the best kind of ‘extremes’

“If you wish to go to extremes, let it be in sweetness, patience,
humility and charity.”

St. Philip Neri


(one of my first Christmas ornaments, circa 1963 / Julie Cook / 2014)

“Augustine drew out the meaning of the manger using an idea that at first seems almost shocking,
but on closer examination contains a profound truth.
The manger is the place where animals find their food.
But now, lying in the manger, is he who called himself the true bread come down from heaven,
the true nourishment that we need in order to be fully ourselves.
This is the food that gives us true life, eternal life.
Thus the manger becomes a reference to the table of God,
to which we are invited so as to receive the bread of God.
From the poverty of Jesus’ birth emerges the miracle in which man’s redemption
is mysteriously accomplished.”

Pope Benedict XVI, p. 68
An Excerpt From
Jesus of Nazareth Infancy

losing, looking, knowing, seeing…

“There are two ways of knowing how good God is:
one is never to lose Him,
and the other is to lose Him and then to find Him.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(Christ Pantocrator, the oldest known Icon of Christ, 6th Century AD / St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai)

This past week has been one full of ups and downs, highs and lows,
and a week of all things in between.
Much of which has been beyond our immediate control.

So I think it was Tuesday morning when I actually was afforded my “quiet time”—
a time when I could truly be alone and in fellowship with God.
A time that was once as regular as clock work…
then people retired and mornings were no
longer my own…
Juggling time took on a whole different sort of meaning.

Tuesday morning I opened my morning devotion, a book of The Divine Hours—
I pray the liturgy of hours—an ancient form of
prayer based on a fixed time of prayer during the course of a day—
mine is an abbreviated devotion of morning, midday, and vespers.
A typical monastic cycle is based on a schedule of 7 times dispersed over a 24 hour period.

According to prayerfoundation.org:
The Seven Historical (Canonical) Hours of Prayer is based upon Psalm 119:164
“Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.”

6:00 am – First Hour (Matins / Lauds / Orthros)
9:00 am – Third Hour (Trece)
Noon Prayer – Sixth Hour (Sext)
3:00 pm – Ninth Hour (None)
6:00 pm (Vespers / Evensong
9:00 pm (Compline)
Midnight Prayer.

These times basically overlap in the three large liturgical denominations…
Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican communions.

When I was attending the church of my childhood, Evensong was my most favorite service–
It was small, quiet, and intimate.
And that’s probably because I grew up in a massive Cathedral
and Evensong was always in a small gothic chapel rather than the cavernous sanctuary
and was always sparsely attended…but I digress.

Nowadays, I’m just lucky to be able to get in the morning devotional–

So Tuesday morning, when I began my reading and recitations, I began reading the affixed
reading for the day—a reading from the Book of Revelation:

Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing,
that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth.
I am coming quickly; hold firmly to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God,
and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God,
and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God,
and My new name.
The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Revelation 3:10-13

This is not a revolving sort of reading but a fixed reading.
Meaning it was not chosen precisely for this year of 2020.
It was not chosen for this surreal time but was rather more of a permanent piece of scripture–
it is the same verse read over the years, over the seasons on this particular day–
this Tuesday, the 3rd week of Advent.

And yet here it was staring at me on this particular Tuesday morning,
plain as day— speaking so pointedly to our trying days and time,
speaking plainly to our current prickly world which has been trying our souls day and night
since early March.

We have got to remember that God still sees and He still knows—
He knows we are heavily burdened.
We knows we are down trodden.
He knows.
He sees.
And in that seeing and knowing, He will write his Name upon us.
We will be His and He will be ours.

Hold fast.
The time draws nigh…

Advent.
We wait.
We watch.

wakeful and hopeful

Being awake for God and for other people—that is the kind of ‘waking’
that Advent has in mind, the wakefulness that discovers the light and brightens the world.

Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI)


(Rublev’s Christ circa 1420 / Icon from Svenigorod / Julie cook / 2014)

“Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us,
namely, the memory of the God who became a child.
This is a healing memory; it brings hope.”

Pope Benedict XVI

(Happy Hanukkah and Advent
to all the brethren and sisters of our collective faiths)

culling memories

What is a man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness
of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man.
All things are connected.
This we know.
Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.
Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Chief Seattle


(purging a now 32 year old son’s baby clothes)

Spending today in the attic, sorting, and yes purging boxes of clothes that
should have been purged long ago…
this mother of an only child, who is trying to part with each and everything that was worn or played
with by this only child, was finding it painfully difficult.
Pulling out each piece of small, often stained, clothing…
past moments frozen in time, came racing viscerally back to the forefront of
my heart’s consciousness.

The small flannel footed pj’s worn by a young boy who was afraid of the night–
stealing himself from his own bed, standing silently by his mother on her side of her bed
waiting until she finally opened her eyes in order to lift the young boy,
placing him in a place of safety…nestled between his sleeping dad and now wide awake mom.

Night after night for nearly four years, this young boy was fearful…
until his grandfather bought him bunkbeds.

Found was a Christening outfit, a first Christmas onesie, a first Easter two piece,
a pair of Teenage mutant Nija Turtle sandals worn as part of an early Halloween costume…
the crochet teddy bear onesie…

Pieces of 30 some odd years ago that seem just like yesterday.

Sigh.

Maybe it’s this year, this surreal year of 2020…
Maybe it’s the packing up and moving one’s life after so many years.
Maybe it’s the time of year of all things Advent and Christmas.

A watchful time…a time of waiting for what is coming.

So much is coming.

Are we ready?
Are you ready?

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.
The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.
Another book was opened, which is the book of life.
The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
The sea gave up the dead that were in it,
and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was
judged according to what they had done.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.
The lake of fire is the second death.
Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown
into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15

Stuff happens

“I put myself in the way of things happening, and they happened.”
Theodore Roosevelt


(my current view within my home / Julie Cook / 2020)

We are a people of stuff…
We are a stuffy people…
and yes, stuff, our stuff, happens.

I have so much I want to say about stuff.
There is so much to say.
So much to say about the stuff of…
Mandates.
Vaccines.
Masks.
Santas that make kids cry simply because they asked if he could bring them a nerf gun.
Elections.
Election fraud.
Bought elections.
Being tired of the ongoing drama over elections in Georgia.
Being weary from all the Europeans, Australians, and South Africans lecturing us US bloggers
about US politics and policies.
Being tired of folks complaining about those who show their Christmas spirit.
Being tired of the shutdowns of restaurants, bars, and small businesses while Hollywood marches on.
Being sick about any and all things China.
Being sick about all things Russian.
Fake news.
Wokeness.
Riots.
Leftist propaganda.
Antifa.
Black Lives Matters.
Democrats.
Weak Republicans.
Wokeness.
Harry and Megan.
Pandemics.
Lockdowns.
Canceling Christmas.
Abortions.
Did I mention wokeness?
Political commercials.
Robo political calls.
Manipulation.

But I’m afraid that if I start trying to sort out all of this stuff,
I won’t be able to stop…

So instead, allow me to share both an interesting as well as beautiful reflection…
a comment I received yesterday regarding the post I had written about the nuttiness
over the attempts being made by the powers that be
to “cancel” out Christmas—with the argument being if we cancel out Christmas,
we will help with the never-ending flattening of the never-ending pandemic.

This from LightWriters:

Shows us just how closely this all seems to tie into the
anti-Christian communist agenda—virus came from there,
many of the masks we are forced to wear are made there—
Yet, our God laughs at the wicked as we read in the Psalms.
He is greater and many will have an opportunity in this ‘crisis’
to think about the true meaning of snd reason for the season.
Shalom and Blessed Christmas

https://5wise.wordpress.com

So instead of trying to begin sorting out all of this insufferable stuff,
allow us rather, during this Advent season, to head toward a deeper space.
A space deep within each of our beings where the ancient piece of the Divine resides.
Where the tender mark of the Creator rests upon the created.
The indelible fingerprint of the master potter permanently engrained
upon the vessel of his creation.

“…And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that
we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us
that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is
really good and light because it comes from God.
Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty,
light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us;
whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed
as love and rules the world and our lives.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

setting our sights

Though Moses was not permitted to enter the land of promise,
he was vouchsafed a sight of it from a distance.
We too, though as yet we are not admitted to heavenly glory,
yet are given to see much, in preparation for seeing more.

St. John Henry Newman
from an Advent sermon in Parochial and Plain Sermons

When I was in college, I spent my summers working at a girl’s Christian summer camp.
I was the riflery director.
It was a position I just kind of fell into…but that’s another story for another day.

At the start of each new summer, just days prior to the campers arriving,
I would be busy spending those days cleaning, testing and sighting in the rifles.
I oiled each rifle, tested each one for proper firing, and zeroed in the sights as best
I could with pre-manufactured sights.

I needed to make certain that each rifle was in working order for my campers.

These guns were traditonal bolt action .22 calibers… there were no fancy scopes…
merely the metal notch, aka sight, manufactured on the gun…
more or less what is known as an open sight gun.

The rifles usually took a beating each summer…they’d get dropped, whacked by accident
and stacked up inside a closet in the gym at the end of each day.
After being stored away all winter, I had to make certain the barrels were still straight
and the sights were not bent or, in some cases, broken off.

To shoot these old school rifles, one would have to close one eye while using the
one open eye to look down along the top of the barrel,
down past a small metal V or notch located up on the barrel.
You’d have to line up the notch on the rifle with the bullseye on the target that was placed
about 75 yards away–then take in a deep breath, holding it in while gently
pulling the trigger.

The girls would start out in what is known as a prone firing position—
meaning they were resting flat on their stomachs, perched on a mat.
Next, they would attempt a kneeling position and eventually a standing postion.
They usually preferred the prone postion because they didn’t have to worry about holding
up the gun while attempting to keep it steady when trying to aim.

Target shooting is a disciplined activity.
It’s about learning how to steady one’s body and breathing while focusing one’s vision.

And it is that focusing of one’s vision that brings my thoughts to this time of year…
that being Advent.
A word that means coming…
and if something is coming, we usually need to be looking for it.

And so I was reminded about my “shooting” days when reading St Newman’s quote today–
St. Newman speaks of the glimpses God affords us…glimpses require us to
be steady and watchful while focusing on what is to be seen.
As in zooming in and seeing something through a sight.
We have to steady ourselves in order to see it more clearly.

At Advent, God grants us this glimpse.
A glimpe of that which is coming…coming our way.
And so this is a time of preparation…the glimpse is given and now
it is our chore to ready ourselves for what awaits us.

The glimpse tells us that there is something so much more than just a mere
passing glance…we know that we need to be ready, steady and focused.

Time to zero in on that which is coming and that which is so much greater than ourselves.

Year passes after year silently, Christ’s coming is ever nearer than it was.
O that, as He comes nearer earth, we may approach nearer heaven!”

St John Henry Newman

food for thought; Advent

Sometimes I don’t need God to tell me what he is like so much as I need God
to tell me everything will be alright.

anonymous


(Julie Cook / 2013)

So as the debates rage on…
Be it a draconian world supposedly led by science vs one of humanity’s common sense…
complicated by lockdowns, masks, vaccines…
I caught a few storylines yesterday that only seem to add to the confusing madness.

According to Fox News, Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s supreme nutjob,
has ordered national executions, placed a ban on fishing as well as placing a
ban on salt production…
These various actions being his idea of handling Covid and preventing it from
entering his hermit kingdom.

Kim Jong Un has ordered at least two people executed, banned fishing at sea,
and locked down the capital, Pyongyang, as part of frantic efforts to guard against the
coronavirus and its economic damage, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Friday.

One of the lawmakers, Ha Tae-keung, quoted the NIS as saying Kim is displaying
“excessive anger” and taking “irrational measures” over the pandemic and its economic impact.

Ha said the NIS told lawmakers that North Korea executed a high-profile
money changer in Pyongyang last month after holding the person responsible
for a falling exchange rate.
He quoted the NIS as saying that North Korea also executed a key official in August
for violating government regulations restricting goods brought from abroad.
The two people weren’t identified by name.

North Korea has also banned fishing and salt production at sea to prevent seawater
from being infected with the virus, the NIS told lawmakers.

So I suppose if you can kill the people first before they even can get sick…
then that makes perfect sense.

Next came a more somber headline out of Japan–

You may or may not know this but Japan has a very dark secret…
it has the dubious distinction for a proliferation of suicide.
They even have a beautiful and tranquil forest that is known as a place where
folks go to end things…the suicide forest.

And given the added burden brought about from the pandemic, be it lockdowns, lost
economy…Japan’s fragile mental health is even more fractured.

The National Police Agency said suicides surged to 2,153 in October alone,
with more than 17,000 people taking their own lives this year to date, CBS reported.

By comparison, fewer than 2,000 people in the country have died from COVID-19 in 2020.

The forest might need to be exorcised.

Then there was this little cheery headline:
The US could face an ‘apocalypse’ by Christmas as COVID-19 cases surge

Apocalypse in one hand…Christmas in the other.
Notice how I am weighing them.
Tipping back and forth…yet Christmas just simply lifts higher.

Winter is setting down upon us.
Heavy, dark, and foreboding.
Yet we must not despair.

We must not allow the news outlets or our leaders to crush our hope.
We must not allow them to crush our Christmas spirit!
Let us not allow a pandemic to win.
Let us not allow despair to triumph.

We are preparing today to enter an ancient time of mystery.
And it is in this mystery that we have overcome the world…
This mystery has overcome pandemics, elections, wars, division, animosity,
hatred, pettiness, along with man’s small-mindedness.

We are allowed a small peek at the ending of the story…and in that glimpse,
we see that victory will indeed be ours.

Be clear-minded.
Be watchful.
Wait…
He will come…

God travels wonderful ways with human beings,
but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people.
God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather,
his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof.
Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels,
where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be.
There he confounds the reason of the reasonable;
there he aggravates our nature, our piety—that is where he wants to be,
and no one can keep him from it.
Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous
that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly
and makes it marvelous.
And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…
God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings.
God marches right in.
He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would
least expect them.
God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected,
the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

looking forward rather than at now…

“Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in
carrying it.
God is helping us.
And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says,
we can do anything.”

St. Gianna Molla

“Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus,
contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful.
A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren,
participates in the great work of saving souls.”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich

I think I’ve touched on this thought before.
I think it was most likely this same time last year.

It never fails that each year, during this particular season of the Chruch calendar,
this season of Advent, this time of notable anticipation,
I just can’t help but look forward.

Maybe I shouldn’t look ahead…
but I just can’t help it…I do.

I just can’t help but not to look.
I can’t help but know already how the story ends.

Of course I’m not alone in that…
most of us who are Believers already do know how the story ends don’t we?!

And yes I know, technically the story doesn’t really end…
but perhaps that’s a bit of a spoiler for those not exactly in the know…

However that’s not today’s worry.

The lamenters will cry “why can’t you just enjoy the moment?!

And maybe I should…maybe I should just turn a blind eye to what I know
while ignoring the facts.
Maybe I should just bask in the magic of this season;
enjoying this time of joyful expectations, of mystery, of hope and of celebrations.

But I can’t ignore the fact that there is a looming foreboding shadow that I
simply can’t shake.
Consider it the ying and yang if you will.

For both Advent and Christmas, this mix of a season that speaks to all that is to be,
happiness and joy, is what some might call the front end of the story…

Or maybe it’s actually what is known as the backstory to the end story…
the story that is behind the real story.

Figuring I wasn’t alone with this notion,
I poked around a bit and found the image above at the front of the post.
I knew I couldn’t be the only one who understood that there is more to this
time of all things of happiness, newness and of birth.

For we all know, whether we like it or not, birth leads to life which in turn leads
eventually to the grave.
But who wants to think about a grave and or death when we can be toasting to what
is happy and bright right?

Not a self-absorbed culture, that’s for sure.

And so whereas we do indeed rejoice, as so we should,
we do so with a knowingness.

I’ve used this image of this particular painting before.

It is a painting by one of my favorite artists, Michelangelo Merisi
(Michele Angelo Merigi or Amerighi) da Caravaggio–or just Caravaggio for short.
He’s known by his town of birth and not so much by his birth name.

The painting in question is known as Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri)

Caravaggio’s paintings and subject matter can be unsettling to some viewers.
His life was no less unsettling.
And he was certainly far from saintly as his life would make any modern-day gossip tabloid
green with envy as his life truthfully read of such fodder and yet his talent,
his skill, his gift, his vision, his juxtaposition of his subjects
along with his use of light and dark, shadow and dramatic lighting…
all seem to be an exclamation point to his chosen imagery and subject matter.


(Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri) 1605-06 / Galleria Borghese)

I love this painting because it is so dramatic and powerful…

Allegorical yes, but it’s that end story in a very stalk and near visceral nutshell.

The end being the crushing of both Evil and Death.

Leaving us with birth, life, death, grave and yes, finally, victory…
All of which is rolled into this one single painting.

As both Mary and her small son, all under the watchful gaze of both Mary’s mother
and Jesus’ grandmother, St Anne…who watches on as now both mother and child put an
end mark to that which desires nothing more than to haunt their lives…

Mary’s yes to God, along with Jesus’ willingness and sacrifice, are all that was necessary
and needed in the resounding NO to Satan.

In the painting, they figuratively demonstrate victory, our victory, over both Evil and Death,
in a very decisive fashion.
Crushing the head of the snake.

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother:
“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

(Luke 2:34-35)

Mary who was told great things by the angel Gabriel and who was told great things by
the Magi, and who was told great things by Simeon…basked in the celebration of the
birth of her child, all the while looking forward.

She had been told and she knew and she held it all in her heart.
And I doubt that a day did not pass while she lived the life of a loving mother to this
atypical son of hers, that she didn’t feel the same foreboding that I sense now.

My sense of foreboding, however, pales in comparison to the one whose heart
had been pierced the day she said: “yes, I will do your bidding, Lord.”

Mary knew both joy and sorrow, both life and death…but the most important thing
that Mary knew was that there is victory over death…victory that just so happened to be
found in the birth of her son…

And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.
Then the angel left her.
Blessed Among Women

Luke 1:38 MSG

And Jesus cried out and said,
“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.
And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them,
I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge;
the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me
a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
And I know that his commandment is eternal life.
What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

John 12:44-50

We can’t help but look forward….

if I only had a heart…

“Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional
memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child.
This is a healing memory; it brings hope.”

Pope Benedict XVI


(mother’s kitchen funnel has seen better days / Julie Cook / 2018)

This pitiful image of what was once my mother’s kitchen funnel, that I have
obviously “loved” to death by overuse and wash, always reminds me of the hat of
the head of the tinman from the Wizard of Oz…
albeit a kitchen funnel and not an oil funnel.

Who can forget Jack Haley singing…if I only had a heart…

When a man’s an empty kettle he should be on his mettle,
And yet I’m torn apart.
Just because I’m presumin’ that I could be kind-a-human,
If I only had heart.
I’d be tender – I’d be gentle and awful sentimental
Regarding Love and Art.
I’d be friends with the sparrows …
and the boys who shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart.
Picture me – a balcony. Above a voice sings low.
Wherefore art thou, Romeo? I hear a beat…
How sweet.
Just to register emotion, jealousy – devotion,
And really feel the part.
I could stay young and chipper
and I’d lock it with a zipper,
If I only had a heart.

Wizard Of Oz – If I Only Had A Brain/Heart/Nerve Lyrics

If I only had a heart…

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

To remove the heart of stone and receive the heart of flesh…

And so it seems on that fateful day when an apple was received and in turn eaten,
two hearts grew hard…
spawning a spiraling outward of generational stone hardened hearts.

Shuttered hearts.
Closed hearts…
turned cold

Yet all the while the mind deludes, claiming otherwise.

The mind convinces the heart to remain closed and hardened,
otherwise, there will be pain, weakness, and vulnerability…

C.S Lewis says it this way…

“There is no safe investment.

To love at all is to be vulnerable.

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one,
not even to an animal.

Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements;
lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change.

It will not be broken;
it will become
unbreakable,
impenetrable,
irredeemable.

The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.

The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers
and perturbations of love is…
Hell.”

Yet it was the famed English preacher, Charles Spurgeon, who had previously addressed this
notion of the heart of stone.

“Spurgeon surmised that the stony heart is, specifically:
cold,
hard,
dead,
not easily softened and utterly senseless.

He said the person with the hard heart is “Satan’s throne.”
And he said the hard heart is “impervious to all instrumentality,”

(Cliff Vaughn)

In a sermon delivered in 1887 Spurgeon addresses the hardened heart:

Hardness of heart is a great and grievous evil.
It exists not only in the outside world,
but in many who frequent the courts of the Lord’s house.
Beneath the robes of religion many carry a heart of stone.

Nothing good can come out of a stony heart;
it is barren as a rock.
To be unfeeling is to be unfruitful.
Prayer without desire,
praise without emotion,
preaching without earnestness — what are all these?
Like the marble images of life, they are cold and dead.

Yet he reminds us that all is not lost.

The Holy Spirit makes us like wax, and we become impressible to his sacred seal.
Remember, you that are hard of heart, that your hope lies this way;
God himself, who melts the icebergs of the northern sea,
must make your soul to yield up its hardness in the presence of his love.
Nothing short of the work of God within you can effect this.
“Ye must be born again,” and that new birth must be from above.
The Spirit of God must work regeneration in you.
He is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham;
but until he works you are dead and insensible.
Even now I perceive the goings forth of his power:
he is moving you to desire his divine working,
and in that gracious desire, the work has already begun.

Note next, that as this tenderness comes of the Spirit of God,
so it also comes by his working in full co-operation with the Father and with the Son.

We hear the Father say, “I will pour upon the house of David the spirit of grace,”
(angelfire.com)

And so it is from that same genealogical house–the house of David which is born the Grace
which is our hope from the impenetrable death found in the stone cold heart.

It is a hope found in the genealogical line from Abraham, to David, to the Christ.

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David,
fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon,
and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
(Matthew 1:17)

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and
was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
(Luke 2:4-7)

And so the genealogical line of hardened hearts, hearts which once seemed destined to reside
closed for all time and destined to spend an eternity in Hell,
will be broken…broken by the gift found in a genealogical line of hope,
the gift found in the birth of a single child…

And a little child shall lead them (Isaiah 11:6)

Leading once stone hardened hearts, now broken by Grace, to healing found only in Salvation.

Adventus, Chronos, Kairos

“God travels wonderful ways with human beings,
but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people.
God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him;
rather, his way is beyond all comprehension,
free and self-determined beyond all proof…”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


(The Southern Cross / Southern Africa’s Catholic Weekly)

About a week or so ago, I happened upon a lovely blog.
And of course, I wanted to share the posting.
It was Advent and it was an Advent post written by a Franciscan friar.

Then a president died and The Mayor came to visit…sooooo…..
my sharing of such a lovely message got put on a back burner.

Here, finally, is my sharing…

A blog by a Franciscan friar:
friarmusings…the musing of a Franciscan friar

Since my blog is one that is based upon the musings of a retired educator…
I thought it a most fitting meeting…
How fitting that there should be a chance meeting.
More aptly a bit of a Spiritual arranging.
Remember…there is no such thing as coincidence.

And so I offer you a delightful teaching on Advent by a friar…

Did you know that a “new year” begins with Advent? We begin a new liturgical year,
a year when most of the gospels will be from the Gospel of Luke (referred to as “Year C”).
While the years and readings change, there are constants with the arrival of Advent.

Advent is a time when we commemorate the adventus of Jesus —
his coming, arrival, or birth into the days and nights of our world.
Christians live in normal time just like everyone else —
our normal chronos as time ticks off the days, weeks, months, and years.
The early Christian thinkers held that God lives in kairos, a “time” when past, present,
and future are but a single moment.
The awesome moments of salvation history are when chronos and kairos meet.

The birth of Jesus was just such a moment.
The Son of God, the Word made flesh, who existed before all.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race” (John 1:1-4).

It is a moment when the Divine broke into chronos from Kairos,
when God came to be with us and experience everything about our lives except sin.
Mary gave birth not just to any baby boy, but to the Lord of all time and history.
A baby boy that matured,
“And Jesus advanced (in) wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:52).

After living in total obscurity for about 30 years,
Jesus burst onto the public scene and proclaimed that in his own person:
“This is the kairos [time] of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
St. Paul writes that in “the fullness of kairos [time], God sent forth his son”
to redeem humanity (Galatians 4:4).
Jesus, creation, and the beginning of time met redemption and the fulfillment
of time at Bethlehem’s midpoint of human history…

At Advent, Christians also look forward in expectation of Christ’s future coming,
to that time when God will culminate what he has now only inaugurated,
when he will finish what he has started, and will fulfill what he has promised.
For believers, history is going somewhere and not nowhere.
Chronos is proceeding in a distinctly “ahead” fashion, rather than in a
cyclical or meaningless manner.
It is engaged and fueled by the gravity of karios pulling us into a promised future.

At Advent we connect these two horizons —
celebrating Jesus’s past birth and expectation of his future coming.
We live our present days in light of that future day.
In between, we are called to live at the intersection of kairos and chronos.
What the Celts called the “thin places,” places where the boundary between the earthly
and the eternal becomes permeable.
A place and time when we catch glimpses of God’s love,
majesty, and power as it pours into the world.

(full post here … https://friarmusings.com/2018/12/02/thinnest-of-places/ )

I love that…”A place and time when we catch glimpses of God’s love, majesty and power
as it pours into the world…