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Hell … is the condition of people who are so bound to their ego lives and selfish values that they cannot open out to a transpersonal grace … They are stuck with what they are .. for eternity.  That is the Christian idea of hell.  (Emphasis added.)

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

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Now isn’t that a little alarming – consigned to hell if you refuse to grow and would rather remain in the small world you yourself create – casting aside the notion that God has called you to a life God intends you to know so that you might serve Him and others while coming to know your full, whole self.

I look around me and see in public figures (from Hollywood, to Washington, to the Boardroom of large companies, in the media and in the Ivy Towers of academia) those who live by ego and selfish values while constantly promoting themselves and telling others what to do, or think.  Indeed, it is so striking that one can assume if there is but a remnant remaining after the whole collapse – that remnant will not be composed of those in the public eye, in authority, from the privileged class.

If I am correct, I guess that there are a whole lot of familiar faces in Hell.  Well, I guess that is a modest comfort.  Sure makes you glad to be among the unknown who can, if they desire and are smart, simply do what is right and faithful and stay far from the collapse that will surely result – perhaps in our life time.

Think hard about where you wish to spend Eternity … and with whom.

My advice – draw closer to God and further away from the fancy crowd …none of whose company I remotely desire.  Without dramatic change the ship will go down.

Shalom.

 

 

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Remember Pearl Harbor, 1941/Remember Benghazi Too

It is cold and the sky is clear, the colors true and the mountains firm and sure.  December and the Son is near.  Despite the public nonsense, it is Christmas time … and Holy Silence is here.

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Man … a wanderer and wayfarer … in search of a … holy place, a center and source of indefectible life …

the Irish monks “… simply floated off to sea, abandoning themselves to wind and current, in the hope of being led to the place of solitude which God himself would pick for them …”

Walker Percy, in “From Pilgrimage to Crusade”

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Have you seen your life as a pilgrimage?  Have you imagined it so?  Have you been given to live what God has given?  Are you so blessed by the grace of that gift to come to that place He chose for you?

Live properly and fully lived, life is a pilgrimage.  And I have come to realize this as I come to my 73rd year this month.

Yes, I have been overcome by the length of time and its passing speed, but more so the unusual continuity and scope of my life … from betrayal and poverty, to death and homelessness, to conversion and many who loved me to that place … In it all I see my gifts of interest in others, and the will to survive life’s constant and bitter combat and the desire for God in all of it.

Lately I have sought peace and quiet after years of battles – defense of others with my lawyer’s trade and growing faith – seeking truth and a just result … standing alone as loneliness prepared me so.

Seeing life as a pilgrim’s journey is a blessing that overwhelms, producing tears of wonder for the divine gift of consistency that was in me and this life so on track to be just what I had been made to be.

Imagine the innate mystery of consistency and the companionship of the right values and the best goals of service to others  … a life like the Irish Monks submission to the winds and currents of a life Godly given.  Imagine too the sight of God in those who loved me to this place.  My shepherds … my shepherds – so many, so many … angels given, angles given …

Looking back now I see one astonishing grace – that I was given to accept life as it presented and to do so without complaint or bitter feeling – but rather to accept it as what it was – the gift of challenges that built with each hard event courage, wisdom and greater strength, greater depth, greater faith, greater insight and the reward of solitude, certainty of the soul and peace which conquers all conflict.  Once lonely, I could stand alone because of Him … I am who Am.

A pilgrimage – previously unbeknownst to me.  But for the grace to walk one step at a time over hills and through dark valleys for all these years I would not know how grace delivered consistency to me … and now I see that God has done as God intended … and my unwitting collaboration with His Desire for me … grace … grace … grace – the mystery of grace.

Looking back I see through tears of awe and humility for I have done by the Grace of God what God has asked of me – simply to journey as a pilgrim would.

I pray you know the same.

Do not get bogged down in the daily voices of nonsense – they hold no sway, no mystery they.

Shalom.

 

There is a widespread sense of loss here, if not always of God, then at least of meaning.

Charles Taylor, in Secular Age

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In the above quote, Professor Taylor is referring to the consequences of secularism on American and Western culture.  His words make me think of the funeral of President Bush yesterday.

The news people covering the funeral of former President George Hebert Walker Bush opined that we have lost our way, lost our manners, our character – that we were not as the former President was, that we are less and longed for the past.  But true to form they attribute that lost was of recent vintage.  Alas, what they lament was not lost between the presidency of the elder Bush and today.  Indeed they conveniently do not remember that Mr. Bush ran on this slogan: “A Kinder Gentler America.”

How wrong they are.  

America has been losing its way, its character since the affluent-post WW II and particularly from the late 1960’s on – and doing so at an accelerating rate – and note: now losing our way means losing America as it has been over its long history.

Indeed, you know you have a nation and leadership that is lost when – government is the referee as to bathroom privileges – when Holy Matrimony is re-defined by a Supreme Court Justice who is after all only a lawyer … which is to say not wise but merely one who is able to read.

I agree only partly with Professor Taylor in his above words.

My view: we do not lose either God or meaning in secularism rather the loss of God which is the principle cost in secularism is the loss of meaning and herein lies the folly of the Left and the Big Government types – man alone, no matter his elective “holy grail,” CANNOT provide meaning to life and death, mortal existence and eternity.  Man is but a speck of sand – insignificant in the long-term and infinite scale that is Creation in the whole – here on, and into the long darkness of endless space.

Our sickness today is this: we vie like absurd circus clowns to force our “genius” on others – same-sex marriage, global warning and the assumption that our “omnipotence” can save the day, nations without borders, the expansion of the rare statistic that is “transgenderism” to a political disposition, and the lie that is “socialism” in history, etc.

God = meaning.  No God = no meaning.

Shalom.

  

Well Friends, I missed posting yesterday.  You see my friend needed use of a computer and I gave her mine so she might do some work that needed to be done on a deadline.  So no post yesterday – but in absence … a good deed.

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Have this attitude for yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equally with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and in being made in the likeness of men … humbled Himself by becoming obedient even to the point of death … (Emphasis added)

Phil 2: 5-7,8

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At the end of your life will you have emptied yourself?  Or will self-importance made you a prisoner – a prisoner of what is false and insignificant?

Life is intended to introduce us to humility – hence suffering and betrayal, loss and mistake – calamity and worse.  But it is made also to teach us who God made in us and in this to reveal God to us.  Yes, we carry a sliver of the Divine in us for we are created by God.  That said, so many live as if they are the author of their own life.  Foolishness – complete folly – beware of the misbegotten.  They cannot not lead for they know not.  Chaos is the fruit of their mortal days.

For the Christian, Christ is our narrative – our template, our Teacher, our lesson – the pathway to God.

Those who live well to the end are those who have emptied themselves.

We have been instructed – forewarned.

Shalom.

… Epictetus was telling his students … that there can be no such thing as being the “victim” of another.  You can only be a victim of yourself.  It’s all about how you discipline your mind.  (Emphasis added.)

James B. Stockdale, in Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in the Laboratory of Human Behavior 

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You can tell the strength of a nation by the number of “victims” in its population.  Yes, those who willingly and loudly proclaim they are “victims” are showing their weakness and in the aggregate showing the nation to be weak.

There is nothing flattering about being a victim.  And much less so when “victim-hood” is claimed as a life long “status” to gain the sympathy of others, lay claim to financial support and particular “privilege” as a persistent “advantage” as to life’s routine tasks.  Yet, worst of all – those who adopt the permanent status of “victim” implicitly excuse themselves from living as full and as responsible a life as they are able to live.

Oddly, and with intention and cunning, the Left loves to count people as victims and in doing so advance their own agenda – which is to gain power and control over others.  Frankly, the Left is shameless in this regard – their faux interest in others is always an interest in themselves.

“Cynical,” you say.  Yes.  They are a cynical and insincere bunch.  They gain at others expense.

Want to live free and with dignity?  Heed what Epictetus has said.

You need not make yourself a victim … for being a victim diminishes you and sows the seeds of perpetual unhappiness, discontent and under-achievement – in short: a life far below your talent and ability.

Think about it.

We can no longer counsel or tolerate the production of “victims” so some may claim power and control over those they diminish and consign to dependence and unhappiness.

We do not have a Declaration of Dependence – but a Declaration of Independence.

Shalom.

 

 

A cold rain falls here on the ridge.  Listened to Down’east sea ballads sung by Gordon Bok – all songs of the Maine Coast.  Suitable for a gray sky and a determined cold rain.  The fire is my friend today.  I hear it best in the silence that is a gray November day.

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Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

Charles M. Shultz, in Charlie Brown’s Little Book of Wisdom

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What might you say if you were to be asked: What makes for a good life, a contented life amid the daily demands one faces?

Here would be my response:

  • come to seek and enjoy silence
  • make time alone for contemplation
  • come to value, not plenty, but frugality – a step to de-consumption
  • welcome humility – make it your home
  • discreetly separate from chaos and those who cause it
  • seek intimacy – we all want to be known and understood by others
  • relax regularly
  • seek truth (religious narratives are full of truth and wisdom)
  • believe – A Belief System is Essential to a healthy and contented existence – it is a “contextualizer” – it helps you understand and integrate human experience.

Shalom.

 

Another late post – ‘Tis the season for visits with family and friends.  My time alone only now as the darkness of Sunday night encases me.

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To be beautiful means to be yourself.  You don’t need to be accepted by others.  You need to accept yourself.

Thich Naht Hanh

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Buddhist Monk Thich Naht Hanh is returning to his native Vietnam from his place of service in France for medical reasons.  Prayers of him are welcome.

His work has been beneficial to many.  I offer but one of his observations.

What he says I wish to say to my son, my daughter-in-law, my grandson and my granddaughter, my friends and those I encounter who are far from accepting who they are.

For my family and friends I seek only that they may know their sacred being and live life in humility making contributions which align with their gifts and their heart.

For those who do not trust their divine being, I say – you cannot make perfect what The Perfect One has made in order to teach us Heavenly Perfection and help us see the small slivers of divinity that we carry in this mortal life.

There is no need for us to carry the thought that we are “not good enough” – for being good enough is our best … it is, after-all, as good as we are capable of being by design.

We are but imperfect images of the Perfect One and to be just that is to be as we are made to me.  We are not good at out-doing our generous Creator – and all attempts to the contrary end in injury to self and others, to torment for us and others – even those we love.

To be yourself is to be as God hath made you.  In that act of acceptance is obedience, and peace and joy – sufficient to reduce all disappointments to extraordinary understanding and that good product is added to the goodness we possess gratis – as sacred gift.

In acceptance of self comes humility and certainty in the face of what is not known.

Shalom.

… there’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understoodAnd understanding someone else.

Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle

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When you hear the word “intimacy” in our present culture you almost always think of it in a physical context – and hardly ever as Brad Meltzer refers to it.

This tells you something significant about our culture.

It tells you that in a material culture we are far more physical than interpersonal, cordial, communal, familial, or spiritual.

Just look at the drivel that emanates from the “entertainment” industry.  One denizen of that environ recently offered naked pictures of herself (ugh!) to “get out the vote” for Democrats.  Go figure?

Yes, we have destroyed, or badly injured, the idea of “intimacy” (and of sexuality) by our ignorance as to what intimacy is and what an absolutely critical, indispensable role it plays in human well-being, friendship, and cordial and communal relationships with others.

Frankly, there is no friendship without the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies it.  The health of a human being is dependent on intimacy.

We are social beings – meant to be known and to know others.  We are recipients of life and hence recipients by nature for life – bound to be received and to receive others.

Likewise we are a story people.  We live by narrative, learn by narrative, record narrative, gain wisdom and insight by narrative, worship through narrative.

Telling and receiving another’s story is sacred, and the bedrock of our psychological welfare and the psychological well-being of another.  That is the field of real intimacy.

Yes, we are contented and feel whole when another person hears our story and accepts it, receives it, carries it in their own unfolding life.

Today we are far from the intimacy Brad Meltzer identifies.

Our well-being and survival depends on moving toward the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies.  Short of that objective and disorder and discontent grows and grows, and brings with it homicides, suicides, adulteries, loneliness, corruptions, betrayals, hostilities, divisions, broken families and failed marriages, sexual predators, psychological illnesses, angers, addictions and depressions.

Get “intimacy” right or suffer the grave consequences.  We are made for one another – far more than merely what is material and physical.

Shalom.

… it is no sin to live a silent life …

The monk is … a man who lives in seclusion, in solitude, in silence outside the noise and confusion of a busy worldly existence.

Thomas Merton, in Contemplation in a World of Action

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I live as a monk … on a ridge at the edge of a forest and beside a large slopping pasture that sits at the bottom of a mountain range now in full autumn color posed against the blue November sky bolstered by the chill of brisk fall wind.

I live a quiet distance from a mass communication culture where those thrust ceaselessly at us are merchants of division, animosity, confusion, superficiality, self-interest and considerable ignorance.

A monk is counter-cultural.  His separation defines his values.  To stand outside the culture that divorces itself from God, that knows not sanctity, that neglects the spirit within us is to separate from disorder, to see the culture critically and keep peace with the Divine.

My cottage is my cloister where I may select what I read, hear, or see – a place where I may keep company with my thoughts and prayers and the things of a God who gave us our existence.

Having been planted on “the wrong side of the tracks” as a child, I was made ready to stand apart, to sustain a critical objectivity that refused “transient fashions and manifest absurdities.”  Leaving them was never to have fancied them at all.  Yes, it was a grace that liberates and leads me here.

In a solitary existence one finds the conditions for a full life, and life’s meaning – that is:

  • interior exploration and its sacred products – freedom, understanding and depth of being
  • the peace and health of silence and solitude
  • distance from distraction and disorder
  • contact with the Divine and what is Divine.

So I say (with emphasis added) what Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B. says in Essential Monastic Wisdom –  “…  find some where a place of silence and creativity, where one can listen to the voice of God and think one’s thoughts and be one’s own self.

Shalom.

The man who has been made in God’s image is the inner man, the incorporeal man, incorruptible, immortal one.

Origen, in Homily on Genesis

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Want to understand disorder and those who are disordered?  Just listen to Origen’s words above which date back to the Second Century after Christ.

His point is this: we are made in God’s image and that means we are in essence and fundamentally the man within us, the interior man.  In this, where God resides in us, we are as God: incorporeal – more than bodily man, here we are incorruptible – that is good at the core of our being.  We are in this life God – immortal – cannot die except that we pass from mortal life to eternal life.

So the disorder ones are those who know not their interior being – have never examined themselves thoughtfully, who – in contrast – live an exterior life – one of appearance, one that seeks status and advantage and fame and wealth, and cannot deny their most corrupt passions and desires – however sick and self-destructive they might be.

For them: more drugs, more sex, more rock and rock – more “free” stuff – more dependence, less autonomy, less dignity, less responsibility – childhood forever – all demands met – no God – no morality – ideology governs – and the ideologues say “kill the infidels who dare to have faith.”

Friends, we live among disordered people and they make life very dangerous and quite its contrary.   Their living denies life – they are the dead who must bury the dead.

This is precisely the circumstances we live in today.  Without God insanity becomes sanity, and bad becomes good, chaos becomes peace – Yes, lies prosper and pass as truth.

Shalom.

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