16 January 2018

Metoo & Youtoo

Women are believed to be the first to use civil disobedience against an unjust head of state. After Joseph (of the many colored coat) died and many years had passed there was a new Pharaoh in Egypt who knew nothing of Joseph and he feared that the Hebrew population was growing uncomfortingly large. He started to oppress the Hebrews and enslave them and the more he did so the more numerous they became. Finally he decided to control the male population by killing all of the Hebrew male babies. In Exodus 1:15-21 we read about two women who took on the challenge to defy the Pharaoh. Their names were Shiphrah and Puah. The refusal of Shiphrah and Puah to follow the Pharaoh's genocidal instructions may be the first known incident of civil disobedience in history and in some ways the most powerful example of resistance to an evil regime. 

Exodus 1:15-21
Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah:
“When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.”
But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 

15 January 2018

"Yes" or "No"

In one way or another, through births, adoptions, or immigration, America's population continuously renews itself. The participants in the political dialog die off one by one and in the meantime those who take their places arrive, some in one way and some in another. When one makes his or her first entrance into the politics of social life on whichever side of the spectrum, or changes sides, or abandons the political intercourse altogether, there is a process of adjustment and the political balance tends to be restored, almost always regressing toward a point where the median and the mean coincide...the middle of the road as it were. Through all of this a battle of words constantly rages with points, counterpoints, talking points, tweets, invectives, expletives, threats, sarcasm, criticism, and outright lies..."from people on both sides." The same dialog has been in progress for more than 240 years and by the grace of God it will continue as long as we continue to acknowledge Him.

The key to America's survival as a democracy is active participation by citizens of good will and the enemy is apathy and abdication to the one with the biggest appetite and the longest reach. Our Lord admonished us to strive for perfection (Matthew 5:8) and as the U.S. Constitution states, it was established to form a more perfect Union in order to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. The Lord also tells us that all we need to say is simply "Yes" or "No" and anything beyond this comes from the evil one (Matthew 5:37). We need to avoid the boasting, the name calling, and the lies and get out the vote through honest debate and persuasion. To be a good political leader one must sacrifice oneself, that is to say, "humble oneself" for the good of the nation. That is what true love is; sacrifice, a mother for her child, a father for his family, a soldier, policeman, firefighter, or first responder for the duty and honor to serve their country, a president, governor, senator, congressman, or mayor for their country, state, city, or county, a teacher for their pupils, a doctor or nurse for their patients, et cetera, et cetera, and so forth. The duty to make sacrifices for peace, security, freedom, and democracy is the duty of every citizen.

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06 January 2018

Preparing for the willy-nilly slide,

Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset.
One foot following the other,
Searching for the trickle-down
And thanking God for my daily bread.
I'm on the spiral road to infinity.
An evil impulse is tracking every move
By following my digital exhaust.
As I climb the hill of January
I look the left and slightly below
To the descending Januaries previous,
To the right and above, only clouds.
Home is wherever my heart is at peace,
But sin is crouching at every door,
Ready to jump at the first opportunity.
I keep marching, marching up the incline,
After January, the boredom of February,
And then the treacherous Ides of March.
Finally the road smooths out in April
With rain that brings the May flowers,
And Mayflowers that bring June Pilgrims.
The lazy, hazy days of mid-summer
Are a respite from the steep climb
Until I begin the willy-nilly slide.
Year after year, round and round it goes.
Where will it stop? The Lord only knows.
I fear that one day all of my desires
Will awaken within me at the same time
And hold my tattered soul for ransom.
We only think we enjoy our desires
While all the time we are their slaves.
Once I was young and now I am old,
And my desires have faded to memories.
The only desire truly worth having
Is the desire for humility and charity
Through self-sacrifice, and eternal union
With the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!

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30 December 2017

My one word resolution for 2018

Every year about this time I choose a theme for a New Year's resolution that I can put a one word label on and just concentrate on that one thing for a whole year until it becomes an ingrained habit. I am pleased to report that this system has worked for me very well. Here is a partial list from years past:

2011 "Ideate" ("to form an idea of", "think of", "imagine", "conceive of","envision", "visualize")

2012 "Update" ("improve", "correct", "renew", "revise", "upgrade", "amend", "overhaul", "modernize", "contemporize")

2013 "Motivate" ("prompt", "drive", "move", "inspire", "stimulate", "influence", "activate", "impel", "push", "propel"

2014 "Ataraxia" ("Tranquility", a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety)

2015 "Contemplate" (Know Thyself, "examine", "inspect", "observe", "survey", "study", "scrutinize")

2016 "Intentionality" ("Intentionality" is the connection between our conscious mind and the object we are thinking about. It is the quality of our thoughts and beliefs that consists in their being directed toward some object or state of affairs. In other words a clear and conscious focus.)

2017 "Altruism"  (The practice of selfless concern for the well being of others. It is the charitable and humble giving of oneself to other people in many different ways. 

My theme for 2018 is "Meditate" (To focus and quiet the mind to reach a higher level of awareness and inner calm.)

Meditation is part of Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions but it is in the Christian, Judaic, and Islamic religions that meditation is intimately bound up with a true religion. By "true religion" I mean one that is based upon ethical monotheism, a form of monotheism in which one Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe is the source for one standard of morality, and who guides humanity towards unity with Him through ethical principles. 

I was introduced to meditation when I sought out some information on "self hypnosis" which helped me greatly in breaking some bad habits. After following some scripted self hypnosis techniques I found that I could fall into a deep meditative state without the scripting. The secret to meditation is clearing the mind of all the garbage thoughts that are constantly flowing through it and clamoring for attention. These garbage thoughts are like a plaque that builds up on our psyche from the time we are born and these thoughts compete with each other in a form of cognitive dissonance. They take up so much room that we can hardly think rational thoughts because we get caught up in their little tug-of-war games. There are various techniques for shutting out this "noise." The serious use of the Catholic Rosary when performed in a carefully meditative manner can be very helpful. Also There are very well developed methods like the one called "The Examen" by Saint Ignatious Loyola and used by every Jesuit. I use a form of that for my nightly prayers. For my morning prayers I follow the method of Saint Francis de Sales called "A Guide for the Devout Life". However, not being  as "saintly" as are these two wonderful gentlemen (by a long shot) I don't use their material verbatim but I found them to be an excellent guide in preparing my own format.

The main thing about prayer through meditation is that you learn to speak to God "face to face" like Moses, with whom the Lord used to speak face to face, as a Man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11).

When we believe in God and keep His commandments we cease to be mere creatures of God but become children of God and thus we may call Him "Abba", father, as did Jesus Christ Himself: "And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” In Romans 8:15 St. Paul tells us to do the same: "You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!"

Now, the question that people usually ask..."Does God ever really talk to you?" And the answer is that of course He does, in several ways. First of all, if you are sincere and speak to Him like a child to a father, He may answer you in the words of your prayer to Him and you will immediately realize this. He speaks to us through our conscience and our intuition. I guarantee that you will know when He has answered you. Do you always get what you want? Yes, but in His time not in mine. There is another important factor. If you pray fuzzy prayers you may get a vague answer. Be sincere, and be precise and talk to Him about how, or how many ways you think that your prayer might be answered. Another hint. Don't use somebody else's prayer. Use your own. If the words don't come easily, take your time. Keep trying until you get an answer. Along the way you will learn to meditate, and your life will never be the same. May God bless everyone who reads this, with an answer to their prayers.

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18 November 2017

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

I am not a mere lump of clay nor a stone.
I am a poet disguised as a philosopher,
The allegorical star in a stone boat.
I stand on a sandbar in the river of time,
Straining the eyes of my soul in its
Quest for goodness, truth, and justice.
I am not a defender of the status quo.
Doubts may flit about me and cloud my mind,
But the light of the world lives within me,
And the Holy Spirit will never fail me.
Forgetting what lies behind me,
And pressing forward to what lies ahead,
I strive toward the goal for my reward.
I don't take seriously the opinions of others
And I am not easily swayed by appearances.
Thought after thought, thinking things through,
Can be a burden. Who knows what to do?
In the long journey out of the self
There are many detours from the path.
Things that I do that I should be doing
Require nothing more to do but shoulder on.
Things that I do that I shouldn't do,
Must be confessed, repented, and put aside.
I follow my Redeemer wherever He leads;
Where the iron is struck when it's hot,
Where the steel rivet is hammered home,
Where the rubber meets the road,
And where the sidewalk ends.
Glory to God in the highest,
And on Earth, peace, and
Good will toward everyone.
To our Father in Heaven
Be honor and glory forever, and may
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
Be with your spirit. Amen!

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19 October 2017

Libera nos, Domine.

With all of the nuclear "sabre rattling" going on between the leaders of the U.S., Korea, and Iran perhaps the "Litany of the Saints" (Litaniae Sanctorum) according to Beatus Leibowitz should be revived and recited daily.

"From the spirit of fornication,
O Lord, deliver us.
From the lightning and the tempest,
O Lord, deliver us.
From the scourge of the earthquake,
O Lord, deliver us.
From plague, famine, and war,
O Lord, deliver us.

From the place of ground zero,
O Lord, deliver us.
From the rain of the cobalt,
O Lord, deliver us.
From the rain of the strontium,
O Lord, deliver us.
From the fall of the cesium,
O Lord, deliver us.

From the curse of the Fallout,
O Lord, deliver us.
From the begetting of monsters,
O Lord, deliver us.
From the curse of the Misborn,
O Lord, deliver us.
From everlasting death,
O Lord, deliver us.

We sinners beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst spare us,
We sinners beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst pardon us,
We beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wouldst bring us truly to penance,
We beseech Thee, hear us..."

(From: "A Canticle For Leibowitz" by Walter M.Miller Jr.)


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07 October 2017

Hello or Goodbye?

Time, where man lives not.
What is it but eternity?
We live on Earth a moment or two,
Smack dab in the middle of forever.
Waste not your days in idleness
As time depends upon fulfillment.
The years go by like running water.
Forget what lies behind you.
Strain forward to what lies ahead,
Get acquainted with your eternal soul
And prepare yourself for lift-off.
The dead aren't permitted to speak,
They can't give away the ending.
It is supposed to be a surprise.
Some will be delighted and some not.
The secret to eternal joy is harmony,
With the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The dead speak again in the Resurrection,
They will either say "Hello," or
"Goodbye forever!"

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13 September 2017

The Death of Morality

Saint Augustine of Hippo in his excellent book, "City of God", quoting the Roman politician and lawyer, Cicero in his book "De Republica:"

"But our age, receiving the republic as a chef-d'œuvre [masterpiece] of another age which has already begun to grow old, has not merely neglected to restore the colors of the original, but has not even been at the pains to preserve so much as the general outline and most outstanding features. For what survives of that primitive morality which the poet called Rome's safeguard? It is so obsolete and forgotten, that, far from practising it, one does not even know it. And of the citizens what shall I say? Morality has perished through poverty of great men; a poverty for which we must not only assign a reason, but for the guilt of which we must answer as criminals charged with a capital crime. For it is through our vices, and not by any mishap, that we retain only the name of a republic, and have long since lost the reality."

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27 August 2017

St. Ambrose, where art thou?

As Archie Bunker might say, "Mister we could use a man like Saint Ambrose again!"

In AD 380 the Roman Emperor Theodosius made belief in Christianity mandatory by decree. Theodosius took for granted the close relationship between his own will and God's. The emperor was thought of as a "demigod" who represented God on earth.

St Ambrose wrote to Emperor Theodosius in the year AD 390: “I cannot deny that you have a zeal for the faith, and that you fear God, but you have a naturally passionate spirit which becomes un-governable when you are excited. I call on you to repent. You can only atone for your sin by tears, by penitence, by humbling your soul before God. You are a man, and as you have sinned as a man so you must repent. No angel, no archangel can forgive you. God alone can forgive you, and He forgives only those who repent.

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24 August 2017

Deplorables

The Complaint of Peace (Querela Pacis)
Desiderius Erasmus 1521

"We can be angry with the wicked but we can only pity the irrational. I do but weep over them and I weep over them more bitterly because they weep not for themselves. No part of their misfortune is more 'deplorable' than their insensitivity to it. It is one great step to return to health to know the extent and stubbornness of the disease. I overlook their ignorance because the powers of mind necessary to perceive any reasoning has been denied to them."

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.