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Begin the morning in the dark and quiet again – but there is a glimpse of sunrise to come where the clouds have parted.  In the background the chants of the Monks from the Monastery of St. Ottilien.  Peace is in the air … beautiful, eternal, above all mortal being.

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” … at last bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”

Gen 2:23

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We have lost our way and make grave errors that antagonize and divide, make us enemies in the most fundamental areas of our life – in the most sacred areas – places from which our happiness, joy, and contentment – meaning and purpose are meant flow.

Perhaps no area of error and divergence is any greater than that of  understanding man and woman – understanding their sacred identity and divine value.

God willed the creation of man and woman.  They share perfect equality, one to the other.  Each possess inalienable dignity as they are made to be.  Efforts of any kind to subvert this are reckless, utterly destructive, contrary to nature, God’s will and doomed to fail.

Men treat women as your equal, revere them, protect them, defend them.  Women, see your extraordinary dignity, your special gifts, your most cherished honor to bear a child and love so deeply.

In creating man and woman as helpmates to one another, we see God’s wisdom and goodness.  Together in Holy Matrimony we see God’s image – – – God as pure spirit, pure and steadfast love, and union with us.

Men and women: marry and honor your pledge of union.  No absent fathers.  No single mothers.  No out-of-wedlock births.  No more abortions.  No more rebellion against God.

Men and women are made for one another – as a communion of persons in the intimate manner in which God is unified with the human person.  Two as one – complimentary to one another.  One flesh, “bone of my bone.”

As one we are entrusted with creating new life – sharing in God’s work of divine Creation.  In this we have personal responsibility for the world around us: how it will be, what it will do  – whether it is dominated by Good or Evil, Truth or Lie, Life or Death.

Does not our faith and heritage give question to “same sex marriage,” to “multiple genders” and a self-claim to gender?

Shalom.

Prayer for the Dying

All-powerful and merciful Father, in the death of Christ you have opened a gateway to eternal life.  Look kindly upon Margaret McCurdy who is suffering her last agony.  United to the passion and death of your Son, and saved by the blood He shed, may she come before You with confidence.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Your prayers for Margaret McCurdy are welcome.

 

 

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All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and change is painful. (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor, in a Letter of December 9, 1958

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We are willful.  We prefer our ways to the ways of He who made us. This one thing accounts for our disorder, and eventually to a demise.  It is for each of us the single challenge in our life.

Done well life is a process of submission to God.  Yes, we grow when we decline so He might gain. In shorter the shadow we cast, the greater we are – the healthier we become, the more certain and the calmer we are.

Look around you.  We now have organizations that work to advance selfishness, sin – one preferred method of rebellion and godlessness or another … and we have many who co-exist with those who advocate disorder and sickness.  The enablers can sink this culture, jeopardize our health and wellbeing.

The tug-of-war between good and evil is a consistent part of the human story from the beginning of time.  Flannery O’Connor reminds us in this December 1958 letter that God does not miraculously meddle in each and every human affair, rather He offers the grace to grow, mature, come to faith and meaning through life experience, the sacraments, belief, worship.  In grace we grow in dignity and our implicit responsibility is to defend and preserve the sacred value of life itself.  Yes, this may put us at odds with others … but is it not Jesus who asked: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” (Mt 12:48)

To reject grace is to reject God and life itself.

Look about.  Do you see bad being called “good?”  This is the condition of our time, and the ageless challenge: good or evil – life or death, God or His adversary?

Shalom.   

 

If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things work out.

Randy Pausch, in The Last Lecture

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I’ve never been a fan of whiners so the well-healed NFL football players, coaches and owners who put their social complaints on the captured audience of ticket-holders and television viewers have lost my interest and respect.  Shame on them.  Nothing admirable about them – nothing.

Just watched Patriots Day about the Boston Marathon Bombing.  Excellent movie.  More than that a terrific story about tough-minded, loving men, women and children who rallied together as one to see that those who killed innocent people were apprehended and punished.  It is a story about courage, toughness, achievement, honor, resolve, determination, individual strength, shared mission, sacrifice, community, love.

I grew up in Boston in a very testy public housing complex.  I know these people.  Many have been my friends for 64 years and more.  They are my family.  They would sacrifice for me and I for them.  Several recently faced tragic medical situations, I kept in touch: encouraging and caring.  I prayed for them and, as is always the case in tragic situations, I drew closer to God and became more thankful for all that we are generously given – especially for friends, neighbors, the capacity to care for others – and love God and others more than self.

Today, I see the legions of complainers in American culture today and am sickened by this – disgusted with them.  I knew a far different life.  I knew the life of taking what you get and moving forward, proving the obstacles non-existent, defying others who thought less of me by being more a person than they were.  I was not a genius but I was a hard worker, determined, tough, a realist who saw the near-empty glass and said: “Damn, I’ll fill the thing and more like it.”

I knew the bigotry that befalls the guy from the “wrong side of the tracks.”  The thoughts others affix to the poor neighbor and its residents.  This was my badge of courage – a badge shared by others in my same situation.  I saw life being raised with one parents and not much money.  I lived that life.  Became the first in my family to go to college.  First to graduate from college, go to law school, become part of a profession.

I became an Army officer.  Went on to graduate school at Johns Hopkins, worked in the U.S. Congress on foreign policy matters, had a successful law practice helping the poor, the sick, the under-represented.  People wrote articles about my work, about me.  I walked my wife through a devastating illness that took her life at age 29.  I left law in my late 50’s to earn a graduate degree in theology at Notre Dame, became a Catholic convert and vowed religious Catholic Brother.  I raised a successful son with his own Ph.D.  By the grace of God, he is a better man than I am – talented, smart, a terrific son, father and husband.  Ya, I was busy … I had no time to whine nor taste for it.  Like those around me, I saw bigotry and said “Screw you, I’ll show you who I am and what I can do.”  Their bigotry was motivation to me.  I didn’t sit on my fanny or make a political statement: I lived and defied those who discounted me and my friends.

At the end of the movie Patriots Day the men and women who participated in the hunt for the hate-filled brothers who killed and maimed children and adults spoke of visiting those wounded and without limbs and made this point: none were bitter – but rather they were optimistic, courageous – ready to strive, to live and prosper.  Yes, working class people I know are – not whiners … they are Boston Tough. 

Damn it, we ought to learn from them.

Shalom.

 

There is an internal longing for harmony and happiness that lies deeper than ordinary fear or the desire to escape misery or physical destruction.

Czeslaw Milosz, in The Captive Mind

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The politics of the Left in American today fuels anger, conflict, division and violence.  It does not seek to heal but rather to dominate and destroy those who disagree with them.  They proceed just as Milosz saw under Communist rule in Poland and Eastern Europe.

Today in American, Czeslaw Mislosz would likely be persona non grata among those on the Left for he appealed not to hate and hostility but to our better human nature: the divinely planted desire for harmony and happiness.

Would not this nation excel if we sought first harmony with others?  Of course it would.  But first we must say to those who shout, malign, insult and act out violently: “Stop – calm down – are we not brothers and sisters, neighbors, friends?”

The fever pitch is far too loud today.  The angry voices of the Left are breaking bonds that hold us together.  The distance between the privileged elites and the common person is far too great.  Those on top act in isolation and expect others to conform to their wishes despite any discomfort those wishes might cause in the life condition and circumstances of those without privilege.

Those in power forget that communities are built on relationships from which trust and fellowship flow, and harmony is the common treasure.

Nothing would become us more at this moment in American history than to say to those who shout: “Be quiet, sit down – let’s share a table and a meal and talk about things we have in common and the harmony and happiness that we each seek because God made us good and wishes our relationship with Him and one another.

Think about this.  Reach out.  Practice harmony.

Our present task: restoration of this culture.

Shalom.

“He who introduces into public office the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.”

Ronald Reagan, quoting Benjamin Franklin

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I remember when football players prayed openly before or after a game.  It was not long ago.

Now well-paid professional football players don’t even stand for the National Anthem.

In a few short decades we have gone from a relationship with God publicly expressed to a contempt for America openly on display by pampered professional athletes whose talents are, ironically, God-given.  Yes, men making often more money (for a relatively short career in professional football) than most people will make in a lifetime – can only gripe … the unwitting lemmings of Leftist clap-trap that preaches resentment in place of faith.

While these men show contempt for life in a free country, they do little or nothing to rectify the plight of minority neighborhoods where violence, drug addiction, government dependence and unwed mothers and fatherless children abound.

Shameful isn’t it when men ignore their obligations, their communities, their brothers and sisters and disrespect their country.

Old Ben Franklin and President Reagan, in contrast, knew that man’s welfare and achievement depended on a relationship with God and the application of God’s instructions to private and civic life if we were to live in freedom and realize prosperity and our full human development.

Yes, our happiness and greatness require that man and God meet and retain their relationship.

All things considered, I’ll take the praying professional.  After all, there’s no benefit bestowed on us by the godless and those who, despite their blessings, show contempt for God, country and their fellow citizens.

Shalom.

 

Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts … perhaps the fear of a loss of power.

Seneca

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Seneca has something here.  We have seen people who manage power very nicely with calm and grace – but they are a distinct minority in time.  God’s deeds, of course, are masterfully offered and employed.  His power is perfectly expressed.  Not so in man’s conduct.

If you want to understand Washington today, think of Seneca.

Corruption here today in Washington is rooted in the fear of the loss of power. Yes, this is the entrenched Washington elite – both parties, the bureaucracy and mass media, in the entertainment community, et al; they display a fear a loss of power, status, etc.  They liked “being liked.”

Those who have power and influence simply refuse to release their comfortable grip on status, influence – power.  They profit from the status quo and those who would disturb it are not welcome.

Let’s face it.  People are self-interested.  The greater the grip – the more prominent the fear.

One of the the hardest things to do is to acquire the experience of others. We live in our own experience; our fears and insecurities frequently govern – and more so among the godless.

Truth: the acquisition of another’s experience necessitates a growth in the Spirit, a faith which denominates one’s humility and God’s supremacy – reduces mortal existence to a passing moment and eternity to its rightful place.  In this God-centered view, fear is vanquished and power need not corrupt.  We are made, you see, for humility, not fear, for eternity not mortality.

If you want to understand corruption.  Know this: it is present today.  It is present among the powerful and privileged and when you see it you are seeing (as Seneca notes) fear.  Yes, fear begets corruption.  And, yes, those who are in relationship with God do not fear … and those who are not so inclined show fear.  The latter is inevitable.

Think about how the powerful see and name “the basket of deplorables” and how they react when they are not favored, and how they react when a person is elected who challenges them: yes, the person and his or her supporters are attacked, and attacked, and attacked.

The fear of the loss of power is a mighty destructive force.  Yet, our strength and identity has nothing to do with status, or power, wealth or privilege.

Seneca – very cool.

Shalom.

 

 

Freud … replace(d) religion with psychology.  In this therapeutic vision, we should stop the fruitless searching for a nonexistent meaning and instead seek self-fulfillment.

Ron Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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In a section of his book (“The Triumph of Eros”) Dreher shows the overt contemporary shift in America (and Western) culture to the glorification of Self over God; and, then discusses the subsequent rise of eros which produces a dramatic divide between and Believers and non-believers and the subsequent attack on religion and those who are religious.

As sociologist Philip Rieff so simply states – the shift presents this: “Religious man was born to be saved.  Psychological man was born to be pleased.” (Emphasis added.)

As time unfolds we see that “pleasing” found its base in sexual matters: in easy no-fault divorce, lurid entertainment, contraception, abortion, “re-defining gender,” same-sex marriage, female teachers (often married with children of their own) engaged sexually with young and under-aged students, homosexuality and its advocacy, and now “transgenderism.”

Recent decades seem to have established that in an unbelieving culture “freedom” produces carnal chaos.

Yet, the shift we have witnessed has one very fundamental flaw: cultures survive when their normative institutions support and protect what is implicitly good and ordered to human prosperity and happiness.  Absent institutions which do this and culture fragments, and then eventually collapses.

You see it is a hard-sell to convince neutral listeners that bad is actually good.

Illustratively, a failure to maintain a steady growth in the birth rate will finally result in a vulnerable, aging population and extinction – first, by the way, manifest in the presence of fractured families, out-of-wedlock births, and children born to teenage mothers accompanied by the growth of a dependent class composed of able-bodied workers who have been consigned to inactivity.

Perhaps the most troubling part of what we see around us is: the ignorance of elites who do not contemplate the course of self-destruction upon which we have embarked.

As the esteemed philosopher, Canadian Charles Taylor so succinctly states:

“The entire ethical stance of moderns supposes and follows on from the death of God (and of course, of the meaning of the cosmos).” (Emphasis added.)

We live in a time of testing – of a very fundamental test and it is this: God or no God.

Yes, each of us must elect God or godlessness and the chaos and utter collapse and death that godlessness brings.

In a sense this is a privileged time.  Few generations has faced so critical a challenge, faced a war as to preserve the goodness of being and believing … and make no mistake: it takes courage to elect God in the presence of the aggressive godless class – social relations being what they are per se.

Good luck, Friends.

Shalom.

The Great Divide.  Want to know how great the divide is between “the elites” and the rest of us?  Harvard University named Bradley Manning (a “transgendered” man previously convicted of espionage) as a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government.  Or is it the Kennedy School of National Destruction?  Birds of a feather flock together.

Was there really any wonder?  God or no God?  Your choice.

 

 

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.

 

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

Mk 8:38

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Jesus speaks these words.  In an acute way they apply to us today.

I think in particular, however, about the foolishness of Catholic priests from prestigious Catholic universities, including the University of Notre Dame, who gathered several decades ago to proclaim that their universities would pursue autonomy from the governance and authority of the Church in favor of a more secular disposition.

If you look and wonder what happened to Christianity in the United States during your lifetime, or what happened to Catholicism during the same period, it conceded its power and place to secularism – as to universities they took an unwise turn to the Left … denied Christ, their faith, belief, the wisdom of Ages.  

Indeed, at Notre Dame and other places we now crown those public figures who favor abortion, work for its advancement.  We have turned from family to faithlessness and social nihilism in many ways.

That said, we might well be mindful of the words that Jesus speaks following the above:

” … what will a man give in exchange for his soul? … whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in glory to His Father with the holy angels.”

Mk 8: 37, 38

If it is not now obvious to us – that we have forsaken Christ – then we are truly blind.

There is nothing short of a repudiation of godlessness that is due – now.  And that Dear Friend is “on you.”

Shalom.

Blame everyone but yourself.  This is the way of Hillary Clinton and her cohort, and their offspring.  Now Ms. Excuse is blaming Bernie Sanders for her losing the presidential  election.  With her and her pathetic crowd and their “perfect” children it is always someone else’s fault.  

Attention Hillary & Company: Here is a Big-Boy Pants understanding: own your mistakes and if you are a leader – own the mistakes of those under your command. Ms Excuse shows neither she nor her cohort are leaders.

 

It is part of … growing up to listen to the fearful discords which real life grinds out and to include them among the images of reality.  Truth and reality are … no music of the spheres – they are the beauty and terror of Nature herself.

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Jung’s view as a psychiatrist is that every person by nature is designed to strive toward wholeness – full human development.  It follows that if that is not one’s course in life – disorder comes.

Drawn on the larger canvas of society as a whole, the same applies.  If a culture does not impart the opportunity for wholeness – whole human development, it produces disorder on a large scale.

Let’s say, for example, that a culture is inhospitable to religion and religious narrative – then it is dismissing the single greatest vehicle for accessing wholeness.  Likewise, let’s say that a culture stresses individualism and in doing so (without religious narrative) it is placing a huge burden on the single human person to come to full development and meaning all by himself or herself.   This is a daunting task especially when we know that the full development of a human being is hard, introspective work that takes a lifetime of honest self-examination and considerable character, humility and intellect.  Yes, soul-searching.

Now let’s say that in place of religious narrative the bulk of individuals in a society are geared to the pursuit of equality as if that is the Holy Grail.  Under those circumstances the bulk of people chase a meaningless objective particularly insofar as all human beings have equal value to begin with.  Once again, the culture diverts human beings from wholeness in favor of something (equality) that they already possess.  Such a culture builds in the person a misconception: the perpetual underestimate of their created, divine value. Unfortunately, hostility and conflict follows where they need not.

You can see in a culture of individualism and the quest of “equality” how (in the absence of religious narrative and a focus on wholeness) one can end up in great discord – unnecessary discord, wasted energy and great stress.

Have we slipped off course?  Jung might well say we have.

Seek your true self – which is wholeness of being and the peace and stability that it brings. Forget all the orientations which keep you unsettled.  See your value.  Seek your whole and sacred development.  It is your birthright.

Today in our culture we make enemies out of friends and neighbors.  This is utterly unnecessary.

Shalom.

If you don’t think that religious narrative and wholeness matter, how can one justify a country like Iceland “solving” down syndrome births by aborting unborn children who show that genetic profile?  Or how can a society eliminate racism by making race consciousness prevalent?  If we do not assume all people are of equal value – we shall never have fellowship and community.

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