30 December 2016

Here we go again!

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.)

My theme for 2017 is "Altruism", the belief in or 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. Jesus Christ humbling Himself to die on the Cross of Salvation is the ultimate role model.

It is God's will that people who only indulge in selfish pleasure can never truly be happy. There are two reasons:
1.) If you have what you want you no longer have the "want" and as desire fades with the familiarity of possession so does contentment.
2.) A selfish desire not only leads to the satisfaction of the person with the desire but also the dissatisfaction of others.

Egoism is negative, unfulfilling, and ultimately hopeless. We need to find a way to change ourselves into altruists.

When we correct ourselves by discarding egoism and adopting altruism, everything else will be corrected, i.e., ecology, war, famine, and society at large.

We always compare ourselves to others and when we see that they have more than we do, the will to receive increases our desire and we want to be above them. That is why we take pleasure in the deficiencies of others and downgrade or berate them behind their backs.

"Rich" and "Poor" is nothing more than an idle comparison. The "poverty line" is defined as "a level of personal or family income below which a person is classified as poor by local or national standards." If everyone around me is "poor" but we have enough to eat and a place to sleep we really don't suffer from being poor until we see how the wealthy live and then we really begin to suffer from being poor. It also can work both ways as in the saying that goes: "I felt poor because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."

Beyond our basic needs for life we only feel a lack of something through our five senses when we sense that others have more than we do. As a result we are filled with envy and so the more that they have, the more that we want too until between us we devour the whole world.

At some point, some of us, the lucky ones, discover that it is the nature of God and "goodness" to give and not to receive and that the desire to give returns to us a pleasure that never ends, and thus our egoism is finally satisfied through altruism.

Why do we not see the face of God? Why is He concealed? Because if He revealed Himself there would be no altruism. People would desire Him like they desire a new house or a new car or a ticket to see a rock star in concert. Who wouldn't? He is concealed because in order for there to be free will, people must choose to seek Him out...or not. Those who value most the material world and the fulfillment of their material desires have no desire to seek Him. However, those who understand that it is better to give than to receive will choose goodness (altruism) and God over egoism and self interest every time. Think of "Doctors Without Borders", Pope Francis, Mother Theresa, and others like them. They know the secret. I want to know the secret too! Don't you?


08 December 2016

Hanukkah and Christmas Together in 2016

For all of my friends out there who may happen to be Jewish I wish you a Happy and Blessed Hanukkah season and to all of my friends who aren't Jewish here are some things that you should know about Hanukkah:

Hanukkah occurs on 25th day of Kislev, the Jewish month which is based upon the lunar calendar and begins on a different date every year. The Feast of Hanukkah (or Chanukkah), sometimes called the "Feast of Lights", lasts for eight days. This year Hanukkah coincides exactly with the Christmas holidays. It starts at sundown, Saturday, December 24th, and ends at sundown on Sunday, January 1 2017. It celebrates the victory of a group of Jews called the Maccabees, over a much larger force of Greeks led by King Antiochus over 2000 years ago. The word Hanukkah means dedication. The holiday marks how a small amount of oil lasted eight days during the re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem after it was desecrated by the Greeks. The Jewish people celebrate the holiday by lighting candles in a Hanukkah "menorah" for each of eight nights and eating foods fried in oil. Traditional Hanukkah foods include latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts). Kids often play a game involving a dreidel (a spinning top) and chocolate gelt (money). The menorah used for Hanukkah is called a Chanukiah and is supposed to represent the menorah that stood in the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago. The Chanukiah has nine branches, with eight candles and a helper candle used to light the other candles. The more traditional menorah has seven branches.

In Mexico Hanukkah is written "Januca,". The Jewish Hanukkah customs are very similar to those of Jews elsewhere except that the food may be a little different. Instead of latkes and sufganiot which are common among the Ashkenazic Jews of Russia and Eastern Europe the Sephardic Jews of Mexico tend to favor things like "buñuelos" which are fried fritters drenched in sugar syrup and also balls of corn dough with marmalade inside. Like their Jewish counterparts around the world they play the game of "dreidel" which they call "toma todo" and they call the dreidel top a "pirinola". To make their holiday really special and authentically Mexican the add a Mexican "piñata" in the shape of the dreidel top to the festivities.

There have been Jews in Mexico dating back to as early as 1521, when Hernan Cortes conquered the Aztecs, accompanied by several Jews who had temporarily "Christianized" in order to avoid the Spanish Inquisition. Many other Jews also eventually fled Spain and settled in Mexico in order to escape the Inquisition. Some of these Spanish or "Sephardic" Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism and were called "Converso" Jews, while other maintained their Jewish religious practices in secret to avoid being persecuted and they are known as "Crypto" Jews.

Few Jews migrated to Mexico after the conquest was complete and Spanish Inquisition became firmly entrenched and rigidly enforced in what was then called New Spain. Then, in the late 1800s, a number of German Jews settled in Mexico as a result of invitations from Maximilian I of Mexico, followed by a huge wave of Ashkenazic Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe. A second large wave of immigration occurred as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, leading many Sephardic Jews from Turkey, Morocco, and parts of France to flee. Finally, a wave of immigrants fled the increasing Nazi persecutions in Europe during World War II.

Today, there are about 50,000 Jews living freely in Mexico and openly practicing their ancient religion. I hope they all enjoy their Hanukkah festival. Happy Hanukkah to everyone!!!


28 November 2016

Like a Flower

Man who is born of woman
How few and harsh are his days
Like a flower he blooms and withers
The fate sinners is the rebel's reward.
Like a shadow they fade in the dark.
Remember, life is a breath.
Like a cloud fading in the sky,
Man dissolves into death.
He leaves the whole world behind him
And never comes home again.
The righteous blossom in the sunlight
And the garden is full of their seeds.
These are the wildflowers of Almighty God.
They are not the Devil's weeds.
If they are pulled up from the earth,
It doesn't stifle their mirth.
They rejoice wherever they're sent,
And praise the Lord wherever they go,
And bloom in the desert if need be.
God never betrays their innocence.
He gathers them all to His bosom.
He fills their hearts with laughter.
Cries of joy burst from their lips.
What will be the fate of their enemies?
They go down in shame to fiery flames,
And the wind blows away their memory.

04 November 2016

Tamales del Rancho

Yesterday I received a wonderful gift from my friend Luis Vera. His brother lives on a ranch and every year at the beginning of November around "El Día de Los Muertos" (The Day of the Dead) he makes a bunch of "Tamales del Rancho" and brings them to town to share with his relatives. Luis was kind enough to share some of his with me. Normally tamales are steamed but these are baked in a special oven made of stones and they are fantastically delicious. I realize that they don't look very appealing in the photo but when you heat them up and remove the corn husk they are "to die for." In the winter the farm workers would throw a couple of these into their "morral" (shoulder bag worn by farmers and shepherds to carry food or clothes). Just one of these puppies will keep you going like the energizer bunny. Needless to say, I am a happy camper.


03 November 2016

Who is and Who Ain't?

During this current presidential nomination and election cycle I am appalled by the stark political differences among people who claim to be “religious” and yet are at times almost at each others throats in dissension and disagreement even within members of the same sect or congregation. Some of this dissension, no doubt, has to do with differences in religious dogma and I must be careful not to “fall into the well of dogma” and drown in the complexity of the trivial. I also don't want to pick and choose denominations but of the three major religions that are related to the belief in one God, who are held in the bosom of Abraham, and who believe in the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, I will confine my remarks to Christianity, the sect of which I am most familiar.

While thinking about this conundrum I was trying to separate faith from dogma and I received some help from some old friends, St. Augustine, St Eusebius, St. Polycarp, and St, Irenaeus. All of these men were excellent scholars and teachers and contributed to the basic doctrine of early Christianity. Here is my attempt to explain what separates faith from dogmatic division among people. Christianity (and all spirituality) starts with a seed of faith. The seed of faith is sown in an animal body and it rises in a spiritual body. Animal bodies that partake of life are lost when they succumb to death. Through faith and the Holy Spirit of God the animal bodies of men become spiritual bodies and thus possess a perpetual life. The gifts of the Holy Spirit that we receive through our faith render us spiritual and separate us from carnal men and women.

By hearing the truth of the Gospel, and through God's grace believing it, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit in the conviction of our inheritance which is eternal life. This conviction, which is true Christianity, renders us spiritual even now while we are still living. Because of our faith, we receive a portion of the Holy Spirit which draws us like a magnet towards the honor and joy of uniting in spirit with our Creator through Jesus Christ. Subsequently, through practicing the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, our mortality is gradually swallowed up by our immortality.

Those people who possess the conviction of the Holy Spirit and who are no longer enslaved by the lusts of the flesh and who in all things walk according to the light of reason are "spiritual" because the Spirit of God dwells in them. Those who reject God's grace and His Holy Spirit and are slaves to carnal lust and lead lives contrary to reason and virtue, and who, preferring to worship their own ego without regard for the truth, are subject to the same death as any irrational animal.

There are three entities out of which the complete human being is constituted; the flesh, the soul, and the spirit. The soul is the link that unites the flesh to the spirit. When the soul identifies more with the spirit it is raised up and becomes free of the desires of the flesh. On the other hand, when the soul identifies more with the flesh it is drawn downward and becomes a slave to the flesh. These slaves to the flesh are people whom the Lord was referring to in Matthew 8:22 and Luke 9:60; "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead." They have lost their connection to the spirit and might as well be considered dead while they are yet still living. Christ died on the cross not only as a scapegoat for our sins but also to set us free from the bonds of the flesh that hold us back from a spiritual and eternal life. The blood that He shed is the bond of union between the soul and the body.

How about you, Christian, or Jew, or Muslim? All of you are people of the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses),  and you are all children of Father Abraham. Is your soul free and alive in spirit, or are you already dead but still walking? It's not too late to find out. The Spirit of the Almighty One is waiting to hear from you. If you haven't already done so it would be prudent to reach out to Him. It's like voting. A clean conscience demands that you must participate. I call on all Americans to put this election in the hands of the God in Whom we trust enough to declare it on our money.  As for Christianity, my chosen faith, Jesus says in John 13:35; “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Let every person of sincere faith come together this election season and beyond for the greater glory of God, that He may crown our good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.


23 October 2016

You Can't Go Home Again

In 1940 there was a book published called "You Can't Go Home Again" by Thomas Wolfe. He took the title from a conversation with the writer Ella Winter, who remarked to Wolfe: "Don't you know you can't go home again?" I think that many people have confirmed this for themselves, perhaps at a high school reunion or even a Thanksgiving gathering of the whole clan. The devil is always lurking in the shadows of suspicion, envy, fear, and doubt. Suspicion and doubt are part of human nature and often serve us by keeping us free of harm. That is why unscrupulous demagogues use it to prey on our fears and bend us to their will. Our Lord Jesus Christ experienced this suspicion and doubt when he went home to begin His ministry, and the demagogue was Satan himself.

The idea of religion and divinity is repugnant to many people because they want to be their own god, just like Satan. Their inflated ego and lack of humility cannot accept the thought that there is a natural law of right and wrong that one must abide by in order for society to function properly. They also do not believe in a divine law which one must follow in order to achieve enlightenment and eternal life in the hereafter. For them truth, humility, tolerance, and brotherly love are stumbling blocks. When Our Lord tried to preach this message to his own people “He was astonished at their unbelief” (Mark 6:6).

After the miracles at Cana, and at His baptism in the River Jordan where the voice from Heaven proclaimed His divinity, Jesus Christ returned to his home town of Nazareth. He arrived as the sun was setting on a Friday evening when the Jewish Sabbath began at the local synagogue, the same synagogue that Jesus had attended since he was a boy. The following morning Jesus went into the synagogue and very likely the news had already been made known to the local people and had brought the people to a high pitch of excitement and expectancy..."And Jesus came back to Galilee with the power of the Spirit upon Him" (Luke 4:14). Jesus then took His turn to read the scriptures out loud, "And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:17-19).

Jesus chose that scripture from Isaiah because it announced Him and it also declared the Jubilee. The laws of Moses provided that every fiftieth year was to be one of special forgiveness and restoration. For example, all debts were canceled and all bonded servants were given their freedom. It was a safeguard against monopolies and imbalances in the community that affected social tranquility. After Jesus read the passage from Isaiah he added, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). He realized that the people were expecting a political leader who would throw off the yoke of Roman occupation but that was not His purpose. His purpose was to redeem mankind from their sinful nature and prepare them for eternal life.

After Jesus spoke to his home town brethren they rejected him saying, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" (Mark 6:3) They found it hard to believe that the promised Messiah was only a carpenter. They didn't realize that He is of the same Being Who created the Heavens and the Earth. He told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family" (Mark 6:4). The Jewish people at that time could not conceive of the humiliation of God in the form of a man as even today many people cannot. The truth is that they are right, that a "mere man" could not be God but God could be man while still remaining God. The very nature of God is that with Him all things are possible. Christ as the Messiah is the Son of God Who shares the nature of the Father, but as the Son of Man, the Father is greater than He. Christ had been in Being with the Father from eternity, well before His human nature was formed and He had come forth from the Father to assume a human nature, and when clad in it He was at the same time divine.

The hometown crowd became so upset with Jesus that they attempted to throw him off a cliff. A short distance from the Nazareth synagogue there was a cliff that dropped down to the Plains of Esdraelon about eighty feet below. Tradition has it that there they tried to do away with him but he passed through their midst and escaped. The time for the death and resurrection of Jesus had not yet come and he had much more to do. How about you? Does He abide in you or have you rejected Him too? It is not too late to change your mind. He is knocking at the door to your heart right now. Open it and let Him in. Don't worry about going to church to seek Him, and don't put it off for tomorrow either.  I am reminded of an old quotation of a man named George Cecil that went "On the plains of hesitation lay the bones of countless millions who, when nearing victory, sat down to rest and while resting died." Please don't lie down until you have that chat with Jesus. You never know about tomorrow. It's better to be safe now than sorry later.

21 October 2016

Honorable Mention

Cursed be the work that gets honorable mention,
While necessity awaits to spring forth invention.
What we seek is a fare, a one way ticket somewhere,
But hesitation keeps us marking time where we are.
It's not right and it isn't fair, for all the scratching of my hair,
I can't seem to figure out what the devil goes where,
So what else can one do but wander around searching,
Like a man looking one way and walking another,
Who doesn't sleep deep but wakes up very slowly.
Well why to I mention this? I don't really know.
Ask my computer. It governs me, I govern it not. 
We risk our future to feed desires of social fantasy
And we give our souls short shrift and bad press.
Most decisions can be traced to vanity, food, or sex.
Our food habits go from one stoke hole to the next,
And food passes quite rapidly from the table to latrine.
We live rapidly and we die hard, sad, and often alone.
Then six others carry our carcass, to the grave.
We need to acquaint our body and soul ahead of time,
And make the proper arrangements for separation,
That when the role is called up yonder we'll be there.


16 October 2016

On Paying Taxes

This is a little story about paying your taxes. In the end you may think that it is only a fish story but I believe that it is true.

Jesus Christ had been traveling with His disciples and they came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, which was located in the area of what we now call the Golan Heights, the area captured from Syria and occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

A few days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, "Lord, it's wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I'll make three shelters as memorials; one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him."

Not long after that Jesus and his disciples arrived at a house in Capernaum, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already gone into the house when the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?" "Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak and being who He is, He already knew what had transpired. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes, from their own children or from others?" Peter answered, "From others." “Then the children are exempt," Jesus said to him.

Now you can imagine Peter standing there, puzzled about what Jesus was getting at. He didn't have a clue even though he had confessed that Jesus is the Son of God and he had witnessed the Transfiguration and heard the voice from Heaven, and on top of that, Jesus had given him the clue about the king and his children. Why should Jesus worry about paying the tax if the temple was His Father's house?

In order to show kindness and humility Jesus did not scold Peter so He said, “In order to make sure so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Peter caught the fish, found the coin and paid the tax. Peter paid it because he felt liable for it and paid it out of a sense of duty. Our Lord paid it not out of duty but out of humility. This is a lesson for all leaders, both spiritual and political. The mouth of the fish, by the way, produced the exact amount. There was no small change involved nor red tape. It was a miracle!


15 October 2016

Concupiscence vs. Christianity

Today on CNN with Erin Burnett I saw an interview with the president of a major Christian university declare that the alleged sexual conduct of a candidate for the presidency is not an issue and is separate from their ability to lead the nation. The reason that he gave was from Matthew 22:21.  Jesus said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." Yes, but for one thing, Cesar was a dictator and we have a democracy. For another thing the United States was formed with Judeo-Christian values or why else would we have “In God We Trust” printed on our money and why was the Creator mentioned by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence?

The fact is, that there is no doubt the degree of concupiscence (raw animal lust) by a presidential candidate that we have recently been exposed to is clearly at the level of sexual predation and as such is against the laws of both God and Man. The word assault does not mean that there needs to be physical contact either. It means “causing fear of bodily harm,” and there is little doubt that the victims who have emerged have been assaulted. I would counter the esteemed university president with these words from the Apostle John in 1 John 3:4-8, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” He also says, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” To elect such a person to the presidency would be like electing the devil to be the President of the United States.


12 October 2016

Aleppo and Christianity

There is no doubt that many people would be surprised to see how closely the City of Aleppo in Syria is related to Christianity. In fact, until the present conflict, Aleppo had the largest Christian population in Syria. Why? Because Aleppo, Syria is only 68 miles from the City of Antioch (Antakya), Turkey where the first Christian church for Gentiles (non-Jews) was created in 41 AD (Acts 11:21). A few years later, in 47 AD, St. Paul and St. Barnabas went there to build up the church in that region and it was from there that St. Paul began his missionary journeys. If you look on a map you will find Antakya (Turkish for Antioch) about 269 miles north of Damascus, Syria, in a little appendage of Turkey that extends down into Syria. You will find Aleppo 68 miles east of Antakya. One interesting note is that Antakya is just outside the border of what was originally the land that God promised to the Israelites and which covered two thirds of present day Syria. To me it is ironic that with all of the people around the world and especially those of the United States who proclaim to be Christians (including yours truly), there doesn't seem to be much action to help our brethren in one of the very first places where Christianity first took root.

11 October 2016

Christianity, Politics, Ethics, and Moral Behavior.

For a Christian, it is the political that serves the divine and not the divine that serves the political. There is a big difference between an "ethical" reformer and a "moral" reformer and it is doubtful whether the political even reaches the level of ethical much of the time. In the political sense freedom is understood as the elimination of tyranny. True freedom, however, is spiritual freedom from the base nature of the human condition and the triumph of intellect and reason over animal instinct and habit. Freedom is the ability to choose good over evil though prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance which are the natural virtues that promote the good. Locker room banter based upon concupiscence (animal lust) is neither moral nor ethical. It is abnormal.


29 September 2016

Presidential Debate Hype

After watching and listening to the first 2016 presidential debate I took some advice that St. Augustine, the early Christian philosopher, whispered to me in my "inner ear" from the sidelines of recollection:

There are two basic areas where disagreement can arise among the observers and witnesses to a quarrel. The first concerns the veracity of the matters in question and the second concerns the intention of the protagonists to either seek or obscure the truth. It is one thing to inquire into the origin of the truth about a matter and another thing as to the understanding of the words of the speakers and the understanding of the listeners as to whether or not a statement is true. In regard to the actual truth it is always possible for the listeners to believe the speaker and think that he or she is telling the truth even though they are not. There is also the possibility that the listeners have decided beforehand that everything that a person that they have already chosen to believe is true no matter what. Therefore, in judging the veracity of those who are engaged in a quarrel over words it is best to be charitable in extending the benefit of the doubt equally to both parties but then rigorously test all things and hold fast only to that which is good.

In a democracy it is important that a presidential debate coexist with a consensus on a set of basic elements as a precondition to reasonable diversity of opinion. Before we disagree on anything we should first be clear about what we as a people actually agree upon. If not, then the U.S. is nothing more than a set of regional fiefdoms each headed by a corporate warlord and supported by a local oligarchy. The encouragement of internecine resentments by corporate sponsored news media and the exploiting of temperamental differences that perennially divide conservatives, moderates, and radicals from one another in order to obtain greater profit, is unbridled capitalism at its worst and the work of demonic forces.

In America, this "One Nation Under God," we all have freedom to worship God and set our moral compass by His grace through the  Holy Spirit in order end the hostilities that divide us as neighbors and citizens. The demographics of America is like an equilateral triangle divided into three parts. The upper third contains the wealthy, the privileged, the highly intelligent, the good looking, and the otherwise fortunate. The bottom third are suffering from poverty, ignorance, poor health, a lack of opportunity, bad luck, and little hope. The middle third contains a hardworking but confused and disheartened people who see their dreams of a better future evaporating right before their eyes. Within each of these divisions there are sub-divisions based upon race, creed, national origin, sexual identity, chronic disease, mental disorders, broken families, and many other things too numerous to mention here. It is my fervent hope and prayer that during the next two presidential debates instead of a battle of negative wit, the candidates turn to a positive discussion and show the world that through a process of a democratic spirit and an honest search for truth, the wisdom of the God "in whom we trust" will enlighten us in deciding on a leader who will guide us and bring this diverse flock together like a good shepherd should with "with malice toward none, with charity for all." Amen.


26 September 2016

To Thee & Eternity

The essence of the world is in the flowers.
They symbolize birth, death, and rebirth
And they reveal the eternal beauty of God.
The scent of a flower is that heavenly elixir
That comforts both the body and the soul.
No wonder that humans began in a garden!
The flowers were there when we arrived,
And flowers are usually there when we leave.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow,
They neither toil nor spin, nor worry about it,
And the rose by any other name is still a rose,
Speaking all languages fluently without words.
I am always at home in a garden of flowers,
And closer, my God, to Thee, and eternity.


22 September 2016

Wake Up the Helmsman!

It wouldn't take much convincing these days to get people to agree that our current political system seems like a mess. If you ask ten different people to explain the difference between a Democrat and a Republican you may not be surprised that you receive as many different answers. When I was in grammar school we were taught that Democrats favored a strong central government and Republicans favored strong states rights in opposition to an overly powerful central government. As it was explained to us innocents (at the time) the result of this was a dynamic tension between the two parties. This, along with the checks and balances of three separate branches of government, helped the ship of state to maintain a steady course. It was like there were some invisible hands on the tiller. That all seemed quite reasonable back then but since that time the ship of state has been zigzagging quite a bit like the helmsman is asleep at the wheel.

Liberty should be connected with order and any political movements that undermine either liberty or order should be challenged at all costs. What set of rules or basic assumptions did the founding fathers use when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights? Are we still following those basic assumptions? The basis for these rules is called “ethics” and ethics is based on four natural virtues that philosophers going back to ancient times agree are common to the continuous welfare of human beings. The four cardinal or "natural" virtues that perfect the soul can be found in Plato. They are also found in the biblical book, Wisdom of Solomon, chapter 8, verse 7: “And if a man love righteousness her labors are virtues: for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude: which are such things, as men can have nothing more profitable in their life.” The Roman philosopher Cicero popularized the four virtues as such: "Virtue may be defined as a habit of mind (animi) in harmony with reason and the order of nature. It has four parts: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.”  Let's take a look at these four virtues one by one.

1.) Prudence:
Prudence is the habit of proper decision making. It is the knowledge of what to seek and what to avoid. It is the acceptance of the possibility of uncertainties or things unforeseen and making allowances for them. Prudence is more than animal instinct or habit. It is a continuous effort to see things as they really are and act accordingly. It is a responsibility to seek the truth always and make rational binary decisions rather than simply follow instinct or habit. It is knowing the difference between subjective emotion and objective fact or between inductive conjecture and deductive certainty.

2.) Justice:
Justice is giving each being or entity their due. This includes includes family, friends, community, leaders, nations, and especially our Creator. Offenses against justice include murder, injury, theft, gossip, cursing, vengeance, lies, and cheating. Justice means to be fair in relationships with others and to be grateful to benefactors. Justice requires us to be friendly and generous. If we draw undue attention to ourselves it is an offense against justice because we diminish others by enlarging our own image without justification.

3.) Fortitude:
Fortitude is a virtue that perfects the appetites of our irascible passions including fear and daring (which is an over-extension of our bravery). All acts that do not observe a definite line between being cautious and being foolhardy are contrary to fortitude. A person with the virtue of fortitude is courageous, responsible, and trustworthy and their life is marked by patience and perseverance.

4.) Temperance:
Temperance is the virtue that perfects the concupiscent desires for food, drink, and sex. It involves control over the lust for pleasures involving the five senses. Offenses against temperance are the most disgraceful because they lower us to the level of irrational beasts. These offenses involve such things as gluttony, drunkenness, seduction, rape, adultery, fornication, incest, and sodomy. Temperance includes the avoidance of even thinking about immoral or unnatural sexual relations.

A person who makes good decisions (prudence), gives everyone their due (justice), proves to be courageous(fortitude), and moderates their drive for pleasure (temperance), is a virtuous person. This is the type of person that would be ideal as a candidate for political leadership because their integrity would be beyond approach and the four natural virtues are something that we can use as a guide to see how our particular candidate measures up.

Now, for those politicians who prefer to be identified as Christians there is another set of virtues, three in number, that are the supernatural virtues. They are faith, hope, and charity. They are called "supernatural virtues" because they exceed man's natural capacities. They are also called the theological virtues. In the Catholic Church in which I grew up and in other Christian denominations we learn from the scriptures that they come by way of Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. However, these virtues are known to all religions that believe in One God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Christian Faith:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1) Faith is the belief or trust in all the teachings of Christ given to the twelve Apostles. These teachings are summarized in the Apostle's Creed.

Christian Hope:
Hope is an indication of certainty.  “Hope” in Scripture means a strong and confident expectation that our faith is correct and justified. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

Christian Charity:
Charity is the virtue of love for God, with our whole mind, our whole heart, and our whole soul, and the love of our neighbor as ourselves. Charity is sacrificing ourselves for others in the same manner that Christ sacrificed Himself for us. Charity means to humble ourselves and to have the patience to tolerate others.  Jesus said: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. The second is: Love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other command greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)

How many politicians these days follow what we (and they) learned as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts? A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. Those would all be good qualities to look for in a candidate for any public office, and that brings me to the point of why I wrote this. First of all, I wanted to record my thoughts on how I could best evaluate a candidates character objectively. Then I wanted something that I could give to others who might be helped by following a guideline of suggestions on how they might evaluate a candidate based upon some observed character traits. I looked for the answers in philosophy, theology, and the ethical and moral guidelines with which good citizens in a democracy are brought up from childhood. It may not be a perfect guide but it is a good place to start. Amen.

Steady as she goes Helmsman. Aye, aye, Captain!


16 September 2016

Politics from Hell

Feisty young millennials all in a row
Ready to challenge you blow by blow.
They are sophists all and pundits too,
Who can take either side, or leave it,
Love it, or hate it, or beat it 'til it's blue.
It depends upon what the going rate is.
There is no room for right or wrong
It is whatever it is that it needs to be,
I'll give you a clue, it's all about ratings.
Claws that scratch and eyes that flash
One glance could set the other on fire
And talking points increase the ire,
Spoken in haste and driven by greed,
Woe to the truth and woe to the target,
In any case may both be damned.
Winner take all and loser cast blame
After all, you know it's just a game,
From the very depths of Hell's belly.


02 September 2016

When it's hot you're hot!

It's hotter than hell today.
Let's sell the heat to the Devil.
Hey you Devil you. Listen up!
Hot! Hot! Hot! We got it!
Hey, hey, you, come get it!
Cheap, cheap, cheap, we sell it.
Cash, cash, cash, no credit!
All sales final! Don't bring it back!
Bring your biggest bucket Jack.
Hurry while the offer lasts and
You should have a real blast.
Roll the dice, how 'bout it, Mo.
Boxcars! You lose, you Schmoe. 
Snake eyes, better go to blazes.
Oops! I'm running out of phrases.
Okay Devil, take the hindmost,
And now just get the hell out!


23 August 2016

The Woman at the Well

Reading the Bible is one thing but studying the Bible in depth with both interest and patience is infinitely more rewarding. Even for those who might not believe that the Bible is the inspired work of the Holy Spirit it has been proven through the fields of archeology, anthropology, and historical linguistics to be a remarkably consistent record of the moral, social, and political history of both the Middle East and the West. There have been numerous theatrical and literary works, musicals, and movies based on the Bible including such stories as that of Noah and the Ark, Moses, the Nativity and the Passion of Christ, etc. However, there are many more stories of lesser scope but nevertheless interesting and informative once one digs a little deeper and fills in some of the finer details regarding local customs and related scriptures. A case in point is the Samaritan woman at the well.

After Our Lord had driven the money changers from the temple and performed miracles in Jerusalem and after He had his conversation with the Pharisee Nicodemus, we find Him in John 4:3, leaving Judea and on His way to Galilee, going there by way of Samaria. This was significant in itself because the usual route of the Jews going from Judea in the South to Galilee in the North was through Perea which was the portion of the kingdom of Herod the Great. Perea occupied the eastern side of the Jordan River valley, from about one third of the way down from the Sea of Galilee to about one third the way down the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. To go to from Jerusalem to Galilee a Jewish traveler would take a long swing to the right to detour around Samaria and avoid contact with the Samaritans. However, in John 4:4 it tells us “And it was necessary that he go through Samaria.” Why? Because the Jews and the Samaritans were of the same religious ancestral stock and therefore Jesus considered the Samaritans part of the same flock. The two groups were separated only by religious dogma about which both parties were very stubborn.

Between Judea and Galilee There is a section of land that was inhabited by a people who were formed by a combination of Jews and Assyrians who are called Samaritans. We won't delve into the details here regarding the events that formed the combination because that is a long story by itself.  In short, the Samaritans believe that their religion is the true religion of the ancient Israelites from before the Babylonian captivity of the Jews. The major disagreement between the Jews and the Samaritans is that the Samaritans claim that Mount Gerizim is the original holy place of of Israel and the Jews believe that the holy place is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. There remain some Samaritans to this day although their numbers have been greatly diminished. Mount Gerizim continues to be the center of the Samaritan religion and there are still Samaritans living in the city of Kiryat Luza near Mount Gerizim.

So, as Saint John tells us in John 4:5, Jesus came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph (of the many colored coat). Sychar was about a half mile north of the well that according to two thousand years of tradition the Patriarch Jacob had dug. Joseph's tomb is located nearby and there is little doubt that it is indeed the tomb of Joseph. The Old Testament is silent as to when or why Jacob dug this well, but Jewish, Samaritan, Christian, and Muslim traditions all associate the well with Jacob. It is one of the few biblical sites about which there is no dispute. When Jesus reached Sychar he was weary from the journey, he sat down beside the well about noon to rest while his disciples went looking for something to eat. A Samaritan woman came to the well with a jar to get some water, so Jesus asked her for some water to drink. To the woman it was obvious that He was a Jew and she was astonished that a Jew would ask a Samaritan woman for a drink for Samaritans had absolutely nothing to do with Jews and vice versa. She said to Him:

“How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”

Note that she addressed Him as “a Jew”.

Jesus said to her:

“If you knew the Gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”

The woman said to Him:

“Sir, you have nothing to draw water with and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?”

Note that this time she did not address Him as “a Jew” but as “Sir.”

Then the woman went on to say:

“Are you a greater man than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself as did his sons and his livestock.”

Note that now she refers to Jesus as a “Man.”

Then Jesus said to her:

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The Samaritan woman replied:

“Sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

At this point Jesus began to draw the truth from this woman. In the first place it was very unusual for a woman to be fetching water alone, unescorted. For another thing it was unusual that she was fetching water in the heat of the noonday sun. The women normally would go to the well in a group for the sake of modesty and security and also to avid the heat of the day. Perhaps this woman was not welcome in their company. Jesus tested her. He said to her:

“Go, call your husband and come here.”

The woman answered him:

“I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her:

“You are right in saying, 'I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands and the one that you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

She said to Jesus:

“Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where we ought to worship.”

Note that as the woman replied to Jesus she adds “Prophet” to the list of names that she had previously used, namely a “Jew”, a “Man”, and “Sir”. Furthermore, as she was using flattery by the suggestion that He is a prophet, she also tried to change the subject. Jesus understood that she was trying to divert His attention away from her sins. He said:

“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The woman said to Jesus:

“I know that the Messiah is coming, He who is called the Christ. When He comes He will tell us all things.”

Jesus replied:

“I who speak to you am He.”

Just then His disciples came back. They marveled that He had been speaking to a woman but they didn't say anything. The woman ran home and said to the townspeople:

“Come and see a man that told me my past. Can this be the Christ?”

The people ran out of the town to seek Him. In the meantime His disciples were urging Him to eat. They said to Him: “Rabbi, eat,” but Jesus told them that His food was to do the will of He who had sent Him and to accomplish His work. As a result of this encounter, many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony and they asked Jesus to stay for a few days which He did. The people told the woman:

“It is no longer because of what you told us that we believe for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the World.”

This story illustrates the progression of a soul upon the realization that Jesus Christ is Our Lord and Savior. At first Jesus was to the woman merely a “Jew”, then “Sir”, then a “Man”, then a “Prophet”, then “the Messiah”, “the Christ”, and finally, the “Savior of the World.” It also illustrates that the only thing required of a soul to begin the process of conversion to Christianity is faith in God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The Holy Spirit will guide the soul to God through Jesus Christ.

A final word. In this story there is no physical miracle, there was no curing of sickness, no making the blind to see, or the raising of the dead. The wonder that was wrought was the cleansing of sin from a repentant soul. The cross was not mentioned but the Savior was, and the Samaritan woman who was at first suspicious and doubtful was brought from being a creature of God to being a child of God. From sinner to saved, she blossomed like a rose to become one of the first evangelists.

(NoteThe idea behind this story came from both the Gospel of John and also from a wonderful book called “The Life of Christ” by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. I highly recommend his book.)

01 August 2016

A Blessed Tomorrow

The rustling leaves talk together like wise men.
They express great optimism for the future,
But we all know the future of a summer leaf.
In the autumn they will dry up and blow away.
There is no need to fuss about the future.
Enjoy today before it's your turn to fly away.
The future is in every new minute of this day.
It is best to make the most of the time in hand.
We should accept the immensity of our reality.
Everything including the unheard of is possible.
We must pray for courage to meet the strange,
The wonderful, the awful, and the inexplicable.  
Do not measure your life in relation to time only.
We should measure our lives in terms of ripening.
Some people never ripen. They live and die immature.
Only patient people can truly understand maturity.
They know that all eternity stands before them.
When we wait upon the Lord time means nothing.
The future is vast and untroubled by useless anxiety,
Like a tree planted by the water I shall not be moved.
I will wait upon the Lord forever until He shall come.
From the feelings of today and the memories of yesterday, 
The new hope and old hope we throw under our pillow. 
We live for today and dream of a blessed tomorrow.


09 July 2016

The Conversation

Aha, so here we are together, debtors and sinners before heaven,
Pursued by a hundred demons and making haste for heaven's sake,
And it's a long, long way to heaven if you don't know the way!
Don't look back, there's a scare-sinner following us right now, and
He wouldn't be following me if it weren't for a sin bait like you!
Oh yeah, well if it weren't for laziness I would be a perfect angel.
Go on downstairs, your mother is calling. Satan has come for you.
Curb your wild imagination friend, it's just the pizza delivery man.
Yup, I hear the bell ringing. That must be Pavlov with the food.
God's blessing upon the smart guy who first invented pizza!
Hey you idiot. Ain't it your turn to say something? Okay,
There is no future, there is no past, there is only this pizza,
And it goes down fast. Now shut up and eat your pizza!


05 July 2016

From the Depths of Purgatory

O Lord, allow me to speak for I am addressing Thy mercy.
May I move the ear of my humble heart closer to Thy mouth, so
That Thou can explain why weeping is such a relief when I am sad?
How does it happen that out of the many bitter things in this life,
Relief is found by moaning and groaning and weeping and sighing?
Does the sweetness of relief come from the hope that Thou hear us,
Or does the weeping help us avoid the memory of pain and suffering?
Misery is the state of every soul who counts too much on the material.
We should lift our hearts to the spiritual instead and focus on Thee.
In our pessimism we gradually become tired of living but afraid of dying,
As if death were a sad end and not a new life for those who choose Thee.
Look into my heart, O Lord, and cleanse my soul. Rescue me from
Vanity, Pride, and Avarice, or in other words, the "Human" condition.
The person who enters into joy with the Lord will need not be afraid.  
We should confess our sins to God deep within our hearts simply because,
We can do it less painfully here and now, than from the depths of purgatory.


24 June 2016

Oh, Adam.

Said the man without a navel as he bit into an apple,
"Well, I wonder what new thing I will do today".
Oh, Adam. "Quid fecisti?" (What have you done?)
"Tu coepit destruere mundi."
("You have begun to destroy the world".)
The Earth mourns for the untimely death of so many people,
For out of her came the first and out of her shall come all others.
Each and every one of her inhabitants is a fruit of Mother Earth,
And has a time and a season and a mother who will mourn us.
If we acknowledge Almighty God, and know that he is just,
In good time we shall be restored to our mothers and our fathers,
And our children will be restored to us and we to them.
While I sleep, my spirit is out roaming about,
Looking for truth and marking the borders,
Of the dim narrow path that my heart must follow.
From the feelings of today and the memories of yesterday 
The new hope and old hope we throw under our pillow, 
And dream of a tomorrow when we shall all be together.


15 June 2016

What say you?

Those who drink deeply of pride, envy, ambition, and hatred,
Will see ignorance and ugliness in everybody they look upon.
Everything looks yellow to one who has jaundiced eyes.
Love dreads to cross paths with such perverse judgment.
She shuts her modest eyes at a glimpse of the first symptom.
She questions whether or not it was only a fleeting shadow
That crossed her path, and not an actual and deliberate sin.
If love is forced to recognize sin she quickly averts her vision,
And strives to forget the willful evil act that she has witnessed.
Love is the great healer of everything that ails body and soul.
We should always be as charitable in judgment as we can,
And if our neighbor has two faces let us accept the best one.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ said, "Love your neighbor as yourself"
He did not say, "Love the neighbor that you like the best."
He said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
I say "Amen to that!" and what say you? Are you forgiven too? 


11 June 2016

How Often Dost Thou Wander

O Lord, before I had a name I belonged to Thee.
I need no other rules and regulations but Thine.
To love Thee with all my heart and my neighbor too,
Knowing that I can trust Thee unto death, and beyond.
O my God, why can't I always be looking upon Thee,
Even as Thou lookest daytime and nighttime on me?
Why do I think much of me and so little of Thee?
Oh my Soul, thine only true resting place is God,
And yet, my friend, how often dost thou wander.


07 June 2016

On Earth as it is in Heaven

My poem for today in reflection on the election:
A politician will tell you anything because they know,
That people don't believe what you tell them anyway.
In fact, they rarely even believe what you show them.
They more often believe what their friends tell them,
And they always believe what they tell themselves.
Let us pray that what we tell ourselves is true.
God's kingdom come, His will be done,
On Earth as it is in Heaven. Hallelujah!


31 May 2016

Who is the enemy?

How do we make America greater?
"E Pluribus Unum...Out of Many, One."
Or rather, "All for One and One for All."
Who is so weak that I am not weak?
Who is that strong that I am not strong?
Who is so poor that I am not also poor?
Who is that rich that I too, am not rich?
Who is so sick that I am not sick?
And who is in health that I'm not healthy?
Who is happy that I am not happy, and
Who is so sad that I grieve not with them?
No, this isn't Socialism my friends. It is the
Divine Milieu of Christian, Muslim, and Jew.
Who is the enemy? Fear, Hatred, and Contagion.


21 May 2016

Hum with the Hummers

The songs of birds make me happy.
I wonder what they are singing about.
I think I know but I'm not entirely sure.
They must be singing for the Creator.
I want to sing but don't know the song.
Maybe I should just be still and listen.  
Please Lord, send your Holy Spirit,
To teach me to sing like the birds,
Or at least hum with the hummers.
Ad Mejorem Dei Gloriam;
For the Greater Glory of God.


12 May 2016

Crying and Empty Handed

We come into the world with tiny fists as if to say "I want it all."
After a life of groping we leave this world with our palms open,
As if to say, "Look, I came with nothing and I take nothing with me."
On this side of death, those with the biggest fists get the most.
On the other side of death, my friend, I'm afraid it's a different story.
Your life is a small bit of time, with an eternity in front and behind.
We don't really live here. We are only passing through the "now."
Tonight, when you look up at the brilliant stars over your head,
Imagine that in Heaven the stars will be beneath your feet.
Can I explain to myself how I came to be in this mad world?
I will leave the same way that I entered, crying and empty handed.
I close my eyes and surrender myself to Almighty God, in the hope
That when my eyes are finally opened, I'll find myself in Heaven.


02 May 2016

You will already know

The spiritual quest plunges us into the depth of all being.
It is better to free your mind of all those negative words like
Can't, won't, didn't, impossible, sad, angry, stupid, and stinky.
Open your big mouth and let them all fly away forever.
Forget nonsensical words like mine and yours, us and them,
Race and religion, man and woman (or significantly other) and
Child and adult, youngster and oldster, smart or not smart.
As a Spirit you won't have to ask, "What am I doing here?"
You will already know.

25 April 2016

Pure and Simple

Oh for the happy hours of carefree childhood again!
There was no past and the future was far away.
The hours of endless play were an eternity.
We lived in a space where time began,
Where every empty box was a toy,
And life was pure and simple.
I would like to go home!
Please release me,
And let me go.
Thank you,


19 April 2016

Forgive my mess!

I gaze at the moon and drink its reflection.
How far in the future does my life extend?
Oh where and when does my night begin?
My soul worn down and my mind tired,
They both sit helpless in a broken vehicle.
Neither of the two knows how to fix it.
My heart is like a donkey stuck in mud,
The more that it struggles the deeper it sinks,
But wait; I see the faint glimmering of hope
Floating, floating high above me. God is good.
Oh Lord, Please don't give up on me yet,
And before we are scheduled to meet,
I beg of Thee to forgive my mess. Amen.

04 April 2016

Nothing to fear

On Resurrection Day our bodies will testify against us.
Our hands will say, "I held a lot of money, clean and unclean".
Our mouths will say, "I ate too much and talked too much."
Our feet will say, "I went where I shouldn't have gone."
And our genitals will agree, and say, "Me too!"
They will all testify that we have been hypocrites,
And our prayers are mostly just parroted words,
That will never be worth as much as our deeds.
My gaze is already upon the hill, the sunlit one.
The path to the summit grows steeper and steeper,
There is a headwind and many brambles with thorns.
Nevertheless, my Lord and Savior beckons me on.
Onward ever, backward never, everything to gain,
And with the grace of God, nothing at all to fear.


30 March 2016

Ad Mejorem Dei Gloriam

Every day in the book of life there is a bright new page.
Hey feet it's time to dance! Don't think about getting old.
Springtime is like a victorious Christ rising from the dead,
And calling forth martyred plants from their winter shrouds.
The Holy Spirit is in the gentle breeze and the warm rain,
And Mother Mary is a blue sky, resplendent in the sunshine.
Upon a watchtower I stand my post, by day and by night,
Awaiting my eventual death and my hoped for resurrection.
Someone is calling to me. "Watchman, what time of night?"
"Morning comes", I answer him, "and also the night."
"Ah how the time goes" he says, but that's not always so.
Perhaps the time stands still for us when it's our time to go.
I stop those along the way who don't heed the signs and say,
"Consider the possibility that you are going the wrong way."
And for those of you whose duty it is to warn the unwary ones,
Wake up and get out of bed. Let's go! This is a workday.
I am but another passing shadow and so are you.
Let your life's passing shadow serve our Father's will.
Every day, in every way, "Ad Mejorem Dei Gloriam."
Every day, in every way, "for the greater glory of God."


22 March 2016

Join me!

I am made from the dust of a million stars.
I am the silvery moon shining up above.
I am a wandering disciple of the Lord.
The entire world exists within me.
My eyes are the windows that let in light.
I graze with beasts and sing with the birds,
And I make my rounds with the busy bees
To carry messages among the flowers.
I carry my heavy load like the humble ant,
And swim with the fish in a sea of tranquility.
I am one with the Universe. Join me.


15 March 2016

Count on it!

How to explain God, life, and the nature of time and space?

There are some things that we already know.
But there are many more things that we do not know yet.

Imagine trying to explain the world to an infant still in the womb.

You whisper to the unborn child that the world is big,

And that it has mountains and plains and rivers and forests.

You say that there are are fields of flowers and vegetables,

And waving grain and orchards with all kinds of fruits.

That there are oceans and lakes full of fish and frogs,

And all kinds of strange creatures of the deep.
You describe animals of all sorts both wild and domestic,

And birds of the air and butterflies and bees making honey.

Don't forget spiders and snakes and those nasty mosquitoes.

What about the four seasons and snow and ice?
How do you describe a rainbow and deserts and jungles?

Don't forget night, dark but for a million stars and the moon.

Also the clear bright days except for clouds, yes, and clouds too.

You must describe people, living, loving, laughing, and crying,

And birth and death...yes, that too, the dying.
You urge the baby to leave the womb and the baby replies,

"Go away! There is no other world but the world I know.

You must be daft or else you are dreaming".
Thus it is from birth to life, the same from life to death.

You can't really explain it well until you get there,
And there is no "how" or "who" or "what" with God,
You can't define God, or picture Him or put Him in a box,

But you will know Him when you are judged.
You can count on it.


23 January 2016

Rud Hud Hooray!

In my literary wanderings I recently came across a poem named "Hudibras" written by Samuel Butler in the 1660's. The name of his poem was taken from the name of "Rud Hud Hudibras", a legendary king of the ancient Britons who came to power after a period of great turmoil and "made his country great again". Samuel Butler's poem was written as a satire on the various religious and political factions involved in the the English civil war of the mid-17th century. In general, Hudibras is directed against religious sectarianism.

The epic poem relates the story of Sir Hudibras, an English knight who values his own esteem so highly that his conceit and arrogance readily shine through to reveal a shameless self-promoter beneath. The following lines describe his religion which sounds uncannily like that of one of our current political candidates for U.S. president.

"For his Religion, it was fit
To match his learning and his wit;
'Twas Presbyterian true blue;
For he was of that stubborn crew
Of errant saints, whom all men grant
To be the true Church Militant;
Such as do build their faith upon
The holy text of pike and gun;
Decide all controversies by
Infallible artillery;
And prove their doctrine orthodox
By apostolic blows and knocks;
Call fire and sword and desolation,
A godly thorough reformation,
Which always must be carried on,
And still be doing, never done;
As if religion were intended
For nothing else but to be mended." 


15 January 2016

Cuckoo Time

Last night I watched the Republican Presidential Primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina. I must say it was an eye opener. I was expecting a lot better from these people who want to guide the United States of America into the future. It was more like a bunch of high school sophomores fighting in a schoolyard and as is usually is the case in such circumstances, the biggest bully declares himself the winner in a loud and angry voice. As South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley remarked in the Republican response to the State of the Union Speech, "During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices."

This made me think that instead of making such an ass out of itself the party might consider changing its mascot from that of the noble and dignified Elephant into a more fitting image like that of the boisterous Cuckoo. You, know, the type of bird that lays its eggs in the nests of other birds and that has a call that sounds like its name. In Greek mythology Zeus transformed himself into a cuckoo so that he could seduce Hera, a very jealous female. In modern British slang, a Cuckoo is an inexperienced slacker who full of outlandish ideas. This idea put me in mind of a story which I just can't help myself from repeating here.

Once upon a time and long ago in a far away city, there ruled a king who was both powerful and wise. And he was feared by his people for his power and loved by them for his wisdom. Now, in the heart of that city there was a deep well, whose water was cool and crystal clear, from which all the people of the city drank, even the king and his retinue, because there was no other source of clean water. One night, when everyone was asleep, a political operative of a rival king entered the city, and poured a dozen drops of strange liquid into the well, and said, “From now on, whoever drinks this water will become cuckoo.” The next morning all of the inhabitants except for the king and his right hand man drank from the well and became cuckoo, just like the hired evildoer had predicted, but they didn't realize it. They thought that the king had gone cuckoo instead of them. That day the people in the streets and in the market place did nothing but gossip with one another saying, “The king must be cuckoo. Our king and his main man have lost their reason. Now what are we going to do? We can't be ruled by a king who is cuckoo. We must get rid of the king.” That evening, the king ordered his golden chalice to be filled with water from the well. When the chalice with the water was brought to him he took a big swig, and then gave it to his right hand man to drink. And there was great rejoicing in that far away city on that day, because its king and his main man had regained their reason. Moral of the story...I haven't got one. I must be going cuckoo and I'm not even a Republican!

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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.