Posts Tagged ‘E. P. Ned Burke’

The Legend of St. Pat

By E. P. Ned O’Burke

Saint Patrick is perhaps the most misunderstood and misrepresented saint in the history of the Church. It seems, every year at this time, some historian will come along and claim there was never a St. Patrick in the first place.

Or, as one noted authority believes, there were really three Patricks who were eventually blended into one legendary character. Also, you can be certain someone will point out that St. Patrick was not an Irishman at all. To the chagrin of some wearers of the green, a few years ago in a newspaper article, one historian stated St. Patrick was an Italian.

Most authorities on this subject cannot even agree on Patrick’s date of birth. Some claim he was born in France in the year 387. Others say it was in western Britain, near the Welsh border, and the year was 385. His father, one claims, was an official of the Roman Government. Then an equally reliable source contends that Patrick’s father was a deacon, and his father’s father was a priest. It appears the only agreement among historians is that at the age of sixteen young Patrick was captured by sea raiders and taken to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. His eventual escape from there again leads to disagreement. Some claim he was “miraculously freed,” while others, referring to Patrick’s own written words in his “Confession,” believe that Patrick trudged some 200 miles and boarded a ship destined for France.

This period, following his return to France, is cloudy and uncertain. One legend has it Patrick spent three of these years at a monastery on a small island off the coast of France. Some historians are convinced this is where the legend of St. Patrick driving all the snakes out of Ireland originated. For it was on this small island that St. Honoratus, not St. Patrick, drove the snakes from the small island in order to build a monastery. Those same historians point out that long before Patrick came on the scene Ireland was recognized as a snakeless state.

After returning to Britain, we are told that Patrick was confronted with a vision to bring the Gospel of God to Ireland. In 432, Pope Celestine sent Patrick to Ireland to fulfill this vision.

It is true Patrick was very successful in converting the pagan inhabitants and in teaching them the word of God. One reason for his immediate success seems to be found in an old Irish Prophesy that said, “One shall arrive here, having his head shaven in a circle, bearing a crooked staff … ” Although legend pictures St. Patrick with long hair and a beard, many historians admit he was most likely clean-shaven and partially bald for that was the custom then for those who were trained in a monastery, or who spread the monastic way of life.

Even Patrick’s physical features are a matter of controversy. Today, he is portrayed as a tall, heavyset individual. According to the Cisterian monk Jocelyn, however, “Patrick was a dwarf.” In fact, Jocelyn claims Patrick had a man named McCarthy traveling with him whose job it was to carry Patrick over creeks and rivers. If this man wasn’t exceptionally strong, then Patrick must have been exceptionally light.

We celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick on March 17 because this was the day he is believed to have died. It was in the year 461 and Patrick was 76 years of age. Then again, as another source contends, Patrick lived to the ripe old age of 106!

Perhaps, some day, St. Patrick will come down here and straighten out this whole mess, once and for all.


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By E. P. Ned Burke

It was 12:30 PM in Dallas, Texas, when a suspected fatal bullet whisked through the November 22nd sky, shattering the cranium of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Since that time, the volume of words written about this man–and the events leading up to and after the assassination–have been so astronomical as to defy description.

So any further dissertation regarding this sad event in our history would be anti-climatic.

However, for me and those who lived through those terrifying hours, there is always something yet to be said.

Ironically, in his last speech, Kennedy noted: “This is a dangerous and uncertain world … no one expects our lives to be easy … not in this decade, not in this century.”

And truly, since that fateful afternoon, we in this country have found our lives and our times more uncertain than ever before. It is almost as though that deadly projectile which destroyed that youthful brain also demolished the gentle and kind heart of this great country.

Dark days followed in rapid succession soon after John Kennedy’s lifeless body was wheeled from Trauma Room One of the Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

Even before his remains were laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery, Lee Harvey Oswald, the suspected assassin, was shot to death in full view of millions of television viewers. Decent Americans were shocked beyond comprehension.

When President Kennedy died, it was, as Senator Mike Mansfield so eloquently put it: “A piece of each of us died.”

Sadly, it is true. We, as a kind and civilized people, have stepped backward instead of forward since that tragic event in 1963.

The senseless killings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy added further to the erosion of our moral fiber and in our belief of the inherent goodness of man. And the gruesome 9/11 terrorist attack, the endless conflicts, needless war casualties, outright political corruption, and blatant corporate greed have left us numb.

Today, I see a more violent and angry population with little tolerance or compassion for one another. Human kindness is lacking in many of our young people and, sadly, in some of our senior citizens as well.

I know I will never regain the hope and innocence I had at twenty. That tragic day fifty years ago took it away from me forever. However, I still feel there is time to start anew.

For as John F. Kennedy once said: “Neither wind nor tide is always with us. Our course on a dark and stormy sea cannot always be clear. But we have set sail … and the horizon, however cloudy, is also full of hope.”

So let’s all pray for a better tomorrow … before it’s too late.

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By E. P. Ned Burke

He wasn’t physically attractive. But, inside, he was beautiful.

His name was Harry Davenport. I know because he showed me his birth certificate. And why and when he showed it to me is the basis for this little tale.

It was the hot and rainy summer of 1972. Hurricane Agnes turned the placid Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania into a raging monster that flooded the entire Wyoming Valley. The city of Wilkes Barre sank beneath 30 feet of water. More than 24,000 homes were damaged and it was weeks before the 14 trillion gallons of unwanted water finally receded.

As soon as the National Guard helped to clean things up, the politicians and other VIPs arrived in their clean suits and shiny cars. They all promised to “share the pain” of the victims. In reality, however, most fled soon after the TV crews left.

But it was my job as a reporter to endure their pontifical speeches, take notes, and write my story. I finally sought solace away from the hypocrisy to a nearby park bench. My youthful idealism was quickly turning into a newsman’s cynicism. I began to wonder if there was one unpretentious, honest man left in the human race.

That was when I met Harry.

He was sitting near the end of the bench. He looked like what we would call today a “street person.” He wore a large, tattered coat with several sweaters beneath it. His pants were baggy and caked with mud.

He looked so weary and sad that I offered to get him a cup of coffee from the nearby Red Cross stand. He seemed surprised at my gesture, but, nevertheless, accepted the offer. After giving him the coffee, I returned to my notes. Then I heard him speak.

“Nice day, taint it?”

I found the old man’s words unwelcome, interrupting my train of thought. I was facing a deadline. I needed solitude.

However his sad, toothless smile beckoned me to share a few moments with him. He told me his name was Harry. He said he had been on his own for a very long time. When I asked just how long, he didn’t answer.

I went back to my notes and he interrupted again, asking what I was writing. I said something about the hypocrisy of politicians. He wasn’t ashamed to ask me what the word “hypocrite” meant. He nodded when I told him and said he had run into “dem kind” over the years. I was sure that he had. Yet, he didn’t seem bitter about it.

“Dem’s folks jes like youse and me,” he said. “Dey’s jes tryin’ to be somethin’ dey ain’t.” He paused and added, “Shucks, I’d like to be somebody else too  . . .  I guess.” Then he fell silent again and looked away.

As we sat side-by-side, an unpretentious old man and this young reporter full of himself, it occurred to me that perhaps not every politician was hypocritical, nor did every newsman have to be cynical. Maybe, just maybe, there was hope for the integrity of man in this mixed-up world after all.

“I tink it’s my birthday today,” Harry said, interrupting my thoughts again. Then he dug deep into his layers of clothing and withdrew an old, crumpled document and showed it to me.

I could see it was a birth certificate. “Harry Davenport?” I said.

Harry smiled weakly and pointed a dirty thumb to his chest. “Yep, dat’s me.”

I glanced at the date of birth and told him it was indeed his birthday that day. “Happy birthday, Harry,” I said, and shook his withered hand.

He appeared embarrassed and withdrew his hand sheepishly and looked away. I felt uncomfortable myself and decided it was time to go and interview a few politicians. But as I got up to leave, I felt Harry’s hand tugging at my sleeve.

I looked down and saw that his eyes were moist. His large-veined hand shook as he pointed a crooked finger to the date on the old document.

“How old am I?” he asked, fighting back tears.

Like I said, Harry was beautiful.

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Halloween Bust

Of all the holidays, the one most rightfully stamped “For Children Only” falls on the last day of October.

Halloween is without a doubt the only remaining holiday, especially in small towns across America, that is still reserved for the very young.

Once upon a time, Christmas was a children’s holiday. In recent years, however, with adults horning in on the receiving end of the gift-giving idea, coupled with the annual Christmas parties “For Adults Only,” children have found themselves somewhat left out on many of the festivities.

As for New Year’s, children never got near the front door of this strictly adult holiday. And, Easter has now become a day for adults, especially parents, to show off their new finery and that of their children to the envy of their neighbors. Parading up and down the street in a stiff new outfit isn’t exactly a child’s idea of a fun holiday.

But, Halloween! Ah, that’s something altogether different.

Children realize this is the one holiday that belongs exclusively to them. Their parents and the rest of the world are mere spectators. They are

allowed to watch, but not participate.

Parents, however, are persistent pests, and much like cockroaches, you can’t get rid of them. So far most parents have limited themselves to adult costume parties and dances. This is bad enough. But the real encroachment upon this childhood holiday shows itself when Mother insists on selecting Junior’s Halloween costume. The scene usually plays out like this:

“Junior, sweetie, have you gotten into your darling Dolly Parton outfit yet?”

“Ah. Ma,” Junior says, looking into the mirror at the bulging front of his turtleneck sweater. “I look silly.”

“You’re supposed to look … different, dear. This is Halloween.”

Junior eyes himself in the mirror with disdain. He reaches under the sweater to make another adjustment. “Aaah, Ma, my chests keep movin’ all around.”

“Stop fussing. You look darling.”

“What a bummer. I’ll kill myself if someone recognizes me.”

“Hush! In that outfit nobody will recognize you. Now go and have fun.”

Junior lumbers out the door only to return twenty minutes later in tears. His ensemble is in disarray. “I toldja! I toldja!” he shouts at his mother.

“Poor baby. Tell Mother what happened. Did someone recognize you?”

“What do you think? And of all people it had to be that big mouth Betty. She’ll tell every kid in school!”

“But how did she know it was you, dear?”

“She was there! She saw the whole thing!”

“What whole thing, dear?”

“I was in front of her house, bending over to fix my high heel shoe, when Daddy came up behind me and pinched me in the behind and made one of my chests fall off. Then Daddy’s face got real red and he ran away.”


*You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nedburke

Or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nedburke

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What now?

I guess after 40 years of writing, editing, and meeting deadlines I’ve retired my mind (as well as my body) for a spell. But I haven’t been completely idle.

Both Yesterday’s Magazette and Writer’s Magazette are still online and being updated regularly. I’m especially looking forward to 2013 when YM will launch its 40th anniversary issue. So send me your personal essays for this final keepsake issue. I always enjoy reading about your life experiences.

Click Here to go to Yesterday’s Magazette guidelines.

Writer’s Magazette could use a few more articles and answers to our “10 Questions” for today’s writers. This is a great way to publicize yourself.

Click Here to go to Writer’s Magazette guidelines.

In addition, I have revised “How To Be An Online Magazine Publisher” and “Hey! You Wanna Be A Writer?” e-book package deals. In fact, right now, you can grab either unique offer for just $7.00! That’s about the price of a small pizza for a big opportunity that could change your life forever. Why not take a quick look now?

Click Here to go to: “How To Be An Online Magazine Publisher.”

Click Here to go to: “Hey! You Wanna Be A Writer?”

I also urge you to “Like” my Facebook page. Here’s the link:www.facebook.com/nedburke

My Twitter page is similar: www.twitter.com/nedburke

I always enjoy hearing from friends like you.

My book site is still www.epburke.com. I’ve added a few new items and am currently working on two new novels. Hope to have both finished by the early part of 2013.

So I guess I am not as idle as I think I am. Perhaps I have finally stepped off the fast-paced treadmill of life and am now enjoying a leisurely walk, taking in the scenery, and doing whatever pleases me the most. I hope you are doing the same.

Well, that’s it for now.

Take care, and, as always, remember to be kind to one another.

(Sadly, a behavior that some of our current politicians have yet to master.)

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YM and WM Changes Explained

Both Yesterday’s Magazette (YM) and Writer’s Magazette (WM) are still very much alive as annual magazines and we’ll be accepting submissions for both publications each year from Feb.1 to Dec.1 and the accepted ones will appear weekly under “Updates” on each website and then in Dec. all accepted submissions will be considered for inclusion in our 2013 printed and online edition, scheduled for Jan. 2013.

You can send as many submissions as you wish. We’ll let you know if any do not meet our needs. Otherwise you can find your accepted submission by clicking the “Updates” link in the top navigation bar on each site.

We’ll be looking for Comments, Viewpoints, Articles, Photos, News, and answers to our WM “10 Questions.” Same as before. Click on “Submissions” in the navigation bar on either site and read the guidelines before submitting.

Yesterday’s Magazette will award a $50 prize in January, 2013 for the “Best YM Memory of The Year” chosen from all the nostalgia stories we accepted and published on YM’s website (www.yesterdaysmagazette.com) under “Updates” from Feb.1 to Dec.1 in 2012.

Writer’s Magazette will award a $50 prize in January, 2013 to the “WM Cover Writer of The Year” chosen from the best article or answers and quality photo received for our “10 Questions” series. Deadline Dec. 1, 2012. Again, all new accepted submissions will appear weekly on WM’s website (www.writersmagazette.com) on the “Updates” page.

If you have any questions, feel free to write to burkepublications@gmail.com.

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Wow! Can you believe another year has flown by?

In any case, this is a great opportunity for me to offer my sincere thanks to you for supporting E. P  Burke Publishing and my related web sites and Magazettes.

This coming year, I hope to earn your support and trust even more by sticking with my own personal resolution of keeping all my sites as user-friendly as possible.

You know, we don’t get to make many resolutions in our short

lives; so I think we should make this year really count by vowing to be extra kind to one another each and every day of 2012.

(If the Mayan legend is right, this could be our LAST year!)

Regardless, we need to start somewhere to make this a better world.

Politicians, celebrities, the money-grabbers don’t seem to be doing a great job of it. So, in 2012, you and I can resolve to make a small difference in our own lives by being kinder to our family, friends, and, especially, to strangers.

It just might catch on enough to bring about a lasting peace without any worries … except for that Mayan legend, of course.

Hoping you have a happy and prosperous 2012,


E. P. Ned Burke



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