"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, January 28, 2013

Two Cardinals and a Pope

The only autograph from a sports figure the Regular Guy's dad ever got for him was when Dad brought home an autographed picture from Stan Musial.   Everyone in St. Louis had one, just about... Musial never refused one.   For people not from St. Louis it may be that they can't understand just how sad we were when Stan passed last week.   Stan made us all feel better about... well, just about being alive.   He showed us all what a real man looks like and how a real man acts.   "Gracious" is the word that comes to mind.

Anyway, the RG also had the honor ten years ago or so of going to a Cardinals-Brewers game with then-Archbishop, now-Cardinal Timothy Dolan.   I've lost much of my arrogance as I get older... I really am just a regular guy, which is OK, particularly when I have the Regular Wife to keep me company.   So I can say this... sometimes you are with people who make you feel better about being a human being, because they are so much bigger and more alive and have more goodness and faith than you do, and it shows you what is possible.   Musial was like that, and Cardinal Dolan is too.

So I particularly enjoyed this article about Cardinal Dolan and Musial:

Dolan and Musial got to know each other well in Rome, after Dolan was named rector of the North American Pontifical College in the 1990s.

Musial and his friend Ed Piszek — the founder of fish stick maker Mrs. Paul’s Kitchens, Inc. — traveled to Poland in the 1970s to support youth athletics and education. The two men helped found a Little League center in Kutno, and in their travels they met the archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla.

Dolan said Musial later told him that one of the greatest thrills of his life was not when he reached the 3,000-hit mark, but on Oct. 16, 1978, when Wojtyla was elected Pope John Paul II.

Musial’s visits to Rome — where he and other friends of John Paul were led up the Vatican’s “Polish staircase” to the pope’s private apartment — meant visits with Dolan, and the two men got to know one another over the years.

“When I would see Stan on those occasions, he was always beaming,” Dolan said. “He was so fond of the Holy Father.”

According to George Vecsey’s biography, “Stan Musial: An American Life,” Musial and the pope — both athletes — were “physically and psychically comfortable with each other.”

During one early-morning trip up the Polish staircase for a private Mass with John Paul in his personal chapel, some American priests recognized Musial, according to Vecsey’s book.

“I’m entitled to be here because I’m also a Cardinal,” Musial told them.

Tears to the eye.   What a small, beautiful world we live in.

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