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Happy Easter!!!

“… dying he has destroyed our death, and rising her has restored our life.”

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There is no human life on earth that is not subject to sin and death.  Sin fractures relationships with others and indeed fragments our very self.  Death is “that ubiquitous reaper.”  But Christ changes that default setting that bedevils man and woman, child and adult.

Christ on the Cross redeems each of us from sin and neuters the dread of death, the pain of this mortal exodus.  In Christ we are upright in soul and being – sin does not imprison and death does not threaten.

In Christ we have a whole new existence – human wholeness, spiritual expanse, contentment, strength, truth, humility, certainty amid the unknown, community, friendship everlasting.  In Christ, all troubles teach and insight and wisdom abounds, patience too.

In Christ, love prevails as love is practiced in all manner of life’s encounters.

Imagine a culture in which consciousness of Christ was for each of us – the substance of each daily transaction, each moment, each idle hour, each day month after month, year after year.  Imagine Western Civilization restored to its formative reality – Imagine America and Americans at their historic best – humble, compassionate, brave, sacrificial, honorable, hardworking, strong, independent, dignified, sober, gentle, just, forgiving, confident, grateful for each day and each breath, faithful and kind.

The worm, Friends, is turning.  We have gone too long divided, disgruntled, angry, joyless, self-serving and without Christ.

The truth of the matter is quite simple – we need not “fundamentally alter America.”  Those who think this are mistaken, ignorant of many things – and in need of faith.  For them we might pray.

Shalom.

 

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Holy Saturday

” … You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been risen; he is not here.  Behold the place where he laid.”

Mark 16:6

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Jesus was plunged into sorrow, but triumphed over this world and all its vices and deceits.  This said, as a Judeo-Christian culture – how can so many who say they are Christians act as if what Jesus did does not matter today?

Is it not true that if we actually believed would we put so much trust in politics, government, in seeking power, and focus all our efforts on material goods, or destructive pleasures and addictive vices?

Western Culture and this nation will rise or fall in direct proportion to our belief in God and, as Christians, our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Today our faith and traditions and founding propositions are under attack … and for Christians it will be our relation to Christ which will decide the day.  One of our two major political parties and our once reliable press advances perspectives and policies that are hostile to what the West is and the place of God in our lives and public our affairs.

Speak not and act not and you will have assumed the posture of Judas.

Dear God, help us to see the glory of the empty tomb and to act upon that glory each and every day.

Shalom.

God created man in His own image …

Gen 1:27

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Why would God create us in His image?  A fair question – with an easy answer.  The answer?  So He might have a relationship with us and us with God.  And wherein is the epitome of intimacy and love everlasting.  Yes, the very thing we all long for in our mortal life is given to us right from the beginning of life and time.

God’s love of us is central to our well-being, contentment, happiness, strength, meaning, purpose, peace and identity – the one cardinal Truth that banishes all failure, hardship, setbacks, sufferings.  Yet, we so often ignore this fundamental reality.  But, why?

Pride is the most common reason.  Pride would have us try to make life work to our design.  Despite our failures and the loneliness and stress that our pride produces – we persist … until one day we resign ourselves to this fact – we cannot succeed or be at peace when we neglect God and the truth of God’s omnipotence and God’s love of each one of us.

Still others neglect God for they fear God is a wrathful, unforgiving God – while God is a merciful God.  Yes, people by into fear and the false identity that is pervaded by others that God is not a loving God.

Remember Jeremiah 29:11 – “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope.”  (Emphasis added.)

Why would anyone wish to neglect God in favor of making life more difficult and less certain and stable?  Think about that today and tomorrow … until you come to your senses.

Shalom.

 

Theology is not made by mystics; mystics are formed by theology.

Thomas Merton, in Ascent to Truth

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In a sense the above proposition raises the question as to one’s journey to God.  Is this trajectory intellectual or does it require an ascetic disposition?  Does one think oneself to God, or is there a personal disposition that brings one to God?

As to the latter question, I suppose that when one’s life is absorbed by, and full of, the satisfaction of all personal desires then one might think of the importance of an ascetic disposition – a sparser life.  That is to say – a life void of multiple distractions and endless obligations, a simple life of few attachments and tasks – one with privacy and quiet might be better than a fully engaged life if one desires God.

As to intellect, it seems that thinking alone will not of itself bring us God for God is not a mental proposition but far more the totality of all that a human is, and can be by their mere (divine) creation.

So where does that leave us – or at least – me?  A modest life fully lived, accepting of all that comes one’s way (good or bad) is necessary for the experience of God.

By a life fully lived, I mean one that is examined so one comes to know one’s faults, short-comings, personal history honestly seen, one’s gifts and deficits and the mysterious joys of having been helped, nurtured, taught, loved and accepted by those placed in one’s life without whom each of us would be far poorer and more likely lost than found.

What am I saying?  Yes, intellect plays a part in our journey to God – we learn from our narrative and all those who over the Ages unbundle the mystery of a Loving God.  Yes, maintaining a life that is prepared in its honesty and humility to find God is also essential.  And yes, the acceptance of life as it is presented is the essential ingredient of obedience that brings us to God for this acceptance says clearly – “I accept my gift of being … I trust in the Gift-Giver.” In this, it seems to me one meets God …

Do not underestimate the value of acceptance and obedience.  Is that not the humbling road we must choose?

Friends, journey well and wisely this year.

Shalom.

 

The man said, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Gen 3:12

“I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’re said happen to me.”

Luke 1:38

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First we hear Adam in Eden after eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Next we hear the young Mary responding to the Angel Gabriel who has announced to her that she will bear God’s Holy Child.

Adam did not obey God and tried to avoid responsibility for his disobedience.  Mary, on the contrary, accepted God’s gift to her and to us – she obeyed without reservation.

Obeying God or not obeying God. This is always the singular determinative question in a life – in the life of a Nation also … Yes, in our life and the life of our Nation today.

Is this not the issue we face, the issue that we see before us now?

What do I mean?

There is substantial evidence to suggest that the Clinton Foundation functioned illegally.  Such evidence, complied by interested private citizens with extensive experience in criminal law, tax compliance and finance, has been submitted to the Justice Department.  That done, we shall see if the Justice Department and the federal government is populated by those like Adam or by those like Mary.

Mind you, when material suggests criminal activity may have been pursued by significant high-level government officials (present and/or former) with considerable influence – an investigation must commence lest the public conclude that some are above the law and, given that, our Nation is now not the honorable and law-abiding place it once was.  A conclusion that would then place the common people with the task of restoring what is good to what once was.

Think about it: do we want to destroy a Nation to favor those who, privileged by name and title, are so thoroughly corrupted?

Adam did nothing to endear himself to us by his disobedience and denial of responsibility – while Mary accepted easily the task she was called on to do.

One hopes we are, in this Nation, Mary and not Adam.

Shalom.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

… with you is my grievance, O priests … My people perish for want of knowledge!  Since you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you … Since you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your sons.  One and all they sin against me exchanging their glory for shame.  (Emphasis added.)

Hos 4: 6, 7

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The words of the Jewish prophet Hosea tell of his understanding about what his God would do to those (the Jewish people) who consistently ignored God and God’s teachings.

Reading it I cannot but help thinking of those among us, yes even the high clergy, who reject God’s teachings enshrined in the Canons of the Church.  Likewise I think of so many in public life who proceed always with what interests them while never putting their ideas, opinions, plans to a test of faith.  Nary do they ask: What might God seek of me this day?

Too, too many people in positions of authority and influence readily exchange their own glory for shame … never giving a moment’s thought to what God might otherwise desire.

This is the road to perdition (i.e., the loss of soul and path to eternal damnation).  

Mind you, if Mr. X or Ms. Z wishes hell as their destination, so be it – but those in positions of influence and authority have no justification for leading us to that same eternal misery.  Be very, very careful as to who you listen to, who you elect, what ideas you entertain and any who appear strangers to faith, to God.

You are forewarned.

Shalom.

… signs … Jesus … performed … have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Jn 20: 30,31

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Believing or not believing.  Belief in God or belief in nothing.  Theism or nihilism.  We face this proposition more directly today than we have probably in our history.

I have a very dear childhood friend.  He was my closest friend growing up.  We were like brothers – did so many things together.  Shared the same classes and teachers throughout school.  I was like a family member in his home.  His mother treated me like one of her children.  She and my mother were best of friends.

My friend is now in a nursing home.  He is frail.  Spends a good deal of time in bed.  As a child he was bright, friendly, a reader – social, trusted, quite capable.  In his late adolescence he seemed to be at odds with institutions and authority – but more to the point he began to lose interest in the world around him.  He seemed to make a wilful decision to reject this or that – his skepticism began to grow.  His actions seemed to say: life is worthless – this view and his skepticism grew as he aged.

He drank consistently throughout his life beginning when he was a teenager.  His initial adult working life seemed consistent with his abilities.  He had a modest political life and was elected to his local School Board.  His two children were successful.  He seemed at odds with his wife and she with him most of their married life.  She too was a negative person.

His negativity continued to grow – his work history declined as his cynicism strengthened.  He suffered from seizures.  Eventually his downward work trajectory ended when he worked himself out of a janitor’s job, being fired from a government position despite his union membership.  A very hard act to accomplish.  He burned bridges at work and with family members.  He scoffed at religion and those who tried to help him.

If I have to point to one thing that explains my friend’s decline it is this: he became a cynic – lived as a nihilist.  He lived as if to say very loudly – life has no meaning.  Nothing  met his approval – all was more or less rejected.  He lived as if to deny his own existence and existence itself.  

I see his attitude in our culture and politics today.  Those who reject national borders sound like him.  The lapses with the Vatican as to sex abuse, denying law, morality and the Canons of the Church reflect his disposition. The upheaval in sexual mores, in families, in lawless urban enclaves seem to say: “belief in good” no longer holds.   The corruption at the federal bureaucratic level says much the same thing – truth and honesty are not honored in practice.  Drug addictions, suicides, random violence and corporate men preying on women employees – but more indications of decline and decay, amoral behavior – signs of depravity and reasons for serious concern.

All this to say but one simple thing: I do not hear much said about nihilism and the denial of values, morals, conduct – rather, too often, I see others advocating decline and decay – angry people attacking structures and codes of conduct that hold us together and provide a basis for community, peace and prosperity … life itself.

Theism or Nihilism.  Believe in something or believe in nothing.  God or nothing at all.

Shalom.

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