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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.

 

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O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.

Ps 63:2

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Yesterday I began my day with men who attend a Saturday early morning gathering at a wonderful Catholic parish in Kensington, Maryland.  The men of varied ages attend a year-long program focused on developing their faith and growing in it.  It is a wonderful experience that includes a short video presentation with the men then recessing to a host of tables to share their thoughts on the subject matter of the video.

Yesterday’s video focused us on the simple question: Is there a God or is there not a God?

My table mates (eight men, counting myself) affirmed easily that there is a God – but most striking was this: their soul was thirsting for God.  These men ranged in age from early to mid-30’s to 70-plus.  All were family men, fathers and husbands.

What struck me so very deeply was this: these men were seeking God in the very manner that people in the 13th century and earlier sought God.

They asked questions much as the St. Thomas Aquinas might.  Deep probative questions. Their desire for God was vital to them – not because they themselves had burdens or carried sins that caused suffering – no, they sought God because they knew a relationship with God was critical to their existence, their contentment, their service of others, their life’s meaning and their ability to love, understand, find meaning and purpose in life.

I add, most importantly, they sought God because they experienced that faith, and God were under siege in America.  They had a sense that living a life of faith, God and Church was under attack today in this nation.

Honestly, I saw their desire, their urgency – their hope … and affirmation that God was the center of their being and that neither their faith nor God would be abandoned or exiled.

I saw in these men the metaphysical reality of the first 1400 years of Christianity.

I saw the probing question and longing that affirmed that there is a God and the desire for a relation with God resides within us no matter the utterances and hostilities of claims and actions of the godless among us.  Good news!

Alas, it can be said that the Psalms speak today:

My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water. (Ps. 63)

Truth never fades.  Truth can never be denied, extinguished.  In the midst of challenge – God is closest and we are most deeply engaged.  Good News … in troublesome times.

Shalom.

 

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation … not an act but a habit.

Aristotle

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Very few visible in mass media are habituated to excellence.  If you want mediocrity or less, mass media provides an endless supply of such lightweights. However, beware: if you have a diet of mediocrity you will disgorge yourself of the attitude, instinct, discipline and will for excellence.

Excellence takes strength of soul.  Excellence understands sacrificial love. Excellence honors God in its being and doing.

All have the capacity needed for excellence.  Yet many forfeit the strength of soul.  Those who forfeit strength of soul live lies – excuses are common to them, envy too – they seek nothing more urgently than to thwart the will of others, to neutralize the soul.

Those who forfeit strength of soul are weak links.  They abound in politics today. They prefer dependence to a free populace for they fear being challenged to live fully.  They keep others bound-up so they might wallow in under-achievement, the cost of which always includes dishonesty and corruption.

When mediocrity rules, men are targeted, for it is men who do the dying, who come easily to sacrificial love.  A warrior class is always necessary.  Today, the weak seek their demise.  Men are targets for the weak fear them. 

Want to see the locus of excellence in American culture, look at the middle class and those like me who lived in poverty and in daily combat.  Look, not just at me but at my petite mother – one tough cookie … and her parents, and her brothers Don and Ray.  Their habit was excellence – its byproducts: humility, confidence, contentment, compassion, joy and laughter, insight, wisdom, generosity, gratitude.

Excellence comes to those who must work hard to survive, and to whom difficulties befall because in the hardest things they live daily by strength of soul. This is why the Left so despises the middle class and seeks to make dependents of the poor.  Don’t let yourself be sold short or sold out.

Live in excellence.  You’ll scare the heck out of the elites and make of us again a great people.  And, in the habits of excellence is satisfaction.

Enjoy the life God has given you.  Don’t let anyone deny you a life of excellence – especially of moral excellence.

Shalom.

Pain is weakness leaving the body.

A Navy Seal Instructor

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Imagine Christ on the Cross.  He’d have been a natural for the Navy Seals.  How about you?  What are you made of?  What are you capable of enturing?  Have you tested yourself?  Has life challenged you?  If so, did you see the struggle to conclusion?  Did you get up when knocked down?  Did adversity make you more determined?  Are you a “tough out”?

In St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy (2 Tim 3:1-5) he writes of the last days as the most difficult time we face.  He says in those times: men will love themselves and money, that they will be boastful and arrogant … ungrateful, unholy.  That they will be unloving, malicious, without self-control … that they will hate what is good.  He says that they will be conceited, love pleasure more than God and that they will proffer their godliness but in actuality not live it. Most importantly, St. Paul says “Avoid such men as these.”

Look around you, what men do you see on the major news channels?  Are they men you can envision as Navy Seals or are they those St. Paul would have us avoid?

Ask this same question about your politicians?  Sports figures?  Celebrities? Actors? Public figures?  News media?  Critics?  Social “activists”?  Intellectuals? Professors? Judges? Lawyers? Doctors?  Public advocates?  Those running public organizations? Could you see Mark Zuckerberg as a Navy Seal?  Jeff Bezos?  Alex Baldwin? Anderson Cooper?  Or are these individuals that fit St. Paul’s advice?

In looking about I see far more people who fit St. Paul’s advisory, and I see that we have the very lax and costly habit of listening without discretion to anyone who has access to mass communication and that this is absolutely foolish to do.

Finally, do you fall into the first of the above paragraphs or the second? The best among us fit the first.  They may be few, but they are the best.

A life of faith, a life fully lived is not for the faint of heart.  Isn’t it interesting that those least likely to excel when troubles arise are so often those we see speaking?  

Shalom.   

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

 

… fascism … is not a phenomenon of the right … it is, and always has been, a phenomenon of the left.  This fact … is obscured in our time by the equally mistaken belief that fascism and communism are opposites.  In reality they are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents.  (Emphasis added.)

Jonah Goldberg, in Liberal Fascism

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If we ever needed a moment to put Goldberg’s observation in clear view, we got it yesterday with the details of the arrests of two immigrant young men (at least one who was scheduled to be deported) of a 14-year-old girl in a public high school in affluent, hyper-liberal, “politically correct” Montgomery County, Maryland, the murders committed by a Muslim radical a few paces from the British Parliament in London, and the news that candidate and President-elect Donald Trump and his staff were the subject of surveillance initiated during the last days of Barack Obama’s tenure as President and in concert with Mr. Obama’s curious expansion of the distribution of such information within the government.

Well, what exactly do we see in these three events that explain Mr. Goldberg’s point?

One, the “constituents” Mr. Goldberg refers to are those who seek a totalitarian state which will control its citizens from cradle to grave and, in this, eliminate freedom as we have known it in the United States.

Two, the quest for centralized state control is the unifying theme of those on the Left: the Democrat Party, the “progressives” and Marxists in the U.S. and in the West, and the radical Muslims in the Middle East.

Three, in our present state here and in the West, we see that the Fascist Left seeks to destroy the freedom upon which America and the West has flourished.

Four, the Left, indeed, is at war with America and Western Civilization and wishes to destroy its foundational institutions: family, faith, gender, sexual mores, racial harmony, law and police authority, morality, Constitutional protections afforded a free people, the American genius of sovereign states in a Representative Democracy of three equal branches of federal government and governed by free elections, free market economics, honest and open intellectual inquiry and an independent and free press and media.

Five, to explain why it is that Democrats and Leftist desire the eradication of national borders and the staunch opposition to vetting prospective immigrants to this country is quite simple: this is the Left’s way of waging combat against this Nation.  Yes, dangerous immigrants and immigration at-large are designed to eliminate America as it once existed.  Yes, the export of jobs and industry and open access to America’s national security secrets and wealth (a special thanks are due the Clintons, the old line elites, and Mr. Obama) are much like Mr. Obama’s crushing deficit spending – namely a way the self-loathing Left seeks to destroy our country.  Ditto, the grotesque expansion of the dependent class now reduced to serfdom, government-induced enslavement.

Look Folks, this is where we are.  This is where England and our European allies are.  This is where the (once) Free World is.  We have met the enemy and they are closer than you think.  But, alas, the dialogue has not been joined.  We have not explained what we now have as a life-altering circumstance, and a threat to this Nation and the West.

Shalom.

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.

We should know that we are gods.  If we think like gods we become like gods, if we think like demons we become like demons.

The Words of a Headmaster of a Hindu School for Religious Scholars

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Suspended.

We are suspended between what is good, and what is not.  Such a plight presents a heart-felt tension on a daily basis.

My life on a mountain ridge is peaceful.  There is open space, wide and endless skies, a new sunrise each morning with colors and streams of light that are never the same from day-to-day.  In the evening, sunsets – each with their own shadows and hues.  And there is the wind – sometimes it howls, and other times it has a gentle voice, a soft and comforting voice of a sweet and lovely lady.

I live away for the crowds and the strife that was my life, my way of being.

As a lawyer I fought.  It was so easy.  I knew combat from a childhood “on the wrongs side of the tracks.”  We all knew that for we all held the short straw and others held us in contempt.

Lately I have realized that kneeling in preparation to receive the Body of Christ is the only thing I do each day that offers me the profession of humility – the declaration of my natural state, by actual state of being.  Suspended between the gods and demons, kneeling I speak the very essence of reality.

Suspended between gods and demons.  In the quiet of the ridge, I am close to God.  In this, I love and value life and others more deeply.  Finally, I know the blessing of love.  Yet, suspended I still remain, hoping that the demons depart …

Shalom.

 

A man must at times be hard as nails: willing to face up to the truth about himself … refusing compromise when compromise is wrong.  But he must also be tender.  No weapon will breach the armor of a woman … like tenderness.

Elizabeth Elliot, in The Mark of a Man

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Perhaps the strange time of “war on men” in the West is at a close.  Seems like it must be as a matter of nature, of re-adjusting the balance necessary for happiness and self-defense and preservation.

My life began when men were men – you know the guys who won World War II and came home humbled, yet confident for war does that to you, hell – all combat does that to you.

Men, and I mean real men, have not been stymied in the decades in which they bore the brunt of the post-1968 feminist fits of resentment.  Oh, some have been bent to feminism’s false measure but others have survived and the seed remains planted.

Truth is the world, including America, cannot survive unless men are men and women are women – in the measure of nature as The Divine hath made, no matter what Marx (Karl, not Groucho) or Betty Friedan and her progeny might say to the contrary.

Without men, there is no boundary held, no bleeding done for others, nor lives laid down in battles while many eat and sleep in safety, far from the killing and deprivation, the brutality and corpses.

To understand men, know that they die for principle – that is their proving ground.

To understand men, know that while they kill and die, they also love and long for peace and the embrace of a woman whose divine superiority is giving life to life.

Good men and good women know who they are and know that the difference between them is closed tight only when they cherish one another.

Maybe we are drawing back to normative reality.  If so, it is none too soon … and we will be happier and more at ease for it.

Enough of the Age of Menless Men and Angry Women.

I’ll take brave men and beautiful, loving women every time.

Shalom.

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. (Emphasis added.)

John Adams, 1798

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You think we are not far astray, lost?  Who in the public sphere speaks from a base of religious and moral authority, understanding, comprehension?  Who dares to stand for leadership today whose life has been built on morality and religion? Whose voice reflects their religious belief and morality as the source of their core identity and action?  No one.

There is not a single person in either major party or any minor party who passes the John Adams test for leadership of this great and unique nation.  Not one.

Yes, we are in a real pickle and we had best wake up and get busy.

In the last chapter of his 1997 book Slouching Toward Gomorrah, Robert H. Bork addresses this question: Can America avoid the decrepitude, chaos, violence, immorality and disorder of ancient Gomorrah?

His answer is it can – provided it has the will to oppose and refute modern liberalism and the decay and destruction it brings … and provided its citizens embrace religion and morality in the manner that John Adams (and other Founders) did knowing the indispensable role of both religion and morality as the cornerstone of our nation and the very source of our freedom, our unity and our precious limited government.

From the New Deal to the abject godless mess we have today, have we not “had enough?”

Think about it.

Shalom.

Note – For those who care about Catholic universities retaining a Catholic identity, I suggest you track down The Sycamore Trust who keeps a vigil on this problem. It is a good resource, doing good and necessary things.  God bless.

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