Our All Saints Blog

Be Open!

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The problem with the world today is that there are too many narrow-minded people!

I know what you are thinking…Now that’s an interesting statement, especially coming from a priest who writes an opinion on just about everything! But I am not afraid to say it and, more importantly, defend it. In fact, I will even say that I consider myself a very open-minded individual and for the best of reasons.

I have no problem conversing with “tolerant” people; even though they are the least tolerant of all the people I know. I have no problem being in the presence of scientists, even though I am a priest. And I have no problem making friends with the dead, even though I live well into the present.

I mention these three companions because there is much narrow-mindedness (or single-mindedness) when it comes to those who oppose science as art, dogma as honesty and our past as reoccurring. Or, for the sake of clarity, let me say the following: Far too many narrow-minded individuals can be found among scientists, relativists and progressivists.    

Scientists. Now, there were many times in my life when I was “narrow-minded”.   For example, when I was an engineer I used to be very narrow-minded; that is, I would only read and breathe scientific journals. But then one day, in fact, while I was studying the planets, I had an epiphany that has lasted to this day. For the very first time in my life I realized that everything I was reading and studying was a human attempt at understanding all that already existed, and that we had no part in creating. What I was reading and studying was more like an art critic’s review of someone’s art, but the Artist was never mentioned.  

Now it’s easier to be a critic than it is to be an artist. At least, that’s how it used to be.

It gradually dawned on me that most everything we do is a cheap imitation of everything He did. Take, for example, the incredible descent of the Mars Rover, Curiosity. Wasn’t it spectacular? I stayed up all night watching it. But the next morning I saw something even more amazing: a single leaf gracefully falling to the ground. Actually, it was zigzagging towards the ground. What Curiosity will do on the surface of Mars does not even begin to compare with what that leaf will do on the surface of the earth.

Or let’s analyze for a brief moment a simple apple falling to the ground. Not only will that apple land on the ground, but it will roll next to its “mother”, whose shade will ensure its chances of survival. And like a placenta, the fruit surrounding the seed will fertilize the ground in which it lies. Now, to think all this as less remarkable than a Rover Landing on Mars is to think narrow-mindedly. But as a priest and engineer, I have learned to appreciate both. That’s not narrow-mindedness. That’s open-mindedness!

Relativists. So many people pride themselves in being Darwinists. But in all honesty, they have never read a single page of Charles Darwin or Ernst Haeckel. The same goes for atheists. Most have never read an entire book by Friedrich Nietzsche or Jean Paul Sartre. Instead, most have pleased themselves with newspaper headlines and comical acts produced and directed by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  

These professors, and their adherents, are not the product of the Dark Ages. Ironically, these morbid writers consider themselves the grandchildren of the Enlightenment. What they really are, are the grandfathers of the Establishment. Recently, it was revealed that a vast majority of college professors will reject tenure to a colleague if they are deemed to be too conservative. Most academics, like most colleges today, consider themselves open-minded. But in reality, they have never been anything but very closed-minded.

Let’s cut to the chase. The real difference between open-minded and narrow-minded individuals should be obvious by now. It’s the difference between intellectual honesty and ideology. Relativists tend to study little and speak wildly. Dogmatists tend to study a great deal and speak reservedly. In essence, narrow-minded individuals tend to study little and only pretend to accept everything; whereas open-minded individuals tend to study greatly and only cautiously accept anything.

Progressivists. There exists in today’s culture a very narrow-mindedness with regards to the past. It begins with a great deal of angst with the possibility of history repeating itself. It should not, declare the progressivists, for there is nothing good to learn from our ancestors or our past. But when we consider what’s new in today’s subculture, we begin to see that it is actually quite old from long ago days. For example: The three-generational home.   The only sector of housing construction that appears to be booming is the three-generational home. Wow! How exciting! How avant garde! But is this something new? Not really. In fact, it is something very old. And millions of Americans are returning to it in order to save their lives, their families and their livelihood. But you would never know it by the limited news it is receiving. After all, it is a dramatic push back to modernity’s push towards the “New Normal” family.    Only a courageous few dare to mention this modest return to the wisdom of our ancestors. How narrow-minded! And once again, the reason for this negligence is not ignorance but rather ideology. Out with the old, in with the new is an important ideological tweet in our free-market economy and culture. But it isn’t a reliable fact in a flesh and bone humanity or a safe bet in a free-falling economy. To think what is new is always better is not narrow-mindedness, but plain and simple foolishness.

What is new isn’t always better. But being better will always be something new!

This is something worth repeating to our kids, from one generation to another. Was the Occupy Wall Street movement something new and exciting? Or was it a failed attempt to repeat the performance of July 14th, 1789 (Bastille Day)? Is the European Union something new? Or is it a union as old as the Holy Roman Empire? You tell me.

I consider myself very open-minded every time I connect the past with the present, and predict the future based on the past and present.          

Conclusion: Here are just a few of the areas of life in which I find people to be very narrow-minded. There are many more. But unlike space, a blogspot is very limited. In conclusion, a narrow-minded individual tends to see the past as a thing of the past; religion as something that should be swept under the carpet; and creation as an accident rather than a God-given model.

Let’s be what the Lord said this day to be: “Be Open!”

The Lord had a tremendous ability to interact with just about anyone. But he didn’t live like everyone.

Authentically open-minded people tend to become authentically narrow-minded people. They are open-minded to learning, and narrow-minded in accepting only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Posted by Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro with

Neat and Freakish

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When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands… Jesus responded, “You disregard God’s commandments but cling to human tradition…From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

Does this sound familiar? Is this not happening today?

Every year, I taught a bunch of high school boys a very long course on etiquette. It was mandatory, just like religion, but it never replaced religion. God forbid that etiquette would ever replace God’s commandments!

Soon, however, I began to realize that I needed to teach them at an earlier age. Bad habits, once fully grown, are hard to break. And these kids were fully immersed in all sorts of bad habits. They had either been told that it didn’t really matter or the silence had taught them that it really didn’t matter. What mattered was always something “greater” or something “else” or something “obvious”.

So, I decided to teach the same course to my middle school students. They were shocked to hear when and how you should take a drink of water and how you should walk across a row (to get to your seat) in a movie theatre. But what really shocked them was how you should speak to a woman and greet a woman.

But why is any of this important? Answer: In order to be a saint, you must first be a human being. There is an old saying in seminary: “First the man, then the saint.”

Most people would be shocked at how much “human formation” is taught in a seminary; that is, instruction on how to cut your finger and toe nails; how to polish your shoes; how to sew; how to iron; how to wash and fold your clothes; how to shave and groom yourself; how to make your bed; how often you should shower and change your clothes; how to comb your hair; shake someone’s hand; etc…

It’s obvious why these things need to be taught. Just look around!

Recently, I met a woman who was shocked that on her first date with her boyfriend he was flossing his teeth right in front of her, at the dinner table, in the restaurant!  How neat and freakish!

Over the years, all forms of etiquette have deteriorated, except the one’s that keep us “physically” healthy. Americans use more hand sanitizer than any other nation in the world. Yet, we continue to be a nation that uses more medication than any other nation in the world. We strive to be the premier advocate for women’s rights around the world, yet we continue to lead the world in the production of hardcore and violent pornography. We are a peace loving nation, giving billions of dollars in aid, but we continue to fight more wars than any other nation in the world.

We are not neat-freaks.  We are very neat and very freakish. It is not unheard of to hear of a very polite and courteous teen who is sexting. Or of a young gentleman who insists on using a condom with his girlfriend while insisting on his right to not let her know that he has HIV.  How neat and freakish!

Over the past 40 years, the social engineers (the real freaks of society) have worked hard to dismantle every single “barrier” with regards to female and male relationships; student and teacher relationships; adult and child relationships; etc. But what they have really been highly successful in doing is removing any form of respect among females and males; students and teachers, adults and children.

And while they have worked hard in dismantling all barriers (respect) among people, they have kept building a higher wall with regards to God and man; the body and the soul; faith and culture; morals and civility.

We thought we had outgrown the need our ancestors had in drawing lines. Now and again, we are reminded of why they were so wise! We know why. We just hate giving any sort of credit to the dead. We hate admitting that a blurry or erased line leads to all sorts of harm, confusion, neglect, abuse, criminal behavior, liability and lawsuits. Or, as the Lord would so succinctly say: sin and death.

In order to point out something, sometimes you need to let it stand out. The Lord was not telling his disciples that they should not bathe or cleanse before meals, or that these types of human traditions are not important. He was teaching his opponents that they should not replace God’s Commandments with human traditions.  Exterior beauty should not replace interior beauty.  Exterior cleanliness should not replace interior cleanliness.  Looking good should not replace being good.  It's not that the exterior is not important; it's that the exterior should mirror the interior.  We should be just as good as we appear to be.

Out of respect for others, it is important, when taking your seat in a movie theater, to walk across the row with the front of your body facing the people; it is a sign of respect for your neighbor as well as for yourself. It is important to wash your hands before meals. But it is just as important to pray before meals. In this way, not only will the meal be more beneficial, it will also be less superficial.

And this is the point: We can either continue to live life solely in a highly superficial way or we can decide to live it in a highly interior and radical way as well. Anyone can say, “Who cares about all this formality?” when they haven’t learned any of this formality. But if they were humble, they would say, “Will you teach me?”  Then, not only will they know that someone cared, they will also know some wisdom as well.

If we always find an easy excuse for our kids by saying, “They are only kids!”, then why do we find it so hard to come up with an easy excuse when they grow up and ask, “Why didn’t you help me?”

Eating a meal with unclean hands is bad; just as bad as using your clean hands with an unclean heart. As a society today, we suffer just as much from the former, as we do from the later. The later, however, makes most of the news. The solution is not to ignore one or the other, but to work on both and join them together. First the man, then the saint.   Let's put the same time, effort and dedication in being good as we do in looking good.

The Lord loves us just the way we are, but He would love to raise us higher than where we are.  He would love to lift up our body, blood, soul and divinity, to where He is.  That’s when we will no longer be neat and freakish, but both neat and holy.

Posted by Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro with

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