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What does it avail me that this birth is always happening, if it does not happen in me? That it should happen in me is what matters.

— St. Augustine

El Greco’s “The Nativity”

The other day I tried to join one of the many nerdy theological discussion groups on Facebook.

In order to join such groups, you are usually required to answer a couple of easy-peasy questions before the administrator allows you in.

To join a fan-and-discussion site of some renowned theologian, for example, you might get a question asking what the last book was that you read by the person, or maybe your favorite book of his or hers.

So the other day I tried to join a discussion group about classical theology and this was one of two questions that popped up:

    “When is the last time you shared the gospel with somebody?”

I was taken aback by query. It’s the kind of question that an evangelical who is into proselytizing might ask, proselytizing being the attempt to convert somebody to your religion by asking a question like, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior?”

Usually with high-pressure salesmanship involved.

My answer to the question was:

What a weird question.”

Woe is me: I was not admitted.

I’m a member of a Facebook discussion group whose subject is Meister Eckhart, the medieval German mystic regarded as one of the greatest of theologians and philosophers.

This is something Eckhart had to say in a sermon:

    “We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself?

    And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace?

    What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to His Son if I do not also give birth to Him in my time and my culture?

    This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us.”

I like to think that as long as I keep my focus on Jesus being continually born in me–as long as I strive to be full of the grace of Mother Mary–that somebody will see some semblance of Christ in me.

I like to think somebody, maybe even many somebodies, will want to have the joy and peace I find in being a follower of Jesus and a student of the word.

I like to think that the last time I shared the gospel with someone was early this morning when I walked down the street to the store to get a can of V8 Juice and smiled at every person I passed on the street and in the store and looked them in the eyes and said quietly but joyfully, “Good morning!”

Most everybody smiled back at me and said “Good morning!” in return. I like to think they sensed the love of God in me in that smile and greeting.

Of the nine fruits of the spirit that St. Paul cited in the book of Galatians, the first fruit is love.

And it works!

This love thing works!

Practice it!

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On Friday, the President of the United States of America said that his Environmental Protection Agency is looking into the problem of sinks and toilets–and newfangled light bulbs.

Speaking at a small-business roundtable meeting, the president actually said the following:

    “You turn on the faucet; you don’t get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. It’s dripping out — very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once.

    “You go into a new building or a new house or a new home, and they have standards, ‘Oh, you don’t get water.’

    “For the most part, you have many states where they have so much water that it comes down – it’s called rain … it rushes down to the sea, they don’t know what to do with it.”

In other news, 53 percent of Republicans think that this president is greater than the 19th-century American leader who saved the Union, freed the slaves and wrote the Gettysburg Address.

Now, most of those same Republicans believe with Rick Perry that God woke up one day and decided to make Donald Trump the next-best thing to God himself and put him in the White House.

Perry said in an interview with Fox & Friends:

    “I actually gave the president a little one-pager on those Old Testament kings about a month ago and I shared it with him. I said, ‘Mr. President, I know there are people that say you said you were the chosen one and I said, ‘You were.'”

Perry added that God in the Old Testament Days used many imperfect people to do great things.

And Rick Perry — a former Texas governor, a former Secretary of Energy under Trump, and an astute student of the Bible — is no doubt right that his former boss has been chosen.

I have no doubt that God is directing President Trump through the Holy Ghost to relieve the suffering of millions of Americans who have to flush their toilets 10, 15 times a day.

God undoubtedly has heard the prayers of those Americans who have to run out in the rain with their soap and shampoo to get clean because their showers just drip — quietly drip — even in states where there is rain that falls down and goes to the sea.

God sees our pain and suffering.

God feels our agony.

God hears Republican prayers and acts on them.

God relieves and heals the pain of Americans who vote right — far right.

God is so good that he placed Donald J. Trump — however imperfect a man he may be — to make American plumbing great again.

Glory be!

Praise God and Trump and pass the gravy!

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NOTE: Remember former House Speaker Paul Ryan? He was still the Speaker when I wrote and published this post back on Dec. 8, 2016, not long after Donald Trump bullied and lied his way into being elected president.

“What is truth?” Painting by Nicholas Gai

President-to-be Donald J. Trump, who lost by 3 million popular votes and barely squeezed out an electoral championship in three key states, was never a Rotarian.

He undoubtedly would have been kicked out had he ever joined.

Rotary Club International is the greatest of service clubs. Its purpose is to encourage and foster service and high ethical standards in the business and professional sectors.

Rotary is everywhere. It does great service projects right here in San Ignacio, Belize. Rotary’s mission is to advance international understanding, goodwill, and peace through global fellowship.

One thing I like about Rotary is its 4-Way Test that is supposed to be applied to every action a Rotarian takes:

1. Is it the truth?

2. Is it fair to all concerned?

3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

* * *

Now comes the powerful Speaker of the House Paul Ryan–-who like so many people had his character assassinated by Donald Trump as recently as October–-who says Donald Trump’s lies don’t matter.

In an interview on “60 Minutes,” Speaker Ryan said it doesn’t matter that Trump claims via Twitter that he won the popular vote because “millions of people voted illegally.”

Let’s get one thing straight: this is a lie. If it was the truth, Trump and Ryan and every Republican political leader alive would have bombarded us with evidence to back up his claim.

They would be calling for massive reforms to the election system to make sure that every vote cast in the future will be an honest-to-God legitimate vote.

The fact is that Hillary Clinton, whether Trump or anybody else likes it or not, won the popular vote by 3 million votes. (Being the lying loon that he is, Trump claims he won by twice that many votes.)

Ryan went on in his 60 Minutes sit-down to address Trump’s daily barrage of tweets.

“The way I see the tweets you’re talking about, he’s basically giving voice to a lot of people who have felt that they were voiceless. He’s communicating with people in this country who’ve felt like they have not been listened to. He’s going to be an unconventional president.”

So what if his tweets are full of brazen lies and assaults on the characters of good people–-he’s just being unconventional. That’s become the Republican Party’s default defense for every god-awful thing Donald Trumps says or does.

Never mind that what Trump says is rarely the truth; rarely fair to all concerned; rarely aimed at building goodwill and better friends; and rarely if ever beneficial to all concerned.

He’s not the kind of supposedly “great businessman” fit to be president of your local Rotary Club, much less the leader of the free world.

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WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

I want to eat like Jesus.
I want to drink like Jesus.
I want to glow like Jesus.
I want to share like Jesus.

I want to walk like Jesus.
I want to talk like Jesus.
I want to touch like Jesus.
I want to heal like Jesus.

I want to see like Jesus.
I want to hear like Jesus.
I want to smell like Jesus.
I want to feel like Jesus.

I want to laugh like Jesus.
I want to weep like Jesus.
I want to rage like Jesus.
I want to pray like Jesus.

I want to learn like Jesus.
I want to teach like Jesus.
I want to think like Jesus.
I want to preach like Jesus.

I want to live like Jesus.
I want to love like Jesus.
I want to flow like Jesus.
I want to be like Lord Jesus.


“Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.”
~ Psalm 25:4-5

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“Don’t Mess With Texas!”

That famous phrase is actually a double entendre. For one thing, it’s a caution against littering. Anyone who has traveled the vast state of Texas has seen the signs noting the heavy fines for throwing trash on the miles and miles of roads and highways.

But it’s also a reminder that Texans are a tough, independent lot, not to be messed with.

As a Texan with roots pre-dating the fall of the Alamo, I can assure you that rural Texas landowners covet their properties –their farms, their ranches and their thousands upon thousands of old country churches and cemeteries.

The Trump administration keeps learning this cultural fact as it keeps meeting legal resistance from Texans who refuse to let Trump steamroll them and their sacred properties.

It’s a sad thing that Trump holds nothing in this world sacred except Dollar Almighty. And more sad that people like the good Texan and his kith and kin featured in this video are having to fight like hell to preserve a historic United Methodist Church chapel and cemetery that they hold so sacred.

(Once you’ve viewed the video, here’s another horror story from two years ago regarding the wall.) https://jitterbuggingforjesus.com/2017/08/04/trump-vs-land-owners-ugly-wall-news/

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God created the good, green Earth, which some are intent on destroying.

I wish we’d get over this lunatical notion that we need to explore Mars because humankind is going to need it to re-locate some day.

Now that I got that off my chest…

I’m sharing this Ute Native American poem for the simple reason that I love poetry and memorize a lot of it and I liked this so much that I memorized it a few years ago.

And sharing because every day is Earth Day, or should be.

EARTH teach me stillness
As the grasses are stilled with light.

And sharing because I’m so distressed by the current administration doing everything in its power to steamroll American Natives and their sacred lands.

While, at the same time, it is thoroughly advancing the destruction of American land and water sources from coast to coast.

So I need the beauty and wisdom of these words to help me maintain my spiritual equilibrium.

And with no further ado … I invite you to reflect on these loving words, gentle reader:

EARTH teach me stillness
As the grasses are stilled with light.
EARTH teach me suffering
As old stones suffer with memory.
EARTH teach me humility
As blossoms are humble with beginning.
EARTH teach me caring
As the mother who secures her young.

EARTH teach me courage
As the tree which stands all alone.
EARTH teach me limitation
As the ant who crawls on the ground.
EARTH teach me freedom
As the eagle who soars in the sky.
EARTH teach me resignation
As the leaves which die in the fall.

EARTH teach me regeneration
As the seed which rises in spring.
EARTH teach me to forget myself
As melted snow forgets its life.
EARTH teach me to remember kindness
As dry fields weep with rain.

~ from the poetry of the Ute Native American Indians

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Meanwhile, down on the U.S./Mexico border…

Art by Angel Valdez for The Houston Catholic Worker at http://www.cjd.org

The Trump administration–with all its Christians who never let us forget how Christian they are–continues its policy of cruelty toward poor, vulnerable, so-called “invaders.”

I still hear this all it time from conservatives: Parroting Trump, they say we’re being “invaded” by people from south of the U.S. border. They love that Trump is fighting to stop this invasion.

I point out to them that invaders are almost always heavily armed because they seek to conquer a land and its people by force. The desperate people seeking asylum at our borders are unarmed men, women and children who couldn’t conquer America if they wanted to.

Which they don’t.

They hardly qualify as “invaders.”

Art by Bro. Mickey McGrath, an Oblate of St. Francis De Sales, artist, author, and speaker. More on him at http://www.bromickeymcgrath.com and http://www.embracedbygod.org

It’s interesting the responses I hear from those conservatives. They typically pivot to the argument that we are being invaded by violent, heavily armed drug smugglers. Which is an entirely different issue from the issue of poor and vulnerable people fleeing violent, heavily armed drug gangs in their home countries.

I’ve said it often and will say it again: American conservatives–especially those who purport to be Jesus-loving, God-fearing Christians–simply have no defense for the Trump administration’s endless cruelty toward asylum seekers.

* * *

The wonderful Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation shared an article about St. Peter Claver this morning on its Facebook page. The Spanish Jesuit devoted most of his life ministering to thousands of African slaves who arrived every year at the port city where he lived in the 16th century.

Mary van Balen, a fine spiritual writer who penned the Shalem Institute article, writes:

    As I thought of Peter Claver’s instinctive action to first alleviate human suffering, the plight of refugees at our Southern border came to mind. They come mostly from Central and South America, fleeing unspeakable violence, poverty, and fear for their lives. How are they met?

    I spoke with Sister Barbara Kane, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Peace in Columbus, Ohio. She and others in her community have traveled to El Paso to serve as they could.

    She spoke of refugees’ long waits in enclosed areas (some liken them to cages) until they have their Credible Fear Hearing (when the refugee states what has driven them to seek asylum). “The enclosures have concrete floors, are kept at 60 degrees, and are so small people are packed together, unable to lie down to sleep,” Sr. Barbara said. People receive little food. Yet, despite the great needs, no one is allowed inside to help.

Thank God we still have many American Christians, clergy and lay alike, whose “instinctive actions” are to do whatever they can to alleviate the suffering that is still being compounded by the Trump administration while impeachment is in all the news.

You can read van Balen’s entire article, which I commend to you, dear readers, here.

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