Tuesday, March 6, 2012

David, your family misses you....

I began serving as a volunteer at Emmaus Ministries around 2004. Emmaus serves men caught up in prostitution – street hustlers – typically viewed as the outcasts among the outcast. Even among these, David was a man apart, but he was still one of the family. In fact Emmaus was the only family this man who had been orphaned by the world had remaining. To a man who was homeless, who slept in a tent in the park even during the bitterest cold of winter, Emmaus was home.

David kept to himself, alone in a crowd. Even among those who are marginalized, David sought isolation at the edges. Trust did not come naturally to him. Though he was homeless, he refused to go to shelters, preferring to set up a tent in some remote part of the lakefront park. David was a man who had his demons, addictions and various medical and psychological problems. He did not invite familiarity and kept most people at a distance. I considered him to be secretive, furtive, shifty when I first met him. It left me with a feeling of discomfort.

As I had the opportunity to see and speak with him more over the years, the uneasy feeling I first had changed to one of curiosity, then into respect. I was intrigued by his broad life experience including military service, and his love for the outdoors which seemed ironic given his status as a homeless denizen of a large city. I recognized signs of psychological problems and heard of his problem with heroin. But over time I came to recognize what a gentle soul resided in that life-worn body.

December 19, 2011 was the last day that David had a chance to spend time at his Emmaus home with his family. On that day David loaned a good pair of boots to another one of the guys. David knew the importance of quality, insulated boots to people living on the streets of Chicago during the winter months and wanted one of his brothers to have them. It was just a loan and, after all, he would be back soon – certainly for Christmas and New Years which are joyous occasions at the ministry center celebrated with simple, good meals, small gifts, and caring people.

But David didn’t show for Christmas. New Years day also came and went with no word from or about him. David was missed, but this wasn’t the first time he had gone missing. However as the days went by, concern grew among the staff, volunteers and men of Emmaus. Calls were made to area hospitals and to the police, but no information on David was available.

It would be almost two months before we got word of David -- the word we had feared. David’s body had been fished out of Montrose Harbor on December 20, 2011. The story was not considered newsworthy. After the fact we were able to find the following notice in the Chicago Tribune:
Fire officials pulled the body of a male from Montrose Harbor this morning, officials said. Chicago Fire Department divers were called to the scene at 9:51 a.m. after someone spotted the body which seemed to be in the water for sometime, said Chicago Fire Department Spokesman Richard Rosado.

There was no expansion of or follow up on this brief story. The body of a man was pulled from the water... that's all.

The missing person report Emmaus left with the police was misfiled, so the staff of Emmaus who had been making calls was never notified. In accordance with procedure in Cook County, after a bit of time David’s unclaimed body was buried in a potter’s field with other lost souls. Though David had served his country in the Navy and received an honorable discharge, entitling him to a respectful burial, his body lies anonymous in an unmarked grave.

I guess this story affects me more today as I read of the tragic death of another young man whose body was fished out of Lake Michigan just a mile south of where David was found. This young man was not like David. He had a home of his own, a fiancée with whom he lived and a family. The media covered this story in depth both when he initially went missing following a night of partying with friends, and later with extended personal interest pieces after his body was found. I guess that, unlike David, this young man's life mattered and his death is considered of interest not only to his family, but to a wider audience as well.

The family of this other young man has my deepest sympathy on their loss. But I can’t help but wish that David’s death had attracted a bit more attention as well. I only wish that more people could have known David as did those who cared for him at Emmaus. For David's life and death also matter. All that is left to do is mourn.

Please keep David and all the anonymous men Emmaus strives to serve in your prayers.

Monday, November 28, 2011

An old coot's memories of a change in the Mass

You know you are old when your nieces start looking to you as a source of living history. Of course I feed that impression with statements like, "It was cold that winter at Valley Forge... damned cold."
Today I received a few questions from Catie, my youngest niece, which dealt with my memories of the implementation of the liturgical changes following Vatican II.
I thought I would share those questions and my responses.

1. Was it weird having the priest face you after the change in Vatican II?

Anytime you have a change from what had been standard practice for centuries it is safe to say that the change might seem “weird,” and so it was for me. Prior to that time we all faced the same way (note that I don’t put it that the priest had his back to us he didn’t, he stood in front of his flock as a shepherd would his sheep. He was leading us and facing the Lord just we were). It was particularly strange for me because I had spent a couple of years serving as an altar boy and had to change everything I did as well. So I really had a front row seat for all the changes.
By the way – Vatican II never said the priest was to face the people although it did allow for that possibility. Furthermore, if one were to read the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (the GIRM or rule book for the Mass), one would realize that it is clearly envisioned that the priest and the people would still be facing the same way for much of the Mass. Indeed, Bishop Slattery of Tulsa has now made it his practice whenever he is celebrating Mass at his cathedral that he will celebrate Ad Orientem, that is facing east (in this case liturgical east which means facing the same way as the people). For a bit more info check:
http://www.rev-know-it-all.com/2010/2010---11-07.html, or a few thoughts I put down here: http://deaconchick.blogspot.com/2010/10/whatchu-lookin-at.html

2. Before the change, did you understand what was occurring during mass?

Yes, in part because I think there was better training of the people (what we call catechesis now days) but mainly because everyone used a missal which had the Latin on the left side and the English translation on the right. If you ever attend a Mass celebrated according to the Extraordinary form (the old Latin or Tridentine Mass) you will note how much silence there is in the Mass. Many of the priest’s prayers were to be said quietly. Even so, people would be following along in their missals and the prayers always speak to what the actions signified. There was a greater sense of mystery to the Mass, but that is in the sense of the Greek origin of the word not indicating that we don’t know what is going on, but rather that this is something sacred, something special, something available only to the initiates – i.e. the baptized. These are things of Heaven and not of the world.

3. (yes or no) Did you know any Latin?

You expect a yes or no answer from me!!?? I never studied Latin but had much of it ingrained in me from the Mass itself (especially while following along in my missal) and from training as an altar boy. So the answer is a qualified “no”, I mean "yes," well maybe "some".

4. Were you told in advance that there were going to be changes in the mass, or did you go to mass one day and it was completely different?

Yes to both. We knew that changes were to take place and generally what they would be, even so the reality of the changes were sudden (and as I indicated earlier many of the changes were not actually mandated by the documents of Vatican II but rather by a group of “liturgists” with their own agenda.)

5. If you knew that there were going to be changes, how long before the change did you have?

It’s hard to recall how much advance preparation we actually had, but it wasn’t much. As an altar boy who had to facilitate the changes, I got a bit more training than most but, all in all, the reasons for the changes weren’t very well communicated.

6. How did you find out about the changes?

I was in Catholic grade school, so we got some information in the classroom, I got a bit more as an altar server, and some information was in the secular press as well. We received laminated cards which had the new prayers and responses – much as my parish this Sunday had in the pews laminated cards with the revised translation of the people’s part. The change in the Mass following the Council was a radical change so it was news in both the church and secular worlds.

7. Was it hard getting used to the changes?

Hard – not really. I was a kid and as a kid it was like getting a new toy and having fun with finding out how it worked. Unfortunately there were some church professionals who approached it in the same childlike manner and failed to adhere to the rubrics. There were things I missed from the Latin Mass, but this was an exciting time and change seemed like fun.

8. How did your parents handle it?

They accepted the changes with an obedient spirit as did the majority of people. It was so different from the way they had prayed all their lives it had to be hard, but we were told that this is what the Vatican Council had decided and that this is the way it was to be done. The head of the local church is the bishop. The bishop said to make the changes and we followed his instructions. In essence my parents and those of the generations before me recognized the authority of the bishops but also recognized in the new liturgy those core elements of the sacrifice of the Mass and an underlying theology that remained the same. In the end it was about trusting the Holy Spirit, following the bishop and worshiping God.

9. Is there one memory you have about Vatican II that you would like to share?

Throughout the period of the council, the church was in the news. There was a sense that this was something new and exciting. Ecumenical Councils were and are a rarity. After Pope John XXIII died we weren’t sure what would happen, then Pope Paul VI continued with the council. The death of Pope John was a significant moment; we didn’t know what would happen from there.

10. Do/did you like the mass before or after Vatican II better? Why?

Ask your parents which of their children they love more. It sounds clichĂ©, but I love both liturgies. I attend the Latin Mass about once a month and I really admire the sense of the sacred that permeates that form of the Mass. It invites a fully-embodied participation. You watch what is going on, hear the choir, join in the responses, smell the incense, sit, stand, kneel; and all is directed toward God. It is a communal sacrifice that is intensely personal. One can also enter into the silence – “Be still and know that I am God.” Ps 46:10
One of the things I like most about the old form of the Mass is the reception of communion by kneeling at the altar rail. Too much of the sense of the sacred is lost when communion is distributed as if handing out cookies to a conga line of people. Granted, many recipients are deeply devout and approach communion with reverence – but it takes a much greater act of the will to attain and maintain that reverence. When one kneels at a communion rail (which serves as does the iconostasis in an Orthodox or Eastern Rite church as a visible symbol demarking the place where Heaven meets earth; the sacred meets the profane) one’s mind focuses much more readily on the sacred character of the reception of communion. Furthermore you can tell by the look on the face of the young children when they see their parents on their knees to receive the Eucharist that this is a tremendous form of catechesis – these kids recognize something special, something very out of the ordinary is taking place.
But I really love the post-Vatican II ordinary form of the mass as it heightens the sense of communal action while (when done properly) retaining a large amount of the sacred. The horizontal and the vertical elements are both in place. This sense is enhanced when the rubrics are followed and the liturgy is not used to by priest, liturgist or music minister to have the Mass serve as the mechanism for them to express their inner poet. Personally, it allows me as a deacon to have a significant role in the liturgy that is not available in the extraordinary form except as part of a solemn high Mass.
Whether it is the ordinary form or the extraordinary form, the important thing is that the Mass is the Mass is the Mass. There is, was, and has been only one Mass throughout history. Each time at Mass we are transported and join the communion of saints in the upper room on Maundy Thursday as Christ institutes this memorial feast. Each time we place ourselves at the foot of the cross on Calvary with the Blessed Mother, St. John and the others and watch as the Lamb of God is sacrificed and His blood poured out on the earth, marking the home of those redeemed by His sacrifice ─ just as the blood of lambs marked the lintels of the homes of the Hebrew slaves redeemed in Egypt during that first Passover. I think it sometimes takes greater effort of will to experience this in the ordinary form because that is a liturgy designed for a very holy priest and a holy people, but the essentials are the same be it the old Latin Mass or the Mass that has been normative for the past 45+ years. Now that we are using a language that is less banal, truer to the scripture and the theology and letter of the original Latin, this loftier language may serve to recapture more of the sense of the sacred that had been left behind.

On a side note, a few months back I attended a Latin Mass and brought along my old missal. In that missal I still had the laminated card with the (then new) English translation of the Mass into English from 1964. That translation is almost exactly the same as the translation implemented with the beginning of Advent this year. We do not have a new translation so much as a more accurate one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Where is the respect for life?

October is "Respect Life Month" and a good time to reflect on the unique gift that life is and how we reverence it. Many parishes, including my own, are involved in the 40 Day for Life campaign praying for an end of the sacrifice of human beings to the false gods of luxury, convenience and self-indulgence that is abortion. At the same time we are actively involved in fund-raising to support the Women's Center to provide aid to those mothers with problem pregnancies.
In the midst of these efforts and as I have been personally reflecting on what it means to value life, it was particularly distressing to read of the story from China of the two-year old who was run over twice by a van and left lying as 18 people went by and ignored her. The video of this incident has caused international outrage, but I can't help but wonder why when we so blithely ignore so many who are victims of apathy in society and the world. The major difference between this two-year old and the untold thousands who are aborted is simply a matter of a little bit of time.
If we show no regard for the unborn, it it any surprise we show little regard for humans of any age?
On the positive side, it was good to see that other inhabitants of this world apparently have a greater respect for life as indicated by this story of a dog which risked its own life to come to the aid of another dog which has been struck while crossing a busy expressway. (video here)
Maybe this dog will teach us how to be a little more human.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Homily in memory of Michael Roberts

Three weeks ago today a young man, Spc. Michael C. Roberts, made a decision to place the lives of others ahead of his own. Three weeks ago.

Was it just three weeks ago? Seems like yesterday… seems like months or years ago… It was a lifetime ago.

I read the email from Joanne informing me of Michael’s death late that Saturday night. Like many of you I was stunned and immediately began to think back to the last time I got to see him, the last time I spoke with him.

(As an aside, the last time I got to hear his voice, Michael was at Fort Campbell and was on the phone with his grandmother who was then in the hospital. Mrs. Ryan asked him, “Michael, do you go to church?”

“Yes, gramma.”)

Michael dominated my thoughts as I tried to sleep that night and as I got up early the next morning. He was in my thoughts all that day and much of most every day since. But especially that day.

You see, early the next morning I was at church preparing for Mass when I would proclaim the gospel of the day, as I did so I was taken aback. For on that day the scriptures we read at Mass reminded us that: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

In light of Michael’s death, those lines hit especially hard that morning, and they took on an importance like never before. “He must deny himself and take up his cross…”

That is why we are here today, because Michael ─ who many here may first think of as a little baby; or a laughing, running little boy playing with his brothers; or a goofy, lively, teen wearing a band uniform and playing his tuba ─ Michael, who grew into a remarkable young man and an exemplary soldier, mustered the courage to deny himself, and sacrifice his life so that others might live. “Greater love hath no man….”

There is a Latin phrase which I believe is apropos. Nomen est omen – literally name is omen. This phrase carries the sense that a name might tell us something of one’s destiny.

Michael is from the Hebrew and means – Who is like God? In the New Testament Michael is the leader of heaven's armies, and thus is considered the patron saint of soldiers.

Nomen est omen. Christopher, of course, means bearer of Christ. I’m sure when Dave and Kathy were deciding what name to give to the son who was the latest addition to their family, Michael Christopher sounded good. In light of how he lived his life and particularly in light of how he used his life, that name is perfect.

Jesus said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Toward that end he surrendered his life so that death might be conquered and eternal life restored. Michael too gave his life that others might live. This was Michael’s gift to the world ─ his life that others might live. Our challenge is to honor that gift. Do not let it be squandered.

To be sure, there is the pain of loss. That pain is but a reminder of how much he was loved. If that pain of loss is the price we have to pay for the gift having had Michael in our lives for this all too brief period of time, that price is worth it.

Dave, Kathy, Patrick, Brian, all the Roberts and Ryan families and friends, honor Michael’s gift. Use it. The more abundantly you live your lives, the greater is his gift.

There is a saying that funerals are for the living, not for the dead. And, indeed the Christian funeral should bring hope and consolation to the living. But the primary purpose is to affirm the union of the living with the departed and commend the dead to God’s merciful love.

In the sacrifice of the Mass we offer our greatest gift, our greatest prayer to the Father for Michael. In this re-presentation of the paschal mystery we join ourselves with the Blessed Mother and with all those at the foot of Christ’s cross and share the anguish of loss at the death of a son, a brother, a friend, a loved one. But we also gather in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.

As I mentioned, the gospel reading on the Sunday following Michael’s death challenged us to deny ourselves and take up our own crosses. I failed to mention the concluding line of the gospel that day. The passage ended, “For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct."

“Repay all according to their conduct.” The judgment of men regarding the conduct of Spc. Michael Christopher Roberts is evident. He earned the Purple Heart and his actions saving the lives of others was recognized by the Department of Defense with the Bronze Star, He earned the NATO Medal, and Combat Action Badge and judging from their comments, the love, admiration and appreciation of all those with whom he served.

His life earned him respect and brought laughter and smiles to his family, friends and comrades serving us on the front lines of a war which, until I heard of Michael’s death, I thought was a world away. His death, along with pain, brings pride in having been privileged to know him.

As we continue with the Mass and recognize our own confused mingling of pain and pride at this tragic loss from heroic sacrifice, we do so with firm confidence that a merciful and loving God will find Michael deserving of the eternal reward promised us through Christ Jesus, Our Lord.

Thank you Michael, and may your soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's no longer an intellectual exercise....

A friend tells a story of when he was a teenager in driver’s education. He had a great grasp on theory from the work in the classroom, but the first time he was actually in the car he had a mishap when he mistook the accelerator for the brake, went over a curb and damaged some landscaping. His instructor informed him that he would receive a failing grade because of the incident. My friend protested, “But I got 100% on all the tests!”

The instructor simply replied, “Son, you’ve got to realize that driving is not simply an intellectual exercise.”

This story came to mind for me as I meditated upon my response to something that has been weighing greatly on my mind this week. With the approach of the 10th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, I have spent time reflecting on what has occurred in the aftermath of those attacks. Initially, our response as a nation was to launch a “War on Terror.” I recall shaking my head at the level of hubris as our former president made a promise to eliminate evil. Within a short period of time American troops were on the ground in Afghanistan in a quest to find Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the attacks.

No one ever wins a war in Afghanistan; ask the Russians, or the British, or the Persians, or the Mongols, or the Greeks. Of course when the United States went in, much of the opposition consisted of the Taliban ­ the people we armed and supported when they were fighting the Soviet Army.

It appears that the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan provide excellent hiding places at least they served well for Mr. bin Laden for the better part of a decade. Meanwhile we began to hear more and more about the evil of Saddam Hussein. At first I wondered if our leaders were confused or I was. I felt somewhat like Winston Smith as I recalled the faint memory that it was somebody with the name Osama rather that Saddam whom we held responsible for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But it seemed the rhetoric from the District of Columbia began to focus more and more on Saddam and a bit less on Osama and my attention span began to lag.

It didn’t take long before we were engaged both in Iraq and Afghanistan, looking for Saddam or Osama or whoever was the target of the moment. I may have had some qualms about what we were trying to achieve and questioned the decision making of those in charge. But, like most Americans, I was not directly affected so I simply continued to pay my taxes while maintaining emotional distance and a comfortable attitude of moral and intellectual superiority -- in essence saying to myself, “These guys are idiots, but what can you do?” The war was, for me, merely an intellectual exercise.

That changed for me very suddenly on Saturday night when, right before going to bed, I checked my email. I had one new message in my inbox from Joanne Ryan. It was then that I learned her nephew, Michael, had been killed. Specialist Michael Roberts, a 23-year old soldier whom I have known since he was about eight years old, died Saturday when insurgents attacked his military police unit using an improvised explosive device. Michael was on his second tour of duty, having previously served in Iraq.

With Michael's death the war became real. This was the death of a someone who was not just another unrecognized name on an ever expanding list, but a name I knew -- one with a face, a smile, and a voice that I recognized. This was a little kid I once joked with who had become a remarkable young man with whom I shared a beer while listening to his stories of a soldier’s life in Iraq. Suddenly this war that I had managed to ignore, or dispassionately witnessed as if seen in my peripheral vision, was no longer a mere intellectual exercise but a source of deep pain carrying with it an acute sense of loss.

My thoughts these last several days certainly have been on Michael, his parents, brothers and family, and on what might have been. But there have also been thoughts of reproach for clinging so long to the illusory idea that this war does not touch my world. The death of Michael Roberts has given me a heightened awareness of the truth of John Dunne’s reminder, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

May God give you rest Michael, and may He have mercy on me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What we don't hear....

I'm not a big fan of conspiracy theories (you can hear a "but" coming here about now can't you?) however (fooled ya!) I am intrigued by a few things I did not read or hear from the major media sources in the past two weeks. Consider:

Item 1: On August 10, 2011, two new bishops were ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago. The two men, Bishop Andrew Wypych and Bishop Alberto Rojas are now major figures in serving the 2.3 million Catholics in Lake and Cook Counties, IL. I guess that is less significant the the three men who were going to be spending 24 hours living in a tree in Lincoln Park -- a story the Sun Times did find worth covering at the same time. My lack of a journalism degree apparently prevents me from understanding that editorial choice.

Item 2: Michelle Bachmann wins the Iowa caucus. Question: Who was second? To listen to the major broadcasters you would think it was Texas Gov. Perry or Mitt Romney as the pundits declared that the race for the Republican presidential nomination is now a three-tier race between Bachmann, Perry and Romney. Leave it to Jon Stewart to be the one to question why Ron Paul's performance is being ignored.

Item 3: A group of young girls from St. John Cantius marched through Chicago and up Michigan Avenue carrying bright yellow balloons emblazond with the word "LIFE". These balloons were strung together as a rosary. From one pro-life site that did pay attention to the event we hear:

For the school girls, there were lessons to be learned in the response of onlookers like the homeless people who gave high fives, street preachers who burst into the singing of Gospel songs, and in the semi-truck drivers who shook the streets sounding their truck horns in approval.

“I was completely ecstatic the whole time. I loved seeing how many people on a random street corner were thrilled. It is a lot more than we tend to think,” said one participant.

“A passerby tweeted, “A balloon rosary in the air. My faith confirmed:)”, while another surprised Chicagoan wrote, “What the ...giant balloon rosary, with cross just floated heavenward from the Michigan Avenue bridge.”

After coming to the Chicago River the girls launched their balloon rosary with the Wrigley Building and Trump tower as a backdrop. It made for a compelling video, but one that was completely ignored in the major print and broadcast media.

I can speculate as to why the media seems to have such a selective awareness of events, but doubt that it would be of much use. I am encouraged to recall that Jesus told us that "... the ruler of this world has been condemned." Therein lies my hope.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why wear that collar?

From the time of the restoration of the Diaconate as a permanent order in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, barrels of ink have been spilled regarding the issue of whether permanent deacons should wear clerical garb. In some dioceses, it is assumed that deacons will wear "clerics" so that they are readily recognized as members of the clergy.
Other dioceses, including my own Archdiocese of Chicago, have an established practice that permanent deacons not wear the collar unless they are actively engaged in areas such as prison ministry or hospital chaplaincy in which the wearing of such distinctive garb helps facilitate that ministry.
For myself, as I have commented to the Vicar of Deacons on several occasions, "I don't like wearing a tie. why would I want to wear a Roman collar?" Well, those days may be at an end for me and this change has caused me to reflect on what the wearing of the collar might mean.
A few months back, our parish began to serve as a temporary home for a congregation of Chaldean Catholics who had sold their facility which they had outgrown but who did not as yet have a larger church in which to celebrate Mass. As my pastor had another obligation on the first weekend our visitors would be at the parish, I was to be the member of the clergy to represent the St. Lambert parish community to welcome our guests. While my own parishioners have been long used to seeing me in my role as deacon, I was an unknown to this other congregation and not readily identifiable as a deacon.
It was then that my pastor suggested that he would like to see the deacons in the parish wear clerical garb on Sundays to both serve as a ready identifier and reinforce in the minds of all the people the clerical status of deacons. So that we would not be mistaken for presbyters, the pastor suggested we wear black trousers and grey clerical shirts. Like it or not, I was going to be wearing a Roman collar.
Last weekend was the first time that I wore that collar. I anticipated some remarks from friends and parishioners questioning whether I was bucking for a promotion or trying to pretend I was a priest (the type of comments I would make were I in their shoes). But the reactions I got weren't quite the ones I anticipated.
Most people seemed to feel that it not only looked good, but that it seemed appropriate. There were, to be sure, several people who addressed me as "Father", but no more than normal. I was surprised however when one parishioner -- with whom I've been acquainted for several years, but with whom I have had little interaction -- approached me to ask a few questions regarding the Scriptures. It may have been coincidental and only because the pastor was engaged in conversation with someone else while I happened to be standing there -- but she had not done anything like that before and I could not help but think the wearing of the collar had increased my credibility in her eyes.
Again, the reactions were positive and affirming and led me to reflect on what the collar means and, more specifically, what it means to me. All of my life, I have accorded special respect to those men who wore Roman collars, a respect that was directed as much to the person as to the position. However, I know all too well the person that I am and that I am the same person with or without the collar. I know that I was not ordained because of any qualities particular to me, but simply in response to an undeserved calling.
Suddenly I am caused to view the collar in a different way and I can only call to mind the words of Jesus expressed in Matthew 11:29-30, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
Suddenly it began to make sense to me. At least in my case, the collar is a yoke, serving to indicate one who is but a beast of the field whose only purpose to do the bidding of the Master. Considered in that light, I can not only wear the collar, I find it quite appropriate.