Charlie's Blog: 2017


St. John Vianney on the Holy Spirit

But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

My CHILDREN, how beautiful it is! The Father is our Creator, the Son is our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is our Guide. Man by himself is nothing, but with the Holy Spirit he is very great. Man is all earthly and all animal; nothing but the Holy Spirit can elevate his mind, and raise it on high. Why were the saints so detached from the earth? Because they let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit. Those who are led by the Holy Spirit have true ideas; that is the reason why so many ignorant people are wiser than the learned. When we are led by a God of strength and light, we cannot go astray.

The Holy Spirit is light and strength. He teaches us to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and between good and evil. Like glasses that magnify objects, the Holy Spirit shows us good and evil on a large scale. With the Holy Spirit we see everything in its true proportions; we see the greatness of the least actions done for God, and the greatness of the least faults. As a watchmaker with his glasses distinguishes the most minute wheels of a watch, so we, with the light of t£e Holy Spirit, distinguish all the details of our poor life. Then the smallest imperfections appear very great, the least sins inspire us with horror. That is the reason why the most Holy Virgin never sinned. The Holy Spirit made her understand the hideousness of sin; she shuddered with terror at the least fault.

Those who have the Holy Spirit cannot endure themselves, so well do they know their poor misery. The proud are those who have not the Holy Spirit. Worldly people have not the Holy Spirit, or if they have, it is only for a moment. He does not remain with them; the noise of the world drives Him away. A Christian who is led by the Holy Spirit has no difficulty in leaving the goods of this world, to run after those of Heaven; he knows the difference between them. The eyes of the world see no further than this life, as mine see no further than this wall when the church door is shut. The eyes of the Christian see deep into eternity. To the man who gives himself up to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there seems to be no world; to the world there seems to be no God. . . . We must therefore find out by whom we are led. If it is not by the Holy Spirit, we labor in vain; there is no substance nor savor in anything we do. If it is by the Holy Spirit, we taste a delicious sweetness ... it is enough to make us die of pleasure!

Those who are led by the Holy Spirit experience all sorts of happiness in themselves, while bad Christians roll themselves on thorns and flints. A soul in which the Holy Spirit dwells is never weary in the presence of God; his heart gives forth a breath of love. Without the Holy Spirit we are like the stones on the road Take in one hand a sponge full of water, and in the other a little pebble; press them equally. Nothing will come out of the pebble, but out of the sponge will come abundance of water. The sponge is the soul filled with the Holy Spirit, and the stone is the cold and hard heart which is not inhabited by the Holy Spirit.

A soul that possesses the Holy Spirit tastes such sweetness in prayer, that it finds the time always too short; it never loses the holy presence of God. Such a heart, before our good Savior in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, is a bunch of grapes under the wine press. The Holy Spirit forms thoughts and
suggests words in the hearts of the just Those who have the Holy Spirit produce nothing bad; all the fruits of the Holy Spirit are good. Without the Holy Spirit all is cold; therefore, when we feel we are losing our fervor, we must instantly make a novena to the Holy Spirit to ask for faith and love. See, when we have made a retreat or a jubilee, we are full of good desires: these good desires are the breath of the Holy Spirit, which has passed over our souls, and has renewed everything, like the warm wind which melts the ice and brings back the spring. You who are not great saints, you still have many moments when you taste the sweetness of prayer and of the presence of God: these are visits of the Holy Spirit. When we have the Holy Spirit, the heart expands -- bathes itself in divine love. A fish never complains of having too much water, neither does a good Christian ever complain of being too long with the good God. There are some people who find religion wearisome, and it is because they have not the Holy Spirit.

If the damned were asked: Why are you in Hell? they would answer: For having resisted the Holy Spirit. And if the saints were asked. Why are you in Heaven? they would answer: For having listened to the Holy Spirit. When good thoughts come into our minds, it is the Holy Spirit who is visiting us. The Holy Spirit is a power. The Holy Spirit supported St. Simeon on his column; He sustained the martyrs. Without the Holy Spirit, the martyrs would have fallen like the leaves from the trees. When the fires were lighted under them, the Holy Spirit extinguished the heat of the fire by the heat of divine love. The good God, in sending us the Holy Spirit, has treated us like a great king who should send his minister to guide one of his subjects, saying, "You will accompany this man everywhere, and you will bring him back to me safe and sound." How beautiful it is, my children, to be accompanied by the Holy Spirit! He is indeed a good Guide; and to think that there are some who will not follow Him. The Holy Spirit is like a man with a carriage and horse, who should want to take us to Paris. We should only have to say "yes," and to get into it. It is indeed an easy matter to say "yes"!. . . Well, the Holy Spirit wants to take us to Heaven; we have only to say "yes," and to let Him take us there.

The Holy Spirit is like a gardener cultivating our souls The Holy Spirit is our servant. There is a gun; well you load it, but someone must fire it and make it go off. In the same way, we have in ourselves the power of doing good. . . when the Holy Spirit gives the impulse, good works are produced. The Holy Spirit reposes in just souls like the dove in her nest. He brings out good desires in a pure soul, as the dove hatches her young ones. The Holy Spirit leads us as a mother leads by the hand her child of two years old, as a person who can see leads one who is blind.

The Sacraments which Our Lord instituted would not have saved us without the Holy Spirit. Even the death of Our Lord would have been useless to us without Him. Therefore Our Lord said to His Apostles, "It is good for you that I should go away; for if I did not go, the Consoler would not come." The descent of the Holy Spirit was required, to render fruitful that harvest of graces. It is like a grain of wheat -- you cast it into the ground; yes, but it must have sun and rain to make it grow and come into ear. We should say every morning, "O God, send me Your Spirit to teach me what I am and what You are."


SOC 17

Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others.

I have been in a crisis of doublemindedness lately. This problem of the two minds is one that has afflicted me in the past. It is not a pleasant problem to have like deciding between a BMW or a Mercedes. It is more like deciding between a moped and a Yugo.

Doublemindedness comes from a choice between two options that are virtually equal in their costs and benefits. For instance, there is the choice between cheesecake and ice cream. Both are fattening and decadent but are so totally delicious. But when one is done, there will be the longing for the other. This is the fear of regret.

My doublemindedness comes from the dilemma of being a writer. With everything I write comes the regret of what I could have done with that time. As I get older, this regret becomes more acute. No one wants to waste their time because wasting time is wasting life. On the other hand, no one wants to waste talent either. The world would be a lesser place if Mozart had opted for a career as a piano tuner.

I can either waste my talent, or I can waste my time. I don't have similar dilemmas with my musical abilities because I am not talented in that regard. I don't lie awake at night regretting giving up the guitar. I basically quit it when the fun ended. The best I can ever be in music is a dilettante.

I am a writer, and that is something I will just have to learn to live with in the same way people learn to live with a chronic disease. I just need to settle it in my mind that I put words on screens and paper. I'm going to quit with the quitting. I also need to quit being lukewarm in the pursuit of writing. I have a long list of projects I want to get done on this side of the grave.

If writing is my disease, Twitter is my addiction. Unlike previous attempts to quit, I was actually very successful this time. I noticed that I had way more time on my hands when I shut down my Twitter account. The downside was that I was left with way more boredom. Boredom is not something I have experienced in some time. I always have something to do, and I always work to exhaustion. This leads to five minutes of stop which leads to four hours of sleep. Basically, I am either awake doing something or asleep trying to recharge. Without writing or tweeting, I was stuck with large blocks of nothing to do and lots of time to do it. I didn't like it.

Twitter is an extension of writing especially when you write about religion and politics. This is why so many journalists and politicians and even the President and the Pope use the service.  I've used other social media, but they never held my attention like Twitter. As for GAB, it merely serves as a future home should Twitter decide to expunge conservatives like me. Until it reaches a critical mass, I will use it sparingly.

So, I am a hopeless writer and tweeter. The reality is that when I get frustrated in my life I want to blame those two things for my inability to get things done. They are "distractions." But when I purged those distractions, I still didn't get anything done. My problem isn't distraction. It is laziness.

I am lazy. No one says that about me because my work ethic is above average. This is merely because the average is so low these days. This is why I choose not to use comparison with others as any true measuring rod. Instead, I hold myself to an extreme standard which has always eluded me. I don't get things done that I know need to get done.

People may consider this mindset to be extreme, but I don't. Jesus worked really hard. He worked hard as a carpenter, and He worked hard when He left those tools to pursue his public ministry. How do I know this? The fact that He could fall asleep in a boat on a stormy sea indicates that He was someone with very full days that pushed Him to exhaustion.

The Gospels are full of small details like this. Jesus had an awesome work ethic. Sometimes, I feel bad that I can sit in a chair and fall out in just a few minutes. This comes from working long hours and sleeping few hours. Yet, this is how Jesus lived. No servant is above his master. When I fall asleep this way, I just remember Jesus in the boat.

My cross is exhaustion. I always talk about the lack of time, money, and energy. But I have to admit that I have all the time and money I need. With the energy thing, I remember lamenting to God that I was always tired, and I was hit with this sort of epiphany about exhaustion. It was a command to work even though I was exhausted. For instance, I like to write after a good night's sleep, yet the command was to write even in the late hours after a grueling day at work. Somehow, the labors performed while exhausted counted more than the ones I did from rest and refreshment. It reminded me of that Navy SEAL wisdom that when you feel completely done that you are only at 40% of what is in you. There is a lot of truth to that as I have done some amazing things after I had reached my quitting point and ignored it.

I think a great deal of pain and exhaustion is purely mental. This is not merely a personal speculation and madness but is the basis of the theory of the central governor. The gist of this theory is that the brain induces sensations of fatigue as a protective response to maintain homeostasis. This is why exercise always begins in pain and ends in pleasure. When you exercise, you are overriding the central governor in your brain telling you to conserve energy, avoid injury, etc. If you can push through this resistance, you will find the famous "second wind." If you are a Navy SEAL, you will find a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth wind.

The fact is that our minds almost always give out before our bodies. The human body is capable of amazing feats of endurance. You won't find anything identical to it in the animal kingdom. Consequently, I don't think you need to fear working yourself to death. You might work yourself into sleep deprivation and marital breakdown, but your body will be just fine with it.

This leads to my other epiphany. Go ahead and bite off more than you can chew. I have done this, and it wasn't pleasant. But it was awesome. This practice pushes you to places you didn't know you could go. I think God has purposely made my life hard and frustrating for this reason. So much of our prayers are focused on external conditions instead of internal reserves. As Pope Benedict XVI put it so well, "You were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness."

We always pray for our crosses to be taken from us instead of praying for the strength to carry those crosses. God is not going to answer prayers for comfort. He will always answer prayers for strength. Like a good parent, God does not spoil us. He is demanding, but He knows best.

I have this thing called my "minimalist impulse" which is a leftover of the influence of this guy. Leo's advice for living is pretty basic. Pare down everything to a few things and relentlessly focus. Then, you will succeed. So, the result of this minimalist lifestyle is that you post a few times a week on your blog, get some exercise and sleep, and learn to live in the chill zone. Basically, you should bite off less than you can chew. Does it work? Of course!

The goal of minimalism is to make life as easy as possible. It is the philosophy of quitting. It is a mix of Epicurus and Zen Buddhism. But is it Christian? Heck no. Jesus was poor, but He wasn't a minimalist. He poured Himself out in working and giving. I have always been down with living a simple life in terms of material things. This is wisdom embraced by many religious and philosophical traditions. Life is more than houses and bling. But so much minimalism is about living a simple lifestyle in order to work less and do less. This is garbage. You want to live simply in order to work more and do more. It all hinges on the fact that this working more and doing more is for the sake of God and others. Minimalism as espoused is simply selfishness on a smaller budget.

As a Catholic, I have three role models to look to in order to emulate. The first is Jesus. The second is the Virgin Mary. The third is St. Joseph. All three of them were simple. humble, hard working, and selfless. As a layman and a husband, St. Joseph is the one I look to the most. That guy was blue collar. He didn't say much. He just put his head down and did what had to be done for his family. I don't think St. Joseph would be spending his weekends working on his golf game or putting a nice coat of wax on his Corvette. The man was a worker.

There is no happiness in living for yourself. I reject the old McDonald's slogan that said that you deserve a break today. I think there is nothing wrong with taking a break, but the troubling word in the slogan is "deserve." Unfortunately, this slogan has worked its poison into other areas such that people believe they deserve a fancy new car, a trip to the Bahamas, or an adulterous fling with an exciting new lover. Sad as I am to admit it, I have heard various people tell me they deserved each of these three things.

I don't believe I deserve anything except Hell. The fact that God forgives me and still blesses me in spite of my unworthiness makes me very grateful. And when I offer up my works and sufferings to Him, they are out of gratitude. It is a duty and a privilege to make these offerings to Him.

St. Josemaria gives an illustration of a trashcan used to hold flowers. We find our beauty and purpose in holding those flowers. But we must never forget that we are still trashcans. The moment we think we are better than those flowers we delude ourselves. To be a good trashcan, we need to empty out the trash and provide for those flowers. This is sanctity. It is in forgetting ourselves that we become truly beautiful and find our greatest purpose.

That is all I have for now. I needed to prime the writing pump again, and these SOC posts always do the trick. The simple fact is that writing is my only real leisure activity. I do not hunt, fish, or play golf. I write which seems like a better hobby because it looks a lot like work. I like working.


Selections From the Diary of Saint Faustina for Divine Mercy Sunday 2017

Today the Lord said to me, ‘Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it.  Every time you go to confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul.  When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you.  I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul.  Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy.  Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust.  If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.  The torrent of grace inundate humble souls.  The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.

O Eternal Love, You command Your Sacred Image to be painted
And reveal to us the inconceivable fount of mercy,
You bless whoever approaches Your rays,
And a soul all black will turn into snow.
O sweet Jesus, it is here² You established the throne of Your mercy
To bring joy and hope to sinful man,
From Your open Heart, as from a pure fount,
Flows comfort to a repentant heart and soul.
May praise and glory for this Image
Never cease to stream from man‟s soul.
May praise and glory for this Image
Never cease to stream from man‟s soul,
May praise of God‟s mercy pour from every heart,
Now, and at every hour, and forever and ever.
                   O My God

When I look into the future, I am frightened,
But why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.
It is no longer in my power,
To change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.
O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire,
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of Your omnipotence.
And so, trusting in Your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater glory.

* * *

I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was open wide for every soul.  In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world – mercy triumphed over justice.

* * *

Everyone in the world can belong to this group. A member of this group ought to perform at least one act of mercy per day; at least one, but there can be many more, for such deeds can easily be carried out by anyone, even the very poorest. For there are three ways of performing an act of mercy: the merciful word, by forgiving, and by comforting; secondly, if you can offer no word, then pray-that too is mercy; and thirdly, deeds of mercy. And when the Last Day comes, we shall be judged from this, and on this basis we shall receive the eternal verdict.

* * *

He who knows how to forgive prepares for himself many graces from God.  As often as I look upon the cross, so often will I forgive with all my heart.

* * *

A soul does not benefit as it should from the sacrament of confession if it is not humble. Pride keeps it in darkness. The soul neither knows how, nor is it willing, to probe with precision the depths of its own misery. It puts on a mask and avoids everything that might bring it recovery.

* * *

* * *

Great love can change small things into great ones, and it is only love which lends value to our actions.  And the purer our love becomes, the less there will be within us for the flames of suffering to feed upon, and the suffering will cease to be a suffering for us; it will become a delight!  By the grace of God, I have received such a disposition of heart that I am never so happy as when I suffer for Jesus, whom I love with every beat of my heart.

* * *

Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them. O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin.

* * *

I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence...the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.

* * *

There are special Tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned.

* * *

The Lord said to me, ‘The loss of each soul plunges Me into mortal sadness.  You always console Me when you pray for sinners.  The prayer most pleasing to Me is prayer for the conversion of sinners.  Know, My daughter, that this prayer is always heard and answered.

* * *

All grace flows from mercy, and the last hour abounds with mercy for us.  Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery.  One thing alone is necessary; that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest.

* * *

When once I asked the Lord Jesus how He could tolerate so many sins and crimes and not punish them, the Lord answered me, ‘I have an eternity for punishing [these], and so I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of [sinners]. But woe to them if they do not recognize the time of My visitation.


Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 46

I hate small towns because once you've seen the cannon in the park there's nothing else to do.

The Art of Manliness is one of my favorite websites, and I recommend it highly. Yet, I must take issue with Brett McKay's recent piece on the value of church attendance. He makes good points for attending church on a weekly basis, and they act as a way for people like me who do attend on the regular to appreciate more than just the purely spiritual benefits of the practice. But I am reminded of Flannery O'Connor's infamous tale regarding someone's remark about the symbolism of the eucharist. If it is just a symbol, then to Hell with it.

When I used to be an atheist, I had an atheist friend who obviously had been raised in a Christian home and a church setting. He lost his faith, but he never lost the reassuring comfort of church. So, he became a Unitarian-Universalist and attended a U-U fellowship. This queer practice of his would become a thing in the wider freethought world with atheist churches and Alain de Botton's dreadful, Religion for Atheists.

The simple fact is that we attend church because we worship a God we actually believe exists. I know this is a stunner, but I am one of those weird people who never got the utilitarian arguments for religious practices. There may be utilitarian benefits to attending church, but there are also utilitarian benefits to sleeping in on Sunday morning. Those benefits are why even people who profess belief in God and Jesus Christ can't be bothered to get off their asses and make it to church.

I prefer the religious case for going to church versus the non-religious case. The number one benefit of going to church would be not going to Hell. I would work backwards from there to church making you a better person, making you happier, and instilling in your children the idea that you might be a moral person instead of a piece of crap human being. But, ultimately, we worship God because He exists and is worthy of our praise and exaltation.

I don't think you can be a real man without being a godly man. You can't be a godly man without going to church. And this, Gentle Reader, is the reason manliness is in such steep decline in our nation today. Men are now video game playing douchebags and a disgrace.


News comes that unemployment is now at a 17 year low. Yet, news also comes that many stores are closing and companies are doing layoffs. What is going on here? How can you have low unemployment while business is contracting? The answer is the demographic shift.

Harry Dent is the man behind this idea and observation that baby boomers will retire causing all sorts of economic upheaval, stock market crashes, and the like. Personally, I take what he says with a grain of salt. But I do believe that as baby boomers retire in massive numbers, there will be a massive vacuum in the job market, and there will not be enough millennials to fill that vacuum. The result will be low unemployment and rising wages for workers. I also predict incredible strain on pension funds, Social Security, and Medicare. Finally, cash will exit the markets as the boomers draw down their retirement funds.

I don't believe in retirement either personally or socially. That will have to be the subject of another blog post. But the bottom line is that retirement is detrimental to you on a personal level and to us all on a social level. The one upside is that it makes more job opportunities at higher pay for those of us who believe in working until you die and have a good work ethic. This was the reason Social Security was created in the first place. The downside is that we have created a geriatric welfare class that will spend 30+ years not working but living off of the work of others. That can't end well.


The saga of Julian Assange took a new turn this week when the US DOJ announced that they would try to arrest Assange and bring him to trial. Of course, this announcement is not really news since no one doubted that the US authorities would extradite him as soon as Assange got shipped to Sweden on those trumped up rape charges. This is why Assange is now a virtual prisoner in that Ecuadorean embassy.

The problem with this announcement from the DOJ is this thing we have in America called the First Amendment. Now, this amendment has been challenged but has prevailed in cases like the ones involving porn publisher Larry Flynt. Courts have ruled that the First Amendment covers filth as well as political and religious publication. The law would seem firmly on the side of Assange since the intent of the Founders in adding the First Amendment was to provide a check against governmental power. If Larry Flynt qualifies for First Amendment protection, then Julian Assange most certainly qualifies.

The arguments against Assange having First Amendment protection are threefold. The first challenges whether he is a journalist or not. Apparently, only "real" journalists qualify for First Amendment protection. How is this determined? And would such real journalists require licensing to establish their bone fides? You can see the problem there. Josef Stalin would approve of this.

The second challenge centers on Julian Assange being an Australian and not an American citizen. The First Amendment can only give rights to Americans and not foreign citizens. On this basis, illegal immigrants to the USA could be tortured, detained without trial, murdered on the street, or what have you. It is obvious that the powers that be would love to do all of these things to Julian Assange, but it creates a whole new set of problems. My personal belief is that anyone within the borders of the USA is entitled to the rights and protections afforded under the US Constitution. I suspect the feds will try and sidestep this issue entirely and send Assange to Guantanamo Bay.

The third challenge deals with how Julian Assange gets his information. The argument is that Assange is some kind of journalistic terrorist running a non-state renegade intelligence agency. As such, he is on the same level as Osama bin Laden or the Rosenbergs. But the problem is that the Rosenbergs actually got a trial. Whether it was a fair trial is debatable. As for bin Laden, he received no trial, but he would have received one had he been captured alive and delivered to the USA.

The Assange affair is quite a mess, but it hinges on one fundamental question. Should it be illegal to publish classified information? That question has not been sufficiently answered since it was raised during the Pentagon Papers episode. Daniel Ellsberg and the New York Times were never brought to trial over their publication. The answer to the question depends on the difference between espionage and journalism.

I doubt I can settle such questions in the context of this blog, and it wouldn't matter if I could. But legal clarity needs to be brought to this murkiness. I think the fate of our democratic republic depends on the answers to these questions.


If we do not fill our mind with prayer, it will fill itself with anxieties, worries, temptations, resentments, and unwelcome memories.

We are not to be without pain. Pain is Jesus suffering in us, but we are to look to Him for strength and courage. We are to learn this ability to shoulder our cross by gazing at Him and being gentle and humble in heart.

The moment we have a fixed heart we have a free hand.

Competition does a much more effective job than government at protecting consumers.

The Lord’s triumph, on the day of the Resurrection, is final. Where are the soldiers the rulers posted there? Where are the seals that were fixed to the stone of the tomb? Where are those who condemned the Master? Where are those who crucified Jesus? He is victorious, and faced with his victory those poor wretches have all taken flight. Be filled with hope: Jesus Christ is always victorious.

We shall steer safely through every storm so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God.


--Those McDonald's employees that aided in getting the Facebook Killer are true heroes in my book.

--Aaron Hernandez chose the life of a thug. Playing in the NFL only showed that this choice was entirely voluntary and not thrust upon him. His suicide makes people think he was filled with despair. I think he did it as his last act of defiance on earth. I'll wait for his suicide notes to become public to see if he was remorseful or defiant. Either way, I believe suicide is a one way ticket to Hell. I will not presume on anyone's fate, and I hold out hope for everyone. But I don't see how you can die in a state of grace hanging from a bedsheet in a cell.

--I never liked Bill O'Reilly. As for Fox News, if they stay conservative, they will do fine. But I suspect they will become another MSNBC.

--Mark Levin is my favorite pundit. Way better than O'Reilly or Rush or Hannity.

--Ann Coulter at Berkeley shows how close we are to letting the left wing mob violence determine who has rights in this country and who doesn't. Call out the National Guard.

--The fear of death is fundamentally the fear of judgment.

--Zuckerberg should kill Facebook Live before it kills Facebook. Of course, Facebook deserves to die, but it should be the slow death of irrelevance.



The Easter Poem of Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatas

 And they said one to the other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he spoke in this way, and opened to us the scriptures?

The seasons blush varied with the flowery, fair weather, and the gate of the pole lies open with greater light.

His path in the heaven raises the fire-breathing sun higher, who goes forth on his course, and enters the waters of the ocean.

Armed with rays traversing the liquid elements, in this brief night he stretches out the day in a circle.

The brilliant firmament puts forth its clear countenance, and the bright stars show their joy.

The fruitful earth pours forth its gifts with varied increase, when the year has well returned its vernal riches.

Soft beds of violets paint the purple plain; the meadows are green with plants, and the plant shines with its leaves.

By degrees gleaming brightness of the flowers comes forth; all the herbs smile with their blossoms.

The seed being deposited, the corn springs up far and wide in the fields, promising to be able to overcome the hunger of the husbandman.

Having deserted its stem, the vine-shoot bewails its joys; the vine gives water only from the source from which it is wont to give wine.

The swelling bud, rising with tender down from the back of its mother, prepares its bosom for bringing forth.

Its foliage having been torn off in the wintry season, the verdant grove now renews its leafy shelter.

Mingled together, the willow, the fir, the hazel, the osier, the elm, the maple, the walnut, each tree applauds, delightful with its leaves.

Hence the bee, about to construct its comb, leaving the hive, humming over the flowers, carries off honey with its leg.

The bird which, having closed its song, was dumb, sluggish with the wintry cold, returns to its strains.

Hence Philomela attunes her notes with her own instruments, and the air becomes sweeter with the re-echoed melody.

Behold, the favour of the reviving world bears witness that all gifts have returned together with its Lord.

For in honour of Christ rising triumphant after His descent to the gloomy Tartarus, the grove on every side with its leaves expresses approval, the plants with their flowers express approval.

The light, the heaven, the fields, and the sea duly praise the God ascending above the stars, having crushed the laws of hell.

Behold, He who was crucified reigns as God over all things, and all created objects offer prayer to their Creator.

Hail, festive day, to be reverenced throughout the world, on which God has conquered hell, and gains the stars!

The changes of the year and of the months, the bounteous light of the days, the splendour of the hours, all things with voice applaud.

Hence, in honour of you, the wood with its foliage applauds; hence the vine, with its silent shoot, gives thanks.

Hence the thickets now resound with the whisper of birds; amidst these the sparrow sings with exuberant love.

O Christ, Thou Saviour of the world, merciful Creator and Redeemer, the only offspring from the Godhead of the Father, flowing in an indescribable manner from the heart of Thy Parent, Thou self-existing Word, and powerful from the mouth of Thy Father, equal to Him, of one mind with Him, His fellow, coeval with the Father, from whom at first the world derived its origin!

Thou dost suspend the firmament, Thou heapest together the soil, Thou dost pour forth the seas, by whose government all things which are fixed in their places flourish.

Who seeing that the human race was plunged in the depth of misery, that Thou mightest rescue man, didst Thyself also become man: nor wert Thou willing only to be born with a body, but Thou becamest flesh, which endured to be born and to die.

Thou dost undergo funeral obsequies, Thyself the author of life and framer of the world, Thou dost enter the path of death, in giving the aid of salvation.

The gloomy chains of the infernal law yielded, and chaos feared to be pressed by the presence of the light.

Darkness perishes, put to flight by the brightness of Christ; the think pall of eternal night falls.

But restore the promised pledge, I pray Thee, O power benign!

The third day has returned; arise, my buried One; it is not becoming that Thy limbs should lie in the lowly sepulchre, nor that worthless stones should press that which is the ransom of the world.

It is unworthy that a stone should shut in with a confining rock, and cover Him in whose fist all things are enclosed.

Take away the linen clothes, I pray; leave the napkins in the tomb: Thou art sufficient for us, and without Thee there is nothing.

Release the chained shades of the infernal prison, and recall to the upper regions whatever sinks to the lowest depths.

Give back Thy face, that the world may see the light; give back the day which flees from us at Thy death.

But returning, O holy conqueror! Thou didst altogether fill the heaven! Tartarus lies depressed, nor retains its rights.

The ruler of the lower regions, insatiably opening his hollow jaws, who has always been a spoiler, becomes a prey to Thee.

Thou rescuest an innumerable people from the prison of death, and they follow in freedom to the place whither their leader approaches.

The fierce monster in alarm vomits forth the multitude whom he had swallowed up, and the Lamb withdraws the sheep from the jaw of the wolf.

Hence re-seeking the tomb from the lower regions, having resumed Thy flesh, as a warrior Thou carriest back ample trophies to the heavens.

Those whom chaos held in punishment he has now restored; and those whom death might seek, a new life holds, Oh, sacred King, behold a great part of Thy triumph shines forth, when the sacred layer blesses pure souls!

A host, clad in white, come forth from the bright waves, and cleanse their old fault in a new stream.

The white garment also designates bright souls, and the shepherd has enjoyments from the snow-white flock.

The priest Felix is added sharing in this reward, who wishes to give double talents to his Lord.

Drawing those who wander in Gentile error to better things, that a beast of prey may not carry them away,

He guards the fold of God.

Those whom guilty Eve had before infected, He now restores, fed with abundant milk at the bosom of the Church.

By cultivating rustic hearts with mild conversations, a crop is produced from a briar by the bounty of Felix.

The Saxon, a fierce nation, living as it were after the manner of wild beasts, when you, O sacred One! apply a remedy, the beast of prey resembles the sheep.

About to remain with you through an age with the return of a hundred-fold, you fill the barns with the produce of an abundant harvest.

May this people, free from stain, be strengthened in your arms, and may you bear to the stars a pure pledge to God.

May one crown be bestowed on you from on high gained from yourself, may another flourish gained from your people.


Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 45

Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.


United Airlines had a guy manhandled off of a plane this week because they overbooked the flight. Naturally, this manhandling became a viral sensation on the internet. United's stock has tanked. Smart move, United.

This would be a nothing story that merely excited people for a news cycle, but I cite it as evidence of a disturbing trend in our society today. This trend is the death of customer service. It ain't what it used to be, folks.

Once upon a time, the customer was king. I remember as an employee hearing that infamous line, "The customer is always right." What did that mean? Basically, it meant that your business is nothing without your customers. Ultimately, your business exists to satisfy customer wants and needs. Customers don't exist to satisfy your wants and needs. And if the customer is wrong, that person will not be your customer anymore. And if all your customers are wrong, you won't have a business anymore.

This mindset does not prevail in the marketplace anymore. Businesses don't give a damn about customers anymore. I can't pinpoint when this change began, but I noticed the shift during the bailout years of the Obama administration. It began with the banks, and it has metastasized from there. Today, this is the epitome of customer service in America:

This is a Walmart self checkout machine. This is a device that I swore that I would never use. But then, I got tired of waiting in the long line at one of the two checkouts with live human beings. I caved in and now use the self checkout on a regular basis. Walmart has tricked me and others like me into doing free work for them. And if I don't like it, I can just suck on it.

I am willing to do things like bag my own groceries or wrangle my own carts like you have to do at Aldi. This is because I know this helps make their prices so low. But even Aldi has live human beings checking you out. As for Walmart, this self checkout relies to a great extent on the honor system as such a thing can easily be tricked. Walmart would rather eat the loss on a few pilfered items.

The death of customer service could be blamed on the increasing costs of labor such as those caused by Obamacare and minimum wage hikes. Or, it could be blamed on simple corporate greed. But I don't think those are the true reasons at all. Once you can get a bailout from Uncle Sam, it doesn't matter what your customers think anymore. One way or another, you're going to get their money.

There really is no downside to treating customers like crap. Sure, your stock may tank, but the CEO and his cronies will get their golden parachutes even if the business fails. As for taxpayer bailouts, you merely need to bribe one of the many crooked politicians in Washington, and it will be fine.

As it stands, it is a race to the bottom by banks and businesses to see how badly they can treat customers and still retain their business. We are now at the point where a paying customer can be manhandled and thrown off of a flight that he obviously had to make. And no one questions the practice of overbooking which amounts to selling something that does not exist. When capitalism is divorced from Christian values, this is what it looks like. Customers now exist for the benefit of businesses.


Donald Trump has now betrayed his loyal supporters. I was not a loyal supporter, so I feel no betrayal. I think the man is slime, and I wish we had a real president instead of this clown. But he ain't Hillary! That's all he had to do to get my vote. If he resigned tomorrow and let Pence take over, I would be a happy guy. Until then, I keep defensive pessimism in the driver's seat.

I am actually happy with Trump as he makes a decided turn to the right. His policies and actions on Syria are correct. Ronald Reagan would have done what Trump has done. Trump is displaying strength towards North Korea. Then, there is the MOTHER OF ALL BOMBS dropped on ISIS in Afghanistan. That was a thing of beauty. Peace through strength.

On the domestic side, Trump appears to be stepping away from the mercantilist trade war rhetoric with China. He has not converted to being a robust free market guy, but there is a glimmer of hope here. We will see where he goes with this.

Trump is in trouble in one glaring area. This would be the alt-right. Trump is giving the cold shoulder to Steve Bannon. I don't think Bannon has much longer to remain in the Trump administration. When he leaves, I expect Steve to enact revenge upon Trump by way of Breitbart. This is where Trump is likely to pay the price for courting these people. If Trump remains a one term president as he suggested, this won't matter. But if he hopes to be re-elected, I don't see how he will be able to do it without these people. There is also the threat of the damaging information the Bannonites could release in the interim. Betrayal carries consequences.

The alt-right are essentially neo-fascist. They are a motley crew, but they are united in their belief in nationalism and America First! They are less Hitler and more Mussolini. I need to remind the Gentle Reader that it is possible to be a fascist while not being a Nazi. This doesn't make it less problematic.

Where the alt-right differs from classical fascism is an aversion to neocon foreign policy. I think neocons are classical fascists in this regard. Where neocons favor imperialism, the alt-right favors isolationism. The Trump administration is now a battleground over this philosophical difference between nationalism and globalism. The alt-right is now losing this battle, and they know it. It is slipping away from them.

The real villains in the new Trump administration are Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. These two are neither right, alt-right, neocon, fascist, or any of that. They are something much worse. They are Democrats.

Trump has a soft spot for family. Otherwise, these two would be persona non grata in any Republican administration. As it stands, they are stealth liberals. I think Ivanka is totally pro-choice on abortion due to her secret meetings with Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards. Both have supported Democrats in the past. These two are not good.

I am no fan of either Bannon or Kushner. But I'd rather have Bannon around than Kushner. But Kushner is family while Bannon isn't. And that, Gentle Reader, is why Trump will inevitably betray us all. The man has no bedrock of principles.

I tend to divide the world into two classes of people. You have those who are loyal to principle, and you have those who are loyal to people. Ted Cruz would be one of those people who are loyal to principle. Naturally, people hate his guts for this because most people are without principle. As for Trump, he is loyal to people. Of course, this is contingent upon them being loyal and beneficial to him. Trump has already shown a proclivity to dispose of people who don't serve his agenda, his popularity ratings. or whatever. To say that Trump is a fair weather friend is to put it mildly.

I know Trump because I have a family member who has the same type of personality as Trump. I don't like people who have this personality defect. These are the types of people who swear undying devotion to a spouse until she gets in a car wreck that costs her a limb. Disfigured and a liability, sweetie pie gets tossed, and the story about her gets rewritten in the mind of the deluded narcissist. And if they are really clever, they can convince sweetie pie that it was her fault, and she becomes grateful for the crumbs that fell from Mr. Fantastic's table.

Sad to say, Fareed Zakaria tells the absolute truth about Donald Trump. The man is full of it. A man who cannot be honest with others or himself is a man who can never learn from his mistakes. Every so often, Trump shows a bit of humility. But it doesn't last long. He is utterly lacking in self-awareness.

Where does that put conservatives? Ironically, it puts us in a rare position of strength. Conservatives know the truth about Trump. His behavior is unsurprising to them. They were never beguiled by the man or bought any of his BS. Guided by principle, they either support or oppose Trump depending on the issue. Donald Trump is an orange haired clown to them. This leaves Trump with two options. He can vilify them and insult them like he did with Ted Cruz in the campaign. Or, he can work with them. As it stands, Trump represents the one thing that conservatives have never had before--a useful idiot.


I am neither a smoker nor a vaper. With that said, I support the use of e-cigarettes and vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. I think those vaping products are awesome things, and I encourage all smokers to make the switch.

The evidence is still inconclusive on vaping, but I have spoken to people who have switched to these products who report feeling better, being able to breathe better, and being able to taste food again while not having nicotine withdrawal leading to a relapse back into smoking.

The simple fact is that nicotine isn't the killer in tobacco. It is the tar. Vaping separates nicotine from that tar which can only make it safer. The only danger from these things seems to be exploding lithium ion batteries. But this is a problem for smartphones and laptops as well. Yet, there are those who would try and ride the battery issue towards a complete ban of these products.

The real danger of vaping is to the financial profits of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. Both profit from addiction to cigarettes, so they naturally want the FDA to come in and help them out by eliminating the competition from these innovative products. Naturally, the FDA belongs in the hip pocket of these industries and will cave to them unless the vaping industry bans together to protect themselves from this tyranny by regulation.

I would love to abolish the FDA. They aren't about safety at all. They would prefer that you die from smoking as opposed to living longer and healthier with vaping. This is a sad day when an agency created for the sake of public health actively undermines it and becomes a promoter of disease and death.

4. Q & A

Q: Do you have any vices?

A: This question came up the other day with a coworker as we were joking about people's vices. Then, it struck me that I had no vices. I don't use drugs and never have. I have never smoked marijuana. I don't gamble, cheat on my wife, or look at pornography. I don't even eat meat. I have three beers per week which is the closest thing to a vice that I have. There is that Twitter addiction I am fighting, but social media is not considered a traditional vice. Needless to say, I have quit that, too.

Why am I free of vices? It isn't as a consequence of willpower. The simple fact is that I used to have vices. Vices are comforts to us. When life becomes stressful or depressing, you can always light up a cigar or enjoy a nice glass of scotch. If these things don't do the trick, you can do a John Belushi speedball and hope to survive. For me, I pray now.

Prayer does the trick. Whenever I feel bad, I pray. The rosary is especially helpful, and I clutch those beads the same way a smoker holds on to his lit cigarette. Because of this "religious addiction," my real addictions have vanished from my life. It all confirms my hunch that people become addicted to things more from spiritual reasons than anything else.

One of the things that most impresses me about Jesus from my readings is how He prayed. He took time out to pray. It is the only time that He seemed selfish. Of course, Jesus was not selfish, but this was the one thing He had to do for Himself. He had to spend time with God the Father. God had to be with God.

I read a lot of self-improvement blogs but none of them tell you to pray. I like the other advice about time management, diet, and exercise. But nobody tells you to pray or go to church. Yet, prayer, confession, spiritual reading, and Mass attendance are the things that have made the greatest impact in my life.

Should you give it a try? Absolutely.


Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.

There are only two ways of telling the complete truth--anonymously and posthumously.

No one is ever holy without suffering.

Jews wait for the Lord, Protestants sing hymns to him, Catholics say mass and eat him.


--Charlie Murphy was the second funniest guy on Chappelle's Show after Dave Chappelle himself. His passing saddens me. He was not a joke teller so much as a storyteller, and his stories absolutely killed. His death is a real loss to the world. May he rest in God's peace.

--I would support the dissolution of the Society of Jesus. Pope Clement XIV did the right thing when he suppressed the Jesuits. He was just a bit early on that one.

--A friend lost his Android smartphone. The good news is that Android lets you remotely delete your information turning the phone into a brick. I recommended he get a flip phone. You don't lose a flip phone because it fits in your pocket like your wallet.

--The Dodge Demon is a pointless thing. Those 840 horses still have to obey the speed limit.


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Catholic Enablers of Islam

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Finding Divine Intimacy

Is Anyone Catholic Anymore?

Why No Civility Is Possible Today

How To Be Politically Incorrect and Prosper

Here’s What You Could Do With Your Life If You Acted On Your Social Media Fatigue

The Flaw in the Benedict Option

Steve Bannon Dismisses Austrian Economics

If It’s Hard To Imagine A Day Without Your Phone, That’s A Good Reason To Try It


The one question you shouldn’t ask a childless couple

The Least Diverse Place in America


Bob Harper Quits Vegan, Suffers Heart Attack

Bob Harper Calls Out Hateful Vegans On His Instagram


When Jared Wins

If Trump Fired Bannon, Would He Seek Revenge?

Catholic Virtual Tour of Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna

How Did Jesus Pay the Debt for All Sins?

Good Friday: The Meaning of the Cross


Trump’s Retreat From Populism


Mr. President, Follow in the Footsteps of Reagan, Not Bush


Life Is Suffering

For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.

I write this on Good Friday of 2017, and it is my reflection not only on the passion of Christ but the nature of life itself. I have been on both sides of it. I was a Christian who lost his faith and embraced atheism. Then through the intercession of our Lady and my wife, I came back from that living death to the new life I live now as a Roman Catholic. In my journey, one thing remained with me. It was and remains the Unchanging Fact. Life is suffering.

All of the world's schemes, philosophies, and all the rest are vain attempts to escape the Unchanging Fact. There are those who have gotten the raw deal in life. Perhaps they were born in poverty or were cursed with some crippling or disfiguring disease. They never got the breaks in life. Life broke them instead. These are the poor in spirit.

The rich in spirit are those who got the breaks in life. They were born into wealth and comfort. They went on to success, fame, and the rest. Then, they discovered how disappointing and empty life can be. So, they destroyed themselves in loveless relationships, alcohol, drugs, and the rest. Then, there are those who look perfect on the outside, but their home lives are a wreck. I've lived long enough to conclude that comfort is the shortest path to madness. If you doubt this, witness all those celebrity meltdowns.

Material affluence often leads to spiritual bankruptcy, and there are those who are poor who would love to run the risk of that spiritual bankruptcy. They commit the sin of envy not realizing what they covet. As James 4:3 puts it, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." God will never answer a prayer to be made spiritually bankrupt.

As I meditated during the Stations of the Cross today, I thought about a lesser message of the cross. The greater message is obviously about the Atonement and Christ's love and reconciliation. But the lesser message has to do with Christ's admonition to take up our own cross and follow Him. Why should we do this? Why should we also embark on our own personal via dolorosa? The answer is twofold.

The first part of the answer is the fact that you are on the path of suffering regardless of what you do. I rejected faith in Christ because I lived under the delusion that perhaps life had something to offer. After a decade of this, I realized that it didn't. You can either suffer with Christ or suffer without Christ. Christ endeavors to disabuse us of the notion that life has much to offer.

The second part of the answer is that by choosing Christ you are choosing life. This is that abundant life Christ spoke about. This should not be confused with the heretical gospel of the prospetarians who believe that Jesus suffered and died, so you could get a Mercedes-Benz. This is that abundant life where you become dead to the world but alive in Christ as St. Paul references again and again. I call this mindset "holy indifference."

I have suffered much in this life, yet I don't consider myself to have suffered as much as the saints, martyrs, the apostles, and Christ Himself. Yet, my own experience confirms what they teach. Life has nothing to offer us. Life does not satisfy. Life is suffering.

The best life has to offer is a momentary delusion and the amnesia about our own fates. We act as if death will happen to others but not to us. In the meantime, we suffer. What compounds the suffering is that it is meaningless. But with Christ, it has meaning.

This is the heroic virtue of Jesus Christ. He took His own poverty, His own suffering, and His very death and turned it into a gift to God the Father on behalf of us. And we also are given the opportunity to turn our own miserable lives into a similar offering. In that embrace of our own sufferings and crosses, we find meaning, purpose, and life. You can die for nothing, or you can die for something. No matter what, we all die.

I have often wondered why God allowed me to go through all the things I did, but I see the blessing in it all now. God was bankrupting me in order to offer me the true riches He had to offer. As a Protestant and a Calvinist, I accepted suffering, but I saw no value in it. It was pointless and stupid.  Then, I fell away into atheism which was also suffering that was pointless and stupid. Then, I encountered Catholicism, and I was told that my suffering could have value and purpose. For some reason, that resonated with me.

I don't always get answers to my prayers. Like Paul, I am left with my thorns. But I know that these thorns are for my ultimate good. I am grateful for my suffering, and I see the gifts in my afflictions. It is a poor father who provides a comfortable life to his children causing them to become spoiled and soft. They only love their father for what he gives them and not for who he is.

God is no sugar daddy. With Christ's work on the cross, the penalty for sin has been removed, and the path to salvation has been opened. Yet, we are still left with suffering. God expects us to share in both the glory of Christ and also the suffering of Christ. He could suspend this order of things in an instant, but He does not.

Anyone could embrace a savior that takes away the pain. It is another thing to embrace a savior who expects us to suffer and offer that suffering up. People don't want the suffering Messiah. I think this is why Judas Iscariot did what he did. He signed up for the glorious Messiah that would defeat the Romans and bring glory to Judea in conquest and prosperity. This was the notion in the minds of the other apostles as well. They didn't get it.

People want a Messiah who will transform them and their lives and the meaning of life itself. Jesus actually delivers on all these counts. Yet, we are so blind and stupid that we just don't see it. People just want the Mercedes-Benz. They don't want the birthright. They want the bowl of lentils.

To appreciate what Christ has to offer, I think it helps to be driven to the absolute edge of suicide and despair. You have to become utterly sick of this world and this life. In the blackness of that sickness and emptiness, Christ can shine a light, and you can see it. It is easy to turn your back on that darkness and leave it behind.

I have Christ in my life. This is what matters to me. I don't have a Plan B for this life. I had one before, and God let me take it. And I found that it was not for me. There is only Christ. Nothing else than Christ will ever satisfy me. Nothing else can make me happy.

Life will always be suffering. That can be endured. What cannot be endured is suffering without meaning. Christ gives meaning to my suffering and to my life. I offer that life to Him. Without Him, I would have no life. And when I lose this life, I hope it will be given back to me in the Resurrection.