“Truly, this was the Son of God!”

Mt 27:54

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These are the words of the centurion and others in the immediate aftermath of the Crucifixion.

When you think about Jesus as the Son of God and pair that with the proposition that Jesus resides within us, you come to ask: How does my life compare with his? And more to the point, what does his life tell me about my life?

Jesus, like us, was born a child and lived, as far as scripture offers, a life of relative obscurity until his 30th year.  One can assume his first thirty years were a time of formation and growth and that he emerged, in time, to serve and to face a great trial.

It seems that this is a trajectory we, too, might naturally follow.  We are born.  We form into adults over time, come to a depth of intelligence, understanding and faith, and face toil and trial before we are called home.

What might we learn from this?

Well, that we must form and grow in maturity, intelligence and faith, that our spiritual life evolves and we must tend to our growth as humans and as believers.

Likewise, we should know that toils and troubles will come our way.  Indeed, it seems that toils and troubles grow us as human beings and as believers – that they awaken the Spirit within.  We must form, and face difficulties to become fully human and mature spiritual beings.

As we walk with Jesus, acquire life as Jesus did – we have his companionship, the one essential relationship we need to proceed without fear.

Embrace Christ as the centurion and others did.

Shalom.

Thank you for sharing this blog with others.  I hope it is helpful to you and others you know and love.

God is spirit.

Jn 4:24

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So simple.  So essential to the journey.  “God is spirit.”  The journey is to God, so the journey is in the spirit.

What does this say to us?

It says we are not material beings, nor are we bound or defined by material things.  It also says that we cannot know our identity through material things, that our habits in this world of trying to find satisfaction in mortal existence cannot fulfill us but that our joy and health, and contentment resides in the Spirit.

We are not human beings, but spiritual beings who live as humans, for a time, in a mortal realm.

Of course, knowing that God is spirit and we too are spiritual beings makes the material ways of this world and its cultures with its preoccupations – all its plans, programs, policies, politics, prized possessions, etc. – mere distractions, and our focus on them a great waste of time; a total focus on such is, indeed, a waste of life and a certain emptiness.

So what does this truth that “God is spirit” say, really?

It says: the heart knows what the head cannot.  It says: God resides in the heart and that it is the heart that illuminates the mind and animates us, makes us human.  It says: that our valued insights come to the head from the heart.  It says: that we know what is true only if we live in the spirit and move from the heart to the mind, and on to heartfelt, spirit-filled actions.

“God is spirit” allows us to live in the unknown, to live in uncertainty, to trust, to know peace and joy, and to love. With knowledge that “God is spirit” we understand and live an engaged detachment (to be in, but not of) as to all material things, circumstances, events – particularly injuries and those who cause them.  To these we are as Spirit, closer to God in being so.

With “God is spirit” fear disappears along with the need to know, and the quest for worldly security.

With “God is spirit” we need not grasp.

With “God is spirit” we are immortal.

Shalom.

Thank you for sharing this blog with others.  The world is in need of God and our consciousness of God.

The truth is incontrovertible.  Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it, but there it is.

Winston Churchill

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When I see this week’s events in Baltimore I am reminded how people shy away from the truth in preference to their own prejudiced views, preferred notions and myths.

As to truth, in Baltimore I see how politics and policy does not change hearts, only a relationship with God does that.

I see in Baltimore that five decades of government attention to race and poverty has institutionalized both race and poverty in our culture and our major cities.

In Baltimore, like many other major cities, I see low high school graduation rates, fatherless children born to young single mothers, high rates of murder and other violent acts, young men with no job skills or disciple; I see widespread drug use and tensions between police and citizens.

In Baltimore, I see a one party city – a city governed by Democrats and its African-American population and I see dependence on government and an erosion of personal responsibility.  I see, sadly, inter-generational poverty and a welfare system in place of work.  I see, in this, people who are trapped by a political party and narrative that keeps its supporters enslaved and chokes off economic growth. Likewise, I see LBJ’s “Great Society” idea of throwing money at “a problem” is not a helpful way to provide for human development and prosperity – but rather the opposite.  In Baltimore, I see one party of the Left that cannot recognize their own failure and the punishment it foists on its impoverished followers. In this I see: truth denied.

We know with certainty that people exceed the grasp of poverty if: they graduate from high school with skills reflective of a serious secondary education, they live in an intact family, they reserve having children until marriage, they stay free of addictions and criminal conduct.  Our jails, addiction treatment centers, medical clinics and welfare rolls are full of people who have not done these things.

Truth is right there.  When, oh when will we acknowledge it?

God has made us for so much more.  In truth there is peace and prosperity, and harmony among free and independent people.  Are we not of one God?

If now isn’t a good time for the truth, I don’t see when we’ll get to it. 

Nikki Giovanni

Shalom.

Thank you for sharing this blog with others.  We are in this together – no divisions by faith or race, or age, gender, ethnicity, work, income or what-have-you.

… Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.

Gen 5:24

And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.

Lk 24:15

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It is not uncommon that I speak with men and women who feel alone, and by that I mean an existential “aloneness” – alone in the midst of a broken or preoccupied family, among neighbors and workmates, a painful alone.  I, too, have felt that.

We are social beings.  Much of our life is social, its substance is social – and it appears to us that all the world is dancing and we stand by alone, without a partner – or laughter, or the gaiety of a friendly group or loving companion.

Often we have family members who seem not to comprehend our feeling alone as we do.  In most instances they have the company of others or are absorbed in life with people – at work, raising children, busy with matters of social interaction.

We do not “do” solitude well as humans.  It is something of an acquired skill.

When you are alone and feel the pain of that experience, think of the above.

Enoch walked with God.  God took Enoch (in).  This does not say Enoch died and God took him (in).  Enoch walked with God (in his life).  God accompanied Enoch in his life, in his being, in his mortality.  Are you any different than Enoch?  You are flesh and bone and spirit and faith just as he was.  And is it not true that when you walk in mortal life, God takes you in?  Is not your very life subsumed in God’s creation of it, of you?

Think of the two men on the road to Emmaus.  Jesus walked with them on that road, appeared to them after his crucifixion though they did not recognize him immediately.  They were not without him.  Two very ordinary men were his companions in their suffering and apparent loss.

Are you any different than they?  Are you any less important than they are?  No, of course not.

When you appear to have lost friends, health, work, a spouse or when the children are gone and the days grow long in their quiet – think of this: maybe God desires in these naked times to walk with you, to have company with you alone (without all the social distractions).

Maybe your “aloneness” is time with God, a blessing you are not used to.  Maybe that one friend who takes time to listen and talk to you is inspired by Christ, a friend of God who brings love to you – everlasting love, the mediation of God’s love of you.  Maybe God is present in that one person and in the time spent in conversation with one another. Maybe this is holy time and holy friendship, evidence of God and God’s love of you.

Alone?  Or Real Presence?

Shalom.

Thank you for sharing Spirlaw with others.  You are doing the work of an evangelist by doing so – and how we need this, so very much.  God bless you.

I choose to live toward eternal light.

John Dunne

I write this post in the memory of Fr. John Dunne, C.S.C., and in thanks for my Dear Friend, Fr. Jake Greiner – each outstanding men and faithful shepherds.

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These are the words in the last sentence of John Dunne’s last book Dark Light of Love.

John, a Catholic priest, good man and wonderful writer, spoke of eternal life belonging to those who live in the presence and that awareness of “real presence” creates an eternal consciousness.  In this he meant that it is our privilege in being given life to experience the real presence of others, of us to others, and all life experience and, in turn, to God in all life.

I suppose an easier way to say this is this: we are to live life fully – life in us, life in others, life among us with others, life in creation, and in all this God in each – God in life,  God in all creation, God the Giver of Life in the life we each have been given.

I suppose you can say that life is God’s initial gift to us, a prelude to eternal life – yes, eternal life flowing from earthly life fully experienced, engaged, lived.

Now what might that mean?  What might that say to us?

For Fr. Dunne, and for us, it means a life from God, to a life returned to God. Alpha and Omega – the boundary of mortal life enveloped by the eternal Gift-Giver and His promise of eternal life.

In our journey we emerge, separate and reunite with God.  We are, in living the life experience, going to emerge, separate and, if we yield to faith, grow again to our reunion with Life’s Maker.

Life is a process of understanding, understanding its meaning, ourselves and its Maker.

Amends.  Yes, we make amends for the missteps and faults for there will be many. In the process more light comes into view and shadows diminish.  Darkness is overcome by Light.

I give an example.  Recently I was sitting with my Dear Friend Fr. Jake and we were watching a Showtime movie production and Jake turned to be and asked: “This is entertainment?”  How right he was.  How helpful he was.  Light overcoming darkness.

The movie, you see, had it raw parts, its violence and, while it depicted life as it is for some, it was more the image of Darkness, than Light.  Better that Light comes to the eyes than that darkness enters.  We move from separation to reunion.

“I choose to live toward eternal light.”

Yes, that is the journey, that is the movement in a life lived in faith, a life lived for reunion, for “eternal light.”

May you know that journey each day and may you come to ask: Do “I choose to live toward eternal light?”

Shalom.

Thank you for sharing this with others.  We are all disciples.  We have work to do. The world seeks Light.

… Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit …

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sec.1213

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Recently I attended my grandson Jack’s baptism.  I anticipated this with excitement and the joy of knowing that my Dear Friend Fr. Mark would preside over this sacrament.  However, what happened to me at the baptism was something I did not expect.

You see, when Fr. Mark poured the water over Jack’s head in three distinct acts: for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit an unexpected thought materialized in my head and it was this: You need not worry about Jack for he has access to the Kingdom (of God).

How strange this was.  In the midst of celebration, the truth of baptism crystallized in my consciousness.  I knew that Jack was God’s child and that in this Jack was safe, privileged, protected.  And that all who are baptized are so received.

Mind you, that remarkable gift must be cultivated by Jack in his life and by his parents and by his grandfather and others around him in their life for Jack to know the fullness of that extraordinary blessing.

As with so many things God makes available to us – the question becomes: what have we done with what we have been generously given?

As we move along today: let us ask: what have I done with what God has generously given me?  Likewise, let us make a habit of asking that simple question and asking it often in reference to our baptism.  After all, Baptism is “the gateway to life in the Spirit.”

Shalom.

Thank you for sharing this with others.  You, too, are workers in the vineyard.  God bless you.

God, indeed, who has predestined us to adoption … has conformed us to … Christ.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

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When we recite the Lord’s Prayer and say “Our Father” do we connect with what we say?

“Our Father.”  God – our Father.  Yes, we are the adopted children of God.

These two words introduce us to ourselves.  They identity us.  We are God’s children, adopted sons and daughters. Can there is a more profound identity?  No. Need we invent ourselves?  No.  But are we living as the children of God?  And I most certainly aim that question at me, not just those who read this blog or others.

Living as the children of God?  This can be a primary question each day.  At the start of the day and at the end of the day.

Have I been a good son?  A good daughter?

These are questions that lead us to continual growth, continual conversion.

Our journey is to a tender heart of love and the strength of belief that is our’s to behold, to possess, to utilize in all things we face.  Our journey is to humility, compassion, kindness, courage and tranquility, to peace, to leadership, to joy, and a happy life.

A new life and confidence amid all challenges awaits the children of God.  Are you that child of God?  You can be.

What would He not give his children who ask, since He has already granted then the gift of being His children?

St. Augustine

Shalom.

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

1 Sam 3:10

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These are the remarkable words of Samuel who heard God calling him and stood ready to listen.

This is a good lesson for each of us.  Do we listen?  Are we ready to respond to God’s call?

How does God speak to us?  In creation itself.  In the recorded stories in Scripture. The stories in particular sharpen our ability to see God and hear God in the events of the world, in our own life events – the sublime and the traumatic.

Often God teaches us in the trials of our life.  That is not to imply that God creates trials for us.  We, as humans, do a rather remarkable job creating trials for one another – sometimes intentionally and other times unwittingly.  But the point to me made is this: God is with us always and very much as we face our challenges.

It follows that in times of trials, it is best to ask: God what do you want me to learn in this?  Or ask, God how are you directing me through this experience?

Trials are particularly significant to us, for in them we learn – gain understanding and wisdom.  Ironically, to set an impossible course of avoiding all difficulties in life insures that you will hear less of what God wishes you to know.

The cost of not listening and trying to govern life by yourself is always greater difficulty.

God’s love strengthens us in times of trial.  Listening for God as Samuel did is a primary lesson for those who believe. Indeed, it is interesting that if you are in the habit of listening for God, trials do not stir up anxiety in you – but rather expectation that God will guide and grow you in those experiences.

Listen for God.  Life is easier and problems shrink in size when you listen.

Shalom.

Thank you for sharing this blog with others.  Please continue to do so.  God bless.

Thank God for a little holy disobedience.

Jared Brock

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I’ve always had a place in my heart for disobedience.  In me, this place is situated right close to humor.  The two seem like twins.  The elder, disobedience, always beckons cometh the younger, humor.  This, I knew, meant that they “belonged’ together and, thank God, had taken up obvious and active residence in me. Hallelujah!  God, I reason, must love the sound of laughter.

I see the Grand Humorist in the Blessed Curmudgeon whose intelligence and wit spits out truths that tickle the fancy and root in the mind and soul so to take flight in the story you tell many years after making its first ticklish acquaintance.  Is not such longevity, a sign of enduring necessity?

You see the Curmudgeon’s words of truth have this mischievous dart-sharp tip that is dipped in an inoculant sure to penetrate and guaranteed to be remembered for its future timely use.

I think today, for example, of that Blessed George S. Kaufman, the talented playwright and humorist, and his precocious talent for truth readily told.  In particular, I recall how George’s mother announced to him that his aunt was to visit them and how this mother said to him, “It wouldn’t hurt to be nice to her, would it?” to which the young lad quickly and accurately replied, “That depends on your threshold of pain.”

Ah, the truth and spontaneity of it all!  The divine inspiration!  Where, one asks in envy, does one go each morning to brush his teeth and sharpen his tongue?

Seeing the world as it is, the bizarre and pretentious included, liberates us.  Not seeing the plentiful folly and farcical characters in all manner of organizations and pomposity only prolongs life in the gulag, and converts the journey to a grind, a trek not worth the effort.

To submit to excessive sobriety dulls the soul for want of laughter and the perspective that is present in you so life might blossom and joy might be daily and abundant.  Ah, the joys of disobedience and the humor that it brings!

Long live Saint Kaufman and his priceless ilk.

Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.

Arnold H. Glasgow

Shalom.

Note – Share this at will.  Laughter and the wisdom of discernment of the ridiculous from the really ridiculous is a critical skill in the world we occupy. Laughter burns calories, you know, and irritates those who think they are leaders.

True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.

C.S. Lewis

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Prickly, narcissistic and isolated presidents.  Candidates who demand money at the cost of their character and soul.

We live in a time of “soap opera leaders.”  Their common denominator: rank insecurity.  Its explanation rests in disordered families and the unexamined self.

The insecure can think only of themselves; others are unimportant except to confirm their importance – an abyss of deficit and desire that is never filled.

Have we not had enough of these small potatoes playing as kings and queens?

Stable people have knowledge of themselves.  They have no need to play the part of being human.  They are.

Self-knowledge comes from the examined life, a range of experiences that comprise life in its full range – the experience of the human in his and her story, ageless story from years way past to what portends for far beyond today.

The self-examined life does not fabricate or select parts of its story, or put an admirable twist on the lesser acts, the mistakes, the hurts we as much caused as received.

The self-examined life produces humility.  The slide show that presents our best and worse moments, our successes and our failures.

Humility is pure gold – honesty.  It opens us to others.  It tutors us in wisdom, and mercy, compassion, wit, charm, stability, humor.  It opens our arms so we may embrace.  It sharpens our eyes so we may see, and tweaks the ear so we may hear. It tunes the heart so we may love, and care, and teach and lead. Humility awakens in joy so we might experience it where once we did not.

The humble are secure.  Only the secure can lead.  Others create disorder and decline, not knowing light from dark – being without insight, confidence or consistency.

Humility gives us tranquility.  It allows us to accept ourselves and others as we and they are.  We sleep better, eat less, and laugh more.

With disordered people in abundance, you would think we could find a humble person to rely upon, to lead us in darkness and with Light.

Have we not had enough of the injured and insecure pretending to be leaders?

 It is always the secure who are humble.

G. K. Chesterton

Shalom.

Note – I ask you to please continue to share this blog with others.  Your doing-so, I believe, helps others think about what it is to live well in a troubled time in the U.S. and the West.  Policies and programs do not change hearts.  That is a personal and private process of people helping each other – up close and personal.  All good things come from a change of heart for the better.  God bless.

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