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… the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing?  For this man is preforming many signs.  If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him and the Romans will come and take away our place and our nation.”

Jn 11:47

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Power is intoxicating and easily so.  Herein, we see the chief priests and Pharisees gathering after Jesus calls Lazarus back to life.  Their thoughts?  How can we preserve our status?  

Is this not the way of the “powerful” and the privileged?  Is this not a truth that conveys over all time?  Those at “the top” of the ladder want to remain at the top of the ladder.

Such a disposition turns one’s back on God.  ‘Tis the way of political people, the self-important, far too often.

Oddly, the strongest among us are not those at “the top,” but those who are humble and guided by faith, knowing full well there is a God and they are not God.  In their mortal existence the strongest are immortal by choice, by faith, by belief.

It is an old story – one we prefer to neglect.  Offered a Messiah, we guard our vaunted place in the pecking order.  This is tedious to those who know and believe.  Tedious indeed!  Why concede the tedious ones a grant of authority?  Would you not prefer those who welcome the Messiah be those who lead?  Are they not the wiser?  Braver?

Where are you on such things?

Shalom.

 

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The transformation of charity into legal entitlement has produced both donors without love and recipients without gratitude.

Antonin Scalia

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These words are from an address given by former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1996.

Among his observations are these:

  • “a Christian should not support a government that suppresses faith or one that sanctions the taking of innocent life”
  • he knows of “no country in which the churches have grown fuller as the government has moved leftward”
  • the most religious nation in the West (the U.S.) is a capitalist society that is “least diluted by socialism”  (Emphasis added.)
  • since FDR’s New Deal, the U.S. has taken on the increasing role of a welfare state (i.e., taking tax proceeds of all and dispensing them to select individuals and groups that are deemed “needy” – and building political constituents in the process)
  • “Christ’s view was that you should give your goods to the poor, not that you should force someone else to give his (to others)”  (Emphasis added.)
  • “to the extent that the states takes upon itself one of the corporal works of mercy that would have been undertaken privately, it deprives individuals of an opportunity for sanctification and deprives the body of Christ of the occasion for interchange of love among its members”
  • the welfare-state does not contain or convey the Christian virtue of altruism
  • “governmentalization of charity effects … the donor but also the recipient … What was once asked as a favor is now demanded as an entitlement … the teaching of welfare socialism is that the world owes everyone a living.”

What Scalia lays out is the decline of the role of faith in secular culture – and with it the loss of moral conduct long displayed by acts of religiously inspired service.

Likewise socialism fundamentally changes the way humans experience themselves, others and the nature of fellowship and community – indeed it blunts the power of love and hope … it deprives us of faith and sanctification.

Make no mistake, religion and God have been shunned in the post-New Deal environment – and, frankly, when moral conduct is not fostered through a population who has an active faith – hostility and faithless division takes its place.  There we become a troubled and self-destructive culture with less opportunity to make of us brothers and sisters to one another.

Converting to socialism and BIG government is, quite simply, destructive.

Shalom.

July 6th, 2018 – Hope it is a good one for you!

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If you want something too much it’s likely to be a disappointment.  The healthy way is to learn to like the everyday things, like soft beds and buttermilk – and feisty gentlemen.

Larry McMurtry, in Lonesome Dove

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Re-reading a favorite book or watching a movie you have already seen can restore a perspective you once possessed and need to acquire again.  Yes, the pace of present day secular culture occupies us so thoroughly that we can easily lose our orientation, perspective, way of being when we are at our most relaxed best.

The above words are those of Gus McCrae, a crusty old witty and practical ex-Texas Ranger with a philosopher’s disposition and a desert dry sense of humor.

Old Gus proceeded through life with joy.  He never missed the fun, nor fooled himself as to the world he lived in, the nature of people in it, or himself.  He was hassle-free.  I do not mean problem-free – for the world is the world even for honest and balanced characters in Western novels.

Seeing Gus’s humor and wisdom, sense of justice and courage, fidelity to friends and principles reminds me of how not like Gus so many people are now.  The contrast is striking.  Gus stood tall – saw what was before him and never shunned the call to honor.

Unlike many with public voice today, Gus was not a complainer – not a whiner, and in contrast to the multitude of Left and liberal voices we hear – he was not sour, frantic, perpetually irritated, obnoxious, and demanding.

Gus had fun with life – the Left and the liberals do not.  The Left today is disgruntled or angry about anything and everything that is not what they want, do, think, believe, expect, or demand.

Mind you, Gus’s life on the Western frontier in the late 19th century was hard and unpredictable.  But Old Gus took all the hurdles, bumps, twists and turns with same panache that Sinatra sang – smoothly and self-assuredly while resigned to the magistry and mystery of it all.

How we’d help ourselves to be like Gus: funny, witty, courageous, sober, loyal, grateful, clever, loving, generous, and wise.

Right now, those most vocal among us are anxious or offended, or hostile, or loud and unhappy – unpleasant and constantly frantic.  No Gus for them.  Unlike Gus – they take nothing in stride.

Life in the West in the late 19th century, or life today in cyber-secularism?  Where’s my horse and gun?

Shalom.

You can’t lie to your soul.

Irvine Welsh, in Porno

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Whole lot of people in Washington in positions of authority and in politics who are at odds with their soul.

That’s the net on these IG reports.  That’s the nature of “power” and government today in our nation’s Capitol.

A whole lot of this is the product of the Democrat Left – although the moderate Republicans are also easily co-opted in order to sustain the electoral system, their role in governing and the guise of respectability.  But there is no virtue or anything beautiful in dishonesty.  “Swamp” indeed.

Just look at the upper management echelons of the FBI, Justice Department and the Obama White House and administration.  Look at the Clintons – their foundation and their personal conduct and the behavior of those around them.  Not good.

Now the test is presented.  What will we do with what we see and know to be dishonest?  Weasel about?  Lie to ourselves about lies?  Or face the truth squarely and set the record and ourselves straight.

In our representative democracy when one trades away virtue and honesty for power, one deprives the populace of freedom and the protections of law and the U.S. Constitution.

You know once trust is lost, it does not easily return.  Lying undoes even the best form of self-governing.  A lot at stake here, Friends.

Shalom.

 

Cheap race is grace we bestow on ourselves … grace without the Cross …

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in The Cost of Discipleship

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The Philadelphia Eagles were invited to the White House in honor of their winning the last NFL Super Bowl.  Apparently a number of players did not want to attend – as a form of protest or political statement.  President Trump withdrew their invitation.

Quite honestly, I am glad he did this.  Why?

My answer is this: Cheap Grace.  Now, what am I saying?  Too many people in the celebrity class (professional athletes and entertainers, in particular) use their public presence to complain about this or that “injustice” and do so while enjoying the unique opportunities that they have been afforded and the substantial financial benefits they receive.

Think about it.  A man in the NFL has the God-given size, speed, strength, agility, intellect and discipline to earn substantial income playing a game.  Most of them have been given a college education free of charge while others might pay $200,000 for that education.  Yet of late these privileged athletes use their notoriety to “protest.”

Recently, a number of NFL players have refused to stand for the National Anthem – claiming this or that “injustice.”  Well, fine.  But I ask this question: What have they done to secure the freedom they have?  What sacrifices have they made?  Have they fought in battle?  Lost a limb in Iraq or Afghanistan?  Have they served in the military at all?  Do they have any idea that the freedom they enjoy was secured by the heroic and selfless efforts of those who came before them?  It seems not.  Do they see the men and women who serve us now in uniform?  Do they see the price police are paying with their lives?  It seems they do not.

Cheap grace.  Not having done anything to secure the freedom they enjoy – they complain, make a public display – grown men acting childishly.  Gifted athletes acting like “snowflakes.”

Life is hard for most people.  The price of freedom is high and paid by many, many men who have come before these pampered athletes and their celebrity counterparts.

For the life of me I do not understand how we can be anything but contemptuous of those who complain so freely when, on the contrary, they have much for which to be thankful.  Shear selfishness.  Hello, narcissism.

We have been too easy on those most fortunate who yelp and complain from their stations of substantial privilege.  Their ingratitude is astonishing.

There is absolutely nothing flattering about one bestowing God’s grace on oneself.  Better they have humility than such childishness.

We earn our way by a Cross that is carried.  First, Christ.  Then each of us.  Such is life and honor.  Dismiss these childish whiners.

Shalom.

When will they learn?  Does anyone on the Left understand that Donald Trump like many working class guys throws an elbow when you throw a punch?  And how about a taste of reality – under Donald Trump minority unemployment is at lows that have not been seen either before or in many years. 

In so far as man himself, consecrated by God’s name and dedicated to God, dies to the world that he may live for God, he is a sacrifice.

St. Augustine, in The City Of God

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Is it for the world that you live?  For yourself?  The goods of the world?  Its comforts?  Titles?  Wealth?  Esteem?

Or do you live a life that is first and foremost consecrated to God?

The men, the heroes of wars past and present – those who themselves volunteer to serve at risk of injury, disability or death – they are the ones consecrated to God. They are the living sacrifice.

God bless them.

May they be our guide.  Our inspiration.  Our models.  May they flourish in number among us.  May our sons and grandsons know them and live in their honor.

We give thanks for them – the living and the dead.

We stand forever grateful.

Shalom.

Life, misfortunes, isolation, abandonment, poverty, are the battlefields which have their heroes; obscure heroes, sometimes greater than illustrious heroes.

Victor Hugo, in Les Miserables

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How true!  How overlooked!

I often wonder how people can like being known as “victims.”

The Democrat Left is stuck on victimization – it is the foundation of their “identity” politics.  Make someone think they have been disadvantaged and “sell” them on the idea that you Ms. Democrat or you Mr. Democrat can “make it all right.”  The big catch: you must forever be the victim.  Yep, they ride on your back all the way to affluence and power.

Doubt me?  Look at the plight of Afro-Americans so long under the Democrat Left thumb.  Not going so well “in the hood.”

But the best point of what Hugo says is this: we are surrounded by heroes – men and women of any and all colors, country of origins, ethnicity, religions who have endured just what Hugo lists “misfortunes … to poverty” and more and have achieved because THEY REFUSED TO BE A VICTIM.

Wonder how I know this?  Here’s how: father deserts the family when I’m an infant, mother overcomes significant illnesses when I am small, two grandparents who helped raise me both dead by the time I’m 12 years old, unemployment was common, welfare a regrettable necessity, poverty, tough neighborhood, public housing, learning disability, lots of uncertainty, average student at best, odd jobs loading and unloading trucks, retail sales, rubbish collector, night-watchman, etc.  – all the same: a college degree, law degree, commission as an Army Officer, graduate degree in American Foreign Policy from Hopkins, graduate degree from Notre Dame in theology, success as a trial and appellate lawyer, work in the Congress on foreign affairs issues – loss of wife to cancer at age 29.

But I am not alone.  Many, many people have done this and more.  Heroes in our midst – and they are many.  Few want to be known as “victims.”

To Hillary and the Democrat Left we are “the deplorables.”

Victor Hugo nailed it.  There are heroes among us.  Follow their lead – never give in or give up.  “Deplorables,” my fanny!

Shalom.

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.

It is in your power to withdraw yourself whenever you desire.  Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind, the realm you own.

Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations

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Conflict in your life is the doorstep to tranquility.  Hardship and inequity is a gift for properly experienced it grows a stable state of mind, calm in strife, resolve, cunning and, best of all, control over one’s mind – in this, the eradication of anxiety and clear thinking and precision movement when most critically needed.

It is best to be calm in the great moments of conflict and trial.  One thinks best when calm, tranquil.

Tranquility is the harvest of facing many trials and becoming adapted to do well when the unexpected arises and the weight of the problem is great.

I look at the various people associated with the surveillance of candidate Donald Trump and I see the absence of tranquility.  I see incoherence, disorder, lawlessness and collective chaos.  This tells me that these people have not mastered life’s inherent struggles and unexpected events.  I see a sign you do not want to see among people in leadership positions, for the wrong people in positions of authority puts all at risk and produces calamity and usefully damage to what is good and ought to be preserved.

In the disorder of today, follow those who possess tranquility – you will known them by their clear thinking and their quiet voice, their certainty garnered from a host of troubles already faced and dependent on the sanctity of ancient truths housed in religious Canon and codified in the rare historic wisdom of the U.S. Constitution.

Shalom.

Postscript – Do you suppose a man in combat doesn’t possess an inner calm?  Do you suppose a firefighter entering a burning building doesn’t have an inner tranquility and a clear mind?  Does life itself not give us combat and the burning building?

With tranquility, emotions are at rest and thinking is crystal clear, the heart is calm and one tends to the business at hand.

A Week of Spring Rains Leads to A Late Post

Pride is a profound depravity; it is the worship of self; man becomes his own god through excessive self-love.

Jacques-Benigne Bossuet

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Pride – a depravity.  Yes.

Those who are prideful come to think of themselves “lord and sovereign master”of all things.  They see themselves as simply smarter than others and more entitled, born to be revered, lauded and “in charge.”

In many instances they both show and disclose the arrogance that is the product of American higher education from once distinguished colleges that have become merely ideological nursery schools.

The prideful’s attitude and actions deny the existence of God.  Rules, they show us, simply do not apply to them.  Every defeat they encounter is blamed on others.  Humility eludes them.  They act as if they are “the first beginning” and “the last cause.”

Godless.  Yes, we have among us many prideful, godless men and women who fancy themselves better than everyone else.  These men and women need public adoration – seek an audience.  They take delight in undeserved applause.

Craven, empty people – these prideful ones.  Full of vanity, the attention paid to them blinds them to the matter of Truth … and honor, honesty, virtue, self-sacrifice, courage, faith, fellowship, intimacy, love, caring and kindness.

Look around – you see so easily those of vainglory.  No leaders they.  In them there is no trust.

Shalom.

 

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