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“The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.  But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep.”

Jn 10: 25, 26

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These are the words Jesus spoke to Jews in Jerusalem at the Temple.  Let’s put them in today’s context.

Yesterday a young man in Toronto drove a van down the sidewalk and killed ten people and seriously injured more.  A few days ago in Nashville, Tennessee, a young man entered a restaurant early in the morning and shot and killed four patrons and injured others.  Each young man had a history of mental health problems.

These two incidents are reminders of the Parkland, Florida, school shootings that took the lives of 17 students.  That young man also has a history of mental illness.  In that case, the public authorities totally failed to address the needs of that very troubled young man.

” … you do not believe, because you are not my sheep …”

The success of Alcoholics Anonymous is dependent on recognition of the existence of God (“a higher power’) and on our limitations to address our problems as if we are that “higher power.”

It seems to me that the constant signs of our neglect of those in need and the violent actions of those who (in their deranged state) randomly kill innocent people is an indication of our neglect of our own spiritual needs.  

I think too of the two lesbian women who adopted six foster care children and retained custody of those children while having had run afoul of child welfare officials in three states.  As you recall these two women drove a vehicle (with the children in it) off a California cliff to their collective deaths 100 feet below.

We are a troubled nation because we have forsaken belief … because we have neglected our full health, our need for spiritual sustenance.

Indeed we live like we are each a god unto our self.  We are, in this regard, absolutely NOT helped by all the discontented “special pleaders” in politics and particularly the angry godless voices on the Left who create division and disorder and their counterparts in the Democrat Party in the U.S. Congress, the federal bureaucracy and in state and local government.  Yes, godless voices breed sickness and hostility.

Let’s be honest, we awake each day to read or hear about one or more horrific accounts of murder, child abuse, infanticide, abhorrent sexual assaults, or some form of human deprivation that is beyond our imagination or understanding … and we see day after day the utter failure of authorities to do much of anything about these matters.

You know I recall the hubris of Mr. Obama who boasted about fundamentally transforming America and that no one seemed ever to ask in what form this change might take, nor did anyone dare to say to him: “Hey, pal, you’re NOT God and you have accomplished nothing thus far in your life.”

The point to be made?  Man is not God.  Heck, we are not now even clearly showing that we are the Shepherd’s sheep.

Might be time to believe again.  But do we have it in us to be humble as we once were?

Shalom.

Warped Self-interest – No Democrat Senators on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State.  They did so largely to deprive President Trump the person he wanted in that position.

Mr. Pompeo, a former Congressman and Director of the C.I.A., graduated first in his class at West Point and first in his class at Harvard Law School.  He has had both a successful military career and an excellent business career in which he started (as I recall) two successful businesses.

When you think that we have had recently both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as Secretary of State (neither of them who achieved any particular success in their lifetime), it shows you that Democrats always put their own interests before the interests of the Nation and its people.  Shameful.

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The monk is a man who lives in seclusion, in solitude, in silence outside the noise and the confusion of a busy worldly existence.

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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A monk lives in response to existing culture.  His thinking is both critical and healthy.  He sees that a present culture does not promote his values, virtue or an integrated, well-formed life.

A monk seeks wholeness and a depth of spiritual existence that cultures usually ignore in their all-consuming demands and expectations.  A monk seeks to understand life and people.  He seeks psychological, emotional and social fitness.  His path is to Truth and to God.  Clarity, peace and wisdom come to him.

His days are composed of work and prayer, silence and listening – quiet, reading and worship.  He finds time to contemplate life at large, its meaning, its best use and ways of being.

The ways of a monk are the perfect counterpoint to the disintegration that is today’s secularized America.

Today we are rife with conflict, antagonism turned to hatred in many instances, division, hostility, abandonment of virtue and morality, to the intrusion of state and the destruction of critical institutions, the lost of a nation’s boundaries and heritage, and its common understandings.

Chaos displaces the order of common understanding and mutual respect.

Each day brings evidence of disorder and often brutality – conduct whereby those who might otherwise lead discredit themselves.

We are no longer unified and living as neighbors guided by good.  Too many force their views on others, advance their disorder on others as if our acquisition of their strife and sickness normalizes them – makes true what is false.

At a time like this – in a culture like this … think of those who go “off to the mountain as the fish to the sea.”

Maybe you can learn from the way of monks.  Can you not acquire their ways in forms that create healthy distance between you and what is destructive?

Your health, wholeness, peace and wisdom resides in the ways of the monk.  In your culture today comes disintegration, illness, hostility, confusion, amorality, untruth and self-destruction.  Your life need not be composed of these things.  

Shalom.

A Book of Interest – You might like a short book entitled Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life by Hugh Feiss, a priest in the Order of St. Benedict.  It is a fine resource for those who wish to make healthy adjustments in the face of rank disorder and destruction that is exclusive secular culture today.  Peace be with You. 

 

Our cultural elites, the modern liberals, have contempt for democracy because it produces results and elects politicians they disapprove of.

Robert H. Bork, in Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline

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American liberals in their various iterations have diminished what we once possessed: a civil society whose public and private institutions reflected our common cultural inheritance – that of European Christendom.

The evidence of this runs the gambit from law and the judiciary, to family, morality, sexual mores, politics and political practices, university and secondary education, vehicles of mass communication, entertainment, the press and even some of our religious institutions.

The degeneracy that this brings is clear in so many ways – one being the image this weekend of former F.B.I. Director James Comey hawking his recent book.

Poor Mr. Comey.  He is want of personal understanding of himself.  Consistently his public utterances tell us: “something is wrong with this fellow.”

His actions only seem to confirm his disordered state and bolster the idea that he is the just result of modern liberalism’s own inbreeding.  Yes, the ideas of elites which bear little resemblance to that of the common man and woman are visible in many on the Left who assume public leadership and voice.

Here in Mr. Comey is a lawyer who while under oath in testimony given the Congress tells of appropriating government documents and leaking them to a Columbia law professor to share with The New York Times in order to get a “Special Counsel” appointed to investigate/delegitimize an elected President.

What lawyer would disclose his illegality and questionable objectives without any apparent recognition that he is describing his own lawlessness?

Likewise how could the head of the F.B.I. mismanage the Hillary Clinton national security mess so completely as to make it utterly clear to the public that “the fix” was in and the F.B.I. administrative cabal of Leftist political partisans surrounding Mr. Comey were far from pedigree conspirators or reasonably decent and honorable barristers?

In his actions and interviews, Mr. Comey offers himself as the poster child for the incoherence, corruption and incompetence that is the modern liberalism of the cultural and political elites wearing the “Democrat” label.

Toto, we are a long way from European Christendom, America as it once was, and from decency and wisdom.

Our restoration will evolve only insofar as we individually return to faith, have the courage to speak up, and to reject the poisonous fruit of modern liberalism.  Indeed, it has done sufficient damage as is.

Shalom.

 

 

Slow Saturday.  Quiet.  Cold, gray spring day.  Moisture in the air.  Solo cello in the background.  The cows have long ago today passed this way.

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… the … neurotic individual does try to escape the full awareness of his life task.  (Emphasis added.)

Viktor E. Frankl, M.D., in Man’s Search for Meaning

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I am aware of no public conversation that attempts to explain the disordered conduct of neurotics or psychotics on the loose and regularly visible in our mass communication and digitized secular culture.

Frankly, I find this both astonishing and quite dangerous. Imagine the number of talking heads on television daily who blabber along on this or that thing while offering absolutely no insight as to the topic they address.  Imagine, all the more seriously, that these people are listened to by a passive, uncritical, uninformed, poorly developed audience of millions every single day.

Then factor in this wrinkle: despite their training (or maybe because of it and a lack of human life experience) clerics are tasked with trying to share faith with others in a culture they do not know nor understand.

Think about it – our clerics have no training in intellectual history, cultural criticism, psychology, analytical psychiatry, the classics and such – nor have they (for the most part) experienced life in the working class, as a military combatant, raising a family, as a divorcee, overcoming an addiction, as one who is unemployed or whose job has been shipped overseas, or one who has lived in public housing – below the poverty line.

We are lost sheep – but not just lost – we cannot hear our Shepherds and some of them have no voice.

I give you a simple example of our serious deficit.  The above quote is intended to convey that the neurotic (captured by past human experience) avoids growth by being trapped in the injuries and experiences of the past.

Frankl tell us that the neurotic lives in “vicious cycle formations and feedback mechanisms” – that the neurotic is “self-centered” and in this forfeits all growth and all that is in the future yet to be experienced.  Does this NOT explain why ideologies and ideologues are to be avoided, ignored, discounted.  Their way is that of group and institutional neuroses.  Think radical feminism, the demands by the Left of rote conformity, groups fixated on “racism,” Left-wing “causes” of one variety or another – “social justice” crusaders, environmentalists, Marxists, etc. – taken to the extremes these people are neurotic: self-centered, playing the same “feedback loops” over and over and over.

Yes, there is widespread madness present in our culture and no one is identifying it.  On the  contrary we see these “feedback loops” offered us in daily talks shows – PBS, NPR, MSNBC, CNN and even on some of the Fox news shows. 

Yes, even our Shepherds have no voice, no insight.  Many are among the ranks of the neurotics – joined by our judges, op-ed writers, “entertainers,” late night TV hosts, political figures, and news people.

It is the First Century of Christianity once again.  Discipleship anyone?

Shalom.

… while Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the Temple guard and the Sadducees confronted them … they laid hands on Peter and John and put them in custody …

Acts 4: 1,3

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As is presented in this reading, those who speak of Jesus the Christ are often at odds with people in power, with “the authorities” – temporal authorities.  Such is the challenge of believing in Christ and acting on your belief.

What Peter and John faced is no less likely today in a more secularized culture where those who put all their trust in secular powers for they lack faith and impose their personal prejudices and wild ideas on others by force of power.  This of course is the Left today here and in Western Europe.

In the present day, the tension is between those who believe and those who do not.  This tension is manifest in many ways – on questions of gender, marriage, adoption, abortion, free speech, mention of God in the public square.

Indeed, the present attacks on the sacred wisdom reflected in our Constitution is sufficient cause for alarm.

We seem intent on destroying the genius of our Founders as reflected in the Constitution.  Those who do this handiwork are doing what ISIS and other adversaries would welcome – destroying freedom we have in a document that combines liberty and faith.

Far better you be as Peter and John than be silent or compliant and let our heritage and freedom pass from us.

Those who would destroy have no faith, their deeds divide.

We need more people in public life who live their faith and know and protect our sacred heritage.

Shalom.

… Christianity modeled a nobler way of life than what was on offer elsewhere in the rather brutal society of the day.  In Christianity, women were respected as they weren’t in classical culture and played a critical role in bringing men to the faith and attracting converts.  In the age of the plagues, the readiness of Christians to care for all the sick, not just their own, was a factor, as was the impressive witness to faith of countless martyrs …

George Weigel, in “The Easter Effect,” (The Wall Street Journal, March 31-April 1, 2018

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In these words Mr. Weigel is recounting how it was that Roman Emperor Constantine ended all state sanctions against Christians who heretofore were considered a danger to the ruling powers, outlaws of sorts.

In these words Weigel shows that the way Christians lived propelled their growth in Rome and across the lands to the East.  These early Christians showed others a nobler way to live, a way to live that provided meaning, access to purpose and promise, and joy as well.  This Christianity gave those who believed hope and a context in which one might live with optimism.  This Christianity offered a moral code and a way to an ordered life.

Christianity offers no less today.  But alas Christians are suspect in our land today and more to the point Christianity’s moral understandings are being dislodged from our culture.

In place of Christian moral values, we have not value-relative but valueidiosyncratic.  Each individual gets to be his own author of moral conduct.  The chaos that ensues is inexhaustible.

A little, insignificant waif (U.S. Army enlisted clerk) Bradley Manning gets to disclose troves of top secret material at will and is pardoned by a clueless President for whom both Christianity and the heritage of the West seem utterly alien.  Additionally, Edward Snowden, a contract security specialist, does the same thing and flees to Russia where he remains today with no efforts to secure his return to face the consequences of his criminal, treasonous conduct.

In contrast to the elevated place of women in early Christianity today we have the residuals of Sex in the City women – droves of women of all shapes and sizes that place their identity in sexuality and their clutch for power (that is, political in particular or mere public identity that has as to celebrity and mass communication an impact that comes not from any achievement but from having a familiar, fabricated image).

This, of course, is far enough afield from women in Constantine’s time – that it now befalls to men to model Christian values to others in a time and culture that holds men responsible for all the evils of the world (while still expecting them to lay down their lives in defense of others).

So here is “the bottom line” for us today – good and decent men and women who seek to parent children who will be immune from the ugliness of today’s culture must do and be as the early Christians  – must live by the code of conduct and morals of their early ancestors.  Failing that, further chaos and decline is predictable.  Such an ordeal hardly seems what parents and elders like me would wish for any man, woman or child.

Are you not so called?  Or do you wish to be the ones who watched as Christianity faded from view?

Shalom.

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The two worlds, the divine and the human, can be pictured only as distinct from each other – different as life and death, as day and night.  The hero ventures out of the land we know into darkness … his return is described as coming out of that yonder zone.  Nevertheless – the two kingdoms are actually one.  The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know … the exploration of that dimension … is the whole sense of the deed of the hero.

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero of a Thousand Faces

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Easter approaches.  But do we think of Christ the Hero who joins again the divine and the human in “the two kingdoms that are actually one?”

Yes, this is the time for our unification of the divine with the human – a reminder that we live in but one kingdom – whole and divine … that we are made whole and divine!

I am often struck at how it is that we live as if there is no recorded human story over all these years of human existence and how in our ignorance we miss the obvious truth and significance of the essential and repeated stories of the Hero, the sacrifice – the rule of the Divine over all from Age to Age.

Our Easter celebration occurs in many forms in varied cultures, religious narratives and ancient stories – making it all the more True, and making us in our ignorance all the more in need of wisdom and sight that is not blinded by our badly mistaken assessment of our own importance.

In our political life we are trapped in the daily event – unable to connect history’s dots.  We live so superficially – and listen to the most inane dribble day to day.  In this small frame of mind we fumble about, pontificate, content to be doomsayers, hopeless, foolishly assertive grand problem-solvers, faithless.

Shortly after the above passage Campbell questions the Hero who returns, thus: “Why attempt to make plausible, or even interesting, to men and women consumed with passion, the experience of heavenly bliss?”  He notes it is just as easy to “commit the whole community to the devil.” Yet, he notes for the Hero comes “the work of representing eternity in time, and perceiving in time eternity.”

Christ descended into darkness for three days and arose and, then, returned to us so we might know eternity in time, and time in eternity.  But are we governed daily by the Hero’s selfless deed?

In Easter we meet reality.  But do we live this reality?  That is the critical, life-changing, life-saving question.  That is what you face at Easter – that one and only eternal question – that which governs mortal life and time, and eternity.

Shalom.

Hillary Kills Feminism.  Well, the poor-as-church-mouse Miss Hillary is at it again.  Traveling in India she tells us that she lost the election because White Women were directed by their husbands, male bosses and sons to vote for Donald Trump.

There you have it – the end of Feminism!  After years of listening to feminist nonsense and their howling at the moon – Feminism has achieved this one amazing thing: the White Women among their ranks now do what their husbands, male bosses and sons command!  Guess that puts an end to that “Cause.”  Take a bow, Ladies.

With Feminism dead, can gender studies be far behind?

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one …

C. S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters

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Battles between good and evil are won on the margins.  This is a lesson few Americans seem to understand.  Good compromising with its opposite is no victory … it is a lost …

Compromised moral structures result in the disappearance of morals and the institution of corrupt practices – and corrupt lifestyles. In this the abnormal becomes normative.

Look around, the Liberals and the Left have brought us six decades of gradual roads moving us to the destruction of the family, marriage, childhood, virtue, truth, decency, community, intimacy, imagination, honor, sacrifice, morality and meaning.  It their places: the bacchanal – anything goes, self and pursuit of pleasure is king!

But make no mistake – the battle is won or loss on the margins.  Accept same-sex marriage and holy matrimony is lost.  Accept abortion on demand and motherhood is lost – and euthanasia is right behind – hastened by homicide, suicide and drug addictions.

To fight and win on the margin one must address the son who is using drugs or living a dangerous lifestyle.  Yes, when evil is in play – one speaks up and stands for what is good, and right – what is healthy and moral and elevates the human person, preserves their soul.  Remain quiet and compliant and you can kiss your culture goodbye while saying “Hello” to Hell.

This is where we are today.

Shalom.

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God.  (Emphasis added.)

Cor 5:20

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St. Paul’s words fit us to a tee today.  This is precisely the core of the problem we face in America and particularly in Washington, D.C. and national politics.

We have forsaken Christ in favor of self and power and greed.  In place of Christ: we have collusion, Commies, incompetence and corruption.  Forget the swamp – we have a cesspool.

Think about it: lobbyists, lawyers, politicos and their hacks and handlers, lots of money, career politicians, dishonesty, duplicity, a partisan press and clueless media, fools running the Justice Department, FBI, intelligence agencies, in the State Department – and past Presidents asleep at the switch, and investigations that are at best “selective.”

So where are the Christians?  Their voices?  Who is to set the standard of decency?  Honesty?  Service?

Yes, there are some Members of the Congress who stand tall.  I think of Mr. Nunes of California, Mr. Goudy of South Carolina – and there are others – more in the House of Representatives than in the Senate.  But is there not a place and time for Christians to speak up publically?

Remember, America is a country which (unique in history) built a free nation on the relationship between faith and liberty.  Religion and its presence … hence, religious freedom is vital to our individual liberty and national prosperity and character.

Believers must speak when the conditions require.

Frankly we are failing our ancestors who built this Great Nation and we are failing the God who made us and entrusted us with this land and this Nation’s mission.  Shame on us.

What will you do?

Shalom.

 

God, infinitely perfect … in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to … share in his own blessed life.  For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He call him to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family … To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior.  In his Son … he invites men to become … his adopted children and … heirs of his blessed life.

Prologue, Catechism of the Catholic Church

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Looking about, it is hard to find in public life and discourse men and women who appear to be Catholics.  Given this irreplaceable gift from God, one cannot see evidence that those who speak to us, who advocate for this or that cause are living a Catholic life.

Think about it.  In these troubled times who among us appears governed by his Catholic faith?  Would it not be the case that a Catholic in troubled times would stand for what is good, would appear as certain, speak with calm conviction – lead us in the way of Christ?

Yet, we do not see this.  Yes, we have politicians, celebrities, academics, radio and television “personalities” – but do you ever hear them speak as if they are faithful people?

The conflicts we face are such that they call us to account.  Are we living our faith?  Are we drawing closer to God?  Are we knowledgeable Catholics?  Do we show our Catholic faith in our daily life?

This country needs to become a family guided by faith.  In Christ we are God’s children, members of his family.  How our times need brave Christians, courageous Catholics witnessing their faith each day, in all things.

Shalom.

Syria.  A United Nation’s report tells us that Communist China and North Korea are making poisonous gas available to Syria and it is being used against unarmed civilians in Syria.  This is, of course, contrary to a U.N. Security Council vote which Communist China supported.  Evil.

What do we do about such things?  What is our responsibility as Catholics?  As Christians?

Make no mistake, the Left is essentially Marxist – be it in China, or Russia or here in our own country.  In contrast, we are Christians, Catholics.  We must stand in opposition.

When you let evil doers co-opt you, you become the evil that they do.  God expects more from us – much more.  We must witness our faith in international and domestic affairs.  No more can we be companions to evil and those who advocate or do evil.

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