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Saturday, December 05, 2015

Not With Swords Loud Clashing

The extremist militants cannot defeat us, if we are firmly committed to deeds of love and mercy. Compassion and sacrifice have no meaning to this ideology, but human hearts are made to recognize it.

We have been playing a deadly game since we were attacked, believing that we could kill them all. That with superior force, we could defeat all who would threaten us. It's a trap, a snare of the evil one.

Certainly, all who keep watch in our defense are engaged in a noble task. But in the end, only Christ will be victorious. And if they see Him in us, they cannot help but bow the knee. We say it rightly, that such evil is almost unfathomable. That is right. It's deeper than these people, and their designs.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Lockbox

Some people keep their brains in a lockbox. They never use it. Too many people, especially those in positions where intelligence and wisdom are critical, just don't have it. I've decided Robert Reich is one of those people. There were a million things wrong with the war in Iraq, from whether it was morally justified, to whether particular actions in its conduct were moral. Fair enough; we could discuss that for weeks, and I'd likely agree with much of it. What I will not abide is the claim that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction. He most certainly did. There are people disarming his vicious designs as we speak, and making sure that no one steals raw materials used in their construction.

Bush absolutely told the truth on this point. Whether that constitutes a sufficient cause for an invasion and occupation is certainly debatable. I'm just tired of political arguments that are, "We should do x, because so-and-so is a bad person, and he opposes it." You don't know Dick Cheney; it may comfort you to think he is an unfeeling troll that no sane person loves, but that isn't remotely true, and, more importantly, that's not a real argument for anything. Same goes for our current president. The merits or demerits of whatever he proposes have nothing whatsoever to do with how you personally feel about him. Just think on that.

Besides, who is Reich trying to convince? He's not running for anything. Other folks seem so firmly convinced that Republicans are morally defective, why bother burnish your alleged conservative bona fides? I'd just rather not argue with someone so certain of his moral superiority.

I would hope that I could listen with some detachment to Hillary Clinton. She might say something useful.

If People Need Help

I have heard some chatter that the attacks in California and France prove that accepting Muslim refugees is dangerous, and that those who oppose it are being prudent. Well, a hearty congratulations for desiring peace and safety. In other startling news, human beings need food and water to live. I have never actually met anyone who thought being a victim of terrorism was a good thing. So, charity at least demands that we not accuse the welcomers, let's call them, of being unaware or unconcerned about the risks of extremist violence.

If it were actually to come to pass that a few million people had nowhere to go, and they needed to come here, you just do it. This is America, and some of us actually believe the talk: this America idea is pretty awesome. This is a place where dreams really do grow wild, to borrow a phrase. After all precautions have been taken, there isn't much else that could be done. But I know that this freedom isn't a thing you clutch tightly, jealously guarding its treasure. Indeed, "the West" would not exist without America.

But who are we, if we live in fear? And if we dare to say this is a Christian nation, as questionable as that may be from any one vantage point or another, we know what this demands: we would gladly risk being killed, in order to do kindness in the Name of Him who saved us, either without knowing that it was well received, or knowing it certainly wasn't. Don't ask what Jesus would do, because you surely know "cautious" does not describe Him.

I will not use the phrase, "politically correct," because people use it as a pejorative, and as an excuse to hold irrationally fearful and bigoted opinions in the guise of "telling it like it is," but some part of the conventional wisdom as to the number of extremists and sympathizers could be significantly wrong, higher than optimists of a certain stripe care to contemplate. In the end, however, it's of marginal relevance, because there is no military force in the universe that, purely by its efforts, can destroy an evil idea. We know this as Christians, and yet we can be fond of trusting in proverbial horses and chariots more than we ought.

I refuse to be afraid of Muslims. I have a better chance of getting killed by a bus than a jihadi, and by a lot, at that. This is not to say that we ignore what's happened, or swear off vigilance, but we must also stop believing that whatever a person is conditioned to do is what they must do. Have we forgotten the stories of God's mercy and power? Did Christ not make his enemies into friends?

He walked right into a trap, on purpose, to save you and me. He gave a blanket pardon to those present (and all of us) in the midst of the gravest injustice ever committed.

I might die in a terrorist attack. If I did, it would be a tragedy. But I hope I would die doing what I know to do: love God, and my (Muslim) neighbor.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Sickness

Any way you look at the events in California today, the truth is plain to see: we have an existential crisis as a society. All the killings in general, they mean that people see no value in just going on. It's one thing to waste one's life in pleasure; it's quite another to see the vanity in that, but to go toward evil.

Whether radical Islamic terrorism or just revenge, these outbreaks of violence all over our society manifest a deep spiritual sickness that cannot be hidden. When great purposes do not find their fulfillment in God, sinful people with the means unleash Hell on Earth.

This is bigger than we realize. In fact, prayer is not only effective, it's the best thing to do. A policy or program can't tell us who we are, and ought to be. Talking with God can. For all of us.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Your Pledge To Me

I realized as I surveyed the Catechism the other day that I'm still wounded from sins I committed in the past. It seems as though our enemy wanted to say I was unworthy to commune with our Eucharistic Lord on account of it. But I had examined myself; indeed, I had communed a couple or three dozen times on other occasions, with no cause for fear.

I finally resolved to renew my repentance the next time I celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation That way, the enemy will have more coals on his head, as I use his provocations to praise God's mercy even more!

The priest at Mass today said that the Eucharist was Christ's own pledge that he wants us with him in Heaven. Unless I've decided I've got something better to do, (which I haven't) I'm going to rest in that promise.

If your guilt doesn't even make sense, you don't have to pretend that it does. That's scrupulosity, another one of Satan's lies.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

It's Not A Fight

If you've spent any time following politics, you know that the organized parties decide what Good People are supposed to believe, and then they tell us who the Other is, and that the Other hates everything good and right, or at least wants to take it from you. And on it goes.

It should not be so with us, for we are the Body of Christ. As the days move along, as I endeavor to make my impersonation of a theologian all the more convincing, I have only 2 categories for theological reflection: "True/False," and "Clear/Unclear." It's not like a sports team; there is no reward for particularly intense subjective feelings about one thing or another.

I might know the snarky nickname for that other Catholic periodical I don't read, but I don't have to use it. I heard Jesus loves those people, too.

What are we doing, fretting about others? I'm not a saint yet; are you? At best, we're getting wound up about things that will perish, and at worst, we are acting against God, and our destiny.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Find A Friend

You can't possibly replace a person who loves you more than you do. Whatever it was that brought you to that person, nourish and cherish it as much as you can. Give thanks. Pray for that person. It's obviously grace which allows this friend to give more than seems possible.

I am blessed with many such friends, it seems. Whatever I could say or do would not be enough. In this way, our friends are Christ to us. Would you, or could you, run out of thanks to give Him?

And so it goes. Let the earthly joy between friends multiply, and serve as a sign of the eternal friendship to come. Amen.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent

I needed this Advent. I could feel Love waiting to burst forth, and I could not contain my hope that it would swallow up everything and everyone. But then the homily was about searching for God, and I knew that the longing would persist.

You can't replicate a Catholic Advent. You just can't. It's like winning the World Series 10 times, when we get to the Nativity. If the saints longed for God, I think I understand. And the Church makes it so easy for us. Just show up. Paying attention is even better.

The world without God is like Garden State: you find a few people you don't mind lying and dying with, until your time on this sick, sad, rock is finished. But with Immanuel...? It's no wonder why we sing.