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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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Why do the nations protest and the peoples grumble in vain?  Kings on earth rise up and princes plot together against the Lord and his anointed … The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord derides them.  Then speaks to them in anger … “I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

Psalm 2

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Present day contemporary cultures world-wide are highly political climates.  Yes, it is as if politics and power as self-aggrandizement are the reason for being – that which makes life worth living.

The love of self enshrined in political matters – ’tis a story old as man.  We see it in the above Psalm.

When you think about it for but a moment, we live precisely the thing discussed above.  Look at the “resistance” shenanigans on Capital Hill and in national politics, particularly among those who have lost influence in the last decade or so.  Yep, princes plotting together …

Just as the Psalmist reports – those seeking power act as if there is no God, nothing wiser or better than they reckon that they are.

Why do we repeat the problems of the past?  Why do we act so foolishly?  Can it be that we have no relationship with God and know not humility and the stability of a bended knee.

Shalom.

Moses told us very explicitly that our blessings come from obedience to God.

Listening to John Rutter’s Requiem preformed by the Choir Clare College Cambridge – exceptionally beautiful … moving, deeply touching, truth and rejuvenation – feeds the soul and soothes the psyche.  Please avail yourself of such things – let that be your act of gift to yourself and others.  God bless you each and all.

… signs … Jesus … performed … have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Jn 20: 30,31

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Believing or not believing.  Belief in God or belief in nothing.  Theism or nihilism.  We face this proposition more directly today than we have probably in our history.

I have a very dear childhood friend.  He was my closest friend growing up.  We were like brothers – did so many things together.  Shared the same classes and teachers throughout school.  I was like a family member in his home.  His mother treated me like one of her children.  She and my mother were best of friends.

My friend is now in a nursing home.  He is frail.  Spends a good deal of time in bed.  As a child he was bright, friendly, a reader – social, trusted, quite capable.  In his late adolescence he seemed to be at odds with institutions and authority – but more to the point he began to lose interest in the world around him.  He seemed to make a wilful decision to reject this or that – his skepticism began to grow.  His actions seemed to say: life is worthless – this view and his skepticism grew as he aged.

He drank consistently throughout his life beginning when he was a teenager.  His initial adult working life seemed consistent with his abilities.  He had a modest political life and was elected to his local School Board.  His two children were successful.  He seemed at odds with his wife and she with him most of their married life.  She too was a negative person.

His negativity continued to grow – his work history declined as his cynicism strengthened.  He suffered from seizures.  Eventually his downward work trajectory ended when he worked himself out of a janitor’s job, being fired from a government position despite his union membership.  A very hard act to accomplish.  He burned bridges at work and with family members.  He scoffed at religion and those who tried to help him.

If I have to point to one thing that explains my friend’s decline it is this: he became a cynic – lived as a nihilist.  He lived as if to say very loudly – life has no meaning.  Nothing  met his approval – all was more or less rejected.  He lived as if to deny his own existence and existence itself.  

I see his attitude in our culture and politics today.  Those who reject national borders sound like him.  The lapses with the Vatican as to sex abuse, denying law, morality and the Canons of the Church reflect his disposition. The upheaval in sexual mores, in families, in lawless urban enclaves seem to say: “belief in good” no longer holds.   The corruption at the federal bureaucratic level says much the same thing – truth and honesty are not honored in practice.  Drug addictions, suicides, random violence and corporate men preying on women employees – but more indications of decline and decay, amoral behavior – signs of depravity and reasons for serious concern.

All this to say but one simple thing: I do not hear much said about nihilism and the denial of values, morals, conduct – rather, too often, I see others advocating decline and decay – angry people attacking structures and codes of conduct that hold us together and provide a basis for community, peace and prosperity … life itself.

Theism or Nihilism.  Believe in something or believe in nothing.  God or nothing at all.

Shalom.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the more massive characters are seared with scars.

Khalil Gibran

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In mass communication a whole lot of people talk and we are presented with them on television, by the media at-large, in the press, on the radio, on “talk shows,” on late night television, as a byproduct of the publicity-laden celebrity culture and in politics … and by elites (who lives resemble nothing close to the average person).

What is my point?  Who among these fit Khalil Gibran’s test of character?  That is: who has suffered and possesses, as a result, the strongest of souls.  Put more bluntly – what the heck do these people who are thrust upon us know about life?  Are they mature adults?  Are they wise?  Insightful?  Seasoned by real life?  Socially and emotional competent?  Spiritually informed and engaged?  Psychological developed?  The answer is a resounding “No.”

Put very simply: the people forced upon us are not worth listening to.  I have dismissed these people entirely.  I have no television and am better for this.  I gave up newspapers long ago.  Except for the Wall Street Journal they offer nothing worth my attention.

Give me life, and its sufferings and I’ll learn.  Give me those who have been in battle, suffered personal loss and I’ll learn from them.  Give me those whose lives have presented hard lessons early and often and I’ll heed their words everyday.  Give me the best authors who have devoted themselves to the deepest questions and I’ll grow in maturity, insight, wisdom, confidence.

We listen to people who should be dismissed out-of-hand.  In this we are flat-out dumb, unthinking and easily “played,” bamboozled – made the fool.

Really, what do the people you listen to have to offer?  What do you know of their life?  What exactly have they done that warrants your attention?  Nothing, really.

First step to wisdom?  Be a very careful listener.  After all, do you eat any old “food” placed in front of you?  No, you don’t.

Smarten-up.  Regurgitating the nonsense you hear makes a fool of you.

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.

 

… within the progressive societies … every last vestige of the ancient human heritage of ritual, morality, and art is in full decay.

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero of a Thousand Faces

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Professor Joseph Campbell was a pioneer in field of comparative mythology.

In The Hero of a Thousand Faces he shows us that the myths of the world have but a limited number of responses to the riddle of life, and he presents in his book the shared elements of that quest to understand life itself.

Critical to quest is in recorded mythology, as the book title shows us, is the story of the hero.

In the final section of The Hero of a Thousand Faces Campbell focuses on the loss of the hero’s story in modern life and culture.  He observes that the systems of symbols which conveyed the hero’s story have collapsed – and in its place is something far less in content and instruction, namely – the self-determining individual sans our accumulated knowledge and wisdom, respect for the truths previously discovered and the traditions, institutions, and beliefs which guided us over many ages.

Losing track of our legacy, we are very much alone, leaderless and much poorer and weaker as a result.  Yes, our stories, and the symbols in them, once connected our conscious and unconscious life.  Today, we lack the insight and stability which that connection provided.

Look about today – those civilians who occupy leadership positions are dreadfully under-accomplished – offering a college degree and “big ideas” but no experience, wisdom or moral acumen.  In the absence of substance, self-reflection or familiarity with our long history they give us increased risk in place of value.  Where we once found meaning in group – we are now very much alone, divided and among adversaries who scorn our identity, our history, and faith – and promote the end to our borders as a way to destroy who we are, and what we have achieved.

I caution you about replacing a successful legacy with nothing as today’s disgruntled, inexperienced, arrogant adversaries demands.

The irony, of course, is this: now more than ever we need the presence of heroic men and women who will help us recover the coordinated, whole, spiritually charged soul we once possessed.  Absent this, the prognosis: chaos, suffering and decline.

Shalom.

Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking.  One but the shadow (i.e., the opposite side) of the other.

Carl Jung, M.D. in “On the Psychology of the Unconscious,” Collected Works 7

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When you look out on the landscape of culture today, it good to have some familiarity with those like Carl Jung who have made a concentrated and sustained life effort to understand the nature of human existence and the path to a healthy and meaningful life and culture.

I supplement the above with these additional quotes from Dr. Jung:

Man is not only governed by the sex instinct; there are other instincts as well … in biology you can see the nutritional instinct is just as important as the sex instinct … in … civilized societies the power drive plays a much greater role than sex … (Dialogue with C. G. Jung, ed. by Richard Evans)

It takes much energy to be in love.  In America, you give so many opportunities both to men and women that they do not save any of their vital force for loving. (Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, ed. by Wm. McGuire and R.C. F. Hall)

These passages make one think of those in power, of the feminist movement that seems driven by the desire for political power and some of their female disciples who seem narrowly focused and limited developmentally as a result – and, of course, these words bring to mind numerous male counter parts.  Yes, it makes me think that power has its GREAT price and that power seekers often have little fullness or balance and as such are very likely NOT the people that you would want to have power and surely not influence over you, your children, others and this nation.

I dare say politics today shows us that far too many people in power (especially those who live their entire adult life in politics and public office and high level government executive positions) seem to be rather unbalanced and possessed by myopic views, narrow insights, and little to no wisdom.

Jung and others, like the late father of comparative mythology Joseph Campbell, are truly a treasure when it comes to explaining how we are, what we see, what we are living and understanding the disorder we experience in today’s exclusively secular culture.  Both Campbell and Jung can impart valuable insight which opens one up to the truths so obviously presented in religious narrative over the ages – an area by the way of which we have grown pathetically ignorant … and done so at enormous and unnecessary cost.

Time to put down the “smart” phone and the i-pad and put the tattoo money to some good books with insights that can shape and save your life and Western culture.

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.

 

the essential issue is no longer between Catholicism, on the one side, and Protestantism, on the other, but between Christianity and Chaos Civilization – and by this I mean … the whole moral and artistic organization of Europe – has not in itself the power of survival.  It came into being through Christianity, and without it has no significance or power to command allegiance … It is no longer possible … to accept the benefits of civilization and at the same time deny the supernatural basis on which it rests.  (Emphasis added.)

Evelyn Waugh, in Joseph Pearce’s Literary Converts

… the common tradition of Christianity … has made Europe what it is … It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe have … been rooted.  It is against a background of Christianity that all our thoughts have significance.  (Emphasis added.)

T. S. Eliot, in Notes on the Definition of Culture

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Waugh and Eliot and others have seen, and so stated, that it is upon the essential nature of Christianity which Europe and Western Civilization (America, included) rests.

Yet, none of our politicians, nor press mavens, nor media types, nor judges or lawyers, nor corporate heads, nor intellectuals in “the academy,” and surely not the lightweights that talk loosely of “democratic socialism,” seem to have the faintest idea that this might just be so.

Such ignorance has found its place in those who have recently occupied the Oval Office.  Sad as it is, the worthy and amply recorded views of Waugh, Eliot and others appear lost to the hierarchy at the Vatican in a number of ways including in responding to predatory clerics.  What a terrible irony to see the venerable seat of Christianity do such harm to Christendom.

The truth of the matter, this blindness explains Brexit and the dangers of flooding Europe with those who are rivals to Christian belief and are all the more unlikely to integrate into European culture and nations in a period of radical Muslim resurgence.

Closer to home, this is why “open borders” is most destructive.  Why loose talk of socialism is destructive.  Why one can reasonably be concerned as to the consequences of the “sexual revolution” which has been so damaging to individuals, and the institutions of family and marriage.  Why racial division is so costly, and why Left wing fascism that we see in the streets must be addressed by law enforcement, politicians, state – local and federal government – and why we must have the will to investigate and subject to prosecution those have been implicated in scandalous misuse of national security documents, and those who have schemed to “cook up” evidence to defeat the 2016 Republican candidate for President and drive him from office. 

From top to bottom we have in the present moment grave problems facing us.  Problems that pose a danger to the fundamental ideas that formed America and have given us decades of domestic peace, freedom and equal treatment under the law, prosperity, unity and community.

We, the average citizens of this great nation, must step up and speak up – lest we lose a nation, a civilization and a way of life.

Shalom.

Postscript for Lay Catholics – It seems we have an obligation to protect Christianity, to sustain a vigorous public and private adherence to our faith, and ensure that our spiritual heritage is protected and preserved.  Without it, we are likely to expire as a culture and civilization.  Time to join hands with our kin in Europe and other countries with whom we share faith.  Does God not expect this of us?

 

A gracious woman attains honors, and ruthless men attain riches.  The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm.  The wicked earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.

Prov 11:16-18

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HonorMercyRighteousness.  Does this describe you?  Describe those you meet?  Those you admire?  Those you listen to?  Those who have public authority?  Those who wish to lead you?  Those who claim to serve justice?  Those who comment on public affairs?  Those who preach and baptize?

If not, why not?

There is no time in my life that I have seen what I now see: namely, the absence of virtue and the virtuous.  It is as if we have stopped teaching men to be gentlemen and women to be ladies.  More to the point we seem like we emulate Sodom and Gomorrah.  And, it seems that ruthlessness, cruelty and the acquisition of extraordinary wealth and power no matter the cost to our character are just fine by us.

Make no mistake – the human heart longs for what is good, and just, and true and merciful and not what is bad and unjust, false and merciless.

We had best restore the best in us – or bye, bye birdie.

It all starts with you – and it starts now, today!

Shalom.

 

 

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