Something about that date…

“But no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.”

James 3:8-10


one of the side chapels in Santa Maria sopra Minerva / Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018

I don’t know about your phone, but my phone displays, on the home screen, a banner
notification alert to emails, breaking news, missed calls, texts…etc…
One notification kept reoccurring, despite my having already opened and read the email—
weeks ago.

Day after day, the same notification kept showing up.
Despite my having opened it, read it, and closed it.

Glitch?
Power the phone off.
Power on.

The problem was that it kept happening, again and again.

But first, let’s back up a tad…

I subscribe to The Catholic Company’s Morning Offering.
Each morning, bright and early, I receive an email with the day’s quotes, daily office readings,
the saint of the day meditation of the day…etc.

It’s where I find many of the quotes and meditation (observations and writings) excerpts that I use.

I usually save them, only sending them to the trash once I’ve accumulated about a month’s allotment–
making certain I’ve read, savored and pulled out what is needed in my sharing.

Well, I did such for December 18th’s offering…
I didn’t use it that exact day but the following day…I used it when I felt “called” to do so.
I had used the morning of the 18th’s quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen,
as well as the meditation excerpt from Fr. Basil Maturin.

“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

It is, then, in following the will of God,
in spite of all the difficulties that may arise both from within and from without,
in the constant offering of ourselves to God as the creatures of His hand to do and to be what
He would have us,
in the surrender of one thing after another that comes between us and Him and holds us back—–
it is in such acts that we unite ourselves with those glorious beings who cast their crowns
before the throne and with those unfallen creatures who have never known what it is to have
a wish or thought apart from the will of God.
Amongst those glorified saints there are, indeed,
many whose wills were for a long time in revolt against God’s will and who brought themselves
at last into subjection, many to whom the will of God here on earth meant the sacrifice of
everything the heart most loved, many to whom it meant the sacrifice of life itself.
But all that is past and over, and its fruits remain—the eternal life of oblation and union
with God, where one will rules those countless multitudes and binds them together and to God,
where each one of those countless millions lives his own complete and perfect life yet never
jars on any other, where each is perfect in itself and all together compose one perfect whole—
the Body of Christ.”

Fr. Basil Maturin, p. 47
An Excerpt From
Spiritual Guidelines for Souls Seeking God

My godfather, who passed away 3 years ago December 29, 2016, was the Episcopal priest
who I often reference in many of my posts.
He was instrumental in my life…
especially during my youthful Christian journey…
as he watched and silently prayed as I ebbed and flowed when beginning a life of my own.
He was the Dean of the Cathedral of St Philip in Atlanta from 1966-1984…
His birthday was December 18th.

And so ironically, oddly or divinely I kept having that errant notification on my phone from the
Catholic Morning Offering for the day of December 18th.

(and you know I don’t believe in coincidence…only prompting by The Spirit)

Day after day the notification was showing up on my phone despite my having read the email.

After powering down the phone multiple times, closing all apps, yada yada, yada…
it would keep popping up.
So I went back to the original email and moved it to the trash…
of which removed it from all of my devices…
I was suspecting my migrating of old to new computers might be to blame but doubted it.

So that was that.
The email was trashed and I hoped the popup notification would leave me alone.

So then out of the blue on December 17th, I received an errant text message from a dear old friend
from out in Billings, Montana.

He was a former priest at the Cathedral when I was in high school and was our priest for youth.
He and I were always very close friends even following our taking separate paths in life.
He moved back home to a small Montana town in order to pastor a small Episcopal Church
while I went off to college.

We’ve stayed in touch sporadically throughout the years…my husband and I even stopped in Billings
a few years back when we were on a driving adventure to Glacier National Park and met up for a bit of
face to face catch up.

But our contact is usually relegated to the yearly Christmas card…

And so I was really surprised when his text popped up out of the blue.

My friend wrote that He and David (Dean Collins) had had a good conversation the evening prior while
my friend was driving back home from church.

I wrote back a tongue and cheek response that their conversation must have been of the divine…
I then asked how he was besides being delusional…

He told me that sometimes he finds that he still needs to run a few things past the Dean, his former
boss, and mentor, as only the Dean would understand.

I get that…as I wholeheartedly agree.

I can’t count how many conversations I still have with my godpoppa…
I deeply miss that twinkling eye and sly smile and rich melodic soothing voice of his
as he’d take me in his arms offering my angst-filled heart comfort or lovingly place those
gentle hands upon my head calling for prayers of healing.

My friend in Montana has since retired as the rector of the Episcopal Chruch there in Billings
and now enjoys fishing as well as keeping up with the families of all of his now grown foster boys.

I told him that it was funny that he text me out of the blue regarding Dean Collins the day before the
Dean’s birthday which would have fallen on the 18th.

So fast forward to earlier this week.

I’ve written about my crazy dreams before.

I don’t always sleep well due to the vivid dreams I often have.

Some are slap crazy.
Some are weird as hell.
Some are troubling.
Some have me walking up my husband as I’m mumbling loudly while thrashing about as I seem to be
struggling in my sleep.
Some are so vivid that I can actually wake with tears rolling down my cheeks.

Well, the other night I had a dream that seemed to last most of the night…going on and on.
And of course, it made absolutely no sense and it was crazy… but…
the Dean was in the dream.

He was as he was when I was in college, but I was as I am now.
We were seated at a large table or maybe it was a long bench but we were seated side by side.

He was right by my side.
And despite the dream making no sense, there was however a sense of peace having him right by my side.

So when I woke up… I figured I needed to go back in and pull up that Morning Offering from Dec. 18th
that kept nagging me.
I wanted–needed–to see if I was missing something.

Or was I simply suppose to repost the quote and excerpts again…maybe someone esle needed to read
them…maybe again.

The bible verse is listed above—James 3:8-10

The quote was by Archbishop Sheen which is listed above along with the same
meditation by Fr. Basil Maturin.

And the saint for the day was–
ST. WINEBALD
St. Winebald (701-761 A.D.) was a Saxon prince born into a holy and royal family in England.
His father, St. Richard the King, and his mother, St. Wunna of Wessex, are both saints, as well as his brother,
St. Willibald, his sister, St. Walburga, and his uncle, St. Boniface.
After making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with his father and brother,
and then spending many years in Rome, Winebald was recruited by his uncle, Boniface,
to join him in evangelizing Germany.
Winebald was ordained a priest and worked as a missionary across Germany, Holland, France, Austria,
Belgium, and Luxembourg, leaving behind many flourishing churches and monasteries
under the Rule of St. Benedict. St. Winebald was an important figure in laying the
foundations of Christianity across much of Europe.
After his death, his tomb became a pilgrimage shrine. His feast day is December 18.

So now let’s look back at today’s picture I posted up above.

Back in October when I was spending a reflective afternoon exploring the beautiful church of
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the Chruch of Sanit Mary over Minerva,
I was slowly walking from side chapel to chapel taking in the paintings, and the statuary—
all of the man-created beauty complimenting the Divine offering of peace.
When I found myself stopping, noting an odd little sight.

Something that I don’t think many of the passing tourists even noticed let alone understood the significance.

Someone had tied a scallop shell to the gate in front of the chapel.

Some of the chapels have gates and are locked most days as many of them contain priceless works of art.
These churches are open to the public with little to no security, so given our day and time,
some areas are simply locked off to a wandering public.

The shell is a symbol of St. James and is associated with Christian pilgrims…
Of which you may read here:
https://followthecamino.com/blog/scallop-shell-camino-de-santiago/
(Lynda I hope you have your shell)

And so I knew that a pilgrim had been here before I had been.

Our paths had crossed…unbeknownst to either of us…all but for the breadcrumb of a simple shell left behind.

And so since I feel as if my blog is often a pilgrimage of sorts, I also believe that my blog is
in turn a place for pilgrims to visit.

And thus since there was obviously something about the day’s devotion from Dec. 18th that
needed for, or rather longed for, me to revisit and reshare. I have done so.
It is for whoever may find themselves stopping by for a bit of a respite during their pilgrimage.

“And he began, “What chance or destiny
has brought you here before your final day?
And who is he who leads your pilgrimage?”
“Up there in life beneath the quiet stars
I lost my way,” I answered, “in a valley,
before I’d reached the fullness of my age.
I turned my shoulders on it yesterday:
this soul appeared as I was falling back,
and by the road through Hell he leads me home.”
“Follow your star and you will never fail
to find your glorious port,” he said to me”

Dante Alighieri

beloved seeking beloved

“In the first place it should be known that if a person is seeking God,
his beloved is seeking him much more.”

— St. John of the Cross


(just some of the blueberries picked the other day / Julie Cook / 2018)

The other day I shared a tale about a lesson gleaned from within a blueberry bush.

I spoke of going full on honey badger after the abundance of plump berries.

An expression which means going after whatever it is one is going after with an exuberant
and high velocity of gusto and tenacity.

I likened such a fierce hyperfocus over the act of berry picking,
as small as it is in comparison,
to how God is to be viewed in His quest for and over us…
That He will go full on honey badger for the object of His affection.

A simplistic comparison but an earthly one that is readily understood in its
scope and depth.
A no backing down, no relenting, no walking away sort of approach to attaining the
quest.

And so yesterday morning, when reading the daily offering, the words of St. John of the Cross,
words echoing that same sentiment, I clearly began to see a trend of thought.

So since we’ve come to understand that there is no such thing as coincidence…
only the Holy Spirit…
we know that this “thought” is being revealed for a reason…
A reminder, timely that it is, that we are being sought to such a depth of desire that it
far surpasses our own comprehension of what intent and reason actually mean.

If we seek our earthly desires with such a tunneled visioned steely wanting and precision…
what then of God for us?

So here is a reminder, an offering in the need in knowing, that God will not nor has not,
abandoned us…
A reminder from past to present that God remains steadfast in His pursuit
of both you and me.

A pursuit that has been gravely costly to Him but a pursuit that has never lost its momentum
nor waned nor diminished.

If we stop, just stop doing what it is we are doing, allowing our minds to grasp the very thought
of such a driven quest for such a desire…it is more than we can digest or phantom…
to grasp that we are the end focus of such a quest, such a goal…that we are
the end of His desire, His wants…

If we allow ourselves to ponder and ruminate over such a thought we find that such knowledge
is so very necessary and even crucial in this day and time of ours…

Yes there is a beloved…
and He his seeking His beloved…

and that beloved is both you and me…

amazing really…

“[The] ultimate end of man we call beatitude.
For a man’s happiness or beatitude consists in the vision whereby he sees God in His essence.
Of course, man is far below God in the perfection of his beatitude.
For God has this beatitude by His very nature,
whereas man attains beatitude by being admitted to a share in the divine light.”
— St. Thomas Aquinas, p. 119
An Excerpt from
Aquinas’s Shorter Summa

coincidence or Spirit…

“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self.
It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome,
we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit,
that it is God, the indivisible.
And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world,
yet undisturbed by its multiplicity,
for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.”

Hermann Hesse

One year ago yesterday on March 19th, my dad lost his battle with cancer.
At the time, the last thing I was thinking about was what all was going on around me
let alone the significance of dates on a calendar.
I was just doing good by planning a funeral and dealing with the remnants of a lost life…

I was simply oblivious to everything else.

Moments of such loss tend to do that to us…

We freeze as if caught in a glitch of both space and time…
we’re standing still but the world, and everything else around us is still
spinning and moving.

This year as March 19th arrived on the calendar, with me marking both it’s coming and going
with a bit of inward melancholy, I couldn’t help but notice that throughout the entire day
I had been subtly reminded that March 19th was not just a day marking a sad milestone in my
small corner of the world, it also just so happened to be the day that the Church remembers
St Joseph…the earthly father of Jesus.
As in the feast day of St. Joseph

As in a ‘dad’ sort of day.

And like I’ve said before, I’m not one for the notion of coincidence as I am more about the moving
of the Spirit. Because with God, there is no such thing as coincidence…
just the guidance offered by the third member of the Trinity.

And so as I found myself fondly remembering my own dad, the man who adopted me when I was but
a few months old, for both good and bad, who stood watch over me most of my life while that role
was reversed during the last 5 years of his life…
I now recall the one who stood watch over a growing God made man-child …
a boy who needed the perfect earthly father to guide him as He prepared to lead us all
to our own Salvation…

So whereas I was feeling glum as I moved throughout my day, I found my thoughts being gently
teased outward as I have been reminded that God is always greater, ever mindful and deeply full
of thought for each and every one of us in our ups as well as downs…
no detail is too small, no event too insignificant that He is not everpresent.

every piece of every puzzle has a place…

“Do you ever feel like life is pushing us toward something,
some greater purpose?”

Spencer Stone

Clint Eastwood said it was just a story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
And he was right.

And whereas the majority of the movie 15:17 to Paris is basically the lead-up backstory
to the real-life terror attack which unfolded that fateful August evening in 2015 aboard
a Thalys train bound for Paris…
The movie, the story, is more or less, a finished puzzle.

Rather it’s the pieces to this completed puzzle that’s really what’s important.
And these pieces are the lives of three boys who grew up to be in the right place
at the right time…not by odds but by Divine direction.

And if you doubt that, think of each incidence during the courses of the lives of three boys–
think of their ups and downs, their directions, their troubles, and failures.
Think of their lifelong friendship, think of the coming together of each
individual puzzle piece which could only fit together one way, and one way only.

Terror events that end happily…meaning that the bad guys are apprehended,
and where there may be wounded– no one dies…The setting rather is an uncrowded train
full of individuals on holiday or simply commuters and is not a crowded concert hall,
not a crowded street, not a large office building…
these events readily fade more rapidly versus the larger and more televised terror melees
which we live with for years.

Such is a reason as to why telling this story is important.

The movie has received less than stellar reviews.

Clint Eastwood, as director, is taking a lot of heat for producing what is being
perceived as an uncharacteristically poor performing film.
His choice to use the actual boys, who are indeed the real-life heroes,
is being seen as a near catastrophic move for the making or breaking of the film…
which is being seen, more or less, as breaking.

Whereas Eastwood had cast Tom Hanks in the role of Sully Sullenberger in his movie
about the pilot who successfully ‘crash’ landed a fully loaded passenger plane
on the Hudson River, a choice which most critics saw as genius,
here he opted to use nonactors.
A less than genius move so say the critics.

Yes, the movie is a little slow.
Yes, the boys are a little stiff—but they aren’t actors…
A little fact I actually found welcoming.

The flow of the tale is a little awkward bouncing between present and past, past and present.
But you know, I didn’t want to see an actor’s portrayal of this story, I wanted the real deal.
I didn’t want Hollywood, I wanted the nitty gritty of the actual, not the glamorized fictional.

Now we all know I loved the movie the Darkest Hour—but there were many liberties taken
with the historical truth in that film.
Scenes that were totally fictional, cloyingly sentimental which played directly to
the viewer’s emotions.

15:17 to Paris was just what it was…real, raw and unpolished.

However it was what played out in each one of these boys lives,
from the first day they met in junior high, down to what lead each one of them to be on
that particular train on that particular evening of that particular year…
which was the catalyst for preventing a horrendous catastrophe.

The pieces of the puzzle were put into motion long before August 21, 2015.

It’s the details of these three boys lives, the hand of God, which rested on each of them,
the prayers and faith of parents which all catapulted them, leading them to that particular
train coming out of Amsterdam taking them to Paris,
a city they had been very reluctant to visit.

Each puzzle piece as seen by the nonbeliever, the jaded and skeptic would simply
be seen as coincidental.

Coincidence that Stone did not make his hoped-for area of focus with the Pararescue team
due to a lack of depth perception.
This leads him rather reluctantly and begrudgingly to take coursework in paramedics…
of which came into play as he held his hand deep in the neck on the bleeding carotid artery
of the shooting victim on the train, keeping this man alive versus his bleeding out.

A life of failures, slamming closed doors, knocks and hard licks all preparing each
ordinary boy, now grown man, pushing them toward the extraordinary.

Extraordinary by the ordinary, something Eastwood reminds each of us in the sharing
of this real-life story with the real-life individuals involved.
Nothing fancy, nothing glamorous, nothing high tech nor over the top.

This has been an important reminder for me which I suspect will be an important
reminder for many of us.

This is not a Hollywood type of movie.
This is not an Oscar would-be movie.
I doubt Eastwood considered such or perhaps didn’t care about such when wanting to
remind us of the whats and whys when it comes to the making of an ordinary puzzle piece.
Puzzle pieces that have each been pre-ordained to fit together.

Or at least that’s how I see it.

May each of us who are indeed ordinary step up to the extraordinary when we are so called.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13

when man becomes God

“Communism begins where atheism begins.”
“Communism abolishes eternal truths,
it abolishes all religion all morality”

Karl Marx


(a thistle blooming in a meadow / Julie Cook / 2017)

Since his expulsion from his once beautiful and safe garden home,
man has vied to become his own creator, his own director, his own God….
Thinking, no actually more like proclaiming,
that he knows best and simply… that he IS the best…

In yesterday’s post, we read a quote by Sister Lucia—the Carmelite nun who as a child in
1917 along with her two cousins, experienced several Divine encounters with the Virgin Mary.

Over the course of several months, Mary actually shared several prophecies with the children.
With one such prophecy being about the final confrontation between Good and Evil—
or more precisely between Christ and Satan…

“The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and
the family.
Don’t be afraid, because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will
always be contended and opposed in every way,
because this is the decisive issue.
However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.”

(the quote is taken from a letter written by Sister Lucia to Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna)

The holy sanctity of both marriage and family, it appears,
is to be a lynchpin in that dramatic collision…

And are we not seeing that same “lynchpin” proving to be a divisive issue in our own current times?

I’ve recently started reading a new book, I was more than a little intrigued when
first, from out of the blue, I found that quote by Sister Lucia then later, when reading,
I was broadsided by what appears to be another piece of the puzzle
presented earlier by Sister Lucia….
two vastly different encounters yet now oddly apparently connected.

And as I’ve said before, I don’t believe in happenstance or coincidence.

The book, I initially concluded, was going to be a typically political and historical
book based on two leading world figures..

A Pope and A President
by Paul Kenogor

The book is based on the relationship between Ronald Reagan and John Paull II and
“the extraordinary untold story of the 20th century”

A story I pretty much assumed would center on the work and contribution of both men
in the dismantling of the Soviet Union—the toppling of communism as it were.

I’ve read several previous books showcasing the relationships between Reagan, Thatcher,
Gorbachev and John Paul…each of whom were instrumental in the tearing down of
that infamous wall….

But this book has an unusual beginning, not what I expected…
It begins in Fatima, Portugal 1917…
and intermixes with the death of the Romanov family and the Russian Revolution.

There’s much I feel I already want to share but I’m not even to page 50….
For to digest the book properly, it is a bit of a slow go as I read and re-read certain
passages.

While reading last night I was struck by an incident that had taken place involving the
newly formed Communist Congress spearheaded by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and others,
involving the Russian Orthodox Church.

“The Russian Orthodox Church’s long-standing prohibition against divorce was lifted,
leading to an explosion in divorce rates and havoc upon the Russian family.
Lenin made good on his June 1913 promise to secure and “unconditional annulment of all
laws against abortions.
By 1920, abortion was legal and free of charge to Russian women.
The number of abortions skyrocketed to levels still unmatched in human history.”

I no longer find it coincidental that with man attempting to become God, the first thing
he wants to dismantle is marriage…that sacred union as mandated by God.
Because if you are now you’re own god, then why listen to the One claiming to be the same?

And so too the man god, it appears, finds it most natural to throw caution to the wind
while tossing the proverbial baby right out with the bath water…
….cause that’ll work, right?!?

And so we see that man has decided that he has a better idea of how living should work.

Of which has a direct impact on the family unit—
that bond that God deemed to be a Holy unit…
and naturally the man god decided that that too is also utter rubbish….

Thus with the dissolving of what God originally intended marriage to be,
we instead have the erosion of that very sacred union between man and woman…
with a direct resulting decay of, in turn, the essence of humanity….

But obviously that whole notion of a decreed sacred union along with the subsequent family unit
is no longer of importance to the now ruling man god….

Throughout the course of mankind, when man has attempted to usurp control from the
Divine Creator, the consequences have proven to be disastrous…
so why should today’s time be any different.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and they will become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24

“you may be an undigested bit of beef…..”

“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese,
a fragment of underdone potato.
There’s more of gravy than of grave about you,
whatever you are!”

Charles Dickens / Scrooge in a Christmas Carol

scrooge-e1415647043385
(Alastair Sim as Scrooge in a 1951 adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol)

An undigested bit of beef, a piece of moldy cheese…
a sour stomach due to indigestion…

Indigestion, that’s it!!

Or maybe a migraine…
or a change in weather…
or the dropping barometric pressure…
perhaps a change in season…

Any explanation other than the truth…

The truth of the nagging encounter.

The encounter that is meant to turn you around.
Bringing you to your knees,
opening your eyes,
but more importantly, turning your heart.

Oh say what we will about the character of the man Dickens…
One thing is certain, his stories spoke deeply of the condition of the heart of man.

How long will we try to rationalize our encounters, our moments,
when the Spirit meets us in mid journey, as something other than indigestion
or a coincidence, or something other than…
the Divine…

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 26:36

The infinite endlessness of love

Love is an act of endless forgiveness,
a tender look which becomes a habit.

Peter Ustinov

You want me to tell you why God is to be loved and how much.
I answer, the reason for loving God is God Himself;
and the measure of love due to Him is immeasurable love…

St Bernard of Clairvaux

RSCN2960
(an empty snail’s shell / Julie Cook / 2016)

Infinity is a common feature of the patterns found in math, physics, and nature; and thus infinitely repeating patterns must also be a characteristic of the entire cosmos which could then be said to have infinite symmetry.
Journal of Cosmology / Astronomy-Astrobiolgy / Quantum Physics / Earth Sciences /Life

The infinite…
The endless…

Where infinite repetition is found within…
An endless expanding cosmos.

Where perfection is found in the symmetrical
As the immeasurable is born in the intangible

Where mystically perfect ratios create
Otherworldly equations of oddly coincidental facts

Where the rational collides into the irrational
as Love and Forgiveness flow mingled down a cross as one…

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?
Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
(As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day;
we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39