by Pat Hickey
April 6, 2023
I am a very profane man. Always have been. From my earliest audio apprehensions and infantile utterances this sinful mortal delighted the curses, maledictions and scatological outpourings from elders and betters, more than cooing and verbal pettings of their betters: e.g., Grandpa Hickey 1958 “Get this shower of bastards out and away from sight!” as opposed to Granny Hickey 1958, “Give us a kiss, sweet lad and here is a shilling for shoveling my porch,”
The rod had more laughs.
My profane nature has done dubious battle with my attraction to the sacred in all things.
I remain conflicted. Knowing that the path to heaven’s gate requires much, much more than good intentions, this hide-bound sinner does battle with limited armor. The result has been a Gethsemane with occasional rest and recuperation at the odd marriage feast of Canaan.
This human dichotomy is the way of all flesh going back to Father Adam’s spinelessness. Mother Eve merely proffered the forbidden fruit. I mean she didn’t break the guy’s arm.
We all bear the sin of Adam and the mark of Cain. Hell, that is what DNA is all about. We pay someone researcher oodles of gelt to find out who we are. We are all conflicted waifs.
This conflicted waif became a pretty good high school English teacher. In one of my Honors offerings at a Catholic school in Kankakee, Illinois, was the text of City of God, by St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo.
The course was called Three Thinkers of the Church: Augustine, Aquinas and Teilhard De Chardin. The students read The Confessions, The City of God, by St. Augustine, The Summa Theologica, by St. Thomas Aquinas and The Divine Milieu, by Pierre Teilhard De Chardin.
I cannot begin to imagine attempting to present these works to the honors students of 2023. The works are difficult, but the students of forty or fifty years ago were better armed with context and experience with challenging texts. That said, the students really worked at understanding two of the great doctors of the Christian faith and the now obscure French genius and paleontologist.
Of the three, my students enjoyed the challenge of St. Augustine’s The City of God. This is a work of 22 Books, or chapters, that present the world as it remains today. The work was a response to charges by Roman philosophers that the sack of Rome by the Visigoths under Alaric in 410 A.D. was proof by the old gods that Christians were impious. The Church was as divided in Augustine’s time as it is today. Augustine himself had once devoted himself to the Manichean religion which held that Jesus had three natures, the Luminous, Jesus the Messiah and the Suffering Jesus.
St. Ambrose of Milan and Augustine’s mother, Monica are credited with Augustine’s conversion to orthodox Christianity which hold Three Persons in One God.
As Bishop of Hippo in Roman North Africa, Augustine maintained this orthodoxy while under siege by the Germanic Vandals. Instead of repudiating his faith in the face of conquest, Augustine doubled down in writing De Civitate contra Paganos (City of God).
Like all great sacred literature from the Ten Commandments to Paul’s Epistles and John’s Revelations, City of God breaks down the numbers for us. Like the Ten Commandments given to Moses ( the first four Commandments deal directly with God; the last six deal directly with Man), City of God’s first ten books refute the claims that Christians were responsible for the collapse of the Roman Empire and the last twelve books make clear the distinction between the City of God and the secular City of Man.
The population of the former, it seems to me, is much smaller than the later.
In 2023, the pews of the City of God are lightly used. Thousands pack the Superbowl, one of our secular moveable feasts, or watch the Oscars, while few hear a sermon about the Samaritan woman giving a thirsty Jesus something to drink, or nod with Simon Peter’s attempt to set up three tents for Jesus, Elijah and Moses. There are all manner and types of explanation for the state of our condition as a society. Let it be that within this society are clear camps…The City of Man and The City of God.
The City of Man is all over the information highway. The City of God is much more reclusive, much less expressive.
Like 5th Century Hippo, my American Midwest is under siege from both coasts. Males, Patriarchs, Rigor, Piety, Caucasians, Patriots, Taxpayers, Business owners, Veterans, Scholars, and Citizens are deplorable, toxic, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, judgmental, sexist and heartless according to compelling narrative du jour.
The WOKE Vandals and Visigoths have sacked the halls of learning, the near empty churches and public forum. If one defends the child in womb, Jane Fonda, The View and The Squad want that one dead. In fact, kill the entire GOP and never get called to task, Barbarism is carte blanch of the Citizens of Man.
My son told a cousin of mine, a contemporary who was woke before it was WOKE, that I am writing for John Kass News. His response was “@#$% John Kass!” as he walked away. By extension, it was “@#$% your Dad!”
City of Man demands silence from all opposing views. The City of Man insists upon universal abortion, the murder of child, at any stage of development. The City of Man is not happy with the United States Supreme Court. In Illinois there is legislation afoot that will punish Women’s Health Centers that do not encourage abortions. The City of Man pays its citizens handsomely. Only last week, my former Illinois State Representative, Fran Hurley, resigned in order to accept an appointment to the Illinois Labor Relations Board. Fran Hurley takes PAC money from Illinois Personal PAC which advocates for the culture of death. The 35th District of Illinois is packed with organized labor leaders and Fran will work for them as hard as she has for the abortion industry in Illinois. Governor J.B. Pritzker calls that “advocating for her community.”
My community takes no coin for abortions. The City of God is populated by people like the late Mother Theresa and Cardinal Francis George. I know one bishop who lives in the City of God and that is Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois. Recently, Bishop Paprocki penned a powerful piece in First Things that out-ed Cardinals who soft-pedal abortion and gay lifestyles as heretics, Heretics they be, The Cardinal of Chicago suppresses the Latin Mass. He is no citizen of the City of God it seems to me.
The City of God is populated by saints who speak truth to power and suffer the consequences. I am a citizen of the State of Indiana and City of Michigan City. I am a profane man who remembers dirty jokes during Father Walter’s homilies at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. But I am not going agree that abortion is health care and will not scratch the horns of Mammon to get me handsome pension.
Hell, I would much rather write a piece for John Kass News,
If you have the time, read St. Augustine’s The City of God. The barbarians are over the walls.
Born November 8, 1952 in Englewood Hospital, Chicago Illinois, Pat Hickey attended Chicago Catholic grammar and high schools, received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Loyola University in 1974, began teaching English and coaching sports at Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee, IL in 1975, married Mary Cleary in 1983, received a Master of Arts in English Literature from Loyola in 1987, taught at La Lumiere School in Indiana from 1988-1994, took a position as Director of Development with Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond, IN and then Leo High School in Chicago in 1996. His wife Mary died in 1998 and Hickey returned with his three children to Chicago’s south side. From 1998 until 2019, it became obvious that Illinois and Chicago turned like Stilton cheese on a humid countertop. In that time, he wrote a couple of books and many columns for Irish American News. When the kids became independent and vital adults, he moved to Michigan City, Indiana, where he job coaches Downs Syndrome and Autistic teens in LaPorte County. He walks to the Michigan City Lighthouse every chance he gets.