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Margaret adored her father, but (he) moved (out-of-state) when Margaret and her sister were small and started a second family.  Margaret recalled she rarely saw her father again … Margaret knew little of her mother …

Excerpt from a Funeral Program (Nov. 5, 2017)

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I spoke at a Memorial Service for a woman I knew who died recently at age 97.  She was a petite and pretty lady.  I knew her, her husband (who predeceased her), her two daughters and members of her extended family.

Margaret kept a nice home in a nice neighborhood, married an engineer who was successful.  She was cordial to me and others.  She had a social life, sang in a Church choir, worked at an herb shop, won awards for floral decoration, did some painting, belonged to the Women’s Club – always looked nice.

Seems like an exemplary life, a good and comfortable life.  Yet, she carried in her entire life the deep injury of loss of her mother and her father.  She was, in practical effect, abandoned – betrayed by her father and her mother at the very young age of two – sent to live with her grandmother in a crowded home where she was largely forgotten – but for her use as a servant girl.

The critical loss of one’s parents is devastating, disorienting – it left in Margaret a longing to be cared for, accepted, loved as a child is loved by her mother or her father.

Psychologist tell us to have a relatively normal and healthy life a child needs one “good enough parent.”  Margaret had no such parent.

This loss was a constant in her life; she always needed others to do for her.  This was her pathology.

No sooner had I met Margaret that she called to ask me if I might drive her car less than two blocks from her home to fill her automobile with gas.  Without hesitation I said, “No, Margaret – but you have a nice day.”   You see I knew from her daughter that she inevitably tried to usurp others into serving her in all manner of things, at any time – day or night – once compromised more and more expectations were placed on you,  yet nothing but the love of God could fill her void … only those who offered this love could assuage her hurt.  For her part she had to seek God, not the perpetual dependence on others as a source of affirmation.

We fail miserably when the government pursues policies that strip fathers from the family and leave women idle and alone to raise children by themselves.  Yet, that is the policy of the government and the Left.  Yes, we insure dependents and the illness it manifests so readily in the human person.  As for the Black family and poor Whites – government policy enslaves them and generates inter-generational disorder.  This need not be.

It is about time we acknowledged the devastating injury to the family caused by the government, Leftist champions of the Nanny State, and advanced by the law, legislators, the judiciary, a sundry “talking heads,” lightweight celebrities and media types, and odd ball academics.  Let’s be plain – villages do not raise a family – parents do!

Getting families right is a fundamental measure of the health and strength of a society.  Getting them wrong creates lasting injury and disorder and is astonishingly costly in human and monetary terms.  Failing families weaken a nation and make all easy prey.

The truth of the matter is this: that government which governs least governs best … because people prosper when they face their individual responsibilities and grow in experience, faith, maturity, confidence, pride and wisdom as a result.

We ought to be ashamed of what we foster – of the broken families we create.

Shalom.

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When the apostles preached, they could assume even in their Pagan hearers a real consciousness of deserving the Divine anger.  The Pagan mysteries existed to allay this consciousness, and the Epicurean philosophy claimed to deliver men from the fear of eternal punishment.  It was against this background that the Gospels appeared as good news. (Emphasis added.)

C.S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain

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This from the chapter entitled “Human Wickedness.”  Reading it is some indictment of us today.

Think about it, Lewis notes that the Pagans 2000 years ago were conscious of their faults and thought themselves deserving of divine punishment. Further, Lewis points out that this was state of mind and consciousness that allowed the Gospels to be received as “Good News.”  

That said, one must ask: Are we anywhere close to such consciousness?  I think you know the answer.

We seem to lack the humility of the Pagans. This, I observe, is the price we pay for our intentional separation of man from God.  Indeed I would say that the last seven centuries have put us on a steady trajectory away from God and humility. Imagine having less humility than unbelievers.  Imagine today that we lack the consciousness to receive the Gospels as men and women once did when Christ appeared and Christianity flourished.  Such a thought is worthy of our contemplation.

It may well be that we need a radical abandonment of our egocentric life in favor of the humility we once possessed in earnest.  When we think less of ourselves we might think more of God.  That cannot be anything but helpful today.

Shalom.

 

 

Pain is weakness leaving the body.

A Navy Seal Instructor

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Imagine Christ on the Cross.  He’d have been a natural for the Navy Seals.  How about you?  What are you made of?  What are you capable of enturing?  Have you tested yourself?  Has life challenged you?  If so, did you see the struggle to conclusion?  Did you get up when knocked down?  Did adversity make you more determined?  Are you a “tough out”?

In St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy (2 Tim 3:1-5) he writes of the last days as the most difficult time we face.  He says in those times: men will love themselves and money, that they will be boastful and arrogant … ungrateful, unholy.  That they will be unloving, malicious, without self-control … that they will hate what is good.  He says that they will be conceited, love pleasure more than God and that they will proffer their godliness but in actuality not live it. Most importantly, St. Paul says “Avoid such men as these.”

Look around you, what men do you see on the major news channels?  Are they men you can envision as Navy Seals or are they those St. Paul would have us avoid?

Ask this same question about your politicians?  Sports figures?  Celebrities? Actors? Public figures?  News media?  Critics?  Social “activists”?  Intellectuals? Professors? Judges? Lawyers? Doctors?  Public advocates?  Those running public organizations? Could you see Mark Zuckerberg as a Navy Seal?  Jeff Bezos?  Alex Baldwin? Anderson Cooper?  Or are these individuals that fit St. Paul’s advice?

In looking about I see far more people who fit St. Paul’s advisory, and I see that we have the very lax and costly habit of listening without discretion to anyone who has access to mass communication and that this is absolutely foolish to do.

Finally, do you fall into the first of the above paragraphs or the second? The best among us fit the first.  They may be few, but they are the best.

A life of faith, a life fully lived is not for the faint of heart.  Isn’t it interesting that those least likely to excel when troubles arise are so often those we see speaking?  

Shalom.   

Wisdom is meaningless until your own experience has given it meaning … and there wisdom is the selection of wisdom.

Bergan Evans

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Many time people tell me that their brother, sister, mother, spouse does not seem to understand their plight in life.  The complaint I hear tells of the suffering and estrangement of being unable to experience a connection between those who you know well and for a long time and a person facing significant trials, angst, uncertainty, suffering and pain.

I always remind these people that one of the hardest things to do is to experience the experience of another.

Why is that?

Well, the primary reason is this: people do not examine their own experience in life fully.

Most people ignore the actual event of life.  They live what is easy, pleasant, necessary – but avoid the unpleasant things, challenges, the mystery of their own life and experience.  In that avoidance, one cannot take on another’s plight.  That being the case, two people who know one another – even reside with one another – cannot maintain an intimate connection with one another.  Sad and commonplace, but unnecessary.

The answer?  Live deeply, not on the surface.  Reflect on what is presented to you – whether good or bad, difficult or easy.

We are given a life so it may be fully lived, fully explored and experienced.  If you fall short, you reduce yourself and likely lapse into a smallness that leads to your own disorder … and your ability to befriend and love others, and to be compassionate is put out of reach.

It is easier to say you feel another’s pain, than it is to feel another’s pain.

Shalom.

There was a time when people were not concerned about self.  It was a time of simply being.  (Emphasis added.)

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

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It is said by some that when Adam and Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that this is the moment when consciousness is born, when man and woman see themselves as “self” – as living in a state of being “separate” and “apart” from God and one another.

That said, Dr. May in his book Simply Sane examines the evolution of the human being once he and she discovers the self and other.  

May sees this as a very significant turning point that posts a false state of being and creates very difficult tensions, and problems, for the human person.

In particular, May reminds us when we were less conscious of self we are more aware of being itself, and life and creation as we were but a part.  Says May, when we focus on self our awareness fades and thought clutters our mind.  This transition, I offer with May’s help, creates distance between one person and another, imposes particular burdens on a single person and makes intimate experience far more difficult for the distance consciousness of self fosters between one person and an other, or all others – and in relationship with the Divine. One might ask in this context, Can one know the “I Am” when one must be the I am?

Yes, in self comes estrangement.  In a way, consciousness of self makes another a potential threat, an enemy.  Perhaps this is why we seem to prefer that “God is dead” or forgotten in the present secular age.

I have come over the years to see the loss of intimacy as a major and very damaging issue in modern life.  My observation has me think about so many of the modern horrors and disordered behaviors and wonder if it is not the estrangement from our divine and whole being and the resultant loss of intimacy that gives rise to so many modern illnesses and murderous escapades.

I ask for instance: What explains the homicidal rage of ISIS?  What empowers the need for nation states, like Iran or North Korea, to fortify themselves against “others” as they do?  Why is a flawed ideology like Marxism so embraced by “educated” people who should know it’s ugly and brutal history?  Why is pornography so prevalent?  How can homosexuality can exist in a vowed religious community?  How can women justify the killing of an innocent, unborn child in the womb?  How can the Left justify their lying to secure political power at the expense of their dignity and honor?  How can once great nations, where freedom was secured and debate welcomed, become so divided, so at war with their citizens with whom they do not agree? How can obvious dangers be ignored and incidents be overlooked because they are at odds one’s distorted political view of what is “correct?”  How can people lie to themselves and live what is false and a lie itself?  Cover up and excuse horrible crimes?

Self.  Self more than other.  Thought replacing awareness.  The other as enemy. Estrangement. Loss of relationship.  Loss of intimacy. Distance from others. Distance from one significant other.  Sickness on display.  Sickness excused, justified.  Sickness.  Decay.  Decline.  Death.

Think about it.

Shalom.

Question: When can we prosecute Hillary for national security breaches, or at least get her psychiatric help?

For those who face a trial and complain or become resentful.

… do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing … to the degree that you share the suffering of Christ …

1 Pet 4:12, 13

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How often have I heard someone say: why is this happening to me?  Why am I suffering?

In what are rarer instances, I have witnessed in my life those who have faced hard challenges and yet never complained.  I think of my mother: struggling to find work, alone – having lost her parents when she was still a young lady.  And I think of my young wife with cancer, a punishing disease that worsened year by year. Neither complained.

I am asked from time to time, was your mother faithful?  I answer: “yes, by the way she lived – she encountered hardship and never wavered.”  The same could be said of my wife. They each possessed a courage that tells of faith, that comes from faith, that rests on faith.

They believed.  They saw God in the trials, and they walked with God without complaint, or doubt and they never felt sorry for themselves.  Indeed, they put others first.

In our trials we draw closer to God and learn to rely on God not on our self.  We learn that we are not alone and that life is but a passing.  In this we see who we are and what a human being is and can be.  We see how those who do not believe are in constant turmoil and how they cause problems for themselves and others – how discontented they are.

To believe in the midst of a trial is to be a witness to others of the Truth that gives us peace: we are God’s children and we are never alone or forgotten.

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Ask yourself – does this culture promote or disparage faith and the experience of God?

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Shalom.

We face up to awful things because we can’t go around them …

… it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain and misery …

Annie Proulx, in The Shipping News

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Today, east over the mountains I see gray clouds and a dark pink sunrise.  Gray and pink against the faintest of pale blue-gray sky.  Another day of hope and promise.

Last night I watched The Shipping News – good book put to film.  It reminded me of many things.  How stories teach.  How we each are made good and bad, and how the hurt we suffer or inflict settles a sadness deep within – next to God.

How those who hurt us loose in the end as their glass shatters.  How often small towns can give us the shelter of caves before death and in those shelters we might – just might – heal the curses previously inflicted.

I saw in this story that nothing is more evil than nailing a man to a tree and that doing so brings in a blood thick fog, until a pure unpainted face appears to smile so we might see the ocean, its living waters – deep, endless, timeless as God who makes the gift of love for each of us.

How good women can rescue men, and men inexplicably, modestly reciprocate without understanding how.

How men do not cry for the treachery they see and know.  How this is our excursion and how we face it all without fear.  How children worry about death but men do not.  How those who loved us never die.

How a woman’s face can be warm when she is but a woman.  How her delicate fingers touch the world and the hearts in it so carefully.  And how darkness can exist within some and make warmth deathly cold, snaring and hard.

How living waters make us all “water people.”  And how story is life and life is story.

Shalom.

 

Peace does not dwell in outward things, but within the soul; we may preserve it in the midst of the bitterest pain …

Francis Fenelon

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Yes, true enough.  But what does this say to us?

First, peace relies on one’s interior journey.  That is where the exterior is integrated and where, in that process, we grow in depth, understanding, wisdom, courage, mercy and maturity.  That said, this calls most frequently on faith and the place of religious narrative in one’s life.

But what more does this say?

Pain, disappointment, deception – even betrayal and abandonment are part of life among mortals who are in all states of immaturity, selfishness, fear, hurt, disorder, foolishness and the like.  So, yes – the interior journey provides a housing for the hurt that diminishes the injury that others and life invokes.

Faith and the interior journey: they neutralize the toxic nature of pain and make of it the best things that we are in being fully human and divinely created beings.

It is so often pain and disappointment that opens the doors of the heart and soul, and faith narratives which most frequently provide the template and context in which, relying in the ancient and ageless truth they impart, that hold the key to heart and soul.

Shalom.

Why must we fight for the right to live, over and over, each time the sun rises?

Leon Uris, in Exodus

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Why?  Because we are human and shun God, preferring ourselves to The Divine and what is the Only Good.

Remember this, you may stay in place and know an exodus.  You see the world and those in it move away from what is good at-large, good in you, The Good. That, friends, is an exodus.  Yes, your culture, your family may well move from you, who you are, what you believe, what is True.

There is suffering in this.  It is an inversion – a loss and then a gain.  You will have your desert time, be enriched in God and then pass through.  Others will have been lost, devoured – destroyed by their own choice.

Shalom.

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eyes and God’s eyes are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.

Meister Eckhart

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In this quote you might come to see and understand the Centurion and yourself.

How did the Centurion come to see Jesus as Lord?  The short answer is that he received his life experience with an open heart.

This Roman military officer was stationed far from home in a distant outpost of the Roman Empire, far from family and friends and his native culture.  Yet, he saw and received the local population of Jews, loved them, befriended them, and aided them.

Growth is life experience taken inside.  This is how we mature, gain wisdom and compassion, insight, acquire patience, self-control.

Close yourself to experience and there is no growth, no maturity, little joy or happiness, and ultimately no depth, no character, no faith – only life wasted.

The Centurion accepted life and lived it with an open heart.  He saw its danger, its bitterness, brightness, its extravagance.  He saw with the eye of God.  In this, he saw Jesus as Lord.

Look Friends, it is not complicated.

By the grace of God my life was the Centurion’s life.  I accepted my life and lived it just as my extended family, friends and their families did.

I accepted my father’s abandonment when I was an infant.  I accepted my wonderful Irish Catholic neighbors, their great wit and loyalty, their remarkable strength, their faith and how it ordered their life.

I accepted the dignity of those in my working class community.  I accepted our modest incomes, and our need to work, our competitiveness and our toughness.

I accepted the untimely death of grandparents with whom my mother and I lived when I was a child.  Our poverty.  My mother’s extraordinary dedication to me, her resilience, strength, courage, her unselfishness, her wisdom, her quiet faith.

I accepted God’s gift of wonderful friends who became my brothers and sisters, their families who made me one of them.

I accepted my struggle to learn, to earn a dollar where and when I could at a time when a quarter of the population in Boston lived below the poverty level, just as I did.

I accepted the loss of a family home and our quarantine to public housing and its greater challenges.

I accepted the death of my Jewish wife when she was not yet thirty.  Despite learning disabilities I journeyed to college, to law school, to two additional graduate degrees, work in the Congress, private practice – and unemployment along the way.

I accepted life’s snubs, injustice, its setbacks and its gratuitous gifts.

I accepted my journey as one God willed for me.

With faith, uncertainty was familiar but not fatal.  I became a Catholic.  I served in religious life for a decade.  I came closer to God.

I was, in a way God desired for me, a Centurion of sorts.  You are too, if you dare to recognize this.

” … one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”

Shalom.

You are always welcomed to share this blog with others, especially if you think it may held them, inspire them, get them closer to God and their true self.

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