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Sanctity is not a luxury, but a simple duty.

St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941)

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St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic Priest, died in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, 76 years ago today.  He was 47 years old.

He died a martyr when he voluntarily stepped forward to request that he be permitted to take the place, in an execution, of a fellow inmate who had a wife and children.

The Camp Commander agreed and Fr. Kolbe was placed in a dark and dingy cell with nine other men to be starved to death.

Having survived two weeks without food, Fr. Kolbe was given an injection of carbolic acid to kill him.  It is reported that his appearance at death was as if he had been enveloped by the love of God.

St. Maximilian Kolbe is truly an appropriate measure to apply to ourselves and our culture and those in it – and particularly to those in politics who profess to “lead” us, serve us, protect us – keep us sane and safe … and to those in the professions and education, and to those in religious stations who have vowed to keep us close to Christ, and to the Father.

On this anniversary of Fr. Kolbe’s death, I suggest that you take time to reflect on your obligation to live up to your faith, to live as Fr. Kolbe did, as Christ did. Likewise, it is a good time to ask: Do those with public voice live as Fr. Kolbe did?

Remember “Sanctity is not a luxury, but a simple duty.”

Shalom.

Question.  Who among those who clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend resembled Fr. Kolbe?  Answer: No one, it seems.

 

Pain is weakness leaving the body.

A Navy Seal Instructor

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Imagine Christ on the Cross.  He’d have been a natural for the Navy Seals.  How about you?  What are you made of?  What are you capable of enturing?  Have you tested yourself?  Has life challenged you?  If so, did you see the struggle to conclusion?  Did you get up when knocked down?  Did adversity make you more determined?  Are you a “tough out”?

In St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy (2 Tim 3:1-5) he writes of the last days as the most difficult time we face.  He says in those times: men will love themselves and money, that they will be boastful and arrogant … ungrateful, unholy.  That they will be unloving, malicious, without self-control … that they will hate what is good.  He says that they will be conceited, love pleasure more than God and that they will proffer their godliness but in actuality not live it. Most importantly, St. Paul says “Avoid such men as these.”

Look around you, what men do you see on the major news channels?  Are they men you can envision as Navy Seals or are they those St. Paul would have us avoid?

Ask this same question about your politicians?  Sports figures?  Celebrities? Actors? Public figures?  News media?  Critics?  Social “activists”?  Intellectuals? Professors? Judges? Lawyers? Doctors?  Public advocates?  Those running public organizations? Could you see Mark Zuckerberg as a Navy Seal?  Jeff Bezos?  Alex Baldwin? Anderson Cooper?  Or are these individuals that fit St. Paul’s advice?

In looking about I see far more people who fit St. Paul’s advisory, and I see that we have the very lax and costly habit of listening without discretion to anyone who has access to mass communication and that this is absolutely foolish to do.

Finally, do you fall into the first of the above paragraphs or the second? The best among us fit the first.  They may be few, but they are the best.

A life of faith, a life fully lived is not for the faint of heart.  Isn’t it interesting that those least likely to excel when troubles arise are so often those we see speaking?  

Shalom.   

Happy Father’s Day

Fatherhood is at the core of the universe, at the center of being and its mystery.  Shame on those who ignore their children for the damage done and the opportunity lost.

Grandpa Bobby Bob

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So it is Father’s Day.  You know I looked for a quote that might sum up fatherhood.  Didn’t find one, and doubt that I could.  Fatherhood is larger than all the words known to us.

Fatherhood has a mystical quality to it.  One is father in ways that are more than merely intellectual.  No, fatherhood resides and operates in the realm of mystery.  Fatherhood introduces a man to supernatural reality.  When one attends to his children – God is visible, eternity exists and everlasting love takes its form.  Fatherhood stretches into time, from here to time immortal.

Fatherhood transforms.  I give you proof.

Acquiring the experience of another person is one of the hardest things one might do, love notwithstanding.  Yet, I have seen my son come to fully understand me when he himself became a father to two beautiful children (one a toddler, one an infant – a boy and a girl – a prince and a princess, if you don’t mind).

Try as I might have to convey to him how important he was to me – when he became a father he understood what I tried to impart as to his importance to me.  Now he “gets it.” Now, I get that unexpected call from him to ask: “Dad, are you okay?  Just called to see how you are.”  And I get, “Love you, Dad.” Yes, love unites us in ways that make son and father best friends forever, inseparable, indivisible.

I tell my friends, I have seen my son transformed by becoming a father, and a very good Dad at that: engaged, loving, calm, instructive, helpful, gentle, thoughtful, playful, guiding, a giant “best friend” to two Little People … a giant with a soft voice and an endless supply of hugs and kisses.

His Ph.D. notwithstanding, I tell him and his wife that what they do as parents is the most important thing they will ever do.  I see in his two Cupcakes – contentment, ease, comfort, confidence in their young explorations – wonders in their eyes and smiles on their faces, love and joy in their every breath.

My son’s fatherhood anoints me Grandpa Bobby Bob (as I am so named by Grandson Jack, not yet three).  Life has no greater honor for a man than to be Dad and then Grandpa.

Fatherhood transforms.  It is in the mystery of life – more than sociological designation or a name on a birth certificate, more than a formality … it is a blessing bestowed on us by design, an opportunity of a lifetime, a source of meaning now and forever.

Happy Father’s Day!

If we wish to see a strong and good society – let all men who have children be first and foremost: good and responsible fathers.  Life’s problems are fewer to those who have been well-fathered.  Men, do your sacred job – your children and this nation depend on it.

Shalom.

 

 

When woke in the woods and in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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A father reaches out to touch his young son in the opening line of a story about a father’s love and duty to shepherd his son in post-apocalyptic America.

Constraints.  Shepherds have constraints.  Fathers, too.

With constraints comes identity and meaning.  In constraint is form and purpose. And other and self – true self in the constraint of another.

Rather puts the rest to selfishness and legal and political claims and the insistence on “equality” so often in demands that distort the value of self and other, and kill both.

The 19th century French sociologist Emile Durkheim led us to this truth: the fewer constraints one has the greater the risk of suicide.  What is true of man and truer yet of society.  When anything goes, everything goes!

Without bonds and obligations, relationships that are honored – death cometh.

I am often struck my how clueless public figures are and especially those who comment on the daily news.  None seems to see what is clearly in front of them.  One might ask but a simple question – if a book about the love of a father for a son in post-apocalyptic America can be a best seller and a motion picture, what does that say about us, about today?

When we do NOT wonder what that says, what dies that say???

Durkheim observed that those who had least demanding religious obligations committed suicide more than others with a religion that expected more of them. Likewise those in families were less likely to commit suicide than those alone. Those married least likely than those not married.  Those with children least likely than those without children.

Perhaps, someone might inform Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and his colleagues and then school the Left, the Democrats, feminists, abortionists, the media, Hollywood, Ivy Tower types and the other “deconstructionists” who seem hell-bent to destroy time tested institutions, mores and identities that save us from self-destruction.  

In the deep glens … all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

Cormac McCarthy

This from the last sentence in The Road.

Shalom.

We face up to awful things because we can’t go around them …

… it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain and misery …

Annie Proulx, in The Shipping News

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Today, east over the mountains I see gray clouds and a dark pink sunrise.  Gray and pink against the faintest of pale blue-gray sky.  Another day of hope and promise.

Last night I watched The Shipping News – good book put to film.  It reminded me of many things.  How stories teach.  How we each are made good and bad, and how the hurt we suffer or inflict settles a sadness deep within – next to God.

How those who hurt us loose in the end as their glass shatters.  How often small towns can give us the shelter of caves before death and in those shelters we might – just might – heal the curses previously inflicted.

I saw in this story that nothing is more evil than nailing a man to a tree and that doing so brings in a blood thick fog, until a pure unpainted face appears to smile so we might see the ocean, its living waters – deep, endless, timeless as God who makes the gift of love for each of us.

How good women can rescue men, and men inexplicably, modestly reciprocate without understanding how.

How men do not cry for the treachery they see and know.  How this is our excursion and how we face it all without fear.  How children worry about death but men do not.  How those who loved us never die.

How a woman’s face can be warm when she is but a woman.  How her delicate fingers touch the world and the hearts in it so carefully.  And how darkness can exist within some and make warmth deathly cold, snaring and hard.

How living waters make us all “water people.”  And how story is life and life is story.

Shalom.

 

“You know, feelings will develop, that happen among humans and it’s good it happens, and I have always said, and I said it again last week, that you are a good friend, I care for you, and it’s fair to say in terms of emotional responses that mine has escalated or increased somewhat, and ‘love’ would not be a wholly inappropriate word to use to describe where  I’m coming from.”

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Well, what do you think?  Who might have said these convoluted words?  Well, not Jesus for sure.  But who?

And what do you think of one who might have “expounded” on love in these words.

The interesting thing to me is this: according to a Wall Street Journal article of November 24, 2014these are the words of our out-going President who I have always seen as a man without friends, a loner with little evidence of having encountered and mastered the kinds of experiences that grow wisdom and teach as only life’s hardships faced fully can teach.

When I read this quote, knowing the figure of the person who said this, it makes me ask: Can you lead if you do not know love in its fullest?  Can you have much to say of value if you have not lived a full life, the struggles and joys which teach you humility, the depths of love and the irreplaceable nature of religious narrative?

In a larger sense when I write this, I ask myself: in a world where aggression fills the voids of weakness and retreat can we be safe?  And this too: have we given too much deference to the “educated” class who, other than read books, have done little in life?  If so, are we prepared to see, name and address those who wish us harm and overly demonstrate that they intend to destroy our way of life?

Contrary to the Hollywood crowd, the world is not an Andy Hardy yarn.  It is rather much closer to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or No Country for Old Men.

The truth of the matter seems to me this: Don’t expect leadership from those who have not been tested, knocked down and gotten up for in this one learns to live and to love.

My concern?  We have an oversupply of those who accede to positions of political power and public commentary who have not been tested and grown fully in wisdom.  Life is tough.  It demands our strength and resolve.

Shalom.

 

Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worse in one another.

Fulton J. Sheen

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Yes, without God we are a wreck, create chaos, division and hostility.  Without God, things are destroyed.  Marriage.  Community.  Peace.  A person.  Even a Nation.

Wonder where we are?  Why we are unhappy?  Fearful?  Antagonistic?  Petty? Foolish? Irritating?  Confused?  Divided?  No God.  That’s why.

Listen to the discussion about the election and the state of life in the U.S.  Does anyone – commentators or candidates – mention God?  The place of belief in community?  In a people who claim a nationhood?  You know the answer; and, it is, “No.”

And the scribes and intellectuals – what wisdom do they offer on the importance of God to the human person, to community, to a nation, to America, Western Civilization?  The answer, of course, is “None.”

We are lost.  Without meaning and purpose. Without direction.

Have you heard one insightful word from the nominal figure in the White House in eight years?  Again, “No.”  Rather we hear only ideological gibberish from the Left and those transfixed on doctrines of race, gender, class, etc.  With each word they destroy and subtract from the sum of human knowledge.  What a mess.

It is the language and experience of God, not government, that we need.  Yes, shrink government and grow God is the prescription for the sickness that is killing us.

We are in need of fixing and the fixing is as to the Spirit, as to each of us and who we really are in being human, capable of love of others rather than, and self-sacrifice, honor and virtue.  But, no one speaks of this so we might know and heal. In the absence – disorder and inevitable collapse.

Father, bring us back to You …

Shalom.

Postscript – Dear Mr. Putin – Can you please put me on the list of those receiving top secret emails disclosing our national security secrets?  I understand that Chelsea Clinton, Anthony Weiner and others have these emails on their computers.  I don’t want to be the only one “out of the loop.”

A strong city we have; he sets the walls and ramparts to protect us.  Open the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.

Is 26:1-2

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These are difficult times.  They try the soul, turn one to anger. Combat lurks.  Our God and faith is demeaned by Clinton political aides.  The privileged Bush Family acts like sore losers who are accustomed to getting “their way.”  The ideologues and racists seek vengeance.  They hate this nation.  Their intent is to destroy us.

What is one to do to temper the anger?  Retain a faithfulness in opposition?  

My first piece of advice is this: Leave the righteous anger to God, for He alone judges and demands recompence.

I for one have renewed a habit, and that habit is this: to read the daily Liturgy of the Hours – morning and evening prayer.  This anchors me.  Refreshes me. Fortifies me.  Guides me.

The above citation is from the today’s Morning Prayer recitation.

In these readings, I am struck by how we have, in our heritage, been formed as a great nation first in our Jewish history, then in the Christian West.

How shocking is the reality today that we have forsaken God and in doing so lurch to destroy what He has given us: faith, freedom, family, holy matrimony, children, peace, commerce, independence, liberty, the free market, prosperity, courage, confidence, belief, insight, the capacity to lead and to sacrifice for what is good, to serve those in need, to love, care and forgive, and to live in civility, humility and community.

The ways of the godless are always self-destructive for absent God, they are full of self-hate.

We have been silent too long.  Too tolerant of those who would destroy and bend all to their sickness and disorder.  The battle lines are drawn.  We do not find conflict, conflict finds us.

All strength comes from God, all courage from faith.

Center your life each day on God … and give hell to those who seek it.

Shalom.

Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Psalm 51:20

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In listening this morning to the great choral classics sung by King’s College Choir and especially Gregorio Allegri’s exquisite Miserere (composed in the 16th century) it is hard not to realize how far we have drifted from a sacred consciousness, a Christian disposition and character, identity – and harder still not to be saddened by this self-imposed exile.

What do I mean?  Miserere’s setting is Psalm 51.  The Choir’s voices sing of things we have misplaced, forgotten, from which we have departed.

The Psalm and the lyrics are of repentance.  It acknowledges one’s sinfulness and seeks God’s mercy and compassion.  It speaks to God’s desire that, despite our sinfulness, we seek a sincerity of heart.  It seeks that we might know wisdom and be cleansed … “hear the sounds of joy and gladness” again.

Further, it seeks that a steadfast spirit be renewed and sustained in us, that we might “teach the wicked” God’s ways and “that sinners may return to” God.  Likewise that our tongues might speak of God’s healing power.

It powerfully proclaims that our “broken spirit” is our sacrifice and pleads in confidence that God will “not spurn a broken and humble heart.”

How can we deny The Word Made Flesh?  How can we offend God?  Act to offend Him? Attempt to exile Him?  How can our public figures, political advocates, judges and pressure groups act so full of pride and without a trace of humility, divorce themselves from time-tested ancient wisdom?

Who gives them the right for this mutiny?  This insurrection?  Why do we listen to them and turn away from God’s timeless voice?

Shalom.

Note – If you wished to keep yourself in a proper and healthy disposition, you would be wise to read Psalm 51 regularly.  Among the things it does, frankly, is unite us with our Jewish brothers and sisters who are the inspiration for this Psalm and its pleading.

Memorial Day Weekend, 2016

They have built up the most realistic of political systems in an effort to establish a kingdom not of this world.

Maurice Powicke, in The Legacy of the Middle Ages

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These words are taken from the beginning of Diarmaid MacCulloch’s extraordinary book Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.

MacCulloch, an esteemed Oxford historian, has written a prize-winning book that is “a must read” in times such as these in which the ignorant have become the hostile to a faith which played, and continues to play, a unique and irreplaceable role in shaping and furthering human existence for more than 30 centuries.

Yes, Christianity has built the United States.  Yes, it has built Western Civilization and humanized other quarters of the world.  Yes, it has been, and is, a source of stability and hope especially in dark hours and afflicted decades.

One would do well to think of Christianity and Christ on Memorial Day 2016 and ponder this: Does anyone really think that those who have laid down their lives for others stretching far into years beyond their sacrifice did so for secularism? For Marxism?  For Godlessness?  For abhorrent sexual practices?  For adultery? The gutting of marriage?  For abortion?  For climate change?  For the redistribution of wealth?  The creation of dependence?  For the diminution of excellence, the destruction of virtue, or the banishment of prayer in public places?  Or for the abandonment of liberty, and the development of a totalitarian state where a free democratic Republic stood?  Where the Little Sisters of the Poor could be chased from the public square by the bigotry of the behemoth and corrupted central state?

Lifting from Powicke’s text, I remind you this Memorial Day that Christianity formed “to preserve a treasure, a command to be executed, a promise to be repeated, a mission to be fulfilled.”  

Christianity is “an object of contemplation … the inspiration for right conduct.”  It is “an unfathomable mystery … related to all knowledge.”  It furthers “the exploration of the recesses of the soul.”  It developed the arts and sciences and “constructed theories of the universe.”

Its simple propositions changed the world and human life for the better.

‘Thou shalt love thy God and thy neighbour as thyself.  What profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?’ … ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  No one cometh to the Father, save by Me. Take and it; this is my body.’ … ‘Go and preach the Kingdom of God.  Feed my sheep.  Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church.  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.’

Do we really want a President, politicians, a judiciary, rogue bureaucrats, distorted and ignorant special-pleaders or godless violent mobs to erase your history, victimize the faithful, place God in exile?

Yes, this is the issue today, now, in 2016.

It is up to you, and me.

Those who would today destroy Christianity, this nation, and Western Civilization ride on the sacrifices of the faithful.  Enough!

Shalom.

Do your part.  Share this post with others, so they might know and believe.

 

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