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Life demands for its completion and fulfillment a balance between joy and sorrow.  But because suffering is … disagreeable, people naturally prefer not to ponder how much fear and sorrow fall to the lot of man.  So they speak … about progress and the greatest possible happiness, forgetting happiness … is poisoned if the measure of suffering has not been fulfilled.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Psychotherapy and a Philosophy of Life (Collected Works, Vol. 16)

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Where are the adults and wisdom figures today?  Not in politics.  Not in higher education.  Not in media.  Not in journalism.  Not in public life.  Not in the law.  Surely not in the established bureaucracies of the government.  And most assuredly not in entertainment.  Not among the Leftists and the whining ideologues, nor among the “professional” advocacy class and the liberals on television or the products of “identity politics.”

Nope, we are short of mature, wise adults.

In large measure this is due to having few people with honestly examined lives.  Few who are familiar with human psychology, philosophy, the history of Western Civilization or history itself, few familiar with the Classics of literature, and fewer still who are spiritually developed and hence engaged in faith and guided by a religious narrative.

Super-power notwithstanding, a nation does not survive that is not populated with those who are broadly educated and are humbled by a life in which both joy and sorrow have been experienced.

When I look at the assembled collection of Democrat presidential aspirants I think only of this – “what a motley crew!”  Not a one to whom I’d feel comfortable giving a sharpened pencil.  Likewise, I prefer not to give attention to anyone in journalism – such is the state of that enterprise today.

So where does this leave one?  To the task of independent self-education – becoming familiar with a range of disciplines that instruct as to the collected understanding of the human person for good and ill.  And from this base – to the individual life lived to experience and know both joy and sorrow … which renders us sober, grateful, insightful, steady, humble, wise, courageous, faithful and joy-filled.  

Alas the miss-mash we see in the nonsense of a secular society stripped of wisdom and insight ought to call us back to common sense, more silence than chatter, and quiet application of life dedicated to proper education and conduct now simply honored in their abandonment.

Shalom.

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  Happy St. Patrick’s Day

[2:09 a.m., Sunday, March 17, 2019]

Today’s Blog is dedicated to my Irish brothers – Buddy Mahar, Jerry Shannon, John Downey, Mike O’Brien, Marty Donovan, Mike Ryan, Fr. Jim Beattie, John Connelly, Georgie Shannon, John Flynn, Johnny Corbert, Danny Crowley, Fr. Mark Hughes, Br. Tom Shaughnessy, the Roddy Brothers, Tommie Mahoney,  John Boyle, Br. Malachy Borderick, Henry Murray, Jackie Alywood … 

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It was … reliance on home and family … dependence on faith and friendship, that gave Irish Catholics the unyielding determination to support lost causes and leaders long after all hope had been lost, all efforts failed, and all others had abandoned the struggle.

Thomas H. O’Connor, in The Boston Irish

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My lineage is from Scotland.  I grew up with the Boston Irish – and am as thankful for that good fortune as I am for any number of blessings I have enjoyed amid the tumult along the way.

In approaching my recent birthday in the month of December, I seemed to be involuntarily fixed on a simple thought: Why had I found it so easy to be combative – standing with those who were in difficult straits and not apt to be heard by the powers that be … why did I so easily fight for strangers who needed my support and counsel?

I wondered: was this something God desired or was I out of step with His intentions for me?  Had I followed Him or let myself and this combative nature lead me out of some inclination that I might better have left unattended?

As fate of the Divine would have it, I was (by chance) reading Tom O’Connor’s book on the Irish Boston and the author helped me realize that (as he reports) the Boston Irish were among the most steadfast of all the Irish who immigrated around the world.  Bingo!

If God had wanted me to be less than combative and independent, a risk-taker in public matters and the law – He would not have placed me among my peers, my beloved, loyal, funny, independent, faith-filled, tough, witty Irish pals nor would He have led me to Irish pals throughout my life.  Consequently, I now rest contented … I am, in my advocacy and general nature, who God intended me to be.  I am one of them.

As many childhood friends tell be “Bobby, you never changed.”  God and my Irish friends anchored me in who I was … such is grace so made present.

… the Irish did not break.  Against all odds, in the face of irrefutable logic, contrary to the rules of law and the dictates of society, the Irish would refuse to accept any measure or policy that felt conflicted with their faith, their values, or their ideals. (Emphasis added.)

I gratefully share my life and Catholic faith with these dear brothers and so many who like them manifest the courage and love that the pursuit of good so requires.

God bless the Irish!

Shalom.

 

Thank God we are the imperfect image of a perfect God.  With this in mind I ask those who read the blog to forgive me for anything I may have written that might be off-putting.  And I ask you to think of me as the whole body of my writing and my desire to ask the questions that must be asked, speak as bluntly as is needed, risk being wrong in order to try to be right.  I ask you to see in me this core: I wish that we might speak candidly and seek a good and healthy result for one another, our self and our family, friends and neighbors – known and unknown.

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Friends are always chance meetings.

Steve Guttenburg

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There is a grace in the “chance meeting.”  I had such a meeting today.

By total chance I encountered a fine man seated next to me at the local coffee shop.  And what an informative and delightful conversation ensued!

Yes, chance meetings are gifts – in some sense divine in nature.  There is in life always things that suggest the mystery of life itself … how fate finds us, messengers appear, friends emerge in the guise of strangers.

In my circumstances today, I had a delightful conversation with a man who has embraced life, let it come to him … a man who studied the experience of his life and enkindled in this insights, wisdom and the deep experiences of living fully.

It follows that we spoke of many things – but one in particular was our care for children, those younger than us who seem less able to ask questions that give them meaning, understanding, maturity, insight, belief, stability, courage and gratitude.  Like me, my breakfast mate has been a father to successful children, had a mother who imparted to him great care, sacrifice, critical lessens, encouragement and love.

Here we were two who shared much that is common to all people but too often overlooked by many.  In this we lamented that others (even those who do not know personally) suffer without insight and direction, without clear purpose and meaning.

You know you have a friend when one you meet is one who lives in care of others, in gratitude for what he has, and compassion for those who seem lost, in need of care and confidence.

Yes, today God was present in the gift of a chance meeting. 

Look around you.  We have more family than we recognize.  More brothers and sisters than we realize.  The sanctity of Chance Meetings make this so.

So today, I have had the care of God in this chance meeting.

Be of good cheer.  Life is better than you may realize.  We need one another to know what it is to be fully grown and eternally grateful.

Shalom.

 

“How is it possible that suffering that is neither my own nor of my concern should immediately affect me as though it were my own, and with such force that it moves me to action?”

Arthur Schopenhauer, in On the Foundations of Morality

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This is precisely the kind of question that is not asked by individuals in America today.  It is precisely the sort of question in which we are of a very desperate need.

Its absence is the product of our failed education system – especially university education and makes its absence in a secular culture that denies God in favor of “trivial pursuits.”

Yes, what we concentrate on does not seek the feel and understanding of the mystery that this implicit in this question and others of its ilk.

I give you one such distraction that is our preoccupation.  It is “equality.”

Who images any one person is in every measure the equal of another in very detail?  No one who is thinking.  Yet, we chase in all sorts of “social justice” pursuits “equality.”  Likewise such a notion allows us to divide in hostility one from another.  Such estrangement does great damage – separating us woman from man, and by race, religion and income.

Yet over all these separations and distractions – one stops to help another who suffers.  One risks one’s life for another. We do this because we are who God made us to be in the doing of such things.

In contrast, the political climate separates us and with God in exile we grow further apart and weaker as people and as a nation.

My constant frustration is this: I see hardly anyone in public life who lives as if they ever ponder as Schopenhauer’s inquiry so clearly does.

We ought to be ashamed and less a pack of complainers and more individuals with interest in the defining questions of life that make us far better people and a stronger and more faithful nation.

Shalom.

“Once we go down the path of abstraction we’re taking moral risks, psychological risks.  We become drunk on ourselves – full of ourselves.”

Walker Percy (as reported in Robert Coles, M.D.’s book The Secular Mind)

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” … becoming drunk on ourselves – full of ourselves.”  It sounds like an abstraction itself but what if it is descriptive of us, of who we are – and who our “leaders” think they are?  And worse yet, what if those leaders act on this drunken misconception?

Walker Percy (himself a Catholic convert, medical doctor and extraordinary novelist) went on to say this to Coles: “Thomas Aquinas … worked his mind hard so he could understand God’s intentions.  But today, even our theologians aren’t interested in God … ”

Percy continued “a lot of folks believe in their beliefs, they believe in their ideas, they believe in themselves, and maybe they believe in someone’s politics or some social cause … ”

Centered in the head (in abstraction) creates moral and psychological risk.

Ironically, we have come to see Percy’s observations rooted in all manner of people who know little of God, history, great literature, psychology, philosophy, or moral theology who careen thither and yon in the public square like characters from a Monty Python movie telling us: “a wall is immoral,” “suspend the ‘presumed innocence’ in all “he said, she said” allocations, infanticide – once murder – is now hunky-dory … etc.

Moral and psychological risk indeed … add risk of social chaos and a rise in instability, suicide, mental illness, random violence, addictions, idleness and overwhelming discontent.

Former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote of the concrete manifestation of the moral risk to which Percy referred in his presentation entitled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters” in which he was rightly highly critical of the present expectation that judges will act as “moral arbiters.”

Says the Justice: ” … there is no reason to believe that law-trained professionals can discern (the right answers to moral questions) more readily than, say medical doctors or engineers or ethicists or even the fabled Joe Six-Pack.” Yet, I add in concert with Justice Scalia this is precisely what activists judges and Leftist politicians and policy makers do today.

So this is where we are on many fronts – abortion pursuant to rape becomes “choice,” which becomes killing a child on the eve of or after the child’s birth.

Liberals have led us to the moral and psychological wasteland that Walker Percy and his colleague (Doctor, writer and psychiatrist) Robert Coles saw so clearly four or five decades ago.

Now that you might see, what will you do?

Shalom.

 

Beginning the day with Morning Prayer and Allegri’s Miserere.

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Son of God, you were with the Father in the beginning, and in the fullness of time you became a man, give us a brother’s love of all people.  (Emphasis added.)

From the Intercessions of Morning Prayer for weekdays after Christmas.

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There is nothing that might end our division but being as brother’s to others – that is as Christ would have it.

Think about it.  What if those women who disparage men would see men acting with honor as brother’s and protectors?  Imagine what might happen.

I tell you a story.  For about the last three to four years I have had many wonderful conversations with men and women who are African-Americans.  These exchanges have been pleasant, warm – the kind of encounters one has with a good neighbor.  In each conversation I have said – “I am so sick and tired of people dividing us from one another.”  I have not encountered one person in these conversations who did not agree whole-heartedly with me.

If Christ comes as our brother, is it not necessary that we who claim to be Christians be as brothers to others?

You know the answer.  Let’s live up to our obligation and begin doing so today!

Shalom.

Remember Pearl Harbor, 1941/Remember Benghazi Too

It is cold and the sky is clear, the colors true and the mountains firm and sure.  December and the Son is near.  Despite the public nonsense, it is Christmas time … and Holy Silence is here.

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Man … a wanderer and wayfarer … in search of a … holy place, a center and source of indefectible life …

the Irish monks “… simply floated off to sea, abandoning themselves to wind and current, in the hope of being led to the place of solitude which God himself would pick for them …”

Walker Percy, in “From Pilgrimage to Crusade”

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Have you seen your life as a pilgrimage?  Have you imagined it so?  Have you been given to live what God has given?  Are you so blessed by the grace of that gift to come to that place He chose for you?

Live properly and fully lived, life is a pilgrimage.  And I have come to realize this as I come to my 73rd year this month.

Yes, I have been overcome by the length of time and its passing speed, but more so the unusual continuity and scope of my life … from betrayal and poverty, to death and homelessness, to conversion and many who loved me to that place … In it all I see my gifts of interest in others, and the will to survive life’s constant and bitter combat and the desire for God in all of it.

Lately I have sought peace and quiet after years of battles – defense of others with my lawyer’s trade and growing faith – seeking truth and a just result … standing alone as loneliness prepared me so.

Seeing life as a pilgrim’s journey is a blessing that overwhelms, producing tears of wonder for the divine gift of consistency that was in me and this life so on track to be just what I had been made to be.

Imagine the innate mystery of consistency and the companionship of the right values and the best goals of service to others  … a life like the Irish Monks submission to the winds and currents of a life Godly given.  Imagine too the sight of God in those who loved me to this place.  My shepherds … my shepherds – so many, so many … angels given, angles given …

Looking back now I see one astonishing grace – that I was given to accept life as it presented and to do so without complaint or bitter feeling – but rather to accept it as what it was – the gift of challenges that built with each hard event courage, wisdom and greater strength, greater depth, greater faith, greater insight and the reward of solitude, certainty of the soul and peace which conquers all conflict.  Once lonely, I could stand alone because of Him … I am who Am.

A pilgrimage – previously unbeknownst to me.  But for the grace to walk one step at a time over hills and through dark valleys for all these years I would not know how grace delivered consistency to me … and now I see that God has done as God intended … and my unwitting collaboration with His Desire for me … grace … grace … grace – the mystery of grace.

Looking back I see through tears of awe and humility for I have done by the Grace of God what God has asked of me – simply to journey as a pilgrim would.

I pray you know the same.

Do not get bogged down in the daily voices of nonsense – they hold no sway, no mystery they.

Shalom.

 

Only solitude has taught me that I do not have to be a god or angel to be pleasing to You, that I do not have to become a pure intelligence without feeling and without human imperfection before You will listen to me.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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We neither need be god nor angel, nor pure intellect or perfect.  God loves us and accepts us as we are: human and imperfect.

Yet, what public figures or those in leadership positions or those who insist that they must lead show any signs of what Merton is saying?  Who among those cited have the humility and understanding conveyed by Merton?  Answer: no one.

Given the acceptance of a loving God, we chatter endlessly – much as if to avoid any interior examination.  Ironically there is no leadership to be offered by those who lack the humility that comes from what Merton rightly says.

The endless chatter of the public class says one thing: they are neither whole nor intact.  Run from such people – pay them no heed.  Lacking humility – they lack wisdom and missing each they cannot offer anything much but division and folly … and they do so as we can plainly see.

Chatter is wasteful noise to avoid individual growth and the recognition that we are all, in essence, the same – with the same value to a loving God.  There are no hierarchies of privilege and heritage, and education and wealth that ought be honored.  Indeed, one who serves in leadership must stand with others and not above others.

It is the quiet one who leads.  It is the common one who possesses what Merton describes.  For it is the quiet one who walks with God and others.

Shalom.

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.

 

Christianity, with it primary inculcation of love of God and love of neighbor, is not divisive.  Only those who teach hatred teach division.

American Catholic Bishops, November 1955

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A simple way to size up where we need to change is simply to focus on who among us causes division.

Are there not people and groups among us who intend to divide?  Do not some in politics and media practice dividing us – putting one against another?

For the Christian or the patriot is this not a scandal?  Do we not do the work of our adversaries when we are disputatious?  Who among us unites?

Never have I seen so many in this land, so apt to show hatred of the country and contempt for those who do not believe as they believe.

In this I think of John Courtney Murray in his We Hold These Truths in which in the 1960’s he said:

The fact today is not simply that we hold different views but that we have become different types of men, with different styles of interior life.

Today we separate from one another in ways that only could be seen in a prosperous society – yes, by sexual fetish and the desire for destruction of what we are privileged to have as a free society.  Imagine being divided in a land of freedom and plenty.  Life is so good that we must complain and divide.  How sad.  How silly.

In our deepest self we are divided at least in this way – Believers versus Secularists, Faithful from Faithless.  This was once not the case.

Once we said: “In God We Trust.”  Once Americans shared basic beliefs and pride in their country.  Not now.  We are spoiled, have too much and expect even more.  Morals have declined and selfishness and discontent has grown – causing adults to act like children – and even quite nasty and vulgar.

There is no culture that prospers without faith, nor a person who does so over time without faith.

Without faith, we depend upon our selfishness.  That makes for division but not community.

In a world that is aggressive, division brings greater risk of defeat.

Is our survival not dependent on our unity?  Of course it is.  Sacrifice for the common good and preservation of Nation and freedom is necessary.

One people under God.  Indivisible.

Shalom.

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