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Holy Saturday

” … You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been risen; he is not here.  Behold the place where he laid.”

Mark 16:6

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Jesus was plunged into sorrow, but triumphed over this world and all its vices and deceits.  This said, as a Judeo-Christian culture – how can so many who say they are Christians act as if what Jesus did does not matter today?

Is it not true that if we actually believed would we put so much trust in politics, government, in seeking power, and focus all our efforts on material goods, or destructive pleasures and addictive vices?

Western Culture and this nation will rise or fall in direct proportion to our belief in God and, as Christians, our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Today our faith and traditions and founding propositions are under attack … and for Christians it will be our relation to Christ which will decide the day.  One of our two major political parties and our once reliable press advances perspectives and policies that are hostile to what the West is and the place of God in our lives and public our affairs.

Speak not and act not and you will have assumed the posture of Judas.

Dear God, help us to see the glory of the empty tomb and to act upon that glory each and every day.

Shalom.

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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.

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.

 

 

 

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

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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

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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.

 

… Jung’s system … functions as a religious path … fragmentation and wholeness are the pairs of opposites at the center of the religious quest.  (Emphasis added.)

Curtis D. Smith, Ph.D., in Jung’s Quest for Wholeness

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I am a religious guy.  Faith is, and always has been, important to me.  I studied theology at the University of Notre Dame after years of law practice.  I lived as a vowed religious for close to ten years.  I am, one might say, someone interested in religion, one who believes that religion plays a vital part in the life and well-being of a human person.

That said, but for one very helpful and insightful person I met in my vowed religious life (Br. Tom Moser, C.S.C), I see no one who makes the point that our psychological health and contentment (along with our spiritual development and happiness) is dependent on our journey to wholeness as Carl Jung, M.D. so brilliantly describes.  

I can only imagine what society would be like if more people were whole and contented, and understood themselves and others more fully.  I can imagine in such a state – greater calm, wiser individuals and institutions, more humane behavior, less division, hostility and chaos – more fellowship and unity that breached all these artificial divides created by others so they might “reign” and enjoy an elevated status, power, health, fame and adoration.

Think for a moment about the disorder you see around you and the antagonism that flourishes in the public square.  Is it not utterly unnecessary?  When you have fully developed men and women – my assertion is that it is indeed unnecessary.

I pray that we will take on the task and sacred duty to grow in fullness.  Yes, a whole person is happier than one who is fragmented (broken) and divided within and as manifest in their outward conduct and troublesome disposition.

Shalom.

Talk About Fragmented – According to news reports a California politico is apparently confirming that he had and extramarital affair with Democrat U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.  Ms. Harris has not denied this report.  Do we need more immorality, greater destruction of the family and marriage?  Have we not had quite enough of this in public life?

Abortion Pays – Planned Parenthood had a profit of over $200,000,000 last year (according to news reports).  And we subsidize this tax exempt organization!  This is the Left turning life upside down.  Is this the best we can do?

It is reported that Governor Cuomo, Democrat of New York signed a bill making it lawful to abort a child up to the day of the child’s birth.  Scruples?  I guess not.

 

God created man in His own image …

Gen 1:27

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Why would God create us in His image?  A fair question – with an easy answer.  The answer?  So He might have a relationship with us and us with God.  And wherein is the epitome of intimacy and love everlasting.  Yes, the very thing we all long for in our mortal life is given to us right from the beginning of life and time.

God’s love of us is central to our well-being, contentment, happiness, strength, meaning, purpose, peace and identity – the one cardinal Truth that banishes all failure, hardship, setbacks, sufferings.  Yet, we so often ignore this fundamental reality.  But, why?

Pride is the most common reason.  Pride would have us try to make life work to our design.  Despite our failures and the loneliness and stress that our pride produces – we persist … until one day we resign ourselves to this fact – we cannot succeed or be at peace when we neglect God and the truth of God’s omnipotence and God’s love of each one of us.

Still others neglect God for they fear God is a wrathful, unforgiving God – while God is a merciful God.  Yes, people by into fear and the false identity that is pervaded by others that God is not a loving God.

Remember Jeremiah 29:11 – “I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope.”  (Emphasis added.)

Why would anyone wish to neglect God in favor of making life more difficult and less certain and stable?  Think about that today and tomorrow … until you come to your senses.

Shalom.

 

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