Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Grown Up?

When I entered novitiate 5 decades ago, it seemed that I was really grown up. Our Novice Mistress, Sister Concetta, seemed pretty strict and a no-nonsense person. She asked us to use our time well. Then our novitiate was only one year to prepare for a lifetime of being a consecrated religious Sister. Looking back on the work I did in novitiate in our apostolate, it seems almost medieval compared to the technical advances of our digital age. I worked at the Linotype and I helped with proof reading. There was no computer nor spell check. For the uninformed the Linotype was a way of setting type: using a wide keyboard because the capitol letters each had their own key, we typed from original manuscripts. Each line was formed with brass letters which were filled with hot molten lead. After awhile the Linotype operator caught onto the routine of typing lifting the line which was cast in lead and moving on. Spaces between words were filled by metallic space bands which we lubricated with a powdery form of graphite. On Saturdays we often melted the old lines of type, skimmed off the dross and poured the fluid lead into molds. They were ingots of lead. We used to call them pigs. Their weight came in handy for doorstops besides needed lead for our machines. The work was truly labor intensive. Once in a while a space band was not sufficient to keep the hot lead from seeping through a form. The liquid metal would squirt upwards. Once I was typing a Spanish book when I had a "squirt." At that moment I was reaching for an accented matrix letter. My veil was doused with a thin layer of lead. Providentially I was not harmed at all. We did the work as a form of evangelization, making the Word of God available in print for many readers.
Sister Concetta had worked as a Linotype operator when she first entered the Daughters of St. Paul. When she arrived in the USA, she began our editorial sector. Sister Concetta was pleased to see the coming of the digital age.
One product of our media saturated age is Internet news accompanied by video. One evening this week after the Super Bowl, part of the news I was viewing on the web struck me as odd. Three gentlemen were discussing their behavior with women. One of them wore a clerical collar. The most vocal of the three defended his extra marital activities with the expression, "After all we are grown ups."
His rationale--the people involved were older than 18. It is OK to be intimate as long as the woman felt inclined to cooperate. The man kept reiterating his reason to follow his feelings. "After all, we are both grown ups." He revealed that going to dinner, or watching a form of entertainment was too restrictive. They were after all "grown up." This fellow was long past the hormonal drives of the teens and young adulthood. He appeared to view women as objects for his pleasure alone. Never did he mention how well he admired the female intellect, talent, or even beauty. He admitted that his mind is overcome with urges, not with ideals. No matter. He and she are "grown up" so they can ignore God's law as they please.
One of the Super Bowl ads affirmed this man's attitudes. The commercial insisted that the young man in the ad had the right to unlimited information and perhaps to anything else he desired. What if another person's desire happened to collide with his desire? There is no waiting, no reining in of desire, No willingness to wait.
On our streets and highways unlimited desire in a driver can result in nasty road rage.
St. Paul would have challenged that excuse. When Paul made his Bar Mitzvah he committed to keeping the Commandments which apply to the unmarried as well as to the married. Mitzvah means commandment, Bar is "son". Although the gentleman who spoke is not Jewish, he may have some Christian affiliation.
In a very recent Washington Post article a columnist bemoaned an incident involving high school boys and female class mates who made a porn video while they were drunk. The author pointed out that the current generation has grown up getting their picture taken from the first minute they emerge onto this world. As she wrote, they are a real, ongoing "Truman Show." How did the teens acquire the alcohol? Where were parents and other adults when the criminal activity took place? Did any of the teens feel any ounce of restraint? It seems not. I pray for those young people that their whole lives will not be ruined because of promiscuous, stupid actions. After all, they are not yet "grown up" when, as the man on TV declared, they won't have to bother with all these formalities (moral and legal restraints). As grown ups they can just go ahead and do it!" Why bother practicing the least amount of self-restraint. The martyrs whose feast day we celebrate today, St. Paul Miki and his companions, were willing to practice self-restraint, mortifications, and humility. Why? Because they set their hopes on Christ and on heaven. Paul Miki and those with him were crucified in Nagasaki, Japan.They died praying and with serenity. May all those who are grown up follow their example and live with and for Christ that they may one day die a holy death.

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