Faces from Today in the Past and Freedom

My Son as the Wonderboy Lieutenant Colonel

My Son as the Wonderboy Lieutenant Colonel

    As a college student I really enjoyed my history assignments.  Being a photo guy, I of course dug deeply into my pictures, maps and diagrams.  In my senior year at West Point I watched my company pass in review on parade on my first personally acquired camera.  When I printed the photos I found myself looking at a present day image, which could be from the relatively distant past if were not for some modern building in the background. 

   I was soon looking at every historical image differently.  Every image of a battle, congressional debate, city street, factory or farm had me replacing the face of yesteryear with one of ours.  We could be those past people,  if it was not for an accident of historical timing.  This made me appreciate photography even more, and my own place in history.

    The event also made me remember a quote I heard from President Ronald Reagan a few years earlier:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

(From the Quotations Page)

    While our DNA will allow us to recreate moments as actors from the past with ease, certain important lessons such as the American concept of freedom only will be passed on and lived with through deliberate efforts.  Putting myself into the shoes of soldiers, statesmen, explorers, industrialists, farmers and my forefathers getting off the boat only made this lesson easier to understand.

-ehw

  

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The Cross and St. Joseph

Every morning I can stay home St. Joseph blesses me with a cup of Joe...

Every morning I can stay home St. Joseph blesses me with a cup of Joe…

     What can you learn from a man who says nothing in the entire Bible?  It turns out we can learn a great deal from his silent example and the symbols of his biblical and tradition based stories handed down from the Patriarchs.  For this reason he is a patron saint of my family and our little Blue Knight Evangelization club.

    St. Joseph was a carpenter, and it is this trade he passed down to his son.  Working with wood is one of the oldest traditions of mankind.  In the Garden of Eden we began this tradition of working with wood through the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.  Working with first gave us the fruit of unity with God, and the later one’s fruit planted inside us the seeds of pride to create our fallen world.

    The Tree of Life required no pruning or sacrifice to care for it or provide for our souls.  Once the world fell though, God needed to send his son to set things aright.  The job required Jesus to use the materials, tools and symbols we humans could grasp.  As partakers of the Tree of Knowledge we humans always look for God to symbolize rewards for good behavior by showing us the “land of milk and honey.” Overturning our fall from grace could not however come without sacrifice and correcting the pride from the fruits of Knowledge.

    So enter into this story a carpenter.  A man who sizes up a tree, cuts it down, cures it, and then crafts it with man made tools to provide necessities of life.  A carpenter will build tools, homes, carts, and hundreds of other items to ease our daily burdens to give us a better life.  Yes the carpenter kills a tree to provide us a better life.  It is the way of things in a fallen world.

    It was the carpenter St. Joseph who provided Jesus with the earthly skills and tool set to make the very cross he will carry to Calgary.  In the Jewish tradition it would be St. Joseph who introduced Jesus to earthly scripture (remember Jesus was there when they wrote it in the Trinity), apprenticed Jesus, brought up in the knowledge of Jewish ritual, taught Jesus the culture of the world he lived in when they went to market or met customers, and ensured Jesus had a sound domestic church with his wife Mary .  St. Joseph was responsible for introducing Christ to the complete earthly tool set needed to communicate with the world the message of salvation. 

    Being the faithful and obedient son, Christ learned his lessons well.  This is why Christ took the dead wood of the cross, a barren man formed tree as his greatest tool.  While the Romans saw it as a tool for a public belittlement of men to keep their earthly power over a population, Jesus had other ideas.  Jesus took the dead tree and used it to pass through to eternal life.  Through his death he obtained the glorification briefly glimpsed at the Transfiguration for all eternity.  In this act he corrected the error of Adam and Eve, and showed us our personal path to redemption.

    Through the works of a child, we get a glimpse of the qualities of the parents who raised them.  Although St. Joseph never said a word to us in the Bible, the impact he had a profound impact on the life of Jesus.  Looking for guidance in his example and patronage for our families can greatly advance our spiritual lives towards the Tree of Life.

-ehw

ANCIENT PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires.

Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.

Please visit The Catholic Company to see more about this prayer.

Immaculate Heart Example

        It is the time of year for getting ready to do our lent traditions to clear our hearts and souls for the coming of our savoir Jesus Christ.  This is great!  Being the 100th anniversary of Fatima also lends some urgency down the hearts of many faithful, as one of the primary calls Mary made was to repent and do penance for our sins and those of the whole world.

    In a series of happy God driven coincidences, I opened a book my dear wife provided me for the first time (I just finished two others…she wants me to get spiritually smarter) The SPIRITUAL COMBAT and A TREATISE ON PEACE OF SOUL by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli.  This book is a guidebook for many a religious soul, and a few saints like St. Francis de Sales.  In just a few pages it roped me in, and started answering a few questions I’ve had.

    Recently several experiences begged me to look for answers to the the proper understanding of a rule based and spirit based path to heaven.  As a law and order type guy my whole life, simply following the rules is a very simple path for my little brain to follow.  Do X and receive Y.  The problem us law and order people have is this still leaves us short, because to obtain heaven we need nothing less than perfection in our souls as well as our actions!

   Rule based paths to heaven are also dangerous to many of us.  When we observe and judge people poorly because they are not as “observant,” or will not practice the same extreme forms of asceticism we personally choose to do.  When we do this, we easily fall into sin because we are comparing and showing off our “holiness.”  We become modern day Pharisees. 

    Instead we must carefully chose the form of self denials and rigor of our prayer life to draw us closer to the mysteries of Christ.  This type of introspection, combined with strengthening spiritual exercises makes us primed like an soldier for the great battle working in unison with God’s commands .   We need all the strength possible for our daily battles with the prince of evil who seeks to turn us from the path of God to his by hook or crook.

    Our example in all of this can be our dear mother Mary.  In the Bible she says but a few words, but attends every major event with our Lord.  She faces every temptation and torture a mother can endure, but never gives in to sin  Mary also was compliant with the old Law she was born under, and the example of the new law of her son.  She silently witnesses and participates in the unfolding of salvation, but never brings the focus to herself.  Everything she does assists the Lord as he completes his mission for the world and all people in every age.  Her Immaculate Heart always complements, and never overshadows the Sacred Heart of her son and our Lord.

    As we go forward into Lent, Mary’s Immaculate Heart example should guide us towards heaven.  Accept the hardships of the fallen world, but never waver from following the law of God.  We also will remember to seek greater understanding of God in all things we observe and do, and to bring God’s graces to all those we meet.

-ehw

Be Not Afraid (of a Plus Size Family)

Oldest and youngest (for now) reading this past Christmas

Oldest and youngest (for now) reading this past Christmas

    Our current Western society praises itself on being rooted in control over nature through application of science and reason.  Nowhere is this more evident than through control and size of the family.  Embracing a large family is in fact the anti-thesis of control of nature.  Therefore any counter-cultural move away from strict family control sets off a firestorm of emotion, debate, and shunning to bring people back into the fold.

    The argument for a controlled size family is a logical outgrowth of the Enlightenment.  The penny sized description of this philosophy is:  If I can reason something out (logically order it through science) and I want to will it into being, the result I want to make can and should be as I want it to regardless of any historical or scientific obstacles.  While the goal of Enlightenment thinkers is good, to make the world a better place, it fails because it assumes all things are ordered according to a single person’s will.  

    In a precisely ordered world replacement level children would not be bad…it would simply ensure a stable society with Mom and Dad being replaced by their little children.  It assumes there is no war, famine, enjoyment of bountiful years, divorce, recurrence of the Spanish Flu, accidents, control of passion by all people, natural spoiling of children, or change of political order.  When in history has this ever happened?  If I apply a scientific method to the review of history against any one of these factors, much less a combination of two, I can say never with confidence.

    A view of family across all traditional cultures shows having a large nuclear family is a reward and sign of prosperity.  Large families can take a loss, as tragic as it might be, and still survive to another generation.  Families with large families embrace passion and reap the rewards with a 99% stability rate (i.e. no divorce) when using Natural Family Planning.  In large families where parents have all the children help each other natural selflessness arises.  Even economic science shows growing populations increase GDP, while stable and declining populations result in a loss of economic power despite automation.

    Yet just saying have a large family is also a poor scientific argument as well.  Many large families fail because they may be open to life, but fail in another basic component of success.  One has to look into the why behind successful families everywhere, and its origins.  These reasons come from observations in natural law, not man’s law.

    In Genesis we see man was not complete until he had a wife.  Together they were to be fruitful and multiply.  Proverbs tells us a man will have no fear to argue in the city gates when surrounded by his children.  Jesus tells men they must serve their families to the point of complete self sacrifice, and women must listen to their self sacrificing men.  (This addresses our greatest vices as men and women of power going to our heads, and sets the example for their children’s future relationships) Time and time again we also read throughout the Bible we all must look for the Lord’s direction, and build our world towards it.  Embracing these lessons points us towards successful family models.

    St John Paul II, in his masterful Theology of the Body, also reminds us men and women complete the other sex in marriage.  In the marital act we participate in renewing creation with God.  Acceptance and loving our resulting children then completes the family.  When viewed in its totality, this sets up an environment where family life can mimic the Biblical revelations of Natural Law.  This type of environment fosters good and minimize bad family effects we can see in the physical world around us, while moving from generation to generation.

    In the a few short words above I hope this lets you understand where I started on my journey towards embracing the title of this post: Be Not Afraid (of a Plus Sized Family) in today’s world.  This decision does not come without challenges, doubts and trials.  It is emblematic of real life, needing a constant renewal.  Nothing worth doing ever came without cost…and never will.  So be not afraid to look at the reality of the world, and use its very nature to form a better future according to the will of God revealed through nature.  I promise the experience will really ENLIGHTEN you!

-ehw

P.S. Besides where would I get my cute photos of family life from without this many kids?