THE CORRUPT STATE ATTACKS CHRISTIANS Russia Today, although having frequently a liberal, biased secular outlook featuring frequently what I’d describe as “soft porn” stories (that one of ther video journalists said was the most popular was about a Kazakh bodybuilder who married his sex doll or something equally gruesome) does, on the other hand, have articles and op-editorials that are truly worthwhile, providing information unavailable on other platforms. The most troubling but also I feel most heartening was “Christians condemn London police for shutting down ‘unlawful’ Good Friday church service citing Covid & threatening arrest (VIDEO)” that posted on April 3rd. There is a YouTube video here: [embedded content] And from RT: A
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THE CORRUPT STATE ATTACKS CHRISTIANS
Russia Today, although having frequently a liberal, biased secular outlook featuring frequently what I’d describe as “soft porn” stories (that one of ther video journalists said was the most popular was about a Kazakh bodybuilder who married his sex doll or something equally gruesome) does, on the other hand, have articles and op-editorials that are truly worthwhile, providing information unavailable on other platforms. The most troubling but also I feel most heartening was “Christians condemn London police for shutting down ‘unlawful’ Good Friday church service citing Covid & threatening arrest (VIDEO)” that posted on April 3rd. There is a YouTube video here:
And from RT:
A video showing London police stopping a Good Friday service at a Catholic church and warning parishioners to go home or face arrest due to Covid restrictions has provoked outrage from worshippers both at home and abroad.
The footage, which was filmed at the Christ the King Polish Roman Catholic Church, in Balham, on Friday, showed Metropolitan Police officers disrupting the service before announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, this gathering is unfortunately unlawful under the coronavirus regulations we have currently.”
“You are not allowed to meet inside with this many people under the law. At this moment in time, you need to go home,” an officer declared, warning that “failure to comply with this direction” could lead to a £200 fine or even arrest if worshippers refused to give their personal information.
“Though it is Good Friday, and I appreciate you would like to worship, this gathering is unlawful, so please can you leave the building now,” he concluded.
The video went viral around the world, and shocked Christians, other religious people, and atheists alike, who called the incident “disgusting” and “absolutely disgraceful”. [Emphasis added.]
We have seen this before. The state persecution of Christians has returned. https://t.co/rlAix3wcda
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) April 3, 2021
This makes me more sad and angry than I can fully express. It makes me sick to my stomach that these people had their Good Friday service trampled on by the fascists. Once again, history is giving us clues as to what could be to come. Don’t ignore the clues. https://t.co/RhqeH3aQAy
— Abi Roberts 🦁 (@abiroberts) April 3, 2021
Disgusting madness. Christians everywhere must begin resisting this madness. Resist it as a group. Stop waiting around for someone else to. Those cops aren’t gonna have a change of heart. They know what they’re doing is wrong, they just don’t care. https://t.co/ooiXw5cX83
— Omegilla (@Omegilla) April 3, 2021
Of course, Wandsworth Police tweeted their own response:
— Wandsworth Police (@MPSWandsworth) April 3, 2021
To which the Catholic Church that was shut down responded, as RT reported:
The church claimed in its own statement, however, that police “brutally exceeded their powers by issuing their warrant”, and claimed that all “government requirements were met”.
“We believe municipal police officials have been misinformed about the current guidelines for places of worship,” the church said, adding that it regretted, “that the rights of the faithful have been wronged on such an important day for every believer, and that our worship has been profaned”.
According to UK government coronavirus guidelines, “Communal worship or prayer can be attended by as many people as the place of worship can safely accommodate in a way which complies with Covid-19 secure guidance and the law.”
The regulations say people must exercise social distancing, wear masks, avoid mixing with other households, or book a time slot to worship online.
Why did I find this article both horrible and heartening at the same time? The horror is obvious, of the actions of arrogant, godless government employees each acting like a modern day lunatic Nero persecuting Christians; yet you cannot fail to to see the outrage and all the support from people who were not Catholic, not even Christians—including atheists—who were appalled at the conduct of the police and supported the rights of people to exercise their rights of freedom to worship as they see fit, not to mention Jews and other denominations that rallied to defend the Polish Catholics.
WHEN CHRISTIANS SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER, NO MATTER THEIR DENOMINATION
If the Ecumenical movement, which I’ve written about on LewRockwell.com in the past, means something sinister, that is the creation of a new religion—in effect an ersatz Christianity without Jesus Christ at its core, in fact promoting his absence—perhaps a better word should be used to describe good relations between individuals of different denominations and doctrines; I’d guess Lew Rockwell himself could coin it. Regarding both the Orthodox and Catholics (conservatives) response to Ecumenism, from the link above on the movement (which is not https so your browser/security software might deny access or ask for permission to continue), presents a traditional, conservative Orthodox perspective, so please, if you are Latin (Roman) Catholic or Protestant, take no offense at any conclusions; yet I hope this perspective is helpful, and note the author is highly critical of the “Orthodox” in the United States:
On the other hand, for most of the Christian denominations participating in the Ecumenical Movement the means for union is something very different, and completely unacceptable to the Orthodox. The Ecumenical Movement has its roots in the frustration of European Christians who were fed up with their history of nationalistic goals and wars which were all too often fought in the name of God. Their answer was to establish in the secular arena an atmosphere of mutual tolerance and respect for men of differing faiths. To support this within the religious sphere they sought to establish a methodology for minimizing those doctrinal and dogmatic differences that turned brother against brother and cousin against cousin in bloody European wars.
The philosophical underpinning to their methodology was to postulate what is know as the “branch theory” of Christian denominations. This theory proposes that all of the Christian churches evolved from the same basic root, or trunk, and thus are essentially all one. Being all of one common source, the various churches can coexist and flourish side by side in mutual respect. The resultant Ecumenical Movement is predominantly a Protestant fabrication, since neither the Roman Catholic nor the Orthodox Churches could ever have recognized their breakaway ecclesiological entities as having remained faithful to the original dogmas and teachings. [Emphasis added.] Instead of regarding them as branches that sprouted from the authentic trunk, they see them as branches which were broken off from the True Vine. United only in their “protest” against the hierarchical ecclesiology and dogmatic theology of the Roman Catholic Church (which herself is heretical and schismatic from the Orthodox church), the Protestant denominations must necessarily accept as common ground the fact that they differ in belief but are united in the desire to coexist peacefully.
There is no true or real intent on their part to be unified in doctrine and dogma, but rather they seek only to find some lowest common denominator of belief which all of the factious Protestant denominations can accept. Those Orthodox who are involved in the Ecumenical Movement are essentially trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Orthodoxy is about the fullness of truth as revealed within, and maintained by, the Body of Christ which is the Orthodox Church.
The Ecumenical Movement is about eclectically assembling a hodge-podge of disparate elements and reducing the resultant stew into a couple of generally acceptable phrases with no more substance than the modern media “sound-bite.” Curiously, it is cradle-Orthodox who are most likely to become involved in the “Ecumenical Movement.” [Emphasis added.] To the extent that some of these represent the immigrant Orthodox, this effort can be regarded as an attempt to be accepted as part of the ecclesiastical establishment in America.
In my experience, many Catholics—although when younger I was not nominally religious in the least—were good friends, altough as with all people, many could be cruel. In fact, years ago, at the job that I obtained that I discuss below, there was a lovely, loving and exceedingly kind Catholic woman—let me call her Rose—who was exceptionally devout; she would always found the time to pray during her lunch hour (when we were then allowed a full lunch hour) at a nearby church. Some of her beliefs I thought odd—especially on the existence of the devil, and probably my attitude at the time was closer to Walter Block’s comment I remember reading a long time ago at LewRockwell.com, and I am unable to quote it verbatim, but I think he thought the idea of the devil—and God too, perhaps—ludicrous; he had no need for any forces influencing humanity other than forces of nature. Well, truly, in my understanding, Jesus Christ is a Libertarian in the sense that for those who desire to have faith, to trust Him, to believe, He wants no one to go to Him by compulsion, that is to say not by force, but by choice. At this time of my writing, I don’t know what happened to Rose; after she retired many years ago, I left her a voice mail at her home—very near to a Catholic church, which had an Adoration Chapel (as I recall the term but I might be wrong), where she’d go to pray daily—but sadly, she never called me back or never got the message I’d left; I thought it best not to try again if in fact her wish was not to communicate, and perhaps my not persisting was a mistake. At the time, I was still ignorant and a sinner who sinned without knowing my actions were sinful.
In my ignorance and foolishness, when I didn’t trust her opinions on Harry Potter and its corrupting promotion to children of witchcraft and describing actual occult practices, when the topic came up for casual conversation in our break room at lunch, or her discussing devil worshipers stealing Catholic communion wafers for sick satanic rites, I just responded calmly to Rose I had no idea such things were possible. In fact, I didn’t believe her remarks about people who actually worshiped the devil at all!
I would like to make the point now as clearly as I can that I’m not an authority by any means when it comes to Scripture or the nature of Christianity, merely a repentant sinner seeking the truth and excited to inform others when I find out things that I believe are inspiring and wishing to share the “good news.” I only ask forbearance and hope I do no harm, based on recent books and writings I’ve discovered. I’ve done research, and I offer my thoughts when I’m astonished that I’ve found an explanation or book that has developed or clarified ideas I’d already held, if through a glass darkly, in my own humble searching and attempting to understand, and so share in the hope what I’ve found might help those seeking out God (in His form for the Christians as a Trinity).
Actually, as an aside, I’d give my analogy of my own invention how each of us probably has a Triune nature—something I searched for on the Internet and couldn’t confirm—but this probably would offend everyone and I’d be called out for being a heretic or ignoramus but here goes: the (Orthodox concept) of the Heart, the Psyche and the Body are a trinity. Each acts together in a unity; I’d say Freud’s corruption and misinterpretation is the ego, superego, and Id. I got this idea from reading a PDF file I already discussed in a past article: Theosis, from this link, it’s the first Adobe Acrobat file on the left (English.) Yet when I searched for either trinitarian or human beings having a Triune nature, I found nothing.
I just reinvented the wheel, perhaps by the Grace of God I found this as I was writing and searching; I guess I was on the right track without knowing it, using the pamphlet on Theosis, here’s the relevant text from Orthodox Wiki defining Nous:
Nous (adj. noetic) in Orthodox Christianity is the eye of the soul. Just as the soul of man, is created by God, man’s soul is intelligent and noetic. St. Thalassios wrote that God created beings “with a capacity to receive the Spirit and to attain knowledge of Himself; He has brought into existence the senses and sensory perception to serve such beings.”  Eastern Orthodox Christians hold that God did this by creating mankind with intelligence and noetic faculties. Angels have intelligence and nous, whereas men have reason, nous and sensory perception. This follows the idea that man is a microcosm and an expression of the whole creation or macrocosmos; it is through the healed and corrected nous and the intelligence that man knows and experiences God.
In this belief, soul is created in the image of God. Since God is Trinitarian, Mankind is Nous, Word and Spirit. [Emphasis added.] The same is held true of the soul (or heart): it has nous, word and spirit. To understand this better first an understanding of St. Gregory Palamas’s teaching that man is a representation of the trinitarian mystery should be addressed.
This holds that God is not meant in the sense that the Trinity should be understood anthropomorphically, but man is to be understood in a triune way. Or, that the Trinitarian God is not to be interpreted from the point of view of individual man, but man is interpreted on the basis of the Trinitarian God. And this interpretation is revelatory, not merely psychological and human. This means that it is only when a person is within the revelation, as all the saints lived, that he can grasp this understanding completely (see theoria). [Emphasis added.]
The second presupposition is that mankind has and is composed of nous, word and spirit like the trinitarian mode of being. Man’s nous, word, and spirit are not hypostasis or individual existences or realities, but activities or energies of the soul. [Whereas] in the case with God or the Persons of the Holy Trinity each are indeed hypostases. So these three components of each individual man are ‘inseparable from one another’ but they do not have a personal character” when in speaking of the being that is mankind.
1. Philokalia, v. 2, St. Thalassios, “On Love, Self-Control, and Life in Accordance with the Intellect,” Part IV, 13.
Honestly, I’d have to research more on the above to understand its full meaning, but I believe it’s something significant yet I emphasize in my opinion it is more important for us to learn about our human nature and not struggle so much to attempt to comprehend the infinite, incomprehensible God, our Creator.
Are Trials Sent by God to Bring Us Closer to Him
I’d also like to answer those who opine (on religious sites, books or other ways) or say that trials and pain are sent by God to bring you closer to Him; yes, perhaps for one with faith in God, that effect might be accomplished. I read on The Saker’s site any Orthodox (if I understood his writing and my memory isn’t faulty) Christian who goes to any other denomination church or a synagogue can be excommunicated by the (his?) Orthodox church! But if such actions of suffering were God’s will, and someone you know is suffering pain and grief—like my poor Jewish boss years ago who’d lost his father after a long battle to dementia, or an Asian Baptist friend having a memorial service at the funeral home for her husband who died of cancer—how could I not attend these funerals or services and offer comfort even if these people are outside my “faith”? How can I be a good Samaritan, who was truly (in Orthodox and Catholic doctrine Jesus Christ our Lord and God as well as a guide for ourselves on how to become like God) by staying away from anyone in need and not offering a small modicum of comfort? I think we should remember that religion at its worse very much manifests itself as a state having the worse qualities of a government, with riches and a hierarchy and leaders and dogmas that I believe can have the potential to pull individuals away from Jesus Christ’s core teachings, in his actions.
Now even the Orthodox faith, which should by nature be conservative and consistent in her beliefs, is fragmented along ethnic lines—for example, Ukrainian, Georgian, Greek, Russian Orthodox churches, especially the first three fighting the Russians as I’ve discussed on LewRockwell.com in the past, although perhaps instigated by Washington—just as there are Catholic churches for Poles or Italians or Irish in the West—same faith, I suppose, but gatherings and churches along ethnic and national lines, a separation that might not be for the best; I am not judging, just considering.
Yet in America, if not the majority there are a great number of people who tend to get along and help one another, despite their differences in worship or absence of religious faith—for I believe even if a person is an atheist, this is not an obstacle that can be overcome for leading a good life, or perhaps I should say, not anything completely insurmountable unless the atheist makes it so, e.g. the militant anti-Christian atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Gore Vidal, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, etc.
Interestingly, what confirmed my bias against pain being sent from God was this recent Op-Ed on RT about Michelle Obama, titled, “Michelle Obama’s ‘pandemic is great blessing’ comment reveals she sees the poor as character-building fodder for the privileged.” The author, Helen Buyniski, quotes from Ms. Obama’s revised book:
The Kindle snippet of the new version of ‘Becoming’ on Amazon.com ends with a chilling window into the future FLOTUS’ childhood, as Obama describes how she preferred to play with her dolls (and borrow her brother’s without asking). A typical childhood play activity takes on an alarming tinge in the mind of the budding megalomaniac: “The point was that the dolls and the blocks needed me to give them life, and I dutifully gave it to them, imposing one personal crisis after another.”
- “Like any good all-powerful ruler, I was there to see them suffer and grow.”
I am very much aware of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. quoting Aeschylus after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his wisdom is very appropriate to our times now. But note that the quotation, from Edith Hamilton’s translation, leads to advice to take Christian action.
I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.
In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black—aconsidering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible—you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization—black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.
Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love—a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
To the contrary on that suffering comes from God, from the site OrthoChristian.com, this article, “Our World At War: Part 1. A Warfare Theodicy” comes to an excellent conclusion I believe, a conclusion both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis reached in their fictional works (as I’ve written about in my past pieces for LewRockwell.com):
“Our world is at war. Reflecting on the September 11, 2001 atrocities of 18-years ago, they were but another manifestation of the cosmic conflict—the combat zone—in which we live. When the attacks of September 11 occurred, some misguided commentators said the events were part of God’s divine plan. These same commentators would also have us believe that when disease or harm befalls someone, it is within God’s plan. Do not listen to anyone who tells you such a thing…
“The big difference between the Old and New Testaments is that instead of dragons, serpents, raging waters, and oblique references to Satan, Jesus specifically refers to Satan as the ‘ruler of this world’ (Jn 12.31, 14.30, 16.11). He is the cause of all the evils we endure. The Holy Apostles John and Paul also confirm that Satan is the power of this world (1 Jn 5.19; 2 Cor 4.4).
“Jesus, while acknowledging the evil princehood of Satan and his legion of followers (Mt 9.34, 25.41), tells us that we, too, must battle Satan (Mk 3.27). Because this world, rightfully, belongs to its Creator, we, as Jesus did, must fight to give it back to the Father. This is what Jesus was doing when He was teaching, exorcising demons, and healing the ill. By His death and resurrection, Jesus was attaining a victory over Satan and his legions by defeating the very end that Satan had brought to man.”
And let me speak a little about love of those who do not share the same doctrines yet understand the heart of Jesus Christ’s teaching of the key commandment—to love God and thy neighbor, being any one in need. When I was out of work and struggling to find a job decades ago, a letter came from Saint Jude Children’s Hospital; Danny Thomas was alive and composed this mailing. He told his story of founding his hospital for sick children. In Danny Thomas’s letter, he said how he gave his last seven dollars in a church praying for a miracle since he was without a job and completely broke, and promised to God that he’d build his hospital for children, and had no idea until later after he gave his last seven dollars that it was to the patron Saint of Lost Causes, a Saint to both the Orthodox and the Catholics, Saint Jude. And he wrote if you’re facing a crisis as I was, please, send as little as seven dollars—that his success came after he gave the money and then fulfilled his vow to God and built the hospital—and I did just as he asked, and I got a wonderful job after being unemployed for a long time. I’ve always given to charities no matter the denomination or faith, and and helped people, regardless of their beliefs or lack of, and I do not brag or boast telling this, but just attempt to say I think this is the right thing to do—so many alleged billionaire philanthropists “misantrhopists,” hating others who do not share their faith, race, and agenda, and wreaking havoc on the world while be “blessed” and “praised” by the followers of the evil one. And perhaps now with even the Orthodox admiring Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, praying he’s not ex-communicated by Pope Francis, praying for a bishop like him for those of the Orthodox faith (see the site Orthodox Reflections), so I believe we might be in a time of opportunity and hope, where if most of Orthodox doctrine considers Jesus Christ as the Head of His Church, which are his people; when I wrote Christ’s Soldier, I wrote of a man with odd doctrine (perhaps to Catholics and Orthodox) but he did indeed work selfless miracles that saved lives because of his love for God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit—and his love for his enemies. I don’t think God cares so much about doctrine, more about our actions, and I do confess, living in the world, it’s difficult to put love of God and being a decent human being first. The world now is any ways less conducive to belief than the time of the Roman persecutions of Christians.
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
I talk too much now so that I can discuss the wonderful parable in the Gospel of Saint Luke and here it is:
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Blessed Theophylact, writing in his commentary on the Gospel of Luke over one thousand years ago, explained that the story is a parable to teach those who show no mercy and give no alms what punishments await them; the Rich Man has no name because “such a man is not worthy to be remembered by God by name,” while the poor man is named because the names of the righteous are inscribed in the book of life. While Lazarus suffered without help, enduring his torment without anger towards God, because the angels themselves took him when he died. He comments the rich man, even before he died and his body was buried, was dead, because his soul was dead, and by using the term “was buried,” the Lord implies the soul of the rich man “received its portion in the lowest and darkest place.” By showing the rich man in the bosom of Abraham, for he showed hospitality to strangers, seeing Lazarus in a blessed state the Lord awakened in the rich man the realization of all he lost due to his cruelty. Abraham responds gently, and Blessed Theophylact explains the use of the Greek apalabes, thou receivedst, and not the simpler elabes; because the first word means those things which are his due.
Then the rich man, failing in his supplication for himself, then asks for his brethren. And Abraham replies those who haven’t heeded the scriptures—thinking them merely stories and not teachings—will not be moved by any resurrection of the dead, because the devil by trickery can achieve this.
Should then we now who read scripture interpret this as giving away all our wealth to the poor, if we have wealth, or is there more to understand? Again, realizing I am not remotely any spiritual authority, and I don’t think I contradict a scholar on the level of Blessed Theophylact, I understand this parable not just from the perspective of handing out checks to strangers, but when one sees someone suffering, and does not offer a modicum of help, and it doesn’t have to be money, just any act of compassion to alleviate that person’s suffering—and how many of us have done this, the simplest thing of all, even for strangers?
This is why I want to tell part of the story that moved me to tears of Frank Sinatra’s real life test like the unamed rich man, when he had his own moment so close to this parable. I know the late Mr. Sinatra as an immensely talented singer, actor, entertainer, but I thought he was someone who loved worldly pleasures and fun and fame and attention. How little did I know.
In the beautiful A CHRISTMAS STORY: “Hey Greek, you got that old Chevy outside?” which really moved me to tears. Let me share some of it and I hope you read the entire story and save it, in case someday it’s removed from the Internet:
It was one night back in the mid-70s, around Christmas time, and as always Jimmy Weston’s supper club in New York City was crowded. Customers were enjoying the music of Tommy Furtado’s band and Tommy himself singing Christmas carols. We had the place decorated for the holidays and the snowy weather outside added to the festive spirit of the season.
Before midnight, Frank Sinatra walked in with his best friend and trusted companion, Jilly Rizzo. This wasn’t a surprise: it was expected, because when Sinatra was in town he would always stop by for a night cap before calling it a night. After warm greetings and a hug, I escorted Sinatra and Jilly to Sinatra’s favorite table, number seventeen. It was a round corner table near my desk, where I could keep an eye on things, and we always kept it reserved for Sinatra while he was in town.
Later. after a few drinks, Sinatra decided to have pizza at his favorite joint. “Hey Greek, you got that old Chevy outside?” he asked me.
“Yes, it’s outside,” I said.
He stood up, peeled off a couple hundred dollar bills from his wad, and gave it to the waiter. “Greek, you just got yourself drafted,” he said. “Let’s go.”
I asked our captain George Pappas to take charge while I was gone and the three of us walked outside, where Sinatra’s limo was waiting. He told his driver to wait there and we got into my Chevy. It was bitter-cold, snowing heavily, and everything was covered with snow—although driving is not a problem on the streets of New York City: the snow melts fast from the steam coming out the subway grates.
“Where we going?” I asked.
“Uptown,” Jilly said.
We drove uptown on Park Avenue until we reached Harlem, and made a beeline for First Avenue between 117th and 118th Streets, to Patsy’s Pizzeria. It was then I realized that it wasn’t a good idea to arrive there in a limo in the wee hours. I parked in front of the place and went in with Sinatra and Jilly.
We were greeted by Carmela, the owner, and a one-hundred percent amazing Italian woman. When she saw Frank, she rushed to him with open arms.
“Frankie, sweetheart, it’s good to see you!”
She threw her arms around him and gave him a big hug–but when she pulled away Sinatra’s overcoat was now white with flour from her apron. Embarrassed, Carmela started talking fast in Italian-as though cursing herself-while trying to brush off Sinatra’s coat.
Don’t worry about that darling,” Sinatra said. “Just make us your delicious pizza.”
Carmela rushed away–and soon came back with a hot pie. As we started to eat, Sinatra looked out of the window and saw two homeless guys staring at us. They looked cold and very hungry. He waved them in and he ordered pizza for them. Soon more guys showed–and soon the place was packed with Sinatra’s impromptu and ravenous guests—and he ordered pizza for all of them.
Meanwhile, Jilly and I finished our slices, but Sinatra had only taken one bite of his: his eyes were tearing up from watching these poor hungry guys gobbling down the hot, steaming slices as fast as they could. That got Jilly’s attention. He tried to make a joke to divert Sinatra’s attention.
“You see Frank,” he said, “you’re not as famous as you think you are. No one even recognized you here.”
“If you were as hungry and cold as they are, you wouldn’t recognize me, either,” Frank said.
We stayed and ate with these poor guys putting away the pizza faster than Carmela could make it and it was a magical night: only Sinatra couldn’t hold back the tears.
So finally Jilly stood up. “It’s time to go now,” he said.
We got up, and Frank pulled out his wad of hundreds and gave it to Carmela: all of it, without counting it. “What the hell, it’s Christmas,” he said. “Keep the pizza coming through Christmas, darling,” he told Carmella. “I’ll send you more money, and keep everything under wraps.”
Did Frank Sinatra act like the unamed “Rich Man”? Was it just a question of handing out money to suffering poor people, but actually loving them, and shedding tears and trying to alleviate their pain? Do you think Frank Sinatra’s denomination mattered, or that he understood in that moment the very heart of Jesus Christ’s teaching to us? Do you have to become a “socialist” to be a good Christian, which was expressed to me by a former friend I thought was a devout believer?
As I write, I’m no theologian; I’m a fool but not a holy one. I am searching for answers and the time for all of us on this world is finite. But in our time, whether it be short or long, we have the ability to love one another. And I believe that love, that comes from our Creator, and taught to us by His Son, is a spark within each of us, and that if we are humble, if we feel, if we care, if we simply love, we can become so close to God. Now is a time of great troubles for the world; but love remains, strong as ever. And I truly think for all the bad that is happening around us the light of God might never shine so bright now as in any time in history.
God bless you all, even those who do not yet believe or understand.