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Trust the Lord and do good.  Live in the land and feed on truth.

Ps. 37:3

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In faith we are discreet listeners.  The faithful discern who trusts in the Lord and who does not.

Does the celebrity show their trust in the Lord?  The Socialist?  The news man or news women?   The cable TV talking head?  The college professor?  The person writing the Op-Ed piece or the member of the newspaper editorial board?  The high school teacher?  The famous athlete?  The politician?

Those who constantly complain have no time to listen – they show their godlessness by their constant discontent and their propensity for division and disorder.

Who among the many voices you hear daily trusts in the Lord, and who does good?

And you, do you feed on truthDo you feed on truth and in doing so turn a deft ear to those who do not?

Truth is a narrow gate.  We pass through the gate one person at a time.

The chorus of voices all chanting the same thing – could they all speak truth in unison?  If so, we would know we are in heaven.  We are not in heaven here, today, at this moment.

Our Founding Fathers created a Republic where faith is united with liberty.  There are many among us who wish that were not so.  They are ones thirsting for power over others.  They prefer their way to God’s Truth.  They prefer themselves to others, especially those who are faithful.

Each is called to feed on truth.  That is the call of a personal God who desires intimate friendship with you, His beloved.

Ignore the chattering herd.  It is God who speaks Truth and seeks your well-being and union with you.  Leave the perpetually discontented to their discontent – soon enough they will feed on one another and come to pass.

Shalom.

Foreign Policy and Elites – One of the reasons Trump is under attack from the elites and their minions in the media is this: for decades foreign policy and intelligence service was considered the exclusive frontier of elites like Christian Herder, the Anglophone Dean Acheson (who chose the immodest title Present at the Creation for his memoir on his service as Secretary of State).  Indeed, when the CIA was begun Catholics were not recruited (even though “Wild Bill” Donovan was the first Director) in favor of Protestants from the Ivies with wealthy family backgrounds.  Trump is, plainly stated, “not to the manor born.”  Neither are the rest of us.  Democracy is not Plutocracy.  This the elites and media wannabes sternly find objectionable.  They prefer to be “special” despite ample proof to the contrary.

 

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… we seek nothing but the particular place willed for us by God …

Then we discover what the spiritual life really is … It is the silence of our whole being in compunction and adoration before God, in the habitual realization that He is everything and we are nothing, that He is the Center to which all things tend, and to Whom all our actions are directed.  That our life and strength proceed from Him, that both in life and death we depend entirely on Him, that the whole course of our life is foreknown by Him and falls into the plan of His wise and merciful Providence; that it is absurd to live without Him, for ourselves, by ourselves … and in the end the only thing that matters is His glory.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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In the Mass readings today we hear God lamenting that His children have moved away from Him and we hear Jesus advise us to move away from those who do not receive or listen to his words.

Our dilemma is that we live in an age where many of the most public and most vocal have moved away from God and do not listen to the words of His Son.  Likewise the culture in its digital discourse and mass communication is crowded with those who operate largely by themselves – without reference to God.  Indeed, that is the bulk of present day discourse and we are obviously affected negatively by this.

What is one to do in such circumstances?

Yes, we are assured in the Old Testament reading of today (from Hosanna) that God will act mercifully as to those who rebel.  And, we know that Jesus in today’s Gospel (from Matthew) would have us separate from those who do not receive his words or listen to him.  So we have a plan: be merciful, yet separate from those who reject the Savior’s words.

But how is this to be done?

Merton offers a way: seeking time in silence and the company of God in that silence.  For in that silence the primacy of God is known and experienced and we are in the form that we are designed to know and in which we will find peace when all about are in discord and distress.

Yes, our confidence is in God and our task is to stand apart form those who reject God outright, and in their rejection of the Son, reject the Father.  Our remedy for this is silence – a singular silence where God is heard – much as the Son shows us in his regular retreats to the quiet of the desert.

In silence we can find stability, meaning and fulfillment.

Shalom.      

 

It is very well to insist that man is a “social animal” – the fact is obvious enough.  But there is no justification for making him a mere cog in a totalitarian machine –  

In actual fact, society depends for its existence on the inviolable personal solitude of its members.  Society, to merit its name, must be made up not of numbers, or mechanical units, but of persons.  To be a person implies responsibility and freedom, and both of these imply a certain interior solitude, a sense of personal integrity  … (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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Well, we are about to have a real brou-ha-ha over the appointment of a new Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The President has nominated a person whose view seems to be that the U.S. Constitution, as written, must be honored – that it is not a judge’s job to “make” new law but rather honor the plain meaning of the Constitution as written.

This view is opposed by the Left. They prefer (and have become accustomed to) winning political objectives through law suits and Court action when they cannot secure these objectives through the legislature or through the political (electoral) process.

This brings us to Merton.

He notes that we have arrived at a point in time whereby the individual can be made into a “cog in a totalitarian machine.”  Indeed, this is the risk one runs when a group desires that their views and preferences be imposed on others, especially in areas that are deeply personal and about which reasonable people can differ.

The point Merton makes is that society is composed of free people who take individual responsibility for their own life.

This is the underpinning of our rights and protections in our Constitution.  This is the root of a free representative Republic.  This is the articulated view of the current nominee to the Supreme Court.  His emphasis is on protecting the sanctity of the individual and the Constitution.  In a very real sense that is the underlying dispute between Conservatives, moderates and “neutralists,” and the Left today.

One sees in the opposition to this nominee and his way of seeing and understanding the Left is worried.  Their concern is that his way of thinking will result in the abandoned of their preferences in matters of social policy secured through Judicial activism.

I do not know how this will sort itself out – but I do know that (for me) I am tired of waking up every day to the non-stop yelling and screaming, hyperbolic assertions of the Left and the endless “demonstrations” that manufacture and perpetuate discord.  Likewise, I do not see the judicial system as a means to create social (or public) policy – a task resting with the Legisature.

I prefer quieter times, a Court that protects the Constitution, and the baseline expectation that each free person will be individually responsibility for their own life.

I favor the sacred person to a “cog.”  I find the former is a more satisfying and liberating state of being than the latter.

Shalom.

 

 

the righteous mind is like a tongue with six taster receptors.  Secular Western moralities are like cuisines that try to activate just one or two of these receptors – either concerns about harm and suffering, or concerns about fairness and injustice.  But people have so many powerful moral intuitions, such as those related to liberty, loyalty, authority, and sanctity.  (Emphasis added.)

Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D., in The Righteous Mind

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Well if you want to understand the basic rift between the Left and others (moderates, Conservatives, and “neutralists”)?  Haidt gives you that understanding.

The Left is secularized – removed from faith, anchored in material existence, the narrows of intellect and ideology devoid of psychological or spiritual depth and the understanding and experience that each provides.

In matters public and political they are so narrowly focused, they neglect or dismiss our natural desire for liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity (as Haidt notes).

You see, esteemed Social Psychologist Haidt is telling us that as a matter of innate design the human person thirsts for morality that attends to more than fairness and equality.  Mind you, this thirst is an involuntary desire.  Hence, we are “hardwired” for a morality that extends beyond the shallows of the Left.

The distinction that Haidt describes explains why the Left is intolerant and must force their views on others much as totalitarians do.

Ironically, on an even playing field (i.e., one not corrupted to protect their views) the Left is destined to fail because the public’s natural moral appetite is larger than what they offer.  Humans are more complex than the Left reckons.  No, we are not all like them or their ideology.

Think about the many positions the Left advances or defends and you realize that their positions are at odds with the innate moral desires of the human person at-large.

Once that thinking is done, you can see how the Left forestalls the full development of the human person.  Indeed, they create unnecessary conflict (and division) by attempting to impose exceedingly narrow views on others that are, as a consequence, antagonistic to our broader moral needs.

Haidt, applied to our present situation, leads to greater understanding of the unhealthy antagonism that the Left generates.

You would be wise to get to know Haidt and his excellent scholarly work.

Shalom.

 

God, Who is everywhere never leaves us.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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It seems to us from time to time that God is not present to us.  But this would appear to negate what Merton says above.

What might one say?  Merton says this: sometimes God seems present to us and sometimes He seems absent from us.  This is normal.  Merton tells us this: God may be more present to us when he appears absent than when He appears present.

Strange, you might think.  And you might ask: How can this be?  More present when we think He is absent?

To figure this out Merton points out that there are two kinds of “absent.”  One is a condemnation – God is absent from us “because we put some other god in His place and refuse to be known by Him.”

In the second form of “absent” we are not condemned but sanctified!  In that experience of His absence He “empties the soul of every image that might become an idol and of every concern that might stand between our face and His Face.”

Condemned is what our culture has done presently – how we live at-large in a secularized culture that intentionally excludes God and foolishly elevates the human person – their physical and intellectual desires above God.  All of the homicides, violence, broken relationships, addictions, predatory behavior, conflicts, divisions, abortions, child abuse and neglect, abhorrent inter-personal behavior and actions intended to destabilize the country are acts of condemnation on our part.

The sense that God is absent to us in the whole is an accurate indication of our present day experience.  We have met the enemy and he is us.

Sanctification is something else again.  Here God acts positively and protectively to insure that we do not personally (one by one) acquire the means to divide ourselves from God.

In sanctification God loves us so that He leads us to a place where we realize that the things we have cherished are NOT God and as such can never satisfy or fulfill us in and by themselves.  You see when find that we have begun to place even the best things we do or encounter above God, God reminds us that even the good we do cannot satisfy as God can for the good we do does not love us the way the God who is Love does.

When the day grows quiet and you are alone, ask yourself if you have placed things above God – even the good things you do.  If that might be so, ask God to bring you back to Him.

As for the serious disarray we have in our culture and country, it is way past time to seek that God might bring us back to Him.

Shalom.

 

 

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: / The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, / Hath had elsewhere its setting, / And cometh from afar. / Not in entire forgetfulness, / And not in utter nakedness / But trailing clouds of glory do we / From God, who is our home: / Heaven lies about in our infancy!

William Wadsworth, in “Intimations of Immortality”

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A 30-something man fixated on a running feud with a local small town newspaper shows up and kills five staff members.  A large crowd of plump, disgruntled (but well fed) middle age women show up in the Capitol to air their “grievances” (which seem more like proclaiming themselves rather than establishing a claim of injustice).

In any given day, on multiple fronts, some strange things happen (some violent and others just noisy) and one wonders: Has the door to the loony-bin been left open?

My point?  If you look around and wonder what is going on with these people you see – I might suggest two things: one, many people are not well-formed, fully matured, and, two – some are genuinely ill.  I add: the line between the two is thin and hard to see.

That said, what does Wadsworth have to do with anything?

Well, this – throughout time stories have been told (as in the above) that proclaim that prior to our birth we knew a celestial existence and that we were born to the mortal world to journey in it in a manner whereby we grew in understanding, maturity, in faith so we might one day return to our celestial beginning.  Yes, for many the journey was from God – to God, again.

Well, so what – you say?  My response: classical and religious narratives and as with myths and stories present an account that can guide us in this life – help us retain meaning and sanity and grow in patience, wisdom and understanding.  Note, please analytical psychiatrists may well be familiar with these ancient sources of understanding and do incorporate these stories in their appreciation for human wellness and the journey from ego to self (and human wholeness and sanity).

Now back to what we see daily that concerns us.  The day’s events give us these lessons: (1) many people are not fully developed, and their conduct tells us this, (2) some are acutely disordered and they carry real risk for innocents, (3) we do a lousy job providing people with an education that helps them understand their task is to grow in knowledge and stability over time, (4) in our present state we have many people who do not “play well” with others in the sand box, (5) our welfare rests on knowing the wisdom of ancient narratives – religious included – and applying ourselves to growing up to be healthy people – one by one.

Finally, today we are a LONG way from the maturity we are offered.  A starting point for us?  Stop the complaining in the streets and the demonizing of others (such efforts only establish your own immaturity).

Shalom.

Every baptized Christian is obliged by baptismal promises to renounce sin and to give himself completely, without compromise, to Christ, in order that he may fulfill his vocation, save his soul, enter the mystery of God, and there find himself perfectlyin the light of Christ.”  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Life and Holiness

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When you look and observe all sorts of disordered behavior, hostility, division and antagonism – you might ask: How can this be, we were once a united nation and when we disagreed we did so in a civil and respectable manner – a way that did not make us enemies?

Now if you are a Christian, the above words of Thomas Merton might help you understand why we are where we are, and how we might restore what we once knew and enjoyed.

The “how?”  We have forget the gifts of our baptism.  We forget the extraordinary significance of being one with Christ, being a Christian.  Having forgotten our legacy and its inheritance, we reverted to self and selfishness – to godlessness – a life without Christ at the center of our being.

For a Christian, our separation from Christ is a guarantee for calamity, disintegration, division, antagonism, hostility, unhappiness, sin and destruction of all that is good.  Abiding by our Baptismal gifts – we prosper, find strength and happiness – build friendship, family and community – and know joy and humility and courage.

Yes, in baptism we are “called out of darkness.”  In its neglect we court darkness – and see it surround us today.  Ah, but you can change that!!!

Shalom.

 

 

 

Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you … O my friend, why do you, who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul … (Emphasis added.)

Socrates, in The Apology

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It is safe to say the above is worth thinking about given the present state of our political and public life. I suspect those most vocal and most stirred up today would not have a clue that Plato wrote The Apology or that it reported on the trial of Socrates.  Forget any greater recollection of Socrates and his point of view.

Yes, in substance and knowledge we are lacking – yet, so much more in manners, insight, discretion and morality.

Today, listening to public discourse (advocacy and reporting, in particular) is presently best done only now and again to get a “flavor” of the state and content (such as it is) of the conversation, lest you find yourself: (a) aggravated and quite discouraged, and (b) utterly misinformed and subsequently anxious for your welfare and that of your children, grandchildren, family members, friends and nation.

That said, the point of presenting the above words is to highlight that Socrates reminds us of the primacy of wisdom and truth and our soul … and of God, and a personal relationship with God.

Imagine for a moment what benefit we would claim, if those in the public square were well-educated in the classics and in the pillars of Western Civilization, possessed manners, valued wisdom, truth and the soul – and, above all, God … and had a personal relationship with God.

In such a magnificent state, so many utterly obnoxious public figures would vanish and, assuming a public that was properly educated and mannered, our present need for all sorts of government crutches would likely be greatly diminished in favor of the blessings of individual responsibility anchored in personal confidence among our neighbors.

We appear to be a long way from Athens and the negative consequences are many.

Think about that.

Shalom.

 

 

… what we are is to be sought in the invisible depths of our own being, not in the outward reflection in our own acts.  We must find our real selves … in our own soul … the principle of all our acts.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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This from a wonderful essay entitled “Being and Doing” in Merton’s No Man is an Island.

His words are very useful in a mass communication, digital and social media culture where images and acts are often center stage and narcissism is a real problem (as reflected in its prominence in therapy and as daily exhibited in the news and on TV).

As to our present climate public acts are so a part of others need for attention.

In the present era we seem to be besieged by those who need to sustain a public image at all costs.  We seem to have a culture that accommodates projecting images as the normal form of being while passing completely on the critical important core of one’s self – the soul.

As Merton noted in his 1950’s essay – “I need not see myself, I merely need to be myself.”

Yes, Merton gives us in eleven words the heart of health, meaning and contentment – not our image (and surely not our narcissistic actions and proclamations) but our eternal soul.

How smart he was.  Imagine now how we are surrounded by narcissism and self-promotion.  How many say nothing of value and cannot maintain day-to-day coherence.

How public figures have convenient double standards that say subliminally: I have no guide but ideology invoked and applied to bolster my personal preference.

It is, I think, fair to say – we have many lemmings, but few Mertons.  Therein is our illness, agitation, confusion, calamity, untruths, treacherous deeds and great unhappiness.

Shalom.

 

 

A Reflection

The drama of the archetypal life of Christ describes in symbolic images the events of a conscious life – as well as in the life that transcends consciousness – of a man who has been transformed by his higher destiny.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Collected Letters (Volume 11)

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Who among you sees Christ in your life?  That is – associates Christ in your very existence?

Do you not know that Christ is the pre-existent Son of God in the manner that you are His pre-existent child?

Rest assured that Christ is our sacred archetype … that we are as Christ and are to live and be, and die as and with Christ – as He was, and is and will be forever as to each of us.

As an archetype, Christ leads us from ego to Self, True Self amid the divine drama of mortal life.

In life we choose: salvation and health or a godless life stuck in our ego – never knowing Christ or God or our own person in the full.

Our best choice: a life of meaning and purpose, contentment and tranquility, wisdom and happiness, or one of calamity and continual unhappiness and discord.

Yes, we each have eternal roots.  Our origin is in God, not in each of us one by one.

We are, as Christ, called to the direct experience of life in the full – conscious and unconscious, material and spiritual, mortal and eternal.

With Christ as our template we see Light brighter than the works of the son of darkness.

The life of Christ: your guide, your template, your Divine Gift – your very identity.

Shalom.

 

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