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Begin the morning in the dark and quiet again – but there is a glimpse of sunrise to come where the clouds have parted.  In the background the chants of the Monks from the Monastery of St. Ottilien.  Peace is in the air … beautiful, eternal, above all mortal being.

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” … at last bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”

Gen 2:23

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We have lost our way and make grave errors that antagonize and divide, make us enemies in the most fundamental areas of our life – in the most sacred areas – places from which our happiness, joy, and contentment – meaning and purpose are meant flow.

Perhaps no area of error and divergence is any greater than that of  understanding man and woman – understanding their sacred identity and divine value.

God willed the creation of man and woman.  They share perfect equality, one to the other.  Each possess inalienable dignity as they are made to be.  Efforts of any kind to subvert this are reckless, utterly destructive, contrary to nature, God’s will and doomed to fail.

Men treat women as your equal, revere them, protect them, defend them.  Women, see your extraordinary dignity, your special gifts, your most cherished honor to bear a child and love so deeply.

In creating man and woman as helpmates to one another, we see God’s wisdom and goodness.  Together in Holy Matrimony we see God’s image – – – God as pure spirit, pure and steadfast love, and union with us.

Men and women: marry and honor your pledge of union.  No absent fathers.  No single mothers.  No out-of-wedlock births.  No more abortions.  No more rebellion against God.

Men and women are made for one another – as a communion of persons in the intimate manner in which God is unified with the human person.  Two as one – complimentary to one another.  One flesh, “bone of my bone.”

As one we are entrusted with creating new life – sharing in God’s work of divine Creation.  In this we have personal responsibility for the world around us: how it will be, what it will do  – whether it is dominated by Good or Evil, Truth or Lie, Life or Death.

Does not our faith and heritage give question to “same sex marriage,” to “multiple genders” and a self-claim to gender?

Shalom.

Prayer for the Dying

All-powerful and merciful Father, in the death of Christ you have opened a gateway to eternal life.  Look kindly upon Margaret McCurdy is suffering her last agony.  United to the passion and death of your Son, and saved by the blood He shed, may she come before You with confidence.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Your prayers for Margaret McCurdy are welcome.

 

 

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There is an internal longing for harmony and happiness that lies deeper than ordinary fear or the desire to escape misery or physical destruction.

Czeslaw Milosz, in The Captive Mind

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The politics of the Left in American today fuels anger, conflict, division and violence.  It does not seek to heal but rather to dominate and destroy those who disagree with them.  They proceed just as Milosz saw under Communist rule in Poland and Eastern Europe.

Today in American, Czeslaw Mislosz would likely be persona non grata among those on the Left for he appealed not to hate and hostility but to our better human nature: the divinely planted desire for harmony and happiness.

Would not this nation excel if we sought first harmony with others?  Of course it would.  But first we must say to those who shout, malign, insult and act out violently: “Stop – calm down – are we not brothers and sisters, neighbors, friends?”

The fever pitch is far too loud today.  The angry voices of the Left are breaking bonds that hold us together.  The distance between the privileged elites and the common person is far too great.  Those on top act in isolation and expect others to conform to their wishes despite any discomfort those wishes might cause in the life condition and circumstances of those without privilege.

Those in power forget that communities are built on relationships from which trust and fellowship flow, and harmony is the common treasure.

Nothing would become us more at this moment in American history than to say to those who shout: “Be quiet, sit down – let’s share a table and a meal and talk about things we have in common and the harmony and happiness that we each seek because God made us good and wishes our relationship with Him and one another.

Think about this.  Reach out.  Practice harmony.

Our present task: restoration of this culture.

Shalom.

September 11, 2017 – Remember the World Trade Center

Sixteen Years Ago Today

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” … the attempt to live … faith while one upholds the law should command respect, not evoke concern.”

Rev. John Jenkins, in a Letter to U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (September 9, 2017)

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Sixteen years since 9-11.  We have changed.  Then we were one, now less so.

Fr. Jenkins is President of the University of Notre Dame.  His letter to Senator Feinstein was prompted when she and Senators Franken and Durbin questioned the place of faith in the life of Law Professor Ann Coney Barrett who has been nominated to assume a Federal judgeship.

Ms. Barrett is a Catholic and was asked questions that reflected the view of Feinstein and others that her faith made her a “suspect” nominee.

Frankly, I was stunned by the ignorance and lawlessness of Feinstein and her colleagues.

We have moved far from where we were as a nation sixteen years ago when the World Trade Center was attacked by radical Muslims who commandeered commercial airliners and flew them into the two Trade Center buildings.  Then, we were one nation under God. The attack filled churches and knitted communities together.  Faith solidified us.

Now we are a divided nation with the divide very much this: the Believers and the Unbelievers – God and the godless … or those whose primacy is faith and those whose primacy is ideology, politics and power.

The absence of faith is devastating – especially when we face the hostility of those without faith and those fueled by a radical expression of faith.

Today is a good day to reflect on who we have become and who we must be.

Our unity sixteen years ago made us one nation.  Now some among us question the need for borders, a subliminal rejection of the worth of our country. The message is clear: some do not believe that the United States is worth preserving.

Our nation’s founders created a Constitution that is as much a document to protect and further our individual and collective spiritual existence as it is a political document.

We see now sixteen years after 9-11 that when faith fades, a nation such as ours is attacked from within.

We had best take the measure of who we are.

Compare today with our snapshot on that fateful day: September 11, 2001. Which do you prefer: a nation as one, or a divided country with some intent on destroying what we have and who we are?

Shalom.

 

Technical knowledge is not enough.  One must transform techniques so that the art becomes artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

D. T. Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture

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How do you fully live?  Yes, how do you access and activate the unconscious – awaken the essence of the human legacy?  Same question really.

He met the conformity of culture as structured by man but never conceded its control over his breathing, his heartbeat, his life here – as it preceded him and stretched into eternity.

He always had one foot outside the box.  His wry comments and independent judgment kept him free and gave him a sharper vision than most.  He saw behind the silk scene – people, after all, were not clever in concealing their shallow and predictable motives.

He was not often fooled.

Having access to the unconscious, getting to know it in detail made his life art – artless art, a movie from birth to mortal death … and then the everlasting sequel, a seat above in the presence of a warm May sun.

He was never much for formulas.  A blank canvas was more his comfort. Something to write on, to scribble freehand what came to heart, mind, wrist and hand.  Free flowing.

Operating on the margin of the box – turning the rules into sources of amusement and dismemberment so to say: “You do not have me yet.”  Life in the present structures as a game of escape and evasion, lest he suffocate, dry up and become weak and brittle.

Victory.  Life as artless art in all its ease, in each breath, in listening, hearing and seeing.

The experience of experience in its full range – from joy to sorrow and back again, never a dark day in triumph over the warmth of the sun reflected in the others, the friends, the children, love, laughter, kindness, the beauty, the quiet, the memories, the experience in yesterday and today.

… artless art …

Shalom.

The Holiness of Rain

The rain falls hard today in the mountains.  Hard enough to give it voice, a steady presence in a quiet room.  There is a peace in its persistence.  It seems to “hush” with its music, its patter –  coupled with its consistent, rhythmic din.  To match rain, the skies are close in; clouds and their gray dim the light as if to call us within.  Peace is at hand.  God visits today.  Being alone takes on its holiness, forcing the Truth of God’s eternal, everyday – day and night, year in and year out existence.

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” … my … pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself … I know I have seen what I was obscurely looking for.  I don’t know what else remains but I have now seen and pierced through the surface and have got beyond the shadow and the disguise.”

Thomas Merton

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These are Merton’s words upon visiting a cave adjacent to the ruins of ancient temple buildings near Polonnaruwa, Ceylon, and entering the cave to find large renderings of human beings and a giant reclining Buddha.

He felt in this excursion into this place an “inner clarity.”  He referred to this as “an aesthetic illumination” allowing him to see “beyond the shadow and the disguise.”

This was Thomas Merton’s last journey.  He was to die at 58 in a matter of days.

Is your life a pilgrimage?  Do you seek what you are created to seek.  Or are you captured by what is not Truth, not of the soul, of God, or of your divine nature?

Do not let the thought-police take you captive.  Your warden is a Loving Father.

For Merton the great stone figures were “in full movement,” beautiful and holy.

How does the world look to you?  What do you see?  Hear?  Feel?  Experience in the rain and the clouds?  Do you see “full movement” in motionless stones?

Shalom.

… the first Christian hermits abandoned the cities of the pagan world to live in solitude.

Thomas Merton, in The Wisdom of the Desert

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Why does a man live alone in nature, removed from the population and the city?

‘Tis a useful question.

As for the 4th century men who did so we can say, as Merton does, that they sought their salvation, saw its individual characteristic and their own responsibility for its solicitation.

Indeed, they saw that the pagan society that they knew offered little to further their salvation.  Rather, they concluded that it impeded access to it.

These men would not let the ways and values of the pagan culture destroy them, co-opt them.

They took no comfort in the Cross becoming part of the presiding temporal powers.  This, itself, is particularly interesting.  They seemed to know that civil matters where not spiritual in nature, that to The Divine alone belongs the primacy.

Think for a moment: these men saw Christian life as spiritual, as “extramundane” – as simply existing in the Mystical Body of Christ … and they saw that their responsibility was to seek life in Christ.

These men stood for the idea that man was personally responsible for his life and what it said of him and of God.  

Contrast that with today – when so many are captured by the common denominators of secular culture, its herd, its folly, its untruth and its destructive, conflictive and unsatisfying ways.

These men did not wish to be ruled by the decadence.  They did not see themselves, mind you, as superior to others but rather only more intent on living in accord with their faith. They lived socially in aid of one another and strangers as governed by their faith and “the charismatic authority of wisdom, experience and love.”  They “sought … their own true self, in Christ.”

Today I live on a ridge looking out on rolling pastures, forest, and mountains. Minutes ago the sun rose in the East over mountain peaks announcing once again that God reigns eternally …

Each sunrise – unique in its colors and hues – raises up God the Creator … enkindles my gratitude.

In my solitude, quiet makes the music so much sweeter and evocative.  In the solitude, I think of God in a daily silence, and meet the Desert Fathers.  In solitude, I have good company.

Shalom.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But He answered and said, “… Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

Matt 4: 3-4

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This passage conveys the first exchange between Jesus and Satan after Jesus had concluded a 40 day fast alone in the desert.

Satan, as evil does, chose to exploit Jesus by addressing His hunger.  That is, giving Him something good and essential when he was vulnerable.  But Jesus knew that something more than bread was necessary for life, namely – that man’s spiritual needs were foremost.

This is a wisdom lesson that must be at the center of your orientation to the world. If it is so, you will not fall prey to Marxist foolishness or let a government make you a “dependent” who is consigned to idleness, and subservience.   In a word, you will not be trapped in the Democrat notion of life-long dependency … a state that empowers them at grave detriment to you. Indeed, your God-given dignity demands more of you, and more from you.

In simple terms: you are God’s child and valuable as such. It follows that you can work and know the achievement and pride of human toil, honest work and caring for your family.

Dependency, in contrast, is no substitute for fulfillment of a life that God has given to you for good use.

A significant fact often left out in this Biblical account is this: at the time Jesus lived, the Roman Empire distributed bread to promote goodwill for Caesar and his empire.  Free bread advanced his interests but did not satisfy the deepest needs of people to know their value, know their Creator and find strength, confidence, independence and solace in a relationship with God, their Creator.

Does this story not serve us today in our culture, in how we are governed, and how we understand our humanity and God’s divinity?

You know the answer.

Is it any wonder that bread figures into the Passover meal and our communion offering of bread and wine?  Again, the question answers itself.

Attend to government and political parties the way Jesus attended to Satan.  Do not forfeit what God has made in you.  Live in dignity and honor.  Expect excellence from yourself.

Shalom.

Comment – This blog initially focused on living faith in contemporary secular culture.  Out of necessity and because politics and the nation state have become a dominant aspects of living exclusionary secular, it has morphed into a blog on the faith, politics, culture and the individual.  Please share Spirlaw with those who may be interested in the content of this rather unusual blog. Thank you.

The world is wilder in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright.  We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

Annie Dillard, in Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek

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Do you recall the story in the Gospel of Luke (Chapter 7) where the Roman Centurion hears of Jesus and sends Jewish elders to ask Jesus to come to “save the life of his slave?”

Well, the elders approach Jesus and urge him to come to the Centurion to save the slave and they argue that the Centurion deserves this because “he loves our nation, and he built the synagogue for us.”

Jesus went with them to the Centurion’s home but when he was a short distance from the home, the Centurion sent his friends to tell Jesus, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof … I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.”

This amazed Jesus and He said, ” … not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

When the messengers returned to the Centurion’s home they found the slave restored to good health.

The Centurion heard of Jesus.  To hear is to listen, to receive.  Do you listen?  Do you receive?

How did he hear so well, listen so intently?  How did he have this predicate to receive?

The Centurion knew the world was wild in all directions.  Knowing this, he heard and he listened and he received.  He knew it to be bitter and dangerous, extravagant and bright. In this, he heard, and listened, and received; he experienced life.  This led him to Christ.  It is our predicate as it was his.

How about you?  Do you listen?  Hear?  Receive?  Experience?  Seek Christ? Rely on Him? Grow in humility and in reverence, gratitude, belief, become whole, certain, fearless?

Make hay, or make whoopee?  Raise tomatoes, or raise Lazarus?

It’s on you, Friend.

Shalom.

Tomorrow: Exploring the Centurion.

Merry Christmas!!!

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Above the Mist

Today I have just begun to see vaguely the mountain tops above the mist in the valleys below.

Today I realized I have learned how to write

because I have learned how to live.

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God bless you one and all, and all the little children – and this Great Land.

Shalom.

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

Thomas Jefferson

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We are a federal republic, with autonomous states.  We are not intended to be a central government with all power and authority vested in it.

Power and authority rests closer to the citizen in the autonomous states.  The locality and its citizens matter – all problems are in some real way local, where people reside.

When each state and locality tackles its problems, it creates a fertile template for innovation and “best practices,” is more efficient, less wasteful and less costly.

Indeed, all power not expressly devolved to the federal apparatus is reserved to the states and all power given to either the states or the federal apparatus rest with the sovereigns (the lawful American citizen) as they derive that sovereignty from the grant and grace of God.

This is who we are.  This is our heritage.

But alas the Democrat Party of the Left takes a different view and so doing changes who we are, and reduces the citizen to serf (insignificant pawns) in favor of securing power and a lifetime career of controlling others – those once free Americans.

From the Great Depression to the present we have got it wrong, and power has been transferred to the federal apparatus while states and citizens have been ever more captive to the workings of centralized power.  Yes, a stage ripe for tyranny and a loss of liberty.

Most bad government comes from too much government.

A strong nation requires a strong and virtuous people: a citizenry that cares more about equal responsibility than equal rights, who rely on a sovereign God and live in that reality.

Anything less does not live in faith, within a balanced budget or a free enterprise system, with the sanctity of marriage, family, children and the unborn, with respect for private property and one another, in community with civil discourse; nor does it live by the maxim that each generation is responsible for discharging the debt it has accumulated.

We face today not just foreign threat and domestic infiltration – but a fundamental question of who we are, and who we will be?

Will we live as we were constructed to live by our Founders, or will we radically change who we are?

Will God be welcomed and at the center of our understanding of our citizenship and our responsibilities?

Will we be, individually and collectively, neighbors who watch out for one another?

Strong and honest?  Courageous?  Humble?  Thankful?  Hard working? Responsible?

Grateful to be alive and be an American?  Willing to stand up to those who wish our demise, our captivity, our destruction?

Think about it.  We are at a crossroads.

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?  Forbid it, Almighty God.

Patrick Henry

Shalom.

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