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Jesus said … “Did I not say that if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”

Jn 11:39

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Here Jesus speaks to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, after Lazarus has died and been laid to rest in his tomb.

You see those who assembled around Martha and her sister Mary questioned why Jesus (who had opened the eyes of the blind man) did not keep their friend Lazarus from death.

We live in a period where “unbelief” is widespread and where, absent believe, individuals and groups attempt to secure their ends sans faith and God.

In a milder form this was the sentiment of those who doubted Jesus was the Messiah … and began to question His identity at Lazarus’ death.  These people favored their desired outcome, and doubted Jesus.  We do precisely this today.  We are of little faith.  We “go it alone” and seek our fractured ends.  Godless we create a mess, elevate ourselves to heights of foolishness and descend to the depths of chaos, uncertainty, hostility, destruction, dishonesty and folly.  Without belief – we destroy the gifts we have been given.  Shame on us.

We had best learn the lesson of Lazarus’ death.  Living in doubt of God – we have done great damage.  Shame on us.

Stay strong in faith.  Turn from those who, not believing, destroy.

Shalom.

Yesterday’s Congressional Hearing – Witness Peter Strzok of the FBI and the howling Members of the Congress in the minority party showed what godlessness looks like – what life without belief sounds like.  Poor Mr. Strzok – smug, self-righteous.  Members of the minority – chaotic, even childish.  Net: dignity absent – humility, maturity and belief in short supply. 

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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.

 

His presence is affirmed and adored by the absence of everything else.  He is closer to us than we are to ourselves, although we do not see Him.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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There are times for each of us that we feel absolutely alone.  Sometimes this feeling lasts for a long period of time.  We may have lost someone we loved, or have grown old and know that our grown children now are absorbed by their family’s needs and their work.

Maybe we have endured illness alone, or are retired and feel adrift.  Perhaps we have lost a friendship or been excluded by others.  In these times we feel lost and abandoned – very alone and lonely.

Yet, in these times that we are alone, we are alone with God.  In this state we may have been cleansed of things that we sought as if they were the Divine, the source of our meaning and purpose.  Things, no matter how good they are, are NOT God.

Yes, in those lonely moments we are with God and God is with us.  These stark moments are precisely the time that you can come to realize that all the things you loved and became accustomed to – kept you from an intimate, eternal relationship with God, your Father and Creator.  These lonely times are really a time of turning, of discovery – a time to draw closer to God, to come to know God as the center of your life, the source of your being.

In what seems like loss is, properly considered, gain of the one thing – that which endures, stabilizes, gives meaning and purpose, restores contentment and offers joy.  So often the things we have depended upon come to show us that they are not God, not what is most satisfying and most important to our happiness and existence.

Fear not, God is near – God is always near.

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.

 

 

 

… she seated herself at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching …

Lk 10:39

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Here we refer to Mary of Bethany, who sat at Jesus feet listening to His words, His teaching while her sister Martha prepared a meal for others.

As you recall, Martha complained to Jesus that her sister sat while she worked.  And you likely recall that Jesus remarked that Mary chose the better way.

We in this Nation are, in my opinion, at the most significant historical point in my lifetime of 72-plus years.  We face today a political, moral and spiritual crisis which I believe to be the most ominous threat to our existence that we have faced.

There are those among us who seek to secularize us completely, to disgorge us of faith and morality, substitute socialism for free market capitalism, concentrate power in Washington, regulate human behavior, thinking, and opinion, and institute a government of a small and privileged ruling class.

So why reference Mary of Bethany at the feet of Jesus?  Well, because there is a profound and urgent lesson in this story.  The lesson?  Our welfare, security, prosperity, peace and the preservation of this unique free nation, built on belief in God coupled with freedom, can best be maintained by listening to the Word of God, being guided by it and incorporating it into our life and political views.

“If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.  Out of his inmost being will flow rivers of living water.”

Jn: 37-38

Shalom.

 

 

When you learn to be alone you’ll discover the difference between alone and lonely.

L. J. Vanier, in Ether: Into the Nemesis

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Coming to the ability to be alone is like climbing a very steep and very high mountain with tough terrain and turbulent weather.  Yes, being alone is not the first thing we come to embrace – more like the last thing we come to embrace.

I used to dread being alone.  Why?  I just lost so many people in my childhood – it was like being in battle and seeing those on your side, those you needed disappear leaving you with dwindling odds for survival.

Yes, loss at an early age is a serious awakening that brings more fright than confidence.

But then there is age.  When you have weathered many storms, you somehow grow in strength and confidence.  You can only bury so many people before you realize “you are still standing … and each battle has made you wiser and stronger … and ready for the final days whenever they appear.”

At some point being alone is tolerable and supplies you a state of peace that awakens you spiritually.  At some point, alone comes to mean God, what is eternal and joins you with those long gone but not missing really.

When you can be alone and yet with the others you have known, you have approached the summit.  At the peak of the climb there is no sadness, no loneliness – just the fruits of the hard climb up the craggy mountain.

Some people never climb the mountain.  In this the mountain becomes a demon and fear settles deep in the valley of one’s soul.

For me, I’ll take the mountain and the peace it brings – brings in such an odd way of suffering and challenges.

… Jesus led them up the mountain.  There he was transfigured.

Mt 17: 1, 2

Shalom.

I urge you … that there be no divisions among you but that you be united in the same mind and same purpose … Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? … The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Cor: 10, 20, 25

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What St. Paul said so many centuries ago speaks to us today.

We seem to have the habit of nudging God from the picture.  Claiming belief, we fashion results as the author of what is good.

Humans are prone to produce division – often in the name of what is “good” or (worse yet) of our professed faith.

Wither ideology and all sorts of odd ideas like “social justice” – a cover for individual responsiblity and evidence of our pride and sinfulness.

Too many of our ideas, and the manufacture of ideology, dodge God and His instructions.  Divided from God we divide ourselves from one another.  Discord, estrangement and hostility flourish.

We make what is direct obscure.

We change the names of magnificent things like pregnancy – infanticide becomes “choice,” Holy Matrimony is befitted with fiction to excuse disordered behavior, gender is redefined and multiplied.  Absurdity abounds.

Corinth was “full of devotees of various pagan cults and marked by a measure of moral depravity.”  We are Corinth.  It best NOT be so.

Less government would be an improvement.  Less reliance on government – less political division and more individual responsibility … more space for faith and for God, and for humility and gratitude.

Shalom.

The Iran “Deal” – If Mr. Kerry wanted to see the Iran Deal made a permanent (while idiotic) achievement he’d best have encouraged Mr. Obama to make it a Treaty and get Senate approval for it.  But that would have required work.  However that didn’t seem to be Mr. Kerry or Mr. Obama’s inclination.

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.

 

Pray, for all men need the aid of the gods.

Homer, in Odyssey

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There was a time when it was common for men and women to account for the reality of God.  Homer wrote this 800 B.C.

Would that we think this way now.

There is humility and truth in what Homer wrote.  The irony, of course, is this: in our authentic humility we become more, not less – stronger, not weaker.

Alas, how that would change us for the better – improve the public dialogue, this nation and us.

Shalom.

 

 

How to hold to the moral and religious values in the face of all sorts of challenges …  What happens to people, emotionally and spiritually when they compromise certain important principles – start down the road to rationalization and self-justifications?  (Emphasis added.)

William Carlos Williams, M.D.

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These are a words of novelist and medical doctor commenting on his writing.  Like others (Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, John Cheever, etc.) Williams saw their work as novelist to be presenting the reader with questions as to their moral and spiritual development in the midst of life’s slippery slopes that fragment and damage the essence of full, healthy and honorable human development and existence.

Our culture today evokes the challenges Williams saw.  Compromises are abundant in an exclusionary secular culture that diminishes faith and prefers God be exiled.

Nothing good comes of diminished faith and life with God in exile.  And that is where we are at this time in America.

While you may be sensitive to the godless challenges posed by radical humanists – the question is posed: what do you do to sustain your healthy and full growth as a human being?  What do you do to maintain a mature emotional and spiritual state while others around you have abandoned their better instincts for selfish and injurious objectives and disposition?  How do you sink your self into quiet contemplation?  Come to the vital questions that authors like Williams and Percy and O’Connor present?

Lest you think you can rely on academics, the media, or the entertainment industry to offer this opportunity to you, I give you these words of analytical psychiatrist Robert Coles who notes: “I have seen plenty of arrogance and selfishness in … “humanistic” professions – snobbishness or self-importance and meanness or hardness of spirit in doctors … clergy … educators … the … arts…”  And he added that “Years … of education … have not prevented many … from becoming dogmatic, smug, and fiercely antagonistic to those who happen to disagree …”

Let’s face it.  You have the sacred call to grow to fullness and no one but you can see that this happens.  If your culture lacks the moral and spiritual content and character you desire – then it’s on you to attend to its failure, to correct the situation.  On you!

Shalom.

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