discernment, obedience and wandering…

“A man must go through a long and great conflict in himself before
he can learn fully to overcome himself,
and to draw his whole affection towards God.
When a man stands upon himself he is easily drawn aside
after human comforts.
But a true lover of Christ, and a diligent pursuer of virtue,
does not hunt after comforts, nor seek such sensible sweetnesses,
but is rather willing to bear strong trials and hard labors for Christ.”

Thomas a’ Kempis, p. 64
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ


(a lone willet wanders in the surf / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook /2021)

Long ago and far away in a lifetime other than this current one, I was
a young, rather naive
no, make that a stubborn and hard headed 20 something.

20 something seems to be the age in which we tend to make
some of our more major decisions…be that college majors,
career paths, relationship choices, moving, staying, coming
or going…the ground work of life seems to really get serious
when we are in our early 20’s.

I have always been one who has tried desperately to listen to that
still small voice found within.

It’s just that the majority of my life, that voice has been more or less,
inaudible.
As in I really need, want, prefer to be hit in the head as I can’t ever
hear that resounding yes or no.

It just seems that I have had to guess throughout so much of my life,
feeling my way blindly in the dark.

For me, I have always believed that that still small voice is
not my own. It is to be the voice of God…
or simply put, the urgings of the Holy Spirit.

This is where the notion of discernment enters into the picture.
We listen, hear and prayerfully discern…God’s will for our lives

So what exactly is discernment you ask?
Well Merriam Webster tells us that discernment is the quality of being able
to grasp and comprehend what is obscure

Grasping and comprehending the obscure.

I think one’s future can certainly be the stuff of the obscure.

And since I’m recalling a past tale concerning an obscure future…
let me continue with said tale.
.
So yes…many lifetimes ago as a young 20 something,
I made a major life decision…hoping I had discerned correctly God’s
desired choice for my life.

The problem, however, was that I had never heard God’s audible yay or nay.
I was rather going on some sort of rote autopilot…following that
which I thought I was supposed to do.

And so, once I had made such a decision, I was set.
There was no turning back.

Obedience or stubbornness—that is yet to be seen.
But when I commit, I tend to do so with both feet.
It’s all in or nothing.
No waffling here.
It’s for better or worse.
Wise or stupid.

And so it was, at this point of my life, I can remember that my godmother
had gotten wind of this particular major decision of mine.

My godmother was a very Godly woman.
Wise yet doggedly determined…as in, her feet were firmly planted
and there was no straying…because she had prayed, heard, discerned
and was now firmly set.

She just always seemed to have a direct line to God and was always lead
by that very resounding direct line.

So when I went to tell my godmother of this particular decision of mine
on this particular day in time, a debate most severe ensued.

She did not think my decision was made with prayerful discernment
but was more of a youthful whim.

A 3 hour roller coaster of back and forth filled the afternoon.

Eventually, I left mad and more determined than when I had arrived
and she, I know, was frustrated and equally defiant.

She had time on her side…a lifetime of experience.
I had only but the gut feeling of a young person still
finding her way.

So where is all of this going you ask.

Well, the other day, our dear friend Oneta, over on Sweet Aroma
(https://onetahayes.com), made mention of this same sort of notion.

She wrote of decision making.
Decisions made inside and outside of God’s will.

Oneta spoke of discernment vs having to wander in a desert.
Meaning that if decisions are made outside of God’s will,
there will be consequences…as in wandering in deserts.
Meaning that God will allow us to wander…
allowing us to go nowhere no time fast.

That is until…

So back to my little story.

At this particular time in my life, I had a good friend who
was about 12 years older than me.
She had watched me grow over the years, often lending a guiding hand or
word.
She too got wind of my decision…plus she got wind of the rift
between godmother and goddaughter.

Unbeknownst to me this wise friend of mine went to my
equally wise godmother.

She told my godmother, as she later told me, that whether or not
my decision was, at the time, within God’s will or not…was not
my friend’s worry because what she knew was that regardless,
God would eventually, in His perfect time,
work that decision of mine to be within His perfect will.

My wise godmother yielded to the wisdom of another…
adding more wisdom to the arsenal.

Now how all that works is beyond my mere mortal’s brain, but I am grateful
that is does work.

The lesson here…
an oft decision can indeed become God’s will because of God’s will.

Not to say there won’t be struggles, frustration, or suffering.
God, however, works all things to His good…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

but wait…you want to know if I wandered or not right??

Well, I’m not certain.
If I’m like the Israelites, I might have two more years to figure that out.

But just know, there has been a lot of other wanderings I
been walking…

learning lessons to practice lessons

The Lord wills that his disciples possess a tremendous power:
that his lowly servants accomplish in his name all that
he did when he was on earth.

St. Ambrose


(a pair of red shoulder hawks hanging out in the pine tops / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Some people who think themselves naturally gifted don’t want
to touch either philosophy or logic.
They don’t even want to learn natural science.
They demand bare faith alone—-
as if they wanted to harvest grapes right away without
putting any work into the vine.
We must prune, dig, trellis, and do all the other work.
I think you’ll agree the pruning knife, the pickaxe,
and the farmer’s tools are necessary for growing grapevines,
so that they will produce edible fruit.
And as in farming, so in medicine:
the one who has learned something is the one who has practiced
the various lessons, so that he can cultivate or heal.
And here, too, I say you’re truly educated if you bring everything
to bear on the truth.
Taking what’s useful from geometry, music, grammar, and
philosophy itself, you guard the Faith from assault.”

St. Clement of Alexandria, p. 13
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

Seek

“He who seeks not the Cross of Christ seeks not the glory of Christ.”
St. John of the Cross

“Oh, how painful it is to Me that souls so seldom unite themselves
to Me in Holy Communion. I wait for souls, and they are indifferent toward Me.
I love them tenderly and sincerely, and they distrust Me.
I want to lavish My graces on them, and they do not want to accept them.
They treat Me as a dead object, whereas My Heart is full of love and mercy.
In order that you may know at least some of My pain,
imagine the most tender of mothers who has great love for her children,
while those children spurn her love.
Consider her pain.
No one is in a position to console her.
This is but a pale image and likeness of My love.”

Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska, 1447
An Except From
Diary of St. Faustina

where lies your conscience?

We should not lament that we do not see the Lord in the flesh,
because we see him in the least of those around us.

Cardinal George Pell
From his book Prison Journal, Volume 2


(a lovely gull / Julie Cook / 20210

Conscience:
ˈkän(t)SHəns/
noun
–an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or
wrongness of one’s behavior.

A life long friend of mine and I, a person who has been one of my dearest friends
since we where all of 12 years old, would over the years,
speak of our conscience—that still small inner
voice that we knew spoke of truth.

The issue of truth would always come up when we were faced with one of those
issues of the typical trials of growing up…
those sorts of issues that spoke of right from wrong.

Things we knew to be right yet dared, due to age, to challenge…
to test and to often defy…often with dreaded consequence.
Ode to growing up.

We would often vocally proclaim one to another “conscience”,
much like Quasimodo proclaiming Sanctuary when the other was toying with
an issue that was of great question and trepidation.

Always cognizent that we each knew right from wrong…none the less…
as teens and young college coeds, we would test the waters like a moth
drawn to a flame.

Thankfully and blessedly, we each acted for one another as that tiny piece
of conscience deeply rooted within those often poor choices and
actions we took upon ourselves.
Reminding one another that perhaps we weren’t on the right path
we needed to be heading…hoping to redirect one another to the
path of right from wrong.

And thus that notion of conscience has always been rooted in my psyche.

So when I read the following quote by St. John Bosco,
I was reminded of that still small voice deep within our
beings…the voice that today commands us to pick up our
cross and go forth proclaiming victory.

“Many people [in authority] oppose us, persecute us,
and would like even to destroy us, but we must be patient.
As long as their commands are not against our conscience,
let us obey them, but when the case is otherwise,
let us uphold the rights of God and of the Church,
for those are superior to all earthly authority.”

St. John Bosco

help me to see what you want me to be

“Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be,
and becoming that person.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(a willet pokes around for something to eat / Julie Cook / 2021)

“However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves.
Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations
in the field of love; only he has sufficient mastery over
our hearts for that.
If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement
and fruitless struggle.
We do not have to become saints by our own power;
we have to learn how to let God make us into saints.
That does not mean, of course, that we don’t have to make any effort . . .
We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts,
but to let God act in us without our putting up any
resistance against him;
we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace,
which sanctifies us.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

I’m baaaaack

“The glory of God is man fully alive,
and the life of man is the vision of God.”

St. Irenaeus


(a willet in the surf /Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2021)

We got home yesterday from our week away and I’ll share more about our
adventure with the Mayor and Sheriff at the beach… soon…
just as soon as I get alllll these clothes washed.

My last post was about the homecoming for Sgt. Rob Holloway’s as he
and his wife returned home to Carrollton after months in two
different hospitals…this following his having been shot in the
wee hours of April 12th during a high speed chase.

Rob and Stephanie got home Wednesday…they were to spend a few days home
before heading back to Atlanta to begin a transition period at Pathways
which is a program to help Rob learn how to manage his daily routines
while getting back to “normal” as best as possible.

However on Thursday, Rob began running a fever.
The Hospital told Stephanie to get him back to Atlanta ASAP
where he was placed back in ICU.

He has since received IV fluids and antibiotics…
and is reportedly feeling better.

Because bullet fragments remain lodged in Rob’s brain and due to having the
reconstructive skull surgery, the risk of meningitis remains high.

So will you please join me as we offer up prayers for Rob and his family…
as we also pray for all our men and women in blue, as well as for their families…
those members of our various law enforcements who give their all for us….

“The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of one poor little person
to save a multitude of others, redeemed like her at the price of His Blood.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

last hour of grace…

“Never will we understand the value of time better
than when our last hour is at hand.”

St. Arnold Janssen


(purple finch / Julie Cook / 2021)

“‘The Lord measures our perfection not by the number and
greatness of the works we do for Him, but by our manner of doing them.
And this manner is only the love of God with which,
and for which, we do them.
They are more perfect as they are done with more pure and perfect love,
and as they are less mingled with the thoughts of pleasure or
praise in this life or the other (St. John of the Cross).
‘When St. Bernard was assisting one night at Matins,
he saw some angels who were carefully noting down the merit of
each of the monks.
The merit of those who were praying with much fervor,
they set down in golden characters; of those with less fervor,
in silver characters; of those with good will,
but without affection, in ink; of those with sloth and drowsiness,
in water; but as to those who were in mortal sin or voluntarily
distracted, they wrote nothing, but,
standing motionless, they lamented their blindness.”

Anonymous, p. 292
An Excerpt From
Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery With the Saints

raise your eyes

“Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if
He wants anything of you,
He will fit you for the work and give you strength.”

St. Philip Neri


(a sky of pelicans / Julie Cook / 2020)

Hands which sustain the heavens are all powerful to supply our necessities,
to uphold us in temptation, and to turn all things to our profit.
And why should we not have confidence in God?
Is He not the most powerful as well as the most tender of fathers? …
Do not dwell upon your unworthiness or your failings,
but raise your eyes to God and consider the infinite goodness
and mercy with which He deigns to apply a remedy to all our miseries.
Reflect upon the truth of His words,
for He has promised to help and comfort all who humbly and confidently
invoke His sacred name.
Consider also the innumerable benefits which you have hitherto
received from His paternal hand,
and let His bounty in the past inspire you to trust the future to Him
with renewed hope.
Above all, consider the merits and sufferings of Christ,
which are our principal title to God’s grace and mercy,
and which form the treasure whence the Church supplies
the necessities of her children.
It was from a confidence inspired by such motives that the saints
drew that strength which rendered them as firm as Mount Sion,
and established them in the holy city whence they never could be moved.
(Cf. Ps.124:1).”
Venerable Louis of Grenada, p. 404
An Excerpt From
The Sinner’s Guide

warm weather color

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form,
can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”

Oscar Wilde


(goldfinch / Julie Cook / 2021)


(purple Iris /Julie Cook / 2021)


(daisy’s / Julie Cook / 2021)


(gardina–a southern classic / Julie Cook / 2021)


(purple aster / Julie Cook /2021)


(Sunflower…all pics taken from my daily walks or backyard / Julie Cook / 2021)

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—
and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Ephesians 5:13

on the move

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand,
as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven,
we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it–
but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


(a plethora of piping plovers / Julie Cook / 2021)

Since the notion of moving has been my current train of thought, I certainly appreciated
seeing these little guys doing much the same…
They always make me smile.
Smiles are good!


(piping plovers / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2021

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19