Sunday, May 22, 2022

Milestone: 500th Merry Catholic Essay

My producer at radio station WJMJ informed me that this is the 500th “Merry Catholic” essay that I’ve done since beginning this little endeavor almost a decade ago. I’m really amazed that I have come up with 500 different topics to write about, especially since in my entire life I’ve only had about seven original thoughts.

But that’s actually OK. Our Catholic Christian faith is built on the clear and firm revelations from God, in the person of Jesus Christ, which were all spelled out for us during His earthly ministry 2,000 years ago. Everything since that time has merely been a re-telling of those fundamental truths proclaimed by Jesus. Over the years, deeper understandings about many core doctrines have developed, of course, but no new revelations have occurred.

So, I don’t need original thoughts for these weekly essays. I just need to retell or comment on the original thoughts, words, and deeds of Our Lord. And then once in a while, just to keep things interesting, I’ll blend some biblical ideas with modern situations, such as wondering What Would Jesus Do … about the Red Sox’ bullpen? Or how would St. Peter react … if he were a FedEx driver stuck in traffic?

I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since I approached Fr. John Gatzak, who runs the Office of Radio and Television for the Archdiocese of Hartford, and asked him if I might be able to record occasional essays for broadcast on the radio. I vividly remember two things from that initial phone call. First, he asked me, “Are you looking to get paid?” I replied, “No.” And he said, “Oh good. We’re a non-profit operation here.”

Next he asked me, “Do you think you can get someone to sponsor you?” I said, “Um, probably not.” Ten years later it’s obvious I was right. No person or organization has ever expressed even a mild interest in sponsoring my goofy little effort here. 

A week later I visited the studios to record a few essays. Fr. John was pleased with the results, but I noticed he never once suggested that I ought to be on television. He’s a smart guy.
Occasionally, people ask me why I do this. And the answer is simple: because I’m human. We human beings are all the same. As soon as we have an idea that we consider interesting, we have a compulsion to share it with others. I mean, have you seen Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram lately? Have you seen how many podcasts are now available online these days? (The number of regular podcasts seems like at least 30 billion, even though there are less than 8 billion people on earth.)

When I have an idea that I consider interesting, I want to share it. And what could possibly be more interesting than the mysterious and wonderful relationship we humans have with the supernatural Being who created us? It’s an amazing saga that began in the Garden of Eden and will continue for eternity.

With literature and movies, the most compelling stories are the ones about life and death. This means THE most compelling story of all time is the one about life and death and Resurrection. The world will never tire of the amazing stories about Jesus’ life and ministry.
Early on, when I first started writing these Merry Catholic essays, I was worried that I would quickly run out of things to say. But when I realized there are approximately 1200 chapters in the Bible, I knew I’d never be short of material. Now, I just worry that I never have enough spare time to write something coherent. And if it occasionally sounds like I scribbled some notes on the back of a Walmart receipt moments before stepping into the studio, well, sorry, I’ve had some hectic weeks lately.

So, here’s hoping that I can keep doing this for another 10 years. And maybe I can get the New York Yankees to sponsor me … if I promise to stop writing snarky things about them.

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