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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.

 

 

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O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.

Ps 63:2

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Yesterday I began my day with men who attend a Saturday early morning gathering at a wonderful Catholic parish in Kensington, Maryland.  The men of varied ages attend a year-long program focused on developing their faith and growing in it.  It is a wonderful experience that includes a short video presentation with the men then recessing to a host of tables to share their thoughts on the subject matter of the video.

Yesterday’s video focused us on the simple question: Is there a God or is there not a God?

My table mates (eight men, counting myself) affirmed easily that there is a God – but most striking was this: their soul was thirsting for God.  These men ranged in age from early to mid-30’s to 70-plus.  All were family men, fathers and husbands.

What struck me so very deeply was this: these men were seeking God in the very manner that people in the 13th century and earlier sought God.

They asked questions much as the St. Thomas Aquinas might.  Deep probative questions. Their desire for God was vital to them – not because they themselves had burdens or carried sins that caused suffering – no, they sought God because they knew a relationship with God was critical to their existence, their contentment, their service of others, their life’s meaning and their ability to love, understand, find meaning and purpose in life.

I add, most importantly, they sought God because they experienced that faith, and God were under siege in America.  They had a sense that living a life of faith, God and Church was under attack today in this nation.

Honestly, I saw their desire, their urgency – their hope … and affirmation that God was the center of their being and that neither their faith nor God would be abandoned or exiled.

I saw in these men the metaphysical reality of the first 1400 years of Christianity.

I saw the probing question and longing that affirmed that there is a God and the desire for a relation with God resides within us no matter the utterances and hostilities of claims and actions of the godless among us.  Good news!

Alas, it can be said that the Psalms speak today:

My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water. (Ps. 63)

Truth never fades.  Truth can never be denied, extinguished.  In the midst of challenge – God is closest and we are most deeply engaged.  Good News … in troublesome times.

Shalom.

 

 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.

Triumph was in a sense the counterpart of Woodstock.  The one argued the imperative of the licentious, self-indulgent lifestyle; the other, the ultimate satisfactions of faithduty, and fidelity.

William F. Buckley, in National Review, (May 19, 1997)

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Buckley was commenting on Triumph (a Catholic magazine) founded by his close friend, Yale classmate and brother-in-law L. Brent Bozell.

The comment he made draws a sharp and applicable contrast to our situation today.

The contrast: on the one hand we can live for faith, duty and fidelity or we can be licentious and self-indulgent.  The latter is the godless American Left today. The former is the rest of us – Yes, the “basket of deplorables” – or as Mr. Obama says those who cling to their “guns and Bible.”  [Guns and Bible …. you know the people in (the former Republic of) Texas who are pitching in to rescue their fellow Texans in the colossal flood.]

The division in American today is along this fault line.  Believers versus pagan hedonists; those who favor liberty and those who worship self and government as God (the bigger the better).

What is particularly interesting about today’s divide is this: the hedonists are grandparents – ex-Woodstockers in their late 60’s, and a small cabal poorly schooled ideologues and we cover them in news stories like they are an insurgent army of thousands upon thousands and not the remnant of days gone by.

Are we not looking at this intersection: faith, duty and fidelity vs. lustful self-indulgence? Is the former not timeless and the latter as dated, arthritic and worn out as any 60-70 year old (of whom I share their age)?

I’ll stick with “the living water” of faith.  No peace in the other.

Shalom.

 

 

Imagine a boat … caught in a storm.  If anyone panics and acts rashly they endanger the boat. But if there’s even one person who is calm, this person can inspire the whole boat.  

Thich Nhat Hahn, in How to Sit

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The nature and quality of our action and reaction conveys our being … who we are.  Mind you, not all the people you see have come close to their being – their wholeness, who they are made to be.  Why?  They do not work at integrating their human experience and traveling within – coming in contact with the truth of their life and being itself.  Rather, they elect scripts that they or others fashion – usually an ideology, an image and group-think.

Yes, in a storm in the boat – only one of many will show calm, provide leadership and wisdom.  In crisis, look for the quiet voice, the calmest among you.

Do you need an image of who this might be?  Did not Jesus recess to the desert after his baptism?  Did not St. Paul do the same after his Damascus Road experience?

In tumult, the real beings among us embrace quiet and stand tall.  In quiet God is located and we are still and certain.  Our actions are then inspired – rooted in our sacred being.

In contrast, those who swirl in panic and fear, the loudest among us are the antithesis of being.

Shalom.

… Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take him … to make him King, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.

Jn 6:15

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If politics and power had a primacy – made all the difference in  the world, why would Jesus withdraw to the mountain by himself?  Why would he NOT accede to that position of power?  Because it is not of ultra importance.

No, relationship with God is preeminent.  That is the essential aspect of human existence that complete each of us and perfects as far as is possible human society.

Ignore your spiritual existence and nothing you do will succeed, but rather will only divide and destroy.

That said, what Sunday political talk show ever focuses on man’s relation to God?  What Judge seems to reflect any appreciation for what is recorded in the above Gospel passage?  What media member or newspaper?

Those who speak only of politics are unable to lead for they know little and what they know glorifies not God but them – and decline follows, after the chaos and division that they create.

Listen more carefully.  Be discrete when it comes to public chatter.  Find a home in Scripture until you hear the voices of sanity in the public square.

Shalom.

 

 

Sanctity is not a luxury, but a simple duty.

St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)

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St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic Priest, died in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, 76 years ago today.  He was 47 years old.

He died a martyr when he voluntarily stepped forward to request that he be permitted to take the place, in an execution, of a fellow inmate who had a wife and children.

The Camp Commander agreed and Fr. Kolbe was placed in a dark and dingy cell with nine other men to be starved to death.

Having survived two weeks without food, Fr. Kolbe was given an injection of carbolic acid to kill him.  It is reported that his appearance at death was as if he had been enveloped by the love of God.

St. Maximilian Kolbe is truly an appropriate measure to apply to ourselves and our culture and those in it – and particularly to those in politics who profess to “lead” us, serve us, protect us – keep us sane and safe … and to those in the professions and education, and to those in religious stations who have vowed to keep us close to Christ, and to the Father.

On this anniversary of Fr. Kolbe’s death, I suggest that you take time to reflect on your obligation to live up to your faith, to live as Fr. Kolbe did, as Christ did. Likewise, it is a good time to ask: Do those with public voice live as Fr. Kolbe did?

Remember “Sanctity is not a luxury, but a simple duty.”

Shalom.

Question.  Who among those who clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend resembled Fr. Kolbe?  Answer: No one, it seems.

 

We … pay … tribute … because he used his matchless power for the good of man.

Clarence Darrow

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Darrow used these words to eulogize Robert G. Ingersoll.  They are words unlikely to be applied to members of the Washington elite, the small inbred group who lusting for power come to Washington and never leave.  That is this city’s way.  These are the people who disdain the larger public, the people who live in “fly-over” land, the ones called “a basket of deplorables.”

Yes, that is the way people here look at citizens of this land.  There are, of course, some exceptions – but this attitude full of arrogance fuels those who intend to drive the President from office.  Why?  He is not one of them, and he shows disregard for them, their self-serving ways and failure to lead this great Nation well.

Darrow honored Ingersoll for the way he lived, conducted himself, thought of others not himself.

One would think that those who serve us in government leadership positions ought to be like Ingersoll.  Alas, it seems that this is not the case.

This, in time, will be the test: will the sovereign public reject the arrogant elites?

American is a good place.  Preserving its goodness requires that those who would lead are good as well.  This appears a crossroad juncture at the present moment.

Shalom.

 

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation … not an act but a habit.

Aristotle

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Very few visible in mass media are habituated to excellence.  If you want mediocrity or less, mass media provides an endless supply of such lightweights. However, beware: if you have a diet of mediocrity you will disgorge yourself of the attitude, instinct, discipline and will for excellence.

Excellence takes strength of soul.  Excellence understands sacrificial love. Excellence honors God in its being and doing.

All have the capacity needed for excellence.  Yet many forfeit the strength of soul.  Those who forfeit strength of soul live lies – excuses are common to them, envy too – they seek nothing more urgently than to thwart the will of others, to neutralize the soul.

Those who forfeit strength of soul are weak links.  They abound in politics today. They prefer dependence to a free populace for they fear being challenged to live fully.  They keep others bound-up so they might wallow in under-achievement, the cost of which always includes dishonesty and corruption.

When mediocrity rules, men are targeted, for it is men who do the dying, who come easily to sacrificial love.  A warrior class is always necessary.  Today, the weak seek their demise.  Men are targets for the weak fear them. 

Want to see the locus of excellence in American culture, look at the middle class and those like me who lived in poverty and in daily combat.  Look, not just at me but at my petite mother – one tough cookie … and her parents, and her brothers Don and Ray.  Their habit was excellence – its byproducts: humility, confidence, contentment, compassion, joy and laughter, insight, wisdom, generosity, gratitude.

Excellence comes to those who must work hard to survive, and to whom difficulties befall because in the hardest things they live daily by strength of soul. This is why the Left so despises the middle class and seeks to make dependents of the poor.  Don’t let yourself be sold short or sold out.

Live in excellence.  You’ll scare the heck out of the elites and make of us again a great people.  And, in the habits of excellence is satisfaction.

Enjoy the life God has given you.  Don’t let anyone deny you a life of excellence – especially of moral excellence.

Shalom.

The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics.  Fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.  (Emphasis added.)

Samuel P . Huntington

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Do not Islam and Marxism display the truth of Professor Huntington’s remarks? Is our national security not, then, contingent upon America and the West knowing who they are and who their rivals are – what is the bedrock of our identity and their identity?

American and Western identity rests on our classical legacy, Christianity, the relationship between church and state, freedom of religious expression, free speech and free elections, the rule of law, civil society and the peaceful transition of political power, free market economics, and our historic national footprint.

When cultures clash, as they do now, one must have a very clear understanding of who one is.

When cultures clash radical variation in basic identity within a society is a luxury that cannot be readily accommodated.  That said, a political party like the Democrat Left whose identity is based on: perpetual radical social and economic “change,” the centralization of cradle to grave power in the federal government, creating conflict through “identity politics” which manufactures angry “victim classes” and enslaved government dependents – compromises the nation’s security.  A state of perpetual internal flux puts in question one’s basic identity – it distracts and creates unnecessary and dangerous discord.

Indeed this is where we are today: division within while those within and without who wish our defeat grow stronger and more intent on our destruction. 

To make matters worse, very few of those who occupy political office have any inkling of the challenge we face and the fundamental question it raises.  The question?  Who exactly are we?

In a clash of cultures not knowing who you are is fatal.

Shalom.

 

 

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