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Happy Valentine’s Day

After the past week and a half, it seems quite fitting that today is Valentine’s Day. A day of love, and, for some, a day of sadness.

If today is one of those days that makes you miss someone or lament the fact that your love is shunned publicly, take comfort in the fact that you are loved by a very large group of people – the human people. The human people all love one another and we all have a stake in one another’s well-being. As my friend, Andre, told me on Monday – “we are all related.” Andre is a vendor for Article 25, a progressive news source found on the streets of Cincinnati. When Andre made this statement he was referring to the flood – you know the one, the one with Noah and the animals? That flood.

Andre believes that a flood happened because hundreds of cultures have a similar story to the one found in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. I wasn’t there, I don’t know if there was a flood or not, so, for the purposes of this post, I am willing to accept the flood.

You see, after the flood, there were only two humans and a bunch of animals. Due to this fact, Andre claims, quite adamantly, that we are all related. I like that idea.

Even if the flood never happened, I have, for many years, felt a kinship to most every person I see. I think it is simply because I like people and want to learn what they have to teach me. I like human beings, what with all of their flaws, insecurities, dreams and exertions of strength. People make me strong – especially people with whom I disagree on topics of religion, sexuality and politics. It is these people who give me opportunities to practice patience, non-judgment and acceptance – three things that are quite difficult indeed for any person to practice. I love practicing them – for, when I do, I feel that I grow in love.

So, what is this elusive word, “love,” all about?

Well, I would never pretend that I know as it certainly evolves over time (at least for me). The love I feel for Katie is a love that keeps the world in order – the love I feel for my students is a love that gives me direction – the love I feel for the marginalized in our communities is a love that gives me definition – the love I feel for those who have, throughout my life, tried to block me, distract me or even silence me is a love that challenges.

Are any of these loves more valid than any of the others? Are any stronger than the rest? After taking Katie out of the equation, I would say, “no.” I need all of these loves to bring peace to myself and others in a world that is constantly trying to disrupt that peace.

Since 1969, St. Valentine has not received universal liturgical commemoration in the Church. This is because there was not enough documentation on Valentine’s actual life to confirm who he really was.  All people know is that some guy, Valentine, had been associated with the Medieval idea of courtly love.

However, Valentine is still officially recognized by the Church for local veneration.

Some scholars believe that Valentine was actually two people – maybe three (very similar to the Shakespearean scholars who feel the same about William). Some say he was a priest, a bishop or a saint who suffered with many companions in the Roman province in Africa.

One of the most widely accepted and popular versions of the Valentine story is that he was a Roman priest during the reign of Claudius II. He was arrested and imprisoned because he was marrying Christian couples without Rome’s permission. Helping Christians was quite frowned upon during this time. In fact, helping certain groups of people all throughout history has been frowned upon – the frowning remains the same, the group changes.

So, today let’s “locally venerate” love and Valentine in our varied communities. Let’s take it one step further – let’s venerate not only those groups that we wish weren’t frowned upon, let’s show some love for those who do the frowning. In the end, they are the ones who need the most love.

In closing, I would just like to say that I love you, Archdiocese of Cincinnati. I really do. Maybe, in love, we can change the conversation.

Makes Sense

I was just sitting with my wife looking at my Twitter feed.  I looked at her beautiful face and exclaimed, “this is crazy.”

She said, “what?”

I said, “THIS!  And the reason it is crazy is because it makes all the sense in the world.  Ever since I made my mom watch ‘Boyz In The Hood’ and ‘Menace to Society” with me in 8th/9th grade, I knew it would come to this.  It all makes sense.  And that is crazy.”

Katie, my wife, smiled.

That got me thinking.  I posted “Kej” the other day, a fairly recent journal entry that I felt pertained to this current situation.  So, I pulled out my archives.

You see, I save written documents that I feel are pertinent to significant moments in history.  For example, I have every issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer from September 11th, 2001 to September 11th, 2002.  I like to look at how the narrative changed.  Before our eyes.  From terrorism and a nation unified – to war and special interests.  It’s quite interesting.

I also have every single thing I have ever written.  From my Garfield diary (written around four years after the picture above was taken) to my current blog – and everything in between.  After speaking with Katie just moments ago, I decided to dig out some of the old journals and see what I could fine.  More specifically, to see if there were any answers in my adolescent brain that I had forgotten.  To see if this really all DID make sense, or if I was just desperately trying to MAKE sense of it all since it is so surreal.

Well, I pulled out my very first, official book of poetry that I dubbed, in 1994, “The Demented Mind of Mike Moroski.”  Odd title, but I suppose I was trying to be Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder.  Who knows.

Anyway – the note on the front page is from my then-girlfriend, Abby.  She writes:

“You can keep your dreams, feelings & your thoughts in it.  So, this book is basically you when you decide to let them out & express them on paper.  I thought you could use it since you write so much.”

(Thanks, Abby.  I hope you and Eugene are well.)

The second entry in this poetry journal is entitled, “Why? (we go for the impossible).”  It was written on July 10th, 1994.  I was 16 years old.

It goes like this:

“We go for what we want, and lose it,

We got what we got, and we flaunt it,

Why is it we’re never happy, unless

we have the impossible, is it possible?

Can’t we thank the Lord for what

we got, not cry for a lot?

We go for what we will never get.

Our expectations we never met,

Can’t we be thankful for what’s left?

We are gonna lose it.

Why, we go for the impossible

Is it possible, we will ever be happy?

Are we ever gonna stop?

Realize we’re at the top?

Be thankful for what we got?

It’ll never come,

We just need some

more.

We people are never satisfied,

The Lord has heard the way we cried,

He tells us, “Be happy, you got love!”

We all got love, do we really need more?

Open the door, for new opportunities,

You will see, if God wants you

to have it, you will get it,

if He doesn’t the sign will read

“GET BACK.”  So leave it, move on,

Go on,

Be Happy,

Use what ya’ got,

Rise to the Top,

God will meet you there.

Then you will have it ALL.”

Not exactly Ginsberg or Shakespeare, but made sense to me.  Helped me make sense of how much this makes sense.

Make sense?

To close, I would like to end with a series of questions I pose in my Garfield diary that I kept when I 10 years old.  I am still looking for answers to these questions.  And that’s what this is all about – what life is all about – searching for answers to questions.  A life well-lived poses more questions and leaves the answers for those who have stopped growing, learning and living.

Every entry I wrote as a 10 year old ended with a question.  I would think about the question as I fell asleep.

Here are some questions my 10 year old self would like to leave you with tonight as you fall asleep:

“Why do cats purr?”

“Can a blind person dream?”

“Why do people have to die?”

“How did God get made?”

“Why is the world round?”

“Why did bad words get invented?”

“Where is Heaven?”

“Why do we have war?”

“How do birds know how to build a nest?”

“What does ‘taxed’ mean?”

“Why do I talk in class?”

“Why were States made?”

“How can you move your body parts?”

“How do games work?”

“How did dinosaurs die?”

“How do I think?”

“How do I move?”

“What will we do tomorrow?”

“Why am I me?”

Thank you all for helping me to answer that last question. I think I will sleep better not having to think about that one as much as I did when I was 10 years old.

I’ve Said It

I’ve said it a lot today, but it’s true – I am not surprised, but I am disappointed. Furthermore, I am disappointed because I am not surprised.

I’ve said it many times today, but I am not taking on the Church’s teachings. Rather, I am taking on their seeming unwillingness to learn from the wisdom of its people. The Church hierarchy contains much wisdom – wisdom that has informed many of us – but we have a lot of wisdom too. You should listen. Perhaps your rules and regulations won’t change, but no matter, at least you will open up dialogue and not fire people for having differing views than you.

I’ve said it a few times today, but I really do respect that the Catholic Church takes a stand. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I respect when one takes a stand for what they believe. That said, just because one takes a stand does not mean that another is not entitled to an opinion, or employment.

I’ve said it so many times today, but it bears repeating that numerous employees of Catholic institutions come out, publically, in favor of war and the death penalty. They do not get fired. Ironic, in some ways, that you can disagree with the Church on matters of death, but not love.

I’ve said it too many times today, but I am sad. If the youth can learn something from this then I will continue to sleep well at night as I will still feel like a teacher.

I’ve said it a million times today and over the course of the past twelve years, but thank you to all of the students who directed me to this place. I take this stand in your honor. You taught me the value of service and compassion and patience.

I’ve said it numerous times today – Purcell Marian had nothing to do with my firing today, it was the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

I’ve said it a couple times today, but if you think that I took this stand to further my own political career then you don’t know me. I have said these things about equality for all since I was in the 7th grade. I have admired the challenge of creating and implementing public policy since I was a teenager. And I would never, five short months after I got married, jeopardize Katie and I’s livelihood for some idealistic whim or political ambition. No, if you think that, then you do not know me – and that is not your fault. I’d love to get to know you so you can see a different side of me. And I would love to learn from you.

I’ve said it many, many times today, but I do not know what is next. I will continue saying, “yes,” to the right things and, “no,” to the right things and see where this takes us. I firmly, in my soul, believe something great is down the line.

I’ve said it over and over today, but if this situation is causing anyone out there to have a conversation around the dinner table, in the pews or at the office about faith, institutions, reconciliation or the Church – then I will continue to smile. This is about accepting diverse thought. This is about having the difficult discussions that can change lives, communities and nations.

I’ve said it once, but I will continue to say it over and over again – I unabashedly believe that gay people SHOULD be allowed to marry.  Ethically, morally and legally I believe this.

My Official Press Release

STATEMENT BY MICHAEL MOROSKI, ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL AT PURCELL MARIAN HIGH SCHOOL, CINCINNATI

 On Monday, February 4, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati gave me an ultimatum after I expressed my personal opinion in support of freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. I was asked to resign as assistant principal at Purcell Marian High School, or keep my job until June by signing documents recanting my statements. I was given this ultimatum after I wrote a blog on my personal web page, http://mikemoroski.com entitled, “Choosing Your Battles.” I could not in good conscience recant my statements. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has now put me on administrative leave with a pending termination.

As a proud Catholic, I’m heartbroken that my belief that all committed, loving couples should be able to make a public pledge to take responsibility for each other for a lifetime has led to this ultimatum. The expressions of solidarity I have already received from Catholic priests, sisters and justice leaders in the community strengthen my faith during this difficult time. Due to my formation in Catholic grade school, high school and three Catholic universities – not to mention my marriage to the best Catholic I know, my relationship with numerous clergy and a devout Catholic family – I have firmly rooted my life in the Gospel principles of love and justice.

After twelve years of working with teenagers whose respect I have earned, I simply can’t teach them the wrong lesson now and deny my convictions. I would not be able to look them in the eye. I have tried to instill a sense of faith and fortitude in all of them regarding issues of justice for my entire adult life. I did not turn down the Archdiocese’s terms in spite of my faith. I turned them down because of my faith.

 

Michael Moroski, Assistant Principal

Purcell Marian High School