Tuesday 29th November 2022

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What A Ride!

November 18, 2022 Frontpage No Comments


All good things must come to an end, and this column is no exception, but it’s been quite a ride. I’ve been writing (under various names), teaching, and evangelizing for almost thirty-five years. God has used me to make hundreds of converts and reverts through one-on-one and small group venues, articles, my weekly Sharing the Catholic Faith webinars, two columns, The Cantankerous Catholic podcast (https://cantankerouscatholic.com/), and my weekly parish bulletin insert program.
But it’s through this column in The Wanderer that I’ve been able to fulfill a dream to regularly write for this paper, and to remotely make so many wonderful friends through your kind emails. Well, mostly they’ve been kind, but even the less charitable ones have been most welcome.
Almost a year ago, Mrs. Sixpack’s doctors told us that she has dementia, and it’s advancing at an alarming rate. As one might expect, her condition requires much more of my time, and I’ve really learned to cherish every minute of her more lucid moments. The need and desire to spend more time with her is only one of the factors that has led to the reluctant decision to discontinue this column.
Several months ago, my doctors at the VA told me I’m dying. Apparently, I have a systemic infection that is attacking all of my internal organs. According to my doctors, all of my organs have been negatively impacted except my kidneys and heart. This alone will kill me.
The situation has been compounded because I’m diabetic. I’ve also developed infections in my flesh and skeletal frame. At this writing I’ve just returned home from a week in the hospital, now attempting to recover from an amputation. The doctors wanted me to stay in the hospital for six weeks to be treated with IV antibiotics, but I can’t do that. It was one thing to get a relative to spend a week caring for Mrs. Sixpack while I was away, but quite another to get someone to stay with here for six weeks.
So, as you can see, I really have no choice but to retire. The only thing I’m going to continue doing is host The Cantankerous Catholic as long as I can, and I hope you will join me each week.
I’m a teacher of all things Catholic, so it’s important to me to make this final farewell a teaching moment. While I welcome your prayers, I don’t want your pity over what I have to say next. Instead, I want you to learn from it.
Ten years ago, Mrs. Sixpack and I were the victims of identity theft. We lost everything — to the tune of more than a half million dollars. We never recovered a dime. A short time later I had a debilitating stroke that confined me to a wheelchair. Two months later, Mrs. Sixpack had a heart attack and a pulmonary embolism, nearly costing her life. And this is all in addition to the things I mentioned above. My entire Catholic life for nearly thirty-five years has been like this.
So, what’s the point of telling you this? Therein lies a strong Catholic lesson.
My friends with no faith have asked me why I don’t just eat a bullet. My friends with faith don’t understand why I have a jubilant attitude about my life and hardships. My response to both is, I know through these hardships that God loves me.
When I was a neophyte, I asked God to make me a saint and to let me die a martyr’s death. In September of this year, I asked St. Michael the Archangel to make me a warrior like him. Everything in my life that the world calls bad is exactly what I asked for from God and St. Michael. God is making me a dry martyr, and He’s answering St. Michael’s intercessory prayer to make me a warrior.
So don’t feel sorry for me. Rejoice with me!
If your life is easy, I’m suggesting to you that you may want to re-examine your Catholic life. I suggest that a lot of Catholics who think they’ll go to Heaven simply because they go to Mass and Confession may get a rude awakening when they stand before God for their particular judgement. There’s much, much more to our holy and ancient faith than merely staying in a state of grace and attending Mass on Sunday and holy days of obligation, and it’s all pretty much summarized in Matthew’s version of the Sermon on the Mount.
Near the end of His sermon Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (7:13-14). If your Catholic faith isn’t costing you anything, you’d probably better reorder your life.
How involved — truly involved — in your faith are you? Are you a Catholic who is doing something, or are you a pew warmer? From all eternity, even before He created Adam, God knew that the condition of the Church Militant would be what it is. He knew that many members of His priesthood — episcopal and sacerdotal — would be promoting the immense evils and perversions of our day.
He also knew that He would create you to live in this era!
So, I ask again, are you a Catholic who’s doing something? Who have you evangelized? What steps have you taken toward becoming a saint? Both are required of every Catholic who has a reasonable hope of salvation, you know.
Venerable Fulton Sheen prophetically told us in the 1970s that it would be we laity who save the Church. How have you helped to combat the evils of some official Church agencies? What have you done to fight homo-promoting priests? How have you become a rock in the shoes of wayward priests and bishops who are dragging souls to Hell with them?
Reread what Jesus said in Matt. 7:13-14. Your Catholic faith must be personally costly to you (the way is hard) if you can want to have a reasonable expectation of being saved. I can tell you from experience that evangelizing, working at becoming a saint, and fighting the evils within the Catholic Church are all personally costly, but you must do those things if salvation is your hope. Age is no excuse for avoiding these things. Neither is health, education, knowledge, or anything else. You were born for now. You must do something!
If you aren’t doing something, why? “But Joe, I’m just one person. What can I do? Besides, there are lots of people already putting up a good fight.”
A statement and question like that can only come from a perspective of cowardice or lukewarmness. Jesus has some pretty striking things about those two vices. “But as for cowards…their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you are either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16). Do Something!
I love all of my loyal readers, and that’s why I’m speaking to you like this: Love. I’m expressing genuine love here because it’s the last time I will ever have the chance. Do something, and I’ll see you on the other side.
God love you!

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