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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.

 

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… 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.

… let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.  Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on the minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.  (Emphasis added.)

President George Washington, in His Farewell Speech, September 19, 1796

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Once upon a time we were wiser and nicer.  Having dispatched wisdom and kindness, we are not consigned in perpetuity to live the ignorance and nastiness that has become us today.

“But how,” you ask, “can things change for the better?”

In answer I tell you that no one may simply present himself to a Court of Law and argue a case.  No, one must be credentialed to the law.  Training is required.  License, in good order and standing, is required.  We can learn from this.

At present we listen to anyone that shouts loud enough of their fanciful “desires and wants.”  Illustratively, no one asks those who propound the oddest of ideas to state their case as to faith, religious narrative, wisdom complied over the Ages, what history has taught, what is known of cause and effect psychologically, emotionally, socially – indeed, least of all judges who have as their credentials but two things: one, that they are but lawyers, and two, they know a politician or political group which will promote their interest in becoming a judge.  Mind you, Courts are occupied with those who have little training but law – and let it be known from me (a lawyer, with advanced degrees in theology and international affairs and foreign policy) that virtually anyone who can read can become a lawyer.

Studying law does not equip one with wisdom – and surely not with the learned ability to discern social policy, advance it, or question those before the Court who seek to advance their views of “man’s perfection” or the “way” society ought to run or be organized as their prejudice so poorly “informs” them.

To make our turn back to wisdom – make the proponents of change lay out very broadly and in detail the defense of a proposed change and explain the ramifications – personal and material costs – in embarking on their (usually poorly examined) proposals.

And remember, the cornerstone of wisdom is neither desire nor “equality.”  It is more complex than such simple thinking – indeed, its acquisition resides amid religious principle.

Shalom.

Postscript – This is the third and final blog post on Tradition.  I suggest reading each one beginning with the first entry two days ago.  Suffice it to say, we display a poverty of intellect that is shocking and explains more than any other factor (save our ignorance of religious narrative and the history of Western civilization) what we see as gross disorder and destabilization of our fundamental institutions today – running from marriage, procreation, gender, family and education to our institutions of governance and our sacred fundamental documents like the Constitution and an appreciation of the Federalist Papers and the design and unique working of a Representative Democracy with power shared by its citizens with both autonomous state government and the federal government.

The liberal left can be as rigid and destructive as any force in American life.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Pat Moynihan was a good and honest man.  Grew up in Hell’s Kitchen.  Became a Harvard prof.  A Democrat.  An intellectual.  A public servant.  A man who loved his country and maintained an informed and honest conversation with all members of the political community and the public at large.

He was a man without malice, an open-minded man who let the evidence lead him to conclusions.  He was neither an ideologue nor a rigid partisan.  He was a public servant – an honest man.  In his day, this country and its people came before political party.

Today’s Democrat Party is not Pat Moynihan’s Party.  Likewise, he would not recognize the present U.S. Department of Justice or the F.B.I. as places of honor and honesty and he would speak about its failure and, with urgency, seek to correct its shameful ways.

We are in a bad way today.  We are losing the legacy of a loyal and fair opposition – the Democrat Party.   They no longer maintain an interest in governing in the Congress.  They simply “resist.”  In this failure to legislate, the process which connects each of us to the liberty embodied in the U.S. Constitution, injuries each of us and makes a sham of election to the Congress.

As a political entity the Democrats now lean to socialism and further Left even.  Its views and actions resonate as nihilism; in voice and deed they show contempt for our Republic, the Nation itself, law and our Constitution.  They have become a party of unequal justice, disdain for the common citizen, and hatred of those with whom they disagree.  Sadly, the lawlessness of their members, sympathizers, friends and associates are often excused.

This is not Pat Moynihan’s Democrat Party – and we are far the lesser for it.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the defense of my life.  Whom shall I dread?

Our salvation, and the preservation of this Nation, will rest on our relationship with God – the source of our sovereignty and our salvation.

Shalom.

Good Men – The Democrat Party I knew once had great, good men in it.  Men like Tip O’Neill (U.S. Congressman and Speaker of the House) and Barefoot Sanders (a Federal Judge and former U.S. Senate candidate from Texas).  Each was a fine person, honest and fair.  Each enjoyed people – valued them.  The Democrat Party is a long way from these men of character.  Wish it was not so.

Jesus said … “Did I not say that if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”

Jn 11:39

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Here Jesus speaks to Martha, the sister of Lazarus, after Lazarus has died and been laid to rest in his tomb.

You see those who assembled around Martha and her sister Mary questioned why Jesus (who had opened the eyes of the blind man) did not keep their friend Lazarus from death.

We live in a period where “unbelief” is widespread and where, absent believe, individuals and groups attempt to secure their ends sans faith and God.

In a milder form this was the sentiment of those who doubted Jesus was the Messiah … and began to question His identity at Lazarus’ death.  These people favored their desired outcome, and doubted Jesus.  We do precisely this today.  We are of little faith.  We “go it alone” and seek our fractured ends.  Godless we create a mess, elevate ourselves to heights of foolishness and descend to the depths of chaos, uncertainty, hostility, destruction, dishonesty and folly.  Without belief – we destroy the gifts we have been given.  Shame on us.

We had best learn the lesson of Lazarus’ death.  Living in doubt of God – we have done great damage.  Shame on us.

Stay strong in faith.  Turn from those who, not believing, destroy.

Shalom.

Yesterday’s Congressional Hearing – Witness Peter Strzok of the FBI and the howling Members of the Congress in the minority party showed what godlessness looks like – what life without belief sounds like.  Poor Mr. Strzok – smug, self-righteous.  Members of the minority – chaotic, even childish.  Net: dignity absent – humility, maturity and belief in short supply. 

… we seek nothing but the particular place willed for us by God …

Then we discover what the spiritual life really is … It is the silence of our whole being in compunction and adoration before God, in the habitual realization that He is everything and we are nothing, that He is the Center to which all things tend, and to Whom all our actions are directed.  That our life and strength proceed from Him, that both in life and death we depend entirely on Him, that the whole course of our life is foreknown by Him and falls into the plan of His wise and merciful Providence; that it is absurd to live without Him, for ourselves, by ourselves … and in the end the only thing that matters is His glory.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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In the Mass readings today we hear God lamenting that His children have moved away from Him and we hear Jesus advise us to move away from those who do not receive or listen to his words.

Our dilemma is that we live in an age where many of the most public and most vocal have moved away from God and do not listen to the words of His Son.  Likewise the culture in its digital discourse and mass communication is crowded with those who operate largely by themselves – without reference to God.  Indeed, that is the bulk of present day discourse and we are obviously affected negatively by this.

What is one to do in such circumstances?

Yes, we are assured in the Old Testament reading of today (from Hosanna) that God will act mercifully as to those who rebel.  And, we know that Jesus in today’s Gospel (from Matthew) would have us separate from those who do not receive his words or listen to him.  So we have a plan: be merciful, yet separate from those who reject the Savior’s words.

But how is this to be done?

Merton offers a way: seeking time in silence and the company of God in that silence.  For in that silence the primacy of God is known and experienced and we are in the form that we are designed to know and in which we will find peace when all about are in discord and distress.

Yes, our confidence is in God and our task is to stand apart form those who reject God outright, and in their rejection of the Son, reject the Father.  Our remedy for this is silence – a singular silence where God is heard – much as the Son shows us in his regular retreats to the quiet of the desert.

In silence we can find stability, meaning and fulfillment.

Shalom.      

 

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