Although I write an autobiography, the leitmotif of the work is love and hate-agape love, purified love, the love that emanates from the Godhead, not the meretricious and salacious emotion of the secular masses. I show how Satan can surreptitiously gain entrance to the unsuspecting soul. The Satan of whom I speak is not a myth, a comedic figure dressed in red, carrying a huge fork, seeking someone to devour. No, he is an actuality. He is as real as your good angel. His purpose is to control your will, to limit your freedom, and to lead you to perdition. I show you the secret of happiness-deep, joyous happiness anchored in Jesus Christ and leading you to eternal salvation. I point out to you how to live according to biblical injunctions in order to achieve a personal relationship with Jesus.
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I Am the Captain of My Soul
By Edward Greger
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Edward Greger
All rights reserved.
My wife, Alice, maintained that everyone wears a mask: that behind this protective shield, they are able to conceal their moral, physical and spiritual limitations. The fear, behind the fear, is that some guileless character, like me, would come along and savagely rip off the mask, exposing their frailties. She considered me a danger to her, and to humanity, because I was guileless. She claimed that she had never met anyone without guile; anyone who does not wear a mask. She predicted that people would perceive me, as a threat, and shun me. She said that my life would be replete with misunderstands, as a consequence. She was so right.
At that time, John Powell S.J. wrote a book, "Why I Am Afraid to Tell You Who I Am," a best seller. Coming home from work, one day, Alice tossed the book onto the table where I was studying and said: "Why didn't you write this book? We could have had some money. This is all that you have been preaching over the years." Playing on the same theme, Powel later followed with "Why Am I Afraid to Love," and Eric Berne with "The Games People Play," added to the pastime of self-analysis.
Lying lips are repellant to the Lord, Proverbs 12: 22, so that when you lie for any reason whatsoever, you are walking with Satan, for the devil is a liar and the father of lies, John 8:44. Those who wear masks are, of necessity, liars, for their modus operandi is equivocation, ambiguity, and mental reservation. I would assume this is Satan's favorite gate of entrance into man's soul. Lying is so appealing to all of us.
Once Satan possesses your soul, he hardens your heart and thrusts you into darkness; you are going "up" a "down" elevator, your prayers, devotions are not reaching Jesus, because Jesus is not in darkness. You are now a spiritual casualty, and do not realize it, because you have been insensitized by the culture. Your condition affirms that you are immature, for, if you were mature, you would recognize your entrapment. Pride is in the driver's seat and frustrates your every attempt to rise above your spiritual blindness: "they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them." Eph.4:18.
Now you must mobilize the graces, at your disposal, to beg the Holy Spirit to give you the humility to crush this pride. You must come out of the darkness and into the light. Your battle will be difficult, because the present day Catholic has amalgamated with the pagan world, accepting its values and following its guidelines. That is the world of darkness. You must exit it. You must walk in the light. Only then will you overcome pride.
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness. But will have the light of life." John 8:12.
Jesus said, "Known the truth and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32. You cannot be made free hiding behind a mask. The fear that people will learn some unpleasant facts about you, if you are completely honest, is a satanic stratagem. You must recognize this, and thwart his efforts. It is impossible to have a meaningful relationship with another human being, if you wear a mask. It is a ridiculous concept to think that you can relate to God, in that fashion, to God who knows our innermost thoughts.
"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." Jeremiah 1:5. "God knows your heart; what this world honors is detestable in the sight of God." Luke 11:15.
On the secular level, I have always loved the poem Invictus, by William Ernest Henley:
"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."
The conviction that I must persevere seemed innate, so that I was naturally attracted by the Greek Myth of Sisyphus, who shared my survival instincts. Old Sisyphus was condemned, for eternity, to push a big rock to the top of the hill, only to see it roll down again. I loved his enforced determination which later would fortify me in the spiritual life, for the myth demonstrates the power of the will in regulating our emotions, in controlling our lives.
While on summer break from the seminary, I learned through, Bill Conners, an old friend of the Greger family who was teaching at a Jesuit high school that there was an opening. I applied and was hired. That year, I lived with Aunt Stella, my father's sister, close to downtown Philadelphia. I had no car. I was forced to take out a one hundred dollar loan from the bank, in order to buy a suit for the coming scholastic year. I fit very well in the Jesuit system of teaching, except for the first year. As June approached, one of my fellow teachers asked me if I was ready for the Province Exams. "What are the Province Exams," I innocently asked?
I learned that the Province Exam was a competitive exam, among several Jesuit high schools in adjacent states. Classes were matched according to levels, for example, all A classes against A Section students, and D classes against D section students. The teachers of these students were being evaluated, although, ostensibly, that was not the purpose of the exam. My classes bombed. I remember, in particular, one question that nearly all of my students missed. "What is the verse meter in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar"? The answer: Iambic Pentameter. My classes finished low.
Fortunately, I was not fired. At the end of the year, I went into the office, asked for and was given copies of the exams for the past ten years. From that point, my classes scored exceedingly high; my D Sections, often, outscoring A classes. When my wife, for economic reasons, urged me to leave after six years, the Principal, made every effort to persuade me to remain. I was a born Jesuit teacher. Like the expression I often used later, "We fit." I left to go into the Public School System, but my heart remained at St. Joseph's Prep.
It was, at the Prep, that I touched the wings of fame. I taught Latin to John Foley, a brilliant young man who knew as much of the language as I. It was necessary to be wary. He invited me to his Consecration as bishop in Philadelphia. Later, he would become a Cardinal of the Church, and a narrator of Vatican affairs for EWTN. I wrote him a congratulatory letter which he acknowledged, with some warm memories of his own.
Then, there was John Bateman that slender young man, who as Henry Gibson, on the show "Laugh In" with a flower in hand, and a vacuous stare, recited in monotonic cadence, a humorous ditty. He later appeared in movies. John was a funny guy in class. I was not surprised by his choice of a career.
And last, but not least as they are wont to say, there was Joe Graedon from New Hope Solebury High School who became internationally known in the pharmaceutical field. Mrs. Graedon, Joe's mother and I held frequent conferences concerning Joe's progress in the French language. She was a very caring mother and a great motivator. Joe and I renewed our acquaintance a few years ago.
I started teaching in the public school system in 1954. On August the 20th 1955, the great flood year, the Delaware River overflowed its banks. By chance, my wife and I bought tickets to the Playhouse, a second-banana haven for jaded Hollywood actors and actresses, an oasis for rejuvenating a fading career. It drew large crowds from New York and the Pocono regions. The waters had not touched Main Street, the location of our apartment. We walked to the theatre and walked home. The signs of destruction were ominous, but the monster was not yet ready to devour the multitudes.
We sat in the last seats, in the back row of the theatre. There were people sitting in the first seats; a vast ocean of emptiness between us, between the "haves" and the "have nots." My wife and I always chose the cheap, over the expensive; she, out of a sense of penury, inhered from the Great Depression and I, from my monachal vow of poverty, taken after the Novitiate. The people up front turned back to look at us, and conscious of the comical aspects of such a setting, waved us to come forward. We, the hoi poilloi, were honored to sit with the aristocrats.
The curtain opened precisely at the designated time. The play "A Palm Tree in a Rose Garden." The actors were ready to perform, as if there was standing room only, and perform they did, with the intensity of an opening night on Broadway. Of course, the applause was not deafening.
We lived in a second-floor apartment, over a doctor's office. When the waters arrived we had to be evacuated by boat. This strange visitor glided into the apartment, touching the top step, at the second floor level. We, gingerly, boarded and were wafted out to the street, comfortably clearing the parking meters. We spent that night at the home of a fellow teacher.
I loved teaching. I often said I would teach for room and board, so much was I enamored of the profession. I delighted in observing the student acquire knowledge or a skill as a result of my efforts. In a sense, I was creating. It was in teaching that the embryo of my Pygmalion ambition took root. Pygmalion was a Greek sculptor who fell in love with the female statue he had created. The idea of transforming a less than perfect person into a noble, admirable person, has always been one of my dreams.
As an adult, I rarely went to movies. Yet when the Turner Classic Movie channel features, "My Fair Lady," I will view it again and again. That crude cockney flower girl, who is presented as a polished gem in the Queen's Court, has such an irresistible fascination for me that I have to see it once more.
I graduated from grammar school with the equivalent of a sixth grade education, for my seventh and eighth grade years were an accumulation of absences to care for my mother. After losing three years in a Tuberculosis sanitarium, I started high school at the age of eighteen, which made little impact on the students around me because of my frail physical condition. I received a BA from St. Mary's Seminary, in Philosophy and a minor in Theology.
I studied in the following Universities: St Joseph's, Temple, Rutgers, Hamilton, in New York State, Rennes in France and Laval in Quebec; all eclectic. I have an MA in Modern Drama, from Villanova University and fall short of a PhD, in Old English, from Lehigh University, by failing to write my thesis. At that point, effete, after having studied for years, now, as an aged professional scholar, I decided to close my academic tent and gently fade into the twilight.
I made a decision to move to Florida in 1994, for the simple reason that the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team trained in Clearwater. I was an old Philadelphia fan, having seen my first game in 1935. At least three times a week I went to the beach. I would attend mass there and after mass, walk a mile bare foot, water to my ankle. Then, with my beach chair, I would stretch out under the sun, and study whatever claimed my fancy, at that moment. I never went into the water. Although I love living near water, I am afraid of it, because my troubled childhood afforded me no opportunity to learn how to swim.
I would spend the whole day there, after finding a free parking space. My favorite collation was tuna fish salad on toast bread. Blissfully, I would consume this with eyes focused on a book. In the meantime, a phalanx of seagulls would prepare, in Hitchcock fashion, a strategic attack of my little sandwich.
Some flew to the left, far from me, coordinating the mode of onslaught. Some flanked me, obviously counting on surprise. At the leader's signal, the entire squadron would dive down on me, riddling me with "you know what" as they, audaciously, sought to grab food from my mouth; some, awkwardly, missed the target and drew blood from my nose; others would pass so close to my head that my ears would rattle.
I successfully warded off these voracious predators, until one day, in a concentrated and coordinated plunge from the blue, they not only mutilated me, they snatched the entire sandwich from my limp grip. That was it. I waved my white flag of capitulation and bloody, bruised and battered, I crawled back to my car, locked my doors and closed my windows. I decided to retire to a water view, ten minutes from my apartment, where the seagulls were reputed to be gentlemen, with respect for academia.
Now, my old age could be spent under an oak tree in the tranquility of a serene setting, with a picturesque marina to the right, punctuated by magnificent boats, both large and small, glittering under a domineering Florida sun. Directly before me was a placid bay with sluggish ebb and flow of a meandering tide, which revealed a large expanse of dry land, on one day, and creeping waters at high tide the next.
Anyone who has visited Mont St Michelle in Normandy, France, can visualize what I describe here. There, the waters ebb and flow, with such rapidity, that imprudent tourists had to be rescued from drowning. The piddling flow of my placid Bay, cannot be compared to the majestically rapacious tide of this French phenomenon, but I was content to settle for the contrast.
I sat there mulling over Boswell's life of Johnson or reviving my French, which I have not used in years, or studying the Spanish language. In my ninety-second year, I decided to learn Spanish. With my background, as a teacher of French and Latin, and the translator of Euripides', Alcestis, in Greek, I made rapid progress. The computer provided much help. I learned to speak the language in less than two years.
I was married in a simple ceremony, with my wife's family present. There was no one there from my family. My two witnesses were my wife's sister, Joan, and her husband, Bill. We were married by, Father Ted Crawford C.SS.P, a classmate and staunch friend. My wife's mother prepared a simple lunch, after which we boarded a bus to our apartment, my wife in tears. Both returned to our respective jobs the following day. There are those, I am sure, who frown on such a simple wedding, but I was just as sacramentally married at a cost of fifteen dollars, as those who spent fifteen thousand dollars.
Some years later, I read, in Our Sunday Visitor, a question submitted to Monsignor Mannion regarding such an unpretentious marriage: "Can a couple be married in a simple, inexpensive ceremony without having relatives and many attendants"? His answer: "They can, indeed. One of the most memorable weddings at which I officiated was for a couple who wanted the simplest wedding possible." He goes on to say that they were both in show business, and wished to avoid the ostentation that is associated with their profession. He continues:
"For the wedding they deliberately chose a simple church. Present, were the groom and bride, two witnesses, myself and one adult who acted as reader, altar server and minister of the chalice ... there was not even any music ... I would hazard a guess that any pastor would prefer to officiate at a simple wedding rather than a complicated showy one. Simple weddings, less caught up with the mechanics of the event, are more likely to focus on the central elements of the event: the covenant between man and woman and the covenant between both and God.
He continues, "I do not think there is a pastor in existence who would not encourage and provide every aid to a couple who approaches the Church seeking, to celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony in a simple, dignified, uncomplicated manner. In my view, lavish, expensive weddings are not good for the souls of those entering marriage." Monsignor, you would have loved our marriage!
I am told that fifty percent of Catholic marriages end in divorce. All that expense for one day, with money that could have been a down payment on the house or which could have bought all the furnishings needed. I wonder what one does with all those costly pictures that the professional photographer flashed? They must be destroyed, not so? I am, certain, that the next partners will not tolerate them around the house. They will demand their own memorabilia.
Although I am an orthodox Catholic, I am not one who chases Marian apparitions. It is not that I view them negatively, for they can fortify the faith of those who turn to them. It is simply that I need no reinforcement of my faith. My belief in God is total, comprehensive. With that said, I will explain how I fell under the spell of Lourdes.
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