Friday, February 06, 2015

" help me God!"

Yesterday the President of the United States during his address at the annual prayer breakfast in Washington managed to discredit generations of Christians for participation in the Crusades and compared the recent immolation of a Jordanian pilot with the actions of Crusaders over one thousand years ago. As is true with war at any time in human history, brutality and immoral actions are committed against each side in the name of God & country. However, presidential accusations against the Catholic war against radical Islam within the context of the Crusades provides a glimpse of the President's anti-Christian sentiments which permeate his global world view and diminishes his capacity to admit the world is at war against radical Islamic terrorism.
The presidential oath of office ends by tradition since George Washington with the phrase, " help me God!" There should be no misunderstanding in this simple phrase that the Deity George Washington and all of his successors was the Judeo-Christian God. The Founding Fathers, believed in a Deity in various capacities, however their God, was not rooted in the traditions of Islam, the teachings of Mohamed or the worship of the Islamic God we call in our modern society Allah! If the President of the United States is unable to recognize the most rudimentary principles of our American Republic, based on Christian principles and beliefs, then President Obama needs to internally examine his internal theological precepts which seemingly are at odds with his own presidential oath of office, taken twice over the last six plus years.
Why is it so hard for the Commander-in-Chief to compound the two words, radical Islam and use them in the proper perspective in regards to the spread of ISIS throughout the Middle East, and quite likely in our own back yards? The world is engaged in an ideological, theological and sociological crisis against yes...radical Islam. The intensity of the struggle is just as critical as the alarm sounded by the Catholic Church as the same extremism of Islamic terror spread throughout the same Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula during the Crusades. Collectively, we are in a geopolitical confrontation against the evils of theocratic extremism in the Islamic world that seeks to dominate not only faithful followers of Islam, but global subjugation of all of those that oppose this radical Islamic manner of spreading fear and terror throughout the entire world. Yes, the Crusades were at times extreme in the suppression of Islam, however atrocities were committed by the Moors during the same religious war they waged against Christianity.
The President of the United States needs to stand firm and embrace the principles the Founding Fathers intended our country to follow. Such an endorsement of Constitutional principles are part of his job as President of the United States and not the role of a reflective historian at the annual prayer breakfast which included all denominations of faithful people that abhor religious extremism and violence against all humanity. The mantle of Commander-in-Chief is indeed a heavy one. However that mantle does not provide presidential immunity to Mr.Obama from making serious mistakes in our foreign policy against such an imminent threat presented by ISIS. Americans do not want a president that incorrectly redacts world history and indites all of Christianity as similar terrorists during the Crusades. We need a president that unilaterally supports our global allies against this spreading radical Islamic threat that threatens the entire world with violence, suffering and human indignation. The Crusades were military struggles in the Holy Land focused on radical Islamic terrorism over a thousand years ago, we are engaged frankly in a modern extension of the ancient Crusades with our fight against radical Islamic actions and ideology. If the President of the United States does not understand the stakes for the world community, he also lacks an understanding and appreciation of the notion of history repeating itself through his personal theological indifference and refusal to admit the radical Islamic threat not only to the Middle East, but to the very fundamental precepts on which we base our American republic. Remember, the presidential oath clearly states, " preserve, protect and  defend the Constitution of the United States." So help me God !

Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist writing on Catholic topics and issues. He attended Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he studied both philosophy and theology.  Hugh holds a Master’s Degree in Catholic Theology from Villanova University, with a concentration in Catholic ecclesiology.At the present time Hugh is working towards his Doctorate in Sacred Theology and secondary education. Hugh is a member of The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher  of Jerusalem, with the rank of Knight (Sir). This Equestrian Order is one of the oldest orders in the Catholic Church. It is a papal honor that dates back to circa 1100.  He writes frequently at & . Hugh writes about his Irish Catholic upbringing and educational experiences at . He has contributed works to Catholic News Agency, Catholic Online, The Irish Catholic, Dublin, the British Broadcasting Company, London and the Philadelphia Bulletin,, Blogger News Network & The Catholic Business Journal. Hugh welcomes comments at

Monday, January 12, 2015

Obama's absence from Paris march illustrates his presidency!

It is often said that, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." In the case of President Obama's absence from the march in Paris yesterday make the previous statement very untrue. His absence from the march supporting the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, illustrates the true illusion that has qualified the entire presidency of President Obama. The fact that scores of global leaders took time to go to Paris and link arms in global solidarity against terrorism marks the pinnacle of importance the event really holds in the geopolitical scene. Alliances that have often been strained for years over political ideologies, social traditions and military tensions linked arms in Paris in unity and ideological solidarity with the French and most significantly the entire world. The exception from the crowd was the American political hierarchy. Today, the White House maintains that the nuances of the tasks concerning Presidential security would have been disturbing to the event. Really? Over 40 world leaders marched in solidarity, with their security forces present and evidently such details were not an precarious threat to presenting them to attend...France, Germany, Russia, all allies of the United States abandoned personal security in order to make a global statement that is intended to be heard...the world will no longer tolerate extreme Islamic terrorism, and most importantly freedom from terrorism is the ultimate goal for the entire political world. FOX News reported this morning that the Vice-President was at home in Delaware. It seems solidarity with the world's gathering of leadership against terrorism might have been more important than Joe's visit to Delaware (who BTW lives only a few miles from this author.) Perhaps the divisional title games were more important to POTUS and VPOTUS than unilateral global peace.
This morning even Pope Francis in his address made the threat of radical Islamic terrorism a part of his daily address at the Vatican. Basically, he stated that Islamic extremism in the name of faith is incompatible with practices of faith that focus on the destruction of humanity. Papa Francis is using his global pulpit to express unity with the rest of the European Union to denounce violent extremism.
President Obama has yet to utter the words, "violent Islamic extremism."
The lack of decisive presidential leadership in the Obama administration has left a trail of unfinished projects with results that will effect the American society for years to come. This administration has spent monies of the next 10 generations of Americans through indecisive actions in the Middle East,
healthcare reform, educational reform, taxation reform and just about any legislative action Mr. Obama has ever touched during his tenure in office.
Most importantly the President has relegated the United States to a place that is secondary or even tertiary in world leadership. President Obama's absence from Paris this past weekend clearly indicates he does not understand (or care) about the global view emerging with the spread of radical Islam. Radical acts of Islamic terrorism are not just other countries concerns...they are right here in the heartland of America, waiting for the call to action. Historically, Obama's lack of personal presence in France is an embarrassing and shameful act of presidential cowardice. The next time America asks for allied support, hopefully our friends abroad will overlook President Obama's diplomatic and humanitarian faux paus.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

We stand with France....and global freedom against theocratic tyranny!

The country of France was the first of the 18th century European powers that came to the aide of the fledgling American Revolution in 1776. Uniquely, the United States needs to fully support the 21st century radical Islamic war that is happing in contemporary France. The first step the United states needs to take, through the government's leadership specifically President Obama's declaration that the recent carnage is an act of war. This act of radical Islamic terrorism not only means war for the French people, but the principles of western civilization that have been enjoyed since the Enlightenment period of the Founding Fathers in America, and the demands for individual freedoms that fueled the French Revolution after they effectively assisted the nascent existence of the United States.
France and indeed all of Europe is engaged in a sociopolitical and theocratic war against extremism that has entrenched itself around the world and manifests itself through terrorism, fear and Islamic extremism. Perhaps one of the reasons President Obama is having such a difficult time in declaring war on extremism through radical Islam, simply reflects the enigmatic background of Obama's  personal experiences of Islam through his personal upbringing and education that was entrenched in Moslem influence. Without fear or delay, President Obama needs to say the words...we are at war with radical Islamic terrorism. Only then will the United States truly stand firm with France and the rest of our allies to defeat this deceptively subtle methodology of Islamic terrorism and put the lid back on the proverbial Pandora's Box. Unilaterally, the United States government should declare solidarity with our global western counterparts, not because it is a politically correct thing to do; but because it preserves the rights and freedoms of all humanity against tyranny...especially theocratic tyranny seeking to destroy and subjugate our most basic of human rights, the freedom of expression, the freedom of religion and most critically the freedom against fear of reprisal against a free press which embraces the truth through its most intrinsic existence.
America's Founding Fathers were indebted to the French for their decisive assistance during our American Revolution in the 18th century. America without hesitation must return to France the same political and military support as the radical Islamic terrorists awaken from their sleeper cells and are terrorizing quite honestly the entire world. We experienced terrorism on 9/11 and have waged a nebulous war since that dark day that destroyed the World Trade Centers in New York; last week, the French experienced their 9/11 attack. The threat lurks in France, Great Britain, the United States and any where the representation of a democratic principle of rule presides. President Obama cannot continue to pretend that America is isolated against similar attacks. The American Isolationist Movement prior to World War I was incorrect, those that opposed the Lend-Lease Act prior to our entrance into World War II were wrong, and President Obama is wrong if he thinks his political sensitivity to radical Islamic aggression is just an isolated event. Like it or not the mantle of war is on the shoulders of America and its Allies and we need to defeat the enemy, wherever it appears with definition and finality. We are not at war with faithful Moslems, that share faith peacefully with the world. We are in conflict with radicalism and Islamic terrorism that is committed towards the destruction of Western civilization's lifestyle, values and the core of freedom's existence.
America stands with France. America stands against radical theocratic aggression. America rallies to keep the world free of fear. President Obama needs to state the same, now in support of France and in support of universal global independence from radical Islamic tyranny.
Viva la France. God Bless America. Long live freedom.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Radical Islam is a global threat to all peoples!

The notion of a radical ideology taking a stronghold in the Islamic community presents a concern for the entire global community and all faiths that want to live in harmony. Extremism is the most significant factor in religious beliefs, along with any other sort of extremism that might occur in life, in business and in education. The global rise of militant Islamic terrorism, which is rooted in theological extremism is deeply rooted in the centuries old struggle between the Orient and the Occident, Catholics  contra Protestants and Islam, the Cold War, and even the simple right to express ones faith and personal beliefs in complete freedom, free from retribution or physical retaliation. If the rise of ideologically extreme Islamic beliefs is currently the highlight of all of the world’s press services…the notion is not new. Historically there has always been a tension between the Western world and the Eastern practices of Islam. Ideologically, all faiths deserve equal space and ideally should be able to coexist. However, global religious harmony seemingly eludes humanity and forgets the past. The Crusades are typically the best example of the clash between two seemingly uncomplimentary faiths. Armies were formed, battles were waged, the faithful of both Catholicism and their Muslim counterparts died for their conceptualization of the Divine Being and ultimately the notion of, ” might makes right,” prevailed and the Islamic threat raised to rally the Crusades of old subjugated and wedged a theological split between Christianity and Islam. The faith of Western Europe, Christianity prevailed and paradoxically everyone went home, each with a designated piece of Jerusalem at which to pray…the end. Unfortunately, the end of the Crusades has never ended in terms of theologically and sociologically making Islam compliant with Western political and social decorum. The current geopolitical situation  dictates that we are in the middle of a new crusade against radical Islamic ideology and globally society is sorely ill prepared to combat terroristic idealism associated with spreading Islamic presence throughout Europe and the United States. Governments throughout the world are reluctant to openly proclaim we are actively at war against a theocratic extremist religion & the Democratic  principles we hold so dearly are at the risk of defeat.
Radical Islam is  an issue that leaves no course for moderation in isolating the spread of radical interpretations of the Koran. The political world needs to recognize that the growth and pending potential violence of the Islamic extremist is here, at the back door, on the front porch waiting to methodically attack Western targets in a systematic manner until the radical Islamic beliefs are imposed on the whole of global society.
Governments globally need to immediately stop the notion of political correctness and declare radical Islam as a social, political, theological and democratic enemy. The desire to pacify the extremists does not work, Chamberlain of Great Britain realized such  a stark reality when pacifying Nazi aggression, Western Europe after the Second World War experienced defeat when Winston Churchill recognized the Iron Curtain falling over all of Eastern Europe & the United States realized this stark reality of the failure of pacifism against extremist ideology on December 7th, 1941 and again with the harsh reality of the events of 9/11. We are engaged in a moral struggle for not just theological rights, but the survival of western society as we currently experience life.
The world rallied against Adolph Hitler and the NAZIS goal of global domination, Kennedy declared, “Ich bin ein Berliner!” Ronald Reagan demanded that the Soviet Premier, “tear down this wall,”  which precipitated the demise of Soviet Communism and the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union (thankfully now defunct).  Why are we fearful of declaring global war  on radical Islam and it’s pawns terrorists? Perhaps it is time for the United Nations to man-up and reach out globally to world leaders to rally against this immediate threat to human rights and freedoms. Governments throughout the world need to follow and proclaim unilateral commitment towards the containment and ultimate demise of radical Islamic terrorism and ideology. After all, Franklin D. Roosevelt once proclaimed, ” we have nothing to fear but fear itself!”
Until the global communities of legitimate governments commit themselves towards the dissection of the radical Islamic ideology, we will always live in fear of the extremist Islamic ideology that threatens all of global society.
Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist writing on Catholic topics and issues. He attended Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he studied both philosophy and theology.  Hugh holds a Master’s Degree in Catholic Theology from Villanova University, with a concentration in Catholic ecclesiology.At the present time Hugh is working towards his Doctorate in Sacred Theology and secondary education. Hugh is a member of The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher  of Jerusalem, with the rank of Knight (Sir). This Equestrian Order is one of the oldest orders in the Catholic Church. It is a papal honor that dates back to circa 1100.  He writes frequently at & . Hugh writes about his Irish Catholic upbringing and educational experiences at . He has contributed works to Catholic News Agency, Catholic Online, The Irish Catholic, Dublin, the British Broadcasting Company, London and the Philadelphia Bulletin,, Blogger News Network & The Catholic Business Journal. Hugh welcomes comments at

Sunday, March 03, 2013

College of Cardinals...elect a vivacious global Pope!

     This column is written with great respect and deference to the Venerable College of Cardinals, entrusted during the unprecedented, sede vacanti, by a Pope with the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to know when it was time to retire.  While, I do not claim status as a “Vatican Watcher,” the pontificate of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is a pivotal period in the life of the Catholic Church as well as a historical snapshot into the state of ecclesial and secular affairs. As Cardinal Ratzinger, the notorious task of policing the Catholic Church’s moral and doctrinal abnormalities marked his tenure.  He governed the Church in the background, and was indeed the most logical candidate presented by the Holy Spirit to the College of Cardinals as the leading candidate. John-Paul II, a global idol spread the Gospel, kissed the ground of countries he visited and tried to reconcile a global Church divided by a myriad of internal and external issues which included the demise of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Eastern Communist bloc, the resurgence of nationalism in  Europe, with the caveats of the strengthening of Islamic influence, insurrection within and outside of the Catholic Church and a universal gravitation towards the lures of secular humanism and rampant materialism. As Pope, John-Paul managed to administer an internal Curia, still loyal to the Old Italian manner of governing the Church and the constant intrigue associated with discredited members of the hierarchy through either high crimes or misdemeanors or outright felonious activities such as the Vatican  Bank scandal and untold other sub signum events that will become known to historians of the future.
     With remarkable courage, John-Paul taught us how to live a qualitative and productive life as our Pope with a dehabilitating disease, ultimately riddling his body with physical incapacity and medical maladies, that taught us an additional lessons; namely the love of life, the dignity and value of each and every human person and how death regardless of ecclesiastical title brings us all home to the Lord.  John-Paul’s papacy was long.  It was productive and it was exciting.  As Catholics, the uniqueness of a non-Italian Pontiff in centuries provided the theological and secular bridge that perhaps united the world of medieval Europe, with the turmoil and triumph of the modern age, along with all of the growing pains associated with the Church’s journey from Trent to Vatican II and the dawning of a new century. In charity, and with great respect John-Paul suffered for us, the Church and with his own physical deterioration, however his exemplary example as a model for physical suffering inspired and motivated the world to at the least greatly respect the octogenarian Pope’s dignity, academic acumen, and determination to complete the task to which he was elected.
     In contrast, on his election as John-Paul’s successor, Joseph Ratzinger as the newly installed Benedict XVI told the world that his papacy would not be one of a long duration. This brief declaration by the new Holy Father was considered briefly, and most of the world felt Benedict would exit the papal throne in the same manner his predecessors did, through physical death.  However, in true Germanic fashion, Pope Benedict freely abdicated his papacy through retirement and stunned not only the College of Cardinals, but also indeed the entire global society.  The last papal resignation occurred almost six centuries ago, and the outcome was not exactly a transition of dignity or charity. Benedict XVI’s resignation (which preferably should be called a retirement) is illustrative of the great changes the Catholic Church vehemently needs to coexist with the postmodern world with an evolving culture of transforming proportions.
     The upcoming conclave, which in itself is a misnomer (Cardinals are no longer under lock and key during their deliberations). The sede vacante is still warm; its last occupant moving to another papal residence and Benedict peacefully and deliberately renounced his office as Bishop of Rome.  He departed the Vatican, by a helicopter provided by the Italian Air Force, not in the usual triple casket destined for a sarcophagus beneath the foundations of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Additionally, he has plans to pray, read, write, play his beloved Mozart and perhaps adopt a kindle of kittens in the new papal retirement home An astute theologian, Benedict XVI was one of the primary architects of the drastically needed reforms of the Second Vatican Council and perhaps in some sense anticipated the need in the future for a Pope to retire. The Teutonic mind thinks ahead, and virtually 50 years since the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the sudden ending of Session II (due to the death of John XXIII), Benedict decided to retire with great dignity and grace, still with the ability to positively contribute through academic research, prayer and study to the life of the vibrant and growing Church. Providentially, this seems a significant personification of his periti status as an architect of Vatican II, and distinctively German in the absoluteness of his freely made decision.  Two Popes, both having witnessed the atrocities and  dehumanizing effects of the Second World War mark the conclusion of the post war world and heralds the beginning of a new age of prominence for the role of the Catholic Church.
     Benedict’s retirement has shaken the College of Cardinals into a pragmatic realization that the Catholic Church is most emphatically a global institution. As such, it also needs to continue the departures from normal operational procedures and transform itself through the Holy Spirit into a modern institution calling all peoples to faith, holiness and global peace and unity. The next Successor of Peter needs personal vibrancy, stamina and the ability to speak with the authority of Christ to the entire world, segregated by social, political, military and theological strives. Ideally, the new Pontiff with be multilingual, multicultural and sensitive to the great transitions Christianity is undergoing from a strictly European and Northern Hemisphere experience of faith, to one that has permeated the continent of Africa, the countries of South America and the entire Pacific rim.  While Latin used to unite the Church, multilingual and multicultural traditions are spreading the Gospel in a New Pentecost, virtually peoples of all tongues and cultures. It is precisely this renewed Pentecostal Catholic Church the new Pope will prayerfully lead and guide as the People of God.
     The College of Cardinals has a daunting task. Their selection needs to be a man of diplomatic authority, knowledge of cultural and religious differences and the willingness to proclaim theological reconciliation between all Christians, our cousins in faith the Jewish People and often envisioned as adversaries in faith the Islamic world. That does not even take into consideration, the needs to reconcile generations of conflict between the Church and Science and negative responses of geopolitical proportions, including the role of women, the inclusion of dispensed priests, and the acceptance of moral norms that were never considered at the Council of Jerusalem or any subsequent councils since then. Additionally, the threats of nuclear annihilation, disproportionate allocation of global resources and the threats of pandemic diseases and potentially disastrous examples of hunger, human rights violations and above all the dangers of secular atheism.    
     The Bishop of Rome needs to evangelize young people, restore legal and fiscal transparency to all of the Catholic Church’s activities and yes, confess wrongdoing, seek reconciliation and collectively resolve a theological and moral transformation that will not only inspire the world, but unite the world into a global People of God, the notion envisioned by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago.
     Despite the perceptions of immorality and injustices, society is seeking a great voice to restore fidelity in the Divine, in man and in the capacity of man to live in a world of peace and harmony despite accidental differences imposed by political dynasties and profit making interests in the world’s natural resources.  The capacity to achieve these objectives, however, in electing a new Pope the College of Cardinals needs to “man up,” and recognize the distinctive need for a new aggiornamento of the Holy Spirit, which when ignited properly will transform the planet to one of global communications, interactions of peoples and the acceptance of universal precepts of moral rights and dignities deserved by all peoples that seek God.
     Benedict’s pontificate leaves us with the great adage: God is Love. His potential successor, most likely already in Rome needs to emerge and transform the Catholic world order that in entirely inclusive of all peoples, in peace and love with a strong voice, ultimately to faith in God and the dignity of all mankind.
Veni Creator Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit! Give us a global Pope with faith, tenacity and courage to change the world.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sede vacante...Come Holy Spirit

Sede vacante...almost.


 The great history of the Catholic Church has been marked with many events that have transformed the world. From the Apostles meeting in the Upper Room, with Mary, the Mother of God, Pentecost, the Council of Jerusalem, Ephesus, Trent, Vatican I & Vatican II, the Holy Spirit has always guided and led the Catholic Church in mysterious ways. Today for the first time in almost six hundred years, the Successor of Saint Peter, Pope Benedict XVI has relinquished his claim to the See of Peter. Thankfully, His Holiness is visibly capable of enjoying days of retirement, while he settles into the routine of Pope Emeritus. Most importantly, Benedict’s retirement illustrates the great gravity of the papal office and the need for a perhaps younger, stronger and with globetrotting abilities.  The old adage of course is,” Ubi Petrus est, ibi Ecclessia est.”  Where Peter is, there is the Church! The truly monumental gesture of relinquishing the authority of perhaps the last sovereign monarch in the world, illustrates strongly the pervasive and changing nature of the Catholic Church as ever growing, ever evolving and ever moving towards the final celestial existence in eternal communion with God and the saints.
   Pope Benedict, as a periti at the Second Vatican Council convened 50 years ago was indeed of the architects of the Church’s life and mission in the modern world.  His advocacy of following the mandate of Blessed John XXIII’s call for aggioramento quintessentially became the Church’s mandate and Joseph Ratzinger, through his scholarly writings and keen sense of the dynamics of ecclesiology have indeed set the path for the Church of the 21st century and beyond. As the enforcer of dogmatic teachings during the reign of John-Paul II, Ratzinger was the consummate and always faithful guardian to the proper interpretation of the deposit of faith. In faithful service to John-Paul II, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger assisted the Universal Church, come into a new epoch of theological understanding through the physical deterioration of John-Paul’s health as his papacy waned into history. The lesson taught by John-Paul II was simple, life from the very moment of conception until the natural end of human life is sacred and has a purpose. Edified by his life and papal ministry, John-Paul was proclaimed Blessed shortly after his death and given to all of us as a sign and symbol for healing and health for the physically infirmed.
      In continuing the mission of John-Paul II, Benedict XVI showed the world that chronological age has nothing to do with the effectiveness of a successful pontificate. As Pope, Benedict engaged in   travels that a younger man might not endure. He however, more than any Pope in modern history utilized the communication of the written word as the central focus, through his scholarship to draw all peoples to the Word Incarnate, God’s infinite love among us. While innovations such as the internet, facebook and twitter became part of the papal routine, the message always focused on the infinite love God has for all of creation and therefore all humanity.
   Most significant to the notion of love is also the action of reconciliation. Benedict XVI, through the establishment of an Anglican Ordinariate sought to reconcile adversaries initiated by Henry VIII. He permitted the restoration and celebration of the pre-Vatican II liturgy, now known as the Mass of Blessed John XXIII, and most importantly sought the deepening of theological commonalities with the Orthodox Church, separated in a Petrine principle for centuries. In effect, the title of pontifex maximus, bridge builder has always been the unique gift presented by Joseph Ratzinger, then Benedict XVI as the optimistic builder of bridges to reunify, restore and reinvigorate the role of the Church in the modern world. Perhaps the greatest bridge constructed by Benedict XVI is the transitional bridge of papal resignation and or retirement. The act, unprecedented in the modern age is indicative of an aging Pope passing the Word to a younger and more robust Successor of Peter more capable to reinvigorate and restore the Church to global prominence as the mediator of hope and faith as society often falls into nihilistic values and solipsism, limiting the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in calling the world into a new age of geopolitical harmony, only available through the reconciliation of the great faiths of the world.
     Pope Benedict’s pontificate can be summarized by a single word, caritas!  Love.  In the great priestly prayer of Jesus in John’s Gospel, the Lord asks that, “They love one another!”  As the voice of the Holy Spirit, Pope Benedict XVI has emphatically stressed the need for global love of God, our neighbor and each other as the critical component of the Gospel message. The pontificate of Benedict XVI began with Joseph Ratzinger himself indicating a short papacy. Traditionally, a short papacy is terminated by the physical death of the Pope.  Benedict XVI revolutionized and transformed the nature of the papal office with his untold expression of love through the free will and self-imposed retirement.  Such a papal action will provide precedent for the life of the Church and the constant manifestation of love as experienced within the Most Holy Trinity.
Thank you for your wisdom.  Prayers for a healthy retirement.  Commendations for such a radical manifestation of personal love for Christ’s Church.  Ad Multos Annos, Holy Father, Benedict XVI! Love and peace as you chart the office of Pope emeritus as a living and loving advisory source for the new Successor of Peter in the unbroken line of succession.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Squeaky Kneeler

Book cover image


     Proverbially, the squeaky wheel gets the oil.  However, in the case of a recently read book, A Squeaky Kneeler (squeaking on,) by Michael Robinson not only provides credibility to old adage, but also should indeed replace the application of oil with grace and perseverance.  This book celebrates the squeaky musings of Michael Robinson, a former Capuchin in the Franciscan Order and turns the somewhat disturbing “squeak,” into an opportunity to realize the infusion of God’s love and grace into the ordinary events that happen in each of our lives daily.  Kneelers, virtually unknown since the Second Vatican Council were integral to the prayer life of clergy, religious and faithful Catholics throughout the world. Today, the liturgical furniture makes rare appearances usually during the Sacrament of Penance, or in front of various shrines in order for pilgrims to stop, pray and meditate on the saint’s virtues and pray for God’s continued insistence. However, kneelers conform to the knees of the person that utilizes it and becomes not only a place of prayer, but a comfortable place where an individual can meditate, pray, contemplate or just observe the daily events that happen in their lives.  The kneeler is a virtual observation point for both the soul and provides a place from which one is able to observe the works and actions of the world and persons around them.  Michael Robinson uses the imagery of a “squeaky kneeler,” to provide glimpses into his own personal thoughts and insights regarding the actions of people and events going on around him.  Primarily, a kneeler is a place of prayer and contemplation.  Mike Robinson utilizes his “squeaky kneeler,” as a platform to recollect on events and individuals that deeply  have affected his life and continue to provide this service through the continued squeak of the responsive  kneeler each time the author either recalls critical events from the past or “squeaks,” regarding contemporary events that now effect him as a husband, father, author and a continuing important part of the People of God, all of whom are squeaking in our own ways about untold events known only to God and as intercessions for His Divine Guidance.
     There are positive and annoying aspects to a squeaky kneeler and the same can be applied to the lessons learned in our lives through both positive and negative experiences.  However, both ends of the spectrum of experiences are collectively the sum total of our physical and spiritual journey in faith as we live, learn and love as part of a larger community of faith, the Church. The squeak from each of us transforms from a cacophony of annoying tones into a well-orchestrated symphony of a collective praise of human lives in our pursuit of a better understanding of God’s existence.  Through recounting people, places, thoughts and events Michael Robinson inspires all of us to become, “squeaky kneelers,” that produce noises that could be considered annoying into harmonic sounds that ultimately provide life lessons for ourselves and all of the people we encounter on our Catholic eschatological journey towards Christ Jesus and participate in the final orchestration of Divine harmony with God through eternal life.
     Michael Robinson incorporates all sorts of experiences, with good Catholic theological principles into this well written and intimately disclosing work of his journey in life and faith.  He talks about his adoring dog, Rudy as an inspirational example of the canine’s fidelity, while his master (Michael) seeks professional and personal inspiration, direction, and practical employment in his life.  Which of us, has not relied in the unconditional fidelity of a canine companion, or for that matter the unconditional love of the Father as the constant motivation through His grace to continue on and deal with the triumphs and tragedies of ordinary and often difficult difficult moments of our daily lives.
     Mike Robinson even applauds the smallest events in life as transformational, the presence of a mouse in the house (which in itself could be the squeaky sequel to this book, to the engineering genius of Steve Jobs that was the inspirational power behind modern word processing and the entrance into the computer age of typography, to even the most mundane observation of the movements of clouds as indicative of positive influences and great, “squeaks,” that radically transform  the daily perceptions of our lives.
In reality, the work by Mike Robinson makes me laugh, cry, giggle and even gives me the opportunity to correlate similar events that I have experiences as a Catholic seminary student, a teacher, graduate student and author. Clearly, as indicated by Michael Robinson, SQUEAKS are intended to call attention to significant and important events that affect our personal, spiritual, and professional lives.  While the most basis kneeler, seems innocuous in the larger reality of life and the world, the need for kneeling in order to reflect on the majestic events happening all around us makes us aware of the endless line of influential individuals, events and activities that contribute to the great fabric that constitutes our temporal fabric of humanity, gifted to us for only a limited time by the Creator.
     Unfortunately, I have never personally met the author of the book. However, seemingly we share a similar and almost unconventional view of what we consider philosophically, theologically, spiritually, and humanly important as we live our lives.  Most importantly, Mike Robinson effectively uses the effects of pervasive love and faith in God, His Church and most importantly his loving family as the catalytic components that make Mike Robinson a man of thought and deep love, similar to Saint Anselm and the famous axiom, “Fidens quarrels intellectum,” (Faith seeks understanding!)  While we may not always achieve understanding about all of the significant and seemingly insignificant events that make the fabric of our lives a reality, Mike’s observations motivate me to keep vigilant, be persistent and grow to love, “squeaks,” however they manifest themselves in life, whether through people, events, pets and even the most insignificantly perceived opportunity to share grace and love by being both a “squeaker,” for others and most significantly a, “kneeler,” calling everyone to take time to live, love, pray and most importantly put away the WD40 and SQUEAK loudly to proclaim God’s glory and our desire to participate in His Divine live. Even if the disharmonious squeaking from all of our collective kneelers is not always the song of the melodic choirs of angels, with which we are most familiar.
     Mike Robinson’s book provides me personally with a reflective view of the importance of love, family and faith as the integral part of our daily lives as Catholics.  When you read the book, certainly, you will encounter similar sentiments and laugh, giggle and love when you pick out your antidotal favorite stories to integrate into your squeaking kneeler.
Mike’s book is available at

 Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist.  Hugh studied both philosophy and theology at Philadelphia's Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.  He also holds a B.A. in Philosophy from that institution. Hugh also studied at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa, holds an M.A. in Catholic historical theology, and is in the process of earning an M.S. in Church Management.  Additionally, Hugh is a part-time student at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and anticipates completion of his studies in Catholic liturgical historiography.  Additionally, Hugh has plans to pursue an Ed.D at Immaculata University in Immaculata, Pa. Hugh writes frequently for multiple Catholic News Outlets on a regular basis, and has finished two books, to be released in Fall of 2013, The Stained Glass of Paula Himmelsbach-Balano and American Catholics during the American Revolution. 
Hugh is a member of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, with the rank of Knight.  Recently, Hugh has been presented as a candidate for membership in the Knights of Malta. Hugh resides in Delaware's Brandwine Valley with his wife and daughter.