It's Still Better This Than Purgatory (or Worse!), part 3
Thomas A. Droleskey
When last we left off in the saga of these sometimes quite amazing adventures (It's Still Better This than Purgatory (or Worse!), part 2) I had fallen flat on my face at the Acadiana Zoo south of Lafayette, Louisiana, on Sunday, March 4, 2007, encountering the heartless, cut-throat, Calvinist-based employees of an "urgent care" center. We were also awaiting a mechanic to re-sleeve the third spark plug hole in our original Ford V-10 Triton engine so that we could drive to Pensacola, Florida, on Sunday, March 11, 2007, following my eighth lecture at Christ the King Church in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Well, the mechanic arrived at our campground on Saturday, March 10, 2007, completing his work with the repair kit that we had rented from the Baril Engine Rebuilding Company of Green Bay, Wisconsin (many such places make a small mint renting out the kit, manufactured by the Ford Motor Company but not used in any of their dealerships, to re-sleeve spark plug holes whose cylinders had been blown out by the interaction of the aluminum engine head and the metal spark plug). We were thus able to proceed without any delay to a private residence in Lafayette, where I gave a presentation about the Social Reign of Christ the King and how this immutable doctrine of the Catholic Church had been undermined and rejected by the counterfeit church of conciliarism. It was a "tough sale," especially since one of the attendees was an attorney who supported contraception and abortion. However, Our Lady does ask us to be successful in behalf of her Divine Son's Social Kingship. She simply wants us to be faithful.
Unable to Steer
Although very tired from a good deal of writing and lecturing, we took off from our campground in Carencro, Louisiana, on Sunday, March 11, 2007, expecting to drive the five hours or so to Pensacola for a lecture there that evening to the flock served by Father Francis Miller, O.F.M. In God's Holy Providence, however, we were not meant to get very far. Despite the fact that a mechanic had lubricated the kingpins on the front end of the motor home's chassis, the steering was still very, very tight. I was very concerned as we drove the four miles or so down Interstate 45 from the Carencro exit to Interstate 10, telling Sharon that I did not think that we would be able to complete the drive to Pensacola. There was no way I could turn the wheel quickly in the event that I had to react to some sudden emergency.
The situation worsened as we drove about fifteen miles or so east on Interstate 10. Although I was considering turning back before we hit that twenty mile portion of Interstate 10 that runs through the Atchafalaya Swamp, the fact that traffic was backed up very badly just before the highway began to cross the swampland convinced me to get off then and there, at approximately 3:00 p.m. The eastbound traffic on Interstate 10 at that point remained backed up for several hours as a result of a fatal accident. It was all I could do to negotiate the steering of the motor home through local streets, tinkering with the idea of making our way up to US-90 Alternate north of Interstate 10. That idea was abandoned as even simple turns became nearly impossible to negotiate. We had to proceed back to Bayou Wilderness Campground in Carencro, canceling my lecture for that evening, Sunday, March 11, 2007.
We were thoroughly exhausted by the time we got back to the campground in Carencro, knowing that we would have to drive to Pensacola on the next day, Monday, March 12, 2007, in the Trail Blazer, something that we did not look forward to at all. As penance, though, is the path to pay back the price of our sins, especially so during the penitential season of Lent, we simply gave this particular cross, which had been fashioned for us from all eternity by the very hands of God Himself , to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary as her consecrated slaves. Yes, it's still better this than Purgatory (or worse!).
Leaving our motor home is never fun. As I have explained before, I turn down the generous offers made to us by various people across the nation to stay in their homes. The motor home is our home. It is what our dear daughter knows and loves, the only place where she sleeps soundly. And believe me when I tell you that it is truly penitential to have to drive long distances in the Trail Blazer (we got snookered real good by the dealership in Orange County, New York, that sold us the thing, indenturing us to usurious interest rates for some time to come). The motor home affords us the convenience of having certain "necessary" facilities available to us all of the time. Sharon and Lucy can avail themselves of these facilities at any time while I am driving, meaning that I do not have to stop. This is not the case when we are forced to drive as most others do, that is, in a car that has no such facilities. Rest areas thus are true novelties to Lucy Mary Norma. She has not experienced many of them in our travels, other than the times when I pull the motor home into one for a few moments now and again.
The trip to Pensacola on Monday, March 12, 2007, which began a little circuitously as I thought I was taking shortcut out of Carencro but wound up simply exploring some small communities in and around Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, that we had never seen before, was, simply put, long. I had spent several hours that morning trying, without success, to find some competent, reliable shop to deal with the motor home's steering problem, mindful of the fact that we were scheduled to leave Lafayette the following Sunday, March 18, 2007, the twenty-fifth anniversary of my late mother's death at Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. We drove the 330 miles to a Comfort Inn in Pensacola in about five and one-half hours, stopping at rest areas and at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Slidell, Louisiana, while en route. The lecture that evening, which was given in the offices of our friend Dr. Nicholas Delgado, went well. It was to be the last during our stay in the southeastern part of the United States during Lent of 2007.
Following an early-morning call to get blood drawn to see how my cholesterol and homocysteine levels were doing (not good, at it turned out), we assisted at Holy Mass offered by Father Francis Miller in a private residence, that of Mr. and Mrs. William Forest, we got back into the Trail Blazer to drive the 330 miles back to Carencro, Louisiana. Just another long, long trip. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
More Than a Matter of Grease
Upon our return to Bayou Wilderness Campground, however, we discovered that the gentleman who had "greased" the motor home's kingpins before we had driven to Pensacola could not come out to the campground on the evening of March 13, 2007. He could not come out on the following day, Wednesday, March 14, 2007, making things awfully tight for us to get the motor home safely drivable for our trip to West Chester, Ohio, so that I could give my all-day lecture program on Saturday, March 24, 2007. Not knowing which shop in Lafayette to trust for repairs, we simply waited until Thursday morning, March 15, 2007, for the gentleman to arrive with a helper, only to discover that yet another "grease job" was not loosening the steering. It appeared as though the kingpins had to be replaced after all.
"I don't got no way to check kingpins"
Arrangements were made by this gentleman for us to take the motor home into a shop about seven miles from Bayou Wilderness Campground. Being without our motor home is always a cross as it means that we have to wander around for hours on end while our motor home is in some repair shop on a daily basis. Thus it was on Thursday, March 15, 2007, as we dropped off the motor home at the designated repair shop, which shall remain nameless, that was accessible only by climbing a steep grade on a roadway that was being re-graded, causing the bottom of the motor home's chassis to scrape the ground. I was most worried about our ever-fragile tow bar, which does not take "close encounters" with the ground all that well. I should have been concerned about the engine's muffler and the fresh water tank, both of which were damaged badly as a result of "bottoming out" no less than ten times on the roadway that was being re-graded, although we would not discover this until some weeks later.
We wandered about for three hours, doing various errands as we awaited word about the motor home. When we returned to the repair shop at around 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, 2007, however, I was told by the mechanic who had looked over the front end that he could find nothing wrong, other than some leaking from the power steering box. He said that "I don't got no way to check kingpins," which is why we were sent to that particular repair shop in the first place. I sort of looked at the man, who looked a little bit as the late Chuck Connors did when he played backwoodsman Sylvester J. Superman in an episode, "Flight to the North," October 1, 1955, of The Adventures of Superman, in complete disbelief. "What I am doing bringing our motor home here if you cannot check out our kingpins?" I asked in a bit of controlled exasperation. The man could not answer me.
Who's on first?
I had to retreat, therefore, into the office to ask the chain smoking woman who served as the establishment's business manager why we had been directed to her shop when they had no way of checking kingpins, which is not what she had told me three hours before. She was a little surprised, telling me that they could indeed check kingpins. "Who's on first?" I muttered to myself as I offered this confusion up to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. "Who's on first in this place?" The woman asked the owner's son, the chief mechanic in the shop, to check out the motor home's kingpins just moments after the Sylvester J. Superman look alike had told me that he had "no way" to check them.
More Than a Matter of Kingpins
It turned out, surprise, surprise, that the motor home did indeed need new kingpins, which I believed at the time were causing the tightness in the steering. Although even our friend Michael Gerace, who goes to Christ the King Church and had found the mechanic who re-sleeved the blown spark plug hole on Saturday, March 10, 2007, assured us the next day when stopping at the repair shop to make sure that we were not being sold something unnecessarily that we did need new kingpins, that was not the reason why the motor home's steering was so incredibly tight. Alas, we would not find out about that until Monday, March 19, 2007, the Feast of Saint Joseph. Believing on Thursday, March 15, 2007, that the kingpins were the problem, I authorized the repair shop to order a set, being told that it was unclear at that late hour in the day whether a new set could be found and delivered in time for them to be installed on Friday, March 16, 2007. We were told at one time that they had been ordered. Five mintues later, however, we were told that it would not be done until the next morning, Friday morning, if they could be found. I shook my head in disbelief, eyeing a sticker in the shop that explained, at least partly, the confusion. The sticker read: "Support your local Shriners." Enough said.
Hopeful to leave Lafayette on Sunday, March 18, 2007, we had to arise early on Friday, March 16, 2007, and drop off the motor home on our way to the 7:15 a.m. Mass offered by Father Francis Miller at Christ the King Church. Not knowing if the repairs would be done by the end of the work day on Friday, March 16, 2007, I rented a motel room for the day so that my family would not be wandering aimlessly all over Lafayette once again. This permitted me the opportunity to do a "water run," that is, to fill up our empty gallon bottles (some of them are three liter bottles) at an Albertson's and then to drop them off back at the motor home. "Going to the well," so to speak, is one of the banes of my domestic life as a father and husband as we have never trusted the quality of the motor home's fresh water tank to drink from its supply at any time in the nearly six years we have had the unit. Thus it is that I must trek out to various food stores and water stores, which are places where filtered faucets permit you to fill up your bottles en masse, about once a week to fill up anywhere from fifteen to thirty bottles (we drink a lot of water each day in our household). All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Upon completing the water run at the motor home shortly after noon on Friday, March 16, 2007, I learned that the new kingpins had been located and would be installed, quite possibly by the end of the day. This appeared to be very good news at the time, meaning that we could be on our way up to Ohio without having to rush to make it in time for my all-day lecture on the Social Reign of Christ the King (listenable at:
Talk 1: “Freedom And Slavery," Talk 2: "A King Who Will Admit Of No Rivals," and Talk 3: "Rejecting Naturalism, In All Of Its Forms,") on Saturday, March 24, 2007. As it turned out in God's Providence, however, we did have to rush up to Ohio. It just did not appear in the early part of the afternoon on Friday, March 16, 2007, that that would be the case. God knew from all eternity that a perfectly fitted cross would be awaiting us later that Friday afternoon.
Although the kingpins were installed the the chief mechanic was taking the motor home out for a test ride, which we monitored by following it in our Trail Blazer, cringing as we saw the chassis scrape the bottom of the re-graded roadway two more times, we were not in for a "happy ending," humanly speaking, at least, when the mechanic completed his test drive. The motor home's steering remained as tight as it had been before the kingpins were installed. The consensus in the shop at that moment was that we needed "spring bushings" that had to be fitted specially for the new kingpins. Why this was not done when the kingpins were installed was a question that no one in the shop seemed to be able to answer. We had to pay $2,200 for the kingpins and their installation without improving the motor home's steering ability in the slightest. We were assured that the unit was drivable. I was not all that convinced about the matter, especially when I drove the motor home back to Bayou Wilderness Campground and discovered that nothing had changed with the steering. We just could not drive to Ohio with the steering as bad as it had been five days before when we attempted to drive to Pensacola, Florida. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
We got the motor home back to the campground with just enough time to plug it in to the thirty amperage electrical outlet at our site and then drive the eight miles back down to Christ the King Church for my ninth and next-to-last lecture in my "Living in the Shadow of the Cross" lecture program. That lecture was my "Conciliarism and Catholicism" lecture that has been given in various venues in recent months and will be given this coming Friday evening, May 25, 2007, at Mount Saint Michael's Church to conclude my two-week lecture program here in Spokane, Washington, where this newest travelogue is being composed. Boy, we were really tired by the time we got to the parish for the lecture. It had been a long few days, including the drive to and from Pensacola and the displacement from the motor home. Just good Lenten penance as the totally consecrated slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, that's all. Just good Lenten penance.
Our friend Mike Gerace, who has been so very helpful to us, took it upon himself to telephone the repair shop's answering service the following day, Saturday, March 17, 2007, the Feast of Saint Patrick, to intercede in our behalf. He told me to telephone the chief mechanic and make arrangements to bring the motor home back to the shop on Monday, March 19, 2007. I did so, being promised by the mechanic that they would try to discover once and for all why the motor home was not steering properly. We had to delay our departure from Lafayette, although we did say our goodbyes to most of the folks from the parish after my last lecture on Sunday, March 18, 2007, Laetare Sunday, the twenty-fifth anniversary of my late mother's death and the day upon which we learned that our friend Father Daniel Johnson had died that very morning.
Getting a New Steering Shaft
Dropping off the motor home once again at that repair shop prior to Mass on the Feast of Saint Joseph, we met the shop's owner for the first time. The chain smoking woman who served as the business manager was not as aggressive or as diffident as she had been on Thursday on Friday a few days before. The owner had laid down the law that they had to find out why our motor home was not steering properly. It took the better part of the morning and into the afternoon for them to discover that the problem rested in the steering shaft in the steering column. The device had been bent out of all of its original shape and had caused the steering problem. The owner said that he had never seen such a problem before. I informed him that the adversary does not like what I do. Oh, I made sure to tell the owner that I done the adversary's bidding only too frequently in my life but that the devil knows that I am not his friend, that I really do despise my many sins and wish to accept these kinds of crosses as the means to do penance for them as the consecrated slave of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. I don't know whether any of that mattered to the owner. All we can do is to plant seed and then to trust that Our Lady will bring them to fruition, right?
Diagnosing the problem was one thing. Finding a new steering shaft was another. The delivery of a new steering shaft, I was told late on Monday, March 19, 2007, would not be made until sometime in the afternoon of the following day, Tuesday, March 20, 2007, meaning that we were not leaving Lafayette, Louisiana, until Wednesday, March 21, 2007, at the earliest, scuttling our plans to assist at Holy Mass at the Benedictine Abbey of Christ the King in Cullman, Alabama, on the Feast Day of Saint Benedict (and the forty-sixth anniversary of my own Confirmation at the hands of the founding bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the late Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg). All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls! This meant also that we had to spend the night in the motor home at the shop as we could not drive without a steering shaft in the steering column (the steering wheel turned really well when after the steering shaft had been removed; unfortunately, it was not connected to the wheels!).
The Catholicity of Acadiana
Accepting our night parked outside of the repair shop as more Lenten penance for us to offer up to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, we said our nightly prayers and I wrote an article (When You Wish Upon a Star) that took the better part of the night to complete. We were up and out of the motor home early on Tuesday, March 20, 2007, driving to Holy Mass at Christ the King Church and then reprising our visit to the Acadiana Zoo, where I did not fall flat on my face again, thank you. We went from there to heart of Catholicism in Cajun Country, Grand Couteau, where we visited the grounds of the parish where that great missionary of the West, Father Pierre Jean De Smet, was stationed for a time, just about a mile or so south of where the Venerable Rose Philippine Duchesne had established a convent and a school, the Academy of the Sacred Heart. It was in that very convent that Saint John Berchmans appeared to novice Mary Wilson on October 19, 1866, and cured her miraculously, as is recounted below:
Mary Wilson, the beneficiary of the miracle, was born in New London, Canada, September 20, 1846. Becoming interested in Catholicism, she asked for further instruction, and was received into the Church on May 2, 1862. Four years later, she entered the novitiate of the Society of the Sacred Heart as a postulant. Her health was poor, but it was thought that the gentler climate of South Louisiana could be a remedy. She arrived there on September 20, 1866, and was to receive the habit of the Society on October 20 of that year. However, her health continued to grow worse, and on October 19, she was confined to the convent’s infirmary.
We have, in her solemn attestation, a detailed account of the events before the miracle, and since her own words are personal and warm, it would be better to quote them directly.
“On the 19th of October I was obliged to report to the infirmary, and I did not leave it until the 15th of December, the day after the one on which God was pleased to manifest His Power and Mercy in my behalf. During all this time I was dangerously ill, vomiting blood two and three times a day, with constant fever and violent headaches the greater part of the time; and still the pain in my side continued."
“I do not think I had eaten an ounce of food for about forty days. During that time I had taken nothing but a little coffee or tea, which for a week before I recovered I could no longer take. And for two weeks no medicine had been administered. The doctor said it was useless to torture me more. So, he stopped giving me any. The last two days I was unable to take even a drop of water."
“I endured the pangs of death. My body was drawn up with pain; my hands and feet were cramped and as cold as death. All my sickness had turned to inflammation of the stomach and throat. My tongue was raw and swollen. I was not able to speak for two days. At each attempt to utter a word, the blood would gush from my mouth."
“Being unable to speak, I said in my heart: “Lord, Thou Who seest how I suffer, if it be for your honor and glory and the salvation of my soul, I ask through the intercession of Blessed Berchmans a little relief and health. Otherwise give me patience to the end. I am resigned.” Then, placing the image of Blessed Berchmans on my mouth, I said: "if it be true that you can work miracles, I wish you would do something for me. If not, I will not believe in you."
“I can say without scruple of fear of offending God: I heard a voice whisper, “Open your mouth.” I did so as well as I could. I felt someone, as if put their finger on my tongue, and immediately I was relieved. I then heard a voice say in a distinct and loud tone: “Sister, you will get the desired habit. Be faithful. Have confidence. Fear not."
“I had not yet opened my eyes. I did not know who was by my bedside. I turned round and said aloud: But, Mother Moran, I am well!"
“Then, standing by my bedside, I saw a figure, He held in his hands a cup, and there were some lights near him, at this beautiful sight I was afraid. I closed my eyes and asked: “Is it Blessed Berchmans? He answered: Yes, I come by the order of God. Your sufferings are over. Fear not!"
“For the glory of Blessed John Berchmans, whose name be ever blessed! I deem it my duty to declare here, that from the moment of the cure I never experienced the slightest return of my former ailments. My flesh and strength returned instantaneously, I was able to follow all the exercises of community life from that moment. So that, after two months of cruel suffering and great attenuation of bodily strength from the want of food, I was in an instant restored to perfect health without a moment’s convalescence and could eat of everything indiscriminately, I who for thirty-eight days previous could not support a drop of water."
“The doctor called to see me that evening, and what was his surprise to see me meet him at the door. He was so overcome that he almost fainted, and Mother, perceiving it, said: ‘It is you, doctor, who needs a chair!’
Doctor examined the condition of my mouth and tongue, testified to their being well and that my appearance was that of a person in perfect health. The good doctor next inquired if I had eaten anything, and when the waiter containing remnants of my dinner was brought to him, he expressed anew his surprise, and once more declared that no human means could have ever produced such an effect.
Dr. Millard’s sworn statement of February 4, 1867, reads as follows: “Not being able to discover any marks of convalescence, but an immediate return to health from a most severe and painful illness, I am unable to explain the transition by any ordinary natural laws.” (See:
Shrine of St. John Berchmans :: The Academy of the Sacred Heart)
Yes, Acadiana is rich in Catholic history. Those who doubt that there can ever be a "Catholic States of America" ought to consider the fact that much of North America was thoroughly Catholic prior to the influence of the Protestantism and Freemasonry wrought by the English and the Dutch and all of the other exponents of error and heresy and deceit on these shores.
About That Power Steering Box. . . .
We did, however, have to spend the better part of the rest of that day, Tuesday, March 20, 2007, doing errands before returning to the motor home as we awaited the delivery of the steering shaft, which we were told might not be until very late in the afternoon; the driver who was supposed to deliver the part did not start his day until the latter part of each afternoon. I insisted that some way be found to track down the part and get it delivered. The folks at the repair shop were none too happy with my insistence. However, a New Yorker's insistence (and lots and lots of prayers to Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint Anthony) got the job done.
The motor home's new steering shaft took about two and one-half hours to be installed. Only one little problem remained: the power steering box needed a "seal" to prevent it from leaking power steering fluid! Why in the world this could not have been done with all of the time that they had had over the course of four straight working days to deal with it was utterly beyond me, humanly speaking, except that I realized that this was yet another cross to be accepted with equanimity and to be given in reparation for sins--my own and those of the whole world--to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Lucy Mary Norma summed things up pretty well when she said, "Dada, Our Lord loves us very much to send us all of these crosses." Indeed, He does. Indeed, He does! For the leaking power steering box meant that I would have to stop lots of times en route from Lafayette, Louisiana, to Lebanon, Ohio, to pour power steering fluid into the leaking power steering box. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
A Heaven-sent Beagle?
Spending one last night back at Bayou Wilderness Campground on the evening of Tuesday, March 20, 2007, we secured the cabin, as Sharon likes to say, for our trip to Ohio Before we left the campground, however, an old beagle hound, who appeared to belong to someone at the campground (he had a collar and vaccination tags, things that my late father, who was a small animal veterinarian for twenty-six years, between 1946 and 1972, in Queens Village, New York, gave out all of the time after he had administered rabies and distemper-hepatitis-leptospirosis vaccinations), came up to me as I was putting away the sewer hose and the fresh water hose. He was a sweet dog, wanting to climb up our steps and make his way into the coach itself. He did not want to leave my side. This shows God's great goodness, believe it or not.
Yes, you see, God loves each of us so perfectly that He sends each one of us little consolations that would not mean a thing to someone else. Tears fill my eyes at this very moment as I think about the beagles my family had when I was in my high school and college years. Indeed, two of them, Laddie, who was born on December 8, 1965, and his son Blanky, who was born on November 13, 1966, lived until I had been teaching at the college level for seven years, dying within months of each other in 1981. There Is No Cure for This Condition recounts how I drove Laddie and Blanky and Pokey, Blanky's brother who was killed in a hit-and-run incident in Harlingen, Texas, in September of 1973, down to Bryan, Texas, from Oyster Bay Cove, New York, on December 29-30, 1972, the beginning of my long-distance marathon driving career. It was, therefore, very consoling for that elderly beagle to make his way over to me on the morning of the Feast of Saint Benedict, March 21, 2007.
God is so very kind to us erring sinners. I had a little flashback to the days I helped my father at his veterinary hospital in Queens Village and to the years of enjoyment our beagles gave us. Blanky and Pokey's mother, who was named "Lady Luck" by my brother (yes, Bob, we pray for you every day!) after she was born on April 17, 1965, died on the operating table on August 22, 1967, as my father was spaying her. She had a respiratory problem and could not handle the anesthesia that had been administered to her. She was good, if just a little spoiled, dog, who had to be nursed by hand as her own mother could not feed her (which is how we came into possession of her; the owner of the mother let us keep the sole surviving puppy as we had taken her to our then home in Great Neck, New York, to nurse after her birth on a Saturday afternoon). I thanked Our Lord for sending that elderly beagle to visit us before we left the Lafayette, Louisiana, area. Lucy, who has her late grandfather's love of animals, wished that we could have taken him with us!
Drip, Drip, Drip Goes the Poer Steering Fluid
Hooking up the Trail Blazer to the motor home once again, we drove down to Christ the King Church for our final Mass at the hands of Father Francis Miller, thanking him afterwards for his many kindnesses to us. We were pleased to learn a few days ago that Father Francis will be visiting in this coming week with the wonderful Father Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., in Bolingbrook, Illinois, of whom I wrote briefly in
Lead Us Out of Exile, Good Saint Joseph. More will be mentioned in the next installment of this travelogue. Suffice it to say for the moment that this wonderful, kind, brilliant Franciscan priest, who has such a wonderful way with flowers and other things that grow in the ground and who is a superb theologian has seen the entire situation facing the Church clearly since the 1960s. For every allegedly "mean" sedevacantist that some people use to irresponsibly universalize from the particular, you see, there are the wonderfully kind priests such as Father Martin Stepanich. Oh, his theological defense of sedevacantism is spirited and written with a bit of biting humor now and again, to be sure. He is, however, the quintessence of true Charity, seeking the good of others, trying to help others to see the truth clearly. It is wonderful that two true sons of Saint Francis, Father Martin and Father Francis, will be meeting with each other in this coming week. Deo gratias.
After picking up photographs from a disposable camera that we had given to Lucy to use at the Acadiana Zoo the day before, we commenced our journey to Ohio, making very good time in a once-again steerable motor home. I did have to stop more than I would have liked to add power steering fluid to the power steering box. It was, however, still in the middle of Lent. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls! One of those stops was made in a rather, shall we say, interesting section on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama. It is generally not a good sign when wrought-iron bars are placed over the pane glass windows of a gasoline station. Let's just leave it at that. Lots of prayers were said to Saint Michael the Archangel and my own Guardian Angel as I filled up with gasoline and power steering fluid at around 10:00 p.m., Central Standard Time, in those outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama.
From a Muddy Campground to a Hillbilly Campground and Back Again
Knowing that there was a 5:30 p.m. Mass at Saint Gertrude the Great Church in West Chester, Ohio, on Thursday, March 22, 2007, the Feast of Saint Isidore the Farmer, I had the luxury of not being forced to drive through the night. With the road beginning to "move around" on me in southern Kentucky as I drove on Interstate 65, I decided to stop at a Kampground of America (KOA) some one hundred miles or so south of Louisville, Kentucky. It was time to get some sleep. It had been a long, long few days.
After Sharon took Lucy to the playground for a bit of exercise on the morning of Thursday, March 22, 2007, we were off on our way for the approximately four hour drive to Lebanon, Ohio, where we had made a reservation to stay a campground where we had stayed from August 11, 2006, to September 11, 2006. The motor home parking spaces in back of "America's Best Value Inn" in Cincinnati, Ohio (which "best value inn" is not run by Americans!), were being removed, part of "renovation" of the former Travelodge. This was unfortunate as those parking spaces placed within five miles of Saint Gertrude the Great (as opposed to thirty or forty-five miles, the distances from which one must drive from one or the other of the two major campgrounds in the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area). Thus we had to go to the campground in Lebanon, arriving there after we had assisted at Mass at Saint Gertrude the Great on the evening of March 22. It was wonderful to be back at Saint Gertrude and to listen to His Excellency Bishop Daniel Dolan's fine sermon about Saint Isidore the Farmer and his wife Saint Maria de la Cabeza, both of whom were devoted to assisting at daily Mass, something that His Excellency tries to encourage his parishioners at Saint Gertrude the Great to make an ordinary part of their ordinary lives.
It was pitch dark by the time we had arrived at Olive Branch Campground. The owner, who was then in the process of selling the campground, could only place us in a "pull-through" spot which was in a swampland of rainwater. There was also another drawback to the "pull-through" space: it lacked any running water, which forced us to leave Olive Branch Campground the next afternoon, Friday, March 23, 2007, driving about sixty miles south to one Oin Walton, Kentucky, which could provide us with running water. Ah, the life of wanderers in the days of the remnant, huh? The campground in Kentucky featured all manner of immodestly attired and ill-speaking people. The "back-in" space was small and located next to a creek (Salem Creek). Neighbors were uncouth and unruly. Although we paid for a month's stay, we could only stand the place for but nine nights, returning to Olive Branch Campground on Monday in Holy Week, April 2, 2007, after we were assured that running water was once again available there. Yes, our site at Olive Branch remained a swampland for the twelve days of our stay, prompting me to have to roll up my pant legs in order not to get soiled with mud and muck. However, it was a better facility, one offering much more privacy, than the place in Kentucky.
The Glories of Saint Gertrude the Great
My lectures on March 24, 2007, went well. We are, of course, very grateful to Bishop Dolan for his generosity in having me speak to his parishioners. I cannot encourage readers of this site enough to visit Saint Gertrude the Great if their travels take them to the Cincinnati, Ohio, area. The liturgical year truly comes alive at Saint Gertrude the Great. Bishop Dolan's daily sermons on the lives of the saints are outstanding. Many, including his Sunday sermons, are available at: TraditionalCatholicSermonsHome. The sermons given by Bishop Dolan and Father Anthony Cekada and Bishop Donald Sanborn during Holy Week were very inspirational Indeed, I must say that Holy Week at Saint Gertrude the Great was the most edifying of our own lives. The very spirit of the events of Passiontide was lived out during each day of the Paschal Triduum, culminating in a nearly five hour Easter Vigil Mass on the morning of Holy Saturday, the first time in my life that I had been to an Easter Vigil Mass in the morning. What a magnificent experience, one that we will never forget and hope to reprise, God willing and Our Lady interceding, next year. And our dear, dear Lucy Mary Norma did very well throughout it all. Oh, she has room for improvement in some areas of Mass attendance at some times. However, she does love the Faith and pays attention to the details of the Mass, doing so sometimes extraordinarily well when she puts her very strong will to its best uses.
Lucy Turns Five
Lucy turned five years old on March 27, the Feast of Saint John Damascene. Lucy is very devoted to the statues and other images of Our Lord and Our Lady and the saints. Indeed, responding to a waitress at a a restaurant in Spokane, Washington, on Saturday, May 19, 2007, who had asked her when she was born, Lucy responded by telling her that she was born on March 27, "the Feast of Saint John Damascene. I am very devoted to the images of the saints, just like Saint John Damascene." The waitress was taken aback by Lucy's answer, amazed that Lucy had associated her birthday with the feast day of a saint. My dear wife Sharon has been doing (and continues to do) a marvelous job helping Lucy to know and to love the Holy Faith. Lucy reads entire chapter books and does arithmetic problems and knows her catechism lessons thoroughly. I couldn't even recognize my own last name on a cardboard crown in Kindergarten at Saint Aloysius School in Great Neck, New York, fifty years ago this very month, figuring that my name had to be longest one. I spent the first five years of my life vegetating in front of the television. Our dear daughter has been busy learning the Faith--and learning things, such as reading, that I could not do until first and second grade.
We took Lucy to the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, after Holy Mass at Saint Gertrude the Great on her birthday. The Feast of Saint Damascene is of a "double" rank, justifying, at least as far as we were concerned, a moderate degree of joy during Tuesday in Passion Week. The Newport Aquarium plays wonderful neo-classical music (of the John Williams variety) and is really the best aquarium we have visited in our travels across the nation. It is truly amazing to see the brilliance of the colors of some of the fish, each of which was willed into existence by the pure intelligence of God. How any human being can believe that the various species of fish "evolved" by random selection is beyond my puny mind to comprehend. God spoke but the Word and each kind of fish was created instantly out of nothing. Visiting an aquarium or a zoo only has true meaning when one understands and accepts the fact that God did indeed create the world as is recorded by Moses in the Book of Genesis.
Lucy had to await other "treats," as we call them, until after Easter, getting to visit with her friend Genevieve Ahern, who turned five years old on Good Friday, April 6, 2007, at the Cincinnati Zoo on Easter Tuesday, April 10, 2007. Lucy and Genevieve had a grand time together at the zoo, which, unfortunately, is a bastion of evolutionist propaganda (phrases such as "biodiversity," a code for the fact that we "share" the earth with other species, each of whom are "equal" to human beings, abound in the zoo). And Sharon and I enjoyed visiting with Genevieve's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Barry Ahern, having spent time before our trip to the zoo visiting Mrs. Ahern's mother, the eighty-nine year-old Mrs. Federspiel, who is as sharp as that proverbial tack, having carried on a vibrant correspondence with Father Martin Stepanich over the years. Mrs. Federspiel has also "worked over" the older priests in residence at the nursing home where she lives, telling them that they must return to the Tradition of their priestly ordination. She also encourages the residents to get the Mass of Tradition, to which she is very devoted, assisting at Holy Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Norwood, Ohio. It was quite a treat for us to meet and visit with Mrs. Federspiel on Easter Tuesday. It was also very generous of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Simpson and their eight children to take us out to dinner after Holy Mass at Saint Gertrude the Great that evening. A wonderful end to a superb day during the glorious Easter Octave.
Sharon Receives the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Ghost, For Sure, At Last
The sacramental highlight of Easter Week for us was Sharon's being confirmed conditionally by Bishop Dolan on Easter Wednesday. Sharon had been confirmed at the hands of the late Father Daniel Johnson at Saint Mary's by the Sea Church in Huntington Beach, California, on July 30, 1999, which was a little over nineteen months before I had met her. As we have come to learn in the past year, however, the "reformed" rites created by the counterfeit church of conciliarism are invalid. Meaning not one bit of disparagement to the late Father Johnson, who truly did his best to maintain the Catholic Faith in the conciliar structures, we recognized that we could not ignore the truth of the information that Our Lady had given us to know in the past year. Thus it was that Sharon was confirmed conditionally on Wednesday, April 11, 2007. We are, once again, grateful to Bishop Dolan for his kindness in confirming Sharon, thereby assuring that she does indeed have the gifts and fruits of the Holy Ghost. Lucy was so very happy to see her mother confirmed! His Excellency was kind enough to treat us to a marvelous lunch after the confirmation.
A Visit From Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Bernadette
Before we left Ohio, however, a delivery was made to us at Olive Branch Campground in Lebanon (Oregonia, actually), Ohio. We had agree to a request of Sister Mary Tarcisius, who works with Father Francis Miller at Christ the King Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, to transport two large cement statues, one of Our Lady of Lourdes and one of Saint Bernadette, out to the Spokane, Washington, area, where Sister Mary Tarcisius's brother, Mr. Ted Dunphy, would pick them up and bring them over to their father's home in Rathdrum, Idaho, where a shrine is to be build on their father's property. The statues were driven from Lafayette, Louisiana, to the Cincinnati area by Mr. and Mrs. David Lawson. Mr. Lawson is the nephew of Father William Jenkins. Mrs. Lawson is the niece of Father Francis Miller (Father Leo Carley, a "neutral" party, officiated at their Nuptial Mass, they told us). Mr. Lawson came with two other strapping young men to deliver the statues on the evening of April 11, 2007. They were huffing and puffing as they brought the statues (Our Lady must have weighted 300 pounds; Saint Bernadette was probably in the neighborhood of 200 pounds) into our motor home's bedroom. Keep this in mind as you read further into this story.
Just Catholicism, Not Tumultuous Times, at Saint Joseph Church in Wayne, Michigan
Our time in the West Chester, Ohio, was over in a space of three weeks' time. It was during that time,. however, that Father Casimir Puskorius had invited us back out to Mount Saint Michael's Church in Spokane, Washington, for the lecture program that I am giving at present. And His Excellency Bishop Mark Pivarunas, the Superior General of the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen, made arrangements with Fathers Francisco Radecki and Brendan Hughes to have me speak in their own parishes, which are located, respectively, in Wayne, Michigan, and Saint Cloud, Minnesota. I am most grateful to Bishop Pivarunas and to Fathers Puskorius, Radecki and Hughes for their kindness to us in letting me give lectures on the Social Reign of Christ the King. It was with this mission in mind that we had to leave West Chester, Ohio, on the morning of Easter Saturday, April 14, 2007, after Holy Mass at Saint Gertrude the Great Church.
The drive up Interstate 75 on Easter Saturday was uneventful, save for the stops that had to be made to fill up the power steering box with power steering fluid. (No, we could not find a place in the Cincinnati area to take care of the problem). It took about four hours to drive from Saint Gertrude the Great Church to the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Belleville, Michigan, which has a campground for motor homes and other recreational vehicles on the rear of its premises. The weather in Michigan was "chilly-willy," as we are wont to say when the weather gets very cold. I did notice that the motor home's engine seemed to losing power as we drove, that it is just didn't have much "pick up and go" whenever I accelerated, causing me to wonder if the motor home's engine was on the verge of blowing another spark plug. Little did I realize what surprises were in store for us five days later after we left the Wayne County Fairgrounds. Little did I realize what God had known from all eternity would be awaiting us to give Him honor and glory and to pay Him back for perhaps a small bit of the debt we owed for our sins, giving all to Him through His Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
Father Francisco Radecki, CMRI, whose Saint Joseph Church in Wayne, Michigan, offers three very well-attended Masses each Sunday, was so very good to invite me to speak to his parishioners. I gave a different talk after each of the Sunday Masses on Low Sunday, April 15, 2007, a much shortened version of the program I had given at Saint Gertrude the Great Church on Saturday, March 24, 2007. One couple drove all the way from the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen's Middleville, Michigan, chapel to listen to all three talks. Other "home-grown" parishioners stayed for the full measure of the lectures as well. Father Francisco's book
Tumultuous Times, co-authored by his twin brother, Father Dominic Radecki, CMRI (who was instrumental in teaching the Catholic Faith to Sharon when she was living in the Santa Clarita, California, area in 1996), is a tremendous source of information and has helped many people to accept the dogmatic truth of the Catholic Faith that heretics cannot legitimately hold ecclesiastical office. He was very good to have taken us out to dinner twice during our four day stay in the Wayne area, making sure that parishioners treated us to breakfast on three out of the four days we were his parishioners.
Father Francisco has a special gift of working with children. He questioned Lucy Mary Norma very closely about her knowledge of the Faith, judging that she is very close to receiving her First Holy Communion. Father Francisco's kindness and patience exhibit the patience and kindness of the One for Whom he acts in persona Christi in the administration of the sacraments. Indeed, he exhibited his patience and forbearance with this slacker, telling me that he could see even in my days of writing for The Wanderer that I had the interests of the Faith at heart even though I was so very far from understanding the full truth of the situation that confronted Catholics.
Americana Galore at "The Henry Ford"
Acting upon Father Francisco's recommendation, we took Lucy Mary Norma to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, which we did on Monday, April 16, 2007, arriving at around 3:30 p.m., giving us ninety minutes to tour the facility prior to driving the four miles down Michigan Avenue back to Saint Joseph's Church for a 6:00 p.m. Mass there. The most fascinating thing about the Henry Ford Museum to Lucy was the collection of doll houses that are located near the main entrance to the exhibits. The other exhibits of Americana were of little interest to her, although she did like the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Truth be told, however, I must admit that there is enough of the "nostalgia" bug in me to find some of the things on display to be of great interest. Especially of interest to this political scientist, who has also taught a number of history courses over the decades, was the collection of dictators' (er, presidential) limousines, including the one in which John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot and killed on November 22, 1963, and the one into which Ronald Wilson Reagan was pushed after he was shot by John Hinckley. The rocking chair in which sat Dictator Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth dictator of the United States of America, as I am wont to say out loud when referring to the various elected tyrants who have misruled this country from its inception, on the evening of Good Friday, April 14, 1865, at the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C., was also on display.
The Henry Ford Museum also featured a number of very primitive motor homes, the earliest of which dated from the late-1920s. Some of them were made with wood panels and wood-burning stoves. They were efforts to give birth to a motorized version of the covered wagon. Believe me when I tell you that the manufacturers of motor homes are still trying to give birth to a successful motorized version of the covered wagon. The intricacies of an motor vehicle chassis on which sits a house, subject to violent shaking at high speeds, with its own electrical and plumbing systems, neither of which has any "schematic" to guide those interested in repairing malfunctions, have defined the ability of engineers to design a motor home that functions smoothly. Even the "high-end" products, we are told, come complete with their own problems, caused principally by the fact that they are designed by engineers who never use them and have no idea how badly their designs work in actual point of fact. It was, however, very interesting to see some of the early motor homes, a few of which are displayed in the Pictorial Essay that accompanies this travelogue.
Also of interest at The Henry Ford Museum (whose formal, snooty name, you understand, is simply "The Henry Ford") was the signage that once advertised such things as Holiday Inn motels and Texaco and Flying A gasoline stations. One exhibit featured a typical room of a Holiday Inn. Another had a display of Burma Shave signs, which had pretty much disappeared by the time I started my long distance driving career on Friday, December 29, 1972, but which I had seen as a small boy as my father drove us from Long Island to Florida in April of 1958. One set of Burma Shave signs in North Carolina along U.S. Route 1 read as follows: "Thirty days...have September...April, June...and the traffic offender." It was quite a trip down memory lane to see some of the old signs, some of which were still very much in use during my early days driving hither and yon across the highways and byways of the United States of America in the early-1970s.
Notching Another Zoo
The Detroit Zoo awaited our attention the next day, Tuesday, April 17, 2007, the forty-third anniversary of the opening of William A. Shea Municipal Stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York (as the New York Mets hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates). The Detroit Zoo turned out to be a most pleasant and very visitor-friendly place to see more of God's irrational creatures. Conscious of the fact that we would be driving some considerable set of distances, I wanted to give Lucy as much "running time" as possible when we were in the greater Detroit, Michigan, area. Lucy had a lot of fun at the Detroit Zoo, which brought the total number of zoos she has visited to thirty-six since the time she was pushed in her stroller at the Bronx Zoo in May of 2003. It was our hope to get her to the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois, three days later. And while we did indeed make to that zoo, I am afraid that I, though present in body, was very much absent in spirit as I attempted to deal with the aftermath of what happened to us on Thursday, April 19, 2007. Yes, as most of you know from the updates on the home page of this site, a lot happened on Thursday, April 19, 2007.
Here We Go Again
After saying our goodbyes to Father Francisco Radecki and Reverend Mother Marie de Lourdes, the Superior General of the Sisters of the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen, who was visiting Saint Joseph's Church for a few days, following Holy Mass and a breakfast on Thursday, April 19, 2007, we returned to the Wayne County Fairgrounds to pack up our motor home for the trip to Windy City Campground in Tinley Park, Illinois, which would place us within twenty miles of Holy Mass at Father Martin Stepanich's residence in Bolingbrook, Illinois. It was our plan to stay at Windy City Campground for two days prior to driving up to Milwaukee, where I was scheduled to speak at Saint Hugh of Lincoln Church on Saturday, April 21, 2007. The trip from Belleville, Michigan, to Tinley Park, was about 250 miles. We would have arrived around 2:00 p.m., Central Daylight Savings Time, on Thursday, April 19, 2007, if all had gone well. All did not, in God's Holy Providence, go well, humanly speaking, that is. Supernaturally, obviously, things went very well for God's greater honor and glory and our own sanctification as the consecrated slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
Although I noticed that the motor home's engine was losing power as we drove, I just hoped and prayed that we could get to Windy City Campground without any problems. We were within twenty miles of the exit for Windy City Campground on Interstates 80/94, having just crossed over into Illinois from Indiana on a stretch of highway that is perpetually under reconstruction (it has been thus for the past thirty years), when the motor home's engine died, as in stopped running. Efforts to start the engine failed to get us going again. We were in a very precarious situation, having stalled out in the middle lane of a winding stretch of highway in a construction zone. I looked (and I prayed!) in the driver's sideview mirror to see trucks, whose drivers could not see the motor home/Trail Blazer combination until they were almost right on top of the Trail Blazer, coming perilously close to us. It was 1:45 p.m., Central Daylight Savings Time. Traffic was very, very heavy. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls.
Mike and His Tow Truck
Knowing that we had to get out of the perilous situation as soon as possible, I called 911 and begged for a tow to get us off of the main highway. It took about thirty minutes for the tow truck to arrive. As it turned out, the tow truck was not equipped to hook up the motor home for a lengthy tow to a repair shop. Oh, no. This tow vehicle was designed simply to yank us out of the middle lane and get us over to a cordoned off shoulder in the construction zone. The tow truck driver, a very nice man by the name of Mike, wrapped chains around the front axle of the motor home's chassis, telling me to put the transmission into Neutral and to steer the motor home as best as I could behind the tow truck.
Mike, who had a "backup" blocking traffic in the right lane so that he could take us off the road safely, pulled out into the right lane, seeking a way to get over to the cordoned-off shoulder as fast as possible. I did not know whether I was supposed to apply the brakes s the motor home moved closer to the rear of the tow truck, not knowing whether doing so would interfere with the forward motion of the tow truck. I had to consider whether to apply the brakes at the same time I had to steer the motor home behind the tow truck, a task that was made rather difficult by the fact that a dead engine meant that there was no power for the steering or for the brakes. The motor home was going "this way and that way" as I tried my very best to steer it behind Mike's tow truck. We "ate" a traffic barrel (not a cone) at one point as Mike was pulling us over to the cordoned-off shoulder in the construction. It was at that point, however, that the motor home was being pulled rather rapidly into the direction of the back of Mike's tow truck. I had to apply the powerless brakes with all of the might that Our Lady could send me. We came within the proverbial hair's breadth of smashing into the back of Mike's tow truck.
Mike's tow truck and the motor home/Trail Blazer combination came to a rest alongside the shoulder of the cordoned-off construction zone at around 2:30 p.m., Central Standard Time. Mike shook my hand vigorously for having prevented the motor home from crashing into the back of his tow truck. "I thought you were coming straight into the truck," he noted. I told him that his own Patron Saint, Saint Michael the Archangel, undoubtedly played a role in helping us to avoid that kind of calamity. It was quite a driving experience, let me tell you! All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!"
"Dada, I still see that sign!"
Mike unwrapped his tow chains and wrote down the vital information that he needed for his report. Unfortunately, however, he could not tow us to a repair shop. He did see that some kind of line underneath the motor home had broken. Fluid had been sprayed all over the Trail Blazer. It was my fondest hope and prayer that a broken line was the reason that the motor home's engine had died. The more immediate problem, however, was to secure a tow to a repair shop. We were in a safe area, just east of Exit 160 of the combined Interstates 80/94. Indeed, Exit 160 was where Interstate 94 left Interstate 80 to travel north to Chicago and Milwaukee. As the hours passed and passed and passed, Lucy kept saying to me, "Dada, I still see that sign [for I-94/Chicago]," knowing full well that we were completely stuck and that all we could do was to offer up our immobility to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
As is usually the case, it took an interminably long time to reach GMAC Insurance on my cellular phone. I gave the woman who answered my call an exact location (on the shoulder of the westbound lanes of Interstates 80/94, just east of Exit 160). This did not satisfy her in the slightest."What town are you in?" I was asked. I told her that I only knew the exact location of our breakdown, that there were any number of small communities in and around that area, none of which could be said to be the exact place where the highway was located. This is one of the problems of corporate outsourcing, you see. A telephone operator who has no knowledge of the country and not a modicum of common sense (an exact location should be good enough to feed into a computer to find which community was nearest to that location) can only proceed only to corporate policies, none of which are founded in a semblance of reality. It took the better part of an hour to break through the bureaucracy to speak with a human being at a tow truck company about ten minutes away from where we were located.
Yet to be decided, however, was where to tow the motor home.GMAC recommended a shop west of Joliet, Illinois. That shop, however, only worked on the interior of motor homes, not on their chassis. This meant that I had to find a Ford dealership able to work on motor homes and within twenty-five to thirty miles of where we had broken down and then to get permission from GMAC to be towed to that dealership. I had to go online with my computer to track down a dealership, finding one in Peotone, Illinois, whose service manager said that he would try to be of assistance to us. Peotone was about thirty miles west and south of where we had broken down. GMAC Insurance took a long time to approve this tow. And it was then and only then that the tow truck operator nearby was authorized to send out a tow truck. We were told one would arrive within forty-five minutes. Forty-five mintues stretched into ninety minutes in short order. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Bob and His Tow Truck
Repeated phone calls to the nearby tow truck operator were met with complete and utter diffidence, an attitude, I can tell you, that is not atypical in parts of Illinois, having taught at Illinois State University from 1977 to 1979 (and then again during the 1986-1987 academic year). We just had to wait and wait and wait and pray and pray and pray. It was around 5:30 p.m. before the tow truck had arrived. I had already detached the Trail Blazer from the motor home so as to be able to move quickly once the tow truck had arrived. Little did we realize that the process of hooking up the motor home, which usually does not take all that terribly long, would take the better part of an hour. "Bob," the swearing bulk of a man who drove the tow truck, took his time to determine how best to hook up the motor home, going so far as to remove the drive shaft, which did not absolutely have to be removed in order for the motor home to be towed. Bob was, despite his foul mouth and overall rather foul mood, thorough, making sure that the tow bar did not scrape bottom as the motor home was being towed.
It was shortly after 6:15 p.m. on the evening of Thursday, April 19, 2007, that we were driving in our Trail Blazer as we followed the motor home at the end of a tow hook. Bob drove very slowly down Interstate 80 and onto Interstate 57 to Peotone. I was told that we could drop off the motor home as late as 8:00 p.m. I did not know whether we would get there in time. We just prayed and prayed and prayed. Bob even stopped at a closed weigh station to shut one of the compartment doors on his tow truck. I could empathize, having had to stop on numerous occasions in the past six years to close a "basement" door or eight on our motor home after it had flown open while we were driving down some highway. We were on the way again relatively soon after that particular stop, arriving at the Ford dealership in Peotone, Illinois, some forty-five miles or so due south of Chicago, around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, 2007. It had been nearly six hours since the motor home's engine had died on Interstates 80/94. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Arriving at the Ford dealership in Peotone, Illinois, did not mean that we were "free" to get something to eat and then retreat to a motel some forty-five miles in Bolingbrook, Illinois, so that we could assist at Father Stepanich's Holy Mass the next morning, Friday, April 20, 2007. Oh, no! Bob, the swearing tow truck driver, had to unhook everything he had hooked. It took him the better part of another forty-five minutes to complete the process. I gave him a Miraculous Medal and a Green Scapular. He apologized for his foul mouth. I thanked him for his thoroughness, which included noticing a hole in the engine's exhaust muffler and emphasizing the drive shaft, which he reinstalled only "hand tight," had to be checked at the shop. I explained all of this to the cashier at the Ford dealership, writing down also that the power steering box had to be replaced. It was at that point that we were "liberated" from the day's ordeal, moving out a few provisions for a night's stay at a motel in Bolingbrook. We hoped most fervently that we would be displaced from the motor home for that one night only, that the problem that caused the engine to cease running was as simple as the broken line that had been noticed by both Mike and Bob in their respective turns at towing the motor home.
Having a bite to eat at a place called the Peotone Bierstube (no, I don't drink beer--or any alcoholic drinks, for that matter; just have never liked the taste of alcohol), we drove to the Hampton Inn in Bolingbrook, which took the better part of an hour. We did not get there until around 10:30 p.m., Central Daylight Savings Time, on Thursday, April 19, 2007. We were exhausted. Lucy had fallen asleep during our drive. I told Sharon to stay in the Trail Blazer with Lucy as I checked into the motel and thence got our bags into the room so that I could carry Lucy out of the car. As it turned out, though, we were given a "smoking" room even though I had requested a non-smoking room when making the reservations online as we were struck in the cordoned-off shoulder in the construction zone on Interstates 80/94 some hours before. I had to telephone the front desk receptionist to change our rooms, keeping Sharon and Lucy in the Trail Blazer for yet another thirty minutes. And carrying Lucy, who is no longer easy to carry, was quite a chore after I had managed to get into a non-smoking room and had deposited our bags there. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
I had made arrangements with Father Stepanich to move his offering of Holy Mass back an hour on Friday morning, April 20, 2007, from 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Lucy is just a little girl. She needs her sleep. Oh, so does Sharon. So do I. However, I am very conscious of trying to give our wonderful daughter enough sleep each night. Morning did come pretty quickly, however, and with it started my telephone calls to the Ford dealership in Peotone to get the ball rolling on the diagnosis and repair of the motor home, reminding each service representative with whom I spoke that the muffler, power steering box and drive shaft each had to be examined and repaired. I was assured that this would be done. I was given a false assurance.
There's a New Invention Called the Accelator: Use It!
The Hampton Inn in Bolingbrook, Illinois, was only about four miles from Father Stepanich's. Nonetheless, however, it took us the better part of thirty-five minutes to drive those four miles. It appears as though drivers in some parts of the country are slightly challenged when it comes to realizing that they must depress their automobile's accelerator in order to maintain a steady speed up a steep incline or grade. My late father taught me this lesson when I was but a wee little boy in the 1950s as we were driving on the Long Island Expressway just past the intersection of the Cross Island Parkway (and not far from where the Expressway's eastbound lanes ended in those days, Community Drive in Lake Success, New York). "These drivers aren't accelerating to compensate for the fact that gravity is drawing their vehicles back down," my father told me. Well, that was indeed what was happening on the morning of April 20, 2007, in Bolingbrook, Illinois. We did not arrive at Father Stepanich's until 9:00 a.m. despite having left at 8:25 a.m.
A True Champion of the Catholic Faith: Father Martin Stepanich
Father Stepanich, who, as mentioned earlier in this travelogue, turns ninety-two years of age this year, is a true son of Saint Francis. He offers Mass exquisitely. He is humble and self-effacing, letting his writing speak for itself. A reader recently dismissed Father Martin's theological expertise, in essence saying that he knew better than Father Martin despite having never studied theology, no less produced a doctoral dissertation and endless number of articles in scholarly journals on theological subjects. Such is the influence of egalitarianism amongst even some traditional Catholics. No point of deference whatsoever is given to true Catholic scholars such as Father Martin Stepanich who have studied issues of theology and doctrine for over seven decades. People just dismiss such expertise out of hand because it does not agree with their preconceived notions, which are reinforced in their minds by the stereotypes and caricatures that they assign, most irresponsibly, it should be added, to those who disagree with them about the situation facing the Church. Those who have dismissed Father Martin's wisdom and erudition, including those who have arrogantly refused to respond to his learned correspondence, ought to eat some humble pie and at least answer his correspondence. We were mighty impressed with a humble priest of God who refused to offer even the Ordo Missae of 1965 and came to the conclusion shortly thereafter that the Catholic Church could not be the author of the errors being promulgated by the Vatican at that time.
Assisting Father Martin is Sister Olive, an eighty-seven year-old School Sister of Saint Francis who was told by her superiors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the 1960s to pack her bags and leave her convent when she would not go along with the changes in the order and in the counterfeit church of conciliarism. Her own sister, Sister Yvonne, died a few years ago, having been dismissed with her at the same time and for the same reasons. A young girl named Samantha, whose family assists at Holy Mass offered by Father Daniel Ahern in Saginaw, Michigan, looks after Father Martin and Sister Olive. We were so happy to have met these humble souls.
Father Martin was good enough to show us his garden that he tends so very well. Adam was a gardener, tilling the soil without sweat prior to his falling from Original Innocence in the Garden of Eden. Our Lord showed Himself to Saint Mary Magdalene as a gardener as He was tilling the soil following His Resurrection. How very appropriate it is that Father Martin Stepanich has spent a good deal of his priestly life building shrines to Our Lady and adorning them with beautiful flowers and plants that he cared for with such perfect love for her and her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We were privileged to have been given a tour of Father Martin's garden.
Not realizing that we would be back at Father Martin's residence for Mass from Tuesday through Saturday of the next week, we left there on Friday, April 20, 2007, around 12:00 noon, having made arrangements to return the next morning prior to our drive to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was our hope to have had our motor home back by that time. We found out shortly after we left Father Martin's that we might never get our motor home back again.
Clobbered at the Brookfield Zoo
Yes, it was on our way to the Brookfield Zoo in the Chicago area that I got the news from the Ford dealership in Peotone, Illinois, that we needed a new engine. The estimated cost for the new engine and the labor to install it? Somewhere around $9,000.00, which turned out to be almost entirely accurate. I was, humanly speaking, floored, thinking that we were faced with the repair of some line or hose underneath the motor home. I was told that two of the motor home's engine's cylinders had little or no compression. I told the woman who telephoned me that I needed some time to sort this all out. She said that the company that owned the Ford dealership in Peotone also had a recreational vehicle dealership in Franklin, Illinois. Perhaps it would be possible for us to purchase a new motor home, she said. Although our own motor home is within less than a year of being paid off, I was indifferent to the thought of getting a new one. The only real problem we would face in getting a new motor home, if we could secure financing for one, that is, was moving the five hundred pounds worth of statues from our Georgetown to whatever new unit we could purchase.
That bridge, however, was a long way from being crossed. I telephoned Father Francis Miller in Lafayette to see if a cousin of his in the Shreveport, Louisiana, area had any suggestions. I telephoned the fellow from the Baril Engine Rebuilding Company in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who had rented us the tool kit to re-sleeve the blown spark plug holes. I telephoned the recreational vehicle dealership in Franklin, Illinois, to see if what a credit check would look like insofar as purchasing a new motor home. I telephoned the bank that had financed the purchase of our Georgetown six years ago to see if we had enough credit there to refinance the unit so that we could get a new engine. The results were as follows: the friendly demeanor of the salesman at the recreational vehicle dealership in Franklin, Illinois, changed into frostbite real fast once I told him that I had no regular, predictable income (bank statements do not prove income, I was told; pay stubs do that; what's a pay stub?). No deal there, obviously. The bank that financed the Georgetown said that no loan would be extended despite our excellent credit because we are not residents of the state where the bank is located. The man from the Baril Engine Rebuilding Company never got back to me. Father Francis said that his cousin could only recommend asking the dealership in Peotone, Illinois, if all pertinent tests had been run. We were stuck, humanly speaking.
These phone calls were being made on the afternoon of Friday, April 20, 2007, as Sharon and Lucy toured the grounds of the Brookfield Zoo. Oh, I was there, too. I was just too thunderstruck to do much touring, although I did, at Sharon and Lucy's coaxing, hobble on over to the area when the four-month old baby polar bear was on exhibit. As you will be able to tell from the photographs, the baby polar bar was pretty cute. I sat down on a bench across from that outdoor exhibit to make more telephone calls as Sharon and Lucy dealt with the Tartars, as we call them, that is, the immodestly dressed and foul-speaking people who pass for our fellow countrymen. I had to weigh our options, recognizing that everything we had, not that it is very much, is in the motor home and that we just could not walk away from it, especially as we approaching paying it off within a year. There was only one option: to trust in Our Lady's maternal intercession and hope that we could raise the money to pay for a new engine.
Let's Trust in Our Lady and Saint Joseph to Get the Job Done
Thus, I telephoned the service department at the Ford dealership in Peotone, Illinois, explaining to them that we would go ahead with the new engine. There was a little wrinkle that was presented to me: it might take between two and three weeks for the job to be completed. Well, we could not be without our home for that amount of time, especially since we absolutely had to be in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, on May 5 and 6 for my lectures at Immaculate Conception Church there. The woman was cooperative, saying that they would try their best to get the job done in a week, which is what turned out to be the case. They asked for no deposit at the time, only to change their minds on Monday, April 23, 2007, as we were breakfasting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I emphasized once again the need to repair the muffler and the power steering box, also mentioning once again the need to look at the drive shaft that had been taken out and replaced "hand-tight" by Bob the tow truck driver. All would done, I was assured.
With a protracted stay out of the motor home on the horizon, we had to drive the sixty miles or so from Brookfield, Illinois, in the dead of Chicagoland's rush-hour traffic. That was not fun. All you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls! It took about ninety minutes to wend our way down on various roads, mostly surface streets, to avoid the congestion of the major highways in the area. We had to pack up more provisions for our time out of the motor home, a process that took the better part an hour. I once again emphasized the necessity of repairing the muffler and the power steering box, being told that all would be done in the time they awaited the arrival of the new engine. We then had a bite to eat before returning to the Hampton Inn in Bolingbrook, Illinois. What a day. What a day. As Lucy reminded us as she went to sleep, "Isn't this wonderful, Dada? We get to help pay back the debt of our own sins and those of others. This is pretty good, Dada." Out of the mouths of babes!
It was that evening, Friday, April 20, 2007, that I posted a notice on this site to request the assistance of those of you who support the work of this site. Many of you did respond promptly and so very generously. We remember each of you in our prayers each day by name. I was truly amazed at the way in which Our Lady and her Most Chaste Spouse, Saint Joseph, responded to our prayers to them for their assistance. Sharon and I had tears in our eyes when a wonderful couple who have been so good to us in past crises came through once again and provided the bulk of what we needed to pay for the new engine after we had once about a quarter of the total amount. All we can say is that we are grateful and recognize that we do not deserve such unmerited generosity. Thank you, each of you, from the bottom of our hearts.
Off to Saint Hugh of Lincoln
Well, we returned to Father Martin Stepanich's on Saturday morning, April 21, 2007, glad to have heard Holy Mass once again in his basement chapel. It was then back to the motel for the then homeless Droleskey family to check out before our drive up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As noted earlier, drives in the Trail Blazer require more frequent stops. We just did make it to Saint Hugh of Lincoln in time for my Saturday afternoon lecture there after checking in at the Hampton Inn near the Milwaukee airport. We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Robert and Bridget Mueller and to Miss Mary Ann Panevska for helping to organize and to spread the word about my lecture on the Social Reign of Christ the King at Saint Hugh of Lincoln Church. I was told that Father Thomas Scott of the Society of Saint Pius X had warned the people of Saint Pius V Church in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, not to attend my lecture, finding that bit of information very interesting. One or two of his parishioners did show up nevertheless, as did some from the indult and the Novus Ordo.
Obviously, we express our thanks once again to Bishop Daniel Dolan for permitting me to speak to his flock in Milwaukee, which is based in a church whose apostolate was started by the late Father Hugh Wish, the priest who told Cistercian seminarians Daniel Dolan and Anthony Cekada in the early-1970s to study for the Society of Saint Pius X. Much in the manner of our friend, the late Father Frederick Schell, Father Wish refused to give out what purported to be Holy Communion in the hand in 1977 and began offering the Immemorial Mass of Tradition in various locations in the Milwaukee area thereafter. He died in 1979. However, his courage inspired many in the Milwaukee area. The full story of Saint Hugh of Lincoln Church can be viewed at
Saint Hugh of Lincoln History. My Saturday lecture was reprised after Holy Mass on Sunday, April 22, 2007. There was, once again, an "ecumenical" gathering of Catholics for the lecture. We were very glad to make so many new friends, little realizing that we would be back there a week later following the ransoming of our motor home.
The Hills Are Alive with The Sound of Music (so is our motor home now, thank you!)
Mr. and Mrs. Bob Mueller were good enough to invite us to be their guests at a high school production of The Sound of Music that evening, Sunday, April 22, 2007. Although I like to get Lucy Mary Norma to bed pretty early most nights, making exceptions when I give nighttime lectures and she has had a nap in the afternoon, Sharon and I thought that it would be a nice treat for Lucy to see a live stage play for the first time, replete with a full orchestra to accompany the production. Mr. Mueller had designed the set for the play, and it was a masterpiece of a set, let me tell you. A very large Crucifix was on display in the scenes that took place in the convent where Maria Kutschera was serving her novitiate prior to being sent to the family of Captain George von Trapp (yes, the real story of the Von Trapp family is much different from the play and the motion picture). The Crucifix was a powerful catechetical tool to help unbelievers in the audience come face-to-face with their Divine Redeemer.
Our only objection to the play, which was very well acted and directed and produced, was the immodesty of attire of some of the characters. The immodesty was gratuitous and certainly inexcusable for a "conservative" Catholic high school. Lucy recognized the immodesty, however, and was very displeased by it. She was, though, enthralled by the story, asking out loud "Are they going to be all right?" near the end of the play. She had tears in her little eyes when Maria came back to the Von Trapp household at the beginning of the second act of the play. It was a nice little treat for our great trouper of a daughter, who handles all of our adventures with perfect equanimity as a consecrated slave of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
"Who made this zebra, Lucy?"
As the play ended after Lucy's bedtime and we could not get back down to Bolingbrook, Illinois, in time for Father Martin Stepanich's morning Mass on Monday, April 23, 2007, we had to miss Mass on the Feast of Saint George. We took Lucy to the Milwaukee Zoo after checking out of the Hampton Inn, marking four straight nights out of the motor home by that point. Unlike our visit to the Brookfield Zoo three days before, during which time I was preoccupied with decisions about the fate of the motor home, I was able to stay with my family during this zoo visit. And as it was overcast and actually rained a few times we were not faced with many Tartars screaming in our faces. That was very, very nice. As always, obviously, I would ask Lucy now and again who made a certain animal, using Lucy's answer ("God made the zebras") as the segue to remind everyone around us that there is no such thing as evolution. "Evolution is a lie from liars who hate God," I would say now and again. "Evolutionism is a false ideology and a disproved scientific thesis."
Four More Days of Utter Displacement
We were able to leave the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area before the afternoon rush hour, driving down to Romeoville, Illinois, to stay at an Extended Stay America hotel, slightly more distant from Father Martin's than the Hampton Inn but loads cheaper. As Lucy was hungry, we stopped at a place in Libertyville, Illinois, called "Lamb's Farm," which specializes in the hiring (and housing) of the mentally and physically disabled. We had a decent meal at the restaurant in the complex and then toured the farm area, giving Lucy yet another treat during the midst of our displacement from the motor home. As had been the case earlier in the day at the Milwaukee Zoo, almost no one was at Lamb's Farm, which we had passed any number of times on our trips in and out of Wisconsin in the past few years. :Lucy understood that God had given her yet another treat on the Feast of Saint George.
We missed the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, rush hour on Monday, April 23, 2007. We hit the Chicagoland rush hour head-on, however, crawling on the Tri-State Tollway to get down to the Stevenson Expressway (I-55, which I used to take all of the time during my teaching days at Illinois State University and traveling to and from Wrigley Field, when the New York Mets in town, and the old Comiskey Park, where the late Mr. Bill Veeck permitted me to adapt The Lone Ranger of Shea Stadium to the confines of that venerable park and the Chicago White Sox) for the better part of ninety minutes. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Resuming our assistance at Father Martin Stepanich's Mass on Tuesday, April 24, 2007, we visited with our newfound friends for a time before we returned to our hotel room, where I was able to write about four articles before we checked out on Friday, April 27, 2007. In need of more provisions from the motor home, however, I telephoned the service department at the Ford dealership in Peotone, Illinois, on Tuesday, April 24, 2007, to see if we could drive down and take some things out of the unit. I was told that the old engine was being taken out (the new one arrived earlier that day) and that all would depend upon whether the motor home was on the rack. The woman believed that everything would be all right. It wasn't. We drove down the nearly forty-five miles in about ninety minutes, only to be told that we could not access the motor home ourselves (a service representative could do so if we told the exact location of what we needed, not a happy prospect, shall we say, since our things sort of move around with the ebb and flow of our travels). A waste of time, humanly speaking. More offering for poor sinners, starting with ourselves, supernaturally. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
"Is it Legionnaire's Disease?"
It was later that evening that I began to feel a scratchiness in my throat, which I attributed to the hotel's ventilation system, knowing that I was about to come down with something real serious. I was tired. And I suppose that staying up late to write a few articles did not help matters. As I wanted to use my time profitably and to show "good faith" to our donors who like the articles that appear on this site, I decided to plug ahead and complete those articles, mindful of the fact that there would be a long stretch of days in May when articles might not appear because of the drive from the Chicago area to Saint Cloud, Minnesota, and from there to Spokane, Washington. Oh, I "paid" for that decision. When I consider my sins, however, I know that our all-merciful God is quite good to me. I don't suffer anywhere near what my sins deserve. I know that, happy to offer up the crosses that come our way in reparation for those sins, giving all to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary.
My condition became a full-blown sore throat and cough on Wednesday, April 25, 2007, the traditional feast in Paschaltide of Saint Joseph. A physician prescribed an antibiotic, Zithromax, for me, which was not enough of itself to knock out what had felled me.
"Is it Legionnaire's Disease?" I asked myself at one point. Ciprofloxacin had to be prescribed three days later as I was coughing myself into having, as it turned out, some broken ribs, of all things! Ouch. I know, I know. It's still better this than Purgatory. I know. I know. Ouch nevertheless, however! Ouch. I took to confining myself to the hotel room's bathroom during my coughing jags so as to not disturb Sharon or Lucy, who got a much milder version of what I had (and who is down with another version of it at the present time).
Ransoming the Motor Home
We were told on Friday morning, April 27, 2007, that the motor home should be available to be picked up by closing time that night. It had been a long eight days of displacement from the motor home. That day itself would be very long, having checked out of the Extended Stay America in Romeoville, Illinois, in the morning after Mass at Father Martin Stepanich's. We drove the thirty-five miles to Chicago to take Lucy Mary Norma to the Shedd Aquarium, which was overrun with Tartars. We did not enjoy the experience at all. We could not get out of there fast enough. Ugh, kimosabi! Ugh. Getting out of there at around 2:00 p.m. put us, once again, back in the middle of Chicago's never-ending traffic, which we simply had to endure and offer up to God through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of His Most Blessed Mother.
En route to Peotone, Illinois, for what we hoped would be the ransom of our motor home, we stopped at a bank near the Windy City Campground to get a money order for a fixed amount and then another amount in cash so that, not knowing the exact amount of the final bill for the new engine and its installation, I would have enough to pay the bill without running into a last minute problem. While in the neighborhood, therefore, we stopped by Windy City Campground in Tinley Park, Illinois, to make a reservation for that evening, continuing on down to the Ford dealership in Peotone, Illinois, on Interstate 57. It was not a sure thing, however, that we could get the motor home back that day. A test drive was being done, and it was not entirely certain that the test drive would go well. Not wanting Sharon and Lucy to wait interminably in the Trail Blazer yet again, I dropped them off at the Peotone Bierstube so that they could get something to eat while I returned to the Ford dealership to await the climactic outcome of our eight-day adventure.
Yes, I was told by the man who test drove the motor home, which I tailed back into the shop following its test drive, we could go home again. I just had to settle the bill. Before doing that, however, I noticed that our coach battery was dead. The generator would not start, the result of the unit's not being plugged in for eight days (we lost most of food in the refrigerator). I asked a service representative to provide us with a jump start for the coach battery. A gentleman was willing to provide one without cost. It was then time for me to pay the bill, which was $9169.82, pretty close to the estimate I had been given a week before. Once again, there was no way that that bill could have been paid had it not been for the generosity of those who donated to us. Once again, my friends, please accept our heartfelt thanks and an assurance of our most fervent prayers.
I was informed, however, that the muffler problem was not repaired (they don't do that there, I was told) and that the power steering box had not been repaired. One person stressed the importance of getting the latter problem resolved, at which point I became an exasperated New Yorker, explaining that I had kept informing service representatives each and every time that I telephoned that the power steering box had to be repaired. In turn, you see, I was told that they did everything to accommodate our need to get back in the motor home promptly, being reminded that I had been given an initial estimate of between two and three weeks to install a new engine. Reminder noted, certainly. We did appreciate the effort made to accommodate our needs. I did, however, state my disappointment that the problems I had brought to their attention repeatedly were not dealt with before the new engine arrived. Obviously, everything is in God's Providence. The prospect of having to be without the motor home to resolve these problems, which would not be resolved until we got out here to Spokane, Washington, after not having had it for eight days was frustrating. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Hooking up the Trail Blazer to the motor home while the coach battery was being given a jump start, I waved my fond farewell to that Ford dealership, not realizing that I would have to telephone the service department again in less than three days to complain about an oversight that caused us to be rendered immobile yet again. It was then on to the Peotone Bierstube to pick up Sharon and Lucy and drive the hour or so to Windy City Campground, where we, at long last, were able to stay in our own home. Deo gratias!
On the Side of the Road Yet Again
Although I did not sleep much that Friday night as a result of my cough, which had probably developed into bronchitis by then, we got up early on Saturday, April 28, 2007, to drive from Tinley Park, Illinois, to Bolingbrook, Illinois, for our final Mass with Father Martin Stepanich before driving to Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Feeling absolutely terrible during the Mass, I excused myself immediately thereafter to return to the motor home to get about a half-hour of sleep as Sharon and Lucy visited with Father Martin and Sister Olive and their assistant, Miss Samantha. I was cutting a few "z's," shall we say, when Sharon and Lucy returned to the motor home at around 10:30 a.m. Sick or not, I was intent on driving to Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where His Excellency Bishop Mark Pivarunas was to offer Holy Mass the next day, the Third Sunday after Easter, April 29, 2007, although I recognized that it might be more prudent to drive to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and hear Mass once again at Saint Hugh of Lincoln Church. Decisions, decisions.
I was still undecided about where to drive when I tried to start the motor home's engine. The engine would not start. "What now?" I asked myself. "Is there a problem with the new engine? Has the starter gone bad? Do we need a new alternator? Has the engine battery gone dead? What now? What now?" Collectively, the three of us said, "All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!"
Father Martin suggested that we contact a nearby Firestone dealer, whose representative informed us that they did not make "house calls," informing me also that insurance regulations pretty much prohibit shops not associated with some automobile club from making "house calls." We were stuck once again. The only thing I could think of doing was to call the Automobile Club of New York and to request them to put me into contact with their counterpart in Illinois so that I could arrange for a jump of the engine battery. As we are not covered for road service on the motor home by means of the American Automobile Association (and as GMAC Insurance will only provide a tow truck without any roadside servicing), I explained that I would pay for service truck to give us a jump start. All I needed for them to do was to find and then dispatch a service truck to, we hoped and prayed at the time, get us back on the road again. The request was granted, We were told that a service truck would come to our assistance within forty-five mintues. Where had I heard that one before? Yes, the forty-five minutes turned into two solid hours. Two solid hours. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
As noted before, both the engine and the coach batteries are located underneath the steps of the main entrance to the motor home, exposing them to all of the soot and water and other elements of the highways and byways of the forty-eight contiguous states of the United States of America. The engine battery had been installed by Mr. Ken Gilliam, a parishioner at Saint Gertrude the Great Church in West Chester, Ohio, on Saturday, September 9, 2006, when the motor home's engine would not start just prior to a trip we were about to undertake at the time to Florida for a speaking engagement there. The battery, therefore, was just seven and one-half months old. Seven and one-half months, mind you. However, it was deader that dead.
A man named Abdull (that's how he spelled it) came out around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, 2007. It took him some time to get the battery jumper cables under the motor home and connected to the engine battery. However, the jump start worked. We had to pay Mr. Abdull ninety-five dollars (giving him a Green Scapular in the process), and I had to promise myself that I would not turn off the engine again between there and Saint Cloud, Minnesota, which is where it appeared we were headed at the time. A more rational idea occur to my fever-racked brain, however: get a new battery at the nearby Firestone dealer. It was then that I decided that Milwaukee looked like a far, far better idea than Saint Cloud, Minnesota. I feared not being able to drive 500-plus miles, and I simply did not want to take the chance of missing Holy Mass on Sunday. It made more sense to drive the 120 miles from Bolingbrook to the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds and bed down for the night in order to get to Holy Mass at Saint Hugh of Lincoln Church once again.
It took about forty-five minutes for the new battery to be installed at the Firestone shop. A pit stop was then made at a pharmacy to pick up the
Ciprofloxacin, which meant that I had to say goodbye to iced tea for ten days (caffeine and
Ciprofloxacin do not mix well). We were then on our way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as I coughed and coughed and coughed and coughed and coughed. All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
A Reprise at Saint Hugh of Lincoln
Using most of the strength that I had left in me after the drive to detach the Trail Blazer from the motor home, I took Sharon and Lucy out for a bite to eat late that afternoon, being unable to join them myself as I sat in the Trail Blazer in a state of stupefaction. I was really sick. I had no stomach upset or anything like that. I was simply coughing pretty much all of the time. Prescription cough medication did not help all that much. Nothing helped. This was an exercise in paying back to God a very small, infinitesimally tiny fraction of what I owe Him for my sins. It was to bed soon after I drove us back to the motor home from the restaurant. Unfortunately, the Tartars in the campground were playing loud "rock" music until well past 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 29, 2007. I got next to no sleep before we had to arise for Holy Mass at Saint Hugh of Lincoln, which was offered that day by Father Anthony Cekada, whose excellent sermon on Saint Joseph I tried not to drown out with my coughing. I did have to excuse myself during the Creed. I was coughing pretty uncontrollably at that time.
Maybe Jed Clampett could have clamped the radiator hose properly
Following a futile attempt at rest that afternoon, I hooked up the Trail Blazer to the motor home and started off at around 3:00 p.m. for our trip to Saint Cloud, Minnesota, which was about 420 miles away. Things were proceeding very well on Interstate 94 until Sharon asked, "Are we overheating?" I looked at the radiator gauge on the dashboard and said, "Yes, we are!" The engine gave out as I pulled off to the shoulder of Interstate 94 once again. It did not take too long for me to figure out what had happened: radiator fluid was all over the front of the Trail Blazer. I got down on my hands and knees in front of the motor home, discovering that a radiator hose had not been clamped properly to the radiator by the nice people at the Ford dealership in Peotone, Illinois. All right, yes, we all make mistakes. Fine. I just did not like the idea of having my family stranded yet again, recognizing, of course, that all happens in the Providence of God and is meant for His honor and glory and our own sanctification as the consecrated slaves of His Most Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
Although I called 911 to get a service truck out to clamp the radiator hose properly, I remembered that our friend Bob Mueller, the talented coordinator of Saint Hugh of Lincoln Church who had designed the set for the high school production of The Sound of Music that we had seen exactly a week before, lived not very far away. We were about thirty-five miles west of Milwaukee when the motor home's brand new engine overheated. I telephoned Bob, who said that he could fix the problem and would be out in short order. Ah, as Sharon said, this is how things would be everywhere in a Catholic world. People who cared about the salvation of their immortal souls would see in their neighbors the very image of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and would come to their assistance in a moment's notice.
Thank you, Bob and Tom Mueller
Bob and his eldest son, Thomas Muller, came out within forty mintues, clamping the hose properly and filling the radiator's reserve tank with radiator fluid. They told us to proceed to the next exit, some eight or nine miles west, so that they could check out everything once again at a gasoline station, which turned out to have an absolutely "free zoo" attached to it that Sharon and Lucy partook of as I filled up with gasoline (and filled the ever-leaking power steering box with power-steering fluid). We thanked Bob and Tom Mueller very much for their kindness and generosity in providing assistance to us at a moment's notice. They rescued us from a very difficult situation, one that could have had us disabled on the shoulder of Interstate 94 for many hours (as we had been just ten days before at Exit 160 of Interstates 80/94 in Illinois).
Learning a Few Lessons Over the Decades
We did not get on the road again, however, until around 6:30 p.m. I was spent. I had to stop for the night, stopping in a place called Wisconsin Dells, which we discovered the next day sported all manner of demonic symbols on a vast, seemingly endless array of "amusement" parks. You know, God is very merciful. I would have found those "amusement parks" to have been very attractive in my twenties, at which age I would have thought nothing of taking my children to such places if I had been married and had had children. God preserved me from marriage and children until I was passed my fiftieth birthday as I much to learn about what it is to be a Catholic father and husband. Oh, I knew the basics of the Faith in my twenties. Being the product of a thoroughly naturalist household, however, there were things about living it that I did not understand, cultural compromises that I made aplenty, save for anything and everything to do with "rock" music, which is the one area of popular culture that my late parents understood was indeed dangerous. Looking at all of those demonic symbols and gross immodesty displayed on billboards on Monday, April 30, 2007, I realized what a "dissssasssssstaaaaa!" (to quote the later Father Vincent Miceli) I would have been if I had been a father in my twenties. Thank you, dear Lord. Thank you, Blessed Mother.
Well, I have jumped ahead of myself somewhat here. It took a while on the evening of Sunday, April 29, 2007, to find a campground. However, we found one and I collapsed shortly after filling up our fresh water tank. Indeed, I did not want to leave on Monday, April 30, 2007, for the trip to Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Having missed Holy Mass once again (a week after we had missed it in Milwaukee), I did not want to miss another day, forcing myself out of bed and into the driver's seat so that we could get to Immaculate Conception Church in Saint Cloud for Mass on May 1, 2007.
A Miserable Drive, Humanly Speaking
The drive was difficult, humanly speaking, especially as we negotiated the rush hour in the Twin Cities on Interstate 694. Sharon reminded me of the spiritual benefits of those things that are difficult. I knew all about those spiritual benefits, obviously. I just preferred to dwell at that time on the temporal difficulties, thereby losing merit in the process. I just wanted to sleep for about, say, eight months or so. The weakness of the flesh. The weakness of a complaining New Yorker! Well, yes, I did, however tepidly, offer up the difficulties, thanking Our Lady and Saint Joseph and Saint Christopher and Saint Raphael and our Guardian Angels and patron saints for getting us to the Saint Cloud Campground at around 7:00 p.m., Central Daylight Savings Time on Monday, April 30, 2007. It was out to a pharmacy soon after our arrival to get an inhaler that had been prescribed for me. Sleep was order of the night after that.
Well, this about all that I am able to write up at this time. Yes, more adventures, including dealing with carbon monoxide leakages and the power steering box transpired between Saint Cloud, Minnesota, and our arrival in Spokane, Washington, around 1:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 10, 2007, permitting us the chance to spend more oodles and oodles of money on repairs to the motor home in the past eleven days. More importantly, however, we are profiting from being able to spend much time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at Mount Saint Michael's Church each day and happy that those who are attending my "Living in the Shadow of the Cross" lecture program seem to be gaining something from it. I will write up the intervening adventures at some point in the next few days, focusing on an article of substance for posting tomorrow, Tuesday, May 22, 2007.
Still the Old (and increasing older!) Droleskey, You Know: Always Time for Ironside and the Mets
Trivia for the day, May 21, 2007. Do you realize that the late Raymond Burr (Perry Mason and, far more importantly, Chief Robert T. Ironside; Perry Mason's fiftieth anniversary is this year, which is also the fortieth anniversary of the debut of Ironside) would have turned ninety years of age today if he had not died on September 12, 1993? Isn't all true? Isn't all true?
Oh, here's another final, totally unrelated thought from one who no longer goes to baseball games but who still follows the results now and again: how could the New York Mets let the incarnation of all evil, the New York Yankees, win the last game of their three game "Subway Series" last night. Shameful. Shameful. Put the Yankees away. Put 'em away. Don't give them a chance to revive. Just more victory. That's all it would have taken to made the Yankees eleven and one-half games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League's Eastern Division. One more victory. Oh well, this too shall pass. Imagine how worked up I would be if was still going to the games!
More to Come in a Few Days
Enough. I hope that you have enjoyed this travelogue. These episodes are written principally to provide Lucy Mary Norma with a permanent record of our travels. She is reading very well. She told me a few days ago that she looks forward to reading them all one day. That warms my heart no end. I do hope, however, that some of you out there in cyberspace find them of interest. Each of us must do penance for our sins. No matter what we experience, ladies and gentlemen, it is still better a few crosses in this life than lots of time in Purgatory after death, please God, that is, we die in a state of Sanctifying Grace and are given the chance to pay off as members of the Church Suffering the debt of what we owe to God for our sins committed while members of the Church Militant on earth.
All to you, Blessed Mother. All to your Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you. Save souls!
Viva Cristo Rey!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.