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… with you is my grievance, O priests … My people perish for want of knowledge!  Since you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you … Since you have ignored the law of your God, I will also ignore your sons.  One and all they sin against me exchanging their glory for shame.  (Emphasis added.)

Hos 4: 6, 7

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The words of the Jewish prophet Hosea tell of his understanding about what his God would do to those (the Jewish people) who consistently ignored God and God’s teachings.

Reading it I cannot but help thinking of those among us, yes even the high clergy, who reject God’s teachings enshrined in the Canons of the Church.  Likewise I think of so many in public life who proceed always with what interests them while never putting their ideas, opinions, plans to a test of faith.  Nary do they ask: What might God seek of me this day?

Too, too many people in positions of authority and influence readily exchange their own glory for shame … never giving a moment’s thought to what God might otherwise desire.

This is the road to perdition (i.e., the loss of soul and path to eternal damnation).  

Mind you, if Mr. X or Ms. Z wishes hell as their destination, so be it – but those in positions of influence and authority have no justification for leading us to that same eternal misery.  Be very, very careful as to who you listen to, who you elect, what ideas you entertain and any who appear strangers to faith, to God.

You are forewarned.

Shalom.

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Christianity (is) not … a matter of getting … ideas straight but rather of getting (one’s) life straight.

Robert Barron, in The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path

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Ultimately people want to live well, have peace, experience love, be free of troubles, worries, sickness and injustice, be able to laugh, enjoy friendship, and realize the value of their own good work.

Life is about “getting life straight.”  And that is a faith matter.

Yet, in the course of my lifetime, I have seen interest in faith (particularly Christianity) decline and, in the void that is created, I have seen people seek meaning in ideology and satisfaction the prosperity that has come to us mid-last century in a free market economy with peace at hand.

However as to ideology, I am most troubled.

Ideology is a body of ideas reflecting the “perceived” needs of an individual, group, class or culture.  Needs, mind you, of this mortal existence.

Unlike faith, it is earth-bound and reflects the desires of a class of individuals.  Its goal is not the realization of a full life but rather it is smaller than that – it seeks only the self-authored, contemporary desires of a group – often pursued with force so to impose a narrow and self-interested view of life on all others.  Apropos, politics, propaganda and public tantrums are three of their favorite coercive tools.

Ideologues, you see, care only that their views (which comfort them) be forced on others – never time-tested and never challenged.  Totally accepted as totalitarians demand.

Imagine living with someone who, exposed to an idea, assumes (because they like the idea and feel empowered by it) to make of that idea their world view and the “thing” that  governs their world as they experience it – as if this idea is the prism through which all experiences are, and must be, filtered.

I guarantee that living with such a person is close to living in North Korea or a re-education gulag.  This is where we are today as to ideology – in its public and private hues and noises.

Convince a potential ideologue a hammer is a “hat” and that person will spend the rest of life trying to fit that hammer to their head and expect you to do the same.  Yes, they will abandon all reason in favor of foolishness.  Me?  I’ll take faith – you can keep the hammer.

Shalom.

 

 

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.

 

The eternal life is not the future life; it is life in harmony with the true order of things.

Henri Amiel, in Journal

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I have taken to distancing myself from the everyday, and particularly “the news” only in so far as I cast a glance at the calamity and the ridiculous ignorance of many who “report” on it and then, God help us, provide their own uneducated, small-minded, predictable, silly “commentary” on the happenings they mention.

That one thrust alone makes space of eternity.  The intellectual poverty and rote recitations of some left leaning ideological fetish are ironically liberating and sanity-preserving, if not life saving.  Enter what is eternal and indestructible.

Aye, a far better and healthier focus where love and humility seem to grow.

In the void that the nonsense has created, I live closer to my faith, and my loved ones (especially the little children) are more in my thoughts and prayers.  God and those I love and what is good emerge as most important.

My world is now meaningful and not confined to what is inane, self-destructive, erroneous, ignorant and captive to all the “clap trap” of fickle styles, language, forms of expression and the chorus of trained parrots that passes for contemporary discourse … and such.

I much prefer what is true and not mad, to what is false and perpetually angry.

In this I remember St. Augustine who wrote: “Eternal life is the actual knowledge of the truth.”  (De moribus Ecclesiae catholicae, etc.)

As a compassionate man, I offer this to you: walk away from the nonsense.  It is disorienting, wrong-headed, and destructive of person, culture and nation.

Shalom.

 

Well now, just getting back after a holiday with my family.

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Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.

Martin Luther

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I had the company of three Catholic priests this weekend.  Each a Dear Friend.  Good people and good Priests.  Each feels the weight and humiliation of the news from Pennsylvania regarding the sexual misconduct of Catholic clergy in that state.

I share with you my conversation with these good men.

I reminded each that no man can destroy Christ’s Church.  Likewise I told them that smart people can tell who the good guys are and that, while people I know are disgusted with the manner in which illicit sexual behavior was hidden from the public, the men and women I spoke with do not hold these local priests responsible for what happened nor will they abandon their faith, Christ or His Church.

And, I told them that all my life I have encountered adversity and that it always stirs in me a resolve to face it squarely and that adversity itself allows us to recognize what it is that matters most to us, that it also clarifies who we are and what we stand for.

The truth for me is this: adversity makes me stronger, bolsters my heart and soul and stirs in me the “fight” to protect and proclaim the Truth that we know and that we wish to live by.

I encourage you to adopt something akin to my point of view.

Today we are invited to stand tall and proclaim what we believe and who we are.

In adversity comes clarity, purpose and courage.

We are never so strong as when we know who we are and what we stand for.

Shalom.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Anonymous

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Seeing.  When problems arise, it is of the greatest importance.

In each problem there is opportunity for growth, for learning, innovation and self-discovery.  Wisdom flows from engaging a problem to find its opportunity.

These are not simply the words of an optimist.  These are the words of an opportunist.

All life is opportunity.  Everything is inclined to your growth and development.  Is it not the case that a bicycle must move forward to retain balance and keep us from falling?  So, too, we must do more than look to retain our balance and forward progress.

Yes, seeing moves us forward, changes us for the better, expands us and gives us value.

In the habit of seeing, we are an asset for others when misfortune appears.  Those who see find a way to move ahead – misfortune notwithstanding.

Seeing exceeds looking as daylight exceeds the dark.

Shalom.

It is said – A former administrative assistant to Senator John McCain tells us that Mr. McCain wanted an Hispanic women (expressly not a White Male) to succeed him in “His” Senate position.  Two things strike me in this comment.  One, “His” Senate seat actually belongs to the people of Arizona not “him,” and two – in six terms in the Senate, he never resigned from the U.S. Senate so that an Hispanic woman could succeed him.

Liberals are full of all sorts of sentiments that never seem to produce actions that support or activate their point of view.

In Washington, D.C. – we have a saying as to political folks: “deep down inside they’re really shallow.”

Post for August 29, 2018

The great upheaval of our time is basically a monastic experience.  The whole world is being exposed to the vision of humanity as it is.  All the inner hatreds and corrupt rottenness is being brought into the open and put on the screen for all to see.

The very blazing light of God is shinning on us and revealing us for who we are.  This revelation is wholesome and good.  It will not ruin the Church, but will purify it.

Fr. Matthew Kelty, in Sermons in a Monastery

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We are being given the gift of seeing precisely who we are – and who is at the top of our institutions and who serves those at the top as their assistants.  The picture is not pretty – but we have been given a gift nonetheless.

We have been presented with reality – with the fact of the matter that we are capable of evil – given to selfishness and self-importance, pride and arrogance, pursuit of that which is bad and self-destructive, acts of hostility … even violence.

But have no doubt – God is present.  It is a time of accounting.  Believers will be at the forefront of any purification that will result.  Oh yes, they will be attacked by those who are godless and without faith.  As we see some of these people will occupy places within our most sacred and significant institutions.  Make no mistake those in positions of power will resist any efforts to call them to account.  But fear not, you are called to witness what is good and true and holy.  Called as you are – is a blessing to you and to others – the innocent and those who cannot easily stand tall and firm.

It is a moment of Truth.  We are all fortunate to live in a most sacred and vital time.

Stand tall.  Hold your ground.  God has placed you here at the moment.  We will prevail.  In faith we live and act.  Carry on – situation normal: conflicts nears.  I have no patience for retreat.  Thus showeth Christ.  We are His.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

Character is not cut in marble … it is something solid and unalterable.  It is something living and changing …

George Eliot, in Middlemarch

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Surely one of the central reasons for being alive is to determine how we shall live … and more particularly – who we are.  And that, Dear Friends, is a question of character.

Each day affords us the opportunity to determine who we are.  Each challenge we face provides us the chance to affirm who we are.  So says Psychiatrist and award winning author Robert Coles, M.D.  And, he is right.

Dr. Coles reminds us that life is like a story in that the people and events in it bring us to our own story where we determine who exactly we are – a person of character – of truth, meaning, courage, empathy, sacrifice … or one as yet unable to excel, to live fully and to face the unknown with confidence.  We either seize the day or we deny our existence.

The good Doctor reminds us of this by telling a story of a young girl he treated who was dying of cancer.  Not yet a teenager she sought to show in her brief life that she was “a good girl.”  Knowing she would die – she sought to show she was someone who was a good person.  In the face of death, with all the inconveniences of her hospitalization and the intrusive interventions of medical treatment – her focus was on establishing who she was and that she was a person of character.

Interesting isn’t it.  You can take in the news of the day and more often than not wonder where is the character of the person who is the focus of the news story?  Why would the Pope say that?  Why did the Attorney General meet with the husband of the target of wrong-doing?  Why does the Senator exaggerate so?  Why does the newsman overlook the obvious?

As a nation and a Church we’d best see people of character or we’d best fine those with character to assume the roles of those who do not.

Shalom.

Let Us Pray – for the children with cancer and for their parents that they may grow in faith in the midst of their travail.  

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.

Ask not that events should happen as you will, but let your will be that events should happen as they do, and you shall have peace.

Epictetus

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Hear the words of a man who lived 100 years before Christ.  Once a Roman slave, he gained his freedom, studied as a Stoic and devoted his life to philosophy – not as a theoretical proposition but rather as a way of life.

What he says here is good for today.  No doubt you have seen the chaos and dreadful conduct of many.  Indeed, you may have said to yourself or others –“the high tide has come and with it damage … it shows no signs of subsiding … when it leaves it will take many things with it – some very good things.”

Epictetus would have us not be so discomforted by these things over which we have no control for he saw that life is like that – with disorder and damage that we are powerless to avoid but that we will our self to peace notwithstanding.

We live in difficult times.  Disorienting times.  The air is flush with strange notions and odd ideas, and acts decry fetishes and self-destruction.

Yes, we live in rare times where wisdom and ignorance collide and good and evil struggle face to face.  Epictetus is ripe for these times.  Indeed he has lived throughout the ages in the head and heart and works of others.

He has been tutor to many.  Think of Marcus Aurelius and his Meditations and of contemporaries: Tom Wolfe (A Man in Full), V.S. Naipaul (A House for Mr. Biswas), James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) and J.D. Salinger (Franny and Zooey).

Words of ancient men from distance cultures do not survive the centuries but that they carry truth and have utility.  Yet, we neglect these gifts … and the voices of the unwise: the special pleaders, children, advocates, talking heads, ideologues and those who thirst for power and celebrity spoil the air we breathe.

… peace notwithstanding … that is our task.  Epictetus awaits.

Shalom.

 

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