Did you know that there’s an old plantation hymn that Catholics traditionally sing in church on Good Friday? The hymn was composed in the 19th century by African American slaves and was first published in 1899 by William Eleazar Barton in his hymnal, Old Plantation Hymns. Here’s the first verse of the hymn:
You’ve probably never heard of Robert Pittman. He’s a 67-year-old American businessman who was one of the founders of MTV, the first cable music television network in the United States. MTV was launched on August 1, 1981, and initially featured music videos and related programming that was presented by television celebrities who were known as VJs (video jockeys).
My first jury trial was in 1983, the same year that I started practicing law. I was the attorney for a young woman who had been charged in federal criminal court for embezzling money from a local bank. After that case, I continued to accept criminal defense cases for several years. In one of those cases, I represented a young man who was charged with a serious crime. The evidence against him was overwhelming, and he was found guilty of the crime. At the sentencing hearing, he told the judge that he had discovered God, and he was a changed man. The judge responded to his comment by stating,
The recent riots have exposed a reality that those of us who are devout Catholics have always known to be true. What is that reality? That there is an epic battle that has been taking place since the beginning of time. While the battle has involved different types of weapons and different forms of communication, the participants in the battle have always had one thing in common — they have always been separated into two opposing camps.
Last week, I wrote about how the COVID-19 pandemic has created fear, doubt, uncertainty, and feelings of isolation and loneliness for many of the people of our country. I also wrote about Saint Thomas, the apostle who was told by his fellow apostles that they had seen the risen Lord. Upon hearing the claim that they had seen Jesus, Thomas said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” John 20:25. Thomas was later chastised by Jesus when He told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20:29.
After I started my law practice in January 1983, one of my first clients was Donna Schmidt. I had met Donna several years earlier when my mom introduced me to her. I don’t remember where we were introduced, but I do remember that it was at a Catholic religious event. Donna was a year younger than my mom. They had known each other since they were teenagers, when they both attended the same high school — the Academy of Our Lady, in Peoria, Illinois.