Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Next Thing

 We must get on to the next thing.  Right?  The world is noisy and bright and busy, and we must quickly do this so we can then do that.  Oh, and don't forget the other thing we were supposed to do before we can do this.  Such is how we are designed, it would seem, but the programming can easily be executed in a disordered way.  In fact, most of the time, most people do execute the "next thing" program in disordered ways.  Not always willfully and not always noticeably, but there it is.  

Time and tide wait for no man.  Or so proclaims the adage, attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer.  Why do we feel this as an abiding truth?  Perhaps because time has a way of making itself known to us, whether or not we have been formally introduced.  We feel time's pull in ways big and small.  Some of the most common sayings involve this very thing: "Wow, it goes by so fast;"  "Darn, this shift is dragging by;" etcetera, and on.  We feel time and so we react to it in ways sometimes good, but most times not so good.

 Virtually no one escapes the feeling that they ought to be doing something with their time.  This feeling is one hundred percent valid.  Whether believer or atheist/agnostic, people generally believe their life is a gift that should not be squandered.  Saint Francis de Sales warned, "Every moment comes to us pregnant with a command from God, only to pass on and plunge into eternity, there to remain forever what we have made of it."  From this, we can gather that we are supposed to be doing some things, and not really doing some other things.  We even have a certain, unhelpful Capital Vice which famously leads us to avoid what we ought to be doing in favor of... anything else.  For more on the not-so-delightful sin of Sloth, you can revisit this exploration from almost exactly ten years ago.

We moderns find ourselves very busy all the time.  While we are about one task, we are already thinking of the one(s) we have to get to when we're done.  Done?  We never really are done, are we?  Can any of us think of a recent time when we did not feel the pull of the next thing?  We are far too busy to be done.  Modern life has freed people from many of the necessary, but harsh physical labors of the past and replaced them with tenfold more less-harsh labors, most of which could not accurately be described as necessary.  Even so, they exist and they demand we attend to them; and we dutifully comply, often without consciously acknowledging their draining effects. 

We are chasing life, it seems, without really knowing why.  This is certainly relative and not all people chase the same things or in the same way.  Jesus warns us multiple times of the perils of worldly concerns.  An apt example is the parable of the seeds and the different results from their sowing.  He says some people are " seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Mark 4:18-19)  We have Francis de Sales's pregnant moments coming at us every second of every waking minute.  Are we chasing His commands contained in the wombs of those moments?  Or are we chasing ephemeral tasks dictated by the zeitgeist imposed on us?

The future is something we all see coming, yet never see when it arrives.  This is because that future is completely empty until we fill it.  Our respective futures are basically Schrodinger's Cat; both alive and dead as they race toward us.  A living future is something we can create and which will allow us to blend and thrive with Eternity.  A dead future is also something we can create and will send us into a different kind of eternal blend.  Being slothfully busy seems the clearest path to a dead future.  Even such an acclaimed atheist as Nietzsche seemed to grasp the basics of this concept, even if the deeper meaning may have been lost on him. “Do not be deceived!" Proclaimed Friedrich, "The busiest people harbor the greatest weariness, their restlessness is weakness--they no longer have the capacity for waiting and idleness.”

In an age of unprecedented ease and comfort, humans in general default to quiddling about; seeming to be very busy, but with things unhelpful to their true well-being.  This brings clear focus on the adage from Proverbs 16:27: "Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece."  Can this be argued?  More "free" time is more time to do... what?  People now chase the next thing with greater urgency than ever, even as the next thing becomes less and less important.  What many people do with their "idle hands" is leading them forward into an increasingly dismal eternity.

Here is a good point to insert one of the wisest sayings of all time:  “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

When a person considers their thoughts, they are more likely to also consider their actions.  Consideration of thought and action seems to be a scarce happening these days.  We don't really have time for that, do we?  We have so much to do and the next thing is waiting for the thing before it to be done.  Goodness, if people stopped to consider their thoughts and actions, how would all of those next things ever get done?  How, indeed?  Almighty God created man to be anything but idle.  Indeed, we are programmed to do The Next Thing.  The trick seems to be divining what precisely is the correct next thing. 

Human thinkers have always pondered time- for as long as humans were thinking.  The Ancient Greek pagans were certainly deeply thinking about it.  Let's take a quick look at Aristotle's take on past, present, and future:  How "thick" is the present, he wonders?  The present is just a limit between the past and the future.  This leads to a paradox: the past is something that does not exist; it has existed, but does not exist any longer.  The future is something that does not exist; it will exist, but it does not yet exist.  And the present is nothing.  So time seems to be a nothing dividing something non-existent from something non-existent.  That might take a bit to sink in; it certainly did for me.  

I have begun to wonder if the past and future should even be considered parts of "time."  When we think this way, we can begin to appreciate the true value of the "nothing" that is the Now.  That thought surely leads to the notion of how absurd it is to be always chasing the next thing, and of ruminating about the previous things.  The Bible gives us much wisdom regarding time and how to spend it.  Here is a favorite of mine from James, 4:13-17:

"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin."  

So we will be a vanished "vapor," but we are not yet that.  I'm starting to think we all should spend more of our vapor in discerning not what the next thing should be, but what the Now thing should be.  We cannot escape our programming, but we can fine-tune it.  God built us to do things; and He gave us many tools and examples to figure out what His intent is regarding those things.  We live on at His pleasure and our vaporous lives matter, most especially in the Now. 

The future is a concept we believe in and we are all certain it is coming.  We see it in everything and we pre-live it constantly in our thoughts.  Too often, we reach for it with overeager hands.  Too often, we let it dictate our Now.  C.S. Lewis wisely said, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”  To me, that means we cannot hasten (or delay) its arrival.  We can, though, use our Now, however thick it may be, to put us in the best possible position to greet the future as it morphs into the Now.

Let's close this out with two more thoughts from the mighty Mr. Emerson:

"To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom."

"One of the illusions is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday."  

See ya soon (maybe)!  God bless!


Monday, January 16, 2023

Three Tiny Crosses

   All of us Catholics do it.  Whether the veil-wearing mother with six small children or the busy guy wearing cargo shorts and a wrinkled polo; we all do it.  As the priest approaches the ambo, carrying the big book, we all know something will be expected of us in just a moment.  Something that must be important, because we have to do it.  It's like a play and we have lines.  So, we better be ready!

  After a varying degree of preparation, the priest opens the book and looks out at us, saying, "The Lord be with you."  Now it's our turn-- we got this!  "And with your spirit."  The priest continues, "A reading from the Holy Gospel, according to (MML or J)."  Back to us:  "Glory to you, Oh, Lord."  

  Now comes the "solemn and important" part.  (The part which separates us crazy Catholics from other ecumenical Christians.)  We have to do an outward gesture thing.  Just so people will know we're Catholics, right?  So, we do it: we make three tiny crosses; one on our forehead, one on our mouth, and one on our chest.  Nailed it!  We participated and now, we can return to our stupor while the priest reads and then preaches his homily.

  But why did we do that thing with the crosses?  I suppose most (many/some?) Catholics know the three signs mean something like: "In my mind, on my lips, in my heart."  Seems somewhat intuitive, even to a layperson.  With just a bit more thought, though, it becomes deeper and more profoundly important.  In fact, if you think deeply about it every time you do it, you will almost certainly not return to a stupor during the reading and preaching.

"Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart."  -Hebrews, 4: 12

  Penetrating joints and marrow... that's visceral.  That's God entering us, if we invite him.  That's why we do the thing on our head, lips, and chest.  That's us telling God, "Come in, Lord!"  He certainly sees us do this, but He also sees if we really think it and mean it.  Do we?  Every time?

  Father Josef Jungmann explains further in the "Mass of the Roman Rite:"

The original idea of this signing of oneself is probably indicated in the scriptural text frequently cited in this connection, the quotation about the wicked enemy who is anxious to take the seed of the word of God away from the hearts of hearers (Mark 4:15). . . . But another explanation takes over by degrees; an ever-increasing stress is placed on the readiness to acknowledge God’s word with courage. . . . The meaning is this: For the word which Christ brought and which is set down in this book we are willing to stand up with a mind that is open, we are ready to confess it with our mouth, and above all we are determined to safeguard it faithfully in our hearts. (CIN-Origin of the Sign of the Cross, Father Mateo, July 28, 1991)

  This tradition goes back at least 1200 years, and probably more.  Catholic tradition is a strong and vital aspect of our Faith, because we recognize that very smart and very holy people established and carried on these things we do.  Our Church is filled with traditions; many of which are tied to certain cultures (e.g., the Mexican persignarse and santiguarse - talk about showing signs!), and many of which are truly "universal."  When we dig in to see why and how certain traditions came about, their value becomes clear to us.  So, do that.  If you don't know why you are doing something, find out what it means.  What it really means.  Making the effort to know the Faith will almost certainly help you to live it more fully.

  So... are we truly "willing... ready... and determined" to do these things?  If we are, then that is a very good reason to methodically make those three tiny crosses... and mean it each and every time.

God bless!


Saturday, December 07, 2019


If we forget them, we lose the connection to THE greatest generation.  This day launched our nation, into a horror beyond imagining... and set the stage for the future of the world and American dominance.  We paid a very, very heavy price...

There are very few survivors left... think of them and pray for them.

Indifference is worse than hate.

Please do not ever forget.

God bless all who fell and all who survived.  I won't forget them.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Remember... and Pray

18 years ago...

First: it must be remembered for what it was: a horrific and vicious attack on our nation by Muslim fundamentalists.  The demonic action was born of pure hatred.  Hatred for freedom and hatred for anyone not willing to "submit" to Islam.

Now, everything has to be political... and that cheapens the memory of those who were savagely murdered on that day.  It further weakens the fabric of our country.  The terrorists get another win every time Americans surrender to political hate and divide themselves.  This is what they wanted and we are giving it to them.

Here are the gut-wrenching 9-11 numbers:

Lives lost: 2,977
NYC firefighters lost: 343
NYC police officers lost: 23
Port Authority officers lost: 37
Nations who lost a citizen: 115
Children who lost a parent: 3,051
People who lost a spouse: 1,609

The attacks have also claimed the lives of a number of people who helped clear the wreckage afterward, as cancer and other conditions caused by toxic smoke have begun to emerge.

Please... leave the politics out and just remember the act, why it happened, and most importantly, the souls lost and families devastated by it.  And pray... pray for the souls... pray for the survivors... pray for our nation... and pray for peace.

This was taken the day before:

Another before picture:

And so... please:

Monday, April 29, 2019

Two Years

29 April 2019... the two year anniversary of the passing of my dear Mother.  If you want to know about this near-perfect human, HERE is something to look at and read over.

This day has been looming over me for weeks... I've watched it steadily creeping its way closer and closer; promising to bring untold pain and gloom.  Now that it's arrived, I'm going to look it in the face and see what some honest thought can do. 

I'm probably not much different than anyone else who has lost their mom.  At least anyone who had a really good, close relationship with their mom.  For that relationship alone, anyone should feel blessed... because there are many people who either never know their mother, or who do not have anything like a good relationship with the mother they do know.

So... there's that.  

Now, why does a grown man feel so damn small and weak whenever he remembers losing his mom?  I guess for me it's because I never, really never, allowed myself to imagine that she might actually die someday.  I was horrified that it really occurred... and that is not a fully sane reaction.   Did I really think she would live forever?  (Spoiler: she will, just not the way she was.)

If I'm honest, I guess the truth is she is the person I needed... all my life.  I allowed myself to rely on her existence and came to use it as a lifeline, so to speak, to my own.  Not sure if this is explaining properly what I'm trying to convey... oh, well.

Whenever things were tough, she was there to tell the adult version of this little boy “It’s okay….”  And he always believed her—but only because she was HERE.  That, of course, is no longer the case.    

Rather than go on and on here with my pathetic attempts at explaining my sense of loss, I'll stand on the shoulders of a giant and let him help.  Here follow several excerpts from the amazing work, "A Grief Observed."

C.S. Lewis understood...

“The act of living (without her) is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”

“But her voice is still vivid. The remembered voice—that can turn me at any moment to a whimpering child.” 

“It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter. I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is that word really so difficult to learn?” 

“They say, 'The coward dies many times'; so does the beloved. Didn't the eagle find a fresh liver to tear in Prometheus every time it dined?” 

“Fate (or whatever it is) delights to produce a great capacity and then frustrate it.  Beethoven went deaf.” 

“I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process.” 

“Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.”

"People talk as if grief were just a feeling -- as if it weren't the continually renewed shock of setting out again and again on familiar roads and being brought up short by the grim frontier post that now blocks them." 

“...there is spread over everything a vague sense of wrongness, of something amiss. Like in those dreams where nothing terrible occurs—nothing that would sound even remarkable if you told it at breakfast-time—but the atmosphere, the taste, the whole thing is deadly. So with this.” 

“...for the greater the love the greater the grief, and the stronger the faith the more savagely will Satan storm its fortress.” 

“And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief. Except at my job--where the machine seems to run on much as usual--I loathe the slightest effort. Not only writing but even reading a letter is too much.” 

“I once read the sentence 'I lay awake all night with a toothache, thinking about the toothache and about lying awake.' That's true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.” 

“Nothing will shake a man-or at any rate a man like me-out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.” 

“Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he’s had his leg off is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he’ll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has ‘got over it.’ But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off. Duties too. At present, I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again.” 

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.”  

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth of falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”

“Why do I make room in my mind for such filth and nonsense? Do I hope that if feeling disguises itself as thought I shall feel less? Aren’t all these notes the senseless writhings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?"

“The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just that time when God can't give it: you are like the drowning man who can't be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.” 

“I, or any mortal at any time, may be utterly mistaken as to the situation he is really in.” 

“I know the two great commandments, and I'd better get on with them.” 

--C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Enough for this year.  The day will soon lose its power over me and I'll keep watch for the next one.  

I love you, Momma... and I miss you more ... and love you more...


Monday, April 01, 2019

Roundup - Seven Deadly Sins (aka Seven Capital Vices)

Essays on the big seven... completed at the behest of my eldest daughter.  Big hat tip to the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Links to all below, for your convenience.

First, an overview of this weird "sin" thing:


Now the big seven (and a bonus)!

PRIDE (the queen mother)

VAINGLORY (the first prince)

ANGER/WRATH (the righter of wrongs)

GLUTTONY (a plate too far)

SLOTH (the "nothing" vice)

ENVY (the vice devoid of pleasure)

LUST (the tyrant)

COVETOUSNESS (the treasure hunter)

God bless!!


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Good and Holy Priesthood

“The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.  When you see a priest, think of 
our Lord Jesus Christ.”  – Saint John Vianney

An open letter to any and all:

I want to say a few things about Catholic priests in general, and about a few specific priests I have known.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to endure all the sacrifices that come with the priesthood.  Now add to that the current climate of mistrust and hostility that has resulted from the horrific acts of some members of the priesthood.  As a police officer, I do have some inkling of what it feels like to be judged and derided for the actions of someone who shares your profession, but that really pales in comparison to what priests are dealing with today.

I would ask all good people and certainly all Catholics to put aside sweeping generalizations.  I say to be prudent in your judgment of people; trying hard to limit your judgment to actions only.  If a priest, or any person, has never shown himself to be anything but good, then judge those good actions and keep your trust alive.

Priests have more on their plates than most people could possibly fathom.  Of course there are many different assignments a priest may have, but all of them center on the most sacred center, which is representing our Lord Jesus Christ… and even acting In Persona Christi.  A Catholic priest is not an ordinary human being.  His soul is ordained to BE Christ among us as he hears our confessions and he brings our Lord literally to us when he lifts the host and chalice. When we focus on that one, all-important aspect of the priesthood, it brings into better perspective the human failings.

The overwhelming majority of priests honor their vows and sacrifices.  Celibacy vows oblige priests to be alone in many ways, but the administration of sacraments to all of us brings our priests in close intimacy with us in our most important moments.  I once read a quote on the Internet saying priests are there at our deathbeds, “straddling time and eternity with us.”  In that, the priest is our “final escort.”  What greater gift can someone give than to lead us into Jesus’s arms?

Priests witness our marriages.  Priests help our babies become children of God at baptism.  Priests raise us from sin back to Grace at confession.  When we’re sick, priests anoint us.  Priests roam hospital halls at all hours, holding hands with family and victims… always ready and willing to BE THERE for us.

Saint Francis of Assisi said of the priesthood: “If I were to meet at the same time some saint coming down from heaven and any poor little priest, I would first pay my respects to the priest and proceed to kiss his hands. I would say, ‘Ah, just a moment Saint, because this person’s hands handle the Word of Life and possess something that is more than human.’”

I’ve been blessed over my life to have met many, many amazing priests… far too numerous for me to recall and list right now.  There are two priests, however, about whom I’d like to tell a few things.

Father Peter Carota worked tirelessly for his parishes in California (St Jude’s and St Patrick’s).  This man was very special to our family.  He witnessed the sacrament of matrimony with my eldest daughter and her husband, whom he previously welcomed into the Catholic faith.  Father Peter took no prisoners, so to speak; he absolutely told it like it was, and did not ever let us forget what was really important.  Father Peter had a holy charisma about him that still boggles my mind.  A deeply humble man who never once sought self-aggrandizement, there was just something about this holy man that made people follow him.  When he took over as pastor of St Patrick’s, the small church soon was bursting at the seams with people at all the masses.  The reason for this is that people want THE Truth… and Father Peter gave us that.  He had no Deacons and no associate pastors to help him… but his energy was amazing and he looked like a force of nature as he did all of his duties, plus a hundred other things (including being the ultimate motivator on the Walk for Life).  Father Peter passed away a few years ago.  His funeral mass was packed, of course, and there was a strong mystical feel to that day and that ceremony.  I personally believe Father Peter is now enjoying the Beatific Vision.

Father Thomas Babu came to our parish at St Michael’s Reno and spent several years earning his way into all of our hearts.  I came to know Father Tom on a personal basis; ultimately counting him as a close personal friend.  I saw this priest during highs and lows (for both of us).  Father Tom conferred and witnessed sacraments for my family several times, including welcoming my second son-in-law into the Catholic faith, witnessing my second daughter’s matrimony, and baptizing my grandchildren.  He comforted me and my family in some of our most difficult times… and he did the same for many, many other parish families.  Father Tom also helped and comforted many families and people outside our parish.  He volunteered at hospitals and worked with various local agencies to bring priestly assistance to those in need.  All of this, and more, that this great man did for St Michael's, like Father Peter, he did with no deacons or associate pastors to help.  All that Father Tom did, and still does, is done out of love and a true sense of devotion, the likes of which I have rarely seen.  If a man could ever feel justifiably overwhelmed and alone, Father Tom certainly could.  But he never complains about his burden (which is greater than most people realize), instead conveying a sense of true Joy to all who encounter him.

These two amazing Catholic priests are sterling examples of truly holy servants of our Lord.  I could go on for pages with stories and examples of their piety and service… but those of you who have encountered them already know plenty.  Those of you who have not been blessed to know them still very likely have your own examples of good and faithful priests truly doing God’s work.  This is because the VAST majority of Catholic priests are good and holy men doing their very best to get all of us to heaven.

There are currently thousands of parishes without a resident pastor.  As this world continues to attack our church and our priests, please keep in mind how beautiful this vocation is, and how lucky we are to have such men to care for and shepherd us.  They literally give their entire lives to help assure our salvation, and for the Body of Christ.  We need to remember that as we go about our daily—earthly—lives... and we need to pray, consistently and fervently, for the priesthood and for all holy orders and vocations.

I close with two more quotes from Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests.

"If we had faith, we would see God hidden in the priest like a light behind glass, like wine mixed with water."

"Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption here on earth...What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods...Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest and they will end by worshiping the beasts there. The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you."

God bless y'all.

-K. Matthew Grinstead

Monday, February 11, 2019

Two Questions

It seems I've been working at this "philosophy" thing for quite a long time now.  I've certainly learned a lot of things from my reading and thinking; some of it quite good and edifying, some of it utter rubbish on which I wish I had not wasted time.

I recently had an epiphany of sorts-- that all of what I have read and thought actually boils down to two questions.  Indeed, all of humanity's philosophical efforts really do come down to two questions.  As I further ponder it, I realize this may not be an original thought; but it seems to be original to me.  At least inasmuch as the way it came into my mind.

In any case, the two questions?

1.  "Am I going to die?"

2.  "How should I live?"

If the answer to #1 is "No," then the answer to the second question is "However you like."  But if the answer is "Yes"... then we are forced to consider all the other things that will matter.  

I think this applies even to those who think there is no afterlife.  For them, it would (should) come down to living the best life possible.  So, even though I write this from a universal Christian (Catholic) viewpoint, there is truth in it for anyone and everyone.

For me, the answers to these BIG questions are very simple, but not very shallow.  So, answering the first question:

Memento mori.  

Translation: Remember that you must die.  

Yep.  Do that.  The more you remind yourself that this world is quite temporary, the better prepared you can be for what comes next, and the more you will concentrate on living in THIS moment.

                           "He who lives in the present lives in eternity."  --Ludwig Wittgenstein

As you know, time flies... and if we are not anchored in a good and proper "now," we will be swept off to the end of our lives by time's ruthless maelstrom without having lived the way we ought to have.

(Here are two previous pieces on the time thing you may find interesting, if you are of a mind:  Transitoria and Now. )

It turns out people have practiced the concept of memento mori for a long, long time.

Vita brevis breviter in brevi finietur,
Mors venit velociter quae neminem veretur,
Omnia mors perimit et nulli miseretur.
Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus.

Life is short, and shortly it will end;
Death comes quickly and respects no one,
Death destroys everything and takes pity on no one.
To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.

Ni conversus fueris et sicut puer factus
Et vitam mutaveris in meliores actus,
Intrare non poteris regnum Dei beatus.
Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus.

If you do not turn back and become like a child,
And change your life for the better,
You will not be able to enter, blessed, the Kingdom of God.
To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.

-Medieval song: Ad Mortem Festinamus (To Death we Hurry) 1399

When I do this... when I remind myself that I must die, it often feels like I've touched a hot burner; and I recoil away from the thought, even as I take stock in my physical self.  I stretch my arms, feeling the sinews and muscles flex and pull.  I take a deep breath, feeling the air come into and exit out of my lungs.  I look in the mirror, seeing the lines on my face and the skin slowly but surely wrinkling and sagging from time's inexorable influence.  It makes me want to avoid the thing altogether.

I know I am not unique in this regard... yet, somehow it just doesn't always make it easier knowing people have done it forever.  The truth is, it just plain stinks to memento mori... it really does.  Which is precisely why we must move on to the second question.  

So, answering that second question-- how should I live?  Just like this:

"Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

So, here's how it works: love God, love everyone else (yes, including those who hate and hurt you), love yourself.  Easy, right?  Hell, no... it is the farthest thing from easy.

No matter how much we know
No matter how much we have 
No matter how much we pray
No matter how much we suffer
No matter how much we rejoice
No matter how much we trust 
No matter how much we give

When we meet God, He will ask us how much love we put into those things.

-Father Goyo

So... I must live as a dying man.  A dying man who loves everyone he encounters.  A dying man who puts into every act as much love as he can.  A dying man who pushes away all the worldly things he likes and wants.  A dying man who places the welfare of others above his own. A dying man who forgives each and every bad and hurtful thing foisted upon him by others.

"Be of good cheer about death, and know this truth; that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death." --Socrates

Easy for him to say.  C'est impossible!  I cannot do this. 

Rather... I cannot do this... alone.  Matthew 19:26 shows me I don't have to try it alone.  Indeed, I shouldn't even bother trying it alone.  Philippians 4:13 (which happens to be my personalized license plate) further reinforces the truth.  

The Bible is brimming with inspired exhortations to trust God and to love others in His way.  So... easy fix, right?  Just walk with God and let Him guide my life; all the while loving everyone I encounter as would our Lord.  Everyone can do it and then we'll all be good to go, walking happily through that narrow way when our time comes.

Well... no.  We quite often have a very hard time doing what is best for us; even to the point of being drawn to the very opposite of what is best for us.  Alas, we are burdened with concupiscence and the sensitive appetite; we love the world and we love matter.  Enjoying matter is not a bad thing in itself (almost nothing is), but because we are in the world, we soon come to think (and behave as if) we are of the world.  

But we are not of the world-- unless we choose to be.  I can think of many times when I felt free of the worldly bondage... but I slipped back into it each time.  The solution, I think, is really fairly simple-- just as St Francis de Sales says of prayer: gently pull yourself back to your resolve when you drift from it. 

am going to die and so I must live to love.  There is no other way to answer the questions.

“Most people love this present life, while they ought to hold it cheap, for death is near- and why should we worship the light of this brief life?”  —St Augustine 

I strongly suggest as much lectio divina (holy reading) as you possibly can do.  Even small sessions throughout the day will help you gently pull yourself back to the correct center.  

Our Lord tells us many times how we should trust Him (Matthew chapter 6 is a VERY good lesson).  The Gospel really and truly is "Good News."  He also tells us through His servants how we should love.  In one of my very favorite passages, St Paul explains what Love in action looks like:

   Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

   Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

   Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:

   “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

   Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

-Romans 12: 9-21

Is there a better roadmap for living than this?

Please remember that we will all, every single one of us, "get through" this life... one way or another.  I'm trying very hard to choose the right way of doing it, and I wish that for everyone else on this planet.

Good luck and God bless all of you fellow pilgrims!  


Friday, December 07, 2018


If we forget them, we lose the connection to THE greatest generation.  This day launched our nation, into a horror beyond imagining... and set the stage for the future of the world and American dominance.  We paid a very, very heavy price...

There are very few survivors left... think of them and pray for them. 

Indifference is worse than hate.

Please do not ever forget.

God bless all who fell and all who survived.  I won't forget them.


Saturday, November 10, 2018


On this date in 1775, Captain Samuel Nicholas went into a bar (Tun Tavern) in Philadelphia.  He began signing up a bunch of young scrappers for a brand new "club." 

Since that day, Marines have done their thing like no other fighting force the world has ever seen.  Ever.

So many have given the last, full measure of devotion to God, Country, and Corps.  We remember all of them... and their fierce sacrifice.  We will be always faithful to the spirit that drives our Corps.

To all my brothers and sisters - past, present, future- I say:


Now... watch this!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Another Anniversary

Here we are again... September arrives and we get to relive this incomprehensible horror.

There really are no words to add.  Just say your prayers for the victims and their families... just keep in your mind and heart that we remain at war with demonic savages who will kill and destroy everyone and everything we hold dear and sacred.

Most of all...

Never.  Ever.  Forget.


Please watch this video:

God bless America - and may evil men and their evil creeds be kept from harming any more innocent people.


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