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Begin the morning in the dark and quiet again – but there is a glimpse of sunrise to come where the clouds have parted.  In the background the chants of the Monks from the Monastery of St. Ottilien.  Peace is in the air … beautiful, eternal, above all mortal being.

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” … at last bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”

Gen 2:23

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We have lost our way and make grave errors that antagonize and divide, make us enemies in the most fundamental areas of our life – in the most sacred areas – places from which our happiness, joy, and contentment – meaning and purpose are meant flow.

Perhaps no area of error and divergence is any greater than that of  understanding man and woman – understanding their sacred identity and divine value.

God willed the creation of man and woman.  They share perfect equality, one to the other.  Each possess inalienable dignity as they are made to be.  Efforts of any kind to subvert this are reckless, utterly destructive, contrary to nature, God’s will and doomed to fail.

Men treat women as your equal, revere them, protect them, defend them.  Women, see your extraordinary dignity, your special gifts, your most cherished honor to bear a child and love so deeply.

In creating man and woman as helpmates to one another, we see God’s wisdom and goodness.  Together in Holy Matrimony we see God’s image – – – God as pure spirit, pure and steadfast love, and union with us.

Men and women: marry and honor your pledge of union.  No absent fathers.  No single mothers.  No out-of-wedlock births.  No more abortions.  No more rebellion against God.

Men and women are made for one another – as a communion of persons in the intimate manner in which God is unified with the human person.  Two as one – complimentary to one another.  One flesh, “bone of my bone.”

As one we are entrusted with creating new life – sharing in God’s work of divine Creation.  In this we have personal responsibility for the world around us: how it will be, what it will do  – whether it is dominated by Good or Evil, Truth or Lie, Life or Death.

Does not our faith and heritage give question to “same sex marriage,” to “multiple genders” and a self-claim to gender?

Shalom.

Prayer for the Dying

All-powerful and merciful Father, in the death of Christ you have opened a gateway to eternal life.  Look kindly upon Margaret McCurdy who is suffering her last agony.  United to the passion and death of your Son, and saved by the blood He shed, may she come before You with confidence.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Your prayers for Margaret McCurdy are welcome.

 

 

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A beautiful fall day in the Virginia countryside.  The fallen leaves call.  And I shall meet them in the challenge posted.

I offer a prayer for your quiet contemplation and closer walk with God.

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There is God

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Where charity and love are found, there is God.

In every flake of snow, in every grain of sand – there is God.

In the stout and stoic strength of our brother, the mountain, in the swift and sure vigor of our sister, the sea – there is God.

When the cold winds whip the head, when warm breezes brush the face – there is God.

In the darkest hours of the blackest night, in the brightest light of a golden afternoon – there is God.

When we are uplifted by the joys of victory, when we are wracked by the sorrows of defeat – there is God.

When we are surrounded by companions, when we are isolated in solitude and loneliness – there is God.

In the laughter of a friend, in the smile of a stranger – there is God.

God is always there.

Lord, grant that we may always walk with you and that we may have the peace, joy and love that is your countenance.  Amen.

Jared Sylvester, Class of 2006 – University of Notre Dame

Jared wrote this prayer while a freshman at Notre Dame.  This and many other excellent prayers can be found in Lead Kindly Light: The Notre Dame Book of Prayers.

Yes, God is alway there!  Have faith.  Maintain a steady hand and live in joy and humble confidence.  It is nothing new to swim against the currents of discontent and falsehoods.  It is the way of Christ, our Way.

Shalom.

Please feel free to share this with others who may be helped by it.

 

 

The spiritual history of man, as seen by God, is not of progress but of recovery, redemption.

Aelred Graham, in Christian Thought and Action

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In this Age of Unbelief, ignorance appears and history and souls are lost.

Think about it.  We spend billions on education – primary, secondary and university education and professional schools – yet we act as if there is no valuable historic legacy, no lessons learned, Truths discovered at high price, through sacrifice and dying.

Ignorance and unbelief have their cost.  The cost is destruction and division.  We see this now.  It need not be.

Take redemption as an example.  Those who cause a public fuss seem utterly unfamiliar with the concept of redemption.  Their conduct says: we do not believe … They would have a hard time defining what redemption is and an easy time being hostile and angry.

I ask you this: Who raising a ruckus links redemption to Christ?  Or classifies it as central to the Christian narrative?  Why do we listen to others who know so little?

When we lose our legacy, forget our story, bad things multiply, we divide and hostility grows.

Think about belief and redemption.  If you do you will begin to restore some calm and sanity to your life.  You will put the angry into perspective and create a healthy distance.

Who needs unnecessary anger and agitation?  Is not peace and wisdom better?

Shalom.

If the U.S. ever comes under attack, let’s have the military “take a knee” and the NFL players go to war.

… your dissatisfaction with the Church seems to come from an incomplete understanding of sin … you seem actually to demand … that the Church put the kingdom of heaven on earth right here now, that the Holy Spirit be translated at once into all flesh … you are leaving out the radical human pride that causes death …

Flannery O’Connor, in a December 9, 1958 Letter

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One distinguishing fact about the Left and others who seek omnipotence in government is this: they put unjustified confidence in the human being and man-made institutions and efforts.  Yes, they are disoriented.

They, like the letter writer O’Connor is responding to, somehow think that an ideology (however distorted or errantly applied) will give us heaven on earth.

Have these people been watching the movie I’ve seen for seven decades?  Have they not watched Seinfeld or met Woody Allen?  It seems clear that they have not grasped the essence of the Judeo-Christian narrative or the sweep of recorded human history.

Just today, I awoke to the “can’t make it up” mea-culpa of an rotund, aging leftwing Hollywood mogul (who loves his mother, perhaps a little too much) and has been (for years) asking would-be starlets to watch him take a shower.

He, of the “pro-feminist” persuasion, puts in plain view this: we inflate the expectation of the human person and in this intoxication quickly conjure up insane propositions as if all that occurs in moviemaking paves the way to earthly nirvana.

No, it does not.  We are not to be exalted, but to be humbled.  We do more damage than we think, create greater division, exhibit more insanity, destroy more good things than we ever imagine.  Hence my son’s favored expression: don’t just do something, stand there.

Yes, there you have it – a refutation of the Liberal in six easy words: don’t just do something, stand there.

If sanity is to root in present American culture – humans will cool their heels, and their expectations will subside in inverse proportion to their growth in humility, kindness, friendship, faith and self-effacing humor.

Today’s bumper-crop of disordered behavior and sickness ought to teach that much of what those with demonstrated maladies advocate is precisely adverse to our welfare and prosperity.  If you see them wearing a raincoat, leave your umbrella home.

Shalom.

 

 

Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts … perhaps the fear of a loss of power.

Seneca

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Seneca has something here.  We have seen people who manage power very nicely with calm and grace – but they are a distinct minority in time.  God’s deeds, of course, are masterfully offered and employed.  His power is perfectly expressed.  Not so in man’s conduct.

If you want to understand Washington today, think of Seneca.

Corruption here today in Washington is rooted in the fear of the loss of power. Yes, this is the entrenched Washington elite – both parties, the bureaucracy and mass media, in the entertainment community, et al; they display a fear a loss of power, status, etc.  They liked “being liked.”

Those who have power and influence simply refuse to release their comfortable grip on status, influence – power.  They profit from the status quo and those who would disturb it are not welcome.

Let’s face it.  People are self-interested.  The greater the grip – the more prominent the fear.

One of the the hardest things to do is to acquire the experience of others. We live in our own experience; our fears and insecurities frequently govern – and more so among the godless.

Truth: the acquisition of another’s experience necessitates a growth in the Spirit, a faith which denominates one’s humility and God’s supremacy – reduces mortal existence to a passing moment and eternity to its rightful place.  In this God-centered view, fear is vanquished and power need not corrupt.  We are made, you see, for humility, not fear, for eternity not mortality.

If you want to understand corruption.  Know this: it is present today.  It is present among the powerful and privileged and when you see it you are seeing (as Seneca notes) fear.  Yes, fear begets corruption.  And, yes, those who are in relationship with God do not fear … and those who are not so inclined show fear.  The latter is inevitable.

Think about how the powerful see and name “the basket of deplorables” and how they react when they are not favored, and how they react when a person is elected who challenges them: yes, the person and his or her supporters are attacked, and attacked, and attacked.

The fear of the loss of power is a mighty destructive force.  Yet, our strength and identity has nothing to do with status, or power, wealth or privilege.

Seneca – very cool.

Shalom.

 

 

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.

Ps 63:2

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Yesterday I began my day with men who attend a Saturday early morning gathering at a wonderful Catholic parish in Kensington, Maryland.  The men of varied ages attend a year-long program focused on developing their faith and growing in it.  It is a wonderful experience that includes a short video presentation with the men then recessing to a host of tables to share their thoughts on the subject matter of the video.

Yesterday’s video focused us on the simple question: Is there a God or is there not a God?

My table mates (eight men, counting myself) affirmed easily that there is a God – but most striking was this: their soul was thirsting for God.  These men ranged in age from early to mid-30’s to 70-plus.  All were family men, fathers and husbands.

What struck me so very deeply was this: these men were seeking God in the very manner that people in the 13th century and earlier sought God.

They asked questions much as the St. Thomas Aquinas might.  Deep probative questions. Their desire for God was vital to them – not because they themselves had burdens or carried sins that caused suffering – no, they sought God because they knew a relationship with God was critical to their existence, their contentment, their service of others, their life’s meaning and their ability to love, understand, find meaning and purpose in life.

I add, most importantly, they sought God because they experienced that faith, and God were under siege in America.  They had a sense that living a life of faith, God and Church was under attack today in this nation.

Honestly, I saw their desire, their urgency – their hope … and affirmation that God was the center of their being and that neither their faith nor God would be abandoned or exiled.

I saw in these men the metaphysical reality of the first 1400 years of Christianity.

I saw the probing question and longing that affirmed that there is a God and the desire for a relation with God resides within us no matter the utterances and hostilities of claims and actions of the godless among us.  Good news!

Alas, it can be said that the Psalms speak today:

My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water. (Ps. 63)

Truth never fades.  Truth can never be denied, extinguished.  In the midst of challenge – God is closest and we are most deeply engaged.  Good News … in troublesome times.

Shalom.

 

… emotivism: the idea that all moral choices are nothing more than expressions of what the choosing individual feels is right.

Rod Dreher, in The Benedict Option

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The above words refer to a concept that Moral Philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has identified as the present method of reasoning employed in America and the West given the collapse of moral philosophy in our culture.

The point is a simple one and visible in all sorts of public advocacy.  Emotivism operates this way: there being no universal and applicable morality, one gets to do what they wish, what “feels” right for them.  Enter: the fiction of multiple genders, same-sex “marriage,” no need for borders, taking down statutes, flinging about the accusations that “white privilege” exists and must be checked, and ignoring the obvious in corruption like the prosecution of Hillary Clinton and those around her.

What MacIntyre identifies is a populace each member of whom can simply do as they please regardless of what once was thought to be guided by morality.

He has identified the problems created in America by radical individualism and undifferentiated egalitarianism so vigorously endorsed and sought by modern liberalism, the Left, “progressives,” socialists, Marxists and special pleaders of one sort or another.

More to the point, he has identified a major cause of the collapse of a nation and a civilization in the present time and reminded us of two things: (1) morality and a moral code are critical to the well-being and literal existence of a nation and a civilization, and (2) religion and religious narratives as essential to the creation of moral codes and the collective welfare and existence of a nation, a civilization and its people.

That said, why do you not hear emotivism discussed?  After all, MacIntyre introduced the concept in a book (After Virtue) written in 1981 and regarded as the best book in moral philosophy written in the last 100 years.  Tis, but another example of how poor is our public discourse for all the talking we seem to do.

Shalom.

For life that is sound and secure, cultivate a thorough insight into things and discover their essence, matter, and cause; put your whole heart into doing what is just, and speaking what is true; and for the rest, know the joy of life by piling good deed upon good deed until no rift or cranny appears between them. (Emphasis added.)

Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations

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Marcus Aurelius in Book Ten of his Meditations.  Words from 2100 years ago. Still valid. Still wise. Still applicable.

… cultivate a thorough insight – many look, few see.  Seeing is more an experience than an act.  Seeing takes in – sight goes to the heart and the soul. Such seeing teaches and ignites. In such seeing lessons are learned and wisdom produced.  Such seeing knows the past, present and the future – as man is man then, now and beyond.

Who among you actually sees?  Listen to only those who have cultivated thorough insight. Prefer silence and your own company to those who speak but do not see.

… acting justly, speaking truth – these each require the cultivation of thorough insight – neither justice nor truth emerges from those who have not done so.

Tis better not to act nor to speak without having cultivated thorough insight, for in quiet one might see by listening carefully … and thinking about what one observes, hears and experiences.

Today we have mindless chatter – and the idiotic predicate of social media and technological communication built on the absurd and unexamined notion that everyone has something to say that is worth hearing.  Thousands of insane birds chirping is no better than thousands of monkeys typing. 

Marcus Aurelius did quite well without Facebook, Twitter, Google, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and the Washington Post, without tech mavens, “talking heads,” Warren Buffett, et al.

… cultivate a thorough insight … the joy of living follows …

Shalom.”

Disgraceful.  How tasteless and offensive is it that Democrat Senators Durbin and Feinstein would challenge a nominee to the Federal Court about her commitment to her Catholic faith.

Ironically, each Senator ought to realize that it is far better to have a Judge informed by their faith, than to have one utterly uninformed by their faith.

Questions like these reveal the ignorance of the inquisitor.  Such inquiries disqualify those who pose them.

Bishops – The Catholic Bishops are “going after” Steve Bannon.  What can we say? Well, Bannon must be doing something right.  Hierarchies have trouble with popularists. The wider the divide, the greater the conflict.

My apology for the miscues in the text today.  I wrote this early this morning in a crowded and noisy breakfast joint while a bit under the weather … Yes, I am on the road and when I could access it mid-morn, I was on a friend’s computer and had no easy access to my earlier text.

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… psychologists … realize that there are really two processing systems at work in the mind at all times: controlled processes and automatic processes.

Jonathan Haidt, in The Happiness Hypothesis

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Psychologist, professor and author Haidt is commenting on the functioning of the brain. His point is a simple and important one, the human person is not controlled by reason, rather much of what we do is automatic – while only some of what we do is the result of “controlled response.”  That is: we are not in any way close to complete control of our actions, rather that portion of our conduct which is authored by our capacity to reason is limited and depends on our intellect, insight and life experience.

What might this mean for us in contemporary mass communication culture? Well for one thing it might lead us to consider free speech more carefully – particularly public media and “protest” speech.  What do I mean?

We rather easily assume that media speech and protest speech is worth our attention. But what if speakers do not show any particular capacity for reason? What if they possess no education?  Are ruled by rote ideology?  What do you know of their human experience?  What insights have they formed based on their experience?  How exactly are these speakers in any manner astute and informed?  Perhaps they are quite limited in many respects?  The question becomes: why listen to mobs and “talking TV heads?”  Would you go to a pastry maker for neurosurgery?

When you consider free speech you would be well advised to recognize that free speech does not require listening. Much of what is said by mob and media is utterly worthless and listening to mob and media speech is often a waste of time.  You would be far better served by reading, listening to only those who have demonstrated insight and extensive life experience and education.

By the way, the days of listening to the B.A. from Harvard are long past; education being what it is today – they know very little.  Big ditto as to celebrities and the talking heads with a degree in “communication.”  Nothing there, folks.

Discrete listening is the order of the day.  Be selective.

Shalom.

Postscript – Human history is long past the foolishness of Marxism.  Sadly, the Left/Liberals/Progressives have not kept pace.  They still live in Europe of the 1840’s. Wake up Bernie Sanders!

“Man cannot stand a meaningless life.”

Carl Jung, M.D.

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Psychiatrist Carl Jung spoke these simple and decisive words at the end of a famous BBC interview.  Simple and important.  Lost to us in our mass communication, a-religious, secularized and highly-politicized culture.

Yes, we have distanced ourselves from God and lost any significant depth of understanding of our Self, the meaning of human existence and our many telltale habits and expressions of need – both healthy and unhealthy.

We are strangers to spiritual existence and stand without meaning.  Hence, we often manifest confusion, violence, hostility, anger, addictions and self-destructive behavior … even individual and collective insanity.

Yes, we have abandoned the wisdom compiled over centuries.

Who among us reads and employs the classics in literature to navigate from day-to-day, crisis to crisis?  Which of those who would lead us have any depth of understanding of human history?  Case in point – Venezuela leeches toward totalitarian communism and repression of faith and freedom and no American politician or public commentator mentions The Monroe Doctrine which for years has been our claim to peace and freedom in the hemisphere.  Frankly, with all the faux education and the abject failure in places like Harvard and Yale, we are dumber and far less insightful.

And, what about moral philosophy?  Noted scholars have documented the loss of moral reasoning and our moral development in our own time.  Who among us focuses national attention on this?  Yet, destructive immoral conduct abounds with more on the way (if one listens to the mobs and academics and their demands and misguided notions).

So where does Dr. Jung say meaning comes from? Simple: meaning comes through the unequivocal affirmation of the Self – through each person’s individuation, each person’s honest soul-searching quest for wholeness.

Forget the Leftist mob with its rote chants, costume dress, and acts of violence. Forget politics as a means to individuation, meaning, wholeness and one’s True Self.  Meaning and wholeness require that each person engage their journey personally because each is a sacred being with meaning, and all journeys to meaning are by definition about one thing: man’s relation to The Infinite.

By the way, chanting some nonsensical hateful mantra is a clear sign that one is way off course – lost, far from wholeness.  Ditto most political pursuits.

Mind you, the value of the American constitutional federal representative democracy is this: it enshrines and (when properly honored) insures each individual lawful citizen the pursuit of their sacred journey to full development and the realization of meaning – and neither the mob nor central government can deny this quest.

Indeed our nation’s constitutional structure is designed for our spiritual, psychological and material welfare. Yet, many falter – wishing others provide them material benefits while they ignore their own opportunity and obligation to journey to fullness, meaning, and maturity.

Truth is we were never intended to be a cradle to grave welfare state but that FDR, LBJ and Democrats, with moderate Republican assistance, made this so.

The quest for individual wholeness, uniquely the center of the American political structure, is ultimately a spiritual quest.  Indeed, the mobs and ideologies that would destroy what we have get given are intent on our spiritual death – in favor of meaninglessness and totalitarian rule.  There, of course, is no health, no soul, no wholeness, no freedom, no meaning in such an existence.  So says Jung – and he is right.

Afterall, who among us wants to live in a time when the wisdom of the Ages is destroyed? Only those who are most lost and most mistaken.  Pay heed.

Shalom.

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