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What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.

Hans Urs von Balthasar

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I like the symmetry of this.  Our gift from God is being itself.  However our gift to God is in our being not just singularly but collectively.

What we become in reflected in each of us and in the culture in which we reside.  Just as we prosper in who we are, what we do, what we think, what we believe and how we order our life and time – so too is culture assessed in a similar manner.

As to culture today – we are not much of a gift to God.  Indeed, we live as if we reject this gift of being.

We have normalized all sorts of abhorrent behaviors.  We make violence lawful – think: killing children.  Yes, mothers engaged in child sacrifice.  Hideous.  Marriage is not honored as it once was – and families are in tatters.  Drug use is common, suicide and child abuse too.

Intimacy is scarce.  Vulgarity is not.

We care less about others and more about our self.  We have dumbed education down.  We have ideology but not belief.  One political party relies on division, Father Government and variants of destructive Marxism fantasies.  Envy and hatred are common.  Humility is rare.

What is one to do?  Separate yourself from godlessness.  Turn your back on it.  Close your ears to it.  Live independent of it.  Keep your distance from it.  Learn to live in silence, quiet, peace.  Learn your faith.  Recall its wisdom and employ its truth daily.  Speak softly of what is good.  Help those who come to you.  Be candid in describing what you see and the truth you know.  Make each breath count for what is good.  Stay close to God who brought you into being and ignore all those around you who have no God but themselves or some nonsensical idea or fetish.

A time for choosing what is good is here.  You are either a gift to God or nothing at all.

Shalom.

Washington Post.  The newspaper reports in a long article today that Nikolas Cruz was identified as a troubled child in his early school years.  The story reports that getting a child into the proper setting was a long and involved process that took years to accomplish.  Likewise, the newspaper article says that places in the right settings were fewer than needed for troubled children.  It also reports that Broward County had used many of the placements for youngsters who would have likely been referred for prosecution.  The paper suggests that some groups wanted to interrupt the “pipeline” from school to jail that beset certain ethnic groups.

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A guy needs somebody to be near him.  A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.  Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s as he’s with you.  I tell ya, a guy gets lonely an’ he gets sick.

John Steinbeck, in Of Mice and Men

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Like many people yesterday and last night I watched television coverage of the Parkland, Florida high school murders.  Frankly, the most significant and most revolting aspect of this tragedy is simply this: no one – not one person – knew Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old student who committed these murders!

Most troubling: no school official seemed to know anything about a young men who was within their jurisdiction.  No teacher appeared to tell us who he was.  No school counselor appeared to tell us who he was.  The school principal never appeared at all.  Those who previously disciplined the student did not appear.

The police chief spoke – he could offer no personal information on the lad.  Not where he lived. Who were his parents.  Whether he had full or half-siblings.  How long he lived in the community.  Who he had known.  What he might have done in school.  What grade level he had been in.  How long he was in the school or the Parkland educational system.  Whether he has received psychological or counseling services through the school or benefited from medical or mental health or social services referrals.

This kid was an absolute stranger to these people.

Listening to the coverage – it was as if this fellow just appeared out of thin air.

The state “dignitaries” likewise knew nothing about this young man.  The Florida Governor was a blank sheet as to Nikolas Cruz.  Ditto the Florida Attorney General, the Parkland School Superintendent.  No one knew Nikolas Cruz – No one.

As you sit today and ponder what happened in Parkland, Florida, yesterday – there is one thing you can know for sure – those who had charge and care of student Nikolas Cruz did not care for him, did not know him … and in effect put him on course to these murders.

A gun did not kill these murdered students.  Oh noabject, inexcusable indifference of adults did.  Shame on those who failed this young person.

Let’s face the truth, Friends – we have become a culture devoid of intimacy.  Simple caring and acts of friendship are fewer – far fewer – than they once were.  And yet we fool ourselves while dividing ourselves into small self-centered and angry groups separated by race, politics, gender, sexual “preferences”, ethnicity … at the same time we shun God and those who believe in God.    

Indifference and those who are indifferent killed these high school students the very same way they killed Nikolas Cruz.

Some Ash Wednesday in the year 2018!!!  If we ever needed God, we need God now!!!

Shame.  Shame.  Shame.

Shalom.

The Aftermath.  One day after the Parkland tragedy and the hysteria commences: talk of mental illness without any indication that Mr. Cruz was ever diagnosed … and talk of banning guns … Yet, not any evidence of introspection.

It is always easiest to point blame away from ourselves.

Let’s be plain.  Parkland is a small town of 23,000 people.  Until the 2000-2010 it was a town of 8000 plus (according to Wikipedia).  The school was probably the largest government entity to have direct daily contact with its population.

Are we to assume that this small town threw a mentally impaired kid (without a family) out of school with no concern for what he might do or whom (including himself) he might hurt?  If so – forget mental illness and guns – these people need to focus on their conduct and responsibility. 

 

 

 

 

… there is no real teacher who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul …

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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If you want to understand what has gone wrong in America you need understand that higher education (and now elementary and secondary education as well) proceeds without regard for the soul – nay, it repudiates the existence of the soul … and this proposition alone explains the hostility and idiocy of the American Left as it emerges in politics, media, entertainment, the press, the academy and even among religious institutions.

The question of course comes: can a society hold itself together without regard for the soul and all the harm that comes from its exclusion?

Look around, the evidence is quite clear – and the answer followers.  The answer is “No.”

You think I am wrong?  Look at families or shall I say the fragments of family.  The protection of child sacrifice.  The presence of sexual assault, child abuse, gang murders, mass shootings, avarice and greed, foul language, intergenerational public dependence, addictions, pornography, adulteries, public corruption as it emerges in our high offices – among the law-keepers and those charged with keeping us safe.

Look too at the greed of ex-Presidents and their spouses who must glorify themselves while filling their pockets with money and and their lives with fine possessions.  Contrast that with President Truman who carried his own luggage to the train station when he departed from the White House.

There is nary a moment in the news that does not say to us: we are soulless.

Universities are sadly and tragically disordered and corrupted.  Things must change.  Those who preach moral disorder must be ignored, challenged, discredited.  We have gone in the wrong direction for some time – and the destruction is widespread.

The restoration of belief and faith, and morality, and virtue, honesty and honor, and community, and fellowship, and family, and religious worship, and humility, and sacrifice, mutual and self-respect, civility and individuality responsibility is essential and immediate.

… there is no real human being who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul …

Shalom.

Observation – When some men and women in the U.S. Congress sat on their fannies as others stood in shared respect of mothers and fathers whose teenage daughters were murdered by violent teen gang members –  we see the soulless … and we saw this in the recent State of the Union Address.  Shameful.

No one can govern who is soulless.  Pay no attention to the soulless except to rebuke them.

It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful, they are found because it is possible to find them.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

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These are the words of “the father of the Atomic Bomb,” – a brilliant man, delightful and well-liked and a physicist.

Last night I watched a riveting documentary entitled The Day after Trinity.  It was about the effort to collect a large team of physicists, mathematicians, chemists, and related scientists to conduct research and then make the Atomic Bomb which was subsequently used on our Japanese World War II enemies.

The documentary was the story in some ways about a Faustian Bargain, one made by innocents so easily captured by the hard and most interesting questions of science.

It is hard in watching this not to realize that man without morality, without a Spiritual base in life cannot fully appreciate what he has done until it is done.

Without a moral framework and a spiritual existence – we are easy prey.  This, by the way, explains how colleges and universities can capture our young with foolish, destructive ideas.  The truth of the matter is this: few people 18 or 19 years of age have lived sufficiently to have the judgement and courage to resist or refute failed and self-destructive fantasies promulgated and preached by their seniors in academia.

Indeed, they are too inexperienced to resist the easy conversion to ideas that make of them nothing more than herd animals.

The reduction of the young is a simple task of conversion for the idealists and ideologues who envision a utopia and enforce its development through the totalitarianism of “true believers.”  This is precisely where we are today in America with the Left and the Democrat Party.

Strange days, these days.  No one remembers Oppenheimer.

Shalom.

If, today, genuine order has become incredible it is because people are not fully capable of experiencing themselves as persons with sufficient dignity and responsibility to contribute to an order in which all are fully and personally concerned.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

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In monastic life time and space are ordered so monks may live in an orderly manner – a manner of calm and peace, without stress – where one’s heart beats quietly and one’s mind is not conflicted, ones soul is engaged and the Divine is present.

Modern secular life is far from this state of being.  Yet, this state of being is precisely being itself.

Monks live in quiet.  They reserve time each day for work, prayer, reading and meditation.

As Merton says “a monk renounces a life of agitation and confusion for one of order and clarity.”  It is the nature of their space and its ordered time and the regularity within space and time that gives rise to clarity and an ordered life.

The monks bend to what is human by design.  You are no different from the monk as a human being but that you do not order your space and time – and not doing so you are at the “mercy” of others, other’s pressures and demands.

Mind you, those who live as godless secularists are likely to be disordered and be well assured that disordered people bring disorder to all others and any institution over which they preside.

Take measures to order your time and space.  Be vigilant that you not listen to those who are disordered – who show no stability, insight, peace, humility and wisdom.

Order your time and your space.

Shalom.

Anti-State of the Union – A few meaningless actors and actresses and one or two lesser luminaries will hold their own state of the Union where they will harangue others with Leftist nonsense.

Funny thing about them – they are full of viewpoints about how we must live our lives but they seem to have little education beyond high school (at least one is a high school drop-out) and show no evidence that they have lived particularly well.

These folks only have sway if we listen to their foolishness.  Why give them any due?

The liberally educated person is one who is able to resist the easy and prefered answers, not because they are obstinate but because he knows others are worthy of consideration.

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind

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Who killed liberalism?  The Liberals … with the assistance of “education” turned into indoctrination of fruitcake social applications of Marxism.

Enter the nonsense of community-organization, feminism, “homophobia,” race baiters, multiple genders, sexism, white “privilege,” disarmament, socialism, redistribution, environmentalism, central government as omnipotent, etc.  All possessed as if these notions are, individually and collectively, the Holy Grail and justify attack on all ideas that stand in opposition to their point of view.

The question is now can this intolerant crowd once again become Liberals or whether contemporary “liberalism” will, as it now appears, to be converted to fascism and the destruction of our constitutional representative democracy – its tenets, ethos, habit, practice, civility, genius and institutions.  The choice: preservation of freedom vs. its lost.

Ironically, the present circumstances require that one might avoid colleges and universities that dumb us down.  Ditto “social media,” media commentators, traditional sources of news, academics and the Party of the Left.

Much of what you now see as assaults aimed at President Trump by the media, press, modern “liberals,” academics, Democrats, Hollywood, the entertainment world and identity groups is a clash between ill-liberalism and the existing, historic mores of our Nation.  Indeed, such a clash begins with God’s exile.  All form of evil prosper when God is denied.

We live in challenging times.  The question is this: Who are we and who will be?  Go with tradition, what has worked for a long time.  Don’t leave God.  Ride with the Wind.

Shalom.

Humility is the truth about ourselves, the whole truth – about our weakness, our failures, our history, our virtues, our gifts.

Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B., in Essential Monastic Wisdom

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My life has taught me that humility is surely a natural goal as we age.  Humility leads to wisdom and there are no shortcuts.

Yes, you will grow in wisdom and stature from birth to death – if you simply and honestly learn from your life along the way – from your mistakes, misconceptions, errors, failures, losses, heart breaks, modest acts of good fortune and courage, from betrayals, deceptions and time’s fashionable untruths.  Indeed, life’s calamities are (when honestly received) the path to humility.

In living a long time, I have also learned this: people resist humility and doing so make a mess of life – their own and the lives of others.

Rather than grow, people resist recognizing their own human shortcomings.  People seem to prefer defense to honestly.  They deny their wrongdoing and miscues.  That, by the way, is often a signal of their own frailty.

Some see their education, or status, wealth, profession or possessions as designations that raise them above the common folk.  Ah … no humility in this diversion.

Elites almost by definition shun humility … no fun to be a commoner apparently.

Ironically, humility gives one freedom.

Life is easier when you see your capacity for miscues, for being wrong.  When you have that baseline understanding that people are imperfect – all of us, you included – and hence prone to mistake and endless folly, life actually becomes amusing, fun, far more relaxed, and quite entertaining.

To show the essential place of humility in life I offer just this one thing: Saint Bede cited the incarnation of the Son of God as an extraordinary act of humility.

Think about it: if God would offer Himself to us in such and action is it not sure indication that humility must be a central part of our human existence???  How could it be otherwise?

Think critically about your growth in humility.  Have you aged well in this regard?  You will know if life comes to you easily, without strain, with pathos and laughter, understanding, insight, mercy, compassion, and a divine humor and honesty.

Shalom.

Humility’s Absence.  Humility is scarce in secular mass communication culture.

Case in point: in a new book on the media by Howard Kurtz, Kurtz reports that young Jonathan Martin, a New York Times reporter, labeled Donald Trump and those that work for him as racists and facists.

Martin makes this claim as one with a simple B.A. in history from an obscure small college.  “Higher education” being what it is today, one might assume that Martin’s schooling is about the equivalent of a ninth grade education at a rigorous prep school of yore.

Today’s public discourse is flooded with under-educated people, lacking humility, throwing about all sorts of nasty assertions.  This, by the way, is a primary reason why I do not miss television and forsake newspapers but for The Wall Street Journal.  No sense taking on foolishness, now so common.  Humility absent, one’s access to truth is limited.  Listen and read very selectively.

Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers.  For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb.  Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Emphasis added.)

Ps 37: 1-4

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The application of these words could not be more applicable to today and American secular culture and its politics.

Hollywood female celebrities dress like streetwalkers and adult-age female teachers sexually assault underage male students.  Men in media and entertainment prey on female colleagues and young children, while men in politics and the workplace prey on staff members and associates.

Immoral and destructive ideas are advanced as public policy.  Government is seen as savior and God is shunned, faith dismissed.

We have been given divine guidance.  Turning our back on evil and wrongdoing is our task.  Drawing closer to God in darkened times is our mission.  Rejecting what is bad, impure, immoral, wrong, destructive and those who promote such things is our obligation.

How do you live?  Do you seek what is good?  Do you delight in the Lord and do what is healthy and right?  Or do you conform to the worse things and the ideas of lost souls who advocate what is unhealthy and godless?

Remember, you are a sacred being made for what is good and life-giving.

Shalom.

Mental Toughness – Looking at Tom Brady and his Head Coach you see two people who are mentally tough, determined, disciplined … these are traits accessible to each of us.  But who among us seizes these?  I can tell you this: starting from real deficits, as I did, presented those choices to me early on.  Fortunately I had people around me – my mother, members of my family, and friends who lived by these traits.  Yes, when your back is against the wall – these three things get you through life.  Seize what you are given.  Live despite the obstacles.  Happy sailing.

 

Life and death are at war within us.  As soon as we are born, we begin at the same time to live and die … If by chance we become fully conscious of it, not only in the flesh and in our emotions but above all in our spirit, we find ourselves involved in a terrible wrestling, an agonia not of questions and answers, but of being and nothingness, spirit and void. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in The New Man

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Last night I watched Part One of Ken Burns film on the Second World War.  I saw the war from the perspective of the common man and woman, the families in small towns and large cities.  It is, of course, a story of all ethnic groups, all races and religions, rich and poor, farmer, factory worker, school teacher, professional. Yes, it is the story of Americans when we were once One and united – neighbors, friends, a community, a proud and patriotic nation – people from foreign shores who arrived to make a new life and seize opportunity in a free society.

Burns shows us what we once were – before we became “fat” and fancy, successful, too expectant, spoiled, too focused on our own welfare and too rooted in demands and divisions from one another.

Once we lived implicitly what Merton describes: we were conscious of our supreme value – yes, of our God-given value – the divine equality of the soul.  Friends, this was how we once lived … You see victory in this world and the next comes only to those who live this way.

I grew up on a street with World War II vets in a working class city known for producing more U.S. Marines per capita than any city in the country.

The ethos of our greatest hour is now misplaced.  You see its absence in Members of the Congress – in the Flakes, Schumers, Pelosis, Durbins, Waters, et al … in the public chorus of “me first, only me” special pleaders whose arc of complaint stretches from the banal to the bizarre, and among the over-privileged in the entertainment industry and in the lost souls of media.

What we see is clear evidence of a loss of faith – of wisdom, perspective, patience.

In a secular society there is no transcendent purpose, no eternity – no moral context and all-embracing narrative.  No – secular life lacks meaning, leaves us shallow and self-absorbed – dependent, unhappy, … with an emptiness that breeds drug use, sexual chaos, hatred and violence.  Godlessness, we see, produces self-destruction.

Time to wake up.  We have regressed.  We lack the honor we once had – and the valor, bravery, virtue, honesty, confidence, integrity and purpose of our recent past.

Shalom.

Frequently people who seek power are not as strong as they might wish to appear.  Many people who desperately hunger for power are weak.  They seek power positions to compensate for their own fragility and vulnerability.  A weak person in power can never be generous with power because they see questions or alternative possibilities as threatening their own supremacy or dominance.  (Emphasis added.)

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

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Celtic wisdom – valuable insight.  People do not change over the centuries.  What they have been, they are.

Three Lessons:

  • Those who seek power are often lacking.
  • They seek power to compensate.
  • Too insecure and fragile, they do not share power – seeing others and alternative ideas as a threat to them.

This is as old or older than the biblical Herod who feared an infant child.

These three simple lessons tell you about the American Left and their clinging to a derivative Marxist ideology today.  They dread opposition to their ideas.  They demand conformity to their views.  Their claims of “tolerance” manifest themselves in intolerance.  When faced with losing power they hatch extraordinary schemes to discredit and destroy those not like them.  They govern by division.  They see others as a “basket of deplorables.”  They show their fragility and insecurity in their arrogance.

As to weakness and fragility.  Think of both the Clintons.  Do they not fit this Celtic framework?  No place in life outside of politics.  Lacking in other accomplishments.  Mr. Clinton from a difficult childhood with a troubled mother.  His womanizing.  Mrs. Clinton seemingly needing to embellish on her modest history – claiming she was named Hillary after Edmund Hillary who conquered Mt. Everest even through Sir Edmund did so five years after her birth.  Insecurity.

And then there is Mr. Obama and his disordered family life.  Despite a Harvard Law degree, a lack of accomplish before his election.  His overreaching sense of his genius.  His “we are the people – we have been waiting for” sense of super-importance … and his lack of presidential accomplishment.

Those who seem lacking seek to establish themselves in power, celebrity, status, wealth and control.

Applying ancient wisdom to life can make obscure things visible and explicable.  If Celtic lore works – would not religious narrative do the same?

Shalom.

 

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