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3:03 a.m. – how nice it is to awake in the full night of silence to think about faith

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Faith is a backward-looking virtue.  It concerns who we are … “the mystical chords of memory.”

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

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In faith you are connected with those who have come before you – with a stream of being that reaches to the very distant past, the sacrifice of others, their fidelity.  Their story is our story.

In faith we belong to others – to Saint Peter and Saint John – to Abraham and Martha and Mary and Lazarus … to Aquinas, St. Augustine, to Simon of Cyrene, the men on the road to Emmaus – to centuries of faithful Jews and Christians.

In faith we have identity … a place in a long story that has no end.

In a world too often focused on the immediate, the immaterial, on desire, immersed in anxiety, loneliness, doubt and worry – we have in faith: certainty, confidence, cause, connection, and a call to life.

In faith we have as Aristotle says “another self,” – in faith is solidarity and union with one another now, in the past and in what is to come.  In faith we know love – a love that runs to what has come before, what is now, and what will be in all the tomorrows yet to come.

In faith, particular differences do not matter for the faith others possess is the faith we possess.  Ethnicity, race, age, social status, wealth and such do not matter to those who share a faith.

The broad identity of faith is the union of belief.  We are, in faith, what we believe.  Therein is our solace, our identity, our purpose, our meaning, our stability and our happiness.

Shalom.

… narcissistic orientation is one in which experiences as real only that which exists within oneself while the phenomena of the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are only experienced from a viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one.  The opposite pole of narcissism is objectivity … the faculty to see other people and things as they are … to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and wants.

Erich Fromm, in The Art of Loving

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Narcissism.  We know it as selfishness and it is quite abundant.  Human beings are quite selfish.  We find it in families, professional associations, the entertainment industry, the media and other lines of work that have a public face.  It runs rampant in politics, in professional associations like Bar Associations and among the coveted and esteemed associations like the judiciary and the tenured faculty.

Selfishness is the root cause of corruption.  In selfishness others are mere objects or obstacles to one’s exclusive satisfactions.  Many people are imprisoned in this narcissism and they make others miserable.  There is no love or friendship with the narcissistic lot.  To them others are objects to be used or destroyed.

What is one to do?  For a calm and pleasant life – be very selective with whom you mix and mingle.  Maintain an objective point of view.  Be realistic.  See the world and others as they are not as you wish them to be.

Yes, there are good people who genuinely care about living a humble and kind life and thus treat others with the upmost dignity and concern.  Those people ought to be your circle of friends.  The others are to be kept at arm’s length or avoided altogether.  Narcissists, you see, are quite destructive to self and others.

When you think about it, do you not see the value of quiet, solitude, a small group of good friends, the value of a monastic disposition, life in God’s great space and beauty, the place of Christ in the life of a Christian?

Be realistic.  See what is.  Avoid unreal expectations or self-deception.  Things are what they tell you they are.  Acknowledging reality is the cornerstone of a life of peace, friendship, meaning, contentment, happiness, relative ease and love.  We live in a fallen world among many who are centered on self and self only.  Consider yourself so advised.

Shalom.

If … spiritual need is not appeased, it will take revenge in strange ways … A lot of compulsive behavior – drugs, sexual license, hyper-activity, work for work’s sake – can be means of escaping from this hunger.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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We are spiritual beings.  Our interior life exists.  Often, it is neglected.  Such is the nature of a demanding culture, a culture in which we are frequently engaged, locked in on exterior demands placed on us.  We spend little time alone, in quiet, at rest – caring for our need for silence and solitude.  Hence, we are at ill at ease.

Who among us takes time for quiet?  For solitude?  Silence?

Are not the addicted ill at ease?  Who is at peace?  Are you able to be quiet and at ease?

Caring for one’s interior is a need we have.  Engaging your faith in silence and solitude provides a way to tranquility and contentment – a respite from all that is demanded of you, all that keeps you engaged and without a pause, without quiet, without peace.

Shalom.

 

“Faith is first of all intellectual assent.  But the assent of faith is not based on intrinsic evidence of a visible object … Statements which demand the assent of faith are simply neutral to reason … Faith brings together the known and the unknown so that they overlap: or rather, so that we are aware of their overlap … The function of faith is not to reduce mystery to rational clarity, but to integrate the unknown and known together into a living whole.”

Thomas Merton, in New Seeds of Contemplation

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Faith is not intended or can it be reduced to “rational clarity.”  If it could be, it would not be faith.  Yet, it has its place in our life, in our thinking, in our understanding and negotiating existence among mortals.

My point is this: faith is real and the reality it presents is too.  And this it has been for ever and a day.

To situate faith in your life, think of what St. Thomas Aquinas said so well:

“The theological virtues are above the nature of man, whereas the intellectual and moral virtues belong to the nature of man … Therefore the theological virtues should be distinguished … The intellectual and moral virtues perfect the human intellect and appetite in proportion to human nature, but the theological virtues do so supernaturally.

Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologiae

The point?  We live above and below intellect and moral existence – we yearn most deeply in a theological way, in a manner that is implicitly invoking a search for and expression of the faith planted within us.  We live from the soul out, not in the head or in an articulation of a moral disposition that is no more than an expression of our personal predilections aimed at a mere defense of our bias, preference or wants.

You are made for faith, and the richness of your soul kindly expressed in this mortal realm.  Be of faith … of soul – fullness and calm follow.

Shalom.

 

Where loves rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates there love is lacking.  The one is the shadow of the other.

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Love and power.

Jung is saying that the will of one that desires foremost that one attain power presents us with one who lacks love.

Turning this on its head, I think of one who loves … one such as Christ who loves and demonstrates this: – those governed my love indeed are powerful without needing to secure a position of power.  For it is the case that love has power particular to itself, and calm, and certainty, and in this an other-worldly/transcendent nature.  Love endures all things and surpasses all things – surpasses betrayal, suffering, loneliness, rejection, poverty, hunger, isolation, and all manner of evil deeds and the need for mortal kingship.

Think about the images of those who seek power.  Of Lenin.  Joseph Stalin.  Fidel Castro.  Adolph Hitler.  Mao.  Their legacy is not pleasant – labor camps, imprisonment, death, suppression of individual freedoms, confiscation of private property, hostility toward religion.

Think too of today and those who seek political power here, among us.  Think subjectively.  Do they seem loving?  Sacrificial?  Calm?  Humble?  Or are they smitten by status and political power?  Do they impress you as somewhat odd?  Captured by a will to power and the necessity of a public stage, a title, a preferred status, special treatment, access to wealth?

Those most likely to lead are those who have no need for power, no desire to control others or pursue radical change.  Those who divide us by race, class and gender lack the voice of love – for love does not divide, it unites.

It is a grave danger when a political party divides us by race, class and gender.  In them love is absent and there is no unity … rather division and decline.  We are strongest when there is no divide.  For that, love is essential.

Shalom.

 

God created man in His own image …

Gen 1:27

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Why would God create us in His image?  A fair question – with an easy answer.  The answer?  So He might have a relationship with us and us with God.  And wherein is the epitome of intimacy and love everlasting.  Yes, the very thing we all long for in our mortal life is given to us right from the beginning of life and time.

God’s love of us is central to our well-being, contentment, happiness, strength, meaning, purpose, peace and identity – the one cardinal Truth that banishes all failure, hardship, setbacks, sufferings.  Yet, we so often ignore this fundamental reality.  But, why?

Pride is the most common reason.  Pride would have us try to make life work to our design.  Despite our failures and the loneliness and stress that our pride produces – we persist … until one day we resign ourselves to this fact – we cannot succeed or be at peace when we neglect God and the truth of God’s omnipotence and God’s love of each one of us.

Still others neglect God for they fear God is a wrathful, unforgiving God – while God is a merciful God.  Yes, people by into fear and the false identity that is pervaded by others that God is not a loving God.

Remember Jeremiah 29:11 – “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope.”  (Emphasis added.)

Why would anyone wish to neglect God in favor of making life more difficult and less certain and stable?  Think about that today and tomorrow … until you come to your senses.

Shalom.

 

Remember you are an actor in a drama of such sort as the Author chooses – if short, then a short one; if long, then in a long one.  If it be his pleasure that you should enact a poor man, or a cripple, or a ruler, see that you act it well.  For this is your businessto act well the given part, but to choose it belongs to Another.  (Emphasis added.)

Epictetus, in Enchiridion

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Can’t say more about this than – live the life you have been given … see hardship as that which teaches, makes you stronger – wiser.

Those who try to fashion their life and elect to avoid this or that or play a “pat hand” do damage to self and others.  Life is not static nor does it belong to only us.

Take heed.

” … act well the given part … “

Shalom.

 

 

 

God revealed a sublime truth to the world when He sang, “I am made whole by your life.  Each soul, each soul completes me.”  (Emphasis added.)

Hafiz

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So says the Persian poet from the 14th century.

What if your live makes God whole?  Would that make you more aware of your value?  Would that recognition influence how you lived, what choices you made?

Imagine this: many live as if they matter most but what if their Creator mattered most?

If such thought were carried by all – there would be no need to look for love and friendship, nor would there be the selfishness we see, or the violence and self-inflicted wounds, broken promises, betrayals and deceptions.

One simple idea can change life for the best – not just the better.

Shalom.

A rainy overcast day, mist in the mountains, a warm fire and classical music quiets and settles the day.  Peace on earth.

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The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not, like some well in a retired and shady place.  What he is when left to himself and to his God, that is his true self.

John Henry Newman, in Parochial and Plain Sermons

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Do you see the steady stream of frantic people in public life – the “advocates” and well-financed, tax-exempt self-named guardians of this position or that, this category or that.

All this urgency and crude public displays – the name-calling and demonizing.  Why do we listen to this nonsense?  These are troubled souls.  They live life of distress and hostility certain that they have the “correct view” of everything.  Look, too, at the publicly elected Leftist politicians – perpetually in a state of anger and 100 percent certainty that their view is correct and that those who hold a varied opinion are to be labeled negatively – even if those in disagreement are many in number.  Law-makers, advocates and the like readily demean and dismiss others by name-calling like “basket of deplorables;” yet, they tell us that they are morally superior without the slightest notion that their view of others is hardly morally upright.

What I see in these public advocates and their certainty is far from the hidden peace that John Henry Newman identifies.

What Newman describes is the person of faith who is at ease in this world.  One who attends to problems without losing his or her peace, civility, humility, certain knowledge God governs man and not man who governs God.

Yes, our greatest calamities arise for those frantic advocates who in their certainty make enemies of those who disagree with them.  Their disposition alone as well as their hostile temperament ought say clearly to you: these are not people worth being listened to … too frantic, certain, angry, exclusionary and agitated.  Their frenzied nature speaks to the disaster that awaits in their proposals for radical “change.”

Seek your hidden place … it is sane and reassuring there.

Shalom.

 

Rainy Day and it begins with Sonny Criss and Blues in My Head.

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… Christ has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him … he bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you have come to share in the divine nature, and escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. (Emphasis added.)

2 Peter 1: 3-4

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We live in a noisy world.  A whole lot of nonsense spoken and visible – and we are without a filter.  That said, think about what nonsense you take in and the way it alters your state of being, your mood, your perception of the world.

Let’s me frank.  We are exposed to people who speak but know nothing.  People whose words are better ignored for the idiocy they convey.  Too many godless and childish voices and we do virtually nothing to avoid them.

Listen to Peter.  Christ is our screen – yet, we let people talk to us who know not much and surely not Christ.  Why would you let yourself listen to foolishness – to godless nonsense?  Do you let others serve you rancid food?  Of course, not.

Where is your discretion?

If you wish to digest what is good, to hear what is purifying and clean and points to eternity and the good that is freely given to you – then pay attention to Christ, to his disciples – to what is in Holy Scripture and what has good and has withstood the test of time.

Presently there is corruption all around and abundantly so in those with who dominate  public arenas.  Time to be discreet.  Sharpen your hearing and your sight by taking up the habit of reading Morning and Night Prayer (as Catholics we call this prayer of the hours).

Being engaged in a routine of morning and evening prayer orients your eyes and ears to what is good, grows your heart and soul – is an immediate guard to the depths of corruption and inanity that is ever-present in public discourse today.

Be wise.  Be a discrete listener and viewer.  Such discretion leaves the insanity and corruption to others.  You need not be drawn into all this mess for you have been given Christ.  Make this gift your foundation, your orientation to each day and what surrounds you.  Health, happiness and wisdom awaits you.

Shalom.

 

 

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