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… all courage was a form of constancy.  That it is always himself that a coward abandons first.  After this other betrayals come easy.

Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

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Courage must be maintained.  It demands constancy.  It cannot be applied intermittently or turned on and off like water from a faucet.

Abandonment of self.  Yes, the first surrender.  An abandonment of self abandons He who made self.  “You didn’t build it yourself.”  Translation: neither you nor your God matter, it is the “holy” state that made you.  Abandonment.

A blind eye cannot see the man who, even from the start of life, abandoned self. All sight comes from belief in the Divine and lives in the soul.  He who sees, loves.

Pax Americana stretches from the late 19th century to 2006.  America’s presence in the world made the world safer, particularly after World War II.  Courage demands constancy, so too does peace in the world and peace in the land.

The courageous love; in loving, they claim self and God and sacrifice self for other.

Retreat from the world abandons.  Nothing good comes from it.

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love, it is the prerogative of the brave.

Mahatma Gandhi

Shalom.

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“Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortions …”

Barrack Obama, University of Notre Dame Commencement Speech, May 17, 2009

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof”

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

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I regret having to return to this issue but its gravity requires continued attention for no faith-based spirituality can emerge in a person or a culture without understanding the times and attitudes we live in – and most particularly the disposition of the state and its handmaidens as to religion and religious freedom.  While there is no pleasure in such discussions, candid conversation must be had.

In November 2011, Mr. Obama told then-Bishop Dolan of New York City that religious conscience would be protected from government encroachment.  This reassurance was much the same as Mr. Obama offered in his May 2009 Notre Dame commencement address.

Alas, Mr. Obama’s HHS mandate is designed to force religions to abandon their conscience (faith) or their place in public life and charitable service to others. His mandate bespeaks the emptiness of his words at Notre Dame and to now-Cardinal Dolan.

What can be said of a man whose words have no meaning?  Many things.

One, he cannot be trusted.  (Beware those who think of us as allies.)  Such a man is a reed in the wind, a person of no strong convictions, a man subject to whim and pressure, lacking fortitude and intellectual coherence, given to convenience and pandering and the advancement not of principles but self. Such a person is unreliable, devoid of basic qualities of leadership. As to one who professes to be a constitutional scholar it bespeaks a failing grade.

We can all feel sorry for such people.  Charitably, we can pray for them and hope for their growth and maturity. Yet without trust, relationships and leadership are impossible and we need both relationships and leadership.

Constitutionally protected freedom of religion is not about privatization but autonomy. The First Amendment is not saying: okay, go over there and practice your religion in private and don’t bother us. Rather it says: autonomy of religious belief and the opportunity to engage in public behavior that reflects that belief is constitutionally protected.

Make no mistake, both freedom of speech and freedom of religion are the only protections that stand between tyranny and the individual or minority group. Gut either of these and we are less free, enslaved.

So what about our spiritually?  When our faith is under siege our spirituality grows amid hostility and turns to: resistance and risk.  The sacred has always been in tension with the secular.  At the present, that tension has been intensified and our spiritual growth will emerge amid this basic circumstance – faith is being attacked.

The circumstances now have us ask: How strongly do I believe?  How deeply is my faith planted in me?  These questions will shape your spiritual development in a profound way.

Sacrifice elevates the True over the false.

Compromise elevates the false over the True. 

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