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The purpose of life … is to be helpful, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and lived well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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A satisfying life does not require you paint on a large canvas.  A small canvas will do.

I tell you a story.  In my early years I was raised in my grandparents home with my mother (their oldest child and only girl).   My mother helped her mother raise four boys – her brothers: Ernie, Ray, Don and Bob.  They were my Uncles.  I was the peanut among them.  I looked up to them – as I grew they became my friends.  I had an especially close relationship with Don and Ray and their wives.

When my wife suffered from cancer, they watched over me.  When she died, they watched over me.  When my mother died, they watched over me and stood vigil with my young son who missed his Granny greatly.  Both Don and Ray lived the right way – tended to their wives and children, lived honorably, helped others, loved and laughed heartily.

Years after my wife’s death, Ray’s wife contracted a rare illness, one that was most likely to take her life.  I was Ray’s confidant.  He was bewildered by what he faced.  I told him she needed the best Doctor who knew the most about this illness and that I would find that person and I did.  My Aunt Tippy got the best care possible.

I stood with Ray when she passed, and with Don when his lovely wife Ginny passed.  Both good men showed their courage and their loss.  My heroes were wounded as I had been.

Years latter, both Don and Ray developed illness that would take their life.  Each talked often to me during their illness – wonderful conversations, honest, touching, urgent but assuring – privileged.  I spent hours on the phone with Don the day before he died – precious time – beautiful, irreplaceable – unforgettable time.

In my travails and hardships and modest successes I became their “go to guy.”  My losses and struggles and experiences were their fortress in times of strife.  A small boy had become a trusted source, their counsel, guide, confessor.  I was honored by men I looked up to and loved … I can hardly think about it without getting emotional.

When Ray neared death he told me this, “Bobby, I never considered you my nephew – I thought of you as my youngest brother.”  Few things have honored me so.

You do not need a large canvas, a small one will do.  Take your licks in this world – everyone faces difficulty.  Forget fame or fortune – focus on growing in understanding, wisdom, common sense, faith – be helpful – make a difference where and when it matters most to others.  Life is good.

May you be blessed to experience what I have related here.  You have a reason for being.

Shalom.

 

 

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All sins are attempts to fill voids.

Simone Weil

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Life isn’t hard if you just listen to people who are smart and leave us some valuable guideposts.  Of course as people – we tend to charge ahead hitting objects head-first without a helmet.

And, then – there are things that find us – hardships, inconveniences, bad deeds and thoughtless things done by others others.  These produce the occasion to sin – to react harshly and “get even.”  But the greatest frontier as to sin – is us, each of us.

We are sinners.  Every one of us.  (That’s why God and mercy are so necessary to our existence, our over-arching story.)

Think about this: when you sin, ask yourself what void has this sinful act uncovered in me? 

Many of the sins we see are “deficits” we experience related to the want of intimacy, or power, or status, or identity, or a place in the group or the world.  Once you discover this, sin can be defused – and then, all the more, when you realize God is vital to your full grow and development – your contentment, peace and relationship with others comes into full form.

The more sin is defuse – the more others become your brothers and sisters.  That joy awaits you.  God speed.

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.

 

 

 

Just arrived back after a trip.  No wiki available – so a late Monday, June 25, 2018 posting.

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I knew one thing – which I have learned well by now: Love goes far beyond the physical person of the beloved.  (Emphasis added.)

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

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Dr. Frankl offers these words in writing about what he learned while a prisoner in a Nazi prison camp.

These are such critical words to contemplate, to remember.  Why?  Well because they give you proof of eternal life.  How so?

Think about this.  He writes these words in reflecting on his wife, from whom he had been separated by the Germans for some time.  He did not know if she was alive or dead – but that was not important because he loved her and – alive or dead, separated or near and in his presence – his love of her was no less real, no less alive.

Think about it: you have lost those you loved and who loved you.  I have as well.  But their death never diminishes our love, never breaks the divine bond that is love.

Thinking about our love of one another, we come to God’s love of us, and the God who is Love.  If death does not dissipate our love for those who have died, does it not follow that the love of God and God who is Love can never be extinguished, diminished?

Once loved by God, we are loved for all time and all eternity.  This said – there is never a reason for being despondent.  We are loved by the God who is Love.  Love never dies and cannot be diminished by death.  Rejoice!!!

Shalom.

… that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You.  May they also be in us …  (Emphasis added.)

Jn 17:21

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In the recent four or five years in traveling across the country and in my daily public activities like shopping, I have had the privilege of meeting and talking to a good number of African-Americans – mostly men.  The conversations have always been cordial – actually wonderful, warm, joyful and a real blessing.

In each of the conversations I am referring to, I have offered and observation which has been universally and warming accepted.  My observation?  It is this: I say to the man with whom I have shared kind words and some laughter – this simple thing: “You know, for the life of me, I cannot understand why it is that others are intent on turning us against one another.  If I or you were drowning and someone threw us a rope that saved our life, would we ever care what their race, or religion, or ethic heritage was?”  Not one of my conversation partners ever responded other than this way: “You are so right, I am sick of the division.”

” … that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in me, and I am in You …”

Look, we have one critical responsibility and that is to be one as the Father and Son are one.

That said, ask yourself as you listen to those whose words are presented in public discourse – Does this man or woman divide us?  Or do their word bring us together?

I pray that we all start to apply these two questions to all who speak to us.

We will die by division – just as we will live and prosper only as one.

If you doubt this, think of this one thing.  In the Genesis story God provides man a companion – a woman because it is not good that man be alone.  Friends, could this be any plainer?  Men and women are clearly different and yet we are made whole by one another.  Does God not make this plain as day?  You know the answer.  Let’s live this reality, this truth.  One.  One.  One.

Dear God, help us see that we are one, meant to be one – help us turn from those who would divide us, create hostility for their own dubious benefit.  Amen.

Shalom.

If this message makes any sense to you, please share it with others.  We really are in this life together.  We own the problems we have and we have a way out of the troubles we had created.  Let’s get busy being one.

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.

 

If we want to be anything other than what God has made us to be, we are wasting our time.  It will not work.    The greatest accomplishment in life is to be what we are, which is God’s idea of what he wanted us to be when he brought us into being; and no ideas of ours will ever change it.  Accepting that gift is accepting God’s will for us, and in its acceptance lies the path to growth and happiness.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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The above is a foundational truth.  It is what leads to a good and satisfying life.

If you have an “education” or a profession, a title, status, a job that yields a high income and you do not understand the above, you are likely to do more harm than good to yourself and others and be perpetually discontented, or problematic, or wrong, or unlikable or all four of these things and worse.

We have a whole lot of people in the public eye who have no clue what a good and happy existence is or how one might live a good and joyful life.

Look at the political world, the celebrity world, the news and media industry, the big names in technology and finance – mostly unpleasant, prideful and over-rated.

Be who we were made to be.  Do what you are made to do.  Be you – God’s humble son or daughter.  Peace, comfort and confidence follow.

Shalom.

 

O taste and see the Lord is good …

Ps 34:8

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Tasting and seeing.  Are these not acts of experience … of ingesting, of taking into oneself?

Yes.  Of course, they are.

Is this not exactly the essence of the Incarnation?  Is this not the essence of Christ in human form?  Is this not the message Jesus brings to his peers, his neighbors, the strangers he encountered, the people of authority, the wealthy and the poor of his day, the well and the ill?

Is this not the message he brings to us?

We are to experience God.  Ingest God.  In this experience we close the gap between the Creator and the created.  This is God’s intention in offering Himself in Christ.

Believe me, once you come to understand that it is the experience of God that is offered to you – you will not be burdened by the weight of this world, its trials and trivial activities, its gossip, its corruptions, its temptations, its hostilities, its divisions, its anxieties and its evil.

The experience of God will change the way you live, bring you above the quarrels of those who do not have that experience.

In the experience of God is contentment – no matter the storms that swirl about you.  In the experience of God the words of God are fulfilled in you.

Yes, we are made to taste and see God.  In this we understand St. Athanasius who said, “God became man so that man might become God.”  Yes, we will see that we dwell in God, that we are One with God – divided and lost no more.  Does Jesus not show us exactly this!!!

Taste and see.

Shalom.

Oh, Goody!  U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, (Democrat, N.Y.) is introducing legislation today to decriminalize marijuana under federal law.  It is reported that in the legislation there will be special federal funding to assist women, racial minorities and homosexuals in entering the marijuana business.  (Apparently, hetrosexual White males do quite well in this business as is.)

Chuck Schumer.  What a guy!  Wears his eyeglasses on the tip of his nose (the old Ben Franklin look).  My pause with Dear Charles rest on this: bifocals, Chuckie!!!  We are way past the 18th Century, Charles – come and join us.  By the way, be careful with the kite and the metal key in thunderstorms … don’t want you getting hurt.

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.

… 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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