.m. near Mercer, Pennsylvania. The car simply stopped running. We had to move over to the shoulder of the westbound lanes of Interstate 80 once again. Twice in the same day--within five hours, really--in different vehicles. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!"
A telephone call was made to OnStar to report our problem. It appeared as though we would have to get roadside assistance and get that rental car that Lucy had spoken about just a short time before. I saw, however, that the transmission case on the dashboard was in the AWD function, meaning "all wheel drive." I moved the lever to the two wheel drive function, and we were off on our way after that, although the car was not in the best of shape. The request for roadside assistance from OnStar was canceled. We just kept praying and praying that we would get to the motel without any further problems and that Lucy could get some sleep as we drove.
Well, drive we did after resuming our trip following our second mechanical breakdown of the day. Lucy did fall asleep. So did Sharon. I just kept driving through such exotic locales as Youngstown, Ohio, and Akron, Ohio, and Ashland, Ohio, and the largest city in the Buckeye State, Columbus, the capital city of Ohio, and down Interstate 71 to Interstate 275 to Interstate 75 to the Travelodge in Sharonville, Ohio. We arrived at around 1:00 a.m. on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008. I had to load our various items onto a dolly and take them up to our third floor room, where we would spend the next seven nights (including those overnight hours following our arrival), although, to be honest, it seemed as though we spent three weeks in the place, which was not in the most stellar of conditions but was what we could afford. The Travelodge served as a superb penance for us as we spent Holy Week in the glories of Saint Gertrude the Great Church.
Holy Week in the Oasis of Saint Gertrude the Great Church
Palm Sunday at Saint Gertrude's in 2008 was as glorious as it had been in 2007. His Excellency Bishop Daniel L. Dolan gave a very inspirational sermon, as he would do throughout Holy Week (The Donkey,
When to Look & When to Look Away,
Waiting in Silence,
The Blessing of Thomas). The choir, then under the direction of Sister Magdalen and now under the direction of Mr. Tim Duff, was excellent. Everything was done perfectly for the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity. We were so grateful to Our Lady for sending us the graces that made it possible for us to be present at Saint Gertrude's for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Palm Sunday. We took Lucy for a round of miniature golf at a golf course in West Chester, Ohio, not far from Saint Gertrude's, and not far from Mitchell's Fish Market, where we had dined with friends after Mass.
Not convinced that Sunbury, Pennsylvania, was our only option to repair the motor home's transmission, I did some checking online late on the evening of Palm Sunday, discovering a Ford dealership in Youngstown, Ohio, which had service bays in use for motor homes. I telephoned this dealership early on the morning of Monday in Holy Week and the commemoration of Saint Patrick, March 17, 2007, discovering that the service representative with whom I spoke could not guarantee getting to the motor home until the end of the week. And John, the tow truck operator from Snow Shoe, Pennsylvania, wasn't really crazy about the idea of driving 160 miles from Snow Shoe to Youngstown, Ohio, as opposed to the eighty miles or so to Sunbury, Pennsylvania. As it turned out, our insurance would have covered the towing in its entirety, and Youngstown is only 250 miles from the Travelodge in Sharonville, Ohio, as opposed to Sunbury's being 506 miles away. Given John's reluctance to tow the motor home to Youngstown, I agreed to have it towed to Sunbury, meaning that I would have to drive 506 miles to retrieve the motor home once it was repaired and then drive 506 miles back to pick up the family. Well, that's how things appeared on the morning of Monday in Holy Week. We were in the midst of some real Holy Week offerings to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Sunbury Ford turned out to be the correct choice. The service manager there was very pleasant, keeping me informed each step of the way as to what was happening with our motor home, providing me an estimate that proved to be absolutely accurate. A rebuilt transmission was ordered on Tuesday in Holy Week, March 18, 2008 (the twenty-sixth anniversary of my late mother's death, the first anniversary of the death of Father Daniel Johnson, and the very day on which the mother of my former student and our good friend, Mr. Spencer Colgan, passed away in Brooklyn, New York), arriving on Wednesday in Holy Week. The motor home was ready to be picked up on the morning of Good Friday, March 21, 2008, and this is where things begin to get a little interesting once again.
The thought occurred to me as I wrote (while wedged into the bathroom of our room at the Travelodge so that I would not disturb Sharon and Lucy while they slept) into the wee hours of the morning during each night of Holy Week that driving back to Pennsylvania in the Trail Blazer to pick up the motor home was not the best idea in the world. I did have visions of the front end collapsing on me, although I did not know for sure what was wrong with that front end. Sharon told me that she was "praying against me" to prevent me from driving back by myself in the Trail Blazer. Her prayers were answered.
Yes, it was my original plan to assist at the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday and then drive the eight hours to Sunbury to pick up the motor home, driving back with the Trail Blazer in tow behind the motor home to get to the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday morning. Yes, that was ambitious. Very ambitious. Sharon was praying against my plans. Strong-willed character that I am, however, I insisted that we rent a car for Sharon to drive during what I thought would be my brief absence from Ohio. I was indeed intent on making what could have been a "suicide run" from Ohio to Pennsylvania, dropping the Trail Blazer off at a franchise tire dealer to see if its front end problems could be diagnosed and repaired in a few hours.
A representative from the franchise tire dealer telephoned me just before I went into Saint Gertrude the Great Church for the Stations of the Cross prior to the Mass of the Presanctified. The Trail Blazer was not drivable. It was very dangerous to drive. There were severe front end problems. Indeed, there were actually more front end problems than franchise tire dealer's mechanic had diagnosed. Mr. Kusterer in Connecticut was amazed at the extent of the problems he found, some of which are itemized on the
Donations page (hint, as in really BIG hint!). The estimated cost was somewhere around $3800 (with a set of four new tires). The actual cost wound up to be far, far more than that once we got back to Connecticut.
This meant that the entire family would have to drive back to Pennsylvania together in the rental car to pick up the motor home. I telephoned Sunbury Ford after the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday to ask the service manager if the coach could be kept on their lot until Easter Sunday or Easter Monday. The service manager agreed to the request, whereupon I paid the bill, something I could not have done without the generous assistance of those thirty-three or so donors who gave online and also sent donations to the post office box. Once again, we are very grateful to those of you who helped us financially and to those of who helped with the most important help of all--your prayers to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as offered through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
It was a relief not to have to drive all the way back to Pennsylvania and then return immediately for the Easter Vigil Mass. And I did notice while working on a revised Holy Saturday reflection late on the night of Good Friday that I was developing a cough. That cough, which began to worsen during the Easter Vigil Mass, became one of the worst illnesses that I have experienced in recent years, although not quite as bad as the cough and sore throat and fever that felled me in April of 2007 as we were based in an Extended Stay America hotel in Romeoville, Illinois, while the motor home's new engine was being installed in Peotone, Illinois. (Yes, new engine. The new engine that just spat out its first spark plug on Wednesday, June 4, 2008.) That illness wiped me out rather considerably, forcing me off of the road on the evening of April 29, 2007, as we drove from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Saint Cloud, Minnesota, having to stop on the shoulder of Interstate 94 about thirty miles west of Milwaukee because a radiator hose had not been connected properly when the new engine was installed. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
The Easter Vigil Mass was a wonderful way to start the Paschal season, which ended after the Mass on the Saturday in the Octave of Pentecost. I just got sicker and sicker and sicker as it continued, understanding that I was being given a little extra penance for my sins as the season of Lenten penance drew to a close (and do I ever need extra penance for my many sins!). The sickness worsened overnight as I became very ill with a bad fever and the shakes. I didn't see how it was possible to drive to Sunbury, Pennsylvania, after the High Mass on Easter Sunday at Saint Gertrude the Great Church. Well, it wasn't really possible to do so.
Not in the Best of Shape
Although we left around 1:00 p.m. from West Chester, Ohio, having checked out of the Travelodge before Mass, I knew that I was simply not able to drive the full 506 miles to Sunbury. Weakness and fatigue and fever just made it so difficult to drive in our rented PT Cruiser. I informed Sharon and Lucy that I had to stop to get some sleep, choosing Quality Inn off of Exit 229 in Youngstown, Ohio, for that purpose. And I went right into slumber land as soon as my head hit the pillow, sleeping for about two hours before I forced myself to get up so that we could take Lucy out to get something to eat, a proposition about which I had not the least bit enthusiasm at all.
Where did we wind up eating on the evening of Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008? Ugh. A Bob Evans restaurant. Ugh. A Bob Evans restaurant where I had a conversation with the restaurant's host, a Protestant who was serving up all kinds of anti-Catholic propaganda. We gave him a Green Scapular, which is more or less Our Lady's "subpoena," if you will, to save your soul. Thank you, Martin Luther. Thank you, John Calvin. Thank you, Henry VIII. Thank you, false ecumenism. Who in the counterfeit church of conciliarism has ever told this poor man that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ created but one Church upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope? Who in the counterfeit church of conciliarism has ever told this poor man that he must convert to the Catholic Faith? Is God pleased with all of this confusion, all of this "diversity" in the souls of the people for whom He shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross to redeem us?
Sharon was not sure whether we were getting back on the road again or returning to the hotel. I could barely keep my head up as Sharon and Lucy had something quite forgettable to eat. I wasn't sure either. However, it became apparent to all of us what I was going to do once we left the restaurant: return to the hotel so that I could sleep through the night. It was the only sensible thing that I could do, resuming consciousness of a sort on Easter Monday morning, whereupon we drove off to Sunbury, Pennsylvania, a distance of about 216 miles from the Quality Inn in Youngstown, Ohio.
We had to wend our way down a lot of local streets to get to Sunbury Ford. However, we found the facility, seeing the motor home on the lot. It was nice to see our home again, although we knew that about $200 worth of food had gone bad as a result of its not being plugged in for nine straight days by that point. We also discovered that a "visitor" from Connecticut had stayed in the motor home while we were displaced: yet another mouse was in our house! The fellow had had himself a grand little time while we were displaced, despoiling about $200 worth of dry goods, stored mostly under the pull-out sofa that serves as my office and bed. Indeed, I thought I heard something underneath that couch one evening as I got to sleep very late one night after writing into the wee hours of the morning. It was that wretched little creature, probably trying exact revenge upon us for executing his cousin on Christmas night 2007 some three months before, who was running around underneath that couch, munching his way through plastic to nibble on crackers and rice and other assorted dry goods. He got his revenge all right, that's for sure.
There was nothing we could do about Mister Mouse (we are now dealing with an invasion of carpenter ants, who probably ate the smaller ants who had invaded the motor home in May) right then. I had to load our things from the PT Cruiser into the motor home before we took off for the return trip to Ohio, this time to "land" at Olive Branch Campground in Oregonia. Sharon had to drive the rental car behind the motor home. Lucy alternated her time between the motor home and the rental car. And although I still have an excellent sense of direction, I did make a wrong turn going out of Sunbury, causing me to turn around to catch up with Sharon, who had not made the wrong turn (in other words, she made the right turn, the correct turn, if you will). In the process of doing so, however, I got the motor home wedged on a narrow street that featured telephone poles right next to the curb. Unable to move to the left-hand lane to avoid hitting a pole, which I really didn't want to do, our sideview mirror did indeed say "hello," in a manner of speaking, to a telephone pole, something that impeded my ability to see on the right side of the motor home until the ever-reliable Mr. Kusterer fixed it a few weeks ago prior to our trip to Maine.
The trip back to Ohio was tiring. I was still very sick. We got back into Youngstown, Ohio around 6:00 p.m., some nine hours after we left there that same Easter Monday morning (one of the few days this year that we simply were unable to get to Mass). I continued for another hour before deciding to stop to get some sleep at a rest area at mile marker forty-five of Interstate 76, some twenty-three miles or so east of Akron, Ohio. This rest area was pretty much parallel to the one on the eastbound lanes where I had to stop to check the transmission problem back on the evening of Wednesday, January 2, 2008. Sharon and Lucy returned from the PT Cruiser to get some well deserved rest for themselves. I know that I could have slept for another six or seven hours, settling for the three that I got, knowing that I still had around 179 miles to go before arriving at Olive Branch Campground, where we arrived at around 2:00 a.m. on Easter Tuesday. We had our motor home back.
Upon plugging the thirty amperage plug into the socket at the campground, however, I discovered that our furnace was not working properly: it had stopped blowing out what is called "heat." We broke out the space heaters to provide us with warmth, saying in unison, "All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!" The motor home had a new generator. We still had a problem, though, with the non-functioning generator, adding the non-functioning furnace to our list of penitential offerings during the Easter Octave.
There was little time for real rest upon our return. We had to arise for the ever-so-friendly 11:25 a.m. Mass, reviewing Lucy's catechism lessons one more time before she was examined after Mass by Father Anthony Cekada, who gave Lucy an "A" on her examination for the reception of First Holy Communion and then showed her some photographs of his family and of himself as a young priest. One of the photographs showed Father Cekada's father with General Omar Bradley. Mr. Cekada had served as General Bradley's driver while in the United States Army. Lucy was most interested by the photographs. Father Cekada has quite a gift with children. Lucy was very rapt with his stories.
More Battles with Mighty Mouse
I was intent on doing battle with that infernal mouse, purchasing loads of mouse traps to do the thing in once and for all upon our return to the motor home that Tuesday in Holy Week. The nasty little fellow won those battles, carefully taking little bits of that Velveeta (which has a shelf life of 4,452 years) that I purchased on Christmas night 2007 right out of the six traps, not even setting one off until he had gone through the last bit of cheese, escaping with his life as he did so. I got no sleep that night, Tuesday, March 25, 2008, as I hunted down that mouse, and I was still very sick. I did, however, get the furnace going again by simply turning the "gas indicator" light off and on. All right, all right. I'm not always the brightest bulb around. I know that. I was tired and sick upon our return from Pennsylvania early on the morning of March 25, 2008. The thought of doing such a thing didn't even occur to me after the long drive!
The mouse in the house may have thought that he had won. Well, I went out to get MORE mouse traps, getting a cylindrical type of mouse trap replete with a
"trap door" that closes behind the mouse once he enters into it to get the cheese, suffocating the little devil within moments. This is what happened on Easter Wednesday, March 26, 2008, as we did last minute errands prior to Lucy's First Holy Communion the next day, her sixth birthday. I had placed two of those traps in different places, one of which was underneath the pullout sofa in the living room of the motor home. I asked Sharon to check that trap upon our return as I filled up with water and did a waste water dump. The trap door was closed. The weight of the trap was much different than the ones whose doors were still open. There was a mouse in that thing, a big mouse, a really fat mouse who had gorged himself on lots of food (which means also that he left lots of things to be cleaned up). We could rest comfortably once again.
A Most Blessed Day
Thursday, March 27, 2008, arrived, Easter Thursday this year and our daughter's sixth birthday. Although I am now fifty-six and one-half years old, I did get married later in life. Most of my contemporaries from high school, I am sure, have grandchildren. I am blessed to be the husband of my dear wife and the father of our wonderful daughter. Oh, yes, Lucy has faults galore, many of which mirror mine quite substantially, some of which are all her own. She does, though, have an innocence of soul that we seek to protect most assiduously. Sharon did a superb job of home-schooling her, training her in the Faith so very well before Lucy started school in 2007. She was so looking forward to receiving her First Holy Communion. And Bishop Dolan, who administers First Holy Communion to the students of Saint Gertrude's Academy when they are in the first grade, wanted Lucy to have the benefits of the Sacrament sooner rather than later, embodying the very spirit that prompted Pope Saint Pius X to give permission for the early administration of first Holy Communion following the news that had reached him of the holy death of Little Nellie of Holy God.
His Excellency Bishop Dolan offered a Low Mass on Easter Thursday, the commemoration of Saint John Damascene, to whom Lucy is very devoted, on the altar of Our Lady, which altar features a statue of Saint Mary Magdalen, whom Bishop Dolan referred to in his excellent sermon as the "apostle of the Apostles." (Saint Mary Magdalen figured prominently in the Gospel of the day.) Lucy listened very intently as His Excellency addressed important words to her in his sermon. Sharon and I were both very moved when our daughter was called forth by her good shepherd, "Come, daughter, it is now time for you to receive Our Lord." Indeed, I have tears in my eyes as I write this.
Lucy walked out of the pew, knelt on the Prie Dieu, receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion for the first time. We were very grateful to Bishop Dolan for permitting Lucy to receive the King of Kings on her sixth birthday, which fell during the Easter Octave this year. What a glorious treat. And what a great mercy for this sinner, whom God has chosen to keep alive long enough to see his own daughter receive Him in Holy Communion for the first time as I had done so nearly forty-nine years before. Although we would have endured the suffering and expense and inconvenience of all that happened to the motor home and the Trail Blazer on the way out to Ohio solely for the love of God as the consecrated slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, we happier still that some share of whatever merit we might have earned could have been applied by Our Lady as she saw fit to helping make Lucy's First Holy Communion so perfect in every way imaginable.
We gave Lucy a Miraculous Medal that Sharon had requested from the Daughters of Charity at Rue de Bac in Paris, France, which we had blessed by His Excellency Bishop Robert F. McKenna, O.P., while Lucy was in school one day in early March. His Excellency Bishop Dolan also gave Lucy a 1920s children's missal (covered by a tortoise shell cover and embossed with a gold Crucifix, the sort of missal that Lucy told us "she has always wanted") and an old book written by a Dominican tertiary on the feasts of the year. March 27, 2008, was a most memorable day indeed. Thank you Bishop Dolan! (Sharon told me as this is being written that Lucy had pointed out just today, June 10, 2008, a picture of the "sweet Baby Jesus" in the missal given to her by Bishop Dolan.)
Generating More Adventures
We spent the rest of our stay recovering from our illnesses (Sharon and Lucy both got a trace of the sickness that I had had, prompting Sharon to say, "I know now why it was impossible for you to drive on Easter Sunday), also endeavoring to get the motor home's generator repaired at the place where it was installed, Cummins Bridgeway in West Chester, Ohio, not far from Saint Gertrude the Great Church. That was easier said than done as the computer module that Mr. Kusterer in Connecticut had diagnosed as the problem in late-February was not in stock there in West Chester, Ohio. We had to delay our return to Connecticut by one day in order to await the arrival of the module on Wednesday, April 2, 2008, the day after the transferred Feast of Saint Joseph, which was the day after the transferred Feast of the Annunciation, staying overnight on the grounds of Cummins Bridgeway.
The part did arrive just before we went to Holy Mass on April 2, 2008, and the motor home had a functioning generator once again.
It was then time to hook up the Trail Blazer, which had been reposing on the grounds of Saint Gertrude the Great Church since the late afternoon of Good Friday, to the motor home for the drive back to Connecticut. The rental car had to be returned, and as we are more or less leasing the Trail Blazer with an option to buy (straight leases are not permitted in the State of New York where the vehicle was purchased), we had an obligation to repair the vehicle even if we decided to ditch it this November when the terms of the effective lease portion of the loan give us the option of paying fifty dollars to be done with the thing or getting the remaining $17,000 owed on it to be refinanced. We had to tow the thing back to New York, being concerned, however, that its front end might break apart during the drive. We really had no other option. We had raised enough money to pay for the new transmission and the hotel and the rental car, but not for the repairs to the Trail Blazer.
We left West Chester, Ohio, around 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2, 2008, making decent time as we took that old and familiar route back to Connecticut, the same one that we had taken out to Ohio when the motor home broke down and which we have traversed many times in the past two years (and which I traversed many times in the 1990s as I spoke in various motels or rented rooms in and around the Cincinnati area). Everything was going just peachy keen swell until around mile marker thirty-three of Interstate 84 in the State of New York. I noticed something in the driver's sideview mirror that was a sign of some trouble: I could see the Trail Blazer. It is not a good thing when I can see the car in my sideview mirror. It was around 12:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 3, 2008, and we had been making excellent time back to Connecticut. We were only about eighty miles away from where we park the motor home when I noticed this unexpected problem. All to thee, Blessed Mother. All to thy Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
I had to pull off to the shoulder of the road to assay the situation. I was shocked to find that the receiver tow bar on the motor home had broken apart. The car itself was about to go for another "solo" ride as it had done on the evening of Tuesday, September 20, 2005, near Splendora, Texas. Although I did not want to put my dear Sharon in jeopardy by having her drive the Trail Blazer, we had to no choice. I had to detach the car from the Blue Ox Aventa II tow bar, which was no easy feat, and then pry the broken receiver tow bar behind the rusted out aluminum ladder that provides access to the roof of the motor home. Sharon bungied the tow bar arms in place once I got them positioned in back of the ladder to prevent them from dragging on the ground. The photographs that were posted at the time tell the tale on this one.(Cut in Two: A Brief Photographic Essay.) Indeed, Mr. Kusterer said upon examining the broken receiver tow bar, "You dodged another one. This thing is cracked in several places." No one had noticed a thing before. It was simply meant from all eternity to have happened as it did and when it did. We had to give to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Sharon had to drive the Trail Blazer for eighty miles. I called her frequently on her cellular phone as Lucy slept comfortably in her car seat to make sure that she was all right. We got back to the property on which we are parked at around 1:45 a.m. We were exhausted. So exhausted in fact that I paid little attention to the alarm clock when it went off at 6:25 a.m. to get me up to rouse the family so that we could be at Bishop McKenna's 7:00 a.m. Mass. I chose to return to sleep, something that I do so very rarely in the course of a year. I was still somewhat sick, shaking from head to toe with fatigue as a result of the journey. We got Lucy to school a little late that day. However, she was none the worse for wear at all, having slept soundly through everything, as she does time and again.
Oh, guess what failed to start again the next time we had to move the motor home to do a waste water dump? You got it: the generator. This necessitated yet another trip down to Long Island in the motor home, one that will be recounted in the next installment of this travelogue.
Once again, everything that we experience is in the Providence of God. We must love the crosses that are sent our way Love them fervently, that is, as the very means of our sanctification and salvation, keeping in mind the simple truth that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will never abandon us:
Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal.
For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also. The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome. But if thy eye be evil thy whole body shall be darksome. If then the light that is in thee, be darkness: the darkness itself how great shall it be! 24 No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?
Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit? And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?
Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore solicitous for tomorrow; for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. (Matt. 6: 19-34.)
Our Blessed Mother will not abandon us either, as she made clear to Juan Diego in 1531:
Know for certain that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God. . . . Here I will show and offer my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping and their sorrows and will remedy and alleviate their suffering, necessities and misfortunes. . . . Listen and let it penetrate into your heart. . . . Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. So not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?
This is good advice for us, is it not? We should keep this in mind whenever we are feeling sorry for ourselves or think that we have been given a cross that is too heavy for us to carry. We must remember, as I try to keep hammering home, that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that we can experience in this passing, mortal vale of tears that is the equal of what one of our least Venial Sins caused Our Lord to suffer during His Passion and Death and caused His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart to be pierced through and through with Seven Swords of Sorrow. Who are we to feel sorry for ourselves in the midst of sickness or suffering or woe or loss of one sort or another? The Cross is the path to Heaven. Shouldn't we thank God for our crosses, mindful that Our Lady stands with us in our own crosses as she stood by her own Divine Son's Most Holy Cross on Good Friday, at which she stands at every true offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
Here's a good formula to remember: our crosses become lighter with every Rosary we pray.
Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?
It is really better this than Purgatory or worse in 2008!
Viva Cristo Rey! Vivat Christus Rex!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Margaret of Scotland, pray for us.
Saint Olivia, pray for us.
Saint Barnabas, pray for us.
See also: A Litany of Saints