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Back from an unexpected day without a post.  It was a leisurely drive back from family and friends – a long road in beautiful country and heavenly quiet.

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The version of eros that Jane Austen’s novels study … is hardly animalistic.  It is ethicalthat is, it is concerned with the education of the will to the end of good character, and indeed is precisely about coming to know someone’s character.

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

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Who among us acts as if love is intended to deliver us to good character

To the best of my knowledge I give you my answer – not very many.  And I add we are a sick culture – more animal than human.  Grunts in heat – far short of character … the kind of people you’d be best to avoid.

McCloskey’s book is excellent and particularly good in discussing love and its relationship with our character.

Only through McCloskey can I see clearly the distinction between my wife who died childless of cancer at 29 (one month short of our 4th anniversary) and a subsequent wife who left a child, a husband and a marriage after 22 years for no particular reason but her desire to do so.

In McCloskey’s work I see so clearly one spouse aligned love and character and one did not.  I add, indeed, that unbeknownst to me in dedicating my life to the care of my seriously ill and dying wife – I had enkindled in me the relationship between love and character.

I add thankfully that by the grace of God I lived and loved in a manner that both life and love was joined to the quest for good character – who I am, who I have been made at birth to be.

Recognizing this allows me to see so clearly the blessings of that first love and the triumph that my life has been – all because of the grace of God.  Likewise, I see the ugly character of so many in our culture who make no such linkage between love and character.

It is hideous how the affluent and so-called “elites” and public figures, celebrities and the self-proclaimed wisdom figures and endless talking heads show absolutely nothing to distinguish them nor merit any of our attention.  Yea, their personal lives often a mess –  a series of failed marriages – seemingly without a touch of honor.

The fault lines are now between the urban and suburban elites and those who are not them.  Oddly, the fault lines might just be between those who show that love is connected with character and those that do not.

Shalom.

 

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The man who has been made in God’s image is the inner man, the incorporeal man, incorruptible, immortal one.

Origen, in Homily on Genesis

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Want to understand disorder and those who are disordered?  Just listen to Origen’s words above which date back to the Second Century after Christ.

His point is this: we are made in God’s image and that means we are in essence and fundamentally the man within us, the interior man.  In this, where God resides in us, we are as God: incorporeal – more than bodily man, here we are incorruptible – that is good at the core of our being.  We are in this life God – immortal – cannot die except that we pass from mortal life to eternal life.

So the disorder ones are those who know not their interior being – have never examined themselves thoughtfully, who – in contrast – live an exterior life – one of appearance, one that seeks status and advantage and fame and wealth, and cannot deny their most corrupt passions and desires – however sick and self-destructive they might be.

For them: more drugs, more sex, more rock and rock – more “free” stuff – more dependence, less autonomy, less dignity, less responsibility – childhood forever – all demands met – no God – no morality – ideology governs – and the ideologues say “kill the infidels who dare to have faith.”

Friends, we live among disordered people and they make life very dangerous and quite its contrary.   Their living denies life – they are the dead who must bury the dead.

This is precisely the circumstances we live in today.  Without God insanity becomes sanity, and bad becomes good, chaos becomes peace – Yes, lies prosper and pass as truth.

Shalom.

St. Michael the Archangel defend us against the wickedness and snares of the Devil … thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls.

The Prayer of St. Michael

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How do you prepare each day to meet the challenges of this world?  How do you become equipped to refute what is wicked, what is unjust, hateful – what advocates dishonesty or exclusion of others?

What do you say in the presence of words that divide and urge the injury of others?  What do you say to the civil “servant” or the elected official, or the powerful whose behavior is unacceptable, who fosters violence and exclusion?

Are you strong of voice in these times, and these encounters?  Or are you one who thinks that affluence purchases your silence because after all you have much to lose?

Facing Satan or his minions in high places or low, what would you say?  What do you say?  Would have the strength, courage and faith of St. Michael?  Do you have that strength, courage and faith?

If not, you’d be but a collaborator with the Evil One.  That said, you offer no friendship to others.

Why?  Why do you stand idly by and watch the destruction of souls?  Have you no heart?  No conscious?  No faith?

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.

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.

 

… Moses was told explicitly, God’s blessings come from obedience.

Gary North

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Your happiness in life depends on one simple thing: relationship with God – your obedience to His teachings.

If you wonder how it is that the world is in the shape it is – the answer is quite apparent: people disobey God, countries and politicians disobey God and news people and media people and celebrities – trust themselves, but not God.

There is no more shameful sight than seeing that those who profess belief in God live in a quite contrary way …

Wish to understand the problems presented by the sexual scandals in religious institutions – just recognize that some who profess to serve God, do not … rather they submit to human vulnerabilities and personal desires … they live a great distance from God.

If there is good news in this it is this: we are called to obey God and do so overtly, bravely, openly, without fear and despite the personal costs in this fallen world.

Yes, we are called to the most fundamental task in faith: to obey God openly and with confidence and courage.

All of our present days troubles come from denying God.  When you hear the voices of this group or that, the disgruntled and angry person or persons – simply ask yourself: Do these people in any way, shape or form show their obedience to God.

Truth is – they do not.  Their antics tell you this: they have no God.  Give them no attention but to reject them.

Shalom.

A. B. Stoddard – Ms. Stoddard is a news person.  She graduated from Connecticut College and was the daughter of a gentleman who was a television executive.  Well, dandy for her.  She thinks, she says today (on Fox this afternoon), that President Trump will have some sort of meltdown after an unnamed source (allegedly a White House employee) got to publish his or her unflattering account of Mr. Trump as an op-ed piece in the once trust-worthy New York Times.

Journalists are just amazing people!!!  Dip your toe in a small women’s college and wander into your Pop’s T.V. business and bingo – you qualify as a psychiatrist.

When are we ever going to reason that someone in the gossip business does not have free reign over all manner of knowledge and varied professions?

Listen to these people at your own and the Nation’s peril.

By the way, did I mention I am a nuclear physicist, a gourmet chef, race car driver, a four-minute miler, a wine expert and conductor of a renown symphony orchestra?

 

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Jn 13:35

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The conflicts we see among us are unsightly, a shame and an embarrassment.  Yet, we say we are faithful Christians.

There are those who divide us.  Those whose God is self and power, and wealth, and status.  In their quest for these things their love falls by the wayside.

We are not made for pride but for humility.  In humility there is strength and courage for in humility there is faith and belief and in these two humility.

Seek humility and strength and wisdom follow.

Shalom.

The moving image of eternity.

Plato, “Timaeus” in Dialogues

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In 380 B.C., Plato identified time as “the moving image of eternity.”

What are we to make of this?

Plutarch, writing in Paltonic Questions in 66 A.D., amplified what Plato said with these words: “Pythagoras, when asked what time was, answered that it was the soul of this world.

Time.  An image of eternity.  The soul of this world.

My Dear Friend and Law School Classmate Marty Donovan sent me an email today in which he said a Priest at Sunday Mass referred to time as man’s invention and then the Priest offered this: God does not know time – God’s point of reference and reality is – One Eternal Moment.

Marty said this observation just about knocked him off his seat in the pew.  His sharing it with me had the same heart-stopping reality for me.  Instinctively, that seems so right – so life-changing correct.

Why would God be trapped by time?  Why would an Eternal Being ever be separated from His Creation and all that resides in it?  To think otherwise is to imagine God with a wrist watch and a calendar, and one of those breast pocket little leather-bound calendar’s we use to record appointments and due-dates and people’s birthdays.

No, the God we know is most apt to stay with us in His One Eternal Moment and to give us His company unceasingly in all of mortal life and thereafter.

One Eternal Moment seems right.

Think about it.  How is it that our loved ones who died are so much a conscious part of our days?  How can they be, as they are for me, very much like they are still in my life – still present to me?  I dare say that as I get older those who were so dear to me and died are in some unique ways more present to me than when they were mortally embodied.

Could it be that all existence is One Eternal Moment?  Think of it this way: Scripture says that God knew us before He formed us in our mother’s womb.  Such a thought squares with the idea that we live in One Eternal Moment.  

Likewise, we know our mission here in mortal existence is simply this: to live fully the life God intended for us so that we may grow in the fullness of life and come to know Him most intimately.  With such a mortal mission would it not, then, follow that we seek the full maturation that God intends so we might know Him in Eternal Life – in post-mortal existence and come to be united with those who we loved and lost to their own eternal reward?

Does not the idea of One Eternal Moment speak to us of heaven and our afterlife?  Does it no make sense and seem right to you – as it did to Marty and to me?

This, Dear Readers and Friends, will fundamentally change how you live your life.

Shalom.

Top Secret Clearances – Last Sunday, Admiral Mike Mullen, an outstanding man who served his country with excellence in the U.S. Navy, was interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday about former government officials retaining their Top Secret Security Clearances after their retirement from public service.

Obviously, there are some circumstances in which the retention is sensible and quite helpful to the Nation.

However, Mr. Wallace never asked Admiral Mullen what utility retaining the Top Secret Security Clearance had as it pertained to post-retirement private, high-paying corporate employment with those who maintain lucrative contract work with the government.

In the Admiral’s case, it would have been useful to have his view.  Particularly because 60 or more high-ranking military and civilian with Top Secret Clearances have penned their objection to any Presidential efforts to withdraw their designation.  Could we be seeing another of the inside-the-Beltway clubishness that is so common in the D.C. terrarium?

Admiral Mullen has had several board memberships with American corporations since his retirement in 2011.  His views would have been helpful but alas the question was never asked.

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.

“When you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of the Light.  These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them.”

Jn 12:36

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There are endless lessons to be learned in Scripture.  The above is an example.

As “literalists,” we understand the easy lesson here: believe in Christ and become the sons of the Father.

But there is another extremely important lesson here as well and it is this: give yourself private time, time alone – in quiet – in solitude for that is precisely what Jesus does … he retreated from people, from the crowd, to be alone in quiet for prayer, rest and contemplation.

As to this point, let’s be deadly serious: we live in a troubled land with many disordered people and disordered ideas and a great deal of stress, conflict and destruction.  People are very limited in their own development and have anchored themselves is selfishness, foolishness, fantasy and what is false, fraudulent and wrong.  Evil has been passed along as good.

We are, in many real ways, a disintegrating society.  There are those ideas and people among us who push us more and more to our destruction.  Yes, things are that disjointed and out-of-control.  Even institutions like the Church show these signs.  Fortunately as Christians, we have Christ and His teachings and He and His teachings are all the more indispensable to us in this time of chaos and conflict.

For you I say only this: pay attention to Christ and keep some time for being alone in quiet, rest, prayer and contemplation.  Do not immerse yourself totally in culture or labor.  Read Scripture and see so plainly what is before you: many are lost and forces present attempt to push us to extinction.  That is what godlessness brings – evil deeds and the assault on what is Good, life-giving and eternal.

Stay strong and tough.  Be wise.  The Light is your guide.  Stay in the Light.

Shalom.

If today’s message is helpful, please pass it along to others and welcome them to share it with those they know.  We are in this together.  All in one boat.

As always, comments are welcome and helpful.  Peace be with you.

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