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Holy Saturday

” … You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been risen; he is not here.  Behold the place where he laid.”

Mark 16:6

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Jesus was plunged into sorrow, but triumphed over this world and all its vices and deceits.  This said, as a Judeo-Christian culture – how can so many who say they are Christians act as if what Jesus did does not matter today?

Is it not true that if we actually believed would we put so much trust in politics, government, in seeking power, and focus all our efforts on material goods, or destructive pleasures and addictive vices?

Western Culture and this nation will rise or fall in direct proportion to our belief in God and, as Christians, our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Today our faith and traditions and founding propositions are under attack … and for Christians it will be our relation to Christ which will decide the day.  One of our two major political parties and our once reliable press advances perspectives and policies that are hostile to what the West is and the place of God in our lives and public our affairs.

Speak not and act not and you will have assumed the posture of Judas.

Dear God, help us to see the glory of the empty tomb and to act upon that glory each and every day.

Shalom.

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Good Friday

… aware that everything was now finished, Jesus said, “I thirst.”

John 19:28

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Take a moment today to stop and let your mind feed your heart, as on this Holy Day it most surely will.  When the heart is in play the soul is touched … on this Holy Day even more so than on most others.

Make a few minutes for this silent retreat – from the head, to the heart, to the soul.

In silence now, I come to this question: What did Jesus do?  And to this recitation – He entered mortal life as the incarnation of Our Father and all that Our Father is and enkindled in us.  He healed those who suffered.  He befriended the friendless.  He called others to the Father.  He taught others including the religious scholars he encountered.  He made the sinful clean.  He suffered and was rejected.  He hung on the Cross and was taunted and ridiculed.  He redeemed us by His death … and was resurrected!

I ask this question and provide the above answer in the hopes that you might look around you and particularly look at those who appear prominently in our mass culture – those whose images, voices, opinions and criticisms we see and hear all to frequently.  Indeed I ask in this – what have they done to justify our attention?  And I mean people in politics, the intellectuals, elites, princes of the tech industry, those in media with unrestrained opinions about all things, and the endless “advocates” of self-serving (destructive) politically (in)correct views.

Who is worth your attention?  Jesus or the talking heads of present day American mass communication culture?

I’ll take Christ … and proclaim that no one who seeks our attention warrants our time or consideration who does not show he or she has lived a life representative of the selfless nature of the Son of God.

Shalom.

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

John 13:21

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Betrayal.  It is hard to imagine anything more disillusioning than violating a relationship.

Think about it, one has a trusted relationship and violates that trust.  You can see it in a man who fathers a child but deserts his child and the woman with whom he fathered the child.

Imagine Judas who was mentored by Jesus.  Think of what he did.  He sat at the table with Jesus and his disciples and took his morsel given at the table and walked away … from Light to Darkness – that is betrayal.  Judas choose alienation over sacred loyalty, over friendship, over duty and obligation, over faith, over honesty, over trust, evil over good, his own desires over God.

And then there is Peter.  Pledging his loyalty to Jesus, he denied knowing Our Lord three times before the cock would crow.  Yes, cowardice got the best of Peter.  Yes, for Peter fear dominated faith.  Yes, Peter, too, choose alienation.  Yes, for Peter trust was abandoned, friendship was dishonored – God denied.

Look about you today.  Are we a culture of trust?  Or is betrayal more common?

Are we a culture of heroes or betrayers?  One in which citizen is alienated from citizen?  A culture of unity or division?  Is division commonplace?  Is it the way of a political party?  Do women create division from men?  Do father’s desert their children?  Men and women divorce one another with ease?

Alienation.  Betrayal.  Distrust.  Hero or coward?  Loyal or not?  Divisive or unifying?  Neighbor or not?  Friend or enemy?  One alone or many together?  God-full or Godless?

Shalom.

3:03 a.m. – how nice it is to awake in the full night of silence to think about faith

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Faith is a backward-looking virtue.  It concerns who we are … “the mystical chords of memory.”

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

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In faith you are connected with those who have come before you – with a stream of being that reaches to the very distant past, the sacrifice of others, their fidelity.  Their story is our story.

In faith we belong to others – to Saint Peter and Saint John – to Abraham and Martha and Mary and Lazarus … to Aquinas, St. Augustine, to Simon of Cyrene, the men on the road to Emmaus – to centuries of faithful Jews and Christians.

In faith we have identity … a place in a long story that has no end.

In a world too often focused on the immediate, the immaterial, on desire, immersed in anxiety, loneliness, doubt and worry – we have in faith: certainty, confidence, cause, connection, and a call to life.

In faith we have as Aristotle says “another self,” – in faith is solidarity and union with one another now, in the past and in what is to come.  In faith we know love – a love that runs to what has come before, what is now, and what will be in all the tomorrows yet to come.

In faith, particular differences do not matter for the faith others possess is the faith we possess.  Ethnicity, race, age, social status, wealth and such do not matter to those who share a faith.

The broad identity of faith is the union of belief.  We are, in faith, what we believe.  Therein is our solace, our identity, our purpose, our meaning, our stability and our happiness.

Shalom.

Christians are meant to be the continuing revelation of God’s Son through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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While our challenges may be many and run deep within us, our country and our culture, our task is quite clear: to be the continuing revelation of Christ in this world.

What makes this task initially challenging is that we are (independent of God) merely humans and as such we get angry, become busy, self-absorbed, weary and preoccupied.

Look about, many are angry (especially those in the secular Left – the socialists, Communists and radicals).  Confrontation can be quite hostile, even physical.

What is one to do?  Remain calm.  Be soft-spoken.  Avoid anger.  Simply respond quietly.  Perhaps take up your calling to speak to others of the truth of the Gospels.  Our task is to share Christ with others, to quell the hostility – defuse the anger.

In our most trying times – it is the peace of Christ which resides in us and gives us voice, courage and wisdom.  Yes, the peace of Christ in troubled times.

Shalom.

Postscript – Those who dislike Trump make their position known in rather intense and obvious ways,  We see this with Democrat Members of Congress and the news and celebrity class.  But few people ask: How did we elect Trump?

Well the news of the very wealthy in business, law and entertainment paying huge amounts of money to get their “little darlings” into once “elite” colleges tells you exactly why we have Donald Trump as President.  The elites live separately from the vast majority of all other Americans.  They live (as the Clintons so clearly do) above and apart from the vast sea of working Americans who pay their taxes without loopholes and privileges.

The arrogance of elites elected Trump, and their elected state, local and national representatives go one better – they ignore the will of the common voter on borders, the national deficit, abortions, illegal immigration, the Second Amendment, education, religion and all manner of Leftist (i.e., socialist and Communist) public policy.

This is a divide that creates very real problems.

 

In our time we should emphasize what unites rather than what divides.

Pope John XXIII

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These are the words of Pope John XXIII on his death-bed.  I cite them today because they fit so well the circumstances we face now.

There is great division in this land.  It seems as if people desire that we be divided, fragmented, at odds with one another … divided and separated from God and faith, self and one another.  Today hostility is heightened and friendship diminished.

This brings me to my long-term concern with how one lives one’s faith in a secular culture – now that one is apt to be estranged from spiritual existence in a culture that manifests so much discontent, anger and self-destruction.

My own course has been an attempt to understand both God and culture.  To look at our history as a nation and Western Civilization, to see the challenges we face, review our failures and our successes, look closely at our psychological health and development and our nature as spiritual beings.

It follows that my reading encompasses history, philosophy, psychology, theology, mythology, literature and the like.  But my inquiry has also experienced and thought about monastics and their ability to live faith and grow spiritually and as healthy humans notwithstanding the shape of the world over many centuries.

What I have come to understand is this: (1) if you wish to live your faith and do so deeply, you need to know how a culture can deter you from faith and your spiritual development, and (2) in seeking to live your faith in a secularized culture, you would be wise to learn from the monastic experience for it has over many years allowed men and women to grow spiritually and in contentment through their separation from the culture at-large, their silence, solitude, study and simple life style.

I might add that if you wish to assist others in finding faith in secular culture it becomes necessary to identify those things in culture which make a healthy spiritual existence quite difficult and those things which incline to foreclose one’s spiritual development and ultimate peace and contentment that daily living of one’s faith allows.

In short, what I am saying is this – to live faith in secular culture – you do well to take an informed assessment of the culture, become familiar with the nature of monastic existence and make use of its framework so you might exist within a secular culture while living fully in your faith.  Yes, in this you will be living at an arm’s length or more from the present culture as it is endlessly extended to you in a mass communication and the highly visualized and extensively noisy storm of images and words.

In practical terms it is wise to adopt a monastic disposition in an intrusive secularized culture. 

Shalom.

Postscript – In the 1950’s we held the Communists in check when they invaded Korea, would we do less in facing them in our own country?

Tradition consists not only of handling down the dogmatic formulas and liturgical customs from one generation to the next.  It means receiving this traditional teaching into ourselves in such a way that it becomes part of us.  It must pass through our minds and hearts, become our own, and emerge in our lives as a true revelation of Christ here and now.  It is only then that our baptism and the other sacraments achieve their purpose of extending Christ’s presence throughout time and space.  Christians are meant to be the continuing revelation of God’s Son through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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Our faith is meant to be experienced.  To be ingested.  Consumed.  And employed as the central understanding that governs us, in which all that is encountered is (as a consequence) received and understood.

Yes, we are to live to extend Christ in the present.  Is there any doubt that this culture, this nation top to bottom needs Christ today.  That our leadership needs Christ, our public discourse needs Christ today?  No.  None.  Nor is there any doubt that each of us is intended to be as Christ would have us be.

Our very being is centered on the reality of God, of Christ.  Recall our God says, “I am who am.”  God as being in us and in all others and things.

Live your Christian faith – openly, vocally, daily, and fortify all those among you who do.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shalom.

“How is it possible that suffering that is neither my own nor of my concern should immediately affect me as though it were my own, and with such force that it moves me to action?”

Arthur Schopenhauer, in On the Foundations of Morality

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This is precisely the kind of question that is not asked by individuals in America today.  It is precisely the sort of question in which we are of a very desperate need.

Its absence is the product of our failed education system – especially university education and makes its absence in a secular culture that denies God in favor of “trivial pursuits.”

Yes, what we concentrate on does not seek the feel and understanding of the mystery that this implicit in this question and others of its ilk.

I give you one such distraction that is our preoccupation.  It is “equality.”

Who images any one person is in every measure the equal of another in very detail?  No one who is thinking.  Yet, we chase in all sorts of “social justice” pursuits “equality.”  Likewise such a notion allows us to divide in hostility one from another.  Such estrangement does great damage – separating us woman from man, and by race, religion and income.

Yet over all these separations and distractions – one stops to help another who suffers.  One risks one’s life for another. We do this because we are who God made us to be in the doing of such things.

In contrast, the political climate separates us and with God in exile we grow further apart and weaker as people and as a nation.

My constant frustration is this: I see hardly anyone in public life who lives as if they ever ponder as Schopenhauer’s inquiry so clearly does.

We ought to be ashamed and less a pack of complainers and more individuals with interest in the defining questions of life that make us far better people and a stronger and more faithful nation.

Shalom.

Rainy Day and it begins with Sonny Criss and Blues in My Head.

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… Christ has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him … he bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you have come to share in the divine nature, and escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. (Emphasis added.)

2 Peter 1: 3-4

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We live in a noisy world.  A whole lot of nonsense spoken and visible – and we are without a filter.  That said, think about what nonsense you take in and the way it alters your state of being, your mood, your perception of the world.

Let’s me frank.  We are exposed to people who speak but know nothing.  People whose words are better ignored for the idiocy they convey.  Too many godless and childish voices and we do virtually nothing to avoid them.

Listen to Peter.  Christ is our screen – yet, we let people talk to us who know not much and surely not Christ.  Why would you let yourself listen to foolishness – to godless nonsense?  Do you let others serve you rancid food?  Of course, not.

Where is your discretion?

If you wish to digest what is good, to hear what is purifying and clean and points to eternity and the good that is freely given to you – then pay attention to Christ, to his disciples – to what is in Holy Scripture and what has good and has withstood the test of time.

Presently there is corruption all around and abundantly so in those with who dominate  public arenas.  Time to be discreet.  Sharpen your hearing and your sight by taking up the habit of reading Morning and Night Prayer (as Catholics we call this prayer of the hours).

Being engaged in a routine of morning and evening prayer orients your eyes and ears to what is good, grows your heart and soul – is an immediate guard to the depths of corruption and inanity that is ever-present in public discourse today.

Be wise.  Be a discrete listener and viewer.  Such discretion leaves the insanity and corruption to others.  You need not be drawn into all this mess for you have been given Christ.  Make this gift your foundation, your orientation to each day and what surrounds you.  Health, happiness and wisdom awaits you.

Shalom.

 

 

Beginning the day with Morning Prayer and Allegri’s Miserere.

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Son of God, you were with the Father in the beginning, and in the fullness of time you became a man, give us a brother’s love of all people.  (Emphasis added.)

From the Intercessions of Morning Prayer for weekdays after Christmas.

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There is nothing that might end our division but being as brother’s to others – that is as Christ would have it.

Think about it.  What if those women who disparage men would see men acting with honor as brother’s and protectors?  Imagine what might happen.

I tell you a story.  For about the last three to four years I have had many wonderful conversations with men and women who are African-Americans.  These exchanges have been pleasant, warm – the kind of encounters one has with a good neighbor.  In each conversation I have said – “I am so sick and tired of people dividing us from one another.”  I have not encountered one person in these conversations who did not agree whole-heartedly with me.

If Christ comes as our brother, is it not necessary that we who claim to be Christians be as brothers to others?

You know the answer.  Let’s live up to our obligation and begin doing so today!

Shalom.

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