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The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high heroic temper.

Aristotle

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Men have been a target for some decades now.  In the course of this we forget that the best of them are as Aristotle describes.  You need only think of fallen heroes – men who died too young.  Or of the everyday Dad who pledges himself to his wife and their children and, having done so, never fails them.

Men have been made to be stalwart and strong from the inside outside.  They speak up when others will not.  They seek no applause.  They fear no isolation – they know it is the price of courage and promises made.

Some see difficulties and pause in fear.  Others see in difficulties advantage to be had and proceed with courage.  Good men proceed – are never frozen in place when obstacles appear.  They face down evil.

We best not forget who the good men are and how they make contributions routinely that run great risk, show great love and selfless sacrifice.

Forget not Good Men.

Shalom.

No More – A young Weymouth, Massachusetts, police office was shot and killed, this Sunday morning, by a man who seized his gun and turned it on the officer.  The killer was attempting to break into a home (according to news reports).

No more, People – “NO MORE!”  A man leaves home to protect us and does not return!!!

It is now our turn – this has gone too far – way too far.  Expedited trials and timely appeals.

 

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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.

 

 

Happy Father’s Day

Late posting today.  I spent the weekend with my Son, my Daughter-in-Law and my two grandchildren.  Just a wonderful weekend in every way!  Hope your weekend was as nice.

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The heart of a father is a masterpiece of nature.

Antoine Francois Prevost

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Father’s Days are complicated experiences for me.  I so loved being my Son’s Dad when he was boy.  Best job I ever had.

While still a Dad and now a Grandpa, I recall growing up without a father.  Thank God, I had a wonderful mother who helped her Mom raise her four younger brothers.  She knew how to accompany me to manhood and did a really remarkable job selflessly getting me “on my way.”

Perhaps you can sense the mixed feelings I have in this regard.  So miss my having a small boy to shepherd along.  So grateful for my grandson and my granddaughter and for the privilege of having an adult son who is thoughtful and loyal, an accomplished young man and good Dad himself – and so enjoy our honest and interesting conversations where we exchange ideas and observations freely.  Yes, I miss my mother, now years dead, and carry such a grateful heart for her many sacrifices for me.

I suppose what I am saying is this: I remember the hardship on my mother and me as a child.  I know what an extraordinary woman she was and how she helped me become a man.  Likewise, I know what a joy I had as the father of my young son.

Yes, I am thankful – but, yes, these things pass in time and become the bitter-sweet memories of deeds done and days passed.

You see our greatest deeds of love become memories and dictate times past and joys slipping out of reach and out of touch.

Father’s Day has its complexities for me.  The twilight comes and the light fades – as it must.  Never easy to lose the radiance of a thing so bright, and warm, and nourishing.

God bless you all.

Shalom.

 

Why does anyone tell a story?  It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose to say or do matters, matters cosmically.  (Emphasis added.)

Madeleine L’Engle

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So says author Madeleine L’Engle (Wrinkle in Time and so many other wonderful works).

Yes, life has meaning.  Yes, life has meaning for each of us – from the oldest to the youngest, from the richest to the poorest, the healthy to the ill.  Each of us live a life of meaning … and we are not called into life willy-nilly – without purpose or sanctity.  We are holy beings – everyone.

Finding meaning is the issue.  Finding meaning and experiencing the intimate and amazing reality that we (each one) has a reason for being and for living a full life – beginning to end.

Where to find meaning?  One place in story.  In the written and oral stories of the human being throughout history – in our mortal and eternal existence.

Story.  The best and most revealing story we possess as Christians and Jews is our religious narrative.  It, more than any other story within our reach, is laden with meaning for each of us.  Each recorded episode of God and his people, of Christ and his disciples records the meaning of life for each of us.

Yet, there are those among us whose actions seem to say: “I know not my meaning – I have no value, no meaning, no purpose – I am lost – irretrievably lost.”

This is a national cultural crisis.  It is immediate – it is now.  And it need NOT be so.

Sadly, we see the above words of hopelessness in the addicted, the criminal, the thief, the serial adulterer, the sexual predator (man or woman), the pornographer, the pimp, the prostitute, the liar, the cheat, the cruel ones, abusers … in those who take their own life.

We can even hear these words of hopelessness among those good men and women who have lived more objectively than subjectively – those who cultivated the mind at the expense of the heart.  These are good people who have missed the story and its life-sustaining nature.

Sadly about 45,000 people a year now take their own life here in the United States.  Yes, there are about twice as many suicides in the U.S. as there are homicides – and the number of suicides is growing rapidly.  Such is the price of godlessness in our exclusionary secular culture.  

We have lost our way.  Those with power and authority have forsaken faith – turned their backs to God and abandoned religion and our religious narrative at a very, very great price.  You see our unhappiness and self-destruction is the product of life without meaning – which is to stay: life without God, without attending to our religious story.

If there ever was a time when we had to reverse course it is now.  Come back to a life-giving story.  Come back to your faith narrative.  Demand it be welcomed in the public square.  Play an active role in our cultural recovery and restoration by adopting your religious story as a guide, and active ingredient in your daily life, thoughts and actions.

Our country needs you.  Others need you, too – especially our children.

Shalom.

If this post speaks to you, act on it – share it with others but do take your faith seriously.  Learn you story in its content and insight.  As usual, I appeciate your comments.  Thank you for reading Spirlaw.

 

She was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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Along my fence line the cows are slowly chewing their way down the ridge.  They meander and are, as always, unperturbed.  The calves are the most interesting.  The youngest ones follow Mama, while the ones slightly older seem to couple in bands of three.  Unlike the elders, they wander here and there, and are often drawn to the downed tree too old to withstand time.

The morning sun has not yet risen.  It sits just behind the Blue Ridge too shy to show its face until just the right moment.

The moon appeared last night as I had never seen it.  Standing naked against a cloudless indigo sky hanging just over the mountains well before darkness.  It stayed a long time before retreating to its usual place in the high heavens.

I’ve never seen the moon show itself that way – alone, docile but invincible, large and so close.  I could see its uneven blemished surface from the craggy grays against its comforting glow.  In a world of alone there it was – big and personal – reassuring.  What is eternal is also loyal.  Such is the Divine way.

Some betray us.  I never had such instinct.  I was drawn to loyalty.  Always thought that was love.

Those who leave tell you that they are shallow.  Worthless.  Less than dust in the wind.

Words have no meaning to those who betray.  Once gone, they are dismissed forever.  Dead.  They are not the cows, or the calves, or the mountains, or the shy sun before daybreak, or the fallen tree that kept its place until age caught it as it catches each of us.

Ah, but the moon – that solitary moon – so big, so certain, so loyal and undying.  That is who I am.  Inside and out I am the moon and will be long after time takes me down.  Those who loved me and did not leave will see me in the moon and when they need me most, I’ll be there alone against that indigo sky.

Shalom.

Tasteless Media, Tasteless Left – The Washington White House Correspondence Dinner showed the crassness of the media and the Left when it featured an unfunny, insulting “comic” as their eve’s humorous.  In policy and reporting, in their politics and ignorance the Left and the media show  they are without value and should be utterly dismissed.

If the constant baseless and often loony attacks on the President are not sufficient, the hatred displayed at the Dinner was the topper.

Give the Left and the media what they have earned: your contempt and rejection.

“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.

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.

Thucydides

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Our culture does not look kindly on men.  We are more the suspects than the welcomed.

Secular culture does not honor the nature of things nor the historical record.  Aside from rejecting religious narrative and God, groups of “special pleaders” adopt a variant of Marxist analysis and divide us by gender, skin color and political views.

In the present age, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” is reflected in disparaging men.

Thucydides speaks a Truth.  The bravest among us face the difficulties that come to their families, their clan, their children, their spouse, their friends, their community, their country, their Church, their neighbors, the old, the weak, the poor, the young.

History tells us the task of facing danger and risking death has been the job of men.  To disparage men is to lose sight of who they are.  Yet, we disparage them without thinking – “Who will fight for us, protect us, do the dying that life demands so others might live?”

We are at this point a foolish culture.  I see those who garner public attention – but I do not see the men I know – those who stand ready when trouble approaches.

Life is combat.  And men do combat.

Shalom.

 

Like every other human being, I am a splinter of the infinite deity … If the human [soul] is anything, it must be of unimaginable complexity … the only equivalent of the universe within is the universe without … as I reach this world through the medium of the body, so I reach that world through the medium of the psyche.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Memories, Dreams and Reflections

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Jung in describing the psyche is also conveying to us the nature of human health and wholeness whereby one lives not merely through the body but (and more critically) through the psyche as well.   Indeed, for Jung and other psychiatrists and learned people – a person is far from well (and prone to sickness and disorder) who lives within the body alone.

Looking about America in this age and time it is quite obvious that we are awash in disorder.  The social pathology is visible daily in news stories.  A state governor, despite being married, has a bizarre public sexual romp with his staff person, a man and woman beat their four year old child to death for spilling soup, a caretaker places a child in an oven to punish her … And the list goes on and on …

Are we not the only country that seeks tax revenue from drug use?  And look at the failure of custodial authorities (schools, social workers, police, teachers, principals) to attend to the obvious sickness and danger that Dylan Cruz plainly displayed and the pathetic social policies associated with that failure (the suppression of data on criminal conduct in Broward schools by the creation of “deversionary placements” so as NOT to have to face school violence done by “minority students” and the police officers unwilling to enter the building during the shooting for fear of running afoul of those who govern policy).

Let’s be honest – we live in a disordered culture, one in decline with manifestations of mental illness that simply go unacknowledged – denied, disguised, normalized or hidden.

In Jung’s words – we deny we are “a splinter of the infinite deity” and in that we starve the soul and ignore the psyche – the nexus between the world within and the world without (that which recognizes a mortal existence that is housed within eternal reality).

Yes, we are very poorly evolved and hence psychological problems, injuries and death abound.

We see these problems starkly in the ideas and actions of the political Left.  Indeed, having the lunatic Left present and active is like we are in foster care of Sarah and Cheryl Hart (the two lesbian mothers and “mates”) who drove their SUV off a California cliff into the Pacific Ocean 100 feet below with six helpless foster care (Black) children in the vehicle and to their collective death.

Any honest comment on American life, culture and society today must begin with an understanding that there is a great deal of mental illness that is unaddressed, dressed up as “normal,” excused, and tolerated despite the brutal costs that it imposes on others and the population at large.

We have drifted a long way from health and happiness and the decline is accelerating at a compounding rate.

That said, I offer you the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. –

In the shadow of death may we not look back to the past, but seek in utter darkness the dawn of God.

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.

If today’s blog connects positively with you, send it to another who might benefit by reading it.

 

… love is by its very nature not unilateral, but bilateral, something ‘between’ two people, something shared. (Emphasis added.)

Harol Wojtyla, in Love & Responsibility

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These the words of St. John Paul II, such an extraordinary man.  For me, the most remarkable man I observed and experienced in my 72 years of life.

He writes of love.  He writes of love as a man who loved and was loved, a man who suffered, a man who knew hardship and showed enormous courage – a deeply spiritual man of great faith and great understanding.

He writes as a man of God – a man who served others not himself.

Love is bilateral.  What does he mean?

Love is interpersonal.  It joins and unites us – one to another.  It bridges gaps, distances, differences and divisions.  In love you and I become “we.”  Love is, and must bereciprocal.  There is no love of one another without reciprocity.

This is the love Christ brings us, invites us to know and share – live in and by.  This is Christ showing us God and God’s intention for each of us.  This is God – this is the divine gift – this is who we are made to be, how we are empowered to live and know God – to unite with those we love and those we encounter.

Yes, we live in difficult times – where untruth and selfishness abound.  That said, in love we are not precluded from joy, from realizing divine gift and God who is love and loves us – indeed, no deviancy we see today can triumph over God who is love and the love we have been given access to.

Our challenge today is to live in God among those who believe God is dead.

Shalom.

 

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