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Little tired after some traveling so posting later than usual.

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… these priests had no faith from the beginning.  It was not … Japan that conquered them; it was simply that their sociological faith, nourished in Catholic Portugal, evaporated beneath the impact of pagan culture. (Emphasis added.)

Yanaibara, in Asahi Journal, 1966

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Professor Yanaibara is talking about the apostasy of two Catholic priests in the 16th century in Japan.

He makes the point that their faith was sociological, not of a depth – not that which defined them.

This raised today for me these two questions: How is it that Americans can denounce their faith so easily, disregard it so easily, abandon it, live without it? And, this companion question: How can Americans (particularly the young and the Left) discredit and attack this nation so easily?

What has religion or America done to them to cause their renunciation?  What hardship has been imposed on them?  Of what are they deprived?

In Japan the priests were subjected to physical torture.  The most common form of this was to be bound around the body up to your chest and inserted upside down into a pit of filth (including excreta) where you would be submerged up to your waist.

This practice often led lay Catholics to renounce their faith.  Fathers Ferreira and Rodrigues, under these circumstances, disavowed their faith.

This leads me to this question. Is your faith strong enough that you will oppose those who would deny it and make you alter your life to fit their demands? Likewise is your love of America strong enough to allow you to stand tall when others undermine her, attack her, her history and our historic legacy?

Think about this?  Are you living a life of depth and meaning?  Do you value what you have been given?

Shalom.

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Come let us bow down and worship … our maker.  For he is our God and we are his people, the flock he shepherds.

Forty years I endured that generation.  I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray and they do not know my ways.”  So I swore in my anger, “They shall not enter into my rest.”

From the Invitatory Psalm – This Third Sunday of Advent, 2016

Let us throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

Rom. 13: 12-14

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Forty years I endured a generation … hearts gone astray …

Does this not fit us, today?

A generation of pagan ideas, contention, following the errant thoughts of the godless: abortion, feminism, belief in government but not God, increased racial conflict, destruction of marriage and family, pursuit of any and all sexual deviancy, state sponsoring of addictive habits, a nation’s wealth wasted and its legacy and identity denied, lawlessness, racial targeting of police offices, etc.

The godless Left has done its damage.  Is it not enough?  Need we accept any more?  Is it not time to turn away from those who would diminish us, demean what is good and healthy?  Is it not time to repudiate the folly of the Left, their destructive and childish notions?

You know the answer.  Now get to what is right and good.  Throw off the darkness and put on the Light.

This Christmas is special.  We see a New light.  We have defeated the corrupt, rejected the pagan. ‘Tis your time to change.

I strongly suggest you who are Christians begin reading the Liturgy of the Hours each day – at least in the morning when you rise and the eve when ready for sleep.  The habit of this nourishes, feeds, trains the mind, strengthens the God and good within you.

If you desire change and seek the good, make a daily investment in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Shalom.

Please take the liberty of sharing this Blog on Twitter and Facebook and other sources of social media.  You must be part of the change we desire and require!!!

Spirlaw can be found at https://spirlaw.wordpress.com.  It is in its sixth year and read daily worldwide.

“Do not walk through time without giving worthy evidence of your passage.”

St. Pope John XXIII

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Carl’s funeral will be tomorrow.

Carl was 60 when he died.  I met him last summer.  He had retired from his work as a plumber after battling throat cancer.

First time I met him we talked easily about good things, especially his restored 1930’s Ford truck.  Like most guys who work with their hands, Carl could do pretty much anything that was “hands-on.”

Less than a week after I met him, I arrived back from Church and grocery shopping to find Carl mowing by severely uncut grass and the weeds it accommodated.  Surprised, I got out of my car with arms stretched out wide and a smile of disbelief on my face.

“Carl, what are you doing?” I said.   Over the hum and motion of the mower he replied, “Mowing your lawn …”  He then added, “I had nothing to do.”

That was Carl, a man of seamless friendship.  I was merely his latest beneficiary.

Thinking of Carl this week brought me back to a telephone conversation I had with my Dear Friend and legal colleague John, some years earlier.

Shortly after I began a year in a monastery setting in the mountains of Colorado, I got a call from John, still work-bound in Washington, D.C.

In that call, John asked me, “So what’s it like.”

With the emphasis on “it” I knew he was not talking weather, terrain, atmosphere, daily schedule or the like.  No, he was asking about the defining nature of daily life focused on faith, prayer, solitude, worship, silence, reflection, contemplation, study and physical labor.

My response: “Do you mean is there a special door you go through, a magic portal that changes you?”  “Ya,” he said.

Spontaneously I uttered this truth, “John, there is no special door. It’s all one-on-one basketball.  You against God everyday and he beats the devil out of you. If you show up each day, you get better.”

His apt reply, “I’m so relieved.”

Well folks, maybe there is a special door.  Maybe it is Carl.  Maybe it is my Dear Friend Jackie Quinn LaRocca who died last month.

The special door you ask?  Friendship.

Seamless friendship mediates the love of God and enkindles belief in us if we see it, recognize it and experience it – this seamless friendship.

Carl could not be other than a friend.  That was who he was.  It offered itself through him as he was made to give it – by doing for you, sharing what he had with you.  Jackie did the same.  Her most special trait was friendship served as welcome and ungarnished honesty, a perpetual sense of humor, and a sharp Irish eye for bluster, fraud, and fakery, and a delight in naming each plainly.

Loving and befriending this way as a friend is the special door.

Befriend others.  Know yourself honestly and give the way you are equipped to do so.

When you befriend you mediate the love of God and in a time of lost belief, you give ceaseless life to belief, and to those who will believe because of you.

Shalom.

Postscript – I gave both Carl and Jackie small rosaries when they were sick and hospitalized.  Each carried their rosaries everywhere they went.  Carl and his wife got baptized when his illness took its worse turn.  Jackie was buried with her rosary in her hands.  I suspect Carl will as well.  In friendship we believe and show we believe.  In friendship, we mediate God’s endless love of us, of each of us.   

It is in the shelter of each other that people live.

Peig Sayers

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The world is a contentious place.  We encounter many people, even within our families, who are selfish, injurious, hurtful – who reject us, discount us, ignore us – seek only for themselves.  Indeed, we encounter parents who seek only for themselves, who care first for their needs.

What might one do in such circumstances?

Seek the shelter of those who love you, care for you, accept you and treat you with dignity and kindness, who are honest with you – speak plainly and listen to and receive your story.  They provide a safe haven, give your life a balance that reassures and offers a welcome that is not contingent and does not fade.

Make no mistake.  Life is tough many times.  We do not live among perfection. We live among people and they are, as we know, imperfect.  They can disappoint.

Do not expect too much.  Do not be surprised by what you see or what might happen.  Once on notice that X or Y is selfish, unfair, nasty, etc. – create distance (especially emotional distance) between you and them and by all means lower your expectations as to them.

Seek the good people. They are indispensable.  You will be healthier and happier for it.

There is no need to stay among those who hurt you, or offer yourself endlessly to their misbehavior.  You are worth more, and not a punching bag.

Shalom.

“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and the servant of all.”

Mk 9: 35

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These are the words of Jesus to his disciples.  He speaks them after the disciples were discussing who among them was the greatest.

Have you listened to popular discourse?  What you hear in advertising?  In politics?  In common discourse and everyday banter?

Who in any popular venue reminds us that greatest arises in service to others? In putting another before you?  In deferring to another?  Such good questions in this culture.

In a culture that values the other person more than self, bragging is diminished. Self-promotion, too.

In a culture that gives the message that one must be first, stress and hostility are high, the tension rises and the behavior that it encourages is one of corner-cutting, slight of hand, slippery words and deception.

We need not live with the heavy burdens of having to be first or the greatest.  In a land of plenty can we not know that we need not be first?  Can we not see that another may need help?  Or enjoy the comfort of letting another go first, come before us?

Think about what you hear each day?  Does it promote peace and hospitality or tension and conflict?   It is time to listen carefully.  Don’t give yourself to what is destructive and unhealthy.

The race is not to the head of the line, the top of the heap.  No, the path we walk is to eternal life, its way is that of love and kindness, thoughtfulness and attention to others more than self.

Shalom.

Learn to be silent.  Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.

Pythagoras

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Quiet can teach, if we are willing to let it.  So, too, can stillness – our own stillness.

Have you ever looked at trees?  Really looked that them?  Sat and looked at them?

But for the wind in their leaves – they are silent, and they are still.  But they are growing and contributing to our fresh air and shading us from sun and high winds.

We are not much like trees, at least in our habits.  We move around a lot, are endlessly in motion – running from one task to another in a non-stop and exhausting frenzy.  We cannot imagine being without doing, and confuse the two – thinking being is doing.  Motion is an addiction for us.  Exhaustion follows, stress too – and agitation and unhappiness – then the drink, or the pill, or the destructive diversion – an affair, perpetual unhappiness and the like.

Not too smart, is it.

The more we do, the less good we do.

The quality or identity of being is not in the doing, but in the being.

A tree is a tree.  Is a being a being?

Like a tree, our contribution to the world is our being.  Alas, busy as we are – we withhold our being from others and from our self.

In being we have a presence.  In doing we have a passing.

From the ancient wisdom of China we hear this:

We learn … First by reflection, which is the noblest; Second by imitation, which is the easiest; and, Third by experience, which is the bitterest.

Learn from the tree.  Is it any wonder that a tree gives itself to us as a page, a book?

Learn from the tree.

Shalom.

 Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or city, shake the dust off your feet.

Mt 10:14

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What do you do when you are not welcomed, dismissed, discounted, rejected?

We have our guidance in the above instruction that Jesus provides his disciples: take leave of those who do not want you, do not value you, who treat you dismissively.

There is no need to sympathize with those who reject you, nor to feel any guilt in departing from them.  While this sounds harsh, the subsequent instruction Jesus gives explains what he says above.

At the end his instruction to the disciples he says this: ” … it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father in you.”  (Mt 10:20)  So to remain in a state where you are unwelcome, dismissed, belittled is to submit God to such denigration.  It is not just you who are rejected but the God within you.  Note as well, that those who dismiss you will do the same to others.  Your departure from them gives others fair warning – and that is a good deed.

You will face many instances of rejection, denigration, abuse and dismissal in life. These instances may occur in your family, at work, in a neighborhood, in a relationship – they even exist in religious community.  Your reaction to such conduct is justifiably always the same: distance yourself from those who would diminish you – in diminishing you, they attempt to diminish God, the One who made you.  Do not be implicated in those deeds that would diminish God, especially by diminishing you.

You are God’s beloved.  You need take no quarter with those who would reduce you and, in that, reduce God.  Leave the company of such people – curb contact with them.

Shalom.

By the far the most important form of attention we can give … is listening … True listening is love in action.

M. Scott Peck, M.D.

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Some time ago I had a conversation with a man, a recovering alcoholic, who was less than a year into his sobriety.  He had been an accomplished executive in Europe and was, then, unemployed.

In the course of our conversation, he lamented that his travel had seriously injured his marriage.  I asked him if his wife ever complained of his absence or showed signs of disapproval as to his travel.  “No,” he said.  He offered that his wife was a beautiful, reserved and sedate woman.

I asked him why he assumed that his travel hurt his marriage, injured his wife if she had never said that she objected to it.  He looked puzzled, and sat without response.  I then said to him: “Be careful about assuming things of others – better to attend to them as they present themselves, tell their story.”  And I went on to say that receiving another is critical to a relationship, that receiving another is the essence of a relationship and when that is breached we are, in effect, denying the other and their autonomy.”  His response: “Gee, I never thought of that.”

Truth is he had given no thought to the possibility that this “hard-charging, high-powered” executive might have been an over-powering presence to a quiet person.  Receiving others as they are is so important.  Listening is receiving.

Listening is love in action, an intimate deed – something sacred.  When you take another’s word in, you take them in and you receive not just them but the God who made them.

Listen.  To love – listen.

For our sore and tormented separation, the possibility of this imaginative and unifying friendship is the Celtic gift.

John O’Donohue

This post is dedicated to my friend and brother Buddy Mahar – husband, father, grandfather, coach, actor, great man.

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The ancient Celts placed great value on friendship, and on kinship relationships. This carries over to today.

Growing up in Irish Boston I saw and experienced the importance of friendship.  I saw that my friends were my family.  That one was welcomed in another’s family and treated like kin.  That neighborhoods became like clans, rich in relationship and loyalty – a place where acceptance was not fragile but stronger than time.

I have, as a result, friends I have had for over 60 years – men and women who are, to me and me to them, brothers and sisters, trusted confidants, kin.

In this tradition we find a vitally important idea and it is this: among our clan, our friendships and this extended family we had those with whom we could always talk freely and in confidence about concerns, grief, hurt, uncertainties and problems.

Those to whom we talked were known in the ancient tradition as soul friends – in Gaelic – anam cara.

The Celts knew that each person needed a mentor, a listener, counsel, a compassionate ear, a teacher who challenged, reassured, guided, encouraged – responded in complete honesty and utter confidentially, one who helped us on our journey, walked with us the whole way.

These ancient people knew that health relied on inner growth and healing and that honest conversation was the route to inner growth, self-understanding, and to the Spirit.  They knew that these conversations were sacred and mediated a relationship with God.  They knew that in these conversations God and love were present.

They recognized that these conversations knit us together in lasting friendship, that the experience of this sharing heightened in us the value of all things – large and small, of story-telling, of music, and poetry, literature, shared life, humor and laughter itself, common suffering, celebration, love and loyalty, and the beauty in all things from children to earth and sky.

These are the ones who, without fail and for all time, laugh and cry with us, live and die with us.  Without them live is not lived.

Realize from the wisdom of this ancient genius that you too need someone with whom you can speak in complete confidence and know that your words and you will find a home – always have a home.

With a soul friend, you never are alone – ever.

Shalom.

 

Christ … in making us His friends He dwells in us, uniting us intimately to Himself.

Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk

Today’s blog is dedicated to Jim Oliver who commented on yesterday’s post “… hidden with Christ in God.”

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I received, in response to yesterday’s post (” … hidden with Christ in God”), a number of comments that suggested this concept of Christ’s “indwelling” was new to others and opened them to a new horizon.

These responses made me recall the night I, too, came to this horizon.

In the midst of a long crisis I habitually awoke at 2:30 a.m. (give or take a minute, maybe two).  At first, I treated the awakening as an obstacle and I fretted and twisted and turned to get myself back to sleep.  Seeing that my efforts were fruitless, I turned to Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation on my night stand and opened to read one of his excellent reflective essays.  One fretful night I read Merton’s “Life in Christ” from which the above quote comes.

In this essay, Merton acknowledges that Christ in us becomes our superior Self, that Christ in us “identified our inmost self with Himself.”  He goes on to explain that “(F)rom the moment” we respond by faith and charity to “His love of us, a supernatural union of our souls with His indwelling Divine Person gives us a participation in His divine sonship and nature.”

Merton exclaims in this – we are “(A) new being” and spiritually and mystically one identity” – “at once Christ and (our)self.”

Merton goes on to tell us that the union of the Christian with Christ is “radical,” “mysterious” and “supernatural” … “in which Christ Himself becomes the source and principle of divine life in me,” … Christ breathing “in me divinely giving me His Spirit … renewing in me the “mission of the Spirit to the soul” … “the grace of Christ” that gives us moment to moment life.

As Merton says “(W)e receive Him in … love” … “and we give Him to others” … “in … our own charity.”

Imagine if you will what this says to us.  It says we are no longer alone, no longer utterly dependent on ourselves to satisfy our longings, fend off fear, another’s aggression, nor is there a need for being defensive or calculating tomorrow and tomorrow to satisfy our goals, no wonder as to our purpose or doubt as to being loved.  In short, we are freed of the impossible burden of being our own god.

Christ indwelling.  Read Merton’s nine page essay, it will change your life and you will go back to it often.

Shalom.

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