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The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their life style.  That is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

Brennan Manning

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There are many around us who profess Christ but do not act like Christ.  That circumstance is as old as dirt itself.  But what effect does it have on us?

Do we simply forfeit our belief, and on what basis?  Do we conclude that if the man next to me says he is a Christian but does not act thus – are we to abandon our beliefs?  Does this in any reasonable manner justify the rejection of Christ, his denial?

That hardly seems justifiable.

I am from a hard background – one where hardships and injustices, rejections and betrayals, and where deaths, poverty and bigotry were common.  None of those things made me apt to divorce myself from Christ or Christianity.  Perhaps this was simply because hardship made me and others in my family and community tougher – more independent, more loyal to one another and our professed beliefs.

I spent a good deal of time at the University of Notre Dame and in vowed religious life.  I can tell you without any hesitancy – I saw in both religious life and life at Notre Dame that many among each cohort did not live as one might reasonably expect those who professed Christ as their Savior – as the Son of God – might live.  Yet their failures only deepened my resolve to live as Christ would desire me to live.  I concluded from this one simple truth – many who claim Christ are neither faithful enough nor strong enough to commit to a life of faith, a life growing in relationship to Christ.

I guess my hard knocks life in Boston made me one hard dude when it came to living my beliefs … indeed I became more committed the more my faith was attacked and the more the principals in the faith showed their failure to abide by their faith.  About the only thing these episodes showed me is this: I was tougher and they were weaker.

In this regard I think of this historic quotation to encourage you: “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!”

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.

 

God abandons only those who abandon themselves, and whoever has the courage shut up his sorrows within his own heart is stronger to fight against it than he who complains.  (Emphasis added.)

George Sand, in La Petite Fadette

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Yesterday I spent much of the day alone.  That gave me time in all the quiet to think about the joy of seeing my son, his wife and my grandchildren and gave me mind to think about loved ones and friends who have passed away.  My mother has now been gone 21 years.  I have no siblings.  My uncles and their wives are now gone almost as long as my mother.  My wife Sylvia will have been gone 40 years this year.

I have spent a great deal of time without people who I loved and who loved me.  I have in absolute truth borne the weight of these years alone without complaint.  Honestly I have done so courageously – as Sand says I have “shut up the sorrows within (my) heart.”

Against this backdrop I call tell you I never liked complainers.  I was born to modest means and soon enough loved ones (grandparents with whom my mother and I lived) died.  Yes, each by the time I was just out of the sixth grade.  In short order my mother and I were in public housing and poverty took up residence in our reality.  Complaining was out of the question.  Complaining does no good.  It accomplishes nothing.  Doing is what problems and hardships demand.  Doing makes us stronger, wiser, more cunning, more empowered, more defiant, more confident, more independent.

That said, we live in a nation of complainers.  I am so sick of hearing about racism.  So sick hearing about income transfers, diversity, the plight of the dependent class, women who feel slighted, poor immigrants, etc.  Nothing gets better without parking your sorrows by the roadside and getting after life.  Wrong side of the tracks?  Show those who might demean you that you can outwork them, are stronger, more determined, bolder, more focused, unbeatable.

In the course of my life I have (despite a learning disability and poverty) graduated from college and law school, earned advanced degrees at Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame, practiced (serving poor clients, mostly), entered religious life, become an Army officer, purchased a home, a car and a small business for my mother, cared for a wife with cancer, raised a son who now has his Ph.D. and a nice wife, two lovely children and a good job where he is valued.  Mind you I am no genius.  I work. I had no time for complaining – I was a doer. 

We tolerate too much whining.  Too much complaining.  The best we can do for people who complain is this – tell them to be quiet and “get after it.”  Better we challenge others to show all the doubters wrong than waste time complaining or listening to their complaints over and again.

As legendary football coach and sidewalk philosopher Lou Holtz says: “Don’t tell people about your problems.  Twenty percent don’t want to hear about them – and the remaining 80 percent are glad you have them.”

Shalom.

The NEW Democrat Party.  Former Army enlisted clerk and transvestite Bradley Manning who was convicted for the illegal release of thousands of classified security documents and sentenced to 35 years in prison (before being pardoned by President Obama for no particular reason) has announced he/she is running for the U.S. Senate in Maryland against a seated Democrat Senator who has spent (as Democrats do) a lifetime on the public tit.  The New Guard is replacing the Old Guard.  (Same tit, by the way.) How charming.

This is exactly where the Democrat Party has been driving the bus.  George Orwell must be tickled pink – yes, isn’t that the color perfect.  The pinkos have more than one screw loose.

Mother’s Day, 2016

This is what we do, my mother’s life said.  We find ourselves in the sacrifices we make.

Cammie McGovern

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It seems that as I have gotten older more people compliment me for something that I might have done for them or another person, or for a comment I made which helped them sort out a difficulty or gain an understanding that they had not yet discovered or come to comprehend.

Such an encounter always prompts me to say “thank you” but then this: “if you have anything good to say about me, it is because of my mother, my grandmother and others in my family loved me, taught be how to live, encouraged me, and mediated the love of God in my life.”

I often add, “My mother saved my life.”  I probably should add – the way her mother and father saved her life.

There is an adage in psychology concerning parenting and it is this: for a child to do well in life they need at least one “good-enough” parent – one parent who loves them and treats them with primary importance.

If that is so, I had not a “good-enough” parent, but a Hall of Fame mother.

My mother was a single parent.  I was an only child.  We shared everything in life – all its challenges.  By the time I was 12 both of my maternal grandparents where dead and my mother and I were a sail in our small boat on a pretty large sea, a dark and deep sea.

We shared the storms and winds, the sun and heat, the uncertainties, poverty, laughter, apprehensions, the work, faith, likes and dislikes, ups and downs, chores, food, conversation – everything.

I never saw my mother ever put her needs or desires before me – ever.

She was a person, small in frame – but large in heart – and literally unbeatable in life.  She was determined and yet humble, without any inflated ideas about herself, or wild expectations about the world.

She was a realist who believed in God and His constant goodness and presence. She was positive that a person could always excel – no matter the odds and the headwinds.

She was most of all loving and had faith in God (which I am sure fortified her resolve and explained her endless font of love).

Love was powerfully planted in her, so rooted in her heart that speaking of it was hard, it brought tears to her eyes – so I often got “the note” that said so much you saved it and re-read it often.  I am sure she cried writing it.  Love touched her deeply, as God does.

People think that poverty is crippling.  It is not.  Surely it is not if you have a mother like my mother.  Truth is – I would not be writing this blog or have had the life I have been blessed to live had I not been my mother’s son.

How good was she?  She was my mother and my father – with equal shares of tenderness and loving toughness.

So I say today as I say everyday: “Mom, I love you.  Keep watching over me.” Saying this, I always get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eyes just like my mother did.

Happy Mother’s Day to All.

Shalom.

Of all things that man has … his soul is the most divine and truly his own.

Plato, in Laws, Bk. VI

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Robert J. Samuelson, an economics reporter for The Washington Post, wrote a column in the March 28, 2016, edition of that newspaper in which he asserted, in contradiction to Donald Trump’s words, that the United States is not a poorer country than it once was.

In Mr. Samuelson’s response he makes the case that we are still a wealthy country and does so convincingly by using valid measures and putting our recent economic history into context.  Yes, I think he is correct in what he says – but not astute.  Nor is Mr. Trump astute in his articulation that we are “a poor country now” if one takes these words to be limited to economics.

In the law we might say thinking literally about Trump’s comments focuses us on a “red herring,” chases the wrong thing.

So what am I saying?  I am saying that Mr. Trump, perhaps unbeknownst to himself, has tapped into another kind of poverty being experienced by those to whom he has appeal.

The discontent that Trump’s supporters convey is a spiritual poverty – a loss of identity, security, relationship, morality, stability, community, family ethos, the institution of marriage, humility, normative gender relations, patriotism, love of country, optimism, liberty, reliance on constrained and predictable reading of the U.S. Constitution, trust in the federal government and other once venerable institutions, access to and respect for work and a welcomed place for religious faith in this culture.

It is the loss of these things that make us poor and register as our poverty today.  For our wealth is in our sacred beliefs, in the Divine and our relationship with God and when we lose that, when that is attacked and under siege – we lose confidence and contentment dissipates, our soul is put to hazard.

When the Spirit wanes our soul lives as if in a cold, dark cave.  That, Dear Friends, is the poverty in play – that is at the bottom of the widespread discontent and worry among us.

That, not trade or economics, fuels the anxiety and unhappiness we see expressed today.

My advice: remember prayer is the voice of the soul, and prayer speaks with heart not words … yet, words are a reassuring comfort for those who pray.

Shalom.

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