You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Spirituality’ category.

Listening to the musical legacy of Abbess St. Hildegard von Bigen, 12th Century mystic, writer, diplomat and counselor to Bishops, Kings and Popes.  Beautiful.

+ + +

Spiritual development is the birthright of every man and woman … the world as a whole tends to neglect and forget the knowledge of how to pursue and live a spiritual life. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

+ + +

Can there be wisdom and leadership without a spiritual component to one’s life?  No.

We are more than intellect.  We are spiritual beings.  Denying this, we are left less intelligent, less human and less healthy – flat and without insight necessary to make wise decisions on complex matters – or any matter.

Contemplation is the way to spiritual development for a contemplative life and life itself is a spiritual experience.

Contemplation leads to the full experience of the human experience.  In mass culture or any culture, contemplation requires that one lift himself or herself above the fray of mundane existence which so often captures us moment to moment, hour to hour, day after day – year after year.

Yes, attending to the demands of the world keeps the Christian from the mystery of Christ and the timeless message of the Gospel, and from knowing our self.

There is no full development of the human person without contemplation, no self-examination either – and hence no fullness of being, of human being.

In contemplation, the self is examined and understanding follows, and one is no longer trapped by the errors, follies, divisions, temptations and corruptions of the mundane world and the voices of its most vocal members.

Indeed, does contemplation not require the voiceless silence of solitude!  Yes, in contemplation there is a silent respite from all that interrupts our healthy, full development and greatest state of being.

In contemplation, God is real and immanent and those who are disoriented are no longer free to be housed within us.  Free – free at last.  Thank God Almighty “free at last.”

Shalom.

Advertisements

We cannot reach faith by reasoning … We can prepare for it by reflection, by longing for it, and by pleading for it.  But it can only come as a gift.  Once it has been given , life assumes a new direction.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

+ + +

You have heard it said that “seeing is believing” but I say it is precisely the opposite: believing is seeing.

Yes, look around you.  Listen to what you hear.  Are those who command public attention offering anything rooted in faith?  The likely answer is “no.”

In what they say what do they see?  In what they say what do they believe?

So why would you listen to those who do not believe?  Who showing no faith, possessing no convincing insight seek that you might follow them?  Advance their ideas, fetishes, fanciful fictions?  Who lacking belief cannot see?

I have never been particularly prone to be a follower.  Neither have I been bound to the plain of reason alone.  No, life evolves in each of us as lessons, challenges, setbacks, sufferings, betrayals and unexpected insights and gifts.  My point?  We are called to the path of belief by all that happens to us, all that we encounter and observe, feel and decipher in the good and the bad.

In my life believing has given me sight, the capacity to see in depth, in dimension that allows for faith to be known and experienced, for confidence to fortify, and patience to be supplied to all things.  And this sight has given me the capacity to think far more creatively and act more wisely and decisively than one might expect.  In this, fear is dispatched and opportunity takes its place.

The wise and cunning person is the faithful person, so too the insightful and decisive one in our midst.  Humility is present in them just as calm is. The best among us put ourselves to the good task, the good objective – not for themselves but for others, strangers, those yet to be born and those already gone.

The self-serving neither see nor believe but oh, they talk incessantly and many among us foolishly listen.  I have never been one of the foolish listeners.  In this I have tamed being alone quite easily and enjoyed the fruits of belief as faith has grown.

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

+ + +

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.

A rainy overcast day, mist in the mountains, a warm fire and classical music quiets and settles the day.  Peace on earth.

# # #

The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not, like some well in a retired and shady place.  What he is when left to himself and to his God, that is his true self.

John Henry Newman, in Parochial and Plain Sermons

+ + +

Do you see the steady stream of frantic people in public life – the “advocates” and well-financed, tax-exempt self-named guardians of this position or that, this category or that.

All this urgency and crude public displays – the name-calling and demonizing.  Why do we listen to this nonsense?  These are troubled souls.  They live life of distress and hostility certain that they have the “correct view” of everything.  Look, too, at the publicly elected Leftist politicians – perpetually in a state of anger and 100 percent certainty that their view is correct and that those who hold a varied opinion are to be labeled negatively – even if those in disagreement are many in number.  Law-makers, advocates and the like readily demean and dismiss others by name-calling like “basket of deplorables;” yet, they tell us that they are morally superior without the slightest notion that their view of others is hardly morally upright.

What I see in these public advocates and their certainty is far from the hidden peace that John Henry Newman identifies.

What Newman describes is the person of faith who is at ease in this world.  One who attends to problems without losing his or her peace, civility, humility, certain knowledge God governs man and not man who governs God.

Yes, our greatest calamities arise for those frantic advocates who in their certainty make enemies of those who disagree with them.  Their disposition alone as well as their hostile temperament ought say clearly to you: these are not people worth being listened to … too frantic, certain, angry, exclusionary and agitated.  Their frenzied nature speaks to the disaster that awaits in their proposals for radical “change.”

Seek your hidden place … it is sane and reassuring there.

Shalom.

 

Living in a world of secular time … the older awareness of higher time has receded … the best way to try to grasp the change in time experience is in terms of alternations in our understanding of order …

Charles Taylor, in A Secular Age

+ + +

Taylor is making a vital point that is often overlooked and it is this – when cultures change the nature of human experience also changes and, mind you, those changes cannot be considered as always beneficial to humans and their experience as humans.  Indeed, those changes might well accrue to the individual and collective detriment of the human person, their life and community.

To make his point as to secular time and its distinction with time as previously considered he notes that once the idea of a King’s Two Bodies (divine and mortal) was easily accepted and conveyed in some sense as an eternal reality.  Now, Taylor notes, this idea in a secular age is considered odd.

Likewise, he recalls that there was a time in Europe where each year in small villages one day a year the villagers would change titles, duties, attire, roles and authority.  This was Carnival and its disposition implicitly looked at time and order and status differently than we do today.  His point?  Order and time were once seen in ways we do not see either now.  Carnival was a reminder that we are sacred beings in a sacred order.

Well, so what?

Taylor goes on to make the point that today “nations, states and churches” are not seen in the same regard as they once were.  These entities no longer provide the meaning and identity that they once did and no longer connect us to a “Great Chain of Being.”

When cultures change (not always for the better, for sure) ideas like the value of a nation and its citizenship can be changed to a degree that neither borders nor nations or the documents or authorities that provide legal protection to the individual are any longer valued or protected.  This may help explain the seeming insanity of many who discount the worth of America, the nation state, religion, borders, and the privilege of being an American citizen or part of Western Civilization.  Make no mistake the West is in a pickle with elites choosing to honor global organizations and rule over national autonomy.

What to conclude?  Listen carefully to those who purpose “change” for none of those who I have seen have any intellectual, social or psychology depth to suggest that they can improve on what we have.  Rather they seem destined to create chaos on the way to total destruction.  

If you doubt how quickly things can “go South” just look at Venezuela where national poverty and social, economic and spiritual deconstruction have ushered in a dark and dangerous time in a once wealthy and educated society.

When those who advocate change drive with their eyes closed.  Death and damage ensue.

Shalom.

Postscript – When a culture entertains ideas like “one need not have borders” or “aborting a child is a ‘choice” the culture has already changed radically and not for the best. When language has changed so radically that fundamental concepts are challenged in ways that deviate from long standing norms – one has to beware of the cultural deconstruction that is underway.  Yes, we can see the culture and the nation decompose.

” … what else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?”

Deirdre N. McCloskey, in The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce

+ + +

If one listens to policy makers, academics, politicians and those at the top of the income ladder, you would think that your world, your identity, your happiness, your life itself depended on government policy.  Nonsense.

Global “warming,” transgender this or that, government shut-down, health care for all, these or those socialist “perfections.” – all nonsense.  Our personal well-being depends on how we feel, the state of our interior life – the peace within or its absence.  Our spiritual growth and development and our subsequent orientation to life itself is what matters.

That said – there is a “takeaway” you can bank on – Our health is in feeling on the inside – our national foundation depends on the same thing … a healthy nation has a healthy population and that health depends on our internal growth and contentment … hence the fallacy of elite “governance” is this – the elites have no idea what a sound foundation is or who they are.  Indeed, their arrogance and blindness to self and others is the “cause” of populism here and in Western Europe – people are unsettled (ironically) because policy makers discount them, do not know them – and proceed with their “folly’ delivered as if from “on-high.”  Balderdash!

Cultures rise and fall not on policy but on the welfare of its people – that is our interior health one by one.

It follows that one must discount all the talking heads but those whose language and life reflects a sound interior life and its attendant insights usefully shared.

Be so advised.

Shalom.

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their life style.  That is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

Brennan Manning

+ + +

There are many around us who profess Christ but do not act like Christ.  That circumstance is as old as dirt itself.  But what effect does it have on us?

Do we simply forfeit our belief, and on what basis?  Do we conclude that if the man next to me says he is a Christian but does not act thus – are we to abandon our beliefs?  Does this in any reasonable manner justify the rejection of Christ, his denial?

That hardly seems justifiable.

I am from a hard background – one where hardships and injustices, rejections and betrayals, and where deaths, poverty and bigotry were common.  None of those things made me apt to divorce myself from Christ or Christianity.  Perhaps this was simply because hardship made me and others in my family and community tougher – more independent, more loyal to one another and our professed beliefs.

I spent a good deal of time at the University of Notre Dame and in vowed religious life.  I can tell you without any hesitancy – I saw in both religious life and life at Notre Dame that many among each cohort did not live as one might reasonably expect those who professed Christ as their Savior – as the Son of God – might live.  Yet their failures only deepened my resolve to live as Christ would desire me to live.  I concluded from this one simple truth – many who claim Christ are neither faithful enough nor strong enough to commit to a life of faith, a life growing in relationship to Christ.

I guess my hard knocks life in Boston made me one hard dude when it came to living my beliefs … indeed I became more committed the more my faith was attacked and the more the principals in the faith showed their failure to abide by their faith.  About the only thing these episodes showed me is this: I was tougher and they were weaker.

In this regard I think of this historic quotation to encourage you: “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead!”

Shalom.

 

 

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

+ + +

We are, it seems, better at discontent than contentment.  This need not be.

Look around – so many assert themselves, make pleas as to a perceived “injustice.”  Mind you each voice of self-promotion of this sort is a voice that divides one from another … for there is no advocacy but that someone is designated as the “oppressor,” the enemy.

I ask you this – if you have the peace of Christ can there be this need for advocacy and self-promotion?  Would angry voices and division ever be necessary?

You know the answer.  Our peace is in Christ.  Yet, we are a quarrelsome breed, always at odds with others.  Look at our public figures, the public “intellectuals,” our news media, celebrities, the legions of advocates – who among us speaks with the voice of Christ?  Who counsels and conveys the certainty we are afforded in the life, death and resurrection of Christ?  Who, despite disappointment and deceit, remains certain as to this life and its outcome?  Who is undeterred by conflict and inequality?

Those who live in Christ live in peace – maintain a stable disposition – are neither chaotic or perpetually angry.  No, they are confident and strong of heart.

We need in this culture today to reduce the conflict, discontent and disorder.  We need men and women who build a life on Christ and faith.  I think particularly of our political figures – Members of Congress and the those whose life have been as permanent fixtures in the federal government.  I see no one in this group who speaks with the confidence and reassurance that witnesses the peace of Christ.  Rather I see, among the elected and particularly among the ideologues, a hostile disposition that knows no comfort.

Having lived a life of hardship, loss and poverty in the midst of combat that such things bring – I can tell you that living in the peace of Christ is the only vehicle that brings one peace, certainty and stability.  Each of the discontented and quarrelsome voices deserve only your rejection – for they know nothing of a life of peace.

Who in their right mind would want to be led by those who are angry and hostile, discontented and not at peace?

Shalom.

When Europe was going through the Dark Ages, it was the monks from Ireland who preserved the memory of learning.  They set up centers of learning all over Europe.  The Irish monks re-civilized Europe. That learning became the basis of the wonderful medieval scholasticism and its rich culture.  (Emphasis added.)

John O’Donohue, in Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

+ + +

It seems that we have lost our way.  Despite education, and perhaps because of it, we are not particularly wise or mature, indeed we seem overwrought with disorder and disordered individuals.  Indeed, institutions we depend upon barely seem to function.

I think of the recalcitrance of members of the “opposition” political party in the Congress who view their job as one of disruption – not governing.  Likewise, as a Catholic, I think of the woeful behavior of my Church on the matter of sexual abuse.  And, I think too of the vulgar and sick over-sexualization of our culture and the murders, suicides, addictions and deaths from drug use – each evidence, in my view, of a culture without depth of person or wisdom.

On a broader scale I witness very few in public life who convey a wisdom in their conversations.  By wisdom, I do not mean, education per se but a deeper knowing – knowledge that has harmonized one’s heart, soul and head as only a fully lived life and faith can.

The wisdom of which I speak breeds courage, insight, grace, optimism, the plain truth of things, a cooperative disposition – leadership that gains admiration and respect – and maybe even a following among former one’s adversaries.

Indeed, this is what the Irish monks did for people in the Dark Ages – they restored the path to wisdom.  They kept the route to wisdom alive by attending to head, heart and soul.

We face, it seems to me, a need for a monk-like effort that will restore our health and full development … without which we can be neither safe nor successful.

Shalom.

In the Celtic tradition many stories tell of the warrior or hero who goes off to battle but, before leaving, begets a son.  The hero dies and so the son is born with no father and this is regarded as a Virgin Birth.

Joseph Campbell, in Thou Art That

+ + +

In the history of human story over the Ages, the idea of a Virgin Birth is rather common and it linkage is with the quest of the child (often a male child) who must seek his identity as a man and find his spiritual father.

James Joyce in Ulysses has Stephen Dedalus in search to find his spiritual father – the one who gives him his character.

Seeking one’s father is so common a literary event, is it not odd that this presents itself almost not at all in a secular culture whereby many children, and many male children, are born without a father in residence, even born to an unknown or absent father?

I, of course, ask this to point out that we are ignorant of a common human motif and the very critical quest that is presented to a boy who does not know his father.  Likewise, I add this – we talk of Virgin Birth as largely a scientific non-starter … something that cannot be reasoned … as if reason is the source of all truth and understanding.  Odd isn’t it.  This the narrow scope of those who received an “education” such as it limits present.

A boy without a father faces a significant hurdle.  I was such a boy.  My father walked by me when I was a small child and never said “hi.”  He played no greater part in my life.  From him I learned that those who do not love you, do not love you … and that I was largely on my own, left (as I did) to protect my mother and learn from life and the good men and women around me – what it is to be a man.

In the context of this quest – I acquired considerable understandings – many subtle and nuanced – but all trans-generational and trans-cultural truths … In this context I was all eyes – watching and learning.  In this context I learned how to defend myself and others and be aggressive when I needed to be … I saw more clearly the fit between men and women and our indispensable need for one another, and the unique and heroic nature of both men and women.  I learned that two are stronger than one … and that we all have a Spiritual Father.

Shame on us for not seeing the common search of one’s father and the cost imposed by a father who flees his responsibilities, and for damage done by women who make “men” the cause of all that they feel has been wrongly done to them.  Shame on us for not seeing that the violence of fatherless children has a great deal to do with our ignorance as to one’s desire to know who he is and to have a rite of passage to adulthood and an honorable fatherhood.

Is not Christ’s birth one such as our’s and given to us as a guide, a gift, a necessity?

Shalom.

 

Categories

Log In

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: