Saturday, May 20, 2017

THE NUCLEAR FAMILY HAS EXPLODED...

In the liberal/progressive world there are no rules. There are no taboos. There's no sense of right and wrong, moral and immoral. Everything goes and nothing is sacred. If it feels good do it no matter the cost or consequences.
Could the loose life of today be the reason so many children turn to drugs as an escape? Do they get high because they are so low?
All of this, I believe, is because the nuclear family, you remember, a female mom a male dad who are married and stay that way for better for worse until death, and children who know their gender has exploded. It's for all intents and purposes become a relic of a stodgy un-progressive past and good riddance so progressives and liberals say.  Instead their celebration of gender neutral human beings, moms and moms and dads and dads, and gender changing offspring, marriage in any form one desires as well as people shacking up playing house and having children then breaking up, has brought about the corruption of the most basic family values. If you don't believe me, just watch a few episodes of Judge Judy. You'll see a mom and dad and five children all with different last names trying to be a family again. Studies have documented three out of five births today are to unwed mothers cohabitating with someone unrelated to the children. And one wonders why the children become pawns in the estranged parents lives as they try to punish one another. In fact, most common child abductions are perpetrated by estranged fathers. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.  From 1950-1958 12 children for every 100 were born into broken homes. In 1992 that figure rose to 58 out of 100. In fact studies have found that a child from a broken home is five times more likely to suffer damaging mental problems and three times more likely to display conduct disorders and act them out sometimes violently.
And while liberals and progressives celebrate the single mom or dad, studies in the UK have found that children in single parent homes are more likely to do poorly in school, suffer from poor health, substance abuse and depression.
Their conclusions stated that broken homes, serial fathers, and children in single parent households usually filled with chaos and conflict are detrimental to a child's mental health and future fulfillment.
But do liberals and progressives care? Do they realize how harmful their celebration of the serial man or woman is to their offspring?  They've exploded the nuclear family for their own selfish pursuits, and children are the collateral damage.

IMAGINE!

May 20, 2017 would have marked 37 years since ordination to the priesthood. I can only imagine what I could have done with my life all those years, I mean if I had graduated from Pratt Institute School of Architecture and had become a licensed Architect, All I can do is imagine. God only knows of the successes I would have enjoyed.  I could see myself designing beautiful buildings, and magnificent houses. Making a name for myself so that when they saw a building, they would know it was designed by the famous architect Sopoliga. I could see my company name: "Michael J Sopoliga, Architect - offices in New York, Miami, Los Angeles."
I could see myself with a couple of houses. Clients would walk in to my offices and see shelves filled with awards for excellence in design. I could see myself receiving accolades from my peers, from clients and civic organizations and the like for my talent and abilities. I would have earn the respect and admiration of the architectural community.  I would have a great staff of designers and draftsmen.  Commercial projects is where the money is, and I could see myself a millionaire by the age of 50, if only I didn't give it all up for something sold to me as more noble, more rewarding, more meaningful, namely becoming a priest. Well I am here to tell you I was sold a bill of goods.  These past 37 years have been nothing but one disappointment after another. One unrewarding meaningless experience. In short, a let down.  Instead of receiving the accolades of my peers, their respect and admiration, all I have received starting with the bishops had been no support and no justice. And from the people of God, all I received was suspicion, distrust, slander and calumny. Assigned to the poorest of mission parishes other priests basked in the monetary glory of  their predecessors who left their parishes flush with cash. And like bad stewards, some couldn't wait to spend like drunken sailors wasting that money on frivolous phylacteries and fluff to satisfy their own egos beautifying their empty tombs while their parish rosters shrunk faster than an un-Sanforized shirt. Those churches will make for beautiful museums, restaurants, gyms, or mosques.
In the business world, you are rewarded for your talent, looked up to in admiration because of your abilities. Not so in the priesthood. If you have talent, the hierarchy sees you as prideful, as someone looking to aggrandize themselves, not to mention being a threat to their mediocrity. And in the parish, the moment you make a decision that doesn't play well, you're excoriated. I call it the Palm Sunday syndrome. The people welcomed Jesus with palms and branches praising him, only to five days later be the same people shouting at the top of their lungs to crucify him. So it is with the priesthood. You're welcomed to a parish with great fanfare yet by doing your job like correcting the back stabbers, encourage better giving, or you chastise the gossipers, preach against of all things politicians who support partial birth abortion, you become the enemy. As a priest, you're supposed to be the moral authority representing the teachings of the Church, and subsequently being the conscience of the parishioners that no one wants to listen to, the good angel sitting atop their shoulder, while they prefer to heed the devil's advice instead. Need proof? When you're Googled by hateful churchgoers hoping to find dirt on you, and when they accuse you of being delusional, authoritarian, bi-polar and a fraud, only because you're seen as a threat to their entrenched way of life so far removed from Christian tenets that they act more like jihadists than Jesus.
So as I reflect on my ill delusional decision 37 years ago and today as I write this, having nothing but regret, I can only take solace in the fact that I never gave up my day job all those years. I remained active as a residential designer owning my own business for over 20 years. And while I never realized my childhood dream of becoming an licensed Architect, I have at least reaped the reward of my talent and effort as a residential designer all these years and I consider that my  only consolation for wasted years in the ministry.
However, like  President Trump said before he won the election as president: "If I don't win in November, I would have seen this effort as the greatest waste of time, talent and treasure in my life." I could not agree with him more.
If only I had it to do all over again. I can only imagine the life's successes  I would have experienced, instead of the ministry filled with disappointment, despair, and disillusionment. And it does not end here. While I can't divulge the details a pending lawsuit against the diocese, at a later date I shall expose them for who they really are, namely white washed tombs. Imagine that!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

MOM...FROM CARNAIGE HALL TO CLIFTON NJ....A MOTHER'S DAY TRIBUTE

Ann Sopoliga...could have been a star.....no doubt with a name change that is....she decided instead to be a mom.....not only a mom, but an accomplished woman in so many more ways. She passed away on January 13, 2009.  She and my dad would have been married 73 years.
Married at the young age of 17 to a man her father choose to be her husband because he was a hard worker and would be a good provider. She came to America in 1935 by boat with her sister Mary leaving behind her mother, three sisters and two brothers in their small town of Stropkov in Czechoslovakia, the eastern "Slovak" side of the country. She never forgave her dad who promised that he would bring the rest of the family to the New World. My grandfather was in the merchant marine and would travel back and forth across the Atlantic a few times a year. So he probably could have brought the rest of the family over and I believe he really wanted to were it not for what was to become World War II which broke out in 1939. A lot of plans were changed because of it. In fact, I always wondered about the timing for mom and dad to have children since Emil was born in 1937, then ten years later my sister was born in 1947 a ten year pause. Once again, I now know that the War had something to do with that as well.
Grandfather had an apartment ready for the two daughters in Passaic NJ, which was a stones throw across the Hudson River from New York to where most immigrants arrived.
The canal in Passaic NJ. The church towers are where mom and dad were married.
Married in 1936 a year after her arrival, in St. Michael Church in Passaic NJ, a few blocks from where they lived, they had their wedding reception in downtown Passaic at the Ritz Ballroom just above the only hotel in Passaic at the time.

L-R Grandpa, mom, dad and wedding party.

Not happy with living with her dad and new husband, mom looked for a new apartment away from what was known as the "hunky ghetto" which covered three blocks around the various ethnic churches catering to Polish, Czech, and Slovak immigrants coined by the Italians and Irish and Dutch who dominated the landscape. So she found an apartment in nearby yet undeveloped Clifton area a few miles west. Clifton then mostly owned by Dutch settlers who farmed vast amounts of land was quickly becoming a manufacturing town. Factories at the Passaic/Clifton border like Manhattan Rubber Company, Velveray Rubber Company,  and Pantasote Chemicals, and the like were looking for laborers.
When the 5 o'clock whistle blew it was time to head home a few blocks away.
As a direct result communities were rapidly being developed. Not wanting to work in a factory, my dad got a job helping deliver milk for George Balco who owned his own business. At the prompting of my mom, dad took the opportunity to buy the business milk truck and all from Mr. Balco who was looking to retire.
Sopoliga Dairy Co was formed.

Dad with his first milk truck with Emil & Lydia.
One thing about my mom, while she may have been brought to America against her will, got married and had a child, she wasn't about to be just another 'green-horn' 'hunky' immigrant. She was going to become an AMERICAN! She wanted to become an American so much so that she looked for ways to separate herself from the popular and safe ghetto mentality she saw too many of her compatriots opt for. The new apartment in Clifton would be her ticket out. Her husband's new business was the best thing she could have hoped for, exactly for the same reason. All the other immigrants worked together in those factories, drank together in the many bars that sprung up on Van Houten Ave in Clifton (once named for having the most bars on a single street). My mom had other plans, plans that would have taken her to Carnegie Hall. It was a few months in 1937 after the birth of her first son that she tried out for a singing competition and won. You might say this was the first American Idol show only TV was just becoming popular. She sang in area theaters, and then winning competitions was to sing at Carnegie Hall. She even had a professional photo shoot with "Voss Studios" in New York City. The photo graces this article.
This is the photographer's address who did mom's photo shoot.

Susan Hayward
A Hollywood talent scout saw the photo and approached mom with the promise that he would make her a star. She would be the new Susan Hayward! But mom had other plans and turned down the offer as she recalled to me. She just came to America two years earlier, got married and had a son. Who knows what was in store for her in the future. She opted to make her own plans in her own good time. 
Mom had moxie. One of her plans was to move out of the cramped apartment on Speer Ave in Clifton NJ. She new as the family grew there would not be enough room in the one bedroom second floor flat. It just so happened that she would take two year old Emil for walks to Third Ward park about a half mile away. To get to the park she would walk up Speer Ave a few blocks past the yet sparsely populated streets past three new houses which were just being built. Of the three houses in a row, it was the corner house that caught mom's eye. Week after week she would pass the house as it was rising from the foundation to the framing stage. They were two family houses which really interested my mom since one flat could be rented out for income. 
With the house in its framing stage, mom recollected that she began to inspect the interior. She walked through the house many times seeing what she would change if she were to make an offer on it. So one that's exactly what happened. She met the builder Mr Wouls on site one day and asked if the house was for sale. He said it was and she asked how much was it. He said the house would cost $5,999.00. Back in 1940 that would be akin to a $250K house today.
Mom in front of her new house!
A day or so later she went back to the house to speak with the builder, and this time she brought him $500.00 in cash that she had been saving for just this occasion. When she presented it to the builder he looked at her and told her to bring her husband back to make the sale. In typical mom fashion she  said "I'm buying the house and I haven't told my husband yet, so let's make the deal!" The builder, with a bit of reluctance since women did not buy houses back then, accepted the offer. Oh yes, she finally did tell dad what she had done that afternoon. It probably went something like this: "Mike, (she called him Mike because I was called Michael), I took Emil for a walk up Speer Ave to the park this afternoon. On the way there, I saw that there were three houses being built so I bought the one on the corner!"


The garage with dad's milk truck on the Wonham St. side of the house.
  It was a good thing too, because dad's milk business was growing and he needed space for the milk truck and cars. That's why our backyard was the size of a postage stamp because as the house was being completed, not only did my mom make changes to the floor plan like eliminating all the door jambs, typical of houses being designed in the 40's, replacing them with ellipse arches instead, but also had the builder build a three car garage. That would be the homestead for the next twenty years until dad, who I guess wanted to outdo mom in house buying, decided to move to the suburbs. He found a house in Great Notch, one of many houses he would take us all to see. This one was a split level design on Long Hill Rd. It was exciting to move in and we enjoyed all the extra space, but after a while, living in the suburbs had its limitations.
Our split level dream house.
I can remember my mom asking us kids to run down to the corner store for something only to realize she would have to drive a few miles instead.  That was the great thing about living in a city.  You could walk to school, to the candy store, drug store, barber, and even the diner on the corner! That was a line my mom used when we didn't like what she was serving for dinner. She would say:"you don't like whet I made? There's a diner on the corner!"
But I have to admit, living in the country was great for us kids.
The 'woods' behind the house. The Fiola's pool down the hill.
We had woods to run and hide in and build forts, friends with pools, and a basement large enough that we would put on plays just like The Little Rascals did for the neighborhood. But is was hard on dad and the milk business. Zoning laws prevented him from leaving the milk truck which was considered an eyesore in the driveway.
Dad's milk truck in the driveway of the Great Notch house snow chains and all. This was the eyesore which would not be tolerated in the uppity neighborhood.
So he had to wake up in the middle of the night drive back to Clifton (luckily they only rented the house just in case) do the route, leave the truck there and then drive back to the suburbs.  The suburbs weren't for us city dwellers. Mom decided that we needed to move back to civilization as she called it. She always knew what to do, and didn't hesitate to do it.
Mom was never afraid to learn. She took piano lessons and was pretty good at playing her favorite tunes like "Autumn Leaves" to which she would beautifully sing.
Mom in her later years still tickling the keyboard.
She took up painting. One of her paintings, a warf scene hangs in my bedroom to this day.
Mom's style was very Henri Matisse.
Even though she didn't finish high school, she studied and learned as much as she could so that she could help us with our homework though the years of grammar school. She was active in PTA, she was a Cub Scout leader. She was so popular that all the kids wanted to be in her troupe.  Once she baked a cake for the School 13 bake sale, and when my dad stopped by to buy one to bring home for dinner, he wound up buying the very cake my mom baked. When he brought it home my mom yelled at him saying why did you pay for the cake I made? He said I didn't know you baked it, and besides, I bought it because it was the best looking one there!
That was the relationship my mom and dad had. They were not lovey dovey. They were not the Nelsons or the Cleavers more like Mama's Family! Once my friend hearing my mom and dad converse asked me why are they always yelling at each other? I said, they're not yelling. That's the way they always talk! Whether it was right or wrong, they were together for life. Back then everyone was concerned with what the neighbors would think. I remember my mom insisting that if we wanted to try the new delivery restaurant "Chicken Delight" even though they delivered (one of the first delivery restaurants), dad would have to go pick the food up because mom didn't want the neighbors to see a car with a chicken on the roof emblazoned with "Free delivery Chicken Delight" because she was afraid they would think she was lazy and didn't cook for her family. 
Home life as a kid compared to the kids today was night and day. Back then, the only rule mom had for us was to be home when the "whistle blew' (at the Manhattan/Raybestos factory a few blocks away). "Mom? Mom?," I'd call out when I got home from school walking the twelve blocks from School 13 up Van Houten Ave stopping at the candy store along the way. 
There were two places I could find her: the kitchen, or the basement where she would do the laundry and where she had her sewing machine. Mom made many of the dresses she and my sister wore. I remember watching her cut out the Butterick patterns with amazement and she would even show me how to use the machine which came in handy when I needed to make curtains and scenery for my puppet stage.  If you were to ask me what sensory trigger reminds me of my mom, I would have to say: Bleach. Yes bleach. She used it for washing clothes, she would soak the whites in it so she would wipe dirt or jam off my face, her hands would smell like bleach. Oh she wore perfume too. L'Air du Temps to be exact. I've managed to keep her last bottle and when I take a whiff, I feel her presence. But aside from French Perfume, bleach wins out because she wore it all the time!
And speaking about bleach, I would love watching her wash clothes. I learned simple things like separating the colors and whites for example. The first washing machine I remember was a large simple tub-like one with hoses that connected to the sink. It had an attached wringer that she would put the clothes through. I remember the Hotpoint machine which was the precursor of today's washers. But back then washers did not have all the safety features of today. I would be able to watch the clothes be sloshed around then watch the spin cycle twirl away. And I never stuck my arm or fell in it!
And then she would take the clothes upstairs go to the window in our room and hang the clothes on the line. There's no better smell in the world than clothes that have been dried on a clothes line especially sheets and pillow cases. I guess that's why I would never live in communities that have rules and regulations, like "no clothes lines." And yet they talk about energy saving. Imagine all the power that would be saved if people would dry their clothes on a clothes line. I have a seven hundred dryer that does everything but put the clothes away, and I still hang them on the clothes line in my back yard. (I don't live in a gated community, and I can walk to a diner too!)
And when she was at "the window," as you can see in the photo mom had a birds eye view of the neighborhood. (The trees were saplings back in the 50's)
"The window" with mom's clothes line  the three car garage in the foreground, and panoramic view of Wonham St. The area by the cardboard box is where dad would stack his milk cases. Under that area was a 500 gallon gas tank (the pump was in the garage) which he used to gas up the truck, and that we used especially during the gas shortages of the 1970's. 
I would go out and play with my friends after school knowing I needed to get home when the five o'clock whistle blew. If not mom would be at "the window" calling us home. We didn't have play dates, nor did we sit at a friends house and play video games. Our game were reality games. We'd ride our bikes all over the place; by the factory yards, the railroad track loading areas, we'd watch trains go by, find junk to bring home. We'd ride to Third Ward park with out homemade boats to float in the lake. That was the same park mom was heading to when she bought our house on Speer Ave. No one worried about being kidnapped. In fact the increase today I believe is caused by broken homes multiple moms and dads and the hatred caused by divorce among the parents. Besides if anyone tried to kidnap us, we'd beat the guy up. We were tough kids, mischievous, inquisitive and wouldn't wimp out in the face of danger like the kids today. Our days as a kid remind me of the movie Stand By Me. We went wherever our little feet could take us, and did whatever we wanted to. None of us had helicopter parents back then thank God.
As we got older and mom didn't have to be home for us as much, she then got interested in working. She went to school learning to become a PBX operator.
But no machine could replace mom "the operator." She excelled at her work. People would call her just to chat before they remembered they needed to speak to someone at the company. And it was a big company: Shulton, you know, the company that makes Old Spice. Their headquarters was in Clifton NJ a few miles from our house.
She took me to work sometimes to show me what she did and I was amazed at her prowess, pushing and pulling the phone plugs that connected people together with ease, personality and a cheerful voice. When Shulton moved its corporate office, she landed the same job at Farmland Dairy, again bringing her charm wit and personality to her job. I know where I got mine!
Mom was a fashion plate.

Mom (R) with her sister Mary


Mom (R) with her sister
Not only did she make clothes for herself to save money, but when she would be able to buy clothes she bought the best. Levy Brothers in Clifton NJ in Styertown Shopping Center, was a store in the late 50's she would frequent. Upstairs was the Millinery Shop (that's women's hats) as well as the dress shop where all the sales staff knew her and warmly welcomed her. She also loved to shop at Wechsler's in Passaic, Rowe-Manse, which took over the old Levy brothers store, Ann Taylor, and Sterns in Bergen Mall, Paramus NJ,  where I got my first job.
Mom with my brother Emil at her granddaughter's wedding.

Mom also loved nice cars, and dad was all to eager to make sure she drove one. Whether it was the 55 Lincoln Capri, the 57 Imperial, the 63 Imperial, her 65 DeVille convertible or any of the others, she loved them all. And she was no slouch when driving sometimes leaving squealing tires as she sped away.
Mom showing off her 1963 Chrysler Imperial.
She was a homemaker, dress designer, singer, almost movie star, a wife, mother, home buyer, telephone operator, Cub Scout leader, in short a woman of many talents.
We just called her mom...and every time I smell bleach, I think of her!
Mom's first time on the stoop of her new house 1940
Mom's last time sitting on the stoop of the house she bought 50 years earlier.

Happy Mother's Day!







Friday, April 14, 2017

The Classic American Car...Nostalgia over Knowledge?

They say knowledge is strength. That adage may be fine as one lives their lives since knowing things enhances how we react to life situations. It starts as a young child. The faster we learn that we could burn ourselves touching a hot stove the faster we avoid injury. 
However, when it comes to classic cars, ignorance, or at least looking at those cars with rose colored glasses on...is bliss when in reality, knowledge about the cars of yesteryear should bring us to a different opinion of them. 
Nostalgia takes precedence over knowledge, because when confronted with how these cars are really ran back in the day, its owners of these classics choose to not remember. 
I remember learning to drive in my mom’s 1963 Chrysler Imperial.  It was a land yacht. The view looking over the hood was likened to being on the bridge of the aircraft carrier Nimitz with its large flat hood extending outward. The steering was so loose that you could turn the steering wheel an inch or two either way before the car would head in that direction.  The same goes for our 1965 Cadillac DeVille convertible.  It was a marshmallow not only because it was white on the outside and white on the inside, but I think the steering and suspension was also constructed out of marshmallows!  American cars back in the day were noted for their soft ride, terrible driving geometry, and terrible build quality.  Even though the muscle cars were as fast as snot on a bowling ball, as long as you hit the gas and drove straight ahead you had no problem, but the minute you had to maneuver or turn, well you did that at your own risk. 
When I rolled my 1970 Triumph Spitfire on a country road, my dad insisted I get a safe car. Well, he decided that the car for me, being a college student at the time, was a 1979 Pontiac grand Prix. It was a beautiful car, maroon with red interior. While I enjoyed driving in the lap of luxury, what I didn't enjoy is that every time I hit the gas, I could watch the fuel gauge needle drop like a stone. I would have to fill the car up every other day. Sure gas was cheap back then but back then minimum wage was a buck fifty. Driving in luxury was short lived. 
I remember my 1973 Pontiac Firebird.  It was a dog.  It rattled, gulped fuel like it was Kool Aide, and had the most uncomfortable seats in the world, a ride that rivaled Fred Flintstones.
Then when I moved to Florida, I bought a Pontiac Fiero, you know the one whose engine would catch fire a lot?  I believe it was a 1983 model the first year it caught fire, I mean the first year it came out. It overheated constantly, and was in the shop more than it was on the road. Once when I left it at the dealer for repairs, it was stolen while sitting on the lot. The thieves even got approval from the dealership for the local repair shop to sell them a part to fix what else, a broken radiator hose because the heat of the manifold would melt it. They never recovered the thing. It was then that I believed there was a God. After that I lost my senses and went cheap and bought a Vega. I and the car were put out of our misery a year later when it died on the road.
Then there was dad's 1973 Pontiac LeMans that I drove when home from college, It was ugly and it drove awfully. I could go on, but suffice it to say, while we love the look of the old cars, when you really wipe away all the nostalgia that comes with them, they were not great cars. Sure many of their present owners were teens back in the day and remember good times in them, and it is those memories that gloss over the knowledge that they were just not good cars.  
So everyone collecting these cars today all you have to do is go back in the way back machine with Dr. Peabody and Sherman to take a cold hard look at the cars as they came off the assembly line to realize that these cars were not the pinnacle of engineering prowess. Instead they were a combination of a chassis with a body attached to it with tires, a steering wheel, and an engine, and as long as you weren't doing anything that went contrary to the way it was designed like maneuvering, you could get from point A to point B. Even though the cars of today are treated more like appliances rather than automobiles, their light years ahead of their predecessors.  But I dare say that cars like the Hyundai would ever be on someone's collection 50 years from now.  





THE "MOAB"...A SHOCK TO ISIS AND THE SNOWFLAKE GENERATION

When the MOAB the Massive Ordinance Air Bomb, or as it is more commonly referred to The Mother of All Bombs, did send a message to both ISIS terrorists as well as the Snowflake Generation. It proved that there are no safe spaces for either of them! The comparison is apropos in the sense that terrorists act with impunity because they think they live in a safe space world brought about by the ineptitude of foreign governments as well as our own during the Barack Obama administration. They did what they wanted and there were no repercussions from the civilized world. The world was their safe space. That has changed dramatically.
Likewise, these misguided little cream puffs that infest our campuses we call snowflakes which by the way give snowflakes a bad name, seek something that any red blooded American should shun namely safe spaces.  It's un-American.   A snowflake by nature is a beautiful creation. The snowflakes I am talking about give new meaning to the word ugly. Who in their right mind would want to appear as so insecure, so unsure of their own self worth gifts and abilities that they would seek to retreat to safe spaces. What happens when they get there? What is discussed, debated, and who is challenged? The only safe space we had as human being would have been in our mother's womb, and right as we were hauled out to see the light of day what happened?  We were smacked on the rear end to get us to start crying, reacting... breathing! We were separated from our safe space forever.
Yet now we see these fragile little darlings cower and tremble not when someone is threatening bodily harm, we see them cower and tremble when confronted with an opposing point of view. They are afraid of words. They fear the words of others because the words they believe are not heartfelt. They listen to others and like lemmings, follow them into the abyss of safe spaces. Imagine patriots like Paul Revere, or Francis Scott Key seeking safe spaces instead of seeking liberty and justice.  No matter what BLM or LGBQ, or any other acronym tells you, safe spaces are for wimps and cowards.  If you do not know who you are and what in your heart of hearts truly believe, then you can never learn about others or accept their points of view in a fair way. If you are not convinced in what you believe and only seek others who reinforce your own ignorance, then you are destined live a life replete with uncertainty and defeatism.
If the only thing these Snowflakes seek is safe spaces for every social minority, where others are shunned, then humanity is in big trouble.

HOLY WEEK FOR UNHOLY PEOPLE

Holy Week is supposed to be the time when people renew their commitment to faith and life in Jesus Christ. Being like him in every way. This week as they go through the motions of the end of his life, that commemoration is supposed to restart theirs. But after 35 years watching Christians, Byzantine Catholics to be specific fail year after year of the goal described here, they instead stay unholy betrayed by their speech, actions, demeanor, and spiritual vapidity. So who are these unholy ones of whom I speak?
At the top of the list is the bishop. He parades around in gold and jewel vestments and recites long prayers for all to see. Yet he looks to remove the gnat in your eye while he ignores the camel in his. You might observe what he tells you, but do not do the works he does for he preaches but does not practice. He ties up heavy burdens for you to carry but does not lift a finger to help.  He does his deeds for others to see.
He'll makes his phylacteries long and his fringes wide and he loves the places of honor at feasts, and the best seats in the church. He demands 8% tithe from your parishes, but neglects the weightier matters of the law like his priest's wages, since the laborer is entitles to them. He cleans the outside of the cup and plate but the inside is filled with greed and self-indulgence. Outwardly he appears righteous, but inside he is filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. He has the opportunity to do the right thing, to be moral, fair, honorable, but so far in my case specifically, he remains obstinate, unmoved and cowardly.
He is a white washed tomb filled with dead men's bones.  You'd think that denying what is rightfully mine would cause him great moral pain, instead  brings moral turpitude.  Of course it's all about the dollars he does not wish to part with, sort of like Judas getting his 30 pieces of silver on this Good Friday.
Why is it that he can write lengthy articles in his newspaper spewing nice words and calling people to a higher plain, then in his own life sink to the lowest form of life? How can someone who claims to be a successor to the apostles act more like the Sanhedrin and Pharisees?  So you see, this supposedly holy week does not make a bishop holy at all. Jesus' words are just as foreign to him as to the unbeliever.
Then you have the people. The Byzantine Catholic Church is inexorably shrinking and dying. Why? Because with all the ritual, liturgy, and theatrics, it does not move people to seek to know Christ and possibly enrich their lives as a result of all the ritual, liturgy, and theatrics.  After spending many Easters on the other side of the communion rail, I can attest to the reality of what I say.
The many and varies and somewhat moving services of this week were sparsely attended. Reenactments of Jesus' passion brings no passion among the people who are more concerned with the size of their Easter ham than the size of their donation to their church or of their time to attend all of the services. Year after year I would exhort my people to attend. Year after year my exhortations fell on deaf ears. Instead the people became like the Hebrews in the movie Ten Commandments. They see their church as boring and unfulfilling, probably because they really never gave their so called faith a fighting chance in their lives, so instead they build a new Golden Calf to take its place.
However instead of giving over their jewels, they give over their goodness, morality, fairness, compassion, caring, community, in short everything Jesus asks them to keep unto themselves. And the new Golden Calf is manifested in parishes like mine. Parishes and parishioners filled with hate, slothfulness, hypocrisy, suspicion, evil, and unholiness. That's why they're dying.
Like Cardinal Lombarto said in The Godfather III. "Look at these stones, they have been in this water for a long time." Then breaking one he exclaims: "Look inside. It is completely dry." He continued: "Christianity is the water and people are the stones. Like the stones, Christ has not penetrated the people. They are dry..." I would go one further. They are not just dry... they are unholy.
 Jesus summed it up this way:
"I send you prophets, wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth from the righteous ones you murdered. See your house is left to you desolate..."
One can only pray...