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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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Trust in the Lord with all your heart … do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him … He will make your paths straight.

Prov 3: 5, 6

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We have strayed dramatically from God.  Our nation has many among its elites who have gone far astray, who trust only in themselves – who have become corrupted.

In this circumstance we see the challenge posed for those who believe in God by those who are godless and hence pursue their selfish interest – power, and personal gain.  Yes, the questions joined now are good vs. evil, God vs. godlessness, belief vs. unbelief, Truth vs. falsehood.

In too many who occupy leadership positions God is rejected.  It is hard to imagine how it is that one can reject God, a God who is Love.

Think about God who is Love.

It is difficult for humans to imagine a God who loves freely, whose very nature is to love us without fail.  Why is this so?  Because we often love selectively – love only those who comply with our views, love only those who seem to love us as our condition of loving them.  But this is not how God loves.

Through we are sinners, God sends His Son to die for us, so we might believe in Him.

While we love on condition, God loves unconditionally.  But mind you this does not give us permission to lie, cheat, steal, be selfish, be a racist, advance sexual dysfunction and declare it normative, kill the unborn, commit adultery and violent crimes, deny reality, etc.

God loves us so that we might have peace, security, joy, contentment, a level of certainty, courage, meaning and purpose, and full growth.

Having been given love – we must love for to not love is to abandon who we are and who God is.

In the God who is love – all are worthy.  And yes, those whose behavior is rank, dishonest, selfish say: “I do not believe in anything but me.”  We have many of these people in our midst – one cannot yield to them, they must be dismissed, rejected for their ability to destroy is obvious and contrary to God and our welfare.

These naysayers now have greater influence over us and this culture than they warrant.  They are in positions of power, in academia and politics, in mass communication, law, education and entertainment – even in religious entities.

Time to restore God’s place in our life, our culture, our nation and our daily discourse.  Each of us bear this responsibility.

Shalom.

Sickness – Last night on Tucker Carlson’s show I saw yet another Law Professor (Ekow Yankah) spouting off as if a law degree itself made him smart, and wise.

Law degrees make one neither smart nor wise.  If you can read you can become a lawyer.  I know I am a lawyer.

Mr. Yankah was not just spouting off, he was advancing Black racism, yes – judging people by their skin color in just the same way feminists judge people by their gender.  Whither knowledge of moral philosophy, religion, theology, history, humility, good taste and grace?

We have a real problem of granting to lawyers, judges, academics, the media, politicians and (God help us) celebrities and entrepreneurial technologists knowledge and wisdom that they do not possess.  Granting those like Mr. Yankah any public forum is precisely what we ought not to do.  We have ignorance enough – no sense adding more and the division these thinly educated, misguided individuals now bring to us.

 

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

Joseph Campbell

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Look around you.  I bet you know someone very well who refuses to tackle a problem they face, who refuses to grow – who prefers to stay as they are for fear of attending to their own growth.

I offer an example.  A man prefers not to stand up to others when defending himself is required.  By the way, one who will not defend himself will not defend you.

Many fear emotional growth.  Many prefer subjugation to independence.  Some operate on the misconception that being “nice” is best and all that is required.  Ah, but is there not an obligation to preserve your dignity?  Can giving-in do anything and everything dissuade those who seek an evil end, seek to dominate, get their way in all things – all the time?

Life is to be lived fully.  That is the treasure you have been given by your mere existence.  But, that requires that you grow all the way through your life, face the things you are inclined to avoid, ignore … enter the cave of your own deficits.

When you think about it – facing your deficits is an act of worship.  Why, you ask?  Because attending to your areas of growth says “Yes” to your creation; it affirms your existence.

Pursuing your full development is a positive act; not pursuing your full development is a negative act and sets you on a negative course.  Growing is an act of obedience and worship – a sign of faith, a bold affirmation that you live!  Hiding from your growth is the opposite.

Hiding from life – denies life … and problems and unhappiness follow.

Enter your cave.  Treasure awaits.

Shalom.

 

 

A beautiful fall day in the Virginia countryside.  The fallen leaves call.  And I shall meet them in the challenge posted.

I offer a prayer for your quiet contemplation and closer walk with God.

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There is God

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Where charity and love are found, there is God.

In every flake of snow, in every grain of sand – there is God.

In the stout and stoic strength of our brother, the mountain, in the swift and sure vigor of our sister, the sea – there is God.

When the cold winds whip the head, when warm breezes brush the face – there is God.

In the darkest hours of the blackest night, in the brightest light of a golden afternoon – there is God.

When we are uplifted by the joys of victory, when we are wracked by the sorrows of defeat – there is God.

When we are surrounded by companions, when we are isolated in solitude and loneliness – there is God.

In the laughter of a friend, in the smile of a stranger – there is God.

God is always there.

Lord, grant that we may always walk with you and that we may have the peace, joy and love that is your countenance.  Amen.

Jared Sylvester, Class of 2006 – University of Notre Dame

Jared wrote this prayer while a freshman at Notre Dame.  This and many other excellent prayers can be found in Lead Kindly Light: The Notre Dame Book of Prayers.

Yes, God is alway there!  Have faith.  Maintain a steady hand and live in joy and humble confidence.  It is nothing new to swim against the currents of discontent and falsehoods.  It is the way of Christ, our Way.

Shalom.

Please feel free to share this with others who may be helped by it.

 

 

I saw that carrying out a vocation differed from … actions dictated by reason or inclination in that it was due to an impulse … essentially and manifestly different order; and not to follow such an impulse when it made itself felt, even if it demanded impossibilities, seemed to be the greatest of all ills.  (Emphasis added.)

Simone Weil, in a Letter to a Friend

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Vocations arise from distinctly personal impulse.  One has the interior impetus to dedicate oneself to God and God’s service in an exclusive way.

Impulses like this cannot be easily ignored. To live in relationship with God is to be aligned to the impulse to serve God when needed.  Vocations come to those who are open to receive the call to vocations – to God’s service.

Those who close themselves from these impulses by saying – I will not be involved, I will simply be quiet and let God do the work – have no vocation, cannot be called to vocation because their pre-conceived disposition prevents the openness that impulse requires.

To deny the impulse to serve God actively – in word and deed – forfeits discipleship.  It leaves one to remain safely on the sidelines – even when Rome is burning.

Disciples speak and act.  Other are sideliners.

Are you a sideliner?  Or are you one who is open to the call of God and prepared to do what God asks of you?

Shalom.

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.   

 

… your dissatisfaction with the Church seems to come from an incomplete understanding of sin … you seem actually to demand … that the Church put the kingdom of heaven on earth right here now, that the Holy Spirit be translated at once into all flesh … you are leaving out the radical human pride that causes death …

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

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One distinguishing fact about the Left and others who seek omnipotence in government is this: they put unjustified confidence in the human being and man-made institutions and efforts.  Yes, they are disoriented.

They, like the letter writer O’Connor is responding to, somehow think that an ideology (however distorted or errantly applied) will give us heaven on earth.

Have these people been watching the movie I’ve seen for seven decades?  Have they not watched Seinfeld or met Woody Allen?  It seems clear that they have not grasped the essence of the Judeo-Christian narrative or the sweep of recorded human history.

Just today, I awoke to the “can’t make it up” mea-culpa of an rotund, aging leftwing Hollywood mogul (who loves his mother, perhaps a little too much) and has been (for years) asking would-be starlets to watch him take a shower.

He, of the “pro-feminist” persuasion, puts in plain view this: we inflate the expectation of the human person and in this intoxication quickly conjure up insane propositions as if all that occurs in moviemaking paves the way to earthly nirvana.

No, it does not.  We are not to be exalted, but to be humbled.  We do more damage than we think, create greater division, exhibit more insanity, destroy more good things than we ever imagine.  Hence my son’s favored expression: don’t just do something, stand there.

Yes, there you have it – a refutation of the Liberal in six easy words: don’t just do something, stand there.

If sanity is to root in present American culture – humans will cool their heels, and their expectations will subside in inverse proportion to their growth in humility, kindness, friendship, faith and self-effacing humor.

Today’s bumper-crop of disordered behavior and sickness ought to teach that much of what those with demonstrated maladies advocate is precisely adverse to our welfare and prosperity.  If you see them wearing a raincoat, leave your umbrella home.

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.

Please Note

My Computer is at the Tech Doctor … I expect to have it back next week.  I will try to post between now and then, but do not be surprised if there is a lull in my posting.

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Our unwillingness to see our own faults and the projection of them onto others is the source of most quarrels, and the strongest guarantee that injustice, animosity, and persecution will not easily die out.

Carl Jung, in “Depth Psychology and Self Knowledge,” (Collected Works, Vol. 18)

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The American Left Democrat Party has brought us “identity politics” and we are paying the price Dr. Jung refers to in the above observation.

Implicit in identity politics is the naming of “an enemy”- someone on whom we may place blame in lieu of a serious look at ourselves.  Yes, identity politics creates animosity, persecution and injustice.

Think about it.  Does any identity group look at its own faults?  Or does it pick a theme and make a target of those who are not them?  Do feminists not need to lay blame on men?  Are not “Whites” seen to account for all that non-whites view as their “problems.”  Do not socialists, Communists, progressives need those who are not them as “the enemy.”

Dr, Jung said in his Collected Works (Vol. 8) that “the … existence of an enemy upon who one can foist off everything evil is an enormous relief to one’s conscience.”  As one can, he says, identity the devil and become “quite certain that the cause of your misfortune is outside, and not in your own attitude.”

Identity politics manufactures discontent and provides an excuse for those who fear to achieve and elect be angry and upset.

Think how differently our culture would function if we all accepted with humility our circumstances and limitations and proceeded all the same to do our best and work like heck to advance our own well-being.  Think how that strengthens a person, instills dignity – and think (in the alternative) how much time is wasted when others carp and carp about this party or that as an obstacle to their success and full existence.  Imagine how lives are wasted by those who complain endlessly, raise a real ruckus when they could be seeking to excel.  Think, too, about the how the American Left fosters discontent rather than excellence.  What a shame.

Shalom.

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