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Please pray for those in the Florida Panhandle and others in the area that they might avoid personal injury and significant loss as a consequence of Hurricane Michael.

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… the active life is essential to every Christian …

The active life is the participation of the Christian in the Church’s mission on earth, whether it means bringing to (others) the message of the Gospels, or administering the sacraments, or performing works of mercy, or cooperating in the world-wide efforts for the spiritual renewal of society and the establishment of that peace and order without which the human race cannot achieve its destiny.  (Emphasis added.)

  Thomas Merton, in Life and Holiness

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Every baptised Christian is called out of darkness – called to live as and for Christ.  In this comes “the most mysterious aspect” of Christian life: living in grace – living in “light of God in us … transforming us” … making us the children of God so we are His instruments of peace and good in our culture and in this life on earth.

This is the nature of the active life of each Christian.  Nothing ought precede this orientation to our life – for this is the most fundamental identity a Christian possesses – and it is for us the source of our happiness, strength, wisdom, purpose, meaning and value.

Think about it.  What are you doing to further the spiritual renewal of our society?

What are you doing in response to the increasing violence of radical mobs and the irresponsible Senators, Congresswomen and wealthy benefactors who encourage hostile behavior or those who excuse it in newspapers, magazines, network and cable “news” programs?

Spiritual renewal of society … and you.  Think about it.

Shalom.

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The moment you have a self at all, there is the possibility of putting yourself first – wanting to be the centre – wanting to be God …

C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

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Lewis writes here about corruption – an individual’s corruption – a vital element in human history, an issue each human must face in his or her life, a critical factor in understanding corruption in culture … in those around you – particularly among those holding or seeking power and the legions of advocates for this or that which promotes or demands simply their selfish desires without regard to anyone else.  In politics and culture today, we have many such errant narcissistic individuals and groups all more or less nihilists.

Make no mistake – the foundation of corruption is the individual desire to be his or her own God.  Yes, such thinking is insane and produces discord, division and conflict.

Yes, thinking one is one’s own God is frankly – living a colossal LIE.   You doubt this?  Think abortion as mere “choice,” or Holy Matrimony as same-sex “marriage,” or slavery as acceptable, or division by race, or multiple “genders.”  These are manifestations of men and women acting as God.

As Lewis so correctly says this “hopeless event” of human as God: it is men and women “invent(ing) some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God.”

We like to think of ourselves as smart, intelligent, an educated society.  Yet, the thinking and conduct such as described here (and so clearly visible among political-social-sexual “activists,” pundants, college professors and their ill-schooled products of nonsense, ideologies and hubris – as well as entertainers, celebrities, the media and some who would be “clerics,” and lawyers with grossly little intellectual depth or range or insight, among others) – simply puts the lie to our brilliance, and the opinions of a whole range of people whose godlessness defines their ignorance, establishes their uselessness.

Yep, God versus godlessness.  Sanity versus insanity.  Truth versus gibberish.

Shalom.

 

… do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  (Emphasis added.)

Isa 41:10

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We are in difficult times.  Men are assumed by some to be the source of evil, a target to be destroyed.

Some among us will do anything to gain power.  Those who lust for power wish to void electoral results.  They prefer their way to the decisions of a free people who have spoken.

Those who lust for power are poor losers.  Their arrogance exceeds fair play and their conduct does not serve them well.  Acting in bad faith, their words ring false.

In fundamental ways this nation is being diminished by some of its people.  We are rightly dismayed by what we see.  The presumption of innocence is replaced as to men or those who believe in God and a presumption of guilt is applied to each.

Yes, those who disagree with those on the Left are presumptively dismissed and discounted, chased from public places, ridiculed and insulted.

In such times one need not fear for our God is an ever-present, just God.  In such times we are called back to God.  These times are for renewing our faith, invigorating our beliefs and carrying those God-inspired beliefs into each day in the way we present ourselves to others, in each transaction, and in our quiet moments and thoughts.

Difficult times renew our faith, restore God as our point of reference.

We are in such times.  Now is a time for strength and renewed confidence.  God gives us opportunity and courage in these challenging moments.  What a blessing that we may live our faith overly and without fear in our most difficult days.

Did not David face his challenge in this way?  So shall we.

When the world around us seems less faithful, those who believe become more faithful … and overtly so.

Shalom.

Happy are those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, nor go the way of sinners, nor sit in the company of scoffers.  Rather the law of God is their joy; God’s law they study …

… the wicked will not survive judgment, nor will sinners in the assembly of the just.

The Lord watches over the way of the just but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.  (Emphasis added.)

Psalm 1

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Life is a matter of choosing good or choosing evil.  Those who choose what is good are wise – they live stable and contented lives.  Those who choose evil will be rootless and discontented.  Yes, the wicked will know death in life.

To choose “the way of sinners” is to choose what is immoral.  The wicked are those who distance themselves from God.  They distance themselves by words, thoughts and actions.

The Psalms were the prayers of Jesus.  They were His guide.  They can form you and teach you just as they formed and taught Christ.

We live in times where immorality and corruption are on display.  Indeed, we see these behaviors in high places and among the privileged.  In such a time, it is all the more important that we choose what is good and reject what is evil and those who purpose evil ideas, evil deeds, evil actions.  

If there is a blessing in a time of evil, it is that we are given the opportunity to bravely and faithfully choose good over evil … and to stand in opposition to evil.

When good prevails, prosperity and peace follow.

Your choice: live God’s law or suffer miserably and watch what was once good come to ruin.

Shalom.

 

 

… signs … Jesus … performed … have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Jn 20: 30,31

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Believing or not believing.  Belief in God or belief in nothing.  Theism or nihilism.  We face this proposition more directly today than we have probably in our history.

I have a very dear childhood friend.  He was my closest friend growing up.  We were like brothers – did so many things together.  Shared the same classes and teachers throughout school.  I was like a family member in his home.  His mother treated me like one of her children.  She and my mother were best of friends.

My friend is now in a nursing home.  He is frail.  Spends a good deal of time in bed.  As a child he was bright, friendly, a reader – social, trusted, quite capable.  In his late adolescence he seemed to be at odds with institutions and authority – but more to the point he began to lose interest in the world around him.  He seemed to make a wilful decision to reject this or that – his skepticism began to grow.  His actions seemed to say: life is worthless – this view and his skepticism grew as he aged.

He drank consistently throughout his life beginning when he was a teenager.  His initial adult working life seemed consistent with his abilities.  He had a modest political life and was elected to his local School Board.  His two children were successful.  He seemed at odds with his wife and she with him most of their married life.  She too was a negative person.

His negativity continued to grow – his work history declined as his cynicism strengthened.  He suffered from seizures.  Eventually his downward work trajectory ended when he worked himself out of a janitor’s job, being fired from a government position despite his union membership.  A very hard act to accomplish.  He burned bridges at work and with family members.  He scoffed at religion and those who tried to help him.

If I have to point to one thing that explains my friend’s decline it is this: he became a cynic – lived as a nihilist.  He lived as if to say very loudly – life has no meaning.  Nothing  met his approval – all was more or less rejected.  He lived as if to deny his own existence and existence itself.  

I see his attitude in our culture and politics today.  Those who reject national borders sound like him.  The lapses with the Vatican as to sex abuse, denying law, morality and the Canons of the Church reflect his disposition. The upheaval in sexual mores, in families, in lawless urban enclaves seem to say: “belief in good” no longer holds.   The corruption at the federal bureaucratic level says much the same thing – truth and honesty are not honored in practice.  Drug addictions, suicides, random violence and corporate men preying on women employees – but more indications of decline and decay, amoral behavior – signs of depravity and reasons for serious concern.

All this to say but one simple thing: I do not hear much said about nihilism and the denial of values, morals, conduct – rather, too often, I see others advocating decline and decay – angry people attacking structures and codes of conduct that hold us together and provide a basis for community, peace and prosperity … life itself.

Theism or Nihilism.  Believe in something or believe in nothing.  God or nothing at all.

Shalom.

REMEMBER SEPTEMBER 11th

… we all have to be “crucified with Christ,” suspended in a moral suffering equivalent to veritable crucifixion.

C. G. Jung, M.D., in Psychology and Alchemy, Collected Works 12

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Is there ever a time or a life in which one did not experience a moral challenge, a struggle with temptation, the experience of betrayal or witness depravity?  No.  This is life as a mortal … this is life in the world.

Make no mistake – we live in a Crucifying Time.  But who does not.  Yes, there come times when the incidence of evil is more obvious and more heinous … but all time brings us moral struggle and one form or another of treacherous rebellion and evil dressed in “justification” and maybe even brazenly not even disguised.

Now how can that be?  Well, we are people.  Imperfect, easily tempted.  Many live in their ego and its demands and ill-formed sense of “entitlement” and superiority.

The Crucifixion (it is said) “is the central image of the Western psyche.”  It is surely the case that it conveys the “juxtaposition” of what is human and what is divine.  In these times one is offered Christ once again – plainly so.  In darkness, you know, Light is brightest.  We live in such a time.

In a “crucifixion time,” – what do you see?  What do you know?  Who are you?  What do you do?  With whom do you reside?  With God or the godless?

Shalom.

 

As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.

Leonardo da Vinci

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We are a badly divided nation.  We can thank the liberal social critics who have flourished like crab grass in the post-War 60’s through to the present day.

Yes, we are done in by division – by identify politics which by it’s very nature divides and makes one the enemy of another.

Who you asked has done this?  The Leftists who oppose our Founders gift of a Federalist representative democracy and a Constitution that weds liberty with religious belief and  makes us one.

The dividers?  The perpetually disgruntled Democrat Party that cannot but find reason to complain, divide and destroy.  Indeed, look today at the childish displays at the Senate hearings on the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice.  Democrats take adult moments and turn them into childish tantrums – showing adults as snotty preschoolers – Democrat Senators included.  Divide and destroy is their mantra.

This conduct kills relationships and incites conflict, disorder and discontent.

Then there are the university professors and administrators who profess not faith but ideology – Marxism, and totalitarian socialism.  Such talk is painless on “easy street.”

And then we have the race-baiters who see color but not their neighbors and God’s children.  And there are misguided heirs of the 1960’s “sexual revolution” that separates man from women, and diminishes both and family by doing so.  Hedonists to be sure.

And let’s not forget the pagan abortionists who value “choice” more than child.  Life is not sacred for them.  Could anything be more damaging and demoralizing to the human psyche, in the individual and the aggregate, than desanctification of life itself.

Sadly the “sexual revolution” has entered Christ church were homosexual misconduct is hidden, protected and excused.

So too we have wealthy athletes who hold no gratitude for flag or nation, or for those who (unlike themselves) have served in the military, or died in defense of country,  foreign innocents and their fellow citizens.

By God’s design – we are given the impetus to be united – one, One in God.  Faith, first and love of country and others follows.  The division we see manufactured today breeds our destruction.  Build on God’s truth and restore a love of nation – we are blessed.  We need not be mired in division – better to be unified in thanksgiving and love of one another.

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.

Winston Churchill

We are safer, happier and more prosperous when we are united and our unity begins with God.

Shalom.

 

The eternal life is not the future life; it is life in harmony with the true order of things.

Henri Amiel, in Journal

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I have taken to distancing myself from the everyday, and particularly “the news” only in so far as I cast a glance at the calamity and the ridiculous ignorance of many who “report” on it and then, God help us, provide their own uneducated, small-minded, predictable, silly “commentary” on the happenings they mention.

That one thrust alone makes space of eternity.  The intellectual poverty and rote recitations of some left leaning ideological fetish are ironically liberating and sanity-preserving, if not life saving.  Enter what is eternal and indestructible.

Aye, a far better and healthier focus where love and humility seem to grow.

In the void that the nonsense has created, I live closer to my faith, and my loved ones (especially the little children) are more in my thoughts and prayers.  God and those I love and what is good emerge as most important.

My world is now meaningful and not confined to what is inane, self-destructive, erroneous, ignorant and captive to all the “clap trap” of fickle styles, language, forms of expression and the chorus of trained parrots that passes for contemporary discourse … and such.

I much prefer what is true and not mad, to what is false and perpetually angry.

In this I remember St. Augustine who wrote: “Eternal life is the actual knowledge of the truth.”  (De moribus Ecclesiae catholicae, etc.)

As a compassionate man, I offer this to you: walk away from the nonsense.  It is disorienting, wrong-headed, and destructive of person, culture and nation.

Shalom.

 

Character is not cut in marble … it is something solid and unalterable.  It is something living and changing …

George Eliot, in Middlemarch

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Surely one of the central reasons for being alive is to determine how we shall live … and more particularly – who we are.  And that, Dear Friends, is a question of character.

Each day affords us the opportunity to determine who we are.  Each challenge we face provides us the chance to affirm who we are.  So says Psychiatrist and award winning author Robert Coles, M.D.  And, he is right.

Dr. Coles reminds us that life is like a story in that the people and events in it bring us to our own story where we determine who exactly we are – a person of character – of truth, meaning, courage, empathy, sacrifice … or one as yet unable to excel, to live fully and to face the unknown with confidence.  We either seize the day or we deny our existence.

The good Doctor reminds us of this by telling a story of a young girl he treated who was dying of cancer.  Not yet a teenager she sought to show in her brief life that she was “a good girl.”  Knowing she would die – she sought to show she was someone who was a good person.  In the face of death, with all the inconveniences of her hospitalization and the intrusive interventions of medical treatment – her focus was on establishing who she was and that she was a person of character.

Interesting isn’t it.  You can take in the news of the day and more often than not wonder where is the character of the person who is the focus of the news story?  Why would the Pope say that?  Why did the Attorney General meet with the husband of the target of wrong-doing?  Why does the Senator exaggerate so?  Why does the newsman overlook the obvious?

As a nation and a Church we’d best see people of character or we’d best fine those with character to assume the roles of those who do not.

Shalom.

Let Us Pray – for the children with cancer and for their parents that they may grow in faith in the midst of their travail.  

Then they set out along the black top in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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McCarthy writes of a father and his most beloved son who walk under the grayest of skies in a burned out and broken America.  It is both a compelling book and extraordinary movie.  In both I am struck by the love of the father for the son and the son for the father, and by the grayness of the sky amid the ruin.  The latter reminds me of the verbal and video landscape of the present days where hostility is thick as fog and division seems the only objective of the public voices we hear and where each day brings stories of death, cruelty, hatred and the commentaries of the C- and D+ scribes and talking heads whose range of thought is a tad lower than that of a carnival barker.

In a most extraordinary land darkness has descended.  What was once one is now fragmented into many bruised parts .

He could not construct for the child’s pleasure the world he’d lost without constructing the loss as well and he thought perhaps the child had known this better than he.  He tried to remember the dream but could not.  All that was left was the feeling of it … he could not enkindle in the heart of the child what was his own ashes.

This father like me had lived a dream – a dream in better times.  I was conceived when the Second World War was near its triumphant end.  My childhood was spent on a street of veterans and their families – remarkable men and women whose childhood commenced in the Great Depression and turned then to World War – its millions dead, others murdered in Stalin’s gulag.

How does one speak of what we had and lost?  How does one make that the known experience of an adult son?  Give him the optimism purpose and meaning I, poor as we were, knew so well?

How do my grandson or my granddaughter gain what had been, but now is so damaged?  How can my ashes live to sign their forehead?

The Road.  Where this father and son had the dark shadow and penetrating cold of a dying orb – they at least had silence.  We have the unstoppable voices and words of those whose lips bring darkness and cold.  They are now our dismal cover.

“You have to carry the fire … It’s inside you.  It always was there.  I can see it.”

So says the father to the son.  So say I to you, this day.

Shalom.

News as Soap Opera – This is where we are in a superficial mass communication, digitized social media culture.  We interview people with no achievement or proclaim and, in doing so, cannot distinguish people of substance from people who have no particular accomplishment.  We are more soap opera than not.  We can no longer tell the difference between depth and shallow, or what is substantive and what is not.  A real astonishing decline.

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