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Ekklesia (Greek word meaning church)  … signified the assembly of citizens of the polis (a city or small state in ancient Greece), who meet to make decisions.

Dairmaid MacCulloch, in Christianity: The First Three Thosuand Years

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The history of Western Civilization aligns faith or church with governing – ekklesia with polis.  But we live in a time (a treacherous time) in which that nexus is lost … and that loss makes for a far more errant society and culture – a government more prone to chaos than tranquility, distain and division than gratitude and unity.

This is where we are now in the West and in America. 

If you want a source of our problems in government, in law and in public affairs – look no further than the disconnection between church and state and the hostility and sickness that arises when this nexus is ignored, or worse yet – attacked, disparaged and forbidden.

Really, there is not much more to say except – when you listen to public discourse ask yourself one simple question: Does this man or woman speaking convey any sense that he or she knows anything at all about who we are and who we have been for centuries, or for the tenets which have provided our foundation, survival, peace and prosperity?

If you answer in the negative – stop listening – for that speaker deserves none of your time or attention.

Shalom.

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Interviewer: Q. “You knew Jesus?”

2000 Year Old Man: A. “Lovely Boy. Thin. Wore sandals.”

Carl Reiner (Interviewer) and Mel Brooks (Two Thousand Year Old Man), in a comedy rountine entitled The Two Thousand Year Old Man..”

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We often miss the humor all around us.  We miss the “important” people who, trying to be serious, are often incoherent, senseless, contradictory – hence, funny – amusing – (bordering on idiotic) whose ideas sound (well) slapstick.  We seem to let a whole lot of idiocy pass as acceptable public conversation.

Case in point: young, noisey First Term Congresswoman Cortez recently made a spectacle of herself by shamelessly proclaiming to the world at-large that she was utterly puzzled by finding that a switch on the kitchen wall of her new residence activated something she realized was a garbage disposal.

She confessed that she was mystified by this device … and she was serious!  So a woman who proposes to utterly alter the American economy with her “Green New Deal” has not had sufficient exposure to the world such that she might have heard that people have a garbage disposal installed in their kitchen.  Yes, she said it frightened her!!!

I find this comical … and a tad unsettling coming from a person full of zeal (and armed with limited knowledge) who intends to reorder American life and its economy?

Chances are if your would-be leaders do not know what a garbage disposal is, they are probably not capable of handling the government’s business.

Apparently it is time to be skeptical about people with “big ideas” and limited life experience.  Have we not had enough of these people running free of late?

And isn’t it a good idea to invoke this question as it applies to those who wish to lead: Do you know the thin guy with the sandals?

Shalom.

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Gen 1:26

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Why did God make us in His image?  So we would have the ability to maintain a close personal relationship with Him.

This, Dear Friends, is fundamental to our understanding of ourself and our worth.

Knowing that we are made for relationship with God – we cannot be lonely, or feel insignifcant.  But alas, if we forfeit our belief in God and God’s desire for relationship with us – loneliness sets in and multiplies … particularly when we set about to define ourself as being important and set out to establish that which we already can know – that is: that we are important and never without God – hence never alone, never forsaken, nor abandoned.

Think just about this one verse from Scripture.  Then watch the daily news and see how many people act out of loneliness – how many seek intimacy in ways that insure their loneliness.  Imagine the pain the follows when one relaizes he or she sought intimacy in the most unwise ways while having possessed this right from their creation and birth!!!

Shalom.

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.

Listening to the Introit of the Catholic Mass.  It brings peace when chanted by monks.  It is a good start to a new day.

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“I AM WHO AM … This is my name forever; this is my title for all generations.”

Exodus 3:14-15

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Some offer this observation – “I am who am” as God’s name is offered not to be said but to mimic or capture the natural rhythm of breathing in and breathing out.  Yes, that God is present in each breathe we take and in this act of existence we are living by breathing God’s name.  The Divine is in our breathing in and out – each action says God’s name.

In breathing we speak God’s name.  Yes, those who claim godlessness decry that reality in their breathing.  Likewise those who claim God is dead prove the opposite by their own act of breathing.

Imagine this subsequent proposition: our first and last act in this mortal existence is to say God’s name in the act of breathing.

Does this not proclaim God’s primacy!  Does this not tell us that God exists and that all our life is centered on that reality whether we choose to accept it or not.

In this mere act of breathing there is no division possible, no gravitas to “identity politics.”  One and the same in each and all.  Known or unknown – we announce God’s name morning to night to morning again – from birth to death.

In this context isn’t so much of what we witness simply silly, needless anxiety and discord … when we are so bonded to the reality of God in our simple act of breathing.

Shalom.

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.

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.

The function of faith is not to reduce mystery to rational clarity, but to integrate the known and unknown together into a living whole.

Thomas Merton, in New Seeds of Contemplation

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You recall that faith is a virtue.  Why is that?  Well it is not merely a matter of knowing but a matter the Spirit, of “spiritual courage” as C.S. Lewis says.

In faith we exceed the fade of a particular time or Age.  In faith we live beyond the limits of science and its (sometimes) temporary “certainty” – that is: its “truth” subject to change, its own evolution, its trek to greater understanding as science and discovery grow over time.

Faith is wedded to “belief” and belief is a derived (in Germanic origin) from a word connoting “beloved” – love.

In faith then is belief and love – far more than reason but not limited by mere rationality.

Faith, like your life itself, is about so much more.  Does one not have confidence in one’s spouse, one’s child, one’s brother, one’s sister, one’s father, one’s mother, one’s best friend?  Does not that faith capture something larger than reason?

If one has faith in one’s best friend or spouse or sibling could not one have faith in God … belief in the One who is Love itself?

Imagine the poverty and despair of those who cannot believe in love … or a whole culture where belief is missing.

Think of this, in a culture of unbelief is not the experience of human experience reduced?  Would not addiction, homicide, suicide, hostility, division, anxiety, abortion, infanticide, adultery, divorce, hatred, alcoholism, selfishness, self-destruction, cowardice, chaos, amorality, nihilism, conflict, despair, corruption, greed, indifference, ignorance, unhappiness, lawlessness, loneliness, lust, envy, lying, dishonesty, suffering, vanity, violence and evil grow?

Shalom.

Faith and reason are like two wings of the human spirit by which it soars to the truth.

St. John Paul II, in Fides et Ratio: On the Relationship Between Faith and Reason

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Well there you have it!  This is precisely why a goodly number of the college “educated” class and the many who claim to be “intellectuals,” pundits, “social” activists, and the Leftwing ideologues along with the sparsely educated members of the legal and juridical community seem so “off track.”

Faith and Reason leads to Truth.  Reason alone leads to chaos and destruction – exactly where we find ourselves today.

Ever since “the Enlightenment” the battle between faith and reason has raged.  In an exclusionary secular culture (which our culture is) – faith is attacked, discounted, scoffed at and ignored … and we see everywhere the end product.

Need I recite once again?  Hostility and division.  Aborting children is only a mother’s “choice.”  Infanticide – just fine.  The legitimacy of “same sex marriages” was in the U.S. Constitution all these years but we only found it recently.  There are multiple genders and we get to name the growing number of such.  Families can function quite well without fathers.  We ought to destroy the American economy and our wealth in order to build a Green New Deal economy.  A nation needs no borders and we are to welcome anyone and everyone from anywhere.  All things will be Bernie Sanders “free.”

These things, and a legion of other such notions, are the product of reason without faith.

The Communists and the fascists have shown us how “well” that formula “works.”

Yet, the ideologically indoctrinated faithless cabal marches on despite the evidence to the contrary.  Imagine the stupidity one must possess to look at human history and the form and footprint of Western and Eastern civilizations and conclude that faith, the life of the spirit played no positive part in forming these civilizations.

Really quite astonishing to imagine this … and even more destructive to believe this.

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.

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