A couple of weeks ago one of my clients started talking about one of his favorite pastimes — reading comic books. My mind immediately flashed back to when I was a boy in the 1960s. Back then, I hated reading assignments from school, but I loved reading comic books. The first product that I ever ordered through the mail was a product that I discovered by reading an advertisement in a comic book.
In addition to comic books, I read several of the comic strips that were published in the daily newspaper. If you’re under the age of 35, there’s a strong likelihood that you don’t read the newspaper because you’ve been conditioned to retrieve news and current events from your Smartphone or laptop computer.
If you’re in your 40s or older, you probably have fond memories of reading the daily comic strips. One of your favorites may have been a popular comic strip that was titled Pogo, the nickname of the main character.
Pogo was created by Walt Kelly (1913–1973), a cartoonist who got his start in 1935 when he went to work for Walt Disney Studios. During his time at Disney, Kelly worked as an animator on projects that included Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. Kelly left Disney in 1941 and eventually ended up working for the New York Star newspaper, drawing editorial cartoons.
On October 4, 1948, Kelly launched his daily comic strip, Pogo, in the New York Star. Seven months later, Pogo was selected by the Post-Hall Syndicate for national distribution. The publication of the Pogo comic strip ended in 1975, two years after Kelly died from complications of diabetes.
In the 27 years that Pogo appeared in newspapers across the country, Kelly featured more than 1,000 characters, most of whom were animals. Kelly had a knack for creating characters that had the same traits as humans. Many of them were charming and good-natured, but were also selfish, confrontational, greedy, corrupt, and stupid.
The main character, Pogo Possum, was once described by Kelly as “the reasonable, patient, softhearted, na?ve, friendly person that we all think we are.” Pogo and his friends resided in the Okefenokee Swamp, which was located in the southwestern part of the United States. He always wore a red and black shirt, and although he would frequently get dragged into his neighbor’s escapades, he was wise enough to work his way out of difficult situations.
Even if you’ve never heard of Pogo, you’ve probably heard the famous quote that was uttered by Pogo in a comic strip that was published in 1971: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
I thought about Pogo and the quote last week after a meeting that I had with a new prospective client. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him “John.”
John came to see me because he’s about ready to lose his house to the bank that loaned him the money to purchase it. He hasn’t made a payment to the bank for several months because he lost his job last year. He was fired by his employer when he had hip-replacement surgery.
Prior to his hip-replacement surgery, John was diagnosed with cancer and had to go through surgery and treatment for the cancer.
Before he was diagnosed with cancer, John’s wife had an affair with a younger man and decided that she no longer loved him. She ended up divorcing him after 32 years of marriage.
As I was listening to John go through his litany of problems, which included treatment for alcoholism, I had a feeling that he was raised as a Catholic. I asked him if he had any brothers and sisters and he told me that he grew up in a family of eight children. You can probably guess my next question: Were you raised as a Catholic? His answer was yes.
I asked John if his mom prayed the rosary. My question threw him off. He gave me a puzzled look, and said, “What?” I followed up by asking, Was your mom devoted to the Blessed Mother? Did she pray the rosary? He answered yes.
There’s a reason that I asked him that question. There is a belief among those of us who have a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that if a person prays the rosary every day, the Blessed Mother will secure the grace that is necessary to gain salvation for every member of the person’s immediate family.
I’ve seen it happen twice in my lifetime where a cascade of unexpected events caused an adult son to be humbled and brought to his knees after his elderly mother died. In each of the instances that I’m referring to, the man’s mother had a lifetime devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and prayed her rosary every day.
It is my belief that when such a mother dies and goes to Heaven, she is allowed to see the state of her children’s souls. If one or more of her children are not in the state of grace, the mother has the ability to petition the Blessed Virgin Mary to intervene. We know how much power the Blessed Mother has because of what she was able to get her Son to do at the wedding at Cana.
Why was John really in my office? Was it because he was led there by the mother of God?
I asked John how long he’s been out of the church and he evaded my question. I then asked, Do you ever think with everything that you’ve gone through that God is trying to get your attention? John immediately answered, “I’m angry at God!”
Without thinking, I said, You should be angry with yourself. His response to my statement surprised me: “I am angry with myself.”
We talked for about another 20 minutes. I asked him to commit to praying at least one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be, every day. He agreed to say those simple daily prayers and thanked me for being so “blunt and honest” with him.
Just as John is his own worst enemy, you and I are our own worst enemies. You and I meet the enemy in the mirror every morning. It is my contention that when something doesn’t go our way, we not only get angry with ourselves and the people around us, but we also get angry with God. Unfortunately, most of the time we’re not willing to admit (or even contemplate) that some of our anger is directed toward God.
The next time you’re angry about a situation that has been thrust upon you, if you’re not thanking God for allowing the situation to occur to you (to bring you closer to Him), there is, somewhere within the deep recesses of your soul, some resentment toward God.
Think about it.