… Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” (Emphasis added.)

Mt 9: 28, 29

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Here Jesus is speaking to two blind men who approached Him.  They wanted to see.  He asked if they believed.

What if a good and contented life were as simple as believing and, in believing, seeing – seeing the world anew, seeing more completely, seeing what you have missed for so long … seeing with the eyes of faith, and living in the Spirit?

Imagine if your lack of belief made your life more confusing, less coherent, less settled, less joyful, less happy, more conflicted, more lost, more wasteful, and more difficult.

What a waste to have shunned belief in favor of unbelief and all the discord that it piles on a person, relationships, a family, a community, a nation.

Such a simple proposition, so easily ignored and at such great a cost.

This Christmas season renew your experience of The Christmas Carol.  Ask yourself: Do I believe?

Believe and your life will conform to the faith you have been given.

Shalom.

Footnote: CNN had a panel assembled to “discuss” the Trump victory.  It was quite obvious that those assembled are from the We-Know-Better-Than-The-Peasants Brigade.

David Gergan (a/k/a David Gurgle) was especially haughty and “superior.”  He of Harvard (where but there or Yale) was beside himself, just incredulous that people voted “for him” (Donald J. Trump).  The arrogance is staggering.  The absence of humility stunning.

Makes one think we have wasted a whole-lotta-moolah on college education and have much too much room for “experts” who so resemble macaws.

And yes, I have three advanced degrees – so I am not without some bona fides in raising this issue.

Mr. Gergan has been out of the work force for some time.  Can we make that official?

This post is dedicated to Little Fiona Aurelia Sylvester, entering her third month of life today.  To see her face is to see perfect tranquility – that which is within each of us.

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It is in your power to withdraw yourself whenever you desire.  Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm of your own.

Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations

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Another police officer killed last night in Tacoma, Washington.  A terrorist attack at Ohio State University this week.

We come by discord and violence easily these days.  The “usual suspects” are the usual suspects.  The rabble rousers are the same.  The excuse-makers are predictable as always.

Some of those who claim to lead are more apt to add to the discord than attend to it.  They,  unlike Marcus Aurelius – Emperor of Rome, live rather poorly, without depth or faith, intelligence or wisdom.  Their “narrative” produces and excuses anarchy.  Sad.

Yet, you can seek peace within, know tranquility.

Do you access tranquility?  Or have you been lulled into the chaos of the moment – moment to moment?  Are you separated from the Spirit?  Left in a sea of godlessness?   Dropped into the fog of destructive ideology?

Who exactly do you listen too?  Do those who speak give you peace or stir up confusion?

You have the choice to listen or not to listen, to accept or reject.

Tranquility or senseless violence?  What do you seek?  What do you tolerate?

Those who strike at police officers strike at civil society, steal your peace from you.  Those who fail to lead aid and abet the miscreants.  Those who would commit random acts of terror have no place in civil society, nor do those who excuse their conduct.

As for you: seek tranquility.  It is within.  Protect it.  Listen with discretion to the public voices you might hear.

Shalom.

To be in harmony with the wholeness of things is not to have anxiety over imperfections.

Dogen

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I was asked this week to share a story about a law school classmate of mine on his 70th birthday.  In doing so, I recalled how each of us laughed easily at ourselves and all the people and events we encountered in the world around us.

The imperfection of humans (ourselves included) and the things we create always seemed quite obvious to me and to my classmate.  Hence, we laughed a whole lot.

One time my son asked me how I maintained the disposition I have, and I answered, “I see the world as an episode of MASH (one of his and my favorite television shows) and I’m in it.”

Yes, there is reverence in irreverence.  Yes, doing good amid the chaos is possible and it is more the everyday challenge than one might initially think.

We are by nature and design perfectly imperfect.  But, oh, how we try to ignore that fundamental reality!!!  And what disaster flows from it!

Disaster?  Yes.

Some examples.  “Political correctness.”  Obamacare.  The quest for physical appearance, the Fountain of Youth.  Marxism.  Just about any government program.  Saving the planet from “Global Warming!!!

In seeking perfection we can create great tension and great anxiety.

Yes, it is good to seek the good we are, to maintain beauty.  But at what price?  Does the good we seek not also include our tranquility?  It seems that it must.

Often the task of coming to imperfection as an accepted and natural state requires a process of re-parenting.  That is: unlearning the habits and demands of those who tutored us in the illusion of perfection.  Thank God that has not been the case in my life.

Fortunately, I grew up in a family and a community that was utterly realistic, that saw the calamity we humans so often generate (most frequently in the name of “perfection).  We surely never “bought into” the utter fiction of the “hierarchy of elites” who fashioned, like Ms. Hillary, that they know best and we are a “basket of deplorables.”

So, slow down.  Accept the human being that you are.  Ignore those who “sell” perfection for they peddle snake oil, illness, unease, tension, foolishness.

Life is composed of tatters, shreds of this and that.  Find the ease, the humor, the implicit instability, creative imperfection of it all.  Live in joy by living what is.  Dispatch those who keep you in constant tension and anxiety.  Let them drive themselves crazy.

Laughter lubricates very nicely.

Shalom.

In Memory of Sylvia Sylvester

Love is responsibility for an I and for a You; in this consists what cannot consist in any other feeling – the equality of all lovers.

Martin Buber, in I and Thou

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Such a brilliant observation from Martin Buber.

Perhaps, it warrants two comments.  One, the responsibility for “an I” requires that the “I” know himself or herself completely, know his or her flaws and limitations.  Otherwise, how can “an I” know “a You?

Take for example person A and person B.

What if A in the course of their childhood lived in a family where expectations for perfection were stringent and unreasonable, but constant, and A’s mother was unloving and disapproving, and A’s father was disinterested in A’s gaining independence?

In such a family, A’s fullness would be thwarted, A could be anxious and need to defend vigorously any conversation in which A sensed “disapproval.”  A, you see, would need to fight for survival in a very small space experienced in their family of origin.

In such a situation, how would A’s “I” carry out a responsibility for B’s “You?”

Indeed any disagreement with B would be a threat to A’s existence.  A would, naturally, defend any criticism or objection likely to occur in the normal course to human discourse between A and B.  In such a situation, how would A and B know the beautiful “equality of all lovers?”

One can pose the same question as to the American Left and their opposite: American Traditionalists as to our recent election.

The Left (A) is peculiarly distort because Traditionalists (B) won.

A seems unusually upset, acts out in hateful and defiant ways, belittles and discredits B (the victor) and all the B’s who supported the winner.

Name calling is in vogue with the A’s.  They are unable to entertain normal civility and a peaceful and gracious transfer of power.  They are “fit to be tied.”

More to the point, they cannot see that their conduct, views and disposition may have caused their defeat.  No introspection, blinded by their own “certainty” that they know best, and that they know all.

Like the A in the above example, they lack any capacity for introspection – focusing on the real and imagined faults of B, not on their own.

Aside from A acting childishly, they cannot experience love or friendship between A and B.  Stuck in their own importance, “correctness,” and arrogance, they are unable to co-exist with B.  They throw a tandrum, raise a fuss and show themselves ironically the reason for their rejection.

Not much room for fellowship when A is so hostile, so lacking in humility, so cock-sure of their being right that B to them are merely a “basket of deplorables.”

Ironically, we see A is blind to their own faults, simply cannot see themselves and is far removed for a healthy disposition and the I and Thou that Buber insightfully identifies.

A is, sadly, blindly anchored in self – with no space for others.  Extraordinary arrogance.

This is where our culture is at the present time.  It is a very unhealthy, unfriendly, unloving state.

Shalom.

Make No Mistake: We face a cultural conflict.  The Traditionalists – those who value faith, freedom of religion, the genius of Constitution and its original meaning, the autonomy of the states and the sovereignty of each American, our Nation and its borders and our unique heritage, free market capitalism, law and order, the military and our national economic and security interests must reverse the perversity of the Left, their special pleading, foolishness and their scorn of this Nation.  Policy alone will not attend to the problem we face.  Policy is but a first step.  Public discussion and education are vital.

He was one of the numerous and varied legion of dullards, of half-animated abortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs, who attach themselves to the idea most in fashion only to vulgarize it and who caricature every cause they serve, however sincerely.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in Crime and Punishment

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Rather makes you wonder how Dostoyevsky could know the American Left before there was an American Left.

Ask yourself, who in particular fits this description?  I suspect there are many candidates spread across major institutions.

Where do you find dullards?  Conceit?  The half-educated?  Those with a presence as dead as alive?  Those who attach themselves to what is popular, fickled fashion?  Who vulgarize the cause they advance?  And cheapen us all?

Shalom.

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son …

Jn 3:16

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This is the starting point of Christian life – that God, out of pure love of us, came to us incarnate so we would cease to be alienated from the source and meaning of life – mortal and eternal.

Indeed, in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ we are offered this: all the things we do that divide us from God, and one another, can be overcome if we but believe and act on our beliefs.

In this, Christianity transforms us, makes us brothers and sisters and places our relationship with Him above all other things.  Such is the solidarity that God has created with us and the dignity His love of us proclaims for each person.  In this we are raised up, exalted as His children.

God’s love of us transfigures us, identifies our worth and calls us into our full being.  In this comes confidence, courage, tranquility, forgiveness, honor, humility, fellowship, unity, love of others.

This gift gives the primacy to God.  Yes, it is not man and government, nor commerce, nor power, nor politics, nor control, nor wealth, nor status, nor celebrity, nor possessions, nor gender, nor race, nor title, nor sexuality that comes first – but God and our identity as His children and our call to serve others, not self, as God serves us – that is who and why we are.

This is the foundation of a nation that possesses a Christian heritage.  This is a way of being that offers fellowship, community, family, unity – a nation of One – an indivisible nation, a family of many as One.

That said, where are the voices to reprimand the violent protestors?  Why no unifying voice from Mrs. Clinton?  Why the divisive intent of Ms. Stein’s recount?

Are we not in need of unification?  Cooperation?  Do we not face foreign adversity?  Domestic challenges?  The rise of hostile entities in the world?  Unsustainable deficits?  Unemployed people?  A sea of idle dependents?

Exalted by God’s great act of love, the silence of some and the divisiveness of others stands without condemnation.  What does God imagine in this?

Shalom.

“today’s longing for any, even the most illusory, certainty …”

“The question tortures today many people: how does one believe … “

“The only thing to be regretted without qualification is for man to be perfectly adapted to totalitarian society … Hence we should all be sick in some way.  We should all feel despair …”

Czeslaw Milosz, in his letters to Thomas Merton

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A longing for certainty.  The very capacity to believe.  Totalitarian despair.

Milosz, living in Communist occupied Poland identifies some of what a large number of Americans experience today, and his words help explain the fundamental divide in our society and the nihilism that accompanies today’s popular culture.

As to certainty, the only certainty we possess is hope, and that comes from faith.  Yet, faith is under attack, dismissed by our elites, academics, “entertainers,” media, politicians, judges, bureaucrats, and others.

Yes, religion, a cornerstone of America, is dismissed by those who have dominated culture, commerce and national governance.

Belief.  Without religion, there is no belief.  The starting point for believing arises in and from religious experience.  Without belief, there is despair.  Without religion, totalitarians prosper and despair and its consequences thicken as death lays hold in many, premature and violent forms.

This is our present snapshot.  This is the recent electoral result.  This is England leaving the European Union and Solidarity chasing the Communists from Poland.

Certainty.  Hope.  Faith.  Religion.  Believing.  Freedom.  The desire for these produced the rejection of those at the top of popular cultural, political power, commerce and finance, in the media, in entertainment.

We have seen this statement in the recent election: “No” to the totalitarian conformity of political “correctness” and its indoctrination.  The root of this rejection is a thirst for hope and the certainty of belief, for independence, dignity, purpose and meaning, for moral order and freedom to be as God made us to be.

The godless always overplay their hand and engage childish fits when their unearned comfort is disturbed.

Shalom.

Addendum – Barack Obama says “history” will be Castro’s final judge. Wrong again, Sir.  God does the final judging.

This pretty much tells you all you need to know about the Left and modern liberalism and the wayward places their thinking gets you when they are in power. 

Thinking of history as our judge, not God, is so Leftist, so material, so temporal, so small, so narrow, and so hopeless.  Out, out dark spot!

And how about Hillary and Co. joining the “recount” brigade!  Trump holds out an olive branch of “no more investigation” and true to form Hillary takes the branch and claims the tree and all the land coast to coast that it stands on.  Liberals never could spell “grateful.”  A jackass is the perfect symbol for these people.

Religion and morals are the pillars of civil society.

George Washington

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Friends, Washington is not the only one of our Nation’s Founders to make such a statement.  It is not hard to understand and our present disarray ought to make the point.

There is nothing wrong that cannot be corrected by restoring the place of religion and morality in our culture.  Absent this, and decline is a certainty.

Perhaps, those on the Left might now realize why people are distressed with ideologues, the elites, globalism, and the present state of the Nation.

Shalom.

Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving 

To … prove God’s existence is a very different thing from … thanking Him.

Soren Kierkegaard, in The Present Age

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I call you to give thanks for what you have been given.  I do so by sharing some of the things that I will give thanks for today:

+ for a Loving God and the grace I have been given to believe in God since I was a very small child

+ for God’s moral order and the strength and humility to adhere to it

+ for a loving family and a Mother who saved my life at the cost of her own desires and needs

+ for those who loved me and those I have been graced to love

+ for the struggles and challenges in life that have always taught be more than any education could ever have

+ for having been born in America and for our ancestors who built this great land of freedom and opportunity

+ for the men and women in the armed forces who have protected us at great cost to themselves and still do today

+ for my son and my daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren – Jack and Fiona

+ for my health and the health of friends and loved ones

+ for friends – so many, and so undeserved

+ for this beautiful land

+ for the recent election and the opportunity to repair the destruction we have brought upon ourselves by errant ideology, excessive pride in self, selfishness and unnecessary hostility toward others

+ for Christ and his sacrifice for us, all who have lived and yet will come to life.

God bless you all.  Rejoice today … and be glad.

Shalom.

Jesus’ call to conversion and penance … does not aim at … “sackcloth and ashes” … but the conversion of the heart, and interior conversion …

Catechism of the Catholic Church (Second Edition), para. 1430

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In all things God works for good, our good.  It is no less so in our misdeeds, our sins, our crimes.  Yes, in attending to our guilt we are given to new growth, moved toward God and our peace and perfection.  But we must acknowledge our failures, our evil deeds, our dishonesty.  Failing to do so we remain deep in the darkness of sin and despair.

Illustratively, if Mr. and Mrs. Clinton and their colleagues have done wrong, their rehabilitation requires that they publicly own their wrongful conduct for without that any gratuitous “forgiveness” offered by others in position to pardon, or to “excuse” further examination of their very questionable conduct serves a dreadful and destructive personal and public end.

That is to say: a failure to examine the conduct that is known and seems to foreshadow very significant and wide-ranging behavior that compromised national security and appears to have sullied the role of public service at the expense of substantial private personal financial gain affirms of us a two-tier justice system that separates the privileged class from everyone else and defies Christ and the wellbeing of the lawless persons involved, insofar as they cannot live a rehabilitated life – ever.

You see, interior penance is a radical re-orientation of a life.  It is a return and restoration to wholeness, humility, a cleansing of the soul, a return to health and to a relationship with God. This is precisely why we seek punishment and is, if you will, the good news offered to the world by Christ Jesus.

To fail to hold others accountable is a faithless disposition, a denial of God.  

To be accountable for our wrongs is to be vested in God’s mercy, to trust in His grace, in His love.  In owning our misdeeds, we are strengthened in faith.  A culture that does not hold us accountable is a faithless culture – on its way to ruin.

To balk at inquiry and investigation or to easily “pardon” for unexamined deeds denies God and furthers the godlessness that is the primary error of American life and government today.

Restore us to thyself, O Lord, that we may be restored.

Lam. 5:21

Shalom.

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