Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's a Rich Life...Prepare for Death

I'm trying to wrap up some irritating loose ends here at work before Christmas. It's somewhat tedious and I complain about it.
Frantic behavior from my corporate overlord executives who should know better than to try to control every jot and tittle of the machinations of upper, mid-level Federal bureaucrats.
Creating needless tension and stress for false deadlines and irrelevant projects.
Some of this is my own fault and I play my part in the torrent of vanities.

I'm nearing the "who cares" point.
It will all work out fine. Quite well, actually.
Let's go home and enjoy our families and friends and forget about all of this nonsense.

In spite of ourselves though, we're still fully the best possible sense. 

Meanwhile, I have a messy desk full of papers and unopened bills...and a few Christmas presents.
I was introduced to St. Alphonsus Ligouri earlier this year.
His reminder to simply remain in constant conversation with God came as a comfort. In the end, our only calling is real friendship with God.
A good friend happened to recommend St. Ligouri's "Preparation for Death."
This will be my first reading of 2013.
Interesting that my last book of 2012, which I am just finishing now, will be Francois Mauriac's "Viper's Tangle" in which the protagonist reflects on a life squandered in disproportionate affection for material goods and accrued resentments alongside a lack of real charity towards pretty much anyone he encountered along his life.

A household full of beautiful and noisy children and a good humored and radiant wife who loves me.
Good friends who I learn so much from and who constantly surprise with their heroism and joy.
The fullness of the liturgy and Christ in the Eucharist.
Oh and plenty of good holiday cheer from people who know me well...and still love me.
It is a rich life I've been given.

"It is true that I have offended Thee more than others, because I have been favored more than others with light and grace; but the Blood Thou hast shed for me gives me courage, and proffers pardon to me if I should repent. Yes, O my Sovereign Good, I do repent with my whole soul for having insulted Thee." - St. Ligouri.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

When Discreet Faithfulness Will No Longer Suffice

Archbishop Carlo Vigano, (Papal Nuncio to the US), spoke at a forum on religious freedom and persecution at Notre Dame last month. It's pretty clear and succinct speech and definitely worth the 15 minute reading investment

In our modern culture, the prudent and the sane might sometimes experience the temptation to give a wide berth to an opposing view. There is an inclination perhaps, to attempt to live and let live, particularly in a democratic society that espouses some vague sort of pluralistic openness with room for all sorts of personal and ethical diversity.  And if someone does have to cede at some cultural or ethical impasse, let it be the one who preaches a turning of the other cheek and all that. Except that will rarely suffice for long. The State in particular, is greedy.
However, when [John] Fisher and [Thomas] More remained resolved in their fidelity to the Church’s teachings about the validity of the marriage but discreet in how they did so, the state mechanisms designed to bring them and their views around were ratcheted up so as to increase the pressure on them. When they resisted the increased pressure, statutes were enacted and amended to make non-compliance a treasonable and, therefore, a capital offense.
Cardinal Vigano demonstrates that the state is less and less satisfied with passive obedience but ultimately will demand full and active cooperation. How long will American democracy be content to allow for religion to freely express itself? Catholics are forced to pay for abortion inducing drugs. America has already ceased to allow the free expression of religion. And what exactly is religious freedom? Again, Cardinal Vigano's speech is clear and direct, "religious freedom is the exercise of fidelity to God and His Holy Church without compromise."

Without compromise.

Shakespeare's Falstaff from "Henry the Forth" seems to be the patron of the contemporary American Catholic professor or Catholic politician.
"To die is to be a counterfeit, for he is but the counterfeit of a man who hath not the life of a man; but to counterfeit dying, when a man thereby liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true and perfect image of life indeed. The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have sav'd my life."

In the end however, we know that our true patron is likely to be Sir Thomas More. 
"I am the King's good servant, but God's first."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Craftsmanship Over Capitalism

First of all, without any hyperbole, I will just say that all of the Pappy Van Winkles really are THAT good.  I didn't realize how lucky I'd been to land a bottle every Christmas the past few years. This might be a bit over the top, but to me, this bourbon expresses something wonderful, yes sublime actually, about being human. It is a gift.

Gun and Garden has a great interview with Julian Van Winkle III, who has seen the family business struggle and thrive while remaining unphased by swings in either direction. Van Winkle is currently enjoying a frenzied cult following and yet their business plan remains almost completely unchanged.
Why, with a high-volume distillery in his corner and the public in full ferment for his product, doesn’t he seize this moment to crank the stills to capacity and cash in? “Well, the quality would go down,” he says, as though this is explanation enough. “I don’t need a ton of money. I’m comfortable. Why get bigger? I mean, yeah, I guess I’d like to have a jet to fly around in, but things like that just complicate your life.”
The article also cites some of Dr. Percy's work, who I am sure would heartily approve.
God Bless America.

Just Say "No" to Political Monopoly

More Greenwald greatness in which he explains that if you are a shill for one party and get caught up in the game of wedge politics as you rant and carry on about the baddies on the other side of the aisle you essentially send the following message to "your" party.

"I'd really appreciate it if you did X, Y and Z, and strongly believe you should, but even if you don't, you should know that I'm going to be there for you and your party: cheering for you, raising money, demanding that everyone else support you, doing everything in my ability to keep you empowered."

And as it turns out, it's not your party after all. They just let you hang around to go get their beers for them but the second you object you are unwelcome nuisance.

This is just as applicable for the right as it is for the left. In fact, it is more applicable. In this recent presidential campaign Conservatives carried the water for a socially moderate, fiscally liberal North Eastern Republican in the tradition of Rockefeller and got beat by an unpopular incumbent in a down-economy during a prolonged war. Seriously. Think about that.
If ever there was a time for us to speak up it would be now.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Take a minute to pause over this one...

The boy on the right reminds me so much of my son Gabriel who is now about the same age.
I hope that all of my sons and daughters grow up to be as brave as the boy on the left.

My freshman history teacher in high school had this picture hanging up in his classroom. He explained that this was taken just as the before the Berlin Wall was constructed. The boy's family had made it across to the West. Orders were to shoot anyone who tried to cross. The soldier was subsequently removed from his post and there is no record of what became of him.

"Greater Love has no one than this: that one lay down his life." John 15:13