Monday, May 28, 2007

Personal Asides: “Hit Parade” Trivia Winners…”Opus Dei” Will be the Salvation of the Modern Church


Hit Parade Winner.

Mike Buck has them almost perfect…almost. He got #1 right: The TV cast featured Dorothy Collins; Snooky Lanson; Gisele McKenzie and Russell Arms. He even can call McKenzie’s real name…which I didn’t know, Marie LaFouche. Incidentally, I went to the search engine to check but couldn’t confirm it—but Mike’s memory is usually perfect.

He got #2 right. The TV bandleader was Raymond Scott. And that Scott was married to: Dorothy Collins.

He missed very slightly on #3. The announcer for radio and TV was Andre Baruch. Mike had it Andre LaRouche. He’s thinking of the far-right, far-left wacko who runs for president every four years.

Mike nailed #4: The most memorable feature of the TV show was its opening with the voice of a tobacco auctioneer.

He easily called #5. “Your Hit Parade” changed to “Your Lucky Strike Hit Parade.”

He got conceptually the answer to #6: what killed “Hit Parade” Three words: Rock and Roll.

And wondrously he got #7: what caused the show to be laughed out of existence when a Hit Parade singer dismally sang a song that was identified with a fast-rising phenomenon? This is tough. It was, as Mike described, Snooky Lanson singing Elvis Presley’s “You’re Nothin’ but a Hound Dog.” And Mike signed off with the answer to a question I didn’t ask: the “His Parade” windup song: “So Long for a While.”

In return for an almost perfect score, I bought Mike a cup of coffee where I usually see him after 11 a.m. Sunday Mass at St. John Cantius, at the Windy City Café, the gourmet’s delight. (Incidentally, Mike: this special trivia is just for you because you’re obviously a “Hit Parade” expert. The bandleader, Raymond Scott, changed his name so as not to be confused with his more famous brother who was also a band leader. What was his brother’s name? No search engine help, please. All right, I’ll tell you. Mark Warnow who had a big name then. Hence his kid brother chose Raymond Scott.

Steady contributor Frank Nofsinger got one right, one wrong and gave up after that—but I’d buy him a coffee at the Windy City anyhow were he to come here from Connecticut: he listed Betty Grable and her husband Harry James.

On the earlier Terry Trivia, WPD has it right: The last president who smoked cigarettes in the White House was FDR with a long cigarette holder. Other presidents…Reagan, LBJ and Eisenhower...smoked before the White House but kicked it before election. JFK smoked an occasional cigar.

Salvation of the Church.

Let this fallible believer affirm: sometimes irreverent, irascible, not unduly scrupulous and, sadly, not always meticulously proficient in Catholic obedience, that at this time of crisis for the Church which I love, “Opus Dei” is and will be its salvation. We in my family just observed the high school graduation of Kaitlyn, one of our 13 grandchildren, the graduation observed with Mass, a homily and distribution of diplomas—followed by a Gala attended by Lillian and Kaitlyn’s father, mother and little brother Joseph (which I am sorry to have missed because of my WLS radio gig).

In another city, our elder daughter, Mary, the mother of eight and her husband Tom receive extraordinary spiritual nourishment because of the prelature as have their children. Mary is a “supernumerary” which title is given to those who work hard within the prelature but lead traditional family lives and have secular careers. (The other three classes of member—numeraries, associates and numerary-assistants are celibate and often live in special centers). Lillian and I are “cooperators” which is nothing more than people who do what they can to help as foot-soldiers in the mission of this great organization whose credo is: everyone is called to be a saint and ordinary life can be a path to sanctity. If they can make me a saint, God bless them: my faults are so numerous and obvious as to make it very difficult. But that they have not given up on me is evidence of its divine nature.

“Opus Dei”…literally “God’s work”…was founded in Spain in 1928 by Josemaria Escriva, a priest who was raised to the level of saint by John Paul II. In 1982 it was made a personal prelature—with jurisdiction not linked to one geographic area but extending to all persons in “Opus Dei” wherever they are. Some ex-members and certain liberal Catholics have argued that “Opus Dei” is cult-like, secretive and highly controlling. In fact the novel “The Da Vinci Code” projects a weird scenario that its “monks” are in league with fomenters of secrecy of the early Church to hide the fact that Mary Magdalen became the bride of Jesus Christ and that the two had a child, starting a blood-line that culminated…voila!...with a beautiful French secret-service-like agent. Well, there are no monks in “Opus Dei” and the theory that this secret was hidden for 2,000 years became a yarn that unfolded for the pecuniary enrichment of the writer, one Dan Brown. The yarn is of great interest to anti-Catholic bigots, to liberationists and feminists who see male-centered conspiracy for two millennia to keep women from realizing their true potential in the Church i.e. becoming priests.

Just as the Jesuits were formed to help the Church propound a counter-reformation…an Order which has fallen, sadly, into some disuse by the influence of modernism (take a look at the anti-Catholic, secular and sacrilegious practices at most “Jesuit” universities including Marquette in Milwaukee and Loyola in Chicago) “Opus Dei” fills a great need today when the church is beset with bad influences outside and in. It has 87,000 members in more than 80 countries—60% in Europe, 35% in the Americas. It runs splendid educational centers throughout the world—in one of which I taught a few summers ago…taught disadvantaged kids from the inner city (I decided I was a failure at that particular type of teaching: far too old to tolerate the natural boyish pranks at large in the inner city; so I retreated back to teach college). “Midtown” is a school available to the poor for a pittance and the education…renewing and refreshing what the public schools don’t do well…is superb.

Then there is “Metro” for girls; “Lexington” which is a hospitality training center on the South Side. These are only a few of 608 social initiatives, schools and university residences, technical or agricultural training, universities, business schools and hospitals. The University of Navarre in Pamplona, Spain is a corporate work of “Opus Dei” which has been judged as one of the major private universities of the world. Its business school, IESE, has been rated one of the best in the world by the “Financial Times” and the “Economist Intelligence Unit.”

The best exposition that “Opus Dei” has going for it is a book written by John Allen of the liberal “National Catholic Reporter.” He examines the criticisms the prelature has received in a volume that is not an official history of the Work by any means—and has turned out a first-rate read and exposition. I told more than one “Opus Dei” priest that the book ought to be placed in the Work’s book racks at its many fine retreats—coming as it does from a progressive and independent writer who is by all odds the most informed journalist on Catholic activities in the world—and one who has been a critic of some variants of Catholic orthodoxy in the past…not so with “Opus Dei.”

Why I think “Opus Dei” will prove to be the salvation of the Church

is because the Church is suffering self-imposed wounds struck by careless prelates, weak prelates and those who desperately wish to be regarded well by the secularist media…who have in turn ordained weak, sometimes scandalously decadent priests. There are few resources to which one can turn by “Opus Dei” and Lillian and I will be grateful to the end of our lives that it exists. You cannot imagine, if you are not Catholic, how so-called “Catholic education” has been traduced—most seriously in the elementary and secondary schools where Catholic formation must be impressed. To counter this, “Opus Dei” has created a great many wonderful schools that match the rigorous training in Catholicity that we oldsters had in the golden years of the Church (prior to post-Vatican II chaos) with superb intellectual and educational resources. It is to one of these schools that Kaitlyn graduated from…an all-girls school, “The Willows”…and to which her younger brother Joseph will attend…an all-boys school, “Northridge.”

While the battle inside the Church goes on to reclaim the institutions that have been lost to secularism i.e. DePaul and Loyola…a battle is being won every day by “Opus Dei” to form new institutions and re-sanctify old ones. That is why “Opus Dei” was under attack by scatological novelists and fiction writers—attacks that melt away under the burning laser light of truth.


  1. While I have a guarded respect for Opus Dei, I was impressed by the solid course of study at Willows Academy back inthe early 1990's. As part of an Independant Schools for the Central States (ISACS) team it was my pleasure to sit in on classes; conduct interviews with Kids, Parents and Staff and found Willows Academy to be a top-flight school. Hands Down.

  2. Opus Dei is the "whipping boy" today that the Jesuits once were.

    A certain priest I know once shared with me that a young man from a non-Catholic University came to Confession to him and all he would say was that he was impressed with the holiness of the penitent. I mention this because he went on to say that the penitent was a member of Opus Dei.
    Five years ago this same priest was asked by a young couple to do thier wedding Mass at St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago. Some of his liberal friends told him how badly he would be treated by the Opus Dei priests at this parish. The priest said he had never been treated better. When they are all attacking in this way, OPUS DEI must be doing something right.
    And Thomas, I think your evaluation of OPUS DEI might just be right.
    Opus Dei is under attack. The Legionaries of Christ are under attack.
    The Frnciscan Friars of the Renewal are under attack. The Nashville Dominican Sisters are under attack. The Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Echarist come under fire. All of these groups are solidly Catholic and are growing. I wonder why?

  3. Roger B. Olds, Sr.June 1, 2007 at 12:20 PM

    We agree!! We have self published a new children's catechisms series for 3 to 8 year olds. The Embers Catholic Opus Dei school in Park Ridge purchase 26 set for Pre-K children last year. Expanding into Kindergarden, 1, 2 grades for next year. "Question For God"
    We would love to have you and your wife take a look at our series to be used as a supplement to texts currently being used. USCCB APPROVED