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Holy Saturday

” … You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified.  He has been risen; he is not here.  Behold the place where he laid.”

Mark 16:6

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Jesus was plunged into sorrow, but triumphed over this world and all its vices and deceits.  This said, as a Judeo-Christian culture – how can so many who say they are Christians act as if what Jesus did does not matter today?

Is it not true that if we actually believed would we put so much trust in politics, government, in seeking power, and focus all our efforts on material goods, or destructive pleasures and addictive vices?

Western Culture and this nation will rise or fall in direct proportion to our belief in God and, as Christians, our relationship with Christ Jesus.

Today our faith and traditions and founding propositions are under attack … and for Christians it will be our relation to Christ which will decide the day.  One of our two major political parties and our once reliable press advances perspectives and policies that are hostile to what the West is and the place of God in our lives and public our affairs.

Speak not and act not and you will have assumed the posture of Judas.

Dear God, help us to see the glory of the empty tomb and to act upon that glory each and every day.

Shalom.

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We cannot reach faith by reasoning … We can prepare for it by reflection, by longing for it, and by pleading for it.  But it can only come as a gift.  Once it has been given , life assumes a new direction.

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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You have heard it said that “seeing is believing” but I say it is precisely the opposite: believing is seeing.

Yes, look around you.  Listen to what you hear.  Are those who command public attention offering anything rooted in faith?  The likely answer is “no.”

In what they say what do they see?  In what they say what do they believe?

So why would you listen to those who do not believe?  Who showing no faith, possessing no convincing insight seek that you might follow them?  Advance their ideas, fetishes, fanciful fictions?  Who lacking belief cannot see?

I have never been particularly prone to be a follower.  Neither have I been bound to the plain of reason alone.  No, life evolves in each of us as lessons, challenges, setbacks, sufferings, betrayals and unexpected insights and gifts.  My point?  We are called to the path of belief by all that happens to us, all that we encounter and observe, feel and decipher in the good and the bad.

In my life believing has given me sight, the capacity to see in depth, in dimension that allows for faith to be known and experienced, for confidence to fortify, and patience to be supplied to all things.  And this sight has given me the capacity to think far more creatively and act more wisely and decisively than one might expect.  In this, fear is dispatched and opportunity takes its place.

The wise and cunning person is the faithful person, so too the insightful and decisive one in our midst.  Humility is present in them just as calm is. The best among us put ourselves to the good task, the good objective – not for themselves but for others, strangers, those yet to be born and those already gone.

The self-serving neither see nor believe but oh, they talk incessantly and many among us foolishly listen.  I have never been one of the foolish listeners.  In this I have tamed being alone quite easily and enjoyed the fruits of belief as faith has grown.

Shalom.

Back after a day of travel …

So long as men and women believed themselves to be responsible beings, called to choose, and accountable to God for their choices, life might be tragic, but it is not trivial.

Sydney Cave, in The Christian Way

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Ah, yes … and when Christianity is attacked, shunned and meant to be made unimportant how will we avoid the creation of tragic and chaotic circumstances and horrendous deeds – like infanticide, opiate use and producing early death, or random murders, preying on the innocent, the stripping of all that is in human sexuality and destroying the family?  And who among you understands the relationship between freedom and responsibility?

Who in the public eye connects faith and responsibility.  Surely not the Socialist whose view of God is much like that of a Communist – namely, that God neither matters nor exists (translation – God is an unwelcome competitor to those who desire all power reside in them so they might be gods and goddesses.)

When a culture departs from individual responsibility in favor of the scapegoating of a select group (“old White men,” capitalists, people of faith … etc.) it ushers in an age of terror and precipitous decline … as we see now in Venezuela … and the Democrat Left’s embrace of infanticide and the abolition of Constitutional freedoms long ago clearly defined.

Shalom.

 

The more powerful and independent consciousness becomes, and with it conscious will, the more the unconscious is forced into the background.  When this happens … the conscious structure (is) detached from the unconscious images.

Carl Jung, M.D., in Collected Works, 13 Alchemical Studies 3.

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What Carl Jung is telling us in these words is that we are less whole and more prone to function poorly and erroneously when our conscious mind and the will that flows from it is a mighty (although incomplete) power that stirs us (unbalanced though we are) in what is likely a wrong and injurious direction.

Making this plain in normal terms, if one is divorced from their unconscious realm they will operate at far less than an optimum level.  I hazard to say that it appears that many a political person, professional and even pastors and others function in precisely this way.

Think about it.  How many people do you know who impress you as being in their acts, discourse, thinking and disposition as possessing a whole and complete development and the stability that flows from that wholeness?  My guess is: not many.

Jung comes to this from having taken a very serious look at Richard Whilhelm’s excellent book on Chinese Taoism entitled The Secret of the Golden Flower published in 1933 from which Jung began to see in a comprehensive way the form of psychic wholeness.

In short, what Whilhelm did with this discussion of Taoism is provide many of the same symbols Jung encountered in working with the dreams and fantasies of his patients.  He saw in this the symbols in the psyche’s process that led to human wholeness.  A most significant development!

Where does this leave us today?

Probably here: we do little to equip ourselves to understand the nature of human existence and the quest for human wholeness … and as a result in daily personal life and in the world of mass communication we are left to encounter a whole lot of people who are far from healthy development and stability.  Indeed, we counter all sorts of people who push their ideas and desires without themselves possessing anything close to a wholeness that might give them modest “authority” to claim being heard and much less followed.

The moral of story: you are made for full development – and stay away from those who are far from that destination unless you want chaos, confusion and calamity.

Shalom.

Boys and girls, lads and lassies – it all comes down to the search for the Divine which requires you to come to know fully who you are … in that task you find God.  Remember Christ said: pick up your Cross (the life you have been given) and follow me.

Postscript – For those with interest, I recommend Curtis D. Smith’s Jung’s Quest for Wholeness: A Religious and Historical Perspective.

The intellectual and moral virtues perfect the human intellect and appetite in proportion to human nature, But the theological virtues do so supernaturally.  (Emphasis added.)

St. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologiae

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When do you ever hear a public figure, or a cleric for that matter, suggest that intellectual and moral virtue (talent, attention or focus) serves only to perfect human nature while theological virtues introduce one to a larger reality – that which goes far deeper than intellect and appetite?  The answer: never.

Public chatter is devoid of depth and, at that, not particularly useful.  Rather it sets a very small frame of reference and excludes so much frontier that its value is less than positive given that fact that it leaves out more than one needs for full human growth and development.

In a word – public discourse does at least as much harm (probably more) than good.

That said – do you not think it is a wise idea to equip yourself with some familiarity with the theological virtues?  Why be less whole and ultimately mistaken by being poorly informed by those in public discourse who are themselves ill-equipped to offer any significant insights worth our attention?

Think about it.

Shalom.

 

 

When Europe was going through the Dark Ages, it was the monks from Ireland who preserved the memory of learning.  They set up centers of learning all over Europe.  The Irish monks re-civilized Europe. That learning became the basis of the wonderful medieval scholasticism and its rich culture.  (Emphasis added.)

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

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It seems that we have lost our way.  Despite education, and perhaps because of it, we are not particularly wise or mature, indeed we seem overwrought with disorder and disordered individuals.  Indeed, institutions we depend upon barely seem to function.

I think of the recalcitrance of members of the “opposition” political party in the Congress who view their job as one of disruption – not governing.  Likewise, as a Catholic, I think of the woeful behavior of my Church on the matter of sexual abuse.  And, I think too of the vulgar and sick over-sexualization of our culture and the murders, suicides, addictions and deaths from drug use – each evidence, in my view, of a culture without depth of person or wisdom.

On a broader scale I witness very few in public life who convey a wisdom in their conversations.  By wisdom, I do not mean, education per se but a deeper knowing – knowledge that has harmonized one’s heart, soul and head as only a fully lived life and faith can.

The wisdom of which I speak breeds courage, insight, grace, optimism, the plain truth of things, a cooperative disposition – leadership that gains admiration and respect – and maybe even a following among former one’s adversaries.

Indeed, this is what the Irish monks did for people in the Dark Ages – they restored the path to wisdom.  They kept the route to wisdom alive by attending to head, heart and soul.

We face, it seems to me, a need for a monk-like effort that will restore our health and full development … without which we can be neither safe nor successful.

Shalom.

… there’s nothing more intimate in life than simply being understoodAnd understanding someone else.

Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle

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When you hear the word “intimacy” in our present culture you almost always think of it in a physical context – and hardly ever as Brad Meltzer refers to it.

This tells you something significant about our culture.

It tells you that in a material culture we are far more physical than interpersonal, cordial, communal, familial, or spiritual.

Just look at the drivel that emanates from the “entertainment” industry.  One denizen of that environ recently offered naked pictures of herself (ugh!) to “get out the vote” for Democrats.  Go figure?

Yes, we have destroyed, or badly injured, the idea of “intimacy” (and of sexuality) by our ignorance as to what intimacy is and what an absolutely critical, indispensable role it plays in human well-being, friendship, and cordial and communal relationships with others.

Frankly, there is no friendship without the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies it.  The health of a human being is dependent on intimacy.

We are social beings – meant to be known and to know others.  We are recipients of life and hence recipients by nature for life – bound to be received and to receive others.

Likewise we are a story people.  We live by narrative, learn by narrative, record narrative, gain wisdom and insight by narrative, worship through narrative.

Telling and receiving another’s story is sacred, and the bedrock of our psychological welfare and the psychological well-being of another.  That is the field of real intimacy.

Yes, we are contented and feel whole when another person hears our story and accepts it, receives it, carries it in their own unfolding life.

Today we are far from the intimacy Brad Meltzer identifies.

Our well-being and survival depends on moving toward the intimacy Mr. Meltzer identifies.  Short of that objective and disorder and discontent grows and grows, and brings with it homicides, suicides, adulteries, loneliness, corruptions, betrayals, hostilities, divisions, broken families and failed marriages, sexual predators, psychological illnesses, angers, addictions and depressions.

Get “intimacy” right or suffer the grave consequences.  We are made for one another – far more than merely what is material and physical.

Shalom.

 Understanding is the reward of faith.  Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.

St. Augustine, in On the Gospel of St. John

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Do we spend time “understanding” and, ironically, not knowing but more and more narrowly?  Are we a society and culture that would seek to know a great deal of nothing too useful?  A society that has much, and gathers minutia but not truth – truth of large things, encompassing things, deep things, lasting things, perpetual things, eternal things?

What if St. Augustine is correct – that one must first believe before one understands?

Imagine how wrong so many would be!  Imagine how much time we wasted.  How many people watched the wrong movie.  Built their home on less than sand.

To understand – believe …

Shalom.

 

Today’s blog is dedicated to women and my Mother, Jackie Sylvester, and so many great women I have been blessed to know.

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The woman was made out of a rib out of the side of Adam … of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected and, near to his heart to be loved.

 Matthew Henry, in Exposition of Genesis

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My mother raised me by herself.  My father deserted the family when I was an infant.  My mother literally saved my life.  She placed me first and held me accountable – never failing to offer opportunity, correction, encouragement, support, love or her sacrifice for my benefit.

Through the grace of God I recognized this very early on in my life.  Accordingly, I never gave her reason to worry about me.  We were a team – we were one together.

My job was to not make her job any harder – and to protect her and support her and love her.

I love her to this day and think about her everyday.  She has been dead now 21 years – yet, I’ve not lived without her in each of my days all those years because anything good I have done, or thought, or do today is in some manner derived from her selfless dedication to me as a woman and a Mom.

Perhaps you can guess, I have enormous affection and respect for women.  No man proceeds to a good life without a woman’s guidance and instruction, love and assistance.

I loathe men who disadvantage women, hurt them and treat them poorly.  I adore the strength and manner of women, their wisdom, their courage, and their heart.

That said, I reject “identity politics” which shamelessly divides woman from man and in doing so rebels against God and nature.  In “identity politics,” like so much of what the godless Left promotes, we devalue truth and inflict needless damage on this life that we are given.

In “identity politics” we are made to be far, far less than we are, and who God has made us to be.

Shame, shame, shame – turn your back on those who divide us – they are wrong, miserably and hatefully wrong.  They bring evil to what is a great good.

Two bound together are stronger than one alone.  It is idiocy to divide what God has made as one.

Shalom.

 

Humility is the virtue of men, their only defense; to walk humbly with God, never doubting, whatever befall, that His will is good, and His law is right.

Paul Elmer More, in Pages from an Oxford Diary

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It seems that without God and a consciousness of God in our culture and our life, humility becomes a rarity.  In such circumstances much of what we do, our transactions with others and our interactions become more difficult and less pleasant.

When humility is the common realm things go more smoothly.  In humility we become the friend of one another, even one another’s servant.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge reminds us that there is not much chance of finding the truth if humility is not present at the beginning of the quest.

Yes, humility is at the heart of learning and also its objective.  The more we know, the more we are humbled.  The more we experience life fully – in joy and sadness, in victory and defeat – the greater humility is gained.

Today humility seems less common than it once was.  In such a state, I find solitude is preferable to the crowd.  The quiet humbles with its voice, so divine.

We would be better off if humility were a common presence.  Humility quiets the appetites and desires, and staves off anxiety.  It produces the calm that welcomes others.  Humility brings access to joy and fellowship – even fellowship with utter strangers.

Think about this.  With humility sedatives are not needed.  Ease is restored to life when humility resides within and is shared among us.

Shalom.

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