the wisdom of Catherine of Siena

“We’ve had enough exhortations to be silent.
Cry out with a thousand tongues –
I see the world is rotten because of silence.”

St. Catherine of Siena

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son. Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control
this free will, because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will
into the hands of the Devil—that is,
if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—you will never be injured by
the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love,
and to understand why I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having
it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

— St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

new left, not so new-raison d’etre

“But society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence,
where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here, certain things cannot be said,
certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed,
certain behaviour cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument
for the continuation of servitude.”

Herbert Marcuse

As we revisit our friend Melvin Tinker and his book
“That Hideous Strength: How The West Was Lost
The Cancer of Cultural Marxism in the Church, the World and The Gospel of Change”
,
we pick up where we last left off…reviewing some of the writings of the likes of individuals
such as Herbert Marcuse.

Who was Herbert Marcuse you ask?

He was a German-born American philosopher, sociologist, and Political Theorist.

Marcuse was a key figure in the Frankfurt Shcool of Critical thinking.

According to Tinker–
“In 1923 a week-long symposium was organized by Felix Weil in Frankfurt,
Germany in which they laid out a vision for a Marxist think-tank and
research centre.
The original name for the centre was the Institue for Marxism (Institut fur Marxismus),
but a more innocent sounding title was subsequently given,
The Institute for Social Research (Institut fur Sozialforschung).
Since that time the ISR has usually been known simply as the Frankfurt School.”

Besides his time spent in the Frankfurt School, Marcuse also spent time working for the
US government in the Office of Strategic Services which was a precursor to the CIA.

But what is actually more relevant and crucial to us today regarding Marcuse,
as we witness a sinister surge in this new cultural Marxism grabbing hold of
our Western Civilization, is that Marcuse is known as the ‘father of the New Left’.

The New Left…??

Perhaps The New Left is an oxymoron—not new at all.

Have we not been inundated with all things of the New Left ever since the midterms?
Does the new darling of that New Left Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ring a bell?
So perhaps we’re actually discerning that this “new” left isn’t so new after all…

Tinker responds to Marcuse’s opening quote —
Notice all those ‘cannots’?
Who do you think they are applied to?
Mainly people like Christians.
This is a new totalitarian-tolerance while all the time masquerading as a new freedom.
As such the new tolerance must extinguish the old tolerance and those people and
institutions which traditionally expouse it such as the church.
Furthermore, for neo-Marxism to have a raison d’etre
there must be repressed groups which need liberating,
People are required to see themselves as victims of the liberal society of which they are a part.

PC or not PC? That is the question
It is cultural Marxism which lies behind the all-pervading political correctness of our age.
Those of both the political right and left acknowledge this.
Pat Buchanan of the right wrote, ‘Political Correctness is cultural Marxism, a regime to punish dissent
and to stigmatize social heresy as the Inquisition, punished religious heresy. Its trademark is intolerance.’

Similarly from the more liberal publication Newsweek:
PC is, strictly speaking, a totalitarian philosophy …
Politically, PC is Marxist in origin…There are…
some who recognize the tyranny of PC but see it only as a transitional phase,
which will no longer be necessary once the virtues of tolerance are internalized.
Does that sound familiar? Its the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In 1930 Max Horkheimer became the director of the ISR which is when neo-Marxism was
launched in earnest.
Horkheimer was convinced that the major obstacle to the spread of Marxism was traditional
Western culture with its Judeo-Christian heritage.
Here there developed a revisionist neo-Marxist interpretation of Western culture under the rubric,
Critical Theory, the goal of which according to William S. Lind ‘was not truth but praxis,
or revolutionary action: bringing the current society and culture down through unremitting,
destructive criticism.’
Truth, according to this view, was locked into its own particular point in history and so was
historically relative (of course that would apply to Critical Theory itself
a fact which was conveniently overlooked).

unremitting destructive criticism…” along with ‘facts that are conveniently overlooked‘.
With the New Left’s biggest obstacle being Western Culture and its Judeo-Christian heritage…??

If you think that none of this is relevant or affects you, your life, your routines, your beliefs…
you best think again.

No, this New Left is really not so new at all—
yet it continues on relentlessly, with a growing fevered pitch,
to desperately turn your world upside down.
To de-establish the established.
To neuter the bedrock of Western Civilization…that being
her Judeo-Christian foundation.

And there is no one who is more giddy about this revved-up assault
then that of our old ancient foe.

Split
Divide
Eliminate
Conquer

You and I will soon have two choices, that is if those two choices aren’t already standing before us…
Stand firm in our faith…
or…
appease and apologize…
and in turn, lose our souls.

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and
following their own evil desires.
They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?
Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was
formed out of water and by water.
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire,
being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.
The heavens will disappear with a roar;
the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?
You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth,
the home of righteousness.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this,
make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation,
just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters.
His letters contain some things that are hard to understand,
which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this,
be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from
your secure position.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be glory both now and forever!
Amen.

2 Peter 3:3-18:1

hospitality while staying the course

“The most deadly poison of our time is indifference.
And this happens although the praise of God should know no limits.
Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Do not seek to be regarded as somebody,
don’t compare yourself to others in anything.
Leave the world, mount the cross, discard all earthly things,
shake the dust from off your feet.”

St. Barsanuphius


(a tiny ladybug rumaging about the hydranga blosoms / Julie Cook / 2018)

June, albeit already being known as National Icecream month, is quickly becoming
my national babysitting month…
This as I am here and there, acting as said keeper of the wee one, as work schedules and
summer workshops are currently on a collision course.

However, you won’t hear any complaints coming from me…more than happy to oblige…

But this balance of both distance and time, of which are each keeping me overtly busy and
currently stretched thin, is hindering my ability to fully contribute and offer meatier
and tastier posts… as well as forcing my unintended negligence to those day to day interactions
with those of you who are my friends and kind enough to offer your own thoughtful reflections,
feelings and words of wisdom.

And speaking of interactions…

I suppose I’d like to say a word or two regarding some rather interesting interactions
I’ve had with those who have been wandering into cookieland…
wanderings taking place from say, a week or so ago.

I’ve written about this sort of thing before.

As it’s an odd occurrence really.

Let us reflect a moment on the notion of hospitality.

I’m Southern born and raised and those of us who hail from the South are usually known
for our Southern Hospitality.
A graciousness in opening our doors, our homes, our lives our hearts…welcoming and inviting
others to ‘come sit a spell’…inviting others to come rest while we offer a
bit of respite from the pressures of life.

I shared this very notion, just the other day with Tricia, from over on
Freedom Through Empowerment.

I explained to Tricia that years ago I had read a small book that had actually been
written centuries prior.
It was actually more of a manual rather than a book.

The book is known as The Rule of St Benedict and it was written by Benedict of Nursia
in the 1st Century.

Benedict wrote the book as an instructional manual for those who were wishing to follow
in his footsteps…living life as a Christian monk…
an order of Christian monks known as the Benedictine Order.

It was written for those Christians living during the persecution of the Roman Empire…
a time not known for its hospitality toward Christians.

The little book has had amazing staying power as many a Fortune 500 company has their upper
management read the book as a lesson in how to work with others as well as how to treat others.

According to Wikipedia “The spirit of Saint Benedict’s Rule is summed up in the motto
of the Benedictine Confederation: pax (“peace”) and the traditional
ora et labora (“pray and work”).
Compared to other precepts, the Rule provides a moderate path between
individual zeal and formulaic institutionalism;
because of this middle ground it has been widely popular.
Benedict’s concerns were the needs of monks in a community environment:
namely, to establish due order, to foster an understanding of the relational nature
of human beings, and to provide a spiritual father to support and strengthen the
individual’s ascetic effort and the spiritual growth that is required for the fulfillment
of the human vocation, theosis.

However, there was one rule in particular that spoke to me more so than the others…
it is the Rule of Receiving Guests.

All guests who arrive should be received as Christ so that he will say,
“I was a stranger and you took me in” [Mt 25:35].
Show honor to them all, especially to fellow Christians and to wayfarers.
When a guest is announced, let him be met with all charity.
Pray with him, and then associate with one another in peace.
(Do not give anyone the kiss of peace before a prayer has been said, in case of satanic deception.)
Greet guests with all humility,
with the head bowed down or the whole body prostrate on the ground,
adoring Christ in them, as you are also receiving him.
When the guests have been received, let them be accompanied to prayers.
Then let the Abbot, or some he chooses,
sit down with them.
The divine law be read to the guest for his edification,
and then you should show him every kindness.
The Abbot should break his fast in deference to the guest,
unless it is a day of solemn fast,
which cannot be broken.
The other brothers however should keep the fast as usual.
The Abbot should pour the water on the guest’s hands,
and the whole brotherhood should join him in washing the feet of all the guests.
When they have been washed, let them say,
“We have received your mercy, O God, in the midst of your temple” [Ps 48:10].
Let the greatest care be taken, especially when receiving the poor and travelers,
because Christ is received more specially in them.

Chrisitianhistoryinstitute.org

In other words, how to be a gracious host.

Benedict admonished those managing the various monasteries to always be willing to
open their gates and doors to all who would venture to knock…
no matter the time day or night.
He told the brothers to get up in the middle of the night if necessary in order
to warmly welcome both stranger and friend should anyone come knocking with a need.

The brothers were to open their doors, offering food and drink as well as a place of rest to
wayward travelers.

That one “rule” made a strong impression upon me because early in our marriage,
my husband would often call me at the last minute to inform me that he’d received a call
from a “friend” who just happened to be passing through and informed my husband
that he wanted to come for a visit.

Such news would usually leave me grousing as I scrambled to tidy up,
put out fresh linens while rushing to prepare an impromptu meal usually after
I had worked all day.

So much for feeling very gracious.
Rather, I reluctantly confess, that I selfishly felt put out.

Yet over the years, I’ve come to understand that the giving of ourselves,
our time, our attention,
our skills, our food, our home, our possessions are really not so much about “us”,
but rather it’s about something far greater than ourselves…

And so it’s with St Benedict’s Rule in mind that I have faced a bit of a conundrum here
in my little corner of the blog world.

For you see, I tend to write about mostly Chrisitan related content.
Content that I’m pretty passionate about.

Be it my sharing of the insights and observations from two of my favorite clerics
from across the pond to my serious concern over those ancient Middle Eastern Christian
sects that have come under violent attacks by ISIS, to my dismay over
living in what has quickly become known as a post-Christian society to
the unraveling of what we call Western Civilization.

And yes, I am often outspoken as well as passionate about my concerns.

But the thing is, I’m writing a blog…small as it is.
There is no social media tied to this blog.
No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no Pinterest…
Why?
Because I don’t participate in “social” media…only that of a blog.

Therefore my little corner is small and limited, yet passionate none the less.

I’ve always found that I like to learn, share and grow in my own faith…
as I still have so much to learn.
I like to do so by reading and learning from what others teach.
I consider my blog, and those I enjoy reading, an extension of a Chrisitan
Community.

I grow in the Spirit by reading and learning from other Chrisitan Spiritually based
individuals.
I don’t go looking for trouble.
I don’t go trolling.
I don’t care for those who do.
Trolling is a waste of time.
Nothing good comes from such.
Why waste life’s precious time by doing such?
I’ve yet to figure that out.

And at times I do believe that I am a bit of a Christian Apologist…
a defender of the Faith as it were.
God’s Word being God’s Word.
No mincing.
No rewriting.
No twisting.
No changing because we as a people feel the need to change.

Speaking what I sincerely believe to be Truth.
God’s universal Truth.
Speaking His Truth here on this blog.

All here on a blog that is here if you want to read it…
or not.

And that’s the key…or not.

Meaning no one has to come here and read anything I write.
That’s kind of the magic of a blog…you have a choice…
to read or not to read.

In fact, that’s how I do it.
I seek to read those who teach me and fulfill me with that which is edifying….
meaning it is rich in the Word as it offers up a hearty offering of Life in the Spirit.
Offering the positive because why would I want the negative?

Not the hostile.
Not the angry.
Not the hateful.
But rather that which is edifying, uplifting, and even liberating.

So imagine my surprise when I was hit by a barrage of those doing just the opposite.

Professing agnostics and atheists who had come visiting, en masse,
speaking of indoctrination, dinosaurs, lies, falsehoods, contraception, abortion,
young earth creationists, the Bible as fairytale, no Noah, no Moses, no flood, Jews,
science…as the list and comments grew and grew in number.

As cordial as I could be while standing my ground, the sneering, the questioning,
the snideness, the belittling, and the vehemence only escalated or rather more
accurately devolved into a swirling quagmire of running in circles.

Demands of justification, clarification, debate, arguments, proof, and defense
continued not over the course of a few comments but rather such ran on and on for days.

Verbal attacks and the pushing downward into the unending rabbit holes of nothingness…
down into the black abyss of nonsense.

Other’s jumped in, in defense.
Words grew heated and even ugly.
The word was spread by the nonbelieving to rally because the Christians were now
proclaiming.

A real shame.

But I hear that is the plan.
Divide, confuse, conquer.
Or so they say.

My thinking…you don’t like what you’re reading, go find what it is you do like.
Don’t berate.
Don’t harangue.
Don’t belittle.
Don’t be smug.
Don’t be snide.
Don’t be divisive.
Don’t be hateful.
Don’t be crude.
It benefits no one…especially yourself.

But don’t pretend you’re confused and that you don’t understand.
Don’t pretend you truly want explanation and clarification because all you want
is to publicly mock, accuse and berate.
You are sly and cunning…as those are the pages that come from your playbook.

However, my door will remain open to anyone who comes to visit.

The invitation will always be extended to one and all to come…
to come put up one’s feet and to sit a spell.

But come because you want to come…
Come because you want to visit, feast and fellowship.
Come because you want to share, to learn, to grow.
Come because you want to offer to others…
Come because you want to offer more, not less.
Come with peace, not hostility…

Or simply don’t come…

Don’t come but go elsewhere…
Go where you find your fulfillment because obviously, you’re not finding that here.

As St Benedict so wisely instructed, “Do not give anyone the kiss of peace before a prayer
has been said, in case of satanic deception”

So, therefore, may we pray for discernment over deception while we continue to extend the hand of hospitality.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:2

Construction in progress…

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this:
that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed;
but a thing created is loved before it exists.

Charles Dickens

work-in-progress-danger-sign-s-6313
(image borrowed from the web)

construction-progress-3
(image borrowed from the web)

Throughout history, man’s idea of advancement has been a familiar sequence…
conquest,
conquer,
construct.

Always higher, always taller, always farther and always wider.

And as it becomes passé and outdated,
the sequence begins again…

Reclaim,
Destruct,
Reconstruct…

Always higher, always taller, always farther and always wider….

A continuing cycle of:
claim, up, down…
reclaim, down, up…

God has a very different approach….

Give
Offer
Love
Hope
Life

bartolome-esteban-murillo-paintings_456040
(Nativity / Bartolome Esteban Murillo / Adoration of the Shepherds 1657

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

a large collective sigh…..

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.
Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.”

Shel Silverstein

RSCN3812
(my giddy, degree holding, son)

Did you hear that?

That sound of exhaling?

That whooshing sound Saturday morning…
the sound of a large collective, slow released, heavy sigh?

The sound of years and years of the breath held by two parents, their son…
and now a young wife…
along with a myriad number of friends and family…

A sigh that has actually been held for….
A lifetime.

DSCN3845

See this young boy?
This picture was taken on a balmy Friday night in May of 2007.
It’s the image of young man who had just graduated high school…
standing on the edge of a well anticipated future…

Yet what he, in his delirium of conquering the one mountain failed to realize that carefree night,
was that he was not yet finished climbing…
For looming in the distance, just beyond the horizon of his youthful exuberance,
lay a mountain range far more challenging than what he had just conquered….

That exciting evening, so long ago, indeed marked a successful passing….
The passing of a 12 year long struggle…

Yet the magnitude of the struggle to which I speak is most likely lost on those who have never
experienced or lived through a child who has had to struggle academically.

And whereas I have written about this struggle before…
That of his particular struggle and of our particular struggle as a family…
The massive weight and enormity of it all came rushing back to the forefront of my heart and soul
this past Saturday morning while sitting in a crowded gym of a southern university.

From that fateful day his first grade teacher called me, a fellow educator, telling me she had a concern…a concern that something just wasn’t right…
to finally sitting in a college gym waiting for a commencement ceremony to begin…
our road has been painfully long and arduous.

From the hard diagnosis of a crippling learning disability…(most likely inherited…)
later compounded by a diagnosis of ADD…
It was double indemnity that was sadly to be our unfortunate lot.

There were many hurdles, impossible hurdles…
And there was testing..lots and lots of testing.

There were the years of refusal to take the medications that were promised to help make things easier…
to finally relenting…
Then only to live with the ill effects of those medications on ones body…
Eventually going back to life without medical help.

There were disappointments…
and failures,
and lapses,
and anger,
and frustration…

There were tears…
lots and lots of tears…
from both child and parents.

There were tutors, reading camps, repeated courses, more tutors…
There was working, studying, studying longer and harder then others
There was the staying after, long after others were gone…
There were sacrifices…

And…
There were a few rare triumphs…
The acceptance letters…
Along with the…
changing of schools…
The changing of majors…
The sitting out…
The waiting…
The continued waiting…
The nos,
The not yets,
The not nows…
The too bads…

Yet there were hopes and dreams.
Always hopes and dreams…
Hopes and dreams that would never fade or go away…

And there was a determination to realize those very hopes and dreams…
just like anyone else who has hopes and dreams…
anyone else who was “normal”….
because wasn’t that what so much of this was all about…
just wanting to be normal like everyone else…

Knowing that you were not stupid…that you were not slow or dumb…
as they would whisper behind your back…
Knowing all the while that you were smart and that you could learn…
that you could excel…
that you could be like everyone else…by God!!!
And by God it would be….

You wanted to prove that you were normal…
Normal like those who didn’t have to struggle, didn’t have to work so very hard…
You wanted to be like those who made the good grades, who didn’t have to expend the energies…
You wanted to be like those who just made school seem… easy…

However today is not that day…
It is not to be that day for the retelling of the very long and hard fought journey of ours…
It is not the day for rehashing and re-living the difficulties nor for the recounting of all the struggles…
And it is not a day to expound upon our seemingly misfortunate poor dumb luck…

No…

Today is not that day…

Rather…

Today is THE day to rejoice…
It is a day to soak it all in.
It is a day to exhale.
It is a day to smile.
It is a day for tears.
It is a day of HOPE.
It is a day of DREAMS.
And it is a day of Thanksgiving and Gratitude….

DSCN3836

The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.

Psalm 6:9