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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.

 

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God, Who is everywhere never leaves us.

Thomas Merton, in No Man is an Island

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It seems to us from time to time that God is not present to us.  But this would appear to negate what Merton says above.

What might one say?  Merton says this: sometimes God seems present to us and sometimes He seems absent from us.  This is normal.  Merton tells us this: God may be more present to us when he appears absent than when He appears present.

Strange, you might think.  And you might ask: How can this be?  More present when we think He is absent?

To figure this out Merton points out that there are two kinds of “absent.”  One is a condemnation – God is absent from us “because we put some other god in His place and refuse to be known by Him.”

In the second form of “absent” we are not condemned but sanctified!  In that experience of His absence He “empties the soul of every image that might become an idol and of every concern that might stand between our face and His Face.”

Condemned is what our culture has done presently – how we live at-large in a secularized culture that intentionally excludes God and foolishly elevates the human person – their physical and intellectual desires above God.  All of the homicides, violence, broken relationships, addictions, predatory behavior, conflicts, divisions, abortions, child abuse and neglect, abhorrent inter-personal behavior and actions intended to destabilize the country are acts of condemnation on our part.

The sense that God is absent to us in the whole is an accurate indication of our present day experience.  We have met the enemy and he is us.

Sanctification is something else again.  Here God acts positively and protectively to insure that we do not personally (one by one) acquire the means to divide ourselves from God.

In sanctification God loves us so that He leads us to a place where we realize that the things we have cherished are NOT God and as such can never satisfy or fulfill us in and by themselves.  You see when find that we have begun to place even the best things we do or encounter above God, God reminds us that even the good we do cannot satisfy as God can for the good we do does not love us the way the God who is Love does.

When the day grows quiet and you are alone, ask yourself if you have placed things above God – even the good things you do.  If that might be so, ask God to bring you back to Him.

As for the serious disarray we have in our culture and country, it is way past time to seek that God might bring us back to Him.

Shalom.

 

 

Prayer is lifting up our minds and hearts to God.

The St. John’s Daily Prayer Book

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What might comprise a daily prayer?

  • Expressing our love of God
  • Thanking God for our blessings
  • Seeking God’s forgiveness for our sins
  • Asking that His Grace shine on us, our loved ones and others

One may pray silently.  That is called mental prayer.  Or one can give voice to prayer.  Prayer invokes both heart and mind in each of us.

Starting a day with simple prayer is a wonderful habit and the very best way to begin a new day.

In quiet times I may well simply sit and thank God for all He has done for me, profess my love of Him, and ask for His forgiveness.

Yes, each of us must be forgiven.  We are sinners to whom God generously provides His mercy.  Indeed if you read the prayers of the Doctors of the Church like St. Thomas Aquinas you will see his initial recognition that he knows himself a sinner who receives God’s attention and mercy through no merits of his own earthly deeds.

It is so helpful to give yourself time to pray.

Shalom.

Does anyone of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go before law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?

1 Cor 6:1

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When you think about how litigious we are today, we all might want to read the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

The simple verse above raises this question: Why let the “unrighteous” settle your disputes?  Would it not be better to trust the Holy Ones to resolve your disputes?

Would it not be better to ask our heart, what am I to do?  How am I to react?

It is very easy to default to conflict.  People do selfish and hateful things and these things hurt us, disappoint us, anger us – and justifiably so.  But, we all must ask cautiously: will I let these deeds convert me to anger?  Will I let these deeds diminish me?

As for me, this is something I need to ponder.  So many times the bad deeds of others have challenged me and divided me from my faith, angered me and provoked my unflattering thoughts or words.  St. Paul’s words humble me.  His words today will take root in me.  Thank God.

Shalom.

“The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.  But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep.”

Jn 10: 25, 26

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These are the words Jesus spoke to Jews in Jerusalem at the Temple.  Let’s put them in today’s context.

Yesterday a young man in Toronto drove a van down the sidewalk and killed ten people and seriously injured more.  A few days ago in Nashville, Tennessee, a young man entered a restaurant early in the morning and shot and killed four patrons and injured others.  Each young man had a history of mental health problems.

These two incidents are reminders of the Parkland, Florida, school shootings that took the lives of 17 students.  That young man also has a history of mental illness.  In that case, the public authorities totally failed to address the needs of that very troubled young man.

” … you do not believe, because you are not my sheep …”

The success of Alcoholics Anonymous is dependent on recognition of the existence of God (“a higher power’) and on our limitations to address our problems as if we are that “higher power.”

It seems to me that the constant signs of our neglect of those in need and the violent actions of those who (in their deranged state) randomly kill innocent people is an indication of our neglect of our own spiritual needs.  

I think too of the two lesbian women who adopted six foster care children and retained custody of those children while having had run afoul of child welfare officials in three states.  As you recall these two women drove a vehicle (with the children in it) off a California cliff to their collective deaths 100 feet below.

We are a troubled nation because we have forsaken belief … because we have neglected our full health, our need for spiritual sustenance.

Indeed we live like we are each a god unto our self.  We are, in this regard, absolutely NOT helped by all the discontented “special pleaders” in politics and particularly the angry godless voices on the Left who create division and disorder and their counterparts in the Democrat Party in the U.S. Congress, the federal bureaucracy and in state and local government.  Yes, godless voices breed sickness and hostility.

Let’s be honest, we awake each day to read or hear about one or more horrific accounts of murder, child abuse, infanticide, abhorrent sexual assaults, or some form of human deprivation that is beyond our imagination or understanding … and we see day after day the utter failure of authorities to do much of anything about these matters.

You know I recall the hubris of Mr. Obama who boasted about fundamentally transforming America and that no one seemed ever to ask in what form this change might take, nor did anyone dare to say to him: “Hey, pal, you’re NOT God and you have accomplished nothing thus far in your life.”

The point to be made?  Man is not God.  Heck, we are not now even clearly showing that we are the Shepherd’s sheep.

Might be time to believe again.  But do we have it in us to be humble as we once were?

Shalom.

Warped Self-interest – No Democrat Senators on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State.  They did so largely to deprive President Trump the person he wanted in that position.

Mr. Pompeo, a former Congressman and Director of the C.I.A., graduated first in his class at West Point and first in his class at Harvard Law School.  He has had both a successful military career and an excellent business career in which he started (as I recall) two successful businesses.

When you think that we have had recently both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as Secretary of State (neither of them who achieved any particular success in their lifetime), it shows you that Democrats always put their own interests before the interests of the Nation and its people.  Shameful.

… Christianity modeled a nobler way of life than what was on offer elsewhere in the rather brutal society of the day.  In Christianity, women were respected as they weren’t in classical culture and played a critical role in bringing men to the faith and attracting converts.  In the age of the plagues, the readiness of Christians to care for all the sick, not just their own, was a factor, as was the impressive witness to faith of countless martyrs …

George Weigel, in “The Easter Effect,” (The Wall Street Journal, March 31-April 1, 2018

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In these words Mr. Weigel is recounting how it was that Roman Emperor Constantine ended all state sanctions against Christians who heretofore were considered a danger to the ruling powers, outlaws of sorts.

In these words Weigel shows that the way Christians lived propelled their growth in Rome and across the lands to the East.  These early Christians showed others a nobler way to live, a way to live that provided meaning, access to purpose and promise, and joy as well.  This Christianity gave those who believed hope and a context in which one might live with optimism.  This Christianity offered a moral code and a way to an ordered life.

Christianity offers no less today.  But alas Christians are suspect in our land today and more to the point Christianity’s moral understandings are being dislodged from our culture.

In place of Christian moral values, we have not value-relative but valueidiosyncratic.  Each individual gets to be his own author of moral conduct.  The chaos that ensues is inexhaustible.

A little, insignificant waif (U.S. Army enlisted clerk) Bradley Manning gets to disclose troves of top secret material at will and is pardoned by a clueless President for whom both Christianity and the heritage of the West seem utterly alien.  Additionally, Edward Snowden, a contract security specialist, does the same thing and flees to Russia where he remains today with no efforts to secure his return to face the consequences of his criminal, treasonous conduct.

In contrast to the elevated place of women in early Christianity today we have the residuals of Sex in the City women – droves of women of all shapes and sizes that place their identity in sexuality and their clutch for power (that is, political in particular or mere public identity that has as to celebrity and mass communication an impact that comes not from any achievement but from having a familiar, fabricated image).

This, of course, is far enough afield from women in Constantine’s time – that it now befalls to men to model Christian values to others in a time and culture that holds men responsible for all the evils of the world (while still expecting them to lay down their lives in defense of others).

So here is “the bottom line” for us today – good and decent men and women who seek to parent children who will be immune from the ugliness of today’s culture must do and be as the early Christians  – must live by the code of conduct and morals of their early ancestors.  Failing that, further chaos and decline is predictable.  Such an ordeal hardly seems what parents and elders like me would wish for any man, woman or child.

Are you not so called?  Or do you wish to be the ones who watched as Christianity faded from view?

Shalom.

If today’s blog connects positively with you, send it to another who might benefit by reading it.

 

Listen, O my people, to my instruction; incline your ears to the words of my mouth … tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord … He commended our fathers that they should teach them to their children … even the children yet to be born that they might arise and tell them to their children … (Emphasis added.)

Psalm 78: 1, 4, 5, 6

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I have written lately of our need to separate from the pagan, secular culture and turn away from the public discourse for it is destructive and devoid of God.

Yet, turning away is not enough.  We must turn to God, His words and instructions – to the good and faithful ways of His Prophets and Saints – His Disciples and Teachers.

We live in serious times, in a time of great deception and destruction whereby we jeopardize our nation and its legacy, and that of Western Civilization.

Our faith, beliefs and ways of living are attacked by those without God.  Yes, we are attacked by those who occupy positions of authority and command public presence.

We have failed to teach our children well.  We have been silent when we should have spoken.  Our silence has allowed evil and division to take root.

It is fair to say that we have not lived in more serious times than these.

I ask, then: do you read Scripture each day?  Do you grow in holiness?  Do you teach your children?  Do you stand in opposition to what is godless?  Stand against even family members who deny God and live in opposition to what is right and good and just?

This is a time of fundamental challenge.  Where do you stand today?

Shalom.

Men and Boys.  The state of men and boys is not good.  Men have more suicides than women.  Mortality among working class men shows men are dying younger than they once did.  Institutions like schools thwart the masculine aspects of young boys.  White Men are assumed to have a privilege and held suspect for it.  It is no surprise that police officers are targeted, hunted, killed regularly.

That said, we do not own this reality and its origin.

Its origin is explained in no small part by the division between men and women that Feminism has promoted.  Feminism, of course, is a simple variation of Marxist dialectic – that is, the notion that one must have an enemy to oppose in order to gain power.

Yes, Feminism has been at war with men for several decades.

Funny thing – having reduced men, one wonders how Whoppi Goldberg (62) and Joy Behar (75) will defend us from foreign enemies now that 71 percent of young men subject for military service are disqualified by reason of intellectual deficit, addictions, criminal records and health (obesity and mental health issues among them).

To the barricades Joy – to the barricades Whoppi!!!   What a mess the Left has made!

 

The coming of Christ into the world is the most stupendous event in human history.

Malcolm Muggeridge, in Jesus: The Man Who Lives

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Does Christ enter human history, or does human history enter Christ?

I prefer the latter to the former.  Why?

When we say Christ enters human history we are the landlord and Christ is the renter.  Such a view places us in a superior position.  We are the center of Nothing.  Bit players without any lines to say – we walk on in a crowd and leave.  Not so God.  Not so God’s Son.

Looking through the wrong end of the lens always distorts size, distance, Truth and us.

Christ is larger than history.  He consumes history, all in it – all the folly and destruction, evil, corruption, lying, selfishness, sickness, dishonesty … He reigns over all – what is right and what is wrong.

I have been reading Paul Johnson wonderful history of the last century (Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties).  There is no way one could not conclude that we are in the aggregate screwed up.  Yep, our history aint’t a flattering one.  Whatever bad could be done – we did it … Governments and politicians in the “lead” so often!!!  Elites commiting all sorts of injurious deeds and persisting in them.

To this day we place too much hope in elites, government, academics, politicians, public figures.  The facts do not support such trust.  Indeed, each of us is called to what is Good – there are no magic paths but self in contact with the Divine.

Matching Paul Johnson’s work with the utter nonsense and insanity of today in the Western World and you can hardly imagine that we might house Christ.  No.  No.  No.  Despite who we are – and maybe because of who we are – Christ houses us … we do not house Christ.  

I come to this question.  What will become of my grandchildren?  How can I help them live a good life, a life of love and service, happiness, contentment and tranquility?

My answer?  I shall have to teach them to keep proper distance from the mass and the idiocy that comes from herds of misshapen people – those who reject God in favor of themselves, the moment, mortal existence and their inane desires.  I shall have to teach them to say “no,” to be independent … to realize that Christ houses them – they are the tenant and He the landlord.

One can only hope that we will come to our senses and turn away from the destruction that others bring in increasing volumes and forms today.  Remorse.  Pray for remorse to take hold …

Shalom.

What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.

Hans Urs von Balthasar

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I like the symmetry of this.  Our gift from God is being itself.  However our gift to God is in our being not just singularly but collectively.

What we become in reflected in each of us and in the culture in which we reside.  Just as we prosper in who we are, what we do, what we think, what we believe and how we order our life and time – so too is culture assessed in a similar manner.

As to culture today – we are not much of a gift to God.  Indeed, we live as if we reject this gift of being.

We have normalized all sorts of abhorrent behaviors.  We make violence lawful – think: killing children.  Yes, mothers engaged in child sacrifice.  Hideous.  Marriage is not honored as it once was – and families are in tatters.  Drug use is common, suicide and child abuse too.

Intimacy is scarce.  Vulgarity is not.

We care less about others and more about our self.  We have dumbed education down.  We have ideology but not belief.  One political party relies on division, Father Government and variants of destructive Marxism fantasies.  Envy and hatred are common.  Humility is rare.

What is one to do?  Separate yourself from godlessness.  Turn your back on it.  Close your ears to it.  Live independent of it.  Keep your distance from it.  Learn to live in silence, quiet, peace.  Learn your faith.  Recall its wisdom and employ its truth daily.  Speak softly of what is good.  Help those who come to you.  Be candid in describing what you see and the truth you know.  Make each breath count for what is good.  Stay close to God who brought you into being and ignore all those around you who have no God but themselves or some nonsensical idea or fetish.

A time for choosing what is good is here.  You are either a gift to God or nothing at all.

Shalom.

Washington Post.  The newspaper reports in a long article today that Nikolas Cruz was identified as a troubled child in his early school years.  The story reports that getting a child into the proper setting was a long and involved process that took years to accomplish.  Likewise, the newspaper article says that places in the right settings were fewer than needed for troubled children.  It also reports that Broward County had used many of the placements for youngsters who would have likely been referred for prosecution.  The paper suggests that some groups wanted to interrupt the “pipeline” from school to jail that beset certain ethnic groups.

Merton … understood … the human person and transcendent human dignity … through faith and experience he knew to what the human person is called.  The way thereto he explored generously and fearlessly.

Basil Pennington, in I Have Seen What I Was Looking For

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Who among us has taken time to understand the human person and the transcendent reality of human dignity?  Not many, I bet is your answer.

If it is so that not many you encounter have taken the time to understand what it is to be a human person and the divine measure of transcendent human dignity – you are saying this: the ones around you lack a depth of faith and the depth and range of human experience each of us has access to in our mortal and spiritual existence.

Indeed to say those around us do not understand human existence or the divinity of the eternal grant of dignity to the human person goes a long way to explaining why the world is the way it is.

Odd isn’t it.  We are given to know and to experience, but we so often fail to abide by this gift.  Rather we hunker down determined to construct ourselves as if we are the omnipotent Gift Giver.

This, of course, is the story throughout the Ages.  We seem intent on substituting our dubious genius for God’s gifts.  That Dear Friends is evident in our devotion to ideology, to politics, power, control, status, self, wealth, title, etc.  That Dear Friends explains the glorification of the body, the disaster that the focus on sex has produced.  That, too, explains the unhealthy place of race and gender consciousness in this land.  Ironically, as Christ was killed, so too do we kill the unborn child, one another, marriage and the soul of so many.

Where are you in this scene?  Is that not the question as we begin a new calendar year?

Shalom.

Hymns.  I have taken to starting my day listening to hymns as I prepare the fire and ready the tea and muffin.  It is quite difficult to be captured by the rhythm and force of godlessness when one has such a daily beginning.

Interestingly, these hymns bring to mind many lovely days spent with my son – especially our days in Scotland – in the Highlands, and Balliter, on the Isle of Muir and in Iona, and in St. Margaret’s small chapel in Edinburgh Castle.  Neither of us have ever quite left Scotland – the place of our family origin.  May you have such peace that death holds no sway.

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