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  Happy St. Patrick’s Day

[2:09 a.m., Sunday, March 17, 2019]

Today’s Blog is dedicated to my Irish brothers – Buddy Mahar, Jerry Shannon, John Downey, Mike O’Brien, Marty Donovan, Mike Ryan, Fr. Jim Beattie, John Connelly, Georgie Shannon, John Flynn, Johnny Corbert, Danny Crowley, Fr. Mark Hughes, Br. Tom Shaughnessy, the Roddy Brothers, Tommie Mahoney,  John Boyle, Br. Malachy Borderick, Henry Murray, Jackie Alywood … 

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It was … reliance on home and family … dependence on faith and friendship, that gave Irish Catholics the unyielding determination to support lost causes and leaders long after all hope had been lost, all efforts failed, and all others had abandoned the struggle.

Thomas H. O’Connor, in The Boston Irish

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My lineage is from Scotland.  I grew up with the Boston Irish – and am as thankful for that good fortune as I am for any number of blessings I have enjoyed amid the tumult along the way.

In approaching my recent birthday in the month of December, I seemed to be involuntarily fixed on a simple thought: Why had I found it so easy to be combative – standing with those who were in difficult straits and not apt to be heard by the powers that be … why did I so easily fight for strangers who needed my support and counsel?

I wondered: was this something God desired or was I out of step with His intentions for me?  Had I followed Him or let myself and this combative nature lead me out of some inclination that I might better have left unattended?

As fate of the Divine would have it, I was (by chance) reading Tom O’Connor’s book on the Irish Boston and the author helped me realize that (as he reports) the Boston Irish were among the most steadfast of all the Irish who immigrated around the world.  Bingo!

If God had wanted me to be less than combative and independent, a risk-taker in public matters and the law – He would not have placed me among my peers, my beloved, loyal, funny, independent, faith-filled, tough, witty Irish pals nor would He have led me to Irish pals throughout my life.  Consequently, I now rest contented … I am, in my advocacy and general nature, who God intended me to be.  I am one of them.

As many childhood friends tell be “Bobby, you never changed.”  God and my Irish friends anchored me in who I was … such is grace so made present.

… the Irish did not break.  Against all odds, in the face of irrefutable logic, contrary to the rules of law and the dictates of society, the Irish would refuse to accept any measure or policy that felt conflicted with their faith, their values, or their ideals. (Emphasis added.)

I gratefully share my life and Catholic faith with these dear brothers and so many who like them manifest the courage and love that the pursuit of good so requires.

God bless the Irish!

Shalom.

 

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their life style.  That is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

Brennan Manning

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There are many around us who profess Christ but do not act like Christ.  That circumstance is as old as dirt itself.  But what effect does it have on us?

Do we simply forfeit our belief, and on what basis?  Do we conclude that if the man next to me says he is a Christian but does not act thus – are we to abandon our beliefs?  Does this in any reasonable manner justify the rejection of Christ, his denial?

That hardly seems justifiable.

I am from a hard background – one where hardships and injustices, rejections and betrayals, and where deaths, poverty and bigotry were common.  None of those things made me apt to divorce myself from Christ or Christianity.  Perhaps this was simply because hardship made me and others in my family and community tougher – more independent, more loyal to one another and our professed beliefs.

I spent a good deal of time at the University of Notre Dame and in vowed religious life.  I can tell you without any hesitancy – I saw in both religious life and life at Notre Dame that many among each cohort did not live as one might reasonably expect those who professed Christ as their Savior – as the Son of God – might live.  Yet their failures only deepened my resolve to live as Christ would desire me to live.  I concluded from this one simple truth – many who claim Christ are neither faithful enough nor strong enough to commit to a life of faith, a life growing in relationship to Christ.

I guess my hard knocks life in Boston made me one hard dude when it came to living my beliefs … indeed I became more committed the more my faith was attacked and the more the principals in the faith showed their failure to abide by their faith.  About the only thing these episodes showed me is this: I was tougher and they were weaker.

In this regard I think of this historic quotation to encourage you: “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!”

Shalom.

 

 

… the Boston Irish are different … (than any other Irish who settled in this country)

(future President and Colonial Boston’s) John Adams, a thirty-year-old lawyer … viewed “popery” as incompatible with liberty and agreed … that Catholicism had no right to recognition or toleration.

Thomas H. O’Connor, in The Boston Irish: A Political History

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I have always wondered why my friends, family, neighbors were never afraid to speak up, were frankly tough, determined people who seemed to fear nothing – who would, in the face of adversity, double-down and be all that more insistent to overcome any obstacle they faced.  The answer to my wonder: Boston – where we lived, where we grew up and built life long bonds with others.

I was raised among the Irish and as a Celt (Scot) with a similar disposition and history vis a vis the British,  I took on the character of the remarkable Irish people that were my friends, second family, my brothers, sisters and neighbors.

History Professor Thomas O’Connor lays out the history peculiar to Boston of years upon years of Puritan and Protestant hatred of the Irish.  I give you one example: in the 1700’s November 5th was a day of Protestant parades celebrating anti-popery which ended each year with the burning of an effigy of the Pope followed my violent clashes between Puritans and Catholics.

Nothing toughens one as having to defend yourself, your family, your friends and neighbors against bigotry and hatred.  Yes, the Boston Irish (of whom I am in union) are a rare breed – an extended family, a clan of courageous, hard-nosed, clever, determined people – more than willing to step up and speak out – those with no fear of authority figures.

Knowing this I wonder where is the toughness of today’s working and middle class who have been dealt a bad hand by the arrogant, self-serving elites – the globalists who export jobs to foreign lands and support or pursue what can generously be described as policies that diminish family and marriage and allow unborn children to be destroyed?  Where are faithful people, Believers, particularly Catholics and evangelicals who see these things and others and remain polite when their faith is assaulted?

I can say but one thing – quietude is not the habit of the Boston Irish as to such matters.

You might want to think about that.  We are too quiet, too silent, too polite.

Perhaps this is why I gravitate to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame …

Shalom.

 

 

Remember Pearl Harbor, 1941/Remember Benghazi Too

It is cold and the sky is clear, the colors true and the mountains firm and sure.  December and the Son is near.  Despite the public nonsense, it is Christmas time … and Holy Silence is here.

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Man … a wanderer and wayfarer … in search of a … holy place, a center and source of indefectible life …

the Irish monks “… simply floated off to sea, abandoning themselves to wind and current, in the hope of being led to the place of solitude which God himself would pick for them …”

Walker Percy, in “From Pilgrimage to Crusade”

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Have you seen your life as a pilgrimage?  Have you imagined it so?  Have you been given to live what God has given?  Are you so blessed by the grace of that gift to come to that place He chose for you?

Live properly and fully lived, life is a pilgrimage.  And I have come to realize this as I come to my 73rd year this month.

Yes, I have been overcome by the length of time and its passing speed, but more so the unusual continuity and scope of my life … from betrayal and poverty, to death and homelessness, to conversion and many who loved me to that place … In it all I see my gifts of interest in others, and the will to survive life’s constant and bitter combat and the desire for God in all of it.

Lately I have sought peace and quiet after years of battles – defense of others with my lawyer’s trade and growing faith – seeking truth and a just result … standing alone as loneliness prepared me so.

Seeing life as a pilgrim’s journey is a blessing that overwhelms, producing tears of wonder for the divine gift of consistency that was in me and this life so on track to be just what I had been made to be.

Imagine the innate mystery of consistency and the companionship of the right values and the best goals of service to others  … a life like the Irish Monks submission to the winds and currents of a life Godly given.  Imagine too the sight of God in those who loved me to this place.  My shepherds … my shepherds – so many, so many … angels given, angles given …

Looking back now I see one astonishing grace – that I was given to accept life as it presented and to do so without complaint or bitter feeling – but rather to accept it as what it was – the gift of challenges that built with each hard event courage, wisdom and greater strength, greater depth, greater faith, greater insight and the reward of solitude, certainty of the soul and peace which conquers all conflict.  Once lonely, I could stand alone because of Him … I am who Am.

A pilgrimage – previously unbeknownst to me.  But for the grace to walk one step at a time over hills and through dark valleys for all these years I would not know how grace delivered consistency to me … and now I see that God has done as God intended … and my unwitting collaboration with His Desire for me … grace … grace … grace – the mystery of grace.

Looking back I see through tears of awe and humility for I have done by the Grace of God what God has asked of me – simply to journey as a pilgrim would.

I pray you know the same.

Do not get bogged down in the daily voices of nonsense – they hold no sway, no mystery they.

Shalom.

 

Only the honorable people resist injustice.  The rest – the honorless – are afraid of their own shadow.

Mehmet Murat ildan

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The Turkish economist and literary writer has it just about right.

But have you noticed that we don’t talk much about what it takes to be an honorable man in contemporary America today?

Maybe we ought to think about this – what is an honorable man?  It seems we live today without many such men.

I grew up in the immediate post-World War II America.  I lived on a street and in an extended family with men who served in the War.  The question of being an honorable man was not necessary – men had proved their worth, showed their courage and character in the demands of war.

My mother was born just in time for the Great Depression and, in short order, World War II.  She manifest courage and honor by necessity.

The affluence we have come to know in the post-War, post-Depression times seems to have scrubbed us of questions as to honor, courage, heroism and sacrifice.

Simply stated, I do not find many men of honor.

In my profession (the law), I see men who, despite the professional ethics that govern them, routinely fail to fight for their clients.  Yes, I see many cowards and fakers in the law.  Frankly people who would have never made it in the Boston I knew as a child.  There honor took many forms – be loyal to your people, help the other guy, don’t let anyone “bully” another weaker person, protect your family and women, respect others, work hard, don’t complain – just compete and get better at life, get stronger and wiser in the ways of the world.

I see things in public men and women that are, to me, astonishing – and in lawyers and judges, too – things that are disgraceful … but to whom no shame attaches.

It has come to the point that I see this dishonor in the “public people” – those that I have no regard whatsoever for … I turn from them as I might an offer of rancid food.

Somewhere along this timeline we are going to revisit what is it to be an honorable man.

“Selflessness.  Humility.  Truthfulness.  These are the three marks of an honorable man.”  So says, writer Suzy Kassem.

I might add – courage as well.

You know I lost so much in this life, I refuse to forfeit my dignity or watch others lose their’s.  Maybe that’s why I really loved the fight required in trying cases and arguing appeals – defending the interest of those poor and weak who live among us.

Shalom.

 

Well now, just getting back after a holiday with my family.

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Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.

Martin Luther

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I had the company of three Catholic priests this weekend.  Each a Dear Friend.  Good people and good Priests.  Each feels the weight and humiliation of the news from Pennsylvania regarding the sexual misconduct of Catholic clergy in that state.

I share with you my conversation with these good men.

I reminded each that no man can destroy Christ’s Church.  Likewise I told them that smart people can tell who the good guys are and that, while people I know are disgusted with the manner in which illicit sexual behavior was hidden from the public, the men and women I spoke with do not hold these local priests responsible for what happened nor will they abandon their faith, Christ or His Church.

And, I told them that all my life I have encountered adversity and that it always stirs in me a resolve to face it squarely and that adversity itself allows us to recognize what it is that matters most to us, that it also clarifies who we are and what we stand for.

The truth for me is this: adversity makes me stronger, bolsters my heart and soul and stirs in me the “fight” to protect and proclaim the Truth that we know and that we wish to live by.

I encourage you to adopt something akin to my point of view.

Today we are invited to stand tall and proclaim what we believe and who we are.

In adversity comes clarity, purpose and courage.

We are never so strong as when we know who we are and what we stand for.

Shalom.

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on a surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.

Douglas Adams, in The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time

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Trump meets Putin and people are going bonkers.  The President didn’t hold Vladimir’s feet to the fire, didn’t get after him for causing the defeat of Dear Hillary.  Disaster – the end of the world nears!!!  Oh, my!

Well let’s think about our recent Presidents and maybe we’ll get some useful perspective.

John Kennedy was an unconstrained philanderer.  Lyndon Johnson ran the war in Vietnam from the White House and when political winds turned against him he “cut and ran.”  The strangely asocial Richard Nixon put his hands to a burglary of the Democrat Party HQ.  Peanut farmer Jimmy Carter managed the use of the White House tennis courts and lasted one term.  Bill Clinton was a sexual predator with a taste for fast and loose money.  George W. Bush was the most incurious President in my lifetime.  Barack “We are the People We have been waiting for” Obama was an unmitigated failure.  So I ask, what do we expect of Presidents?  And, do they not reflect us and our culture?

Perspective people, perspective.

As to Trump and Putin.  Does anyone expect a man to fall in-line with his opponents’ mantra when he has been the subject of concerted efforts of corrupted bureaucrats-turned-partisan-politicos to slander him and run him from office using false dossiers with Russian fingerprints on them, and skip over the lawlessness he has been subjected to with the relentless onslaughts from the media, Leftists and socialist Democrats intent on dissolving the nation’s borders, the Constitution, and the Republic so they might rule over all?

Smarten-up.  Trump is a guy from Queens – from the streets where real people live.  Like them, he knows when others throw punches and he ain’t about giving in or giving up.  His fellow citizens are attacking him, the Presidency, our electoral system, and the Nation.  They are a greater threat to the country than Putin at the present time.

You fight one fight at a time – it’s street smarts.  There was a significant subtext to his meeting with Putin and that’s that.  In not yielding to his power-craven Leftist opponents he is doing us all a favor.

Perspective.  One, we ain’t that cool.  Two, lots of dirty hands in public life today.  Three, our culture has been badly misshaped by the Left.  Four, the history of recent Presidents has few saints and some blank sheets.  Would that it be not be so. 

Shalom.

 

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