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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.

 

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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.

 

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

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Salvation.  The heart + reflection + meekness + responsibility.  So observes Vaclav Havel.

Don’t see much of this around Washington these days.  Salvation is a word rarely heard since we began barring God from public conversation.  We can thank the marshmallow middle and the strident Left for that basic act of dislocation – as to the latter their inevitable preference for error.

Heart, reflection, meekness, responsibility.  Little of this here today.  Heartless is more the form.  Reflection, like thoughts of salvation, appears permanently shelved in favor of the instant news cycle where comments issue as frequently as pulse beats as politicos and “talking heads” tommy-gun out the “latest inside scoop” replete with “unnamed sources” (a delightful name for twins today, by the way).

Meekness, my God!  None of that here.  Washington is more a mob at Filene’s Basement tearing the bargain “name brand” apparel from one another in a melee resembling Wrestle-Mania gone mad.  Meekness, it seems, is too orderly and vulnerable for Washington today.  Gone is the obvious power of a calm and measured voice.

It follows there are few signs of responsibility – at least among the those who daily carp and complain, and report and exploit.

We could use some Vaclav Havel.  Inmates running an asylum never works well.

Shalom.

Footnote – Vaclav Havel is among the most interesting figures of the late last century and early 21st century.  A writer, philosopher, political dissident and politician who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1902) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1903-2003).  A widely-esteemed and admired man or faith, courage, talent, heart, thoughtfulness, insight, humility, service and responsibility.  Don’t you wish we had such a presence here today. ‘Tis time to tell the children to be quiet.

Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity.

Anon.

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Aye, these words – perfect to summon thoughts on this brilliantly sunny, cold morn in early April as I look across the emerald-green pastures and listen as Deanta plays reels soaked in the sweeping wind of the Holy Old Sod.

We learned yesterday that the U.S. Navy intercepted a flagless vessel bound for Yeman and the Iran-backed Shia rebels whose goal is to overthrow the U.N. supported Yemeni government.  This – the third such incident in the last few weeks.

The hidden cargo?  1500 AK 47’s, 200 RPG launchers, 21 50 caliber machine guns.

Brings to mind Beruit, Lebanon, on Sunday, October 23, 1983, at 6:22 a.m., when Irani native Ismail Ascari drove a truck with the equivalent of 21,000 tons of TNT into a four-story cement building housing the U.S. Marines and detonated his vehicle killing 241 Americans and himself.

“Islamic Jihad” claimed credit for this attack.

Yes, we have a history with Iran.  It is not one of trust.  It is one of hostility.

While there is complexity to this history, as there is in just about anything in the Middle East, any idiot should be able to remember history and see that one vital proposition: Iran sees us as their enemy.

Is this too much to ask of presidents, talking heads, and newsy boys and girls?

Lest one forget the Beruit Bombing, the Iranian Intelligence Service was found to have delivered instruction to its Ambassador in Lebanon to contact a wing of the terrorist group Hezbollah to initiate the attack.

While Iran denies any responsibility, in 2004 they erected a monument in Tehran to commemorate this terrorist bombing and the memory of its “martyrs.”

Recall as well that a civil suit filed against Iran in U.S. Federal Court resulted in a 2007 $ 2.65 billion judgment for those maimed and for the families of those killed.

How, I wonder, can we enter a nuclear arms agreement with a nation intent on, and actively engaged in, killing us and expanding its empire at the expense of those they hate?

This makes one ask of the President, Secretary Kerry, candidate Clinton and others: malice or stupidity?

This mess puts us to that question.  Think about it.

Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.

1 Cor 4:2

Well, that’s probably the key to the question.  Where there is no faith, there are no stewards.

Shalom.

No space of regret can make amends for one’s life opportunity misused.

Charles Dickens, in A Christmas Carol

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Christmas is a good time to think about how one has spent one’s time, lived last year and the years past.

In gift-giving is there not honor of others, appreciation for who they are and have been?  Their love?  Presence to you and others?  Is it not a time to celebrate others as the Christ Child so celebrates God’s love of us, His vigilant concern for us in the gift of Himself to us?

One would think those who claim to lead might wish to ask: Have I misused life’s opportunity?

Those who would lead are not bashful, nor are they self-reflective.  No, self-assertive, but not self-reflective.  Yet, no one can lead who has not taken full account of themselves.  Why? There is no wisdom or humility, nor honesty or courage in such people.

Those who assert that they can lead must ask the “Christmas Carol” questions: How have I failed? Deceived myself and others? Avoided responsibility?  Sought power for its own sake?  Or money? Who exactly have I helped? How have I sacrificed?  Served selflessly?  Have I been truthful? Faithful?  Have I loved and does it show?  Am I honest?  Do I defer to others?  Build others up?  Or do I simply tout myself? Consistently put others first and not thought about myself, fed others before I ate?

The President’s recent remarks as to how others stir up the fear in the working class was, frankly, remarkable, revealing and disconcerting.

He foisted the responsibility for the fear felt by Americans as to terrorism on the media and its reporting of the Paris Massacres and one Republican candidate for President.  He took no responsibility for the fear or for our economic decline. Worse, he chided others as if he was an innocent bystander with no earthy responsibility to lead, or for his own policies, relative silence, disengagement and inertia.

He, in particular, would wise to ponder Dickens’ words: No space of regret can make amends for one’s life opportunity misused.

He might do so while on his million dollar Hawaii Holiday.

What has he learned from Scrooge?

What have others learned who seek to lead?  What have they all learned from A Christmas Carol?  Have they met the Ghost of Christmas Past?  Or is theirs a life of self-assertion and self-flattery as opposed to honest self-reflection?

There is only one I Am.  We celebrate Him and the birth of His Son on Christmas.  Who do the would-be leaders celebrate at Christmas?

If you think they celebrate themselves – send them packing; let that be your Christmas gift to them, to yourself and your loved ones – especially to the children here and those to come.

Shalom.

… the shared commitment to safeguard one another’s lives is unnegotiable and only deepens in time.  The willingness to die for another person is a form of love that even religions fail to inspire, and the experience of it changes a person profoundly.  (Emphasis added.)

Sebastian Junger, in War

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Junger is talking about war, combat and life.

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

So says Jesus in the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, verse 13.

This is a cardinal truth, a capital “T” truth.

How is it that the President of France can forcefully and appropriately respond to an act of war on his country in the Paris attacks and our President (and public officials) cannot even accurately name attacks on us, and on our land?

How can one man see an act of war while another denies it?

Note what Sebastian Junger correctly says: “the willingness to die for another is a form of love.” Same as what Jesus says.

What does this tell us?

The man who does not love cannot defend another.  Further, the man who cannot lay down his life for another does not know Christ.

Interestingly, the French President (Francois Hollande) was raised a Catholic. The Truth, you see, does not evaporate that easily, no matter one’s faith trajectory.  We are made in and for Truth.

Frankly, a commitment to fight for another and to die for another is rooted in love of others more than self.

The aloof and egocentric – those whose lives are committed to nothing in particular and surely nothing larger than themselves – will not fight nor die for anyone, let alone others or a value that exceeds self.

These people sooner claim to live for an idea.  They live in the abstract, in fabrications.  They are ideologues – living in the head, not reality as it is in its timeless form.

Ideologues do not live for others.  They live for an image of themselves and the world, not as it is – but rather as they fashion it is and for their egotistical belief that the world and others must conform to them.

Ideologues, after all, live at no greater depth than the ego.

They are surface people whose exterior “cool” is but a buffer, a veneer of no human depth.  They are without spirit.

For them sacrifice is utterly alien, inapplicable – to be avoided, lest they be discomforted, required to grow, denominated to reality – to the harsh reality that life is messy and demanding, and also a glorious experience rendering joy and love, purpose and meaning that exceeds one’s self.

One who does not understand Junger hides.  Those that hide cannot lead.

Life is combat.  It is that simple.

To survive and prosper, ignore the words of those who hide.  Dismiss them. They deceive.  With them you die before your time.

Shalom.

You might want to share this with others.  We are at a crossroads, a gut-check.

“I’ve lived the literal meaning of the ‘land of the free’ and ‘the home of the brave.’  It’s not corny for me. I feel it in my heart.  I feel it in my chest.”

Chris Kyle, Navy Seal

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Sending 50 men from an elite, highly-trained military unit to Syria is not an act of one who loves this country, or understands our national interest or the needs of those to whom murderous and unspeakable violence has befallen.

A president cannot lead who does not feel as Chris Kyle did. Love of country, like love of God and freedom and fellow man, resides in the heart and is felt in the chest.  It is, frankly, rooted in the love of good as housed in us by the God who is Love and seeks that we know both Him and Love.

In searching for a good quote about defending one’s land, I was able to find only endless quotes that spoke of distrust of country, pacifism, the “valor” of dissent and criticized war.   Make no mistake these attitudes are the exclusive product of the modern liberal and the Left.

In the matter of defense of country, we have discourse that is weighted in one direction and a vocal public, led by the media and the academic class, who holds only one view and this is: our nation is not worth defending.

Rubbish.

God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Essays

Love of country and sacrifice each flow not from reason but from faith, not from intellect but from spirit.  Faith and life in the spirit are the foundation of reason and intellect.  In the proper order courage appears, accompanied by wisdom.

Thank about it.

Shalom

I again encourage you to share this post with others, particularly through Facebook and Twitter. 

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Mk 12:31

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In Jesus words, here, we are given the second of the two greatest commandments (the first being to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength).

We often think of this particular admonition as focusing us on service to others, but that is not what it says.  It says we must love our neighbor as we love of self.  The point being: before we love our neighbor we must love our self.

Lest you think this is social justice instruction: it is not.  It is sound psychology, a prerequisite to serving others, and an acknowledgement that who God made in each of us is to be loved as a divine creation.

Lest you think this is New Testament “stuff” – warm and fizzy sentiment that has no real place in the bang-up world, remember this idea is also found in the Old Testament, in Leviticus, Chapter 12, verse 18 and that world was plenty hard.

So what does this say to us?

We are worth saving, worth protecting.  We are God’s sacred beings, His intentional creation.

Only those who understand this can value life as it is given to each of us.  Miss the point and abortion follows, homicide, too – selfishness and suicide, and drug use, and dependence and idleness, hostility, fear of defending self or other, crime, disloyalty, adultery, child abuse, slavery, sex trafficking, corruption, theft, lying, etc.

If we are God’s creation, then we and life are sacred; and, sacred things are to be valued, preserved – that includes us, our self.  We must, first, know that we have value, divine value.

A properly valued self does not put one self ahead of others.  A properly valued self, values selves, others.  This is, indeed, the message of Mk 12:31.

To value others one must first value self.  This, by the way, makes government assistance always less than religiously motivated assistance; for secular government does not act on a sacred impulse, but rather something far less, including a desire to own or control the dependent persons and the generations that they produce.

Love your neighbor as yourself, in both Leviticus and Mark, are solemn commands of God, and they are wise in their recognition that no one helps another profitably without first loving the self God made in them as a bridge to both God and another who God also made as His divine creation.

Think about it.

Shalom.

Prayer Request – Please keep Carl and Jodie in your prayers.  Each is attending to cancer and Carl is now back in the hospital.  It is a very serious and difficult time for each of them. Prayers are very much welcomed and needed. Thank you.

Please feel free to share this content with others – especially on Facebook and Twitter.

We are in need of evangelists and you are one, just as I am.

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