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People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong.  Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Our Zen Buddhist friend makes a very good point.  One that the Leftist today would be wise to learn and apply.

Think about it – a steady drum beat of negativity is hard to endue.  Life is not all bad or all good.  Life is life – somethings are problematic, others are not.  Problems arise along side pleasures.  That is life’s baseline: problems and pleasures.  Doomsday complaints are overstated.

Constant complaining misses the good that is always present.  The wise see both what is good and what is problematic.  Their words are temperate, not extreme.  Constant complaints distort reality, create a pall over all things and can show illness or hostile intent.

Pure instinct alone ought to tell us that those who constantly complain have lost their way.  The good is always present.  Dark clouds do not banish the sun.  The glass is always (on average) half full – not empty or broken.

One cannot long survive with those who are always negative.  Negativity becomes a habit.  It is the enemy of reality, contentment and peace.  Maintain a negative outlook long enough and one does not see the good, solutions to problems as they arise.  Digging a ditch one losses the horizon – and there is always a horizon.

Be positive and be around positive people – those with hope and a lively upbeat nature.  Be someone with hope to bring and to offer that to others in your mere presence, and in your way of seeing and experiencing the world – in all its twists and turns.

Shalom.

Hysteria – Lots of hysteria in the air in Washington, D.C. but little concern that Ms. Clinton made available to others (including other countries) President Obama’s daily intelligence briefing by NOT having and using a secure computer.

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Trust the Lord and do good.  Live in the land and feed on truth.

Ps. 37:3

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In faith we are discreet listeners.  The faithful discern who trusts in the Lord and who does not.

Does the celebrity show their trust in the Lord?  The Socialist?  The news man or news women?   The cable TV talking head?  The college professor?  The person writing the Op-Ed piece or the member of the newspaper editorial board?  The high school teacher?  The famous athlete?  The politician?

Those who constantly complain have no time to listen – they show their godlessness by their constant discontent and their propensity for division and disorder.

Who among the many voices you hear daily trusts in the Lord, and who does good?

And you, do you feed on truthDo you feed on truth and in doing so turn a deft ear to those who do not?

Truth is a narrow gate.  We pass through the gate one person at a time.

The chorus of voices all chanting the same thing – could they all speak truth in unison?  If so, we would know we are in heaven.  We are not in heaven here, today, at this moment.

Our Founding Fathers created a Republic where faith is united with liberty.  There are many among us who wish that were not so.  They are ones thirsting for power over others.  They prefer their way to God’s Truth.  They prefer themselves to others, especially those who are faithful.

Each is called to feed on truth.  That is the call of a personal God who desires intimate friendship with you, His beloved.

Ignore the chattering herd.  It is God who speaks Truth and seeks your well-being and union with you.  Leave the perpetually discontented to their discontent – soon enough they will feed on one another and come to pass.

Shalom.

Foreign Policy and Elites – One of the reasons Trump is under attack from the elites and their minions in the media is this: for decades foreign policy and intelligence service was considered the exclusive frontier of elites like Christian Herder, the Anglophone Dean Acheson (who chose the immodest title Present at the Creation for his memoir on his service as Secretary of State).  Indeed, when the CIA was begun Catholics were not recruited (even though “Wild Bill” Donovan was the first Director) in favor of Protestants from the Ivies with wealthy family backgrounds.  Trump is, plainly stated, “not to the manor born.”  Neither are the rest of us.  Democracy is not Plutocracy.  This the elites and media wannabes sternly find objectionable.  They prefer to be “special” despite ample proof to the contrary.

 

The purpose of life … is to be helpful, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and lived well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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A satisfying life does not require you paint on a large canvas.  A small canvas will do.

I tell you a story.  In my early years I was raised in my grandparents home with my mother (their oldest child and only girl).   My mother helped her mother raise four boys – her brothers: Ernie, Ray, Don and Bob.  They were my Uncles.  I was the peanut among them.  I looked up to them – as I grew they became my friends.  I had an especially close relationship with Don and Ray and their wives.

When my wife suffered from cancer, they watched over me.  When she died, they watched over me.  When my mother died, they watched over me and stood vigil with my young son who missed his Granny greatly.  Both Don and Ray lived the right way – tended to their wives and children, lived honorably, helped others, loved and laughed heartily.

Years after my wife’s death, Ray’s wife contracted a rare illness, one that was most likely to take her life.  I was Ray’s confidant.  He was bewildered by what he faced.  I told him she needed the best Doctor who knew the most about this illness and that I would find that person and I did.  My Aunt Tippy got the best care possible.

I stood with Ray when she passed, and with Don when his lovely wife Ginny passed.  Both good men showed their courage and their loss.  My heroes were wounded as I had been.

Years latter, both Don and Ray developed illness that would take their life.  Each talked often to me during their illness – wonderful conversations, honest, touching, urgent but assuring – privileged.  I spent hours on the phone with Don the day before he died – precious time – beautiful, irreplaceable – unforgettable time.

In my travails and hardships and modest successes I became their “go to guy.”  My losses and struggles and experiences were their fortress in times of strife.  A small boy had become a trusted source, their counsel, guide, confessor.  I was honored by men I looked up to and loved … I can hardly think about it without getting emotional.

When Ray neared death he told me this, “Bobby, I never considered you my nephew – I thought of you as my youngest brother.”  Few things have honored me so.

You do not need a large canvas, a small one will do.  Take your licks in this world – everyone faces difficulty.  Forget fame or fortune – focus on growing in understanding, wisdom, common sense, faith – be helpful – make a difference where and when it matters most to others.  Life is good.

May you be blessed to experience what I have related here.  You have a reason for being.

Shalom.

 

 

… the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing?  For this man is preforming many signs.  If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him and the Romans will come and take away our place and our nation.”

Jn 11:47

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Power is intoxicating and easily so.  Herein, we see the chief priests and Pharisees gathering after Jesus calls Lazarus back to life.  Their thoughts?  How can we preserve our status?  

Is this not the way of the “powerful” and the privileged?  Is this not a truth that conveys over all time?  Those at “the top” of the ladder want to remain at the top of the ladder.

Such a disposition turns one’s back on God.  ‘Tis the way of political people, the self-important, far too often.

Oddly, the strongest among us are not those at “the top,” but those who are humble and guided by faith, knowing full well there is a God and they are not God.  In their mortal existence the strongest are immortal by choice, by faith, by belief.

It is an old story – one we prefer to neglect.  Offered a Messiah, we guard our vaunted place in the pecking order.  This is tedious to those who know and believe.  Tedious indeed!  Why concede the tedious ones a grant of authority?  Would you not prefer those who welcome the Messiah be those who lead?  Are they not the wiser?  Braver?

Where are you on such things?

Shalom.

 

… we seek nothing but the particular place willed for us by God …

Then we discover what the spiritual life really is … It is the silence of our whole being in compunction and adoration before God, in the habitual realization that He is everything and we are nothing, that He is the Center to which all things tend, and to Whom all our actions are directed.  That our life and strength proceed from Him, that both in life and death we depend entirely on Him, that the whole course of our life is foreknown by Him and falls into the plan of His wise and merciful Providence; that it is absurd to live without Him, for ourselves, by ourselves … and in the end the only thing that matters is His glory.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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In the Mass readings today we hear God lamenting that His children have moved away from Him and we hear Jesus advise us to move away from those who do not receive or listen to his words.

Our dilemma is that we live in an age where many of the most public and most vocal have moved away from God and do not listen to the words of His Son.  Likewise the culture in its digital discourse and mass communication is crowded with those who operate largely by themselves – without reference to God.  Indeed, that is the bulk of present day discourse and we are obviously affected negatively by this.

What is one to do in such circumstances?

Yes, we are assured in the Old Testament reading of today (from Hosanna) that God will act mercifully as to those who rebel.  And, we know that Jesus in today’s Gospel (from Matthew) would have us separate from those who do not receive his words or listen to him.  So we have a plan: be merciful, yet separate from those who reject the Savior’s words.

But how is this to be done?

Merton offers a way: seeking time in silence and the company of God in that silence.  For in that silence the primacy of God is known and experienced and we are in the form that we are designed to know and in which we will find peace when all about are in discord and distress.

Yes, our confidence is in God and our task is to stand apart form those who reject God outright, and in their rejection of the Son, reject the Father.  Our remedy for this is silence – a singular silence where God is heard – much as the Son shows us in his regular retreats to the quiet of the desert.

In silence we can find stability, meaning and fulfillment.

Shalom.      

 

The transformation of charity into legal entitlement has produced both donors without love and recipients without gratitude.

Antonin Scalia

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These words are from an address given by former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1996.

Among his observations are these:

  • “a Christian should not support a government that suppresses faith or one that sanctions the taking of innocent life”
  • he knows of “no country in which the churches have grown fuller as the government has moved leftward”
  • the most religious nation in the West (the U.S.) is a capitalist society that is “least diluted by socialism”  (Emphasis added.)
  • since FDR’s New Deal, the U.S. has taken on the increasing role of a welfare state (i.e., taking tax proceeds of all and dispensing them to select individuals and groups that are deemed “needy” – and building political constituents in the process)
  • “Christ’s view was that you should give your goods to the poor, not that you should force someone else to give his (to others)”  (Emphasis added.)
  • “to the extent that the states takes upon itself one of the corporal works of mercy that would have been undertaken privately, it deprives individuals of an opportunity for sanctification and deprives the body of Christ of the occasion for interchange of love among its members”
  • the welfare-state does not contain or convey the Christian virtue of altruism
  • “governmentalization of charity effects … the donor but also the recipient … What was once asked as a favor is now demanded as an entitlement … the teaching of welfare socialism is that the world owes everyone a living.”

What Scalia lays out is the decline of the role of faith in secular culture – and with it the loss of moral conduct long displayed by acts of religiously inspired service.

Likewise socialism fundamentally changes the way humans experience themselves, others and the nature of fellowship and community – indeed it blunts the power of love and hope … it deprives us of faith and sanctification.

Make no mistake, religion and God have been shunned in the post-New Deal environment – and, frankly, when moral conduct is not fostered through a population who has an active faith – hostility and faithless division takes its place.  There we become a troubled and self-destructive culture with less opportunity to make of us brothers and sisters to one another.

Converting to socialism and BIG government is, quite simply, destructive.

Shalom.

It is very well to insist that man is a “social animal” – the fact is obvious enough.  But there is no justification for making him a mere cog in a totalitarian machine –  

In actual fact, society depends for its existence on the inviolable personal solitude of its members.  Society, to merit its name, must be made up not of numbers, or mechanical units, but of persons.  To be a person implies responsibility and freedom, and both of these imply a certain interior solitude, a sense of personal integrity  … (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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Well, we are about to have a real brou-ha-ha over the appointment of a new Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The President has nominated a person whose view seems to be that the U.S. Constitution, as written, must be honored – that it is not a judge’s job to “make” new law but rather honor the plain meaning of the Constitution as written.

This view is opposed by the Left. They prefer (and have become accustomed to) winning political objectives through law suits and Court action when they cannot secure these objectives through the legislature or through the political (electoral) process.

This brings us to Merton.

He notes that we have arrived at a point in time whereby the individual can be made into a “cog in a totalitarian machine.”  Indeed, this is the risk one runs when a group desires that their views and preferences be imposed on others, especially in areas that are deeply personal and about which reasonable people can differ.

The point Merton makes is that society is composed of free people who take individual responsibility for their own life.

This is the underpinning of our rights and protections in our Constitution.  This is the root of a free representative Republic.  This is the articulated view of the current nominee to the Supreme Court.  His emphasis is on protecting the sanctity of the individual and the Constitution.  In a very real sense that is the underlying dispute between Conservatives, moderates and “neutralists,” and the Left today.

One sees in the opposition to this nominee and his way of seeing and understanding the Left is worried.  Their concern is that his way of thinking will result in the abandoned of their preferences in matters of social policy secured through Judicial activism.

I do not know how this will sort itself out – but I do know that (for me) I am tired of waking up every day to the non-stop yelling and screaming, hyperbolic assertions of the Left and the endless “demonstrations” that manufacture and perpetuate discord.  Likewise, I do not see the judicial system as a means to create social (or public) policy – a task resting with the Legisature.

I prefer quieter times, a Court that protects the Constitution, and the baseline expectation that each free person will be individually responsibility for their own life.

I favor the sacred person to a “cog.”  I find the former is a more satisfying and liberating state of being than the latter.

Shalom.

 

 

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.

 

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves, and then he said to them, “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you are making it into a den of thieves.”

Mt 21: 12-13

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We often overlook the ways Jesus tells us about ourselves as human beings.  Here we see Jesus act in an angry manner.  In the very next passages from the Gospel of Mark he condemns the barren fig tree.  Both of these actions come after his celebrated entry into Jerusalem where the crowds welcomed him waving palm branches and laying their cloaks on the road he traveled.

What can be said of these situations as they are juxtaposed?  They seem at odds.  But they do tell us something very instructive about our human existence.

It can be reasonably said that Jesus, having experienced the popular political response from those who reflected their orientation to the importance of earthly, imperial status and power, is moved to cleanse the Temple of those who subvert and discredit the reality and superiority of a spiritual “kingdom” which exceeds man and mortal being.  

Yes, Jesus is showing us that secular orientation to power cannot be our preference or default stetting.  Rather he shows us that the Father has created us for much more – that is: what is eternal and peace-giving (no matter the conflict, age, governing system, or suffering that might appear).

In these sequential events he shows us that man is (and always has been) made to react  forcefully when evil appears and alters the Truth of our existence.  He is, in these acts, showing us who we are.  He shows us the impulse that is an archetypal reality – a characteristic of the human being.  As a corollary one might say that those who avoid conflict at all costs are far from the fullness of their being and faith.  We are made as we are made.

It is so important to look at these episodes sequentially and in-depth – and ask: What is Jesus showing me about being human and being faithful?

Shalom.

More Ignorance in “High” Places – Yesterday, a U.S. Senator (Democrat and lawyer) released a press release “informing” us that some of the the signers of the Declaration of Independence were “immigrants.”  Good gracious.  When we declared our independence we were a colony of England – hence the Signers were English subjects.

A college education and legal training just aren’t what they used to be – nor is the U.S. Senate apparently.

Independence Day, July 4, 2018

We live in a unique Nation whose Constitution unites freedom of religion with freedom of speech.  Faith and Liberty united in one Nation.  Unique.  We had best preserve this and refute those who would destroy what we have.  God Bless America.

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Only those men are never separated from the Lord who never question His right to separate Himself from them.  They never lose Him because they always realize they never deserve to find Him, and in spite of their unworthiness they have already found Him.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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God cannot be domesticated.  God is Pure Spirit.  And, the Spirit goes where the Spirit wishes.  In this your spirit must be as clean and free as His in order to follow Him.

Our Constitution underscores this reality.  Yes, our Constitution is not just a legal or political document – it is a Spiritual document.  

In the coming days President Trump is going to nominate a person to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is quite possible the President may nominate Federal Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Judge Barrett is a Catholic, a married mother of seven children, and former Professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School.

If she is advanced as the nominee, we will face a significant test.  The test?  Will Judge Barrett’s religion be targeted as “objectionable.”  If we hear this, we will see that those who voice this objection are undermining the very central message of the U.S. Constitution: that we are a Nation of religious freedom that is to be protected – indeed, to be honored and revered.  Our Founders knew faith led a just and free people.

Keep in mind that we are not human being seeking spiritual experience, but spiritual beings who seek human experience.  This is precisely what our Founding Fathers knew and intended to reinforce in drafting the Constitution.  In the next few weeks we shall see if we are still governed by this understanding – its wisdom.

Happy Independence Day!

Shalom.

 

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