mincing no words

“At the root of the collapse of the West, there is a cultural identity crisis.
The West no longer knows and does not want to know who made it,
who established it, as it was and as it is.
Many countries today ignore their own history.
This is self-suffocation naturally leads to a decadence that opens the
path to new, barbaric civilizations.”

Robert Cardinal Sarah


(Cardinal Sarah)

Many of you may or may not be familiar with Cardinal Sarah.

I’ve quoted and even mentioned Cardinal Sarah before.

I am not Catholic, but having been raised in the Episcopal Chruch,
I have always been considered Catholic lite… or so they say…
of which I take as a compliment.

But I want you to know that despite my not being a Catholic, I have always felt
encouraged when ever reading Cardinal Sarah’s words.

He does not mince his words.
He does not apologize for those words.
And he always takes God at His word while never looking back.

That is such a refreshing stand in a time of endless apologies, backtracking, politicizing,
and the current persecution of Christians in, of all places, Western Civilization.

Robert Sarah was born in 1945 in Ourous, a village in then rural French Guinea.
His parents were both Christian converts.
Sarah began his religious studies at the age of 12.

With ongoing conflicts within Guinea, Sarah eventually completed his schooling in both
France and Senegal with his final ordination studies in both Rome and Jerusalem.
He was ordained in 1969, serving as a priest and eventual bishop in Guinea.
Both pope’s Benedict and Francis elevated Sarah to first cardinal deacon then
eventually Cardinal in 2013.

What we know about Africa, Cardinal Sarah’s home nation, is that it is the fastest-growing
Christian nation on the planet.
And it is a bastion of a conservative perspective on God’s word and of Christianity.
Meaning, the global Christian Chruch in Africa does not mince God’s word.
If God said it, then it is so…end of sentence.

There is no deciphering, interpreting, or rewriting to suit the whims of the times.

In a time in which Christianity is under tremendous attack and Christians are facing
all sorts of persecutions, Africa offers Christianity hope.

Cardinal Sarah makes no excuses for his Christian faith, his African Christianity,
his Catholicism and no excuses for what many claim to be politically incorrect
stances on Christianity.

Cardinal Sarah has been very vocal, as well as pointed with his words, regarding ISIS,
Radical Isalm, gender identity, LGBTQ lifestyles, mass immigration, abortion,
the current demise of the traditional family, and the current seemingly
demise of Western Civilization.

The good Cardinal says that he “considers that the decadence of our time has
all the faces of mortal peril.”
He has also stated that ‘Gender Ideology is a Luciferean Refusal’
of the Sexual Nature Given to Us by God.

There are no apologies for such wording as he speaks with only the
word of God as his guide.

Cardinal Sarah has a new book to be released in September…
The Day Is Now Far Spent.

The publisher’s review is telling…

In this powerful book by the acclaimed spiritual leader and best-selling writer,
one he calls his “most important”, he analyzes the profound spiritual,
moral and political crisis in the contemporary world.
He says that he “considers that the decadence of our time has all the faces of mortal peril.”

“At the root of the collapse of the West, there is a cultural identity crisis.
The West no longer knows who it is, because it no longer knows and does not
want to know who made it, who established it, as it was and as it is.
Many countries today ignore their own history.
This self-suffocation naturally leads to a decadence that opens the path to new,
barbaric civilizations.”

In these words, Cardinal Sarah summarizes the theme of his book.
His finding is simple: our world is on the brink of the abyss.
Crisis of faith and of the Church, decline of the West, betrayal by its elites,
moral relativism, endless globalism, unbridled capitalism, new ideologies,
political exhaustion, movements inspired by Islamist totalitarianism…
The time has come for an unflinching diagnosis.

While making clear the gravity of the crisis through which the West has gone,
the Cardinal demonstrates that it is possible to avoid the hell of a world without God,
a world without man, a world without hope.

After the great international success of his first two books,
God or Nothing and The Power of Silence,
Cardinal Sarah offers a wide-ranging reflection on the crisis of the contemporary
world while teaching many important spiritual lessons.

I look forward to reading this latest book by this ardent soldier of the Faith,
and I am thankful that there are prelates, clergy, and
men of the cloth who will not apologize nor back down in the face of mounting backlash,
criticism or persecution—

In the word of God, there are no mistakes…there is no mincing of His word…

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth:
it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless],
but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose,
and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11

ruffled feathers

It is the character of a brave and resolute man not to be ruffled by adversity
and not to desert his post.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

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(time for molting / a cardinal looking worse for the wear /Julie Cook / 2016)

Now is the time for the Faithful to be both brave and resolute…
for doubt and complacency have blanketed reality.

No longer do we know what is truth or fallacy…
As loud voices are vying for supremacy.

But we have been warned, long before now, that false prophets will abound.
There will be those who come and go offering promises that can’t be kept.
As we’ve been lulled into ignoring honesty

We’ve readily traded Truth for the satisfaction of self…
while the masses have not a clue.

There is neither time nor season to waste…
The stage is set, the events have begun,
yet everyone is too busy posing for the selfies of the egocentric.

Speak up you who hold the Faith.
Stand firm and hold your ground….
Because if you don’t, no one else will…
as all will have been for naught…

You don’t think so?
You don’t agree?
You don’t wish to be an alarmist?
You don’t want to appear intolerant, ignorant or uninformed…

Trouble is…
you don’t have the time to wait and wonder if…

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How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?

Proverbs 6:9

measure well

Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued.
“With the measure you use,
it will be measured to you…and even more.

Mark 4:24

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(a hungry cardinal / Carrollton, Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

“You get as good as you give”…
or so the saying goes.
You offer kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity…
Only to be swindled, taken advantage of and then run amuck with bad luck, bad health, bad times.
Loss, suffering, pain, struggles, sadness and woe.
You fuss and curse a God, you may or may not know…
You curse Him for not preventing, thwarting or stopping all the bad which befalls you.
“Where is the returned measure of favor which SHOULD be shown?” you grouse.
You hear the voices from within and without shouting
“it’s not fair, it’s not right…”
nor is it just…

And you’re right, it’s not….it’s not fair nor just.
But God never said to do good or be good in order to get good..
He said do good, be kind, give much, forgive…all without ceasing.
If they take…give
If they take again, give more
If they strike…turn and afford them to strike again
If they curse…bless
If they scorn…love
All to be measured outward… without ceasing

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:27-36

So use your measure well…making certain that your measured output is greater than your measured intake…

Falling comfortably back into place

“This is the place of places and and it is here.”
Gertrude Stein

“Therefore, the places in which we have experienced daydreaming reconstitute themselves in a new daydream, and it is because our memories of former dwelling-places are relived as day-dreams that these dwelling-places of the past remain in us for all time.”
― Gaston Bachelard

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(the first “hummer” of the season is back home / Julie Cook / 2015)

When life has been demanding and there seems to be no time to self. . .
No time for. . .
noticing,
reflecting,
observing,
savoring. . .
No moments of a luxuriously exhaled Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. . .

It is at just that precise moment. . .that single moment between breaking apart and holding on. . .
when eyes have glazed over,
nerves are at their rawest
and stress is out the roof. .
At that very and utter almost unbearable, catastrophic, breaking moment,
it is then. . .that it happens. . .
The familiar, the comforting, the nostalgic slips gently back into place. . .

An old familiar friend returns.
You find that long forgotten item of fuzzy feelings and internal warmth.
Happy loving memories come flooding to the forefront of the heart.
It is at that single miraculously wonderful moment that suddenly. . .all is once again,
right with the world. . .and you find that you can hang on one more day. . .

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(foraging cardinal / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(a tufted titmouse enrobed within the new spring foliage / Julie Cook /2105)

Just happy to be here

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.
Martha Washington

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(a fledgling cardinal / Julie Cook / 2014)

I had noticed her hopping about out of the corner of my eye—that is, only after I had heard the distinctive “chirp chirp” alerting me that a cardinal was close at hand.
This, however was not just any run of the mill cardinal. This was a new addition to the yard cardinal. As in a fledgling who still had the moulty little tufts of feathers still adorning her head.

I watched her for a while–chirping and hopping here and there as she continued poking and prodding the ground in search of whatever tasty little morsel and grub she could find. She seemed not to have a care in the world. Even with our cat Peaches lounging about in the grass just a few yards away, each animal oblivious and uncaring that either was within “meeting” distance.

A single moment in time that is a wonderful snapshot of Harmony. Our cat being a bit atypical, caring less about the birds in the yard, more interested in what I may be doing. She is just as happy and content as I am to simply sit and watch, or for her, to rather sit and nap.
The little bird should have felt a threatening danger, but blissfuly did not. Peaches has never given any of the birds any cause for concern—of which I am pleased.

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(Peaches more interested in the camera rather than the little bird / 2014)

These small snippets, vignettes of the microcosms of a world seemingly in slow motion, are the soothing balm to the often jaded and tired souls which manifest themselves, day in and day out; byproducts of the rat race we create in life.

Maybe it’s the weather.
Maybe it’s the warmer days.
Maybe it’s the longer days.
Maybe it’s the lazier and slower way in which the world seems to now turn.
Perhaps it’s all of that and more as to why I enjoy the tranquil day’s of an approaching Summer season.

It’s the time of year in which the World seems to offer a collective sigh–exhaling as it begins to relax, and finally lets go. . .
Here’s to sitting under the canopy of an ancient oak tree.
Here’s to the sounds of harmony buzzing and chirping about the yard.
Here’s to the tell-tale summer scent of a freshly mown lawn.
Here’s to spending more time outside rather than inside.
Here’s to time, which may finally be on your side.
Here’s to being happy that we’re just all simply here, in the moment. . .

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Ode to the birds of winter

In the bleak midwinter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak midwinter, Long ago.
Christina G Rossetti

Ode to the birds.
They are lively busy creatures offering constant fascination and entertainment. A marvel of agility, their tiny, almost weightless, structures coupled with a most beautiful plumage, makes them a favorite of both the trained, as well as the casual, observer.

Man has spent most of his existence wishing that he too could be a free as the birds, soaring upward and heavenward.
It is even theorized that perhaps it is to the birds we should look when wishing to understand the mysteries of the dinosaurs.

The following images are of just a few the backyard residence and guests which call our yard either home or hotel. . .

Here are two different images of a northern flicker. Both the red bellied woodpecker and the northern flicker are native to this area. Both birds are very similar in appearance and make for interesting observation.

Flickers like digging for bugs and insects be it in the ground or on a tree. This particular flicker is burrowing down in the snowy ground looking for what may be lurking just under the snow. Both flickers and red bellied woodpeckers will readily feed from suspended bird feeders, preferring larger seeds, peanuts and dried fruit.
Up against a tree, the flicker acts very much like his kin the more common woodpecker, poking around for insects.

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Mystery in the snow. . .
Note the outline of spread wings and tail.
Might this be a snow angel of sorts?
Followed by, for some small rodent no doubt, a scene of something most wickedly fowl / foul.
Finally, we spy the perpetrator perched high within the cover of the trees—the stealthy red shouldered hawk.

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Here, gathered underneath the feeder, is a grouping of sparrows and what I thought to be a visiting Baltimore Oriole but was recently corrected (12/12/14) that the bird is actually an Eastern Towhee.

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As usual, the permeant resident of the yard, our mockingbird

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And of course the beautiful contrast of the brightly colored male red cardinal against the pristine snow. Note the myriad of bird tracks all through the snow surrounding the cardinal.

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