listening

“Listen with the ear of your heart.”
St. Benedict of Nursia


(a coyote listening for his prey / Cades Cove / Great Smokey Mt. National Park?
Julie Cook / 2015)

Be slow to anger, quick to learn, also slow to speak,
as St. James says, equally quick to listen.

St. Columban.J

resting place

We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting
place for those who love us.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux


(Methodist Church/ Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mts National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Since all our love for God is ultimately a response to His love for us,
we can never love Him in the same way He loves us,
namely, gratuitously.
Since we are fundamentally dependent on God and in His debt for our creation
and redemption, our love is always owed to Him, a duty, a response to His love.
But we can love our neighbor in the same way that He loves us,
gratuitously—not because of anything the neighbor has done for us
or because of anything that we owe him,
but simply because love has been freely given to us.
We thereby greatly please the Father.
God the Father tells Catherine [of Siena]:
This is why I have put you among your neighbors:
so that you can do for them what you cannot do for me—-that is,
love them without any concern for thanks and without looking for
any profit for yourself.
And whatever you do for them I will consider done for me.”

Ralph Martin, p. 261
An Excerpt From
Fulfillment of all Desire, p261

“these three Persons determine my life…”

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds.
A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship,
and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

St. Basil the Great


(wild crabapples blossoms / Julie Cook / 2013)

“Now surely I do see what an immense effect such a doctrine
[of the Holy Trinity] must have upon life.
It is no mere question for theologians, but one that concerns every living soul.
Whatever is allowed by God’s power must be guided by His wisdom and
urged on by His love.
All that happens to me in life, the little worries and the great anxieties,
the crises and the daily annoyances, the sorrows and the joys,
the harms that reach me through the sins of others,
the great crimes of history, the huge and devastating wars,
the partings and loves and the whole cycle of human experience
are permitted by Power, which is itself wise and loving.
These three Persons determine my life, and, since I walk by faith,
I must surely grow very patient in my attitude toward life.
For how can I complain or criticize God’s Providence,
since it all comes under that triple influence of Power, Wisdom, and Love?
Under the guidance, then, of this mystery,
I can walk through the valley of death or the more perilous borders
of sin without loss of courage or hopefulness.
Nothing can make me afraid. How these are separate, yet one,
I do not know, nor can I reconcile in my concrete experience
the claims of each.
It is always a mystery, but a mystery in which I believe.
Whatever Power allows on earth is designed in Wisdom
and attuned by Love.”

Fr. Bede Jarrett, p. 10
An Excerpt From
Classic Catholic Meditations, p 10

living in the world…

Where we see sin, God sees pain;
and He wishes to heal us, refresh us, and free us.

Fr. Éamonn Bourke
from his book Make Your Home in Me: Reflections on Prayer


(quince blossom / 2017 /Julie Cook)

“I discovered later, and I’m still discovering right up to this moment,
that is it only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.
By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties,
problems, successes and failures.
In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God,
taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world.
That, I think, is faith.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

pondering…proposes, invites, counsel and freewill

“And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force,
because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one,
but only proposes, invites and counsels.”

St. Angela Merici


(Julie Cook / 2022)

On a snowy Sunday afternoon…way down here in the deep South—
a day full of anomalies…meaning….
that the two notions of a deep South and a snowy day are not usually
found within the same sentence, it seemed to be a perfect day for pondering.

Pondering.

Merriam Webster tells us that the definition of the word ponder is:
to weigh in the mind or to think about or reflect on…

And so, on this stay inside sort of day, this day of a deep South’s
day of ice and snow, pondering simply seemed to be a perfect pairing.

To weigh, to think, to reflect…

I found the following quotes, both above and below, to be so full
of thoughtfulness..so full of deep reverberations…
so full of infinite truths…
all of which each echo within the walls of any longing soul…
so much so that each quote has caught my breath.

words spoken…

Words which speak of purpose…
words which speak of freewill…
words which speak of accepting actions…
words which speak of burdens…
words which speak of conscience…
words which speak of opportunity,
words which speak of forgiveness…

All three quotes give us much to contemplate, examine and reflect upon…
all during these dark days of winter…

Tis the season to ruminate…to ingest and to ponder…

“We have difficulty understanding this,
just as a blind man has difficulty understanding color,
but our difficulty doesn’t alter this fact:
God’s omnipotence and omniscience respects our freedom.
In the core of our being we remain free to accept or
reject God’s action in our lives—-
and to accept or reject it more or less intensely.
God wants us to accept him with all our ‘heart, soul, mind, and strength’—-
in other words, as intensely as possible.
But he also knows that we are burdened with selfishness and beset by the devil,
so it will take a great effort on our part to correspond to his grace.
Every time our conscience nudges us to refrain from
sharing or tolerating that little bit of gossip, every time we feel a tug
in our hearts to say a prayer or give a little more effort,
every time we detect an opportunity to do a hidden act
of kindness to someone in need,
we are faced with an opportunity to please the Lord
by putting our faith in his will.”

Fr. John Bartunek,

The more I wanted to pray for my father and could not,
the more I realized how much my hatred of him had harmed me
instead of harming him.
I can’t remember where I heard this saying,
but it came back to me then:
Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and hoping that
the other person will die.

Derya Little
from her book From Islam to Christ

some more good thoughts

Be at peace with your own soul,
then heaven and earth will be at peace with you.

Isaac of Nineveh

Love is not to be purchased,
and affection has no price.

St. Jerome


(a fawn seen in 2017 / Julie Cook)

“With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves.
He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment,
upholds and sustains them in being,
enables them to act and brings them to their final end.
Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator
is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence:
‘For you love all things that exist,
and detest none of the things that you have made;
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?
You spare all things for they are yours,
O Lord, you who love the living’

(Wisdom 11:24-26).”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 301

thoughts

“Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the cross;
he waited until one of them turned to him.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer


(bluebird / Julie Cook / 2017)

“I’m still discovering, right up to this moment,
that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.
I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems,
successes and failures, experiences and perplexities.
In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Come, Lord…

“Trials, tribulation, anguish, anxiety are permitted
by the very One Who gives peace.”

Fulton Sheen


(icy days 2017 / Julie Cook )

“How good is our God!
When we can no longer come to Him,
He comes to us.”

St John Vianney / The Curé of Ars

He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Revelation 22:20

Warriors and gaurdians

So I walk up on high and I step to the edge
To see my world below
And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know, it’s the world I know

Lyrics Collective Soul


(St Kevin’s Monastery, Glendalough / Co. Wicklow, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

Some years are harder than others.
Some months are harder than others.
Some weeks are harder than others.
Some days are harder than others.
Some nights are harder than others
Some hours are harder than others.

We often feel as if we are traversing life alone.

Within as well as outward, we hear and see a myriad of attacks
hurled in our direction…

Voices whispering…
naysaying, lying, undermining…

We dip, dodge and stumble as we attempt to miss being blindsided.

These attacks come from the external world yet even more precariously
and dare we day dangerously,
these attacks come from our own individual internal worlds.

And so we spend our days tiptoeing through a minefield,
fearful that the next step might just be the last.

As that is exactly what our ancient nemesis would have us believe.

The lies, the emptiness, the loneliness, the deception…

Until a guardian, a warrior arrives by our side…

“Christians long ago concluded that each individual human being
has his or her own particular guardian angel.
Though the Church has never defined the teaching about
individual guardian angels, the Catechism of the Catholic Church
sums up the matter this way,
quoting St. Basil:
‘From infancy to death human life is surrounded by [the angels’]
watchful care and intercession.
Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd
leading him to life’.
In this light, we can turn to our guardian angels for help in spiritual warfare,
especially to resist the temptations of the Enemy.
Yet angels are more than guardians; they are also warriors.”

Paul Thigpen, p. 30
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare, p30

what lessons…sure intentions

What lessons God gives us in nature if we take the time to reflect on them…
If we take the time to reflect on the meaning and
purpose revealed to us in the ordinary experiences of our lives,
the world lights up, even in the darkness.

Fr. Joseph Kelly
from On Second Thoughts: A Book of Stories


(flowers in the snow / Julie Cook/ 2017)

“It is necessary to have an absolutely sure intention in all our actions,
so that the generous fulfillment of our daily duties may be
directed toward the highest supernatural ideal.
Thus, our life, apart from moments of prayer, will be a prayerful life.
It is clear that the habit of giving an upward glance to God
at the moment of action is a great assistance in aiding us to behave
always with a pure intention and in freeing us from our
natural impulses and fancies, so, that, retaining our self-mastery,
or rather, God becoming the sole Master,
all our movements become dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
We see in the Gospel that whenever our Lord was about to
undertake some important step,
He always paused for a moment to raise His eyes to Heaven,
and only after this moment of recollection did He take up the work
He had to do.
‘He lifted up His eyes to Heaven’ is a phrase that
recurs with significant frequency.
And doubtless, when there was no outward sign of this prayer,
there was the inward offering.
The ideal is the same for us.
The constant subjection of self to the guidance of the Holy Spirit
is made easier from the fact of His presence in the soul,
where He is asked explicitly to preside over all our doings…
We shall not submit wholeheartedly to the
invisible Guest unless He is kept in close proximity to us.”

Raoul Plus, S.J., p. 37-8