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The hero is one who lives in the inward sphere of things, in the True, Divine, Eternal, which exists there … His life is a piece of the everlasting heart of nature itself.

Thomas Carlyle, in Lectures on Heroes.

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Heroism, like life itself, is lived from the inside out.  The hero’s deeds are divine and state this truth “no greater love hath one that he lays down his life for another.”

Let’s face facts.  Carlyle is talking about the place of the Divine in the acts of heroes much as I have written often that one’s life cannot approach excellence without a relationship with God.  Apropos, and as I have written so often, a culture without God is ruled by darkness – seen so easily day after day in the chaos and disorder of so many – living so close to one another – to us … and memorialized in the daily news.

When I see the public figures and talking heads on television each day – I do not see heroes … on the contrary I see sickness, disorder and chatter which signifies that those who chirp on and on have no clue that they put their failure on display.

Memorial Day Weekend – think about heroes.  Are you disposed to be in the right form and manner of your sacred being?

Shalom.

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“… the guys I couldn’t save … “

” … we take care of each other.”

Chris Kyle, in American Sniper

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These words come into play near the end of the movie American Sniper.  They arise in an exchange between the distinguished Navy Seal Chris Kyle and a doctor who is talking to Chris about the effects that sustained combat tours might have had on Chris.

These are the words attributed to Chris in that exchange.

When asked about the things he saw in his four tours of duty in Iraq (approximately 1000 days as suggested by the doctor) – Chris says he is not concerned with the killing he engaged because he was protecting his guys – but rather he is concerned about the guys he couldn’t save.  And he explains that we take care of each other.

What if we in this country cared about protecting one another and caring for one another and acted accordingly? 

What if we cared so much that we would routinely risk our life to protect others and to care for each other?

Quite honestly this would be a very different country.  Indeed, it is hard to envision the range of bad behavior we see and tolerate today if we lived to protect and care for others.  Likewise, it seems that fear would dissipate … crime would diminished.

But you know the most interesting aspect of this proposition is this: what do you suppose the effect might be on men like Chris Kyle in a self-serving culture when he is one of only a few with such courage, with a willingness to sacrifice and care for others more than self as he did?

Imagine what it would be like for you if you were the guy who cared for others as he did, who sacrificed for others while the vast majority of population went about serving their own needs to the exclusion of others – and doing so day after day, month after month, year after year.

What might the man or woman feel who sacrificed all his or her life and put others first, defended and fought for others in a society where many felt obliged to serve self first, exclusively and endlessly?

Imagine if we lived in a society with only a few like Chris Kyle.

Shalom.

 

 

A [person] entrusted with the care of souls ought to have certain wisdom of which does not consist of words only, but chiefly of experiencea certain wisdom of life … If such a thing can be taught at all, it must be of a personal experience of the human soul.  (Emphasis added.)

Carl Jung, M.D., in Letters

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Some guy goes to a pricey college after prep school and then to an “esteemed” law school and then into law practice or politics and we are told in time that “he can part the seas” (or if he is a real egotist he tells you he can make the seas recede several feet).

Pure idiocy … but this is the nonsense that dominates razor thin thinking about public figures today.  We get the public figures we deserve.

Public figures are a reflection of who we are as a people.  It you see pretenders and fools in public life – you live among pretenders and fools.

Wisdom figures, to the contrary, have lived and learned from a life fully experienced.

Too many public figures have simply traveled easy street and matriculated at some well known college and assume in time “positions of authority.”

Easy streets and a modest degree from a known college are not in any sense apt to produce “a certain wisdom of life.”  Far from it.  Have we not had sufficient numbers of fools with that meagher portfolio – affluence, a private secondary school, nice summer vacations, a house at the beach, a fancy college, law school and “authority.”

In the bar fight that live is – you’d best have someone who has thrown some punches, been knocked down and got up again … and again and again.

Live experience, alone, provides life wisdom.  Combat is your teacher.

Shalom.

God, infinitely perfect … in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to … share in his own blessed life.  For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He call him to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family … To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior.  In his Son … he invites men to become … his adopted children and … heirs of his blessed life.

Prologue, Catechism of the Catholic Church

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Looking about, it is hard to find in public life and discourse men and women who appear to be Catholics.  Given this irreplaceable gift from God, one cannot see evidence that those who speak to us, who advocate for this or that cause are living a Catholic life.

Think about it.  In these troubled times who among us appears governed by his Catholic faith?  Would it not be the case that a Catholic in troubled times would stand for what is good, would appear as certain, speak with calm conviction – lead us in the way of Christ?

Yet, we do not see this.  Yes, we have politicians, celebrities, academics, radio and television “personalities” – but do you ever hear them speak as if they are faithful people?

The conflicts we face are such that they call us to account.  Are we living our faith?  Are we drawing closer to God?  Are we knowledgeable Catholics?  Do we show our Catholic faith in our daily life?

This country needs to become a family guided by faith.  In Christ we are God’s children, members of his family.  How our times need brave Christians, courageous Catholics witnessing their faith each day, in all things.

Shalom.

Syria.  A United Nation’s report tells us that Communist China and North Korea are making poisonous gas available to Syria and it is being used against unarmed civilians in Syria.  This is, of course, contrary to a U.N. Security Council vote which Communist China supported.  Evil.

What do we do about such things?  What is our responsibility as Catholics?  As Christians?

Make no mistake, the Left is essentially Marxist – be it in China, or Russia or here in our own country.  In contrast, we are Christians, Catholics.  We must stand in opposition.

When you let evil doers co-opt you, you become the evil that they do.  God expects more from us – much more.  We must witness our faith in international and domestic affairs.  No more can we be companions to evil and those who advocate or do evil.

Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

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The police officer on guard at the Parkland, Florida high school when the carnage was occurring stayed outside the building rather than respond to protect those under fire.

This is pathetic.

I have long said that faith proceeds courage.

We are a culture where all sorts of people make demands on others.  This particular iteration of selfishness is epidemic.  Forget claims of real harm – now one need only assert that group X or party Y is by race, or gender, or political disposition a prospective “offender.”  

Now children can make depends on others and expect that their demands will be met.  Forget the small delicacy that they know little to nothing and lack accumulated life experience or particular expertise.  Armed with anger and the strange notion that life is not to be hard, have its disappointments, tragedies, problems and losses – they want to be spared from what is and has been reality throughout human history.  Children being childish – and we are supposed to give them what they want!  Ridiculous.

The Left has given us a denial for faith and a whole lot of hatred of others and of this country.  They are selfish and want their way no matter the absurd or destructive demand they seek to impose.

Enough.

With the Left we now hunt police officers, ambush them.  We seem to have an officer a day killed.  Now we have some who will not come to the defense of the unarmed – but rather let the unarmed innocent die.

Six decades of Leftist sickness has given us decadence and decline.  We are now a nation where the young (those who traditionally served to defend this land) are too fat, too unhealthy, to addicted, to lawless, to uneducated to serve in the military.  This is what the Left gives us – the likes of Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and many others who never held a job outside of a political office – freeloaders who complain but never put their hand to the plow, to an honest day’s work.  DecadenceWe have far more selfish loudmouths than selfless neighbors.

We have allowed the Left to squander away our freedom and our security, destroy the family and communities, co-opt our young people, destroy fundamental institutions and beliefs, divide this nation, exile God.

But for a small group of honorable, selfless men and women – we would stand naked, unarmed, cowardly and selfish – the prey of those without and within who wish our destruction.

Back to faith – or our end will come.  No more meeting the demands of those who talk and take but do nothing for others.

No more free rides and constant complaints from the talkers and the takers.

Let’s be absolutely clear that there is NO courage without faith … and institutions and government agencies, departments and bureaus DO NOT have courage – individual people do.  Faith and courage – your job!!!

Shalom.

$500 million to Protect Schools.  No problem – shift the federal annual give-way to Planned Parenthood from the abortionists to the task of protecting children who have escaped their clutches.

 

Life and death are at war within us.  As soon as we are born, we begin at the same time to live and die … If by chance we become fully conscious of it, not only in the flesh and in our emotions but above all in our spirit, we find ourselves involved in a terrible wrestling, an agonia not of questions and answers, but of being and nothingness, spirit and void. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in The New Man

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Last night I watched Part One of Ken Burns film on the Second World War.  I saw the war from the perspective of the common man and woman, the families in small towns and large cities.  It is, of course, a story of all ethnic groups, all races and religions, rich and poor, farmer, factory worker, school teacher, professional. Yes, it is the story of Americans when we were once One and united – neighbors, friends, a community, a proud and patriotic nation – people from foreign shores who arrived to make a new life and seize opportunity in a free society.

Burns shows us what we once were – before we became “fat” and fancy, successful, too expectant, spoiled, too focused on our own welfare and too rooted in demands and divisions from one another.

Once we lived implicitly what Merton describes: we were conscious of our supreme value – yes, of our God-given value – the divine equality of the soul.  Friends, this was how we once lived … You see victory in this world and the next comes only to those who live this way.

I grew up on a street with World War II vets in a working class city known for producing more U.S. Marines per capita than any city in the country.

The ethos of our greatest hour is now misplaced.  You see its absence in Members of the Congress – in the Flakes, Schumers, Pelosis, Durbins, Waters, et al … in the public chorus of “me first, only me” special pleaders whose arc of complaint stretches from the banal to the bizarre, and among the over-privileged in the entertainment industry and in the lost souls of media.

What we see is clear evidence of a loss of faith – of wisdom, perspective, patience.

In a secular society there is no transcendent purpose, no eternity – no moral context and all-embracing narrative.  No – secular life lacks meaning, leaves us shallow and self-absorbed – dependent, unhappy, … with an emptiness that breeds drug use, sexual chaos, hatred and violence.  Godlessness, we see, produces self-destruction.

Time to wake up.  We have regressed.  We lack the honor we once had – and the valor, bravery, virtue, honesty, confidence, integrity and purpose of our recent past.

Shalom.

God abandons only those who abandon themselves, and whoever has the courage shut up his sorrows within his own heart is stronger to fight against it than he who complains.  (Emphasis added.)

George Sand, in La Petite Fadette

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Yesterday I spent much of the day alone.  That gave me time in all the quiet to think about the joy of seeing my son, his wife and my grandchildren and gave me mind to think about loved ones and friends who have passed away.  My mother has now been gone 21 years.  I have no siblings.  My uncles and their wives are now gone almost as long as my mother.  My wife Sylvia will have been gone 40 years this year.

I have spent a great deal of time without people who I loved and who loved me.  I have in absolute truth borne the weight of these years alone without complaint.  Honestly I have done so courageously – as Sand says I have “shut up the sorrows within (my) heart.”

Against this backdrop I call tell you I never liked complainers.  I was born to modest means and soon enough loved ones (grandparents with whom my mother and I lived) died.  Yes, each by the time I was just out of the sixth grade.  In short order my mother and I were in public housing and poverty took up residence in our reality.  Complaining was out of the question.  Complaining does no good.  It accomplishes nothing.  Doing is what problems and hardships demand.  Doing makes us stronger, wiser, more cunning, more empowered, more defiant, more confident, more independent.

That said, we live in a nation of complainers.  I am so sick of hearing about racism.  So sick hearing about income transfers, diversity, the plight of the dependent class, women who feel slighted, poor immigrants, etc.  Nothing gets better without parking your sorrows by the roadside and getting after life.  Wrong side of the tracks?  Show those who might demean you that you can outwork them, are stronger, more determined, bolder, more focused, unbeatable.

In the course of my life I have (despite a learning disability and poverty) graduated from college and law school, earned advanced degrees at Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame, practiced (serving poor clients, mostly), entered religious life, become an Army officer, purchased a home, a car and a small business for my mother, cared for a wife with cancer, raised a son who now has his Ph.D. and a nice wife, two lovely children and a good job where he is valued.  Mind you I am no genius.  I work. I had no time for complaining – I was a doer. 

We tolerate too much whining.  Too much complaining.  The best we can do for people who complain is this – tell them to be quiet and “get after it.”  Better we challenge others to show all the doubters wrong than waste time complaining or listening to their complaints over and again.

As legendary football coach and sidewalk philosopher Lou Holtz says: “Don’t tell people about your problems.  Twenty percent don’t want to hear about them – and the remaining 80 percent are glad you have them.”

Shalom.

The NEW Democrat Party.  Former Army enlisted clerk and transvestite Bradley Manning who was convicted for the illegal release of thousands of classified security documents and sentenced to 35 years in prison (before being pardoned by President Obama for no particular reason) has announced he/she is running for the U.S. Senate in Maryland against a seated Democrat Senator who has spent (as Democrats do) a lifetime on the public tit.  The New Guard is replacing the Old Guard.  (Same tit, by the way.) How charming.

This is exactly where the Democrat Party has been driving the bus.  George Orwell must be tickled pink – yes, isn’t that the color perfect.  The pinkos have more than one screw loose.

Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.

Ralph Ellison, in Invisible Man

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With the warmth of a wood-burning stove, I write alone in the frigid darkness while the wind howls.  Aaron Copland’s Own Town makes now the memories of the past.

Yesterday’s battles tug most when you are alone, when the earth is asleep and the ground is stone hard.

There is nothing gentle in these recollections.  Thank God the ones you loved and lost sit closest as the night takes its form.

I am a long way from the Boston I never left.  Yes, life’s markers are portable and, at times, inescapable.  Curses and blessings served on one plate.  Time teaches unforgettable truths.  Yet, joy survives in having lived it all out.

What is exterior is interior.

The trials grant us wisdom for future battles.  What was once opaque, is not.  In challenges – the gifts of insight and understanding, a sense of humor – and confidence.  Behind it all, faith waits cultivation.

Yes, Ellison is right – life is to be lived … and we are not to be controlled.  The Spirit cannot be jailed.  He must take his breath.  His heart must beat.  His dignity is of God, so too his identity.  You are his host.  He lives in you.

Shalom.

 

The mistake that you make … is thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself.

George Orwell

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A glance at the condition of the Justice Department’s handling of the Clinton investigation or the current Special Counsel’s activities might give just pause to think about Orwell’s statement.

Likewise the past administration’s suspension of drug interdiction that allowed Middle East terrorists to smuggle drugs into our country so as to placate the Iranians and preserve the dubious agreement to further Iran’s nuclear program also prompts reflection on Orwell’s proposition.  Ditto, “Fast and Furious” whereby the Justice Department gave guns to Mexican drug gang members that eventually were used to kill an American law enforcement officer.  And then there is the IRS targeting conservative organizations and forestalling their applications for tax exempt status might also cause some soul-searching as to Orwell’s comment.

Think about where we are today in this culture.  Think about the daily drumbeat designed to discredit a duly elected President because one either doesn’t fancy him, or because one is “offended” that their candidate did not win, or because he does not fit the Washington-way where everyone participates in a privileged event for “insiders” – members of the governing-club, the Skull and Bones of politics.

You know when you attend church this Holy Season and kneel to pray, I wonder if you’ll think of today’s events and how they might implicate those who remain silent.

When you hear “Silent Night” sung, I wonder if you might ask yourself: Am I to remain silent today?

Shalom.

Stumbling, Bumbling, Fumbling – That’s your Federal government – that’s the GSA’s (General Services Administration) handing over private emails belonging to private citizens to Special Counsel Mueller who had no legal approval to seize these emails.

It seems Mr. Mueller and others know less about ethics and law than required. It is the Gang that can’t shoot straight looking for the Gang that can’t shoot straight – when all they need to do is to look in the mirror.

Wonder why people have no confidence in the Department of Justice,  the FBI, the Special Counsel and government at large?  They see what they see.

Remember it takes only one clown to make a circus.  Seems we have more on hand than required.

All efforts based on parliamentary control and free-market economic mechanisms proved useless in quelling the growing polarization in opinion and stance.  Different propositions were put forward, ranging from anarchism to autocratic rule, and for many young people each seemed preferable to the rotten democracy they lived under.

Andrzej Franaszek, in Milosz

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These words describe the deteriorating political climate in Poland in the 1930’s and to some extent the political climate in Europe at the same time.

They so remind me of the extraordinary state of affairs and discontent in the U.S. today.  Partisanship reigns.  One Party houses the extreme Left.  Liberalism embraces nihilism and its echoes ring in the public square, mass media and the courts of law.  Anarchists, while small in number, dressed in black slash and burn.  Foundations fund the voices of Black racism.  We live in uneasy times.

Circumstances have changed.  The once stable America is less a source of certainty than it has been and the world becomes more dangerous.

We tilt Left and morals have been mothballed.  Trusted government institutions have lost their glow.  Public corruption tarnishes democracy.  Religious belief itself is in thin supply.  Education is below the waterline.  It is a troubled time.

History tells us that in such times the best young men mature more quickly … and across the land the wise turn back to faith.  Yes, extreme moments snap us into what is fundamental, personal, sure, uplifting, good and eternal – humanizing, strong, kind, heroic – the only option in dark days.

Beneath the flawless manners of a worldly gentleman he hid his compassion for all that is living.  Some people perhaps could sense it, but it was certainly known, in ways mysterious to us, to the small birds that would perch on his head and hands when he stopped in a park alley.

Czeslaw Milosz, in Goodness

Lord, bring us to our senses – to morality, honesty, kindness, compassion – Make us One.

Shalom.

 

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