“ … I apologize for standing behind a high wall … if I stay behind this wall I have quiet, recollection, tranquility of heart …”

Thomas Merton, in a short essay entitled “On the Monastic Life”

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Monastic life provides quiet and the opportunity for reflection, contemplation, prayer, work, worship, fellowship with peers and superiors, introspection, spiritual growth and maturity, growth in faith and understanding of mortal and eternal existence, your religious narrative and your chosen religion.

When you think about life as most live it, I suspect you do not detect a monastic element in your life or in the lives of others you know or observe.

That said how does one, in a largely secular culture with endless demands made on each of us, come to quiet, reflection, spiritual growth, introspection, self-examination and self-understanding, great personal peace and contentment, modesty, humility, purpose and meaning? How in a busy secular existence does one find solitude and that which quiets the heart and gives one literally peace within – peace and purpose in each day?

When you think about it, doesn’t Merton’s quote raise this question: might I prosper from a monastic mindset?

I think the answer is “yes.”

If I am correct – then the question becomes – how can you acquire some of that monastic reality in your own life?

I offer some thoughts. One, seek quiet – that is yourself without noise or distractions. Come, in this, to know that peace is your’s for the taking. Notice in quite how your heart beat slows and your worries seem to fade.

Think too of this – in quiet you are more apt to pray, to reflect, to look within and find that the most important questions arise out of the quiet and introspection. Surprisingly, in this quiet you are apt to hear more from within and see more without … maybe you might find yourself picking up a book that explores living a life as one of God’s children, one that has been artfully and lovingly created to accompany God in this mortal life we are gifted to live.

So what is my point? Seek that wee part of you that is like a monastic … one quartered in a silence place of solitude and fellowship, of thought and prayer, modest needs and slow heartbeats.

Life is better for self, others and all when we ignite the light that is the monk-within.

Shalom.

[If there ever was a day here on the ridge that reminds me of the Scottish Highlands it is today. A moist air hovers and midst covers the far fields and mountains. I sit and listen to a collection of Celtic Hymns. They restore me, quiet my heart, raise me above the lost souls of hated so visible in Portland, Seattle and on the Left of us here and there … those craven husks of the walking dead among us who seek above all power and self-acclaimation more than faith or fellowship or human fullness.]

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“ … it seems likely that the world we know is passing away … Generations before our own have felt that the end of the world is nigh, yet, it does seem that we are facing a future that is unimaginable. How will the idea of God survive in the years to come? For 4000 years it has constantly adapted to meet the demands of the present, but in our own century, more and more people have found that it no longer works for them, and when religious ideas cease to be effective they fade away. (Emphasis added.)

Secularists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries saw atheism as the irreversible condition of humanity in the scientific age … many are unmoved by the prospect of life without God.”

Karen Armstrong in A History of God

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The above is taken from the last chapter of Ms. Armstrong’s book – a chapter entitled “Does God Have a Future?”

If God has a future it is in part because we will see to it that this is so. Yes, the most important duty call of our life is NOW!

Lately, I have been very unsettled. As my son said to me: this is the first time in my life I have been concerned about the future of this country. He records what others have also said to me.

This is the sentiment that comes from seeing the lost godless souls who comprise the urban rioters thither and yon … and godlessness seen in impudent adults who, lacking character or wisdom-affirming achievement, claim positions of public leadership, or vital roles in the news media, or hide in academia avoiding all conflict, living a soft life of no particular urgency or challenge.

Godlessness is our enemy now. Such is Evil’s attire.

In a time when we have those “in authority” who desire most to be accepted by those they fancy are the “acceptable one,” it falls to us to witness God daily – day after day, everyday – in all things … in the breathing in and breathing out.

That is the battle joined. It is not one of our one choosing – but it is our battle and it is here, right in front of us – chosen by God’s own need.

Yep, do or die. That’s where we are. You in?

If we do not witness openly our faith, we will perish and it will NOT be pretty or painless.

Shalom.

Postscript – Lots of battle grounds. In the streets. In the media. In the newspapers (The Wall Street Journal excepted). Cable TV. In the Congress. In the Courts. And a particularly significant one scheduled for November 2020. Are you in the fight?

In each venue one might ask – where is faith in this? Where is God? No faith. No God. No good. Witness your faith. Do not sell cheap, or ever for that matter.

[Back after a short respite – with amble time for some very valuable reading, quiet and thinking.]

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“Religious faith could not be confined to the propositions of the creeds: it involved an emotional apprehension and an interior surrender. Thought and reason had their place, but they could only take us so far. When we had come to the limit of reason, feeling would complete the journey to the Absolute. When he spoke of “feeling,“ (Friedrich) Schleiermacher did not mean a sloppy emotionalism but an intuition which drove men and women toward the infinite. Feeling was not opposed to human reason but an imaginative leap that takes us beyond the particular to an apprehension of the whole. The sense of God thus acquired arose from the depths of each individual rather than a collusion with an objective fact.” (Emphasis added.)

Karen Armstrong, in A History of God.

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Marvelous book. I offer just this one special quotation.

The point lost on many today is this: rationality, reason is not sufficient to experience God or become the whole person you are made to be.

Feeling! Humans are meant to feel, made as emotional beings, spiritual beings. As such feelings are necessary. No joy can be known but through a life of feeling. No compassion is possible without feeling. One simply cannot acquire another’s story but for feeling and a life in which one has felt the events one encountered or observed.

We live in an age of many who “select”only the inputs they choose to accommodate. These are people with both emotional deficiencies and a deficit as to feelings.

Yes, we live in a world dominated by reason – but so much of life exceeds reason. And, more to the point God cannot be experienced without feeling – the Divine and supernatural realm cannot to accessed without feeling.

Do not fear to feel. You cheat yourself when you do so … and create the circumstances from which personal discontent and interpersonal conflict and division will flourish.

Shalom.

“ … in this century … will be decided for generations whether all mankind is to be Communist … or whether in the struggle, Civilization as we know it is to be completely destroyed or completely changed.

“I see in Communism the focus of the concentrated evil of our time.” (Emphasis added.)

Whittaker Chambers

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This is precisely what is at stake in the upcoming November elections.

Do you wish the United States to discard its unique Federal Republic, its Constitution, the individual liberties that it protects and the free market economy which allows all to share in its prosperity? Or do you wish to follow the Democrat Party which, sadly, has been hijacked by a minority of members who hate this country but love Marxism and its imposition of its totalitarian will on others?

This is precisely what we face. What the Democrat Party has brought to us.

Never so stark a choice have we had.

If you do not know who Whittaker Chambers is then I suggest you polish up on your knowledge of history and of America.

He brought to us a vivid witness to the ugly and deadly ways of communism. Chambers wrote a riveting book about his life among Communists titled Witness – an American classic.

We face a deadly serious choice – you can either secure America for your children and future generations or you can kiss freedom and this Nation goodbye.

Shalom.

Postscript – You doubt that America may be completely changed? Remember Mr. Obama – despite having accomplished virtually nothing in his private life – he boldly proclaimed he would fundamentally change America. His Democrat colleagues (also without private accomplishment) shamelessly seek that objective – and to do so is to completely destroy this Country. Yep, that is what faces us – nothing less.

”He leads me on the pathways of justice for His name sake.”

Pslam 23

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Pathways of justice. God leads us to justice, if only we can trust in Him.

Think about all the gibberish-jabber about “social justice.” The phrase is thrown around so loosely – yet, who among those who uses this phrase show any substantive understanding of it as a concept. Nor do any of them offer any insight as to moral philosophy and its relation to justice. Nor, of course, do any of the “social justice” town criers ever make reference to Psalm 23 … or God.

Don’t you find this rather strange? I do.

If justice is sought, might we not refer to the manner in which justice has been known throughout long course of human history?

I find we spend way too much time listening to those who have very little to say – nothing to teach, give us no particular reason to pause and take heed of them or their words, complaints or furor.

Hear “justice,” think God. You’ll do far better on that path – the pathway to justice!

Shalom.

Postscript – Well yesterday we saw in the U.S. House Representatives a “kangaroo court” in full bloom. Attorney General William Barr was called to a hearing of a House Committee and found himself NOT allowed to respond to any remarks, questions, attacks, assertions or allegations read to him by the “Democrat” Members of that Committee.

So much for “justice” when it comes to today’s “Democrats.” How can you call to person to a hearing, ask them questions, accuse them of wrongdoing and REFUSE to let them respond? Taint’ no justice there, Friends.

If our public “servants“ act this way toward the Attorney General, how will you or those you know be treated?

“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem …”

Carl Jung, M.D., in Memories, Dreams, Reflections

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To be whole is to know yourself – to be quite honest about who you are. Being honest about yourself and what the world presents to you is critical to your mental health, contentment and stability.

This is why it is particularly dangerous to us to have Democrat Members of the U.S. Congress who say that the suggestion that there are violent, destructive mobs in Portland, Oregon is a “myth” is very unsettling.

You yourself cannot be well or well led by those who deny reality.

Those who deny reality (and there seem to be many in public life and among the Left-liberal sector) deny reality as a way of avoiding a truth they find uncomfortable or that does not fit their needs or desires.

Yes, we see mental illness in this sort of behavior. If you find those in leadership positions who deny truth – run for the exits because the roof is sure to fall in on you.

Under the present circumstances we see today we would be wise to discount those in politics and the news field who deny reality as we see it and know it.

Shalom.

Postscript – Having watched the Democrats questioning U.S. Attorney General William Barr before a U.S. House of Representatives Committee, I am struck by how many of the Democrats deny reality.

It is a sad scene to behold – and, more significantly, it is a tragic thing to see for we have, very much to my regret, no longer a political party that can serve as a counterpoint to the Republican Party.

The Democrats have, much to my deep regret and alarm, defined themselves as “those who can no longer to trusted” to acknowledge the truth of the moment, the facts of an event that the public and they see with their own eyes. Some people nail shut their own coffin.

If the roof has not already fallen in – it surely has buckled badly.

“ … appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

Sun Tzu, in The Art of War

“ …in time of destruction create something.

Maxine Hong Kingston

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I am counterintuitive – which means I doubt and think through problems in a way that says something very simple: “Why does X’s behavior tell me something in contradiction to what he is saying?”

Let’s put this in play as to today. The Democrats release almost daily polls through their lap dog press and media outlets that they are far ahead of the incumbent President in the up-coming November elections.

Well if that is so – why so many reiterations of those polls and why are the Democrats married to the very unpopular and destructive anarchists organization Antifa? Why do they let Governors and Mayors in major Democrat states idly standby and let the radicals engage in daily destruction of their states and cities? If the Democrats are so popular, why are they siding with BLM headed by proud Marxists? Do these alliances not say this: we are short of popular appeal so we must put all our chips on the most off-putting anarchists and Marxists in our midst?

Why if you are way ahead do you risk giving you’re hated opponent an opening to fight his way back into the race by aligning yourself with groups who the middle class and suburban Moms are unlikely to endorse?

Sun Tzu – act strong when you are weak, and weak when you are strong.

Likewise – when your party is on the verge of ascendancy why create something – like a false narrative that Trump is a Putin puppet? Why run that risk of being caught in a total fraud, a parlor coup? Why dummy up a “case” against General Flynn that he was a foreign agent? Why do this when you claim your polls show that Trump is so far behind the Republicans have no hope of winning? Why the need for the written and TV news people to be profoundly anti-Trump? Why would they work so hard to erase our distinguished history and risk making all White people the devil incarnate? If you are confident of victory why lying, insulting, burning, looting, defunding the police – slamming them? Why do Democrat Governors convene with the rioters and seek their blessing if all were coming up roses for the Democrats?

Think about it – as described – it makes no sense …

Does it make sense to say – I am winning big but I want to align with those who will likely cost me votes? Why would anyone say ”I am okay with making this election tighter and a referendum on me and the company I keep and the support, harm and destruction I have endorsed and hate that has been spread with my help?“ Is that the work of a winner or rather the desperation of a loser?

Think about it – why does a winner endorse those who are least apt to be liked by the population at-large? ‘Tis more the work of those grasping at straws.

Me thinks what we are told in the polls is not accurate. The Dems do not strike the posture of those who are winning, nor of those who can be trusted with the truth – for that matter.

Deception, destruction and Democrats … the three D’s working for the fourth – the Devil.

Shalom.

Postscript – If you end up with Joe Biden you are getting a hand puppet with Omaha the puppet master. Who needs another round of appeasement when we face an adversary in Communist China? Who needs more “community organization” – read: authoritarian government, waste and economic growth grounded in one-percent per year and industry closed or shipped overseas? And the added bonus of more abortions, no police protection, the loss of Constitutional rights and all government in the hands of Big Brother Government?

“Every age has its own collective neurosis and every age needs its own psychotherapy to cope with it.”

Victor Frankl, M.D., in Man’s Search for Meaning

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Dr. Frankl wrote these words in the 1960’s. He makes an excellent point. At any given point in time people in any nation suffer some neurotic symptoms.

Think about it – full human development only occurs when one has lived decades and comes to understand who he or she is and how the world presents itself in his or her life time, and has presented itself over time.

It takes, as Frankl notes, seeking to find what your meaning in this life is and what the meaning of life itself is to avoid neurosis.

Think too about this: we spend little time educating people on healthy inquiry as to life and its meaning, or what full human growth, development and evolution looks like.

Absent that we have endless numbers of people who know little about life telling us that we must do X or Y, change radically (to suit their fear and ignorance) or, as they imply out of their hubris and absolutely no knowledge appropriate as to their assertions – that we ought to follow their suggestions, opinions, or demands. Often this exercise is the blind and dumb leading the blind and uninformed.

Frankl goes on to say that without meaning a person or a nation produces widespread pathology – sickness and despair, chaos, incoherence and anger and various anti-social, destructive and self-defeating behaviors.

Few, if any, have identified the sickness of our present age. But you can see it in the mobs, the rioters, the angry, the public advocacy and conflict among those who wish to tear everything down and destroy our history, its lessons and our institutions and ethos.

Frankl would know these people as occupying and existential vacuum -people without persona, understanding of themselves, identified meaning – no particular vocation or achievements in life – likely the children of the middle to upper-middle class with distant parents of limited depth of human understanding, psychological, spiritual, and worldly wisdom, emotional competence or insight.

Come back to Frankl’s assertion. Who has identified the neurosis of the age? Who can explain those who blame society and government for their plight? Who among the discontented has identified the source of their own unhappiness and anger?

The answer? No one. Even our alleged “leadership” elite are silent and without a clue.

This, of course, leads to unnecessary damage, decline, destruction, disintegration, unhappiness, violent acting-out and fanciful calls to destroy all and start over … but civilization and human history does not do that.

The discontented cannot simply begin the world again – ah, but they do not know that … and this in particular is a sign of the neurosis of our age.

Shalom.

[Note: I must replace a charging cable, may miss posting in the interim.]

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“ … the more faithful we are in availing ourselves of the actual graces received, the more will the Almighty be moved to grant us new and greater ones.”

Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D., in The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology

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In a recent exchange with a Dear Friend of mine, I happened to mention that what I knew in significant part was due not from study but from grace. He asked we what grace was.

I answered with a story. The story is this: when I was a small child about two or maybe three, I entered my mother’s room one day to find her in bed with the shades drawn in midday and her fully asleep. Standing there I had this thought “I have to help my mother.”

From that point on through her life I watched out for her, never did anything to add to her life burden. Through poverty and family losses of loved ones so dear, through throught, poverty and unemployment – I kept my mother free of any worry I may have otherwise generated.

In due time when I had become a working lawyer I gave her a car, purchased a small gift shop for her, and purchased a house for her to live in.

The thought I had as a small child was NOT my own – it was God’s desire for me – His intention for me … an example of God’s Grace.

“Actually grace is a supernatural, transient help given first by our Lord to enlighten our mind and strengthen our will in the performance of supernatural acts.”

Think about the above story: a small boy receives God’s help and expands his mind in understanding the small boy’s task at hand and the performance that was expected of him. Mind you this was not a small boy reasoning anything … this was a small boy visited by Grace.

Grace enlivens our spiritual facilities – in this case a small boy became God’s trusted agent of love and caring. We call this co-operating grace – a God who loved my mother acted through me to give her the love she needed.

My love of my mother produced a lad who would become a hard worker, a boy who befriended others easily, became a friend of many others, a good son, a trusted friend, one who others choose as their leader and parents and relatives saw as a good person, a good son, a good nephew.

All the way through life I was chosen to speak for others, assume a position of leadership – none of which ever caused me to think I was special. You see, I knew that what I was was because of God’s interest and intervention in my life – because of the grace I had been offered.

To show you the place of grace I offer a final story. When I was in my third year of marriage, I found myself sitting in a doctor’s office with my young, delightful, petite wife when the doctor told her (and me) that a small speck on her tongue tested positive for cancer – a cancer for which they had no name and only one other person with a similar lesion who resided in Australia.

The moment the Doctor spoke – these words echoed in my head “I can do this.”

And what was that? It was grace once given now echoed again.

You see I have had so many losses and hardships and uncertainties all my life to that point that God was providing me the grace to know that He had prepared me for this moment and tasks such as this. You see, what he did for me at age two – he was therein reminding me that the grace He offered me indeed extended to all that I might face and be needed for.

Grace you see extends throughout life. It is freely given and our job is to proceed no matter what circumstance might appear in our path. Once received grace is planted within and it is ready for use once again.

What is the “takeaway” here? Doctorates are not grace. We do not grow wise by study but by life, by facing life – by being in relationship with God and accepting all that comes our way because we have confidence in God and knowledge of His generous offer of grace is given to those who He choses to empower, those He knows believe and always will.

In co-operating grace God acts in us and together with us – and in this fashions our will to work in concert with His intention. It is in such grace the a depth of conversion occurs – and one’s life is forever altered in a primary way given only to the work of God and the companionship of His faithful servant.

Seek not affluence or notiarity, nor power nor fame. Seek the grace of God for your fulfillment. We do nothing quite as well or meaningful without God. Have you not seen kings fail and judges and scholars falter? Grace absent is man in free fall.

Shalom.

Postscript – My wife died at age 29, one month short of our fourth anniversity. From that day in my mother’s darkened room to the last breath my wife took, I was carried along by the life-altering grace God gave to me first when I was two years old.

Hence, I say defiantly – ”Death, where is thou sting?”

Shalom.

“ … it is presumptuous in me to wish to choose my path, because I cannot tell which path is best for me. I must leave it to the Lord, who knows me best, to lead me by the path which is best for me, so that in all things His will may be done.”

Teresa of Avila, in Interior Castle

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We live in two realms. One is the world as it is in the time we are alive. The other is Eternity – that which is God’s realm – a realm that engulfs mortal time and all the events therein.

Like most people, and notwithstanding my relationship with God, I succumb rather easily to the earthly realm – finding myself absorbed with the way that world functions and hoping or desiring that I see in the actions of mortals evidence of God.

Yes, I am like many others – focused on the behavior of mortals and their structures in the hopes that I might see man acting like God in this mortal and temporal environment. Alas, that focus is for not.

You see, man cannot be God – mortal man is only mortal man – flawed, imperfect on his best days and far worse on many more.

It is quite easy to be captured by this mortal realm. One places hopes and wishes inspired by a desire for the goodness of man and his institutions in the hope that he might do well, act as God might act. But alas this is foolish.

Best that man draw closer to God in this mortal realm and place no expectation on man acting well, for man is not God.

Stated in terms consistent with the chaos we witness today – man will, as he has always done in human history, favor himself – which is virtually always to pursue what he desires not what God might prefer.

Yes, man is easily corrupted and civilizations are readily destroyed by men and their corruption.

In terms that suit today – there most likely will not be any sweeping corrections as to the unlawful conduct of so many in public life who broke the law in furtherance of their desire for power or money or the protection of their unearned pride and grossly self-deceptive assessment of their value.

We have been governed by those who love self more than others – self far more than this unique nation that was divinely designed. No, we have been victimized my small men with large egos – children pretending to be adults.

In the words of Teresa of Avila, it is best to draw ever closer to God … better yet, it is better to place all our attention on God and ignore moral man and the inescapable destruction that they so selfishly cannot but deliver all the while thinking their folly is proof of their genius. Idiots all.

Make no mistake, the guilty parties are never punished for they hold the reign of those who might bring justice to mortal existence and that begets protection for he who has been at the top of the heap and those who relish being close to the top dog.

No, you see – mortal life is corrupt while divine existence is in walking with God every moment of every day – day after day for all time here in this mortal field and thus in Eternity.

Forget the press, the news of the day, hoping for the “good” guys to win and the bad guys to be punished. We live in a fallen world. Our focus must be on God if we are to live well amid the active ruination that is man in mortal time.

My suggestion: treat the corrupt in a manner they have so justly earned – regard them not worth your time – no more than dust in the wind.

There is but one Good King and he is not mortal man.

Shalom.

Postscript – You know as I sit here listening to the University of Notre Dame Liturgical Choir singing Ubi Caritas I think of this simple reality – the idea of God is to many in the West, who are younger than me including men and women my son’s age, a question of why God?

In particular many in the West cannot grasp the notion that we are made for spiritual experience – for the scope of life and meaning and purpose it presents to each human being throughout time.

Likewise, it does not occur to many that the question of God and belief are part of one’s full psychological development and contentment – especially in the presence of suffering and uncertainty – which, like it or not, are part of the human condition.

Without God, life is less and living made infinitely more difficult and far more the risk.

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