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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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3:03 a.m. – how nice it is to awake in the full night of silence to think about faith

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Faith is a backward-looking virtue.  It concerns who we are … “the mystical chords of memory.”

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

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In faith you are connected with those who have come before you – with a stream of being that reaches to the very distant past, the sacrifice of others, their fidelity.  Their story is our story.

In faith we belong to others – to Saint Peter and Saint John – to Abraham and Martha and Mary and Lazarus … to Aquinas, St. Augustine, to Simon of Cyrene, the men on the road to Emmaus – to centuries of faithful Jews and Christians.

In faith we have identity … a place in a long story that has no end.

In a world too often focused on the immediate, the immaterial, on desire, immersed in anxiety, loneliness, doubt and worry – we have in faith: certainty, confidence, cause, connection, and a call to life.

In faith we have as Aristotle says “another self,” – in faith is solidarity and union with one another now, in the past and in what is to come.  In faith we know love – a love that runs to what has come before, what is now, and what will be in all the tomorrows yet to come.

In faith, particular differences do not matter for the faith others possess is the faith we possess.  Ethnicity, race, age, social status, wealth and such do not matter to those who share a faith.

The broad identity of faith is the union of belief.  We are, in faith, what we believe.  Therein is our solace, our identity, our purpose, our meaning, our stability and our happiness.

Shalom.

Liberalism moves … toward radical individualism and the corruption of standards that the movement entails.  By destroying traditional social habits of the peopleby dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified … Liberalism can prepare its way for … the artificial, mechanized or brutalized control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos.

Robert H. Bork, Sloughing Toward Gomorrah; Modern Liberalism and American Decline

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Bork makes the case that modern liberalism (as distinguished from classical or traditionalism) is destroying America.  It is an impressive case.  Yet, I see few in politics (but for some conservatives) who make this case.  And, I see few in politics who represent traditional or classical liberals and offer thoughtful opposition to modern liberalism.

Likewise, I see few clerics, few in the media, in academia or the law who offer a critique of modern liberalism and school us as to the damage it has done and is doing.

Recently I watched a documentary that purported to explain the political mess in Washington whereby collaboration and congeniality among liberals and conservatives has ceased. The documentary blamed the paralysis on Americans who held traditional values and ignored the ruckus caused by proponents of modern liberalism.  It ignored the fact that for every action there is a reaction.  Such blindness does not help.

In looking briefly at Bork’s criticism of modern liberalism one might see what the documentary misses:

  • corruption of standards: think FBI and the Justice Department as each has been revealed to us
  • destroying traditional social habits of the people: think the destruction of the family, the dispatch of religion from the public square, abortion, infanticide and the hyper-sexualization of culture
  • dissolving the natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes: think identity politics
  • licensing the opinions of the most foolish: think cable news, TV networks, major metropolitan newspapers, and attention given the views of “entertainment” celebrities
  • substituting instruction for education: think Leftist ideology and the indoctrination centers that primary and secondary schools and colleges have become
  • encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom: think late-night and midday television “pundits”
  •  the upstart rather than the qualified: think Ocasio-Cortez and her cohort
  • artificial, mechanized or brutalized control: think of national health care, the Green New Deal, Venezuela and the attack on the U.S. Constitution.

Sloughing to Gomorrah indeed.

Shalom.

 

 

 

Listening to the musical legacy of Abbess St. Hildegard von Bigen, 12th Century mystic, writer, diplomat and counselor to Bishops, Kings and Popes.  Beautiful.

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Spiritual development is the birthright of every man and woman … the world as a whole tends to neglect and forget the knowledge of how to pursue and live a spiritual life. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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Can there be wisdom and leadership without a spiritual component to one’s life?  No.

We are more than intellect.  We are spiritual beings.  Denying this, we are left less intelligent, less human and less healthy – flat and without insight necessary to make wise decisions on complex matters – or any matter.

Contemplation is the way to spiritual development for a contemplative life and life itself is a spiritual experience.

Contemplation leads to the full experience of the human experience.  In mass culture or any culture, contemplation requires that one lift himself or herself above the fray of mundane existence which so often captures us moment to moment, hour to hour, day after day – year after year.

Yes, attending to the demands of the world keeps the Christian from the mystery of Christ and the timeless message of the Gospel, and from knowing our self.

There is no full development of the human person without contemplation, no self-examination either – and hence no fullness of being, of human being.

In contemplation, the self is examined and understanding follows, and one is no longer trapped by the errors, follies, divisions, temptations and corruptions of the mundane world and the voices of its most vocal members.

Indeed, does contemplation not require the voiceless silence of solitude!  Yes, in contemplation there is a silent respite from all that interrupts our healthy, full development and greatest state of being.

In contemplation, God is real and immanent and those who are disoriented are no longer free to be housed within us.  Free – free at last.  Thank God Almighty “free at last.”

Shalom.

Aristotle didn’t equate happiness with wealth, pleasure or fame.  For him, happiness was an internal state of contentment that we acquire only by living life in the best possible way.

Edith Hall in “Aristotle’s Pursuit of Happiness” in The Wall Street Journal (Feb 2/3 2019)

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Happiness is an inside job.  It is evidenced by our good feeling, our aim at what is “well” and “good.”  Hence contentment, tranquility, peace of mind and heart.

In his early life (as Dr. Hall notes) Aristotle saw the unhappiness of the elites, their malevolence and turmoil.  He saw (much as one might see now) how the “high and mighty” are miserable, living in and creating chaos for themselves and others.

For Aristotle the road to happiness was an honest understanding of who you were – that is, self-knowledge/knowledge of self.  He sought to know the ethos of the human person – the way to virtue and virtuous living – not wealth or possessions, or fame or title or power – but rather heart and soul and good health.

Aristotle would have each of us know our best and worse behavior and strive to maximize the best – to improve where we need to grow for the better.

In such a life is, as he determined, “moral self-sufficiency” … a good life, a stable existence – contentment, maturity, wisdom and compassion.  Men and women such as this are and always will be critical to the leadership of others – for they model the best within each of us that is frequently honored in its absence.

As for me, we tolerate too easily those who are not near well-developed and in that condition sow division and unhappiness and act in error and ignorance.

Seek happiness.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

… Jung’s system … functions as a religious path … fragmentation and wholeness are the pairs of opposites at the center of the religious quest.  (Emphasis added.)

Curtis D. Smith, Ph.D., in Jung’s Quest for Wholeness

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I am a religious guy.  Faith is, and always has been, important to me.  I studied theology at the University of Notre Dame after years of law practice.  I lived as a vowed religious for close to ten years.  I am, one might say, someone interested in religion, one who believes that religion plays a vital part in the life and well-being of a human person.

That said, but for one very helpful and insightful person I met in my vowed religious life (Br. Tom Moser, C.S.C), I see no one who makes the point that our psychological health and contentment (along with our spiritual development and happiness) is dependent on our journey to wholeness as Carl Jung, M.D. so brilliantly describes.  

I can only imagine what society would be like if more people were whole and contented, and understood themselves and others more fully.  I can imagine in such a state – greater calm, wiser individuals and institutions, more humane behavior, less division, hostility and chaos – more fellowship and unity that breached all these artificial divides created by others so they might “reign” and enjoy an elevated status, power, health, fame and adoration.

Think for a moment about the disorder you see around you and the antagonism that flourishes in the public square.  Is it not utterly unnecessary?  When you have fully developed men and women – my assertion is that it is indeed unnecessary.

I pray that we will take on the task and sacred duty to grow in fullness.  Yes, a whole person is happier than one who is fragmented (broken) and divided within and as manifest in their outward conduct and troublesome disposition.

Shalom.

Talk About Fragmented – According to news reports a California politico is apparently confirming that he had and extramarital affair with Democrat U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.  Ms. Harris has not denied this report.  Do we need more immorality, greater destruction of the family and marriage?  Have we not had quite enough of this in public life?

Abortion Pays – Planned Parenthood had a profit of over $200,000,000 last year (according to news reports).  And we subsidize this tax exempt organization!  This is the Left turning life upside down.  Is this the best we can do?

It is reported that Governor Cuomo, Democrat of New York signed a bill making it lawful to abort a child up to the day of the child’s birth.  Scruples?  I guess not.

 

For some reason the post for January 23, 2019 appears under the Title Heading of the Blog and is identified thus Firm in Courage and Faith.

Difficult winter weather demands a great deal of attention when you live on a ridge in a sparsely populated area.  My mornings and some part of the afternoon are taken up with winter in the wilderness.  Hence my postings are often done in the mid-to-late afternoon … but they are done daily as they have been dating back to 2011.  Now in year eight.  Tally ho.

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Many of our young are uprooted.  They no longer believe in the traditions of their parents and grandparents, and they have not found anything to replace them.  Spiritual leaders need to address this very real issue … They have not been able to translate the deepest values of their traditions, perhaps because they themselves have not fully understood or experienced them.  (Emphasis added.)

Thich Nhat Hanh, in Living Buddha, Living Christ

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If our children are lost it is because we have failed them.  The elders have disappeared.  In their place are un-accomplished cosmetic, confused figures who thirst for power, notoriety, fame, wealth, celebrity, fulfillment of their own (and hence) selfish desires.

You cannot call these figures anything less than misinformed, ignorant, craven, selfish, wrong and destructive – the least accomplished of an over-indulged and over-educated generation.  Their failure is plain in themselves and in the lives of young people – from teen years to their 20’s and beyond.

Many of our children are aimless, impractical and rootless.  They know neither history nor themselves.  Tradition is a stranger to them – they are cut off from their past and many exist without ambition and initiative – in a sea of ease, affluence and institutions that cater to them and expect little of them.  Such softness breeds contempt and challengers none to excel, to exceed the hardships and errors that all life brings.

The young now threaten our collapse.  We own this bitter harvest.

Those who do not know the past know neither the present nor the future.  These young men and women like their priests and elders fail to acquire the experience of human experience.  In this: all is immediate or not at all.  Nothing is past, nothing is tomorrow.  All is now or a vague dream with no concrete avenue nor action to realize its accualization.

We have left them without a map, a charter, without access to wisdom and with but avant guard failed “isms” of the Left – pipe dreams with dissipating smoke soon dissolved into failure.  In high station we have a Jelly Bean Cleric and the Sex Scandal Band.

In the dock stand the men and women slightly younger than me.  “Our body ourselves” has failed as well it would and our children are lost … the shame is on us.  But no one takes the blame.  Honor is not in them.  And down we go.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

Our culture has lost any clearly defined spiritual standards and aims, and our cultural values have become impoverished.

Christopher Dawson, in The Judgment of the Nations

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Dawson wrote this in a book published in 1942, when World War II was in full bloom. Three years earlier T. S. Eliot took the view that we faced the choice between a Christian culture or a pagan culture.

The question of culture and our well-being has been with us for eight or nine decades.  Yet, isn’t it odd that those occupying space in the public square speak with no particular appreciation for what Dawson and Eliot and many others (to wit: Reinhold Niebuhr, Jean Danielou, Romano Guardini, Nicholas Berdyaev, Paul Tillich, et al) saw as the problem we faced in the West – namely, the disintegration of our culture.

I write about faith and culture and by necessity must address the words, thoughts, actions and inertia of those who command places in the public square.  Yes, I see a mix of theology, culture, history, religion, public policy, law, psychology, philosophy and literature as required to understand who we are today, what risk we run, what wrong turns we have made, and are making, what is lost, derided, discarded and abused by those who have our attention.

The ignorance of those in the public square is monstrous and embarrassing.  Political people alleging that a border wall is immoral while abortion is not as but one example.  Astonishing.  Simply, astonishing.  So many who speak with “certainty” minus doubt or evidence of serious inquiry.

What is my bottom line?

Throughout the centuries we have understood that faith grounds observation. 

No less a man than Albert Einstein offered this to validate the place of faith in intellectual inquiry and life – “God does not play dice” – i.e., mathematicians might say “Both God and the Pythagorean theorem … are believed to exist independent of the physical world; and both give it meaning.”

Faith is a necessary ingredient in human life, community, culture, peaceful existence, civility, full human development, human progress, knowledge, contentment, health, prosperity, intellectual growth and wisdom … and it is the absence of faith that generates the bulk of discord, abhorrent behavior, destruction, division, disorder, violence and hostility in our culture and that of the West today.

If a scholar have not faith, how shall he take a firm hold of things.

Mencius, 371-288 B.C.

The same can be said of citizens and those who claim to lead.

Shalom.

When Europe was going through the Dark Ages, it was the monks from Ireland who preserved the memory of learning.  They set up centers of learning all over Europe.  The Irish monks re-civilized Europe. That learning became the basis of the wonderful medieval scholasticism and its rich culture.  (Emphasis added.)

John O’Donohue, in Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

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It seems that we have lost our way.  Despite education, and perhaps because of it, we are not particularly wise or mature, indeed we seem overwrought with disorder and disordered individuals.  Indeed, institutions we depend upon barely seem to function.

I think of the recalcitrance of members of the “opposition” political party in the Congress who view their job as one of disruption – not governing.  Likewise, as a Catholic, I think of the woeful behavior of my Church on the matter of sexual abuse.  And, I think too of the vulgar and sick over-sexualization of our culture and the murders, suicides, addictions and deaths from drug use – each evidence, in my view, of a culture without depth of person or wisdom.

On a broader scale I witness very few in public life who convey a wisdom in their conversations.  By wisdom, I do not mean, education per se but a deeper knowing – knowledge that has harmonized one’s heart, soul and head as only a fully lived life and faith can.

The wisdom of which I speak breeds courage, insight, grace, optimism, the plain truth of things, a cooperative disposition – leadership that gains admiration and respect – and maybe even a following among former one’s adversaries.

Indeed, this is what the Irish monks did for people in the Dark Ages – they restored the path to wisdom.  They kept the route to wisdom alive by attending to head, heart and soul.

We face, it seems to me, a need for a monk-like effort that will restore our health and full development … without which we can be neither safe nor successful.

Shalom.

Follow me and allow the dead to bury their own dead.

Matt 8:22

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Let the dead bury the dead.  This phrase has followed me for some time.

As you recall these are the words of Jesus to a man who he encouraged to follow him.  The man’s hesitance led him to say he first wanted to go home to his father and Jesus gave him the above rely.

What does this say?  Well it is an emphatic way of saying that those who are spiritually dead are to be left to their own dilemmas and those who are spiritually alive are invited to be with Jesus.

Frankly, this is no less valid today than it was when Jesus spoke these words.

I am sure that you have tried to help people along the way and probably done so often and attended to those in need over a lengthy period of time – only to see that the person in need never made much progress – but rather remained in the same situation in which they sat when you first began to walk with them, help them, encourage them.

Let the dead bury the dead.

Many among us simply refuse to live in the spirit.  They neglect their spiritual development.  Often the are stuck in a dependent state – many times on the public dole.  Indeed, sustaining “hand-outs” very frequently instills dependence that kills the spirit and results in a life being far, far less than it it could be.  This is very much the difference between socialism and the “nanny state” and a free society that offers help but expects those helped to become responsible for their own welfare and well-being.

In a spiritually healthy society – there are NO “handouts” – only “hand-ups.”

Better to give a person a hand-up than a hand out.  The former enlivens the spirit.  The latter kills the spirit.  The former develops adults and the latter sustains the immature.

Let the dead bury the dead.  You cannot push a car up a hill with a rope.

Shalom.

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