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

persevere to Truth

“God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer


(acorn in the leaves / Julie Cook / 2021)

The crown will be given neither to beginners,
nor to the advanced, but to the victorious,
to those who persevere to the end.

St Margaret Mary Alacoque

the journey, the uncomfortable of the unfamiliar

My entire conversion was less of a journey to a foreign place,
and more of a discovery of my long-lost home.

Jennifer Fulwiler
from her book Something other than God

Change is uncomfortable.
Kirby Smart


(unseasonably warm weather has the gardenias in bloom / Julie Cook / 2022)

Perhaps it’s because it’s the start of another new year.

Perhaps it’s because so much of this said new year remains unknown.

Perhaps it’s because we long to forget the year that was..along
with the year before that…

Perhaps it’s because we are actually standing on the periphery of that
which is simply spilling out before us…

Spilling and spreading outward both far and wide…
much like a randomly tossed gallon of paint working
itself outward…spreading and covering everything in its path.

And yet frustratingly, we cannot see what that spilling and
spreading-out entails.

Nothing seems to be in focus…
All we can clearly see is that we are standing at the edge something
that reaches outward from where we currently stand…
beckoning us to follow suit.

It’s similar to standing on the edge of the sea.
We stand at the surf’s edge peering outward to a distant horizon line…
a horizon that seems to be endlessly far away yet calls us to come.

And thus we are reminded that have we have a choice.

We can either remain standing at the edge of all that is…
or…
we can set out on a journey that is calling us, nay beckoning
that we come.

Merriam Webster tells us that a journey is:
something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another

Meaning…that if we choose to move, hopefully forward
versus God forbid backward or irritatingly merely remaining in place—
we are obviously to be moving from one place to another.
As in…forward motion…with blessed great momentum.

The notion of such is not always comforting to we the creatures of habit.

We don’t like the unknown.

We don’t like the uncomfortable.

We don’t trust the unfamiliar.

Yet if there is to be growth, there must come the uncomfortable
of the unfamiliar.

And so the journey begins.

For better or worse.
For either good or bad.
The journey beckons.

The question we must ask ourselves, on the forefront of this new year..
are we ready to trust?

Are we ready to put one foot in front of the other?

The year is calling…

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the
calling you have received.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3

Rules for self discovery

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly
until He has hurt him deeply.”

A.W. Tozer


(self portrait found in the river rocks/ Las Vegas, New Mexico / Julie Cook / 2011)

The celebration, the worldly hype and even sadly the joy all seem
to be quickly fading…
As the notion of transition now races madly from anticipation to resolution.

Seasons clash…
It is the Spiritual versus the worldly.

For we have moved from a season of hope into a season of self reflection.
The heavy question grabs us by the neck as if a drowning man might grab
the neck of a potential hope of rescue…
can joy reside within the depths of self reflection?

Reflection.
Introspection.
and eventually….if we are fortunate…
Resolution.

Determined…or not.
Good or bad.

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do at the closing of one year as we
anticipate the beginning of another?
Reflect and then commit?

Yet what do we commit to?
What might it be…
or rather what could it be…?
or even better yet…
what should it be?

“Rules for Self Discovery:
1. What we want most;
2. What we think about most;
3. How we use our money;
4. What we do with our leisure time;
5. The company we enjoy;
6. Who and what we admire;
7. What we laugh at.”

A. W. Tozer

God does everything well

“We must always remember that God does everything well,
although we may not see the reason of what He does.”

St. Philip Neri


(one of my favorite photographs from Glendalough National Park,
Co. Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook

“Prayers are God-filled words in which our love and God’s love are joined.
That love embraces the people for whom we are praying,
and love always changes people and situations.
This doesn’t mean that we will always get what we want,
but Jesus does promise that we will get what we need.”

Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM, p. 14