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Happy Easter!!!

“… dying he has destroyed our death, and rising her has restored our life.”

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There is no human life on earth that is not subject to sin and death.  Sin fractures relationships with others and indeed fragments our very self.  Death is “that ubiquitous reaper.”  But Christ changes that default setting that bedevils man and woman, child and adult.

Christ on the Cross redeems each of us from sin and neuters the dread of death, the pain of this mortal exodus.  In Christ we are upright in soul and being – sin does not imprison and death does not threaten.

In Christ we have a whole new existence – human wholeness, spiritual expanse, contentment, strength, truth, humility, certainty amid the unknown, community, friendship everlasting.  In Christ, all troubles teach and insight and wisdom abounds, patience too.

In Christ, love prevails as love is practiced in all manner of life’s encounters.

Imagine a culture in which consciousness of Christ was for each of us – the substance of each daily transaction, each moment, each idle hour, each day month after month, year after year.  Imagine Western Civilization restored to its formative reality – Imagine America and Americans at their historic best – humble, compassionate, brave, sacrificial, honorable, hardworking, strong, independent, dignified, sober, gentle, just, forgiving, confident, grateful for each day and each breath, faithful and kind.

The worm, Friends, is turning.  We have gone too long divided, disgruntled, angry, joyless, self-serving and without Christ.

The truth of the matter is quite simple – we need not “fundamentally alter America.”  Those who think this are mistaken, ignorant of many things – and in need of faith.  For them we might pray.

Shalom.

 

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It is living in the naked moment, the “sacrament of the present moment,” that will teach us how to actually experience our experiences, whether good, bad, or ugly, and how to let them transform us.  Words by themselves will invariably divide the moment; pure present lets it be what it is, as it is.

Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now

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There are many things in our present culture that day by day, hour by hour keep us from the full experience of the human experience.  Yes, words can distract and the voices of ideologues always do damage – as do the torrent of visual images present in our lives and relentless intrusion of technology and all things digital taken to extremes.

Life is far simpler.  Not all meals need be excessive indulgences that morph us into shapes and sizes heretofore not known in human history.

Fix you eye, and heart and mind on the experience of human experience as known throughout the ages by mystics and peasants alike.  Stay in the moment, beware of all the yesterdays in your life and in time that hath come before us … yes, those moments long before your mortal birth and all that awaits you beyond this mortal life … be at peace – angelic peace prevails and sits above all that is digression and divisive, alienating and destructive of self and others.

Shalom.

I return today to my daily writing after replacing a computer that simply wore out.  My recent absence is the longest time I have been away since 2010 when I began Spirlaw.  Even while “on vacation” I have met the challenge of a daily blog of living faith in secular culture and so I continue. It is good to be back.

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The most amazing fact about Jesus, unlike almost any other religious founder, is that he found God in disorder and imperfection – and told us that we must do the same or we would never be content on this earth.

Richard Rohr in The Naked Now

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Our faith as Christians is not about our private perfection but rather about out divine union with God shown so clearly in Christ.  Yet, we habitually miss this.  Yes, even our clerics often miss this.  Yes, organizational structure often captures us and defines as by our status and our role in it.

Yes, the material world and its demands on us divide us from our divine union.  Yes, our worries in trying to conform to the demands and images of the secular world likewise take us from our divine union.  Yes, what is immutable is made mutable in this world and its godless habits and discourse.

Alas, simply knowing that we are born of this divine union is and always will be the one exclusive and all-superior thought to maintain in your head (as it is carried in your heart through this life and the next).

Friends, it is Lent and we sit on the eve of Easter Week.  This one thing above any other is to be remembered every day – we live in divine union with our God.  From this union we share all things with God and in this union we see with the eyes of faith, as God sees and we know as God knows not as mere intellects but as those with eternal life and everlasting life.

Shalom.

3:03 a.m. – how nice it is to awake in the full night of silence to think about faith

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Faith is a backward-looking virtue.  It concerns who we are … “the mystical chords of memory.”

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues

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In faith you are connected with those who have come before you – with a stream of being that reaches to the very distant past, the sacrifice of others, their fidelity.  Their story is our story.

In faith we belong to others – to Saint Peter and Saint John – to Abraham and Martha and Mary and Lazarus … to Aquinas, St. Augustine, to Simon of Cyrene, the men on the road to Emmaus – to centuries of faithful Jews and Christians.

In faith we have identity … a place in a long story that has no end.

In a world too often focused on the immediate, the immaterial, on desire, immersed in anxiety, loneliness, doubt and worry – we have in faith: certainty, confidence, cause, connection, and a call to life.

In faith we have as Aristotle says “another self,” – in faith is solidarity and union with one another now, in the past and in what is to come.  In faith we know love – a love that runs to what has come before, what is now, and what will be in all the tomorrows yet to come.

In faith, particular differences do not matter for the faith others possess is the faith we possess.  Ethnicity, race, age, social status, wealth and such do not matter to those who share a faith.

The broad identity of faith is the union of belief.  We are, in faith, what we believe.  Therein is our solace, our identity, our purpose, our meaning, our stability and our happiness.

Shalom.

1:05 a.m. – an early morning post … writing is like that … especially when you wonder about God and your relationship with Him … Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

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Holiness consist in simply doing God’s will, and being just what God wants you to be.

St. Therese de Lisieux

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The world today is a very troubling place.  I often feel overwhelmed by the division and hatred on display here.  For me, it is hard to comprehend why others choose to be so selfish, so lacking in patience and humility – so prone to anger and assertion, antagonism, hostility and discontent.

Yes, I ask myself: what is it to be holy in the world that surrounds me?  In the chaos, I ask – what can I do to live a holy life day in and day out?  How can I sustain a witness for Christ?  Find daily contentment?  Be in regular relationship with God?

How can I be holy amid the chaos and evil I see, I hear each day?

I believe St. Therese has supplied the answer.  We maintain holiness in the world we find today my doing God’s will … by being who God made us to be.

The irony follows.  It is NOT our job to change the slant of the axis of the world in order to be holy.  No, it is something far simpler that is requires of us, something more fundamental – more intimate, more personal and it is this: do God’s will and be who God made you to be.  It is this which provides the access to holiness in a chaotic and godless hour we now occupy.

Do His will and be who he made you to be.  This is the path to holiness today and always.

Shalom.

… narcissistic orientation is one in which experiences as real only that which exists within oneself while the phenomena of the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are only experienced from a viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one.  The opposite pole of narcissism is objectivity … the faculty to see other people and things as they are … to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and wants.

Erich Fromm, in The Art of Loving

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Narcissism.  We know it as selfishness and it is quite abundant.  Human beings are quite selfish.  We find it in families, professional associations, the entertainment industry, the media and other lines of work that have a public face.  It runs rampant in politics, in professional associations like Bar Associations and among the coveted and esteemed associations like the judiciary and the tenured faculty.

Selfishness is the root cause of corruption.  In selfishness others are mere objects or obstacles to one’s exclusive satisfactions.  Many people are imprisoned in this narcissism and they make others miserable.  There is no love or friendship with the narcissistic lot.  To them others are objects to be used or destroyed.

What is one to do?  For a calm and pleasant life – be very selective with whom you mix and mingle.  Maintain an objective point of view.  Be realistic.  See the world and others as they are not as you wish them to be.

Yes, there are good people who genuinely care about living a humble and kind life and thus treat others with the upmost dignity and concern.  Those people ought to be your circle of friends.  The others are to be kept at arm’s length or avoided altogether.  Narcissists, you see, are quite destructive to self and others.

When you think about it, do you not see the value of quiet, solitude, a small group of good friends, the value of a monastic disposition, life in God’s great space and beauty, the place of Christ in the life of a Christian?

Be realistic.  See what is.  Avoid unreal expectations or self-deception.  Things are what they tell you they are.  Acknowledging reality is the cornerstone of a life of peace, friendship, meaning, contentment, happiness, relative ease and love.  We live in a fallen world among many who are centered on self and self only.  Consider yourself so advised.

Shalom.

Liberalism moves … toward radical individualism and the corruption of standards that the movement entails.  By destroying traditional social habits of the peopleby dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified … Liberalism can prepare its way for … the artificial, mechanized or brutalized control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos.

Robert H. Bork, Sloughing Toward Gomorrah; Modern Liberalism and American Decline

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Bork makes the case that modern liberalism (as distinguished from classical or traditionalism) is destroying America.  It is an impressive case.  Yet, I see few in politics (but for some conservatives) who make this case.  And, I see few in politics who represent traditional or classical liberals and offer thoughtful opposition to modern liberalism.

Likewise, I see few clerics, few in the media, in academia or the law who offer a critique of modern liberalism and school us as to the damage it has done and is doing.

Recently I watched a documentary that purported to explain the political mess in Washington whereby collaboration and congeniality among liberals and conservatives has ceased. The documentary blamed the paralysis on Americans who held traditional values and ignored the ruckus caused by proponents of modern liberalism.  It ignored the fact that for every action there is a reaction.  Such blindness does not help.

In looking briefly at Bork’s criticism of modern liberalism one might see what the documentary misses:

  • corruption of standards: think FBI and the Justice Department as each has been revealed to us
  • destroying traditional social habits of the people: think the destruction of the family, the dispatch of religion from the public square, abortion, infanticide and the hyper-sexualization of culture
  • dissolving the natural collective consciousness into individual constitutes: think identity politics
  • licensing the opinions of the most foolish: think cable news, TV networks, major metropolitan newspapers, and attention given the views of “entertainment” celebrities
  • substituting instruction for education: think Leftist ideology and the indoctrination centers that primary and secondary schools and colleges have become
  • encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom: think late-night and midday television “pundits”
  •  the upstart rather than the qualified: think Ocasio-Cortez and her cohort
  • artificial, mechanized or brutalized control: think of national health care, the Green New Deal, Venezuela and the attack on the U.S. Constitution.

Sloughing to Gomorrah indeed.

Shalom.

 

 

 

Writing at 3:11 a.m. – writing in silence and at night.  It is just like being … yes, it is being – just being … This is what is intended for us.

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Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind …

Anonymous

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Be. Just be.

Seems so simple, but so rare.

Imagine being cheated out of being, out of being you – God makes one-of-a-kind in each of us.  No carbon copies.  Why do we miss something so obvious?  Such a simple truth … so easily lost.

In the dark and silent night I am.  It reminds me of my time in monastic living … of the silence … of the holy nature of that silence which said without words – “you are, just be.”

In that, I saw better – angles appeared, as did shadows, and light, shades of colors, open spaces, contours, nature’s contrasts.  I heard better, too.  I heard the sacred silence and the chirping of small birds, the wind and the vast emptiness of silence which is its own music.

In silence you are.  You feel you.  Know the quiet action within you – the movement of your heart and the sacred touch of your fingers, your hand.

If I were to give you one solid thing I have come to know at 73 it would be this: “you are, just be.”  In this you would be you and life would quiet down.

In the end and fullness of time you are meant to be, to be who you are in that simple act of being.  Then, it will come to you: you are as a monk is – you are … yes, you are.  And He is near always and endlessly.  This is the simple Truth of life: you are and He is.

3:32 a.m., Sunday Morning, 3 March 2019.  The wind does not whisper its name tonight and it is dark and still.  I am.  He is.  You are.

Shalom.

In our time we should emphasize what unites rather than what divides.

Pope John XXIII

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These are the words of Pope John XXIII on his death-bed.  I cite them today because they fit so well the circumstances we face now.

There is great division in this land.  It seems as if people desire that we be divided, fragmented, at odds with one another … divided and separated from God and faith, self and one another.  Today hostility is heightened and friendship diminished.

This brings me to my long-term concern with how one lives one’s faith in a secular culture – now that one is apt to be estranged from spiritual existence in a culture that manifests so much discontent, anger and self-destruction.

My own course has been an attempt to understand both God and culture.  To look at our history as a nation and Western Civilization, to see the challenges we face, review our failures and our successes, look closely at our psychological health and development and our nature as spiritual beings.

It follows that my reading encompasses history, philosophy, psychology, theology, mythology, literature and the like.  But my inquiry has also experienced and thought about monastics and their ability to live faith and grow spiritually and as healthy humans notwithstanding the shape of the world over many centuries.

What I have come to understand is this: (1) if you wish to live your faith and do so deeply, you need to know how a culture can deter you from faith and your spiritual development, and (2) in seeking to live your faith in a secularized culture, you would be wise to learn from the monastic experience for it has over many years allowed men and women to grow spiritually and in contentment through their separation from the culture at-large, their silence, solitude, study and simple life style.

I might add that if you wish to assist others in finding faith in secular culture it becomes necessary to identify those things in culture which make a healthy spiritual existence quite difficult and those things which incline to foreclose one’s spiritual development and ultimate peace and contentment that daily living of one’s faith allows.

In short, what I am saying is this – to live faith in secular culture – you do well to take an informed assessment of the culture, become familiar with the nature of monastic existence and make use of its framework so you might exist within a secular culture while living fully in your faith.  Yes, in this you will be living at an arm’s length or more from the present culture as it is endlessly extended to you in a mass communication and the highly visualized and extensively noisy storm of images and words.

In practical terms it is wise to adopt a monastic disposition in an intrusive secularized culture. 

Shalom.

Postscript – In the 1950’s we held the Communists in check when they invaded Korea, would we do less in facing them in our own country?

Late start to my writing day.  Bitter, rainy and cold.  So much like life in Boston in the late fall, winter and near Spring – often providing a St. Paddy’s day snowfall.

Something about the raw chill of it all that bespoke life as it really is.  Such weather prohibits fictions of what life actually is.  You bones speak the truth … they are ancient in origin.

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… contemporary belief may be powerless to do more than “borrow light  and lightness from ancient lamps” and provide a sliver of hope for the few who are still driven “to take comfort in the periodic company of like-minded others, who day … ‘share the thing ancient that will not quite die.”

Roger Luden, borrowing from John Updike in Luden’s Believing Again.

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If you were to sit a bed watch for a dying culture you would ask: “Who believes?”  And, “Do I believe?”

One can make a plausible case that a death watch may well appear in a culture like our’s which moves intentionally away from religious belief.  Ah, yes – such is our moment.

As expected we are influenced in mass culture by unbelievers – the mavens of privileged,  immoral chaos, and self-exaltation.

I cannot tell you how to believe.  But I can tell you that belief is a gift if you dare seek God or look for the ancient sacred things destined to remain even if we die within.

I can tell you that my belief began when I was a child and observed the calamity so present in the conduct of others, the institutions and shallowness and lunacy they unwittingly displayed all the while those running them were thinking they “were something” other than small potatoes.

My vision has only been more confirmed with the ages – and now: mothers seek to “choose” to kill their children – born and unborn … and humans can mate with virtually anything, anywhere, anytime.  No sanctity there, people.

Believing.  What has your life told you of this?  What does today say of this?

The blind among us cannot see … and many are blind despite their eyesight.  In a dying age those who are sick cannot be saved but the children can be made stronger, wiser and more immune to human nonsense.

Shalom.

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