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The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

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Salvation.  The heart + reflection + meekness + responsibility.  So observes Vaclav Havel.

Don’t see much of this around Washington these days.  Salvation is a word rarely heard since we began barring God from public conversation.  We can thank the marshmallow middle and the strident Left for that basic act of dislocation – as to the latter their inevitable preference for error.

Heart, reflection, meekness, responsibility.  Little of this here today.  Heartless is more the form.  Reflection, like thoughts of salvation, appears permanently shelved in favor of the instant news cycle where comments issue as frequently as pulse beats as politicos and “talking heads” tommy-gun out the “latest inside scoop” replete with “unnamed sources” (a delightful name for twins today, by the way).

Meekness, my God!  None of that here.  Washington is more a mob at Filene’s Basement tearing the bargain “name brand” apparel from one another in a melee resembling Wrestle-Mania gone mad.  Meekness, it seems, is too orderly and vulnerable for Washington today.  Gone is the obvious power of a calm and measured voice.

It follows there are few signs of responsibility – at least among the those who daily carp and complain, and report and exploit.

We could use some Vaclav Havel.  Inmates running an asylum never works well.

Shalom.

Footnote – Vaclav Havel is among the most interesting figures of the late last century and early 21st century.  A writer, philosopher, political dissident and politician who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1902) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1903-2003).  A widely-esteemed and admired man or faith, courage, talent, heart, thoughtfulness, insight, humility, service and responsibility.  Don’t you wish we had such a presence here today. ‘Tis time to tell the children to be quiet.

Here’s some advice: stay alive.

Suzanne Collins, in The Hunger Games

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Well, Russian bombers buzzing the coast of Alaska.  The President of Venezuela suspending the nation’s highest Court and its legislature.  The Middle East in turmoil. Daily domestic stories of sporadic killings committed here and there by one or another of our lost and disordered soul (of which we have an unnecessary surplus).

Plenty of insanity to dampen one’s optimism and rile one’s disposition.

Perhaps, some humor offered as “good advice” is due.  I do my duty.

I offer two, quite obviously, helpful insights for you.  One, social media and newspapers adhere to a simple marketing plan to gain readers and it is this: when you write for fools you are assured a large audience.  Two, when dining in a North Korean restaurant never ask for a doggie bag.

As to number one, I add – my “audience,” such as it is, is miniscule and highly distinguished – yes, people of impeccable taste … well, okay – idle individuals with spare time.

Hope today you find something amusing amid the wide, contemporary range of the very disturbing.  Laughter staves off the crying, and the need for heavy meds or multiple marinis.

My “secret” strategy – stay away from the maddening crowd as encountered in any form – face to face, via media, ads, cities, major highways and interstates, subways, public transportation, airplanes, airports, live sporting events, concerts, theatres, affluent suburbs and “wealthy neighborhoods” and urban war zones, etc. and discount anything that “talking heads” and academics say on television.

Shalom.

Parting Observation – Aaron Hernandez, a former star NFL football player, lost his father when he was a teenager and hung himself yesterday in a cell where he was serving time for murder.  My father deserted me and my mother when I was an infant. By the grace of God and the sacrifice, strength and love of my mother, the presence of members of her extended family and some dear friends and their families, I am alive today.  Go figure.

Who sees all beings in his own Self, and his Own Self in all beings, loses all fear … When a sage sees this great Unity and Self has become all beings, what delusion and what sorrow can ever be near him?

Upanishads 

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Why have humans throughout the ages sought contemplation?  Silence? Meditation?  How is it that people have sought and recorded mystical experiences the details of which have been shared with succeeding generations?

With life in a mass communication culture that bombards us with its noise and images in virtually all places and at all times, might there be in mysticism, contemplation, meditation, and silence a wholesome, life-giving alternative?

More importantly, might such things be the last vestige of freedom in, and freedom from, contemporary mass culture?

Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg has studied the brains of those who have had mystical experiences.  He has found that in the rear portion of the brain there are two areas: one on the left which seems to help a person realize that they have a limited and physically defined body and that on the right there is a portion of the brain that defines and maps the space that surrounds a person.

One side defines the limits of the body-physical, the other the limits of the body-spacial.

Most interestingly, Dr. Newberg discovered that when a person achieves a mystical state each of these two areas appears to “close down.”  That is, a person dissolves the physical and spacial limits natural to them.  In effect, the person loses a sense that he is self-contained; that in this loss, the person is no longer confined in a small discrete space of being.  Rather, in losing self as commonly presented, he expands the self into the vastness of being in a larger and endless sense of being.

Can it be that what we have recorded over time as mystical experience is natural, present to us and, that in an age that foolishly dismisses religion, neuroscience tells us we are freer than we know and that this freedom rests on religious experience?

God plays cards so much more wisely than man.  The laugh, fittingly, may be on us – and especially on the small-minded legions of authoritarians on the Left who seek in many forms to dictate our every breath.

Ain’t irony wonderful.

Shalom.

Observation – There is something divine about living on a ridge, among the woods, and pastures, hills and mountains and perfect quiet.  In this alone is The Divine – no words are needed and the heart is filled with peace and joy.  I am in this – with all others past and present and those to come.  My body does not bind, and space is open and endless.  Who says that there is nothing eternal, no eternity?  Only he or she who does not yet know and acknowledge The Truth.  We enter Lent – and the Truth is at hand.

… the first Christian hermits abandoned the cities of the pagan world to live in solitude.

Thomas Merton, in The Wisdom of the Desert

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Why does a man live alone in nature, removed from the population and the city?

‘Tis a useful question.

As for the 4th century men who did so we can say, as Merton does, that they sought their salvation, saw its individual characteristic and their own responsibility for its solicitation.

Indeed, they saw that the pagan society that they knew offered little to further their salvation.  Rather, they concluded that it impeded access to it.

These men would not let the ways and values of the pagan culture destroy them, co-opt them.

They took no comfort in the Cross becoming part of the presiding temporal powers.  This, itself, is particularly interesting.  They seemed to know that civil matters where not spiritual in nature, that to The Divine alone belongs the primacy.

Think for a moment: these men saw Christian life as spiritual, as “extramundane” – as simply existing in the Mystical Body of Christ … and they saw that their responsibility was to seek life in Christ.

These men stood for the idea that man was personally responsible for his life and what it said of him and of God.  

Contrast that with today – when so many are captured by the common denominators of secular culture, its herd, its folly, its untruth and its destructive, conflictive and unsatisfying ways.

These men did not wish to be ruled by the decadence.  They did not see themselves, mind you, as superior to others but rather only more intent on living in accord with their faith. They lived socially in aid of one another and strangers as governed by their faith and “the charismatic authority of wisdom, experience and love.”  They “sought … their own true self, in Christ.”

Today I live on a ridge looking out on rolling pastures, forest, and mountains. Minutes ago the sun rose in the East over mountain peaks announcing once again that God reigns eternally …

Each sunrise – unique in its colors and hues – raises up God the Creator … enkindles my gratitude.

In my solitude, quiet makes the music so much sweeter and evocative.  In the solitude, I think of God in a daily silence, and meet the Desert Fathers.  In solitude, I have good company.

Shalom.

Come let us bow down and worship … our maker.  For he is our God and we are his people, the flock he shepherds.

Forty years I endured that generation.  I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray and they do not know my ways.”  So I swore in my anger, “They shall not enter into my rest.”

From the Invitatory Psalm – This Third Sunday of Advent, 2016

Let us throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

Rom. 13: 12-14

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Forty years I endured a generation … hearts gone astray …

Does this not fit us, today?

A generation of pagan ideas, contention, following the errant thoughts of the godless: abortion, feminism, belief in government but not God, increased racial conflict, destruction of marriage and family, pursuit of any and all sexual deviancy, state sponsoring of addictive habits, a nation’s wealth wasted and its legacy and identity denied, lawlessness, racial targeting of police offices, etc.

The godless Left has done its damage.  Is it not enough?  Need we accept any more?  Is it not time to turn away from those who would diminish us, demean what is good and healthy?  Is it not time to repudiate the folly of the Left, their destructive and childish notions?

You know the answer.  Now get to what is right and good.  Throw off the darkness and put on the Light.

This Christmas is special.  We see a New light.  We have defeated the corrupt, rejected the pagan. ‘Tis your time to change.

I strongly suggest you who are Christians begin reading the Liturgy of the Hours each day – at least in the morning when you rise and the eve when ready for sleep.  The habit of this nourishes, feeds, trains the mind, strengthens the God and good within you.

If you desire change and seek the good, make a daily investment in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Shalom.

Please take the liberty of sharing this Blog on Twitter and Facebook and other sources of social media.  You must be part of the change we desire and require!!!

Spirlaw can be found at https://spirlaw.wordpress.com.  It is in its sixth year and read daily worldwide.

Would any seed take root if he had not believed His promise when God said,

“Dears, I will rain.  I will help you.  I will turn into warmth and effulgence,

I will be the Mother that I am and let you draw from My body and rise, and rise.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

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If there is no God, how can these words from the 13th century survive, interest us, speak to us, make us think, perhaps alter our consciousness, orientation to daily life, and the meaning of our existence?

Aquinas thought that contemplation and solitude were among the greatest gifts we are given.  But alas we are very busy, and noisy.  So easily distracted, indeed to a state of exhaustion and impatience.

He became a Dominican monk and lived a vow of poverty with complete devotion to God.  Even in the 13th century this was a radical departure from what was.

His family kidnapped him and held him in isolation for two years in their castle to try to dissuade his choice of a monastic life.  This only strengthened his will and his faith.  In his solitude and forced imprisonment, he memorized Holy Scriptures.

Released he became a master at the University of Paris and focused his attention on Aristotle’s writings on metaphysics.  From this he learned how to make the profound seem simple to his audience.

In his studies his faith deepened and matters like the growth of a seed or the expanse of the human being came to form and to his understanding and he shared his insights with all.  To this day his words survive.

Are you not the seed promised life-giving water and eternal warmth?

Shalom.

Tomorrow’s Post: How the Democrat Left lost and Trump became President.

Maggie Sullivan was married to Seamus for forty years, and a fine marriage it was.  Each could be themselves and as most women know in such a comfortable experience, Seamus was, in his natural state as a man, one who could playfully tease and joke affectionally with his beloved.

Well in the midst of their give and take one day, Maggie says to Seamus, after giggling at his gentle tomfoolery, “Seamus, I must have been a fool when I married you.”  To which Seamus replied, “Aye, but I was in love and never noticed.”

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Love and Truth.  Can there be love without truth?  Not likely.

When you think about it our Christian faith tells us as much.  We have a God of Love and a narrative that shares the Truth of being human and being created by a knowing and intentional God.

If a marriage relies on truth and love, does it not follow that a family and a society does as well?

In my life I know I was raised in a family where truth was told and love flowed freely.  This was, as a think about it, a live among faithful people, those who worshiped in their honesty and affection.  There was no censorship in that place. One said what we saw and experienced.  We dealt in truth and the search for, and experience of, it.  Love followed it in tandem.  Yes, I was raised in a secure environment within that family and among others in my community who lived quite the same way.  From truth and love, courage, optimism and community followed.  Life was lived and not avoided.

It is little wonder that I have friends with whom I share a life of 66 years of close friendship, of shared truth and indissoluble love.

As experience our culture today, especially the public culture, I see little taste for truth in media, little appetite for truth in politics.

I cite but two iterations.  One, the grotesque habit of having a government “spokesman” for the President, the State and Defense Department, etc. whose only distinguishing feature seems to be to avoid truth in favor of fiction, to disassemble and pronounce things a decent and sane person would or should know is, to say the lease, a shading of the truth.

The other citation is the extraordinary one-sided and repetitive narrowness of media reporters (televised and print).

On this latter group, I recall my very bright, truth-seeking Ph.D. son who said to me some years ago: “Dad, when I begin to read something in the newspapers and find a clear misstatement of fact or truth, I simply ignore the article and move on.”

He hardly gives the newspaper a glance today.  Neither does he eat rancid food. Same principle at play.

If there is no love without truth, we are destroying our access to the life Maggie and Seamus know?  I say, “Yes.”

I can tell you this if you avoid truth you lose intimacy, a life of ease and fellowship, the joys of man’s habitual unplanned follies and the laughter, humility, and wisdom they generously produce.

Be alert to what you hear.  Be discreet in your easy acceptance of it.  See the Truth, love is comes with it.

Shalom.

Detachment is not a denial of life but a denial of death; not a disintegration but the condition of wholeness; not a refusal to love but the determination to love truly, deeply and fully.

Gerald Vann, in Eve and the Gryphon

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What does one do in a world that encompasses you?  Surrounds you every waking moment and even invades your dreams?  Presents worries and apparent obligations to you in endless streams?  How do you find peace and tranquility? Rest?

The knowledgeable answer: “detachment.”

But what is detachment?

Detachment is a process whereby a person moves from “the roiling unsettled surface” of exterior existence to the quiet of your interior life.  Yes, from the noise, to your quiet sanctuary of self, of soul.

Yes, peace and tranquility is a process of closing out the noise of the world, ceasing to be captured entirely by its roles and demands.  A discreet, conscious separation from those people, things, dialogues, ideas, assertions that further what is untrue, create discord, rob you of your soul.

Detachment is an act of separation, but not an act of indifference.

Detachment does not cease our obligation to be a source of good, a witness and voice of God, of Christ in the world.  Rather – ironically, detachment is essential to our obligation to witness of faith in this worldly existence. Yes, a witness as a salvific act repeated often throughout our life – no matter the risk or personal cost.

How does one detach?

There are many ways.  Be very discreet as to what you read, listen to.  Attend daily to quiet, to prayer.  Take a retreat once a year for a few days of quiet rest, worship and reflection. Make a habit of daily short spiritual or scriptural reading. Spend time in church – especially alone, in quiet presence.

Maintain an ongoing relationship with a spiritual counselor or director.

Listen to sacred music, Gregorian chants.  The point is a simple one: get in touch with yourself, your very being – the one God made in you – yes, separate out from the herd for God made you far more than a herd animal.

Yes, resist all efforts of secularists and ideologues to classify you for their control, so they might hold power and assert it over you and others.

Focus on your individual holy value – on the proposition that saints and martyrs defied being classified by others into groups the very same way that they defied the demands of mortal existence as a limit of their life and being.

And, think about this: those who become saints and martyrs were human beings just as you – those who sought the quiet holy space where they could find rest and know who God made in them and live as God called them to be.  They are you.

Amid the mob, within mass secular culture – detach … be  be as God made you to be.

Shalom.

Note – I welcome those of you who might wish the help of a spiritual counsel.

 

 

Memorial Day, 2016

Don’t just do something, sit there.

Thich Nhat Hanh, in How to Sit

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Memories are possible when we are not preoccupied.  Today is a day for remembering.  Give yourself the quiet in which to remember.

In sitting quietly, you can recall far better, and things about yesterdays – the people in them, you, what was said, what was felt.

In sitting quietly you can possess again fateful moments.

It is in these moments that insights and wisdom gather.  In these moments, if we receive openly, we can see what might bother us, what we fear, where we need to grow.

So many people live in a defensive mode – behind barriers made of fear.  Sitting quietly can reveal these barriers and the common defenses that make us hard to reach – even for ourselves.

In such quiet, fear can be seen and perhaps dissolved, likewise anxiety, anger, disappointment, hurt.

In quiet, if we are open, we can off-load all that troubles us, keeps us from ease and from joy.

Today is a day for remembering.  Sit quietly and remember.  Meet yourself as you are in that quiet.  Grow.

Shalom.

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

Charles Taylor, in A Secular Age

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In this culture, we are a suicide machine.

No longer even able to tell when our lives are threatened, when others wish to kill us and do, drive us from the Middle East and destroy our ancient shrines.

And suicide in many forms: the assault on innocents, actual suicide – slow and sudden, drug addictions, death of families and responsible adult behavior, the fastidious fetish-like devotion to “health care” and physical appearance,  crippling Nanny-state dependence, the self-promotion of celebrity, some in the political class who too often warrant reason to be strapped to a lie detector.  Yes, the list goes not.

Beware lest you be one – captured by the invasion of the soul-snatchers.

Secularism is a prison cell of the spiritually lost. Soon enough even the likes of Christopher Hitchens will have to cry out: “Please save me, Dear God!”

How might one be free of secularism in the reign of mass communication with its constant indoctrination?  Well, break the TV habit in favor of silence.  And, read !!!

We are in need of a new, individualized monastic age – one which (like it has always) emphasizes reading.

Take the 12th century monk Peter of Celle who said this: “Reading is bound to silence … Constant and attentive reading done devoutly purifies our inner self.”

Purify your inner self!

Reading brings you back to you.  Allows you to take leave of the rampant insanity, chaos and disorder.

Take this from Saint Bede of yore who said as to reading the wisdom of the Gospels:

If we take care to hear, read, and confer with each other about these things, which need to be preserved in our hearts and bodies, we will certainly conquer the obstacles of this age as surely as if the Lord were standing by us and consoling us.

Reading feeds the soul.  Brings peace.  Builds depth and understanding. Sharpens insight. Inoculates you from culture’s nonsense. 

Reading, and a life that mimics monastic discretion and discipline, is a counter-offensive to the destructive noise of the common, carbon-copy nitwits of secularism.

I consider a room without reading to be a hell without consolidation, and instrument of torture without relief, a prison without light, a tomb without ventilation, a ditch swarming with worms, a strangling noose, the empty house of which the Gospel speaks.

Peter of Celle, in On Affliction and Reading

Sick of secularism and its destruction?  Go to your room and read.  Enjoy the silence.  Feed the soul. It keeps you whole and distinct from the lunacy that surrounds you.  Yes, be a rebel in this way.

There is something sacred in rejection of that which steals your heart and soul and leaves you lost and empty.  Fight back – read.

Shalom.

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