The Gospel Truth

The Child Within

June 10, 2014

Innocence in mind and heart has become a lost virtue in our increasingly godless society.

While parents often tried to protect their children from learning the harsh and often cruel realities of the world until at least they reached puberty, today purveyors and despoilers of this youthful innocence have entered into the playroom  with early sex education, vulgarities of all sorts and adult fads in dress and speech.

Peer pressure through the social media among those who have already gone over to the other side makes childhood even more difficult.

The term baby doll has long represented a sexually active young woman with child like characteristics or even sometimes a pre-teen who has been thrown into the adult mix of sexual trafficking the drug culture.

She seems to be the avatar of the future for young women.

This is all a sad and serious commentary on the state of America’s fallen society.

Kids grow up physically much faster today as so many diets seemed laced with all kinds of synthetic hormones that reduce the puberty age to near-kindergarten age.

This has made it even more imperative that those untainted by the world, the flesh and the devil maintain a spirit of childlike innocence and wonder that can ward against these influences.

This does not mean that one should be immature or a Peter Pan in mid-flight who just refuses to grow up.

To the contrary it means that adults make a conscious endeavor to look, not at the sordid side of the block that society is selling but on the sunny side where faith, morality and all the personal virtues of self-giving and sacrifice can preserve that sense of purity in one’s heart and soul.

While the body grows, the soul develops natural antidotes of faith, hope and charity to combat the external forces that would tear it apart.

The old Brooklyn Dodger, catcher Roy Campanella used to say that to play baseball there has to be a lot of the little boy in you.

I have always quipped that I was only 12 years old emotionally and that I was terrified of the eventual onset of puberty with its attendant pimples and girls and the like.

There may be some truth to that in that since I have noticed a pattern in my life with my own, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren that they all seemed to outgrow me at and about their thirteenth year.

They were all cool with me before then. They usually laughed at my corny jokes and I could down and dirty with them on the floor as we rough-housed, played all sorts of athletics games–indoors and were generally a menace to anything breakable.

But when the clock struck thirteen, Dad, Uncle Bill or Daddy B wasn’t quite as cool or as fun to be with. When they laughed at my jokes I often felt they were laughing at me.

I think this is the reason that I have begged all of the above to skip the years as Pat Boone wrote one time Twix twelve and twenty.

I think I knew that society would take that innocence away from them and they could no longer share my simple joy of living and experiencing what I call the sense of Wow in everyday things.

I have seen that 1000 yard stare as they used to call the look of soldiers who had seen too much and done too much that could be shared with the people back home.

I see a similar look–the stare of the teenager.  It is a cold and hard stare that looks through you. It  means to me that they have gotten themselves involved sexually way before their time and they feel themselves like a rudderless ship just spinning around in a vortex of despair and guilt.

Fortunately most survive.

When they turned 20 they usually revive a little more interest in me.  But it is a different kind of relationship and little like it was before. The natural teacher in me took the baton from my child within.  We now talk of what it is like to face a world full of wonder, surprises and grave consequences.

Through all these changes that little child of wonder is still alive and well and living in the nursery of my soul.

Every time I spy a little child in a stroller or seated in a high chair at some restaurant—especially the little girls–I see the face of God. I see it in their smiles, their laughter and occasionally in their tears. It is this simple joy that lifts my soul and finds sunshine where often there is darkness and even evil.

I remember John Wayne saying as his character Davy Crockett in the epic film, The Alamo when seeing a little dirty-faced girl leave with the civilians during the last hours of the Mexican siege, it a shame they have to grow up.

His unspoken words were …and see all this death, destruction and cruelty of war.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that unless we change and become like little children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Perhaps that’s what the epitaph of addict and poet Francis Thompson’s tombstone means: when you get to heaven look for me in God’s nursery.

I hope that counts for me and my 12-year old emotions, although I do plan to first make a stop at that special beach I have written about in a prior two-part post.

One Pilgrim’s Progress

January 5, 2012

During our bi-weekly Men’s Bible Study at my Church last week, old Charlie, one of my two liberal nemeses, mentioned that he had picked up a copy of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come, published in February, 1678 and read it that afternoon.

Christian, an everyman character, is the protagonist of the allegory, which centers itself in his journey from his hometown, the “City of Destruction” (“this world”), to the “Celestial City” atop Mt. Zion.

Christian is weighed down by a great burden, the knowledge of his sin, which he believed came from his reading the book in his hand.

Life is a difficult journey

Charlie’s religious’ curiosity got me to thinking about my own journey as a cradle Catholic.

I was born into a faith that had existed for nearly 2000 years.

It had survived devastating attacks from without and from within.

It has endured a history or bloody persecution in which thousands of its faithful were ripped apart by wild beasts, crucified, burned alive and thrown off high cliffs, drawn and quartered–all because they believed in the Divinity of the Christ.

It has launched crusades and burned a few thousand heretics at the stake in defense of the faith.

It is a religion that is filled with mystery, ceremony, pomp and high circumstance.

It has smells that excite and calm, music that raises the spirit and comforts the will.

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Sacraments and mystery

Theologically it soars like the eagle as it tries to touch the hand of God.

It can cure disease, ease suffering and prepare for the final moments of life.

It is a church of over one billion people.

It has as many different strains of thinking as a library does.

But being a faith of deep and high-minded ideas, sometimes it confuses.

Sometimes it frightens.

For all its attendant holiness, its leaders sometimes seem caught in a whirling vortex of  charity and unadulterated power that idly dismisses reason and moral logic in favor of pragmatic results.

Some of its popes have done the work of the enemy.

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Alexander VI, one of the notorious Borgias

Others have been saintly.

Most have been ambitious while others mediocre.

The Church is a very human institution— a veritable living contradiction.

I once asked a priest during a Christmas Mission at our parish if he had any advice for someone who had been born into the pre-Vatican Church but came to his full religious maturity during the initial reforms of the Second Vatican Council, called by Pope John XXIII.

I don’t really remember if he answered my question or if any of the 60 other people in attendance could identify with my dilemma but my mere stating the question was enough for me to come to an understanding of my feelings and thought about my relationship to the Catholic Church.

I am alas caught twixt the old and new Catholic Church.

There are many things about my birth church, which is vastly different from my adult church, that I relish.

As a child, rules, the actual law and order of the faith were deeply instilled in me, by habited nuns and serious priests.

Along with the Baltimore Catechism they laid the foundation for my faith.

We all learned the dogma of the faith by rote memory with a diligence and certitude that armed us to face the three major enemies, who competed for our immortal souls–the world, the flesh and the devil.

As Dragnet’s Sergeant Joe Friday might have said, we knew the facts.

Like Joe we knew the facts

I doubt if the same could be said today.

The Church’s teaching on sexual morality was complicated.

Most of our parents excused themselves from telling about the facts of life.

It was just too embarassing for them to broach.

Modesty forced most of them to  shroud their bodies from our view and as an only child I had no siblings who could have explained my contradictory feelings about my own anotomy.

We were taught our bodies were the temples of the Holy Ghost, yet they were also the snares of the devil.

We were warmed about improper touches to ourselves and to others.

Girls were taught to dress modestly—no long pants, though I do remember a few occasions when they wore Bermuda shorts.

Most dirty magazines of the day were, not what anyone would call pornographic but more of the naturalist pulp magazines of nude sunbathers.

In the stash by the high school

I remember a friend, discovering a stash of such magazines in some weeds down by the local public high school.

His widowed mother had assured him he could could look at pictures of naked women as long as he did not get aroused.

To me this was my very first instruction in what I now understand as John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

It was this friend who actually instructed me and a few others in the facts of life.

The God I was taught in those days was also more a God of Justice than a God of Love.

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My first lesson was in the weeds of a high school

I have to admit He was scary, freightening and seemingly elusive.

I remember being yelled at in the Confessional by a priest, who warned me of the powers of Almighty God.

He literally put the fear of eternal damnation within my soul at that moment.

In retrospect, I think that is really unfair to God.

But in a way it did work.

I have kept the faith all these years.

I have avoided most of the near occasions of sins.

After studying under the Jesuits for 11 year, I was able to rationalize those I couldn’t avoid.

I have been faithfully married to the same woman for over 45 years and still look at women in the same appreciative way that I adopted in the bushes at Forest Hills high school.

However the abject legalism did take a toll on my understanding of God’s divine mercy and the Agape side of His unlimited personality.

The early Christians knew the meaning of Agape

For most of my life I have been a habitual worrier who is relieved when things are over, instead of enjoying the joyful moments of my life.

But the new church is different.

The church of love and forgiveness has replaced the church of law and order.

In the Church of divine rules, I had tried to micromanage everything and had left nothing up to God

The new church is the worst nightmare of Doestesky’s Grand Inquistor, who cursed God for making men with a free will and granting them the freedom to practice it.

He cursed God for freedom.

During Holy Hour I have learned to open my soul and and heart in an honest and true way so that my life is more open to His grace.

The priest called my last confession–beautiful.

This would never have been possible in the old church.

I have learned to accept my body as it is and realize that it was made in the image and likeness of God and was not something dirty and offensive

However people still need honest and realistic rules—like the 10 Commandments and Jesus’ perfection of them with the emphasis on loving all other human beings.

The modern ideas of relativism and secularism have infected the culture and with it, in may places the church and its members.

 The modern church has literally thrown the Christ child out with the bath water.

Scandal, indifference and moral confusion abound.

I see many others who do not have that the double-grounding in the faith that I have.

Maybe even old Charlie would agree that this pilgrim has made some progress in his journey to that celestial city.

About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at