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I saw that carrying out a vocation differed from … actions dictated by reason or inclination in that it was due to an impulse … essentially and manifestly different order; and not to follow such an impulse when it made itself felt, even if it demanded impossibilities, seemed to be the greatest of all ills.  (Emphasis added.)

Simone Weil, in a Letter to a Friend

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Vocations arise from distinctly personal impulse.  One has the interior impetus to dedicate oneself to God and God’s service in an exclusive way.

Impulses like this cannot be easily ignored. To live in relationship with God is to be aligned to the impulse to serve God when needed.  Vocations come to those who are open to receive the call to vocations – to God’s service.

Those who close themselves from these impulses by saying – I will not be involved, I will simply be quiet and let God do the work – have no vocation, cannot be called to vocation because their pre-conceived disposition prevents the openness that impulse requires.

To deny the impulse to serve God actively – in word and deed – forfeits discipleship.  It leaves one to remain safely on the sidelines – even when Rome is burning.

Disciples speak and act.  Other are sideliners.

Are you a sideliner?  Or are you one who is open to the call of God and prepared to do what God asks of you?

Shalom.

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Courage is the first of all human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.

Aristotle

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A nation and its people puts its character on display in how it handles acts of courage … what it says about them … whether it reveres such acts or does not.

Benghazi affords such measure.  Mr. Obama, Ms. Clinton and their aides failed the nation badly in their handling of Benghazi.  They left Americans exposed to a vicious attack without offering any support.  They left lives at risk and people died.  To this day we do not know where the former President was during that attack or what he did.  And, of course, Ms. Clinton and people surrounding her were not forthcoming as to the origin of the attacks on our diplomatic post in Libya.

The acts of courage exhibited by those who stood outnumbered and fought to save others from death is both awe-inspiring and beyond apt description.  These were men of great courage and character.

These were men with wives and small children.  Fearless men.  Able, strong and healthy men.  Men willing to die for others, willing to defend this country in far away places.

I grew up among these men, and women just like them.  My life and the lives of those around me brought us challenges on a daily basis.  Responding to adversity was a common and repetitive assignment.  Money and work were hard to come by – but such conditions breed great friendships, and a strong community.  To this day I have friends from childhood – yes, friends I have now known for more than sixty years.  More than friends, they are my brothers and sisters – my family.   I am walking long distance with several whose spouses or children are dying from cancer.  They would die for me, and I would die for them.  I know the brave men of Benghazi.  I grew up with these men.  They are my best friends whose ranks are increased by others I have come to know through military service, college, law school and practice, through my Catholic life and in places I have lived – from city to countryside.

It is said that character is higher than intellect.  I would agree. Thinking and education are lesser functions.  Living with character and courage is always superior for those who live with character and courage understand life and love and fellowship … they do not value their own existence more than the lives of others.  They die but once and live fully each day.

As we approach September 11th, the date of the Benghazi attack – we best remember our brave men and their colleagues who died so others might live … and we had best vow that we will never again leave Americans unprotected and alone to die without our help.

Character and courage deserve far better from us – and those who hold leadership positions cannot ever again fail us as they did.

Shalom.

 

Sanctity is not a luxury, but a simple duty.

St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)

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St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic Priest, died in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, 76 years ago today.  He was 47 years old.

He died a martyr when he voluntarily stepped forward to request that he be permitted to take the place, in an execution, of a fellow inmate who had a wife and children.

The Camp Commander agreed and Fr. Kolbe was placed in a dark and dingy cell with nine other men to be starved to death.

Having survived two weeks without food, Fr. Kolbe was given an injection of carbolic acid to kill him.  It is reported that his appearance at death was as if he had been enveloped by the love of God.

St. Maximilian Kolbe is truly an appropriate measure to apply to ourselves and our culture and those in it – and particularly to those in politics who profess to “lead” us, serve us, protect us – keep us sane and safe … and to those in the professions and education, and to those in religious stations who have vowed to keep us close to Christ, and to the Father.

On this anniversary of Fr. Kolbe’s death, I suggest that you take time to reflect on your obligation to live up to your faith, to live as Fr. Kolbe did, as Christ did. Likewise, it is a good time to ask: Do those with public voice live as Fr. Kolbe did?

Remember “Sanctity is not a luxury, but a simple duty.”

Shalom.

Question.  Who among those who clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend resembled Fr. Kolbe?  Answer: No one, it seems.

 

What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence – moral, cultural, social, or intellectual.

C. S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters

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This, of course, is Satan speaking to his nephew in the The Screwtape Letters.

Satan goes on to describe how democracy levels all excellence, converts all to mediocrity or worse – enslavement.  In Satan’s world “no pre-eminence” is allowed, no one in the mass can be wiser than the mass.  Satan’s plan is “dumb everyone down.”

Well, welcome to the world of the American Left.  To the Obama national health “care” disaster. To the world of present day academics, the world of American socialism, the public school system, the federal government, the bureaucrat, the regulator, the “social engineers,” the “thought police” of this or that misguided “cause.”

In a degraded society, there is no excellence.  God’s gifts, like God, are unwelcomed, denied. Equality becomes a hammer, not a metaphysical state of being.  In such a state of being, democracy can do the work of the tyrant.  So says Satan in The Screwtape Letters.

It is sadly plain that much of what Screwtape said visits us today and few, so very few, among us are well-enough educated and devoted sufficiently to the mystery of God and Lady Wisdom to see what has been amply described in multiple sources over the ages.

We are hideously reduced.  Listening to whatever is the mass dialogue only makes matters worse.  Time to live wisely, to live in faith, to live with God.

We live in a moment when each Believer is called to know, and to speak and to reorient our present disastrous course.  Yes, we will have to speak truth when it is most dangerous to do so.

Shalom.

I am the way, the truth and the life.

Jn 14:6

 

 

 

For my Son, himself a divinely loving father … of whom I am very proud and for whom I am so grateful.

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They ate the little mushrooms together with the beans and drank tea and had tinned pears for their dessert. He banked the fire against the seam of rock where he’d built it and he’d strung the tarp behind them to reflect the heat and they sat warm in their refuge while he told the boy stories.  Old stories of courage and justice as he remembered them until the boy was asleep in his blankets and then he stoked the fire and lay down warm and full and listened to the low thunder of the falls beyond them in the dark and threadbare wood.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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A father loves the son in divine dimension.

It is Sunday.  We are given Sunday so we might ask if we love as the Father?

In the best of moments and in the strongest of bonds a father loves his son in ways that mimic God and prepare the son for tomorrow and all the tomorrows we might be given, all the burdens that fall to men – the sacrifice of killing and of dying in the fight.

In the last few American decades it is men who have been attacked, derided, suspected and accused.  Fallen times and fallen women – a race gone wrong in many ways. Such is a time when God is forsaken.  Fundamental undoing. Dangerous course and full throated nonsense.

But who will fight for the frail but the father and his son?  The crop of warriors diminishes. Whole groups have no fathers.

We speak and act as if there is no treachery, as if “others” will magically appear to save us.  But there are fewer fathers who love their sons divinely … and fewer sons breeds fewer fathers and danger appears to conquer and destroy.

When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.  Nights dark beyond darkness and days more gray each one than what had gone before.

Shalom.

Footnote – I hope this strikes a satisfying cord for you, especially for men and fathers. We have fewer now who know who we are and what we do, know how deeply we feel and how essential we are.  Share this with others if you wish – and surely with men who are fathers. God bless you all.

 

Published this post so late on the 13th of April that I will let it stand for today as well to give maximum opportunity for the readers.

Tomorrow: A Story about a Man Finding God in a Most Challenging Time.

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God bless you on this Good Friday.

Of every one hundred men … nine are real fighters … Ah, but the One … One of them is a warrior, and He will bring the others back.

Hericletus, 500 B.C.

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A handful of students at Notre Dame have said they felt “unsafe” because Vice President Mike Pence will be on campus to deliver the 2017 Commencement Address.

None of these students are among the nine who are real fighters.  That said such snowflakes are childish and they weaken this nation and make us vulnerable while living off the valor of the nine, and the One.

The Left, in their pathetic sensitivities, weaken us, make of us an easy target.

‘Tis about time that we said: stop it, you are making a fool of yourself and endanger the rest of us.  Perhaps the 21,000 lb. bomb dropped on ISIS tunnel fighters in Afghanistan changes the calculus.  If so, we hope that it changes the present prissy and whiney campus culture.

Imagining this sort of pussy-willow at Notre Dame (Home of the Fighting Irish) is hard to understand.  First, Notre Dame is a faith-place, a Catholic-faith place with 164 Masses said each week and a Chapel in just about every building including each of the student residences.  It follows that the faithful need not live in fear. Second, Notre Dame produces more Navy and Marine officers each year than any American college or university, the U.S. Naval Academy excepted.

The life of mankind has not changed from what Hericletus proclaimed in 500 B.C. A safe nation requires real fighters, and One exceptional warrior, to survive and flourish.

I note Hericletus made no mention of snowflakes and safe spaces.

Lesson learned, boys and girls?

Shalom.

No man can purify another man.

Buddha

 

For years … we have been sinking … into a thoroughly modern chaosa scholarly and documented chaos, worthy of our Liberal and Progressive thinkers.  For years our universities of Europe and America have been hacking away at the twin foundations of their own house.  Like men gone mad with pride they have recklessly attacked Christianity and Hellenism as though they could by some legerdemain preserve Western civilization and still destroy the two great traditions on which it rests. (Emphasis added.)

 Robert J. Gannon, Address (Fordham University, 1941)

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Friends, disaster rises slowly as it builds.  It does, however, not creep up on us. Decades ago, Gannon and others saw the unraveling of the West – the indigenous attacks on Christianity and democracy (Hellenism).

The above quote tells us where we are today.  Our Liberal and “Progressive” (read, Marxist) wizards and their well-tutored underlings (in law, politics, the media, the press, and academia) along with an endless list of a sundry special pleaders advancing one after another of socially destructive – even suicidal – propositions have spread chaos and division.

Yes, the Liberal and Marxists have fragmented and weakened us – displacing wisdom and common sense with nonsense and misguided images of a man-made utopia here on earth.

Make no mistake, we face a broad frontal and foundational assault.  This is the root of the existential danger we face.

It follows that first we must debunk the errant Leftist, godless notions of life in democracy.

We must, in contrast, raise up the genius of our Founders and their unique, and invaluable appreciation for the nature of the human being and the delicate structure of a Constitution that guarantees stability through a Federal system that protects civil society and the freedom of its citizens and private interests by insuring a two tiered system of governmental authority shared by the national government and its sovereign states.

Mind you, by the way, the system of freedom and self-governing we enjoy reserves a privileged place for religious freedom and rests on the essence of Judeo-Christian wisdom.

In Gannon and others you have been adequately forewarned.  Wake up.  Stand up.  Prevail. This, by the way, is the essence of Brexit and the Trump victory. Build on this … before it is too late.

In our age, as never before, truth implies the courage to face chaos.

Erich Neumann, in Man and Time

Shalom.

For those who face a trial and complain or become resentful.

… do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing … to the degree that you share the suffering of Christ …

1 Pet 4:12, 13

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How often have I heard someone say: why is this happening to me?  Why am I suffering?

In what are rarer instances, I have witnessed in my life those who have faced hard challenges and yet never complained.  I think of my mother: struggling to find work, alone – having lost her parents when she was still a young lady.  And I think of my young wife with cancer, a punishing disease that worsened year by year. Neither complained.

I am asked from time to time, was your mother faithful?  I answer: “yes, by the way she lived – she encountered hardship and never wavered.”  The same could be said of my wife. They each possessed a courage that tells of faith, that comes from faith, that rests on faith.

They believed.  They saw God in the trials, and they walked with God without complaint, or doubt and they never felt sorry for themselves.  Indeed, they put others first.

In our trials we draw closer to God and learn to rely on God not on our self.  We learn that we are not alone and that life is but a passing.  In this we see who we are and what a human being is and can be.  We see how those who do not believe are in constant turmoil and how they cause problems for themselves and others – how discontented they are.

To believe in the midst of a trial is to be a witness to others of the Truth that gives us peace: we are God’s children and we are never alone or forgotten.

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Ask yourself – does this culture promote or disparage faith and the experience of God?

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Shalom.

“You know, feelings will develop, that happen among humans and it’s good it happens, and I have always said, and I said it again last week, that you are a good friend, I care for you, and it’s fair to say in terms of emotional responses that mine has escalated or increased somewhat, and ‘love’ would not be a wholly inappropriate word to use to describe where  I’m coming from.”

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Well, what do you think?  Who might have said these convoluted words?  Well, not Jesus for sure.  But who?

And what do you think of one who might have “expounded” on love in these words.

The interesting thing to me is this: according to a Wall Street Journal article of November 24, 2014these are the words of our out-going President who I have always seen as a man without friends, a loner with little evidence of having encountered and mastered the kinds of experiences that grow wisdom and teach as only life’s hardships faced fully can teach.

When I read this quote, knowing the figure of the person who said this, it makes me ask: Can you lead if you do not know love in its fullest?  Can you have much to say of value if you have not lived a full life, the struggles and joys which teach you humility, the depths of love and the irreplaceable nature of religious narrative?

In a larger sense when I write this, I ask myself: in a world where aggression fills the voids of weakness and retreat can we be safe?  And this too: have we given too much deference to the “educated” class who, other than read books, have done little in life?  If so, are we prepared to see, name and address those who wish us harm and overly demonstrate that they intend to destroy our way of life?

Contrary to the Hollywood crowd, the world is not an Andy Hardy yarn.  It is rather much closer to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or No Country for Old Men.

The truth of the matter seems to me this: Don’t expect leadership from those who have not been tested, knocked down and gotten up for in this one learns to live and to love.

My concern?  We have an oversupply of those who accede to positions of political power and public commentary who have not been tested and grown fully in wisdom.  Life is tough.  It demands our strength and resolve.

Shalom.

 

Peace does not dwell in outward things, but within the soul; we may preserve it in the midst of the bitterest pain …

Francis Fenelon

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Yes, true enough.  But what does this say to us?

First, peace relies on one’s interior journey.  That is where the exterior is integrated and where, in that process, we grow in depth, understanding, wisdom, courage, mercy and maturity.  That said, this calls most frequently on faith and the place of religious narrative in one’s life.

But what more does this say?

Pain, disappointment, deception – even betrayal and abandonment are part of life among mortals who are in all states of immaturity, selfishness, fear, hurt, disorder, foolishness and the like.  So, yes – the interior journey provides a housing for the hurt that diminishes the injury that others and life invokes.

Faith and the interior journey: they neutralize the toxic nature of pain and make of it the best things that we are in being fully human and divinely created beings.

It is so often pain and disappointment that opens the doors of the heart and soul, and faith narratives which most frequently provide the template and context in which, relying in the ancient and ageless truth they impart, that hold the key to heart and soul.

Shalom.

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