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Short Post, Swollen Knee

… God speaks in the silence of our heart.

Mother Teresa

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For God to speak, we must listen.

I give you a short story.

A short numbers of years ago, when I was a vowed religious Brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross living at the University of Notre Dame, I said to my colleague and Dear Friend Br. Tom (a remarkable guy in so many ways), “Tom, you look like you need a break.  How about we take a road trip.”  (I often drove Tom on over-the road journeys and on them we had some of the most insightful and restful conversations.)

Tom took the bait and suggested that we go to see a very special exhibit of the terracotta Chinese Soldiers at the Indianapolis Children’s Art Museum.

Arriving before our chosen exhibit opened, we noticed there was an early morning one-person play in memory of Anne Frank.  Just right for us.

So we entered a small theatre in which there was a set that replicated the small attic room in which young Anne hid from the German Nazis who were intent on sending her and other Jews to labor or death camps.

The theatre lights dimmed with Tom and I sitting alone at center stage.  Then a petite, dark hair young girl walked on stage and paused in the stage light to speak eagerly.  Indeed, she was offering us the words Anne had recorded in her extraordinary diary of those months in hiding.

Her words were hopeful and candid, youthful and optimistic.

The young actress instantly transported us back to that time and its deadly peril.  Yet, our guide was full not of dread, but of vitality and spirit.

The one-act performance lasted about 30 minutes and our young, lovely guide exited.

Tom and I sat unmoving.  Our still silence seemed right.  Our Anne Frank had brought us to quiet tears, humbled us, caused us pause, regret for those lost … shame for what we do when God is rejected, dismissed … ignored.

In young Anne – in her truth, and courage, and spirit  – we heard God speak.

We exited in time without a word – waiting moments to speak so we might live in the sound of God’s voice.

… be still … and hear God speak … 



Pray, for all men need the aid of the gods.

Homer, in Odyssey

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Humans throughout time have prayed.  Yes, in all religious dispositions – prayer is present.

Homer wrote these words 800 years before Christ.  Prayer is a staple in human life.

But do you pray?  In the busy realm of today, do you pray?  In the midst of this technological and material life, do you pray?  Does affluence keep you from prayer?  Have you become so dependent on self, that you do not pray?  In a highly charged political climate where government and politics seems to edge their way into all aspects of human life, do you pray?  In a mass communication culture, is there too much noise to allow the habit of pray to take root?

In prayer the person is unburdened.  In prayer the natural order of things is restored.  Yes, in prayer we are fallible and God once again exceeds our limits.

Thomas Merton reminds us that when we pray we do not fashion the result.  That is we do not pray for solution or our particularized objective – but rather for God’s intentions for it is God who knows best what is needed.  In that posture, we are open to God’s will.

A good prayer, it seems to me, must assume that God desires that we prosper and that others with whom we will be engaged benefit too.  For our lives are part of God’s greater intent and in faith we carry God to others in our daily living, our words and acts.

In effect, prayer puts the human being into proper station and in this simple adjustment our anxiety and apprehension dissolves and our confidence increases.

Think about prayer.  Engage in daily prayer.  Speak to God of your concerns.  Share your heart with God.  Find rest in prayer.  In prayer is peace.


There is for all of mankind but one felicity – a gracious God.

Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews 

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Well, there you go.  Written in 75 A.D.  If only we had the wisdom of Flavius Josephus!  But alas it is absent.

Nowhere in public discourse is there much thought of God, of life in the Spirit, of our historical record or wisdom of the many centuries.

No, in its place – talking heads, the chattering class of ill bred, poorly schooled, ideologues incapable of holding two contradicting ideas in their head at the same time.  And yet the most astonishing thing is this: their words pass as worthy of our attention. Who is the greater fool there?

RETREAT while you can.  Take safety in wisdom and reality.

Imagine a God of felicity – a gracious and loving God.  Such a novel thought today in this deflated culture flooded with harmful utterances and ideas.

In contrast, I can offer this.  I have never doubted that there is a God and that this God had an interest in me and all others.  That is not to say that I acted without sin, nor that I did not attempt a life of self-reliance, a life in which I acted as if it all depended on me, my efforts.  Yes, we are foolish for a time until we prove ourselves less than we think we are.

There is nothing, by the way, like tragedy and injustice, chaos whose actions abound to your loss and pain to bring you to God … and, in due time, to Flavius Josephus and his insight.

In retrospect, I can now express daily sincere gratitude for the grace to have always known there is a loving and merciful God – and that God, not man, reigns over mortal and eternal life.

After years of life, I know the valuable gift of humility, in knowing that I am His subject … and you are too.  Likewise, I know in that reality, that relationship – the priceless value of intimacy … God’s love of me, of us and our divine opportunity to love others as God loves each of us.

Imagine if we knew what Flavius Josephus knew, we would not live in fear and think in that fear of the world as governed by race, or gender, or class, or force, or power, or money, or intellect, or sex, or status, or nonsensical ideologies.

No, on the contrary – tension and anxiety would dissipate; we would know certainty, live in confidence and gratitude, know peace and fellowship.

Best of all – if we were as Flavius Josephus – there would be no place for those who spread words of hate, who divide and speak so carelessly, so ignorantly.

That, Dear Friends, is a step toward Eden and you have been given the opportunity to step toward that Paradise.  Alas, seize it … or suffer more, and continue to hurt yourself and others until you die and face this question: Why did you not take the path I gave you?

God help us all.


God, let the words of Flavius Josephus rest in our heart and animate our every thought and action in the confidence of your gracious and loving dominion.

There was a time when people were not concerned about self.  It was a time of simply being.  (Emphasis added.)

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

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It is said by some that when Adam and Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that this is the moment when consciousness is born, when man and woman see themselves as “self” – as living in a state of being “separate” and “apart” from God and one another.

That said, Dr. May in his book Simply Sane examines the evolution of the human being once he and she discovers the self and other.  

May sees this as a very significant turning point that posts a false state of being and creates very difficult tensions, and problems, for the human person.

In particular, May reminds us when we were less conscious of self we are more aware of being itself, and life and creation as we were but a part.  Says May, when we focus on self our awareness fades and thought clutters our mind.  This transition, I offer with May’s help, creates distance between one person and another, imposes particular burdens on a single person and makes intimate experience far more difficult for the distance consciousness of self fosters between one person and an other, or all others – and in relationship with the Divine. One might ask in this context, Can one know the “I Am” when one must be the I am?

Yes, in self comes estrangement.  In a way, consciousness of self makes another a potential threat, an enemy.  Perhaps this is why we seem to prefer that “God is dead” or forgotten in the present secular age.

I have come over the years to see the loss of intimacy as a major and very damaging issue in modern life.  My observation has me think about so many of the modern horrors and disordered behaviors and wonder if it is not the estrangement from our divine and whole being and the resultant loss of intimacy that gives rise to so many modern illnesses and murderous escapades.

I ask for instance: What explains the homicidal rage of ISIS?  What empowers the need for nation states, like Iran or North Korea, to fortify themselves against “others” as they do?  Why is a flawed ideology like Marxism so embraced by “educated” people who should know it’s ugly and brutal history?  Why is pornography so prevalent?  How can homosexuality can exist in a vowed religious community?  How can women justify the killing of an innocent, unborn child in the womb?  How can the Left justify their lying to secure political power at the expense of their dignity and honor?  How can once great nations, where freedom was secured and debate welcomed, become so divided, so at war with their citizens with whom they do not agree? How can obvious dangers be ignored and incidents be overlooked because they are at odds one’s distorted political view of what is “correct?”  How can people lie to themselves and live what is false and a lie itself?  Cover up and excuse horrible crimes?

Self.  Self more than other.  Thought replacing awareness.  The other as enemy. Estrangement. Loss of relationship.  Loss of intimacy. Distance from others. Distance from one significant other.  Sickness on display.  Sickness excused, justified.  Sickness.  Decay.  Decline.  Death.

Think about it.


Question: When can we prosecute Hillary for national security breaches, or at least get her psychiatric help?

I’ve began to realize you can listen to silence and learn from it.  It has a quality and dimension all its own.

Chaim Potak, in The Chosen

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Television.  Advertising.  Billboards.  Cell phones.  Protesters.  Celebrities.  Gossips. Politicians.  Urban masses.  Intellectuals.  Experts.  Complainers.

They cannot learn because they do not listen.

Babble.  They babble and rant.  In their chatter they subtract from the sum of human knowledge and bludgeon tranquility.

I often arise and write before the sun comes up.  It is quiet.  Silence reigns.  I hear the wind  – when it is barely in motion and when it howls.  I hear the silence of the sun as it rises – regal, certain and unafraid …  while mere humans think their voice holds the world in place.

Escape the madness.  Listen to the silence …  Learn from it.


The moments of hell come when everything militates against the open heart.

Richard Rohr, in Everything Belongs

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Those things which are true rise up and converge.  You see, what is true and good is lighter than air, cannot be held down.  Did Christ not rise up?

In his book Everything Belongs, Catholic priest Richard Rohr reminds us that “Group-think is a substitute for God-think.”  Oh, that the Left might consider this as it applies to a whole range of its misbegotten ideas, “causes,” and views!  I think, in particular, of “identity politics” – the childish, godless idea that life is “my group/my view against your group/your view.”  Such an attitude translates thus: we are good, the other guys are bad.  It divides and makes enemies, not friends.

Identity politics (a Democrat staple for decades) is shameful.  It fosters idolatry.  It says me and my group are “special” and you are: a racist, a bigot, a Nazi, a misogynist, etc.

Closing the heart opens the doors of hell.  Identity politics closes the heart.

When we separate from one another we forego the enchantment that resides in faith, and hope, and belief.  We limit our full human development; we assault the Spirit, deny God and injure the soul of others.  Identity politics is assaultive, destructive, hate-filled.

Identity politics and its name-calling denies that we are all divinely created and each only a little less than God, made in God’s image. 

Identity politics blinds us.  It keeps us from the revelation of God – God as God resides in all of us, in all that sits within Creation, and rests in the world to come.

Over the last few years I have had some wonderful chance encounters with African-Americans, individuals who were strangers to me.  In the course of simple, friendly conversations we have each shared time as friends, neighbors – just people.  In these encounters I have taken the liberty, in the light of wonderful fellowship, to simply say to them: “Thank you.  I have so enjoyed our conversation. May I offer this opinion: I am so sick of those who divide us and keep us apart.”  In each case, my comments have been met with warmth and complete endorsement.

Friends, the open heart is the gateway to heaven.  Enough with “identity politics.” Brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends will do just fine.


Please join in a modest act of evangelization – share this post with others if you feel so inclined.

Remember St. Francis’s dying words: “I have done what was mine to do; now you must do what is yours to do.”

… Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” (Emphasis added.)

Mt 9: 28, 29

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Here Jesus is speaking to two blind men who approached Him.  They wanted to see.  He asked if they believed.

What if a good and contented life were as simple as believing and, in believing, seeing – seeing the world anew, seeing more completely, seeing what you have missed for so long … seeing with the eyes of faith, and living in the Spirit?

Imagine if your lack of belief made your life more confusing, less coherent, less settled, less joyful, less happy, more conflicted, more lost, more wasteful, and more difficult.

What a waste to have shunned belief in favor of unbelief and all the discord that it piles on a person, relationships, a family, a community, a nation.

Such a simple proposition, so easily ignored and at such great a cost.

This Christmas season renew your experience of The Christmas Carol.  Ask yourself: Do I believe?

Believe and your life will conform to the faith you have been given.


Footnote: CNN had a panel assembled to “discuss” the Trump victory.  It was quite obvious that those assembled are from the We-Know-Better-Than-The-Peasants Brigade.

David Gergan (a/k/a David Gurgle) was especially haughty and “superior.”  He of Harvard (where but there or Yale) was beside himself, just incredulous that people voted “for him” (Donald J. Trump).  The arrogance is staggering.  The absence of humility stunning.

Makes one think we have wasted a whole-lotta-moolah on college education and have much too much room for “experts” who so resemble macaws.

And yes, I have three advanced degrees – so I am not without some bona fides in raising this issue.

Mr. Gergan has been out of the work force for some time.  Can we make that official?

Drop everything … to find Him in the silence where He is hidden with you.  Listen to what He has to say.

Thomas Merton, in The Intimate Merton

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These are Thomas Merton’s words from his personal journal as written on April 20, 1947.

Yes, God is hidden within you.  Hence, to live with God is to engage in an interior journey. A journey that is personal, intimate and requires quiet, silence, being alone and utter honesty.

In an interior journey we need not have answers, they will emerge in the silence. You will find that in the silence the truth of your life will be clear to you.  In the quiet you will see yourself, know your gifts and your challenges, where you have grown and where you have still to grow.

Prayer follows spontaneously – prayer of thanksgiving for the God who loves you and the good that others have shown you and that you have exhibited as if by chance.  Yet, the good is that which He has made in you and others.

In the silence of the interior journey, prayer will be instinctive.  You will pray for help in growing past your shortcomings, habits and those common reactions in you where passions speak so unkindly.  In this desire for God’s help humility is real and abundant … how we need His help!

The interior journey never ceases.

I have found that in aging one comes to know that we are made to be alone with God, in silence, in quiet.  There it seems, with age and quiet, you become a softer presence in the world, a kinder presence.  I suspect what I describe is a turn to love and in that is the preparation for what lies beyond this mortal time – a turn toward eternity if one so warrants.

Take time for the interior journey.  Until you do, life is a jumble – a carnival ride without a seat-belt where you get tossed about and tumbled and remained mystified by it all, confused and so easily led in the wrong and fruitless direction which comes from the minds of men and women who live without God. Your guidance is within – go there.


Footnote – I often say that we must as a culture return to God and this is true. Yet, doing so in not a movement in the aggregate but the work of individuals moving one by one to God and in that we move together as a culture.

Yes, we each must do the work of faith and speak in the voice of faith – each drawing closer to God makes for a culture that is closer to God.

I stress the importance of this my saying that I recently saw a video of ISIS radicals forcing an old lady to kneel on a public street corner while one of their members spoke of her “offenses” and at the end of his speech, a companion of his who was standing behind the women shot her in the head.  This underscores the importance of our individual responsibility to journey to the God who is Love.  The world is a challenging place.  You have an important role to play.

For all my friends here and now, those of yesterday and those deceased – those precious ones who lived the life God gave them no matter the circumstances, no matter the cost.  They are among the shinning stars of every dark night sky.

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Strictly speaking, he was alone; but the room, and his interior life, was full of companionship.

Paul Elie, in The Life You Save May Be Your Own

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At any given time well over nine out of ten of the people you see around you will not have journeyed far or well, and surely not deeply and broadly enough.

You see most people are encased in their own immediate self – that is to say the surface experience of life as it either appears to present itself to them or as they selectively screen it to appear, twist it to their small template – a template usually nailed together by the hammer of yesterday’s hurts.

We are social animals and you realize the power of this when you realize those around you care not very deeply about you, that as soon as something captures them you are forgotten, misplaced or used like one might use a garden tool: only when necessary and convenient, then housed in the shed ’til another season of need appears.

For some, indeed for all I dare say, this is hurtful.

Social animals would rather not be garden tools touched only seasonally and only for a brief time.  But that is the way it frequently is and must be because others journey on the surface until they gain wisdom from hardship, and most importantly – we must know hurt and alone or we cannot know our self and The Divine, and we cannot love without need.

If we are never misplaced and forgotten, we can never be found and remembered.  If we are not shelved we can never be precious and handled with care, sought for who we are and what we do.

Yes, being alone is difficult but it is essential to your the journey.

If you want sadness and disorder and inexcusable hurt all in one I give you this: most people never really enter the journey for only the wise and strong come to welcome alone.


Share this with others if you wish.


Note: Thanks to the Podesta emails which have been made public, we know that important Clinton campaign figures were concerned that Ms. Clinton was securing cash donations that might raise questions.  Likewise, the emails show that others associated with the Clintons raised concerns that Mr. Clinton was accepting cash and valuable gifts that might raise questions.  Those who represent us must not act in ways that create these sorts of concerns among their own partisans.

Detachment is not a denial of life but a denial of death; not a disintegration but the condition of wholeness; not a refusal to love but the determination to love truly, deeply and fully.

Gerald Vann, in Eve and the Gryphon

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What does one do in a world that encompasses you?  Surrounds you every waking moment and even invades your dreams?  Presents worries and apparent obligations to you in endless streams?  How do you find peace and tranquility? Rest?

The knowledgeable answer: “detachment.”

But what is detachment?

Detachment is a process whereby a person moves from “the roiling unsettled surface” of exterior existence to the quiet of your interior life.  Yes, from the noise, to your quiet sanctuary of self, of soul.

Yes, peace and tranquility is a process of closing out the noise of the world, ceasing to be captured entirely by its roles and demands.  A discreet, conscious separation from those people, things, dialogues, ideas, assertions that further what is untrue, create discord, rob you of your soul.

Detachment is an act of separation, but not an act of indifference.

Detachment does not cease our obligation to be a source of good, a witness and voice of God, of Christ in the world.  Rather – ironically, detachment is essential to our obligation to witness of faith in this worldly existence. Yes, a witness as a salvific act repeated often throughout our life – no matter the risk or personal cost.

How does one detach?

There are many ways.  Be very discreet as to what you read, listen to.  Attend daily to quiet, to prayer.  Take a retreat once a year for a few days of quiet rest, worship and reflection. Make a habit of daily short spiritual or scriptural reading. Spend time in church – especially alone, in quiet presence.

Maintain an ongoing relationship with a spiritual counselor or director.

Listen to sacred music, Gregorian chants.  The point is a simple one: get in touch with yourself, your very being – the one God made in you – yes, separate out from the herd for God made you far more than a herd animal.

Yes, resist all efforts of secularists and ideologues to classify you for their control, so they might hold power and assert it over you and others.

Focus on your individual holy value – on the proposition that saints and martyrs defied being classified by others into groups the very same way that they defied the demands of mortal existence as a limit of their life and being.

And, think about this: those who become saints and martyrs were human beings just as you – those who sought the quiet holy space where they could find rest and know who God made in them and live as God called them to be.  They are you.

Amid the mob, within mass secular culture – detach … be  be as God made you to be.


Note – I welcome those of you who might wish the help of a spiritual counsel.




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