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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.

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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.

… there’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understoodAnd understanding someone else.

Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle

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When you hear the word “intimacy” in our present culture you almost always think of it in a physical context – and hardly ever as Brad Meltzer refers to it.

This tells you something significant about our culture.

It tells you that in a material culture we are far more physical than interpersonal, cordial, communal, familial, or spiritual.

Just look at the drivel that emanates from the “entertainment” industry.  One denizen of that environ recently offered naked pictures of herself (ugh!) to “get out the vote” for Democrats.  Go figure?

Yes, we have destroyed, or badly injured, the idea of “intimacy” (and of sexuality) by our ignorance as to what intimacy is and what an absolutely critical, indispensable role it plays in human well-being, friendship, and cordial and communal relationships with others.

Frankly, there is no friendship without the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies it.  The health of a human being is dependent on intimacy.

We are social beings – meant to be known and to know others.  We are recipients of life and hence recipients by nature for life – bound to be received and to receive others.

Likewise we are a story people.  We live by narrative, learn by narrative, record narrative, gain wisdom and insight by narrative, worship through narrative.

Telling and receiving another’s story is sacred, and the bedrock of our psychological welfare and the psychological well-being of another.  That is the field of real intimacy.

Yes, we are contented and feel whole when another person hears our story and accepts it, receives it, carries it in their own unfolding life.

Today we are far from the intimacy Brad Meltzer identifies.

Our well-being and survival depends on moving toward the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies.  Short of that objective and disorder and discontent grows and grows, and brings with it homicides, suicides, adulteries, loneliness, corruptions, betrayals, hostilities, divisions, broken families and failed marriages, sexual predators, psychological illnesses, angers, addictions and depressions.

Get “intimacy” right or suffer the grave consequences.  We are made for one another – far more than merely what is material and physical.

Shalom.

Christianity, with it primary inculcation of love of God and love of neighbor, is not divisive.  Only those who teach hatred teach division.

American Catholic Bishops, November 1955

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A simple way to size up where we need to change is simply to focus on who among us causes division.

Are there not people and groups among us who intend to divide?  Do not some in politics and media practice dividing us – putting one against another?

For the Christian or the patriot is this not a scandal?  Do we not do the work of our adversaries when we are disputatious?  Who among us unites?

Never have I seen so many in this land, so apt to show hatred of the country and contempt for those who do not believe as they believe.

In this I think of John Courtney Murray in his We Hold These Truths in which in the 1960’s he said:

The fact today is not simply that we hold different views but that we have become different types of men, with different styles of interior life.

Today we separate from one another in ways that only could be seen in a prosperous society – yes, by sexual fetish and the desire for destruction of what we are privileged to have as a free society.  Imagine being divided in a land of freedom and plenty.  Life is so good that we must complain and divide.  How sad.  How silly.

In our deepest self we are divided at least in this way – Believers versus Secularists, Faithful from Faithless.  This was once not the case.

Once we said: “In God We Trust.”  Once Americans shared basic beliefs and pride in their country.  Not now.  We are spoiled, have too much and expect even more.  Morals have declined and selfishness and discontent has grown – causing adults to act like children – and even quite nasty and vulgar.

There is no culture that prospers without faith, nor a person who does so over time without faith.

Without faith, we depend upon our selfishness.  That makes for division but not community.

In a world that is aggressive, division brings greater risk of defeat.

Is our survival not dependent on our unity?  Of course it is.  Sacrifice for the common good and preservation of Nation and freedom is necessary.

One people under God.  Indivisible.

Shalom.

The wisest woman builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.

Prov 14:1

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Thinking about the coverage and commentary of last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, I am struck by how uninformed and uneducated are the Committee members, their colleagues in the Congress, and members of the media.

Some of us read and think – they seem to do neither.

What do I mean?  Faced with the predictable rage of Gender Feminists no one in the above-named bodies has knowledge of feminism – its history and evolution and the distinction between Equality Feminism and Gender Feminism, nor recognizes the divide between female feminist scholars as to the two feminist cohorts.

People in these bodies do not see, as scholars do, that those pursuing equality are lawful reformists and those on the Gender side seek revolution – an overturning of propositions fundamental to Western Civilization, long-accepted historical norms governing interaction between men and women, our institutions (including family), history, the legal system, federalist form of representative government as well as peaceful co-existence, prosperity, civil discourse, peace and tranquility.

Nor could most (if not all) in the Congress connect Gender Feminism with the founding declaration of the (Marxist) radical S.D.S.’s Port Huron Statement (1968), nor see in Gender Feminism their dedication to the proposition that the source of all evil are men, by which radical women replace “the establishment,” so hated by S.D.S., with the “patriarchy” as the target now to be destroyed.

Who in our esteemed institutions recognizes the Gender Feminists repudiate science as a source of male oppression, and dismiss nature in kind.  Who sees the destructive results of this view?  Who stands in opposition to it?  Who explains its destructive behavior?

Faced with revolutionary nihilists – those in Congress and the media see only women – but have no critique as to what precisely these outraged women represent …

… folly with their own hands tears down the house …  Yep.  That’s what we got.

Alas, this got me thinking: who in the Congress has a Ph.D. in philosophy, psychology, theology, American history, intellectual history or literature?  That is – who has done the work to properly attend to our affairs in this day and Age when revolutionaries are enraged and hateful destructive Marxist predicates govern their actions and complaints?

The answer: only one person in Congress has done any rigorous work likely to provide an understanding as to what is right before us.  That person?  Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska (Harvard and Oxford training and a Yale Ph.D. in American history).

Sasse did a most interesting dissertation on the rise or the secular Left and its counter-balance, the religious Right, in the last part of the 20th century.

Sasse correctly sees the tension as between Unbelievers and Believers that was fueled by Courts and culture – each of which has moved from faith to opposition to it in the last 60 years.

Indeed, Sasse’s dissertation helps one see that the elites (not just Gender Feminists) are at odds with the “bottom-up” supporters of Donald Trump and seek (in a rather pathological manner) both his demise and the silence and compliance of his voters by demonizing them.

In that contribution alone – we can understand a great deal and realize … folly leads to houses being destroyed.  That’s right where we are, sports fans.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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