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Along with the hamburger and hotdog, the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich has to be included among America’s simplest culinary delights.    A staple in almost every American family diet, you would think that one could not improve on the simplicity of the PBJ — until now!   Heck, even Vegetarians will like it.

Introducing The PBJ Dog

 

 

 

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, and two children’s books The Second Prince  and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to teach and write.  To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Let’s face it.  Things are not good. People are dying.  Fear is at an all-time high — and that includes an odd fear of each other.  

I recently sent this text message to an old friend, a fellow Amazings fan:  What I would do to just be able to watch the Mets blow a six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth! 

Most of us hope and pray for the day when things to get back to normal!  But I don’t.

Yes, I’m saddened by the many, many deaths, especially when I see what’s happening on Long Island, where I was born and raised, and where most of my family and friends still reside.

I want my kids to go outside and play with their friends without fear.  (Although, I would argue that it’s not they who have the fear.) I want to be able to talk to someone less than six-feet away or go food shopping without a damn mask.

I want COVID-19 to go away just as much as everybody.   

But I don’t want things to go back the way they were before the pandemic. 

I’m truly enjoying the extended time I’m spending with my family. I spend more time with my boys than ever before.

Our living room has become a classroom, a gym, a wrestling ring.  Now that it’s warm, our youngest has created an obstacle course outside for our family to exercise daily; and my oldest and I have played catch almost every day.

My wife has started Home Ec classes, so our boys can be self-sufficient, God forbid if they have to.  We take family walks together. Play games together.

My wife and I are communicating more, spending more time together, and growing closer.

People, it appears, are generally becoming more caring.  This week our Church rang its bells at 7 pm in solidarity with the people in NYC who lean out their windows, fire escapes and balconies nightly to celebratethe efforts of healthcare workers across the Big Apple.

As a whole, we are placing more value in the things that are important and putting less value in the things we’ve discovered we can easily live without.

Our police again are being valued!  We no longer take our doctors and nurses for granted.  Teachers have regained the respect of parents, and parents are being valued by teachers more than ever!

Above all, after generations of focusing on youth over wisdom, our seniors are being valued more than ever — beyond the role of babysitter.

This list goes on and on.

Daily, I pray to the Almighty that He spare our home, our town, and our nation.  That He makes this season a true Passover and bless all who have suffered with a true Easter.

I want COVID-19 to go away!  Forever!  

But, I don’t want things to go back to normal.  I want some things to stay exactly the way they are now.

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, and two children’s books The Second Prince  and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to teach and write.  To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

As a teacher, one of my many task is to define the word Theory.   The Theory of Relativity is among the list of theories I bring up.

Now, I teach Biology, so there’s really no reason to introduce the The Theory of Relativity to high school freshman.  So then, why do I do it?

Well, I try to convey to my students that the sign of intelligence is having the ability to take something complex and make it simple.

For example,  it was reported that Einstein defined his theory about time with this anecdote:

Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute.

I don’t know about you, but I think if Einstein was alive today, he would reconsider his wording to include handwashing.

Until now, I never realized how long 20 seconds takes!

Maybe I’ve been washing my hands wrong all my life, but it never felt that handwashing took this long.

My wife takes advantage of our new pastime by saying an Our Father and a Hail Mary.

Really?  Twenty seconds?  That’s all it takes to say those two prayers?  For me, it always seemed to take longer.   That means a whole Rosary takes less that 30 minutes!

So how could the Theory of Relativity be described today?

Put your hands under a running faucet for 20 seconds and it seems like an hour.  Say an Our Father and a Hail Mary while doing it and that hour seems like 20 seconds.

Apparently, I’m no Einstein.

I’ve never put my hand on a hot stove.  However, as far as spending time with a pretty girl, I have to admit, Einstein could not have chose a better analogy.

Spending lockdown with my beautiful wife has made these last four weeks seem like a few short days!

I hope she feels the same way about spending time with me.

It’s all Relative!

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, and two children’s books The Second Prince  and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to teach and write.  To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Every year during Holy Week, I watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ — and every year I cry; and every year,  I cry at the same scene.

I can watch the betrayal of Jesus by Judas;  I can watch the Sanhedrin trail before Caiaphas; I can watch the brutal scourging;  I can watch Jesus fall over and over, and look-on as people spit on Him and kick Him;  I can keep it together as nails are driven into the flesh of His hands and He is lifted upright on a cross, all without shedding a tear.

However, every time Peter denies Our Lord, my heart and soul weep; my body quakes; and tears flow down my face.

This year, I was prepared.  I told myself that I would not cry as the scene approached, but  again, I could not hold back the tears.

How many times have I denied my Lord in my thoughts and words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do?  More than three!

When I was a boy, I was once told by a priest in my home parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, that there’s a  follower of Christ in scripture who represents each and everyone of us.

For years I thought that I was Thomas, Doubting Thomas, because I have always questioned and studied to not only understand, but to please my hunger for the Truth.

I thought, deep down, if given enough evidence, my faith would never waiver.  Today, I have a library of evidence.

After watching The Passion, annually for the last decade and a half, I have sadly come to realize that I am Simon Peter, Cephas, Kepha.  I am someone who denies the Lord.

Denies, plural and in the present tense.

I so want to be Simon Peter, the Rock, but the sad reality is that I am not, and I may never be.

Who in scripture are you?  Have you ever pondered that question?

Maybe you are Peter, as well? Or Andrew? Or James? John? Philip? Bartholomew? Thomas? Matthew? James the Lesser? Jude? Simon the Zealot? Matthias? Saul? Mary Magdalene? Martha? Mary? Lazarus?

The truth is: The person we are eventually supposed to be most like is Jesus Christ.  And, like my Lord, every time I fall, I pick up my cross and carry on!

As Christians, we carry on even if we need someone else to carry our cross for us!

This Holy Good Friday, maybe you can join me and pray,  “Forgive me, Lord. Have mercy on me and on the whole world” and then pick up your cross and carry on.

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, and two children’s books The Second Prince  and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to teach and write.  To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

 

If you compare my social media activity before the Coronavirus to after the virus hit, you would notice a sharp decline.

I’m calling and texting friends and family more.  If I want information, I’ll text a friend or relative in the field or I’ll watch a press conference on YouTube.   

The whole press conference!

That doesn’t mean I don’t go on any social media platforms.  

I do — just to see what’s trending.

This week: Franklin Graham was a major trend on Twitter.

As a Catholic Christian, I cringe every time I see a Christian leader in the forefront of news — because it’s usually not good, especially in the Faith I practice.

I clicked on the thread, read some of the comments, and watched the edited online clip.  

In short, Franklin Graham said that mankind has been hit by this pandemic because we, as a whole, have sinned; we have turned our back on God — and that got people angry!

Very, very angry!

Okay, God does not cause death and illness.  I wrote about this in a memorial piece about a dear friendGod does, however, allow death and illness to come into our lives. 

It’s called God’s Permissive Will.

I’m not going to get into it too deeply, which is why I left the link.

In short, we are a fallen people; and the more we fall away from God, the more bad things happen to us, collectively.  On the other hand, we can individually be as good as Joseph in the Old Testament, and something bad can also happen to us.    

Stuff happens — to bad and good people.

A stray bullet.  A drunk driver.  Cancer.  A virus that leads to a pandemic.

At the time, we may feel terribly forsaken.

It’s tough to understand this kind of Permissive God.

But let’s examine what the people who disagree with Franklin Graham are not showing you.  Let’s examine why Franklin Graham was discussing the Coronavirus at this point and time in the first place.

In the complete interview, Franklin Graham, first spoke of his mobile field hospital in Central Park, supplied by his foundation Samaritan’s Purse to assist New York City’s fight in the COVID-19 epidemic.  

What I saw amazed me and filled my spirit with hope.

The Central Park field hospital has supplied New York with 68 extra beds, 10 extra ICU units, and a team of experienced doctors, nurses, and volunteers.   As of today, 34 beds are already full with five people in ICU.

Samaritan’s Purse is working with the Mount Sinai Health System which has multiple locations throughout the city.  The organization is caring for people regardless of their faith or their beliefs.

In the past, Samaritan’s Purse has sent medical teams to Haiti, Bangladesh, Iraq.   It has gone into Africa to combat Ebola.

That’s what Christians do.   

You don’t have to agree with everything Christians say.  Heck, we all don’t agree with everything we all say.

But, all Christians, regardless of our denomination,  have one thing in common. (Or at least we should.)   Christians, as believers in Christ’s love and grace, are a people of acts and good deeds.

For the majority of Christians throughout the world, this week is Holy Week.  

It starts off with the Jubilee of Palm Sunday and quickly turns dark as Our Lord is led to the cross on Good Friday, almost symbolic of the past four weeks in the United States.

Jesus didn’t get crucified because he did wonderful and miraculous things.  He didn’t get beat, whipped with 40 lashes, and nailed to a cross because he told people to love one another.

Jesus was crucified because of some of the tough things that he said. His words made some people uncomfortable — and all the good He accomplished was ignored.

He was crucified because some people of good will did not understand why He was present at that point in time in history.   He was crucified because He was trying to save people.   He was crucified because he was trying to turn people’s attention back onto God.

His words were twisted, used against Him, and He was publicly flogged and humiliated — much like what is happening right now to Franklin Graham.

The Good News is we know how this story always ends.

As we enter Holy Week, may be all come together and pray for a true Passover and that a true Pascha, a true Easter will soon follow.

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, and two children’s books The Second Prince  and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to teach and write.  To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

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Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay

 

Maybe I was like the rest of you, but before COVID-19, I took a lot of things for granted.

One of the things I took for granted was the overall health of my family and friends.

When someone sneezed, I would habitually and lackadaisically simple say, “Bless you!”

For some, like a cousin in the family, that was even too much to say.  A simple “Ga’ bla” would do.

Then COVID-19 hit!

Schools closed, then businesses started to shutdown as we all began practicing extreme “social distancing”.

One evening, last week, my 10 year-old had a running nose, a symptom which would have warranted much attention.  In the past, if it got worse, we would just assume it was allergies and would give the kid a benadryl before going to bed.

Well, this time, his temperature rose a bit higher than 98.7.

“His temperature usually runs high,” my wife calmly informed me, knowing my profensity for concern, something I call K.I.D.S.

And then, he sneezed.

“God bless you,” I said with an emphasis on God and you.

There are many legends regarding the coinage of “God, bless you.”

National Geographic reports that during the plague of AD 590, “Pope Gregory I ordered unceasing prayer for divine intercession. Part of his command was that anyone sneezing be blessed immediately (“God bless you”), since sneezing was often the first sign that someone was falling ill with the plague.” By AD 750, it became customary to say “God bless you” as a response to one sneezing. [1]

Regardless of its origin, it’s time again that we start offering a true “God, bless you” to everyone — everywhere.

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, and two children’s books The Second Prince  and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to teach and write.  To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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Image by Picography from Pixabay

About five years ago, I had hip-resurfacing surgery.  Though my condition was congenital, I lived a fairly active life until my mid-thirties.

I tried everything possible to heal myself, but could not.  I was nearly crippled by the time I decided to put my fate in someone else’s hands and go under the knife.

My post-surgical transformation has been nothing but miraculous; there’s really no activity I cannot do with my kids.

You can say that I have been physically reborn!

A day doesn’t go by that I’m not thankful to this man who healed me.  Today, I continue to go out of my way to talk to anyone I see on crutches or with a limp, to tell them about this miracle worker and the hospital where he practices.

It made me start to think: Isn’t this how the earlier Christians acted; those who saw Jesus perform His miracles?

Maybe that’s why they were so fearless in their praise and worship?

So, what about us?  Why are so many of us not talking to everybody about the miraculous transformation Jesus’ has had on our life?

Well, maybe you haven’t experienced a miracle in your life?

Okay…

Instead, imagine that this miracle worker just saved a life?   Maybe it’s your life? Or a life of a loved one?

What would you do FIRST?

In the initial moment, I would guess that you would be beyond grateful. Most likely, you’d be thankful to that person for the rest of your life.

I’d suspect that you wouldn’t be afraid to go around telling everybody you could about this person.  You’d most likely tell anyone who would listen how he or she saved you — and not worry if some people weren’t interest in what you had to say or were even put off by it.

It wouldn’t surprise anyone if you set aside a day to give that person thanks.  Maybe you might even ask the local government to honor him or her?

Eventually, however, you’ll come to realize that there’s really no way to pay this person back; or anyway to even pay forward on something like this.

Besides the honor and praise, you might start to evaluate your own life.  You might even change your habits.  Eat better.  Exercise.

Love deeper.  Speak sweeter.  Give forgiveness to those you’ve been denying.

You know how the song goes…

But the reality is: beside giving this person the honor and praise they rightfully deserve, there’s nothing you can do to express your gratitude except, maybe, to start valuing life over all other things.

But being human, you may finally feel a need to do something.  So, you might ask that person what they need? Or ask one or two of his or her friends?

These desires are all innate, given to us by the God who created us, as is the natural order of this process that begins with thanksgiving and followed by continuous honor and praise, and ends with the action to please.

As a Catholic Christian, when catechizing our children, I feel that we are no longer properly fostering the natural order of  desire when it comes to the One who saved us.

Instead, we have moved the need to do something, first and foremost, and with that, we have placed the teaching and practice of social justice before the praise and honor of the Savior.

Unlike the Social Justice teachings given to us by Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum and expanded upon by Pius XI in Quadragesimo anno, today’s social justice catechism perpetuates the gross misunderstanding that our Christian life and salvation starts and ends with acts of good works, a teaching supported and promoted by the “good feelings” such acts of kindness bring.

The Church does not teach this — nor has it ever!

In fact, the Church teaches that “[w]e cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved” [Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1533-1534]. CCC 2005

We are saved solely by the Grace of God; the God who so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Much like our poorly catechized 16th century brothers and sisters, this present-day catechism, taught in many of our parishes across the United States, has appeared to repackaged “good works” under the guise of true social justice.

In today’s social justice catechism, however, there’s little talk about the Son as the Christ who saved us, and therefore, even less discussion on why He deserves our daily devotion, let alone a day of Thanksgiving (Eucharist) during the week where we put aside all things  to honor and praise Him.

When discussing this, I can’t stop thinking about the last scene of Saving Private Ryan.   

After watching Captain John H. Miller, played by Tom Hanks, take his last breath, Matt Damon’s character morphs on screen to the present.   We discover that citizen Ryan has brought his entire family to pay homage — not because they were commanded to come, but because they wanted to join their father in this moment of honor and praise.

As he kneels in front of the stone-carved ivory cross that bears the name of the man who saved him, he humbly states, “Every day, I think of about what you said to me….”  Finally, he turns to his beloved wife and says, “Tell me I’m a good man”.

Absent such honor and praise, Religion becomes nothing more than a venue for service projects that anyone can do anywhere turning our service to  God into a mode of self-gratification — feelings and works — absent of a true reason or holy cause.

This is why, I believe, so many of our young people are leaving the Church in droves.

You cannot proclaim the nature of your service. You cannot say: This is what I will do!  This is how! and when! and why!  [As if] you are trying to match your will with God’s and call it service. [1]

Such service lacks Truth.  You know it and the Nones certainly know it.  And, that’s the  betrayal of the social justice catechism.

The only Truth is that there’s no possible way to pay back the One who has saved you — especially the One Who gave His life while trying to save yours.

All you can do is act like someone who truly believes that your life has been saved.

 

James DobkowskiJames Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul,and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL

 

1.  Taken from The Staircase (1998) about the Miraculous Staircase of the Loretto Chapel in New Mexico, USA.

 

 

 

 

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