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Happy Easter!!!

“… dying he has destroyed our death, and rising her has restored our life.”

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There is no human life on earth that is not subject to sin and death.  Sin fractures relationships with others and indeed fragments our very self.  Death is “that ubiquitous reaper.”  But Christ changes that default setting that bedevils man and woman, child and adult.

Christ on the Cross redeems each of us from sin and neuters the dread of death, the pain of this mortal exodus.  In Christ we are upright in soul and being – sin does not imprison and death does not threaten.

In Christ we have a whole new existence – human wholeness, spiritual expanse, contentment, strength, truth, humility, certainty amid the unknown, community, friendship everlasting.  In Christ, all troubles teach and insight and wisdom abounds, patience too.

In Christ, love prevails as love is practiced in all manner of life’s encounters.

Imagine a culture in which consciousness of Christ was for each of us – the substance of each daily transaction, each moment, each idle hour, each day month after month, year after year.  Imagine Western Civilization restored to its formative reality – Imagine America and Americans at their historic best – humble, compassionate, brave, sacrificial, honorable, hardworking, strong, independent, dignified, sober, gentle, just, forgiving, confident, grateful for each day and each breath, faithful and kind.

The worm, Friends, is turning.  We have gone too long divided, disgruntled, angry, joyless, self-serving and without Christ.

The truth of the matter is quite simple – we need not “fundamentally alter America.”  Those who think this are mistaken, ignorant of many things – and in need of faith.  For them we might pray.

Shalom.

 

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Christians are meant to be the continuing revelation of God’s Son through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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While our challenges may be many and run deep within us, our country and our culture, our task is quite clear: to be the continuing revelation of Christ in this world.

What makes this task initially challenging is that we are (independent of God) merely humans and as such we get angry, become busy, self-absorbed, weary and preoccupied.

Look about, many are angry (especially those in the secular Left – the socialists, Communists and radicals).  Confrontation can be quite hostile, even physical.

What is one to do?  Remain calm.  Be soft-spoken.  Avoid anger.  Simply respond quietly.  Perhaps take up your calling to speak to others of the truth of the Gospels.  Our task is to share Christ with others, to quell the hostility – defuse the anger.

In our most trying times – it is the peace of Christ which resides in us and gives us voice, courage and wisdom.  Yes, the peace of Christ in troubled times.

Shalom.

Postscript – Those who dislike Trump make their position known in rather intense and obvious ways,  We see this with Democrat Members of Congress and the news and celebrity class.  But few people ask: How did we elect Trump?

Well the news of the very wealthy in business, law and entertainment paying huge amounts of money to get their “little darlings” into once “elite” colleges tells you exactly why we have Donald Trump as President.  The elites live separately from the vast majority of all other Americans.  They live (as the Clintons so clearly do) above and apart from the vast sea of working Americans who pay their taxes without loopholes and privileges.

The arrogance of elites elected Trump, and their elected state, local and national representatives go one better – they ignore the will of the common voter on borders, the national deficit, abortions, illegal immigration, the Second Amendment, education, religion and all manner of Leftist (i.e., socialist and Communist) public policy.

This is a divide that creates very real problems.

 

Liberalism moves … toward radical individualism and the corruption of standards that the movement entails.  By destroying traditional social habits of the peopleby dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified … Liberalism can prepare its way for … the artificial, mechanized or brutalized control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos.

Robert H. Bork, Sloughing Toward Gomorrah; Modern Liberalism and American Decline

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Bork makes the case that modern liberalism (as distinguished from classical or traditionalism) is destroying America.  It is an impressive case.  Yet, I see few in politics (but for some conservatives) who make this case.  And, I see few in politics who represent traditional or classical liberals and offer thoughtful opposition to modern liberalism.

Likewise, I see few clerics, few in the media, in academia or the law who offer a critique of modern liberalism and school us as to the damage it has done and is doing.

Recently I watched a documentary that purported to explain the political mess in Washington whereby collaboration and congeniality among liberals and conservatives has ceased. The documentary blamed the paralysis on Americans who held traditional values and ignored the ruckus caused by proponents of modern liberalism.  It ignored the fact that for every action there is a reaction.  Such blindness does not help.

In looking briefly at Bork’s criticism of modern liberalism one might see what the documentary misses:

  • corruption of standards: think FBI and the Justice Department as each has been revealed to us
  • destroying traditional social habits of the people: think the destruction of the family, the dispatch of religion from the public square, abortion, infanticide and the hyper-sexualization of culture
  • dissolving the natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes: think identity politics
  • licensing the opinions of the most foolish: think cable news, TV networks, major metropolitan newspapers, and attention given the views of “entertainment” celebrities
  • substituting instruction for education: think Leftist ideology and the indoctrination centers that primary and secondary schools and colleges have become
  • encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom: think late-night and midday television “pundits”
  •  the upstart rather than the qualified: think Ocasio-Cortez and her cohort
  • artificial, mechanized or brutalized control: think of national health care, the Green New Deal, Venezuela and the attack on the U.S. Constitution.

Sloughing to Gomorrah indeed.

Shalom.

 

 

 

In his inimitable, frank language, Epictetus explained that his curriculum was not about “revenues or income, or peace or war, but about happiness and unhappiness, success and failure, slavery and freedom.”

James Bond Stockdale, in Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior

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Navy fighter pilot James Stockdale is the only three star Admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy to have spent years of captivity in solitary confinement as a prisoner of war and become a recipient of the Congressional Metal of Honor.

He holds a graduate degree in philosophy from Stanford University where his focus was on the Stoic philosophers, Epictetus included.

Epictetus, as the above indicates, maintained a school in Rome the purpose of which was to produce students who could speak of philosophical ideas without “idle” babble. As he said “Let others practice lawsuits, others study problems, others syllogisms: here you practice how to die, how to be enchained, how to be racked, how to be exiled.”

Mind you he lived in a harsh time.  Indeed, he was a slave who gained his freedom.  He faced (as did many) a hard life with great risk.  His desire was to help others find a way to live well in the midst of real challenges.  Philosophy was his vehicle – as it was with Admiral Stockdale.

Epictetus thought that a person was responsible for his own “judgments, even in dreams, in drunkenness, and in melancholy madness.”  His view was that each person brings about his own good, his own evil, good or ill fortune, his happiness or unhappiness.  He held the view that to be a victim one must consent to victimhood and that in virtue is serenity.  Indeed, how we chose to live our daily life was key to our contentment, wisdom, survival and prosperity.

Why do I write of this today?  To raise the point that we are not captive to the language and conditions of secular culture.  As human beings we have a sacred autonomy that allows us to author a life that is positive and strong in the face of what seems hard, unjust, dismissive, hurtful, disrespectful, faithless and harsh.

We are made to know our freedom, dignity, happiness and autonomy and to encourage and respect others who possess precisely that same nature as we do.  Seems to me we could use a good deal of what Epictetus is “selling.”

Be well.

Shalom.

 

 

A rainy overcast day, mist in the mountains, a warm fire and classical music quiets and settles the day.  Peace on earth.

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The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not, like some well in a retired and shady place.  What he is when left to himself and to his God, that is his true self.

John Henry Newman, in Parochial and Plain Sermons

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Do you see the steady stream of frantic people in public life – the “advocates” and well-financed, tax-exempt self-named guardians of this position or that, this category or that.

All this urgency and crude public displays – the name-calling and demonizing.  Why do we listen to this nonsense?  These are troubled souls.  They live life of distress and hostility certain that they have the “correct view” of everything.  Look, too, at the publicly elected Leftist politicians – perpetually in a state of anger and 100 percent certainty that their view is correct and that those who hold a varied opinion are to be labeled negatively – even if those in disagreement are many in number.  Law-makers, advocates and the like readily demean and dismiss others by name-calling like “basket of deplorables;” yet, they tell us that they are morally superior without the slightest notion that their view of others is hardly morally upright.

What I see in these public advocates and their certainty is far from the hidden peace that John Henry Newman identifies.

What Newman describes is the person of faith who is at ease in this world.  One who attends to problems without losing his or her peace, civility, humility, certain knowledge God governs man and not man who governs God.

Yes, our greatest calamities arise for those frantic advocates who in their certainty make enemies of those who disagree with them.  Their disposition alone as well as their hostile temperament ought say clearly to you: these are not people worth being listened to … too frantic, certain, angry, exclusionary and agitated.  Their frenzied nature speaks to the disaster that awaits in their proposals for radical “change.”

Seek your hidden place … it is sane and reassuring there.

Shalom.

 

Insanity is contagious.

Joseph Heller, in Catch 22

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Well, New Year’s Eve.  Resolutions, hopes and all that stuff.   Me?  I’d like a lot less insanity … and I lot more quiet.

Elizabeth Warren (of the high cheek bones) has announced she has formed and “exploratory” committee to assess whether or not she should run for President.

Oh, goody!

We need a faux Indian princess for President – especially one who is utterly unable to present herself to others but that she is screaming with the crinkled-up face that not even a mother could love.

Gee, I hope Lizzie does the old Cal Coolidge thing and dons the War Bonnet that created that infamously odd-ball photo of the taciturn Yankee (who, by the way was alsonot related to any American Indian).   History could be made, People!

Suggestion to the Princess: have the Exploratory Committee look for your husband.

The guy is M.I.A.  Frankly, I think in reality he is the “Invisible Man” from comic book lore.  Yes, when you think of sacred bliss with the Princess – being invisible qualifies for the heading “some guys have all the luck.”

Then there are the endless radio ads telling us of do-good community efforts – like early January 1st a.m. free rides for the completely intoxicated New Year’s Eve party-goers.

Imagine how many of these guys get dumped off at a house that isn’t their’s …

Yep, do-gooders … ain’t they something.

How about the do-gooder ad that introduces us to a guy (“Louie” who sounds about a half-step away from a dead-end) who tells us with glee that he had not paid his taxes in years and some do-good operation interceded and Ol’ Louie’s got out from under a huge debt just like that … shazzam!  Magic, I tell you!!!

Doesn’t that just make you so happy to have fully paid your taxes all these years!  After all, think of all we got to finance all the “great” things Father Government has done – all the efficiency and perfection they have authored.  Wow.

Louie missed out on being part of all that.  Poor Louie – that’s missing “all the good experiences” taxpayers have!

My hope for the future?  Fewer lunatics in public life, fewer people stampeding to “do-good” since their efforts are often less helpful than they think – and more humility, more responsible people who mind their own business and leave others alone, smaller government, fewer “advocates” of their particular insanity or fetish, fewer people who desire to “change” the world or make everything “better.”

Give me humility, responsibility, less non-stop public chatter and end to talking heads and CNN, MSNBC, PBS, CBS and the rest, and a renewed habit of wrapping fish in the likes of our “leading” newspapers.  Quiet would be just fine.

The alternative?  I join Yossarian in the hospital censoring out-going mail of all words but conjunctions.

Shalom.

Deconstructionism … is the last, predictable, stage in the suppression of reason and the denial of the possibility of truth …

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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No borders.  Families without fathers.  Random mass murders.  Opiate deaths. Aborting a child in the womb as a “choice.”  Thirteen genders.  White men as “the problem.”   “Equality” as the Holy Grail.  Being a “victim” and capitalizing on it.  Leftist government making permanent dependents of more and more.  Uncontrolled national debt.  Targeting police officers for execution.  Millions of illegal immigrants living here while others wait years for legal entry.

Election supervisors who can’t count or adhere to the law, lose thousands of ballots and conveniently find more that are favorable to their political preferences.  A socialist member of Congress who thinks that the three “chambers” of government are the President, the Senate and the House.   A lily white woman who fabricated an American Indian lineage to “get ahead.” Proponents of “sanctuary” cities who shelter the lawless and pass the cost of the taxpayer.  The godlessness.  Advocates of “free” everything.  Women at war with men.  The permanent division by race.  Same sex “marriage.”  The presumption of guilt attaching to a man – the presumption of innocence extinguished.  Legislating from the Bench – judicial activism.  Waste and redundancy in government. Entrenched partisans in a bloated bureaucrary. The exile of faith from the public square.  The destruction of education.  The loss of a free and independent press and news media.  Letting non-citizens and convicted felons vote so the Left can gain power.  Disdain for our heritage, the Constitution, liberty, and the “old White men” who gave us our freedom – and for all the men between then and now who fought and died for us.  Disregard for our Flag and our history.

The denial of American exceptionalism.

It is Thanksgiving and we live now in a culture where the Democrats, Leftists, Marxists, and anarchists wish to dissolve this Great Nation.  We are at a critical stage – death or survival.  

When you break bread tomorrow – think about this. 

Shalom.

Follow me and allow the dead to bury their own dead.

Matt 8:22

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Let the dead bury the dead.  This phrase has followed me for some time.

As you recall these are the words of Jesus to a man who he encouraged to follow him.  The man’s hesitance led him to say he first wanted to go home to his father and Jesus gave him the above rely.

What does this say?  Well it is an emphatic way of saying that those who are spiritually dead are to be left to their own dilemmas and those who are spiritually alive are invited to be with Jesus.

Frankly, this is no less valid today than it was when Jesus spoke these words.

I am sure that you have tried to help people along the way and probably done so often and attended to those in need over a lengthy period of time – only to see that the person in need never made much progress – but rather remained in the same situation in which they sat when you first began to walk with them, help them, encourage them.

Let the dead bury the dead.

Many among us simply refuse to live in the spirit.  They neglect their spiritual development.  Often the are stuck in a dependent state – many times on the public dole.  Indeed, sustaining “hand-outs” very frequently instills dependence that kills the spirit and results in a life being far, far less than it it could be.  This is very much the difference between socialism and the “nanny state” and a free society that offers help but expects those helped to become responsible for their own welfare and well-being.

In a spiritually healthy society – there are NO “handouts” – only “hand-ups.”

Better to give a person a hand-up than a hand out.  The former enlivens the spirit.  The latter kills the spirit.  The former develops adults and the latter sustains the immature.

Let the dead bury the dead.  You cannot push a car up a hill with a rope.

Shalom.

Our birth is an invitation to our gifts, a call to immersion in the Absolute, with the possibility of our ultimate transformation through contact with the Divine.  (Emphasis added.)

Wayne Teasdale, in A Monk in the World

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Think for a moment.  Our birth a sacred offering, a call to God and our God-given gifts.  Our birth as the opportunity to be subsumed by God.

Our birth is the ultimate and only way to our full development from physical being to a whole human –  spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and morally  … and to a complete life, one of context and contentment, of peace, understanding and tranquility.

What do we do with this gift?  Abort it before a child’s birth?  Could there be no greater proclamation of our fallen state than to kill an unborn child and fight for the opportunity to do so?  Could there be any greater rejection of God and the sacred gift of life that aborting an unborn child?

Think about what this says of contemporary American life.  Can this be who we wish to be?  Does this not denigrate women and their extraordinary sacred call to carry life within them?

Knowing women to be so special and so critical to men, and children, and family, and morality, and faith, and decency, and this country – I cannot imagine this is what any women would wish to be known by.

God help us all.

Shalom.

Thumping.  The behavior of the Democrats in the last few days suggest that think they may get a trumping – that is, do far short of what they touted they would.  The Blue Wave might be an ocean spray.  Politics.  Strange business.  Lots of propaganda paraded out as truth.  Ummmm … No wonder people are skeptical.

 

… it is no sin to live a silent life …

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

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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I live as a monk … on a ridge at the edge of a forest and beside a large slopping pasture that sits at the bottom of a mountain range now in full autumn color posed against the blue November sky bolstered by the chill of brisk fall wind.

I live a quiet distance from a mass communication culture where those thrust ceaselessly at us are merchants of division, animosity, confusion, superficiality, self-interest and considerable ignorance.

A monk is counter-cultural.  His separation defines his values.  To stand outside the culture that divorces itself from God, that knows not sanctity, that neglects the spirit within us is to separate from disorder, to see the culture critically and keep peace with the Divine.

My cottage is my cloister where I may select what I read, hear, or see – a place where I may keep company with my thoughts and prayers and the things of a God who gave us our existence.

Having been planted on “the wrong side of the tracks” as a child, I was made ready to stand apart, to sustain a critical objectivity that refused “transient fashions and manifest absurdities.”  Leaving them was never to have fancied them at all.  Yes, it was a grace that liberates and leads me here.

In a solitary existence one finds the conditions for a full life, and life’s meaning – that is:

  • interior exploration and its sacred products – freedom, understanding and depth of being
  • the peace and health of silence and solitude
  • distance from distraction and disorder
  • contact with the Divine and what is Divine.

So I say (with emphasis added) what Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B. says in Essential Monastic Wisdom –  “…  find some where a place of silence and creativity, where one can listen to the voice of God and think one’s thoughts and be one’s own self.

Shalom.

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