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Character is not cut in marble … it is something solid and unalterable.  It is something living and changing …

George Eliot, in Middlemarch

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Surely one of the central reasons for being alive is to determine how we shall live … and more particularly – who we are.  And that, Dear Friends, is a question of character.

Each day affords us the opportunity to determine who we are.  Each challenge we face provides us the chance to affirm who we are.  So says Psychiatrist and award winning author Robert Coles, M.D.  And, he is right.

Dr. Coles reminds us that life is like a story in that the people and events in it bring us to our own story where we determine who exactly we are – a person of character – of truth, meaning, courage, empathy, sacrifice … or one as yet unable to excel, to live fully and to face the unknown with confidence.  We either seize the day or we deny our existence.

The good Doctor reminds us of this by telling a story of a young girl he treated who was dying of cancer.  Not yet a teenager she sought to show in her brief life that she was “a good girl.”  Knowing she would die – she sought to show she was someone who was a good person.  In the face of death, with all the inconveniences of her hospitalization and the intrusive interventions of medical treatment – her focus was on establishing who she was and that she was a person of character.

Interesting isn’t it.  You can take in the news of the day and more often than not wonder where is the character of the person who is the focus of the news story?  Why would the Pope say that?  Why did the Attorney General meet with the husband of the target of wrong-doing?  Why does the Senator exaggerate so?  Why does the newsman overlook the obvious?

As a nation and a Church we’d best see people of character or we’d best fine those with character to assume the roles of those who do not.


Let Us Pray – for the children with cancer and for their parents that they may grow in faith in the midst of their travail.  

There can be no question: the psychological dangers through which earlier generations were guided by symbols and spiritual exercises of their mythological and religious inheritance, we today (in so far as we are unbelievers, or, if believers, in so far as our inherited beliefs fail to represent the real problems of contemporary life) must face alone, or, at best, with only tentative impromptu, and not often very effective guidance.  This is our problem as modern, “enlightened” individuals, for whom all gods and devils have been rationalized out of existence.

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero with a Thousand Faces

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It is darkly amusing how no one in academic or public life can see that the above quote applies to today.  Or that it fits the circumstances the Left has created.

We can drown in emails showing the contempt Clinton and her political puppets have for others, but few take exception.

Clinton and company call Southerners – members of the “CSA” and Confederates, and refer to the vast majority of Americans as “deplorables” and “irredeemables” and no one in the public forum condemns them, dispatches them from view –makes them as unwelcome and they make others.

They can refer to Catholics as rote idiots, still no furor.  Or disparage Latinos as “needy Latinos” – no public condemnation.  Consign Black Americans to a perpetual, unemployed caste and still no condemnation, nor rejection of them.

Rather than condemn Ms. Clinton and her minions, people in high places, and in ordinary life, fawn over them, revere them.  The rich and powerful defend them. They destroy evidence for them, commit felonies for them, throw the FBI “under the bus” for them, sell the Justice Department out for them.

Apparently, these folks never lived in Winter Hill (in Somerville, Massachusetts) with the Irish Mob as I did.  You see, my pals and I learned a simple, vital life lesson there and it is this: Those who don’t love you, don’t love you.  

This is a fundamental rule to orient you to life and living it well, and in the whole.

Those who don’t love you never change.  They will do you only harm.

Knowing this: you settled in, practiced your faith, defended yourself, your family, your friends and your neighborhood – and you didn’t trust the government or “the authorities” for neither lived with the loyalty and character that you and your scorned brothers and sisters did.

Make no mistake, you may have to fight to defend yourself and your own kind. That established, you are part of the group forever, and those outside left you alone because you presented a danger to them for you saw them and you would not take their abuse.

This experience teaches you things you cannot learn in a book and I say that with a law degree, two M.A.’s and an admission to MIT for a Ph.D.  The point is: you learn how to live fully in your faith and with strength, with integrity and meaning.  You live intimately with friends and family, know what loyalty is – appreciate and love the person next to you and protect them even if you do not know their name.

Think about who you are … and who loves you.  Understand the contempt others have for you.  Act accordingly.


We have not journeyed all this way because we are made of sugar candy.

Winston S. Churchill

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Bangladesh.  Istanbul.  Brussels.  Paris.  Orlando.  San Bernardino.  Boston.  Fort Hood. 9-11.  The Marine Barracks in Lebanon.

I grew up in Boston.  The place itself has character.  It is a strong place because of its people, its history and its ethos.  Yes, the place has a legacy of independence, of freedom, of courage.  It lives that legacy today.

To live on the “wrong side of the tracks” in Boston as I did was a great blessing. When the days are hard and the money thin and that is the plight of each and everyone you know, you learn about life and bond with others.  In such a place you have friends as I do for now 68 years, 64 years, 60 years, 55 years, 50 years … Yes, in places that are hard life is never hidden and friendship becomes kinship, becomes family.

In such places you learn to love. You learn about loyalty, and honor, fraternity. You come in close contact with suffering, injustice, human folly.  You learn to laugh and your language is plain and direct and it can act as a sword that when drawn avoids more conflict than it creates because people know you mean what you say.

In such places you learn to live for life in all its forms abounds in hardships and fraternity. Where the rubber hits the road, there is no need for computer games about enemies and combat.

Yes, in such places life challenges you alone but it does the same to everyone you know. The soil of such places grow friendship, faith, family, clan, character, courage and freedom.

In such places you claim your life and acquire toughness.  Not a toughness that makes you a bully but a toughness that makes you dependable, makes you ready to aid another, come to the defense of a stranger, stand up to those who seek to intimidate and those who threaten or attack.

Today I wonder if we are tough enough to attend to the threats and attacks we face. Among those who occupy public space it seems not.

You learn in places like Boston clear rules about life – one is this: never expect someone who has never been in a fight to lead you when you face one.  Another is this: if someone will not defend themselves they will not defend you.  It is, frankly, a matter of toughness.

Are we tough enough?  That is the question.

Across the land in many places we are.  But at the top?  That’s another question.

… carrying the cross himself he went to what is called the Place of the Skull … There they crucified him …

Jn 19: 17, 18


The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because of what is behind him.

G. K. Chesterton

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In a nation of mature men and women, one can sense the turn toward war. It is heralded by the recognition of what is loved, and what precedes the moment – yesterday, and yesterday, and yesterday … those who loved you and those who fought for you, died for you …

Yesterday – to be cherished, preserved and sustained.

The turn to war comes on you in calm, a resolute state.  The spring is cocked and ready – tension arrested, ready to the touch.

The Twin Towers, Marine Barracks, Iranian hostages, Fort Hood, Benghazi, San Bernardino, “death to America” chants … Sadly, challenges find us now and again.  Some are harder than others.

You feel it inside.  It is either there or here, us or them.  You think about your children and your children’s children.   Better there, and better them.

Fate is unavoidable.  The cards get dealt.  We play the hand.  Play it together – – – as one.

Anger turns calm and calculating, the face shows no emotion, the hand is steady, the foot makes no sound on the stair, or the ground – silence foretells action. Calm betrays the business at hand.

We cannot live outside history nor let political “correctness” interfere with truth, distort reality, corrupt our intelligence and our security, erode our constitutional right to defend ourselves and our loved ones, our faith, our land, and our liberty.

Mature, sober minds know this.  The ideological infants of the Left do not. They create greater risk, put us in jeopardy, welcome (indeed, invite) our adversaries.

Ideologues are incapable of leading.  Misguided and indoctrinated, they comfort the enemy and weaken the strong.

Ignore the immature.  Demand adult leadership.

We’re at a titling point.  All that was yesterday is today – and all that was always, is always again.

In making himself independent of God he [man] becomes dependent on the power of evil; for there is no evil in itself, but only because there is God.

Rudolf Bultman, in Existence and Faith

There is evil and there is Good.  Those who are evil reject God.  Defend Good, defeat evil.


In life and culture there are always two groups: those who burn and those who give light.

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I have been cleaning out my file cabinets and in doing so discovered a review of Gertrude Himmelfarb’s excellent short book entitled One Nation, Two Cultures.  In it, Miss Himmelfarb observes that we are a nation of two competing cultures: one practices, and aggressively imposes on us, an “amoral existence of dissipation and selfishness” while the other, a “dissident culture” holds to the virtues of “work, thrift, temperance, fidelity, self-reliance, self-discipline, cleanliness, godliness.” One who burns and one who gives light.

Today the former is a vocal minority that exercises disproportionate importance. They are on the Left, the so-called “progressives.”

In reading the review and the book you realize who these people are.

They are those who push the extreme minority agenda.  They are the misguided and selfish children of the 1960’s whose concentration is, and has been, to reject the morals, mores, manners and manifestations of American culture, a culture that they actually dislike and wish to destroy.

At present they have succeeded in destroying a good part of the fabric of healthy and prosperous life in this country. Their views are virtually always wrong-headed, shallow and destructive.

They are not reformers, but rather they deconstruct a healthy, safe, orderly, prosperous, good, civil and free America at great individual, national and international cost.  They destabilize fundamental elements of healthy society by attacking the family, religion and religious beliefs, sexual mores, work, citizenship, the free market, sobriety, virtue, civil discourse and the like.

They reject the notion of the family as the seed ground for virtue, socialization and civility, and a good and healthy life.  Rather, they advance individual desires and become, on all vices, an authority unto themselves with no room of dissenters. They love power and populate politics and law at all levels in order to force their destructive views and preferences on all others.  In this, they hold a rigid orthodoxy and are totalitarian.

Each believer, and the churches to which they belong, must determine how they will respond, lest faith and country be lost.

High stakes poker, people.  Burn or share light?



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