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Sunday, September 9, 2108 –  in the rain, and wind, the fog and the cold … where forest meets pasture – I write drawing on my biographical experience – my own lived life and what it is for me to write.  My hope is that this will connect with you, give you something you did not have before you read this post.  Give you a sense of how personal writing is.

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William Faulkner… once characterized his approach (to writing) as “oratory out of solitude” … Of this approach (Walker) Percy made a new thing altogether.  The solitude of The Moviegoer isn’t the solitude of a rebel or an independent, but of a man who is alone in a crowd.

Paul Elie, in The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage

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Percy, the converted Catholic medical doctor turned extraordinary Southern novelist, who wrote the award-winning novel The Moviegoer and said of the power of writing and of fiction in particular that he could “banish alienation through the … alliance … of character, reader and author.” Now look specifically at this in Paul Elie’s words above: Walker’s solitude was that “of a man who is alone in a crowd.”

That so explains my history and my writing.  I write from a strong sense of what it is to be alone, and, yet, at the same time possess the gift of a facile nature as to social existence and being with others.  I suspect that each of us must know suffering or we do not know life … Indeed, I cannot imagine the experience of The Divine without our suffering and disappointment – and the sublime reality of solitude … including the task of knowing we are alone.

Before I began blogging, I had faithfully maintained journals for years – every page filled beginning to end.   Social as I was – writing was self-examination and a reach for others.

While I was always comfortable with people – my ease with others and interest in them was a compensatory gift from God that was designed to offset the pains of desertion, death, betrayal, loss, poverty and the witness of my mother’s suffering in difficult circumstances.

Yes, writing was a way to understand myself and all that surrounded me.  My blogging is more of the same.  Seems that God had this path in mind for me – some hard experiences to teach and grow me – so I might be with others in a helpful way.

My blogging is an offset to being the lonely man in a crowd.  I think if you review what I write you may well see that proposition within the writing – ironically, like Walker Percy, I reach our from an “aloneness” within – in order to make contact with others to banish the alienation of my history, wounds and disappointments.

For me my “alliance” is: my history, self-understanding, the world as it inflicts sufferings on us and you, the reader.

If you never read anything I wrote I would be left with the past, the sounds, knowledge of myself that never reached another human being, and a world that dispenses suffering in ample quantity.  Too much to bear by one’s self.

If no one ever read the blog – I would be a voiceless disciple, a man mumbling alone, an unheard voice.

Like others, I write an “oratory out of solitude” so I might live and help.

Shalom.

I welcome any thought you might have on this particular post.

 

 

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The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high heroic temper.

Aristotle

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Men have been a target for some decades now.  In the course of this we forget that the best of them are as Aristotle describes.  You need only think of fallen heroes – men who died too young.  Or of the everyday Dad who pledges himself to his wife and their children and, having done so, never fails them.

Men have been made to be stalwart and strong from the inside outside.  They speak up when others will not.  They seek no applause.  They fear no isolation – they know it is the price of courage and promises made.

Some see difficulties and pause in fear.  Others see in difficulties advantage to be had and proceed with courage.  Good men proceed – are never frozen in place when obstacles appear.  They face down evil.

We best not forget who the good men are and how they make contributions routinely that run great risk, show great love and selfless sacrifice.

Forget not Good Men.

Shalom.

No More – A young Weymouth, Massachusetts, police office was shot and killed, this Sunday morning, by a man who seized his gun and turned it on the officer.  The killer was attempting to break into a home (according to news reports).

No more, People – “NO MORE!”  A man leaves home to protect us and does not return!!!

It is now our turn – this has gone too far – way too far.  Expedited trials and timely appeals.

 

The transformation of charity into legal entitlement has produced both donors without love and recipients without gratitude.

Antonin Scalia

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These words are from an address given by former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1996.

Among his observations are these:

  • “a Christian should not support a government that suppresses faith or one that sanctions the taking of innocent life”
  • he knows of “no country in which the churches have grown fuller as the government has moved leftward”
  • the most religious nation in the West (the U.S.) is a capitalist society that is “least diluted by socialism”  (Emphasis added.)
  • since FDR’s New Deal, the U.S. has taken on the increasing role of a welfare state (i.e., taking tax proceeds of all and dispensing them to select individuals and groups that are deemed “needy” – and building political constituents in the process)
  • “Christ’s view was that you should give your goods to the poor, not that you should force someone else to give his (to others)”  (Emphasis added.)
  • “to the extent that the states takes upon itself one of the corporal works of mercy that would have been undertaken privately, it deprives individuals of an opportunity for sanctification and deprives the body of Christ of the occasion for interchange of love among its members”
  • the welfare-state does not contain or convey the Christian virtue of altruism
  • “governmentalization of charity effects … the donor but also the recipient … What was once asked as a favor is now demanded as an entitlement … the teaching of welfare socialism is that the world owes everyone a living.”

What Scalia lays out is the decline of the role of faith in secular culture – and with it the loss of moral conduct long displayed by acts of religiously inspired service.

Likewise socialism fundamentally changes the way humans experience themselves, others and the nature of fellowship and community – indeed it blunts the power of love and hope … it deprives us of faith and sanctification.

Make no mistake, religion and God have been shunned in the post-New Deal environment – and, frankly, when moral conduct is not fostered through a population who has an active faith – hostility and faithless division takes its place.  There we become a troubled and self-destructive culture with less opportunity to make of us brothers and sisters to one another.

Converting to socialism and BIG government is, quite simply, destructive.

Shalom.

In Memory of My Mother

To the mother alone is given, that her soul during the nine months should touch the soul of the child, and impose upon it predispositions to truth, gentleness, goodness.

Jean Baptiste Lacordaire

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There is no way to overstate the role of a mother in a child’s life and the life of a nation. Yes, to her is given the sacred disposition of soul touching soul.

One can judge a nation by its mothers and its children … and by the manner in which men protect mothers, children and nation.

That said, what can one say of our nation and its abortions, promiscuity, unwed mothers, children without fathers … about a land where sex “trafficking” is present as is child abuse?

What can we say about an elite class where the powerful and notable have exploited women?  Abused them?  Assaulted them?  Where adultery is commonplace and the  female body is preyed upon?  Where fewer men stand tall and strong in defense of the innocent, and of women and children … and where the sexes are divided for political purposes?

Too often in our culture I see that women are mistreated.  Just today I read a story of four adult immigrant men who drugged and sexually assaulted a poor 15-year-old run-away girl over a four day period of abduction.  The men were participants in sex “trafficking.”

I am grateful my mother and grandmother, my aunts and great aunts, and wife Sylvia are not alive to see this.

If we care about mothers and the sacred place of women in human existence, we’d best change radically the way we function as to women and girls.  No more assaults, no more rapes, no more exploitation – stronger punishments, speedy trials, fast-track appeals, quicker convictions, longer jail terms, fewer prison comforts.

Men: protect women and children, your neighbors, the elderly, the weak and in-firmed.  Live with honor.

Shalom.

 

… taking ownership when things go wrong requires extraordinary humility and courage … (Emphasis added.)

Jocko Willink, in Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win

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Look around today.  Listen to the daily news.  Adults realize that in life “things go wrong.”  Some might say – things go wrong daily, perpetually.  Would anyone expect less from imperfect people?  No.  Not unless one was delusional.  And, yes – some people are delusional.

Learning requires taking ownership for our actions and inactions that produce error and failure.  Doing so requires humility and courage and is the mark of a leader.   

Looking at the daily news suggests we have a shortage of leaders.

When you find yourself in chaos and recognize that those who speak to the moment look neither humble nor courageous, you realize that you are called to fill that void – you are called to lead – to manifest that humility and courage, to take responsibility, to candidly identify and speak of errors that must be corrected, to call others out.

Today we are far from seeing daily examples of leadership. The messes in the Parkland, Florida school shooting, at the FBI and Justice Department, in the Obama Presidency and within the intelligence community are sufficient evidence that we have a leadership problem – because we have a maturity problem, a character problem, a faith problem, an honesty problem, a courage problem, a humility problem.

What are we to do?  We must call those out who fail to lead.  Identify failure.  Rid ourselves of those who fail to own their errors.  Realize valor is our mission.  Separate from the indigenous failures among us and lead as you are called to do.

Courage.  Humility.  Onward.

Begin with your family, then your workplace and community.  Keep the company of the humble, the courageous – and speak the truth.

Better the company of the few, the best – than reside with lost souls.

Shalom.

Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

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The police officer on guard at the Parkland, Florida high school when the carnage was occurring stayed outside the building rather than respond to protect those under fire.

This is pathetic.

I have long said that faith proceeds courage.

We are a culture where all sorts of people make demands on others.  This particular iteration of selfishness is epidemic.  Forget claims of real harm – now one need only assert that group X or party Y is by race, or gender, or political disposition a prospective “offender.”  

Now children can make depends on others and expect that their demands will be met.  Forget the small delicacy that they know little to nothing and lack accumulated life experience or particular expertise.  Armed with anger and the strange notion that life is not to be hard, have its disappointments, tragedies, problems and losses – they want to be spared from what is and has been reality throughout human history.  Children being childish – and we are supposed to give them what they want!  Ridiculous.

The Left has given us a denial for faith and a whole lot of hatred of others and of this country.  They are selfish and want their way no matter the absurd or destructive demand they seek to impose.

Enough.

With the Left we now hunt police officers, ambush them.  We seem to have an officer a day killed.  Now we have some who will not come to the defense of the unarmed – but rather let the unarmed innocent die.

Six decades of Leftist sickness has given us decadence and decline.  We are now a nation where the young (those who traditionally served to defend this land) are too fat, too unhealthy, to addicted, to lawless, to uneducated to serve in the military.  This is what the Left gives us – the likes of Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and many others who never held a job outside of a political office – freeloaders who complain but never put their hand to the plow, to an honest day’s work.  DecadenceWe have far more selfish loudmouths than selfless neighbors.

We have allowed the Left to squander away our freedom and our security, destroy the family and communities, co-opt our young people, destroy fundamental institutions and beliefs, divide this nation, exile God.

But for a small group of honorable, selfless men and women – we would stand naked, unarmed, cowardly and selfish – the prey of those without and within who wish our destruction.

Back to faith – or our end will come.  No more meeting the demands of those who talk and take but do nothing for others.

No more free rides and constant complaints from the talkers and the takers.

Let’s be absolutely clear that there is NO courage without faith … and institutions and government agencies, departments and bureaus DO NOT have courage – individual people do.  Faith and courage – your job!!!

Shalom.

$500 million to Protect Schools.  No problem – shift the federal annual give-way to Planned Parenthood from the abortionists to the task of protecting children who have escaped their clutches.

 

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.  (Emphasis added.)

Mother Teresa

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They placed Nikolas Cruz’s younger brother in a facility for a mental health evaluation.  He is 18 years old, Nikolas is 19.

You know the thumbnail story of their lives – given up for adoption, a history of personal difficulties, thoughts of fetal alcohol syndrome, poverty, adoption, living on the edge – a home life that required the police to respond to their house multiple times a year, a failed school life, being ostracized, rejected by peers, self-mutilation, despair, confusion, learning problems, thrown out of school, abandoned – left to their own destruction.

They say Parkland is a family town where people care for each other.  Hard to see that in Nikolas and his brother, in the way the school system took a very deprived kid and threw him our of school with no oversight or care.  Hard to see the good people of small town U.S.A. in a good light when we know these kids lived a variant of being unwanted all their lives.

Parkland was not too long ago a smaller town without the Yuppie homes with big rooms.  I gather from news reports that remnants of its earlier status might be known by the few trailers that still house some families.  One imagines a sharp contrast between what might have been a short time ago and what is now.

Nikolas and his brother are lost kids, kids who likely needed care – maternal, paternal, familial, adult care … who needed real institutional support and particularized education and preparation for adult life.  Like all of us as children: they needed stability – the loving consistent care of an able adult, encouragement, predictability at home and in their small childhood world – truth is they needed love and care more than the lessons of rejection, alienation, confusion, defeat, loneliness and despair which seems to have come their way over and over again.

The story of the Parkland tragedy is at its core a story about lost children – and specifically lost boys in a culture and time that them.  It is a story that indicts not those who are unwanted but rather those around them who took no care to shepherd these lost sheep.  Shame in this Lenten Season!!!

I know these kids, I might have been one but for a mother who cared and sacrificed, two uncles and a loving grandmother, a great aunt and uncle, kind neighbors and childhood friends who accepted me and are today (now 68 years) still my brothers and sisters.

I am quite honestly sick and tired of those I see in public life, in positions of authority – with some exceptions.  They’d be best to leave us alone – go off and experience the realities of a hard and precarious life that humbles you by having you ask of yourself as I did as a child: what will happen to me if my mother dies?

If we demonstrate anything daily, it is this – all the talking heads and celebrities, and politicians, entertainers, media folks and those in authority everywhere – those who lay claim to our attention … might want to stop (as we all might) and ask: Do I see the Lost Sheep?  And what do I do when I see them?

Shalom.

 

A very jumbled schedule today – so a late post.  My apologies.

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A good life does not require that we think less of ourselves, but that we think of ourselves less.

Bob Sylvester

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We need not think less of ourselves to be good people.  Rather, we need only to think of ourselves less.

Being a servant does not mean diminishing yourself – rather the point of service is to put others first – to serve those in need of help.  We serve best when we preserve our sacred value, protect our God-given dignity and act on that.

Today we see people acting as if serving others through government policy is the ultimate form of service.  In these pursuits – the government takes money from people to hire employees to manage the distribution of money or services to others.  There is little sacrifice in this.  No one offers themselves to another and pays a personal cost, nor is the actual experience of personal servitude realized.

In giving we are embellished spiritually because we humble ourselves so others might be assisted, receive our care, concern, love and attention.

I often say to others: in my lifetime secular culture has diminished both imagination and intimacy – robbed life of its spiritual content, numbed us to our full humanity – created distance between man and God.

When we do experience the capacity to serve, we draw closer to our sacred personhood – the experience of knowing service as Christ knew service.

With your dignity in tow, serve with humility … Yes, thinking of self less makes us whole – amplifies our sacred being.

Shalom.

I saw that carrying out a vocation differed from … actions dictated by reason or inclination in that it was due to an impulse … essentially and manifestly different order; and not to follow such an impulse when it made itself felt, even if it demanded impossibilities, seemed to be the greatest of all ills.  (Emphasis added.)

Simone Weil, in a Letter to a Friend

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Vocations arise from distinctly personal impulse.  One has the interior impetus to dedicate oneself to God and God’s service in an exclusive way.

Impulses like this cannot be easily ignored. To live in relationship with God is to be aligned to the impulse to serve God when needed.  Vocations come to those who are open to receive the call to vocations – to God’s service.

Those who close themselves from these impulses by saying – I will not be involved, I will simply be quiet and let God do the work – have no vocation, cannot be called to vocation because their pre-conceived disposition prevents the openness that impulse requires.

To deny the impulse to serve God actively – in word and deed – forfeits discipleship.  It leaves one to remain safely on the sidelines – even when Rome is burning.

Disciples speak and act.  Other are sideliners.

Are you a sideliner?  Or are you one who is open to the call of God and prepared to do what God asks of you?

Shalom.

… sanity is spiritual.  It simply is.

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

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Liberals are fearful, frightened.  Having neither faith nor having sufficiently deeply examined themselves and the demonstrative nature of being human, they are in great need of reassurance.  Hence, they are “snowflakes” demanding special zones of “protection” and they relish being victims and asserting all sorts of privileges they associate with victimhood.  Yes, in such “status” they are reassured … at the expense of others – no matter the cost to other, self or society.

Fearful as they are, they seek control.  They do so by making errant ideas their idols and forcing others to conform to their fear-driven orientation.

They root in politics – local, state and national.  In this regard they create and encode fanciful notions: homophobia emerges, fascism assigned to others, genders “multiply” from two to many, “transgenderism” becomes a “human right,” marriage “re-defined” and child sacrifice legalized.

In the extreme, immaturity emerges.  One thinks of the liberal state legislators who fled the state of Wisconsin to avoid conceding power to their fairly elected opposition, or of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s obstructionist tactics intended to thwart America’s legislative business and peaceful governance, or of the bureaucracies use of “leaks” to scuttle an American Presidency.

Liberals were once better than this.  Alas, they are no more what they once were.

In life we must choose – self alone, or self in the Spirit.  That is: life with or life without God.  The liberals mistake – life without God, life without Spirit.  In this, as May notes, sanity is lost.

It profits one not at all to maintain discourse with those who forfeit sanity.  The mere semblance of dialogue with them destroys one’s own sanity – individual or nation.

We live in strange times.

Shalom.

 

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