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There is for all of mankind but one felicity – a gracious God.

Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews 

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Well, there you go.  Written in 75 A.D.  If only we had the wisdom of Flavius Josephus!  But alas it is absent.

Nowhere in public discourse is there much thought of God, of life in the Spirit, of our historical record or wisdom of the many centuries.

No, in its place – talking heads, the chattering class of ill bred, poorly schooled, ideologues incapable of holding two contradicting ideas in their head at the same time.  And yet the most astonishing thing is this: their words pass as worthy of our attention. Who is the greater fool there?

RETREAT while you can.  Take safety in wisdom and reality.

Imagine a God of felicity – a gracious and loving God.  Such a novel thought today in this deflated culture flooded with harmful utterances and ideas.

In contrast, I can offer this.  I have never doubted that there is a God and that this God had an interest in me and all others.  That is not to say that I acted without sin, nor that I did not attempt a life of self-reliance, a life in which I acted as if it all depended on me, my efforts.  Yes, we are foolish for a time until we prove ourselves less than we think we are.

There is nothing, by the way, like tragedy and injustice, chaos whose actions abound to your loss and pain to bring you to God … and, in due time, to Flavius Josephus and his insight.

In retrospect, I can now express daily sincere gratitude for the grace to have always known there is a loving and merciful God – and that God, not man, reigns over mortal and eternal life.

After years of life, I know the valuable gift of humility, in knowing that I am His subject … and you are too.  Likewise, I know in that reality, that relationship – the priceless value of intimacy … God’s love of me, of us and our divine opportunity to love others as God loves each of us.

Imagine if we knew what Flavius Josephus knew, we would not live in fear and think in that fear of the world as governed by race, or gender, or class, or force, or power, or money, or intellect, or sex, or status, or nonsensical ideologies.

No, on the contrary – tension and anxiety would dissipate; we would know certainty, live in confidence and gratitude, know peace and fellowship.

Best of all – if we were as Flavius Josephus – there would be no place for those who spread words of hate, who divide and speak so carelessly, so ignorantly.

That, Dear Friends, is a step toward Eden and you have been given the opportunity to step toward that Paradise.  Alas, seize it … or suffer more, and continue to hurt yourself and others until you die and face this question: Why did you not take the path I gave you?

God help us all.

Shalom.

God, let the words of Flavius Josephus rest in our heart and animate our every thought and action in the confidence of your gracious and loving dominion.

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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 who 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.

 

 

A beautiful fall day in the Virginia countryside.  The fallen leaves call.  And I shall meet them in the challenge posted.

I offer a prayer for your quiet contemplation and closer walk with God.

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There is God

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Where charity and love are found, there is God.

In every flake of snow, in every grain of sand – there is God.

In the stout and stoic strength of our brother, the mountain, in the swift and sure vigor of our sister, the sea – there is God.

When the cold winds whip the head, when warm breezes brush the face – there is God.

In the darkest hours of the blackest night, in the brightest light of a golden afternoon – there is God.

When we are uplifted by the joys of victory, when we are wracked by the sorrows of defeat – there is God.

When we are surrounded by companions, when we are isolated in solitude and loneliness – there is God.

In the laughter of a friend, in the smile of a stranger – there is God.

God is always there.

Lord, grant that we may always walk with you and that we may have the peace, joy and love that is your countenance.  Amen.

Jared Sylvester, Class of 2006 – University of Notre Dame

Jared wrote this prayer while a freshman at Notre Dame.  This and many other excellent prayers can be found in Lead Kindly Light: The Notre Dame Book of Prayers.

Yes, God is alway there!  Have faith.  Maintain a steady hand and live in joy and humble confidence.  It is nothing new to swim against the currents of discontent and falsehoods.  It is the way of Christ, our Way.

Shalom.

Please feel free to share this with others who may be helped by it.

 

 

Simone Weil was a French Jewish girl with a devotion to Christ.  She was born in 1909 and died in 1943.  My wife Sylvia was taken by Simone Weil and her remarkable life in search of God.  The next few blogs I offer on Simone Weil are for you and for Sylvia whose birthday was this month.

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I always believed that the instant of death is the center and object of life.  I used to think that, for those who live as they should, it is the instant when, for an infinitesimal fraction of time, pure truth, naked, certain, and eternal, enters the soul …  I never desired any other good for myself.  I thought that a life leading to this good is not only defined by a code of morals common to all, but that for each one it consists of a succession of acts and events strictly personal to him, and so essential that he who leaves them on one side never reaches the goal(Emphasis added.)

Simone Weil, in a Letter to a Friend

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Such a cogent proposition laid upon our table.

The object of life is the exact moment of our passing for that is the moment in which we might know Truth in our soul.  

One lives for that moment by living a moral code “common to all,” and by our particular acts and our accepting the events that come to us (each uniquely personal to us) with the clear proviso if we deny the events and avoid the acts we are called to do in our mortal life we will fail to know that sublime moment when Truth is imparted to our soul in an eternal life.

Well there you have it.  Do you live the life you are given?  Do you avoid the actions required of you by the events that are brought to you?  Are you living for you, or are you living the life God has made for you?  Do you live and act in the context of a common moral code?

So we ask: Are you moral?  Do you long for Truth and eternal life?  Do you accept what God gives you and act accordingly?

Shalom.

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and change is painful. (Emphasis added.)

Flannery O’Connor, in a Letter of December 9, 1958

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We are willful.  We prefer our ways to the ways of He who made us. This one thing accounts for our disorder, and eventually to a demise.  It is for each of us the single challenge in our life.

Done well life is a process of submission to God.  Yes, we grow when we decline so He might gain. In shorter the shadow we cast, the greater we are – the healthier we become, the more certain and the calmer we are.

Look around you.  We now have organizations that work to advance selfishness, sin – one preferred method of rebellion and godlessness or another … and we have many who co-exist with those who advocate disorder and sickness.  The enablers can sink this culture, jeopardize our health and wellbeing.

The tug-of-war between good and evil is a consistent part of the human story from the beginning of time.  Flannery O’Connor reminds us in this December 1958 letter that God does not miraculously meddle in each and every human affair, rather He offers the grace to grow, mature, come to faith and meaning through life experience, the sacraments, belief, worship.  In grace we grow in dignity and our implicit responsibility is to defend and preserve the sacred value of life itself.  Yes, this may put us at odds with others … but is it not Jesus who asked: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” (Mt 12:48)

To reject grace is to reject God and life itself.

Look about.  Do you see bad being called “good?”  This is the condition of our time, and the ageless challenge: good or evil – life or death, God or His adversary?

Shalom.   

 

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.

When the apostles preached, they could assume even in their Pagan hearers a real consciousness of deserving the Divine anger.  The Pagan mysteries existed to allay this consciousness, and the Epicurean philosophy claimed to deliver men from the fear of eternal punishment.  It was against this background that the Gospels appeared as good news. (Emphasis added.)

C.S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain

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This from the chapter entitled “Human Wickedness.”  Reading it is some indictment of us today.

Think about it, Lewis notes that the Pagans 2000 years ago were conscious of their faults and thought themselves deserving of divine punishment. Further, Lewis points out that this was state of mind and consciousness that allowed the Gospels to be received as “Good News.”  

That said, one must ask: Are we anywhere close to such consciousness?  I think you know the answer.

We seem to lack the humility of the Pagans. This, I observe, is the price we pay for our intentional separation of man from God.  Indeed I would say that the last seven centuries have put us on a steady trajectory away from God and humility. Imagine having less humility than unbelievers.  Imagine today that we lack the consciousness to receive the Gospels as men and women once did when Christ appeared and Christianity flourished.  Such a thought is worthy of our contemplation.

It may well be that we need a radical abandonment of our egocentric life in favor of the humility we once possessed in earnest.  When we think less of ourselves we might think more of God.  That cannot be anything but helpful today.

Shalom.

 

 

Freud … replace(d) religion with psychology.  In this therapeutic vision, we should stop the fruitless searching for a nonexistent meaning and instead seek self-fulfillment.

Ron Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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In a section of his book (“The Triumph of Eros”) Dreher shows the overt contemporary shift in America (and Western) culture to the glorification of Self over God; and, then discusses the subsequent rise of eros which produces a dramatic divide between and Believers and non-believers and the subsequent attack on religion and those who are religious.

As sociologist Philip Rieff so simply states – the shift presents this: “Religious man was born to be saved.  Psychological man was born to be pleased.” (Emphasis added.)

As time unfolds we see that “pleasing” found its base in sexual matters: in easy no-fault divorce, lurid entertainment, contraception, abortion, “re-defining gender,” same-sex marriage, female teachers (often married with children of their own) engaged sexually with young and under-aged students, homosexuality and its advocacy, and now “transgenderism.”

Recent decades seem to have established that in an unbelieving culture “freedom” produces carnal chaos.

Yet, the shift we have witnessed has one very fundamental flaw: cultures survive when their normative institutions support and protect what is implicitly good and ordered to human prosperity and happiness.  Absent institutions which do this and culture fragments, and then eventually collapses.

You see it is a hard-sell to convince neutral listeners that bad is actually good.

Illustratively, a failure to maintain a steady growth in the birth rate will finally result in a vulnerable, aging population and extinction – first, by the way, manifest in the presence of fractured families, out-of-wedlock births, and children born to teenage mothers accompanied by the growth of a dependent class composed of able-bodied workers who have been consigned to inactivity.

Perhaps the most troubling part of what we see around us is: the ignorance of elites who do not contemplate the course of self-destruction upon which we have embarked.

As the esteemed philosopher, Canadian Charles Taylor so succinctly states:

“The entire ethical stance of moderns supposes and follows on from the death of God (and of course, of the meaning of the cosmos).” (Emphasis added.)

We live in a time of testing – of a very fundamental test and it is this: God or no God.

Yes, each of us must elect God or godlessness and the chaos and utter collapse and death that godlessness brings.

In a sense this is a privileged time.  Few generations has faced so critical a challenge, faced a war as to preserve the goodness of being and believing … and make no mistake: it takes courage to elect God in the presence of the aggressive godless class – social relations being what they are per se.

Good luck, Friends.

Shalom.

The Great Divide.  Want to know how great the divide is between “the elites” and the rest of us?  Harvard University named Bradley Manning (a “transgendered” man previously convicted of espionage) as a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government.  Or is it the Kennedy School of National Destruction?  Birds of a feather flock together.

Was there really any wonder?  God or no God?  Your choice.

 

 

 the Renaissance … mark(s) a distinct change in European culture, which shifted its focus from the glory of God to the glory of man.

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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Yes, the Renaissance shifted the focus from God to man.

The Renaissance was fueled by the extraordinarily foolish (secular progressive) notion that the Middle Ages were intellectually and artistically sterile. In this idea the brilliance of metaphysical realism was bid farewell.

We have suffered illusion ever since – providing extraordinary hopes for the perfection of the human person despite obvious, abundant proof to the contrary. Indeed, it is this central idea that has plagued Western Civilization now for five plus centuries in various iterations to the present day.  Yes, this is the fanciful thinking of the Liberal, the Marxist, Socialists, the Progressive today.

Thus, the long hangover.

To be drunk on man as God – as perfection is to severe one’s connection between transcendent reality and material existence – discarding the former in favor of the latter. Likewise, it elevates reason to absurd levels while reducing and eventually privatizing religion – reducing it to a mere superstition or, at worse, a suspect way of being.

The shift away from metaphysical reality – is a shift away from morality and virtue and a movement toward chaos.  As well, it forfeits religious narrative in favor of each person being a narrative unto himself or herself – leaving space for ideology to govern personal choices and provide insufficient meaning housed in power and politics alone.

As Philosopher Charles Taylor notes the shift moved the human being from a state of enchantment to disenchantment thereby making belief less prominent and I would add making life less full, less spiritual, less intimate while curtailing everyday access to imagination and diminishing access to wisdom, faith and the experience of God.  In short, we lost human territory – yes, sacred space … and for many eventually faith itself.

If you wish to understand what you live today and know the very base of your misgivings and discontent being mindful of the shift from metaphysical reality to the modern era of man over God ought to inform you rather well.  Restoring what we once had in metaphysical reality is, of course, the obvious adjustment needed.

Finally, isn’t it rather revealing that few (if any) in public life mention any mega-narrative that refers to the history we have lived?

Hard to proceed wisely when wisdom is absent in the opinion-makers who command the public stage.  Is it too much to ask that those who take the stage might know something about history and have some command of lessons that it presents?  But alas, watching the public discourse now more often resembles the Three Stooges at work.  We must have better.

Shalom.

Suggestion – Rod Dreher’s book (The Benedict Option) is a good, relatively short read which does a very nice job outlining the events that lead to our present state of being.

Labor Day, 2017

… we can ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds to the realization of the truth from which all joy and power of Christianity proceeds, the truth of the Word made flesh – that the eternal life of God is given to man here and now in the “flesh” of each moment’s experience.

Alan Watts, in Behold the Spirit

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If you want to have your life on the right and healthy path simply ask yourself if you believe in and understand the strength and extraordinary gift of the Incarnation.

Likewise if you wish to screen as to whom you might listen and to whom you would not listen to, ask is: Is there any evidence that the person speaking believes in the Incarnation?

The point is a simple one.  The human person is made to know God, we are made for that central purpose.  The Incarnation is the cornerstone of that design.  We are, you see, not human beings but rather spiritual beings … and to be whole, to be spiritual beings we must have a conscious union with God. Hence, the Incarnation and its priceless treasure, it’s invaluable gift.

The Incarnation is the foundation stone to a Christian life.  When we hesitate to embrace it, we become less than we are made to be – we wander lost in time and space sure to be confused and eventually sick and destructive.

Shalom.

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