Faith without content

“Don’t ask why, ask what—
What am I suppose to do?”

St Padre Pio


(a killdeer hunkers down on Mackinac Island, MI /Julie Cook / 2017)

In reading through the the tiny book that literally fell off the shelf
the other day, landing squarely at my feet,
There Are No Accidents / In All Things Trust God
by the late Fr. Benedict J Groeschel
with John Bishop

(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/there-are-no-accidents/)

I have naturally circled and highlighted things that happen
to “speak” to me as I go.

The first half of the book is a running dialog between and interviewer
(John Bishop) and interviewee (Fr Benedict)

The book was published in 2004 but as I’m reading through
all comments, questions and responses,
I’m finding them to be ever most timely.
As in not much seems to have changed in 13 years time…
but perhaps only grown wider in both depth and scope.

Fr Benedict notes that “there is a decline in society in the western world.
Because, after all, sexual morality, among its many purposes,
is the protection of family life.
That is a very high, primary responsibility.
Family life is decaying everywhere.
The cause is a naïveté of the pro-abortion group,
and particularly Planned Parenthood.
They not only have done everything possible to undermine the sacredness of life,
but have done everything to undermine sexual morality.”

He goes on to explain how “the media” follows along these same lines of thought.
Fr. Benedict points to a study /survey that was conducted in California,
around the same time of the interview, of approx. 200,000 media folks.
The results showed that 92% of them favored abortion on demand…
and that 94% favored public acceptance of homosexual relationships.

Opinions that obviously ran/ run very counter to the teachings of the Church
(and I mean the universal Christian Church not only the Catholic Church).

Next Fr Benedict points out that there were also numbers showing,
once again numbers true to the time of the interview,
that 94% of folks in the US believed in a personal God.
92% believed in meeting God upon departing Earth and 86% believed that Jesus Christ
was the Son of God.

Yet Fr Benedict also points out that despite the high percentage numbers,
in actuality, he notes that most of those folks have no idea of what all any of
that really means—of which basically boils down to “faith without content.”

Which obviously made me think.

Faith is indeed a noun but I believe it also a verb…
as in Faith, our Christian Faith, is not merely something passive,
but rather active…as in it seeks, searches, serves…

Christianity is not a passive religion.
God is not a passive God.
He expects more from us than a lukewarm, quasi connected relationship.
He expects that we follow and live out His commands, His words.
There is no picking or choosing,
no this but none of that…
It is not easy and most everything He tells us runs counter to what
the world would have us say, think and do….
It’s all or nothing.

And it appears that more and more of those who profess to have faith,
are currently opting for nothing….

“Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways,
to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies,
according to what is written in the Law of Moses,
that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn,
so that the LORD may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying,
‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in
truth with all their heart and with all their soul,
you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’

1 Kings 2:3-4

am I content?

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold your King is coming to you,
Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

Matthew 21:5

“Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward and
learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires
transforming greed into gratitude.”

― John Chrysostom


(tree frog basking in the warm sun of a cool spring morning /Julie Cook / 2017)

The crowds were so excited…
with each man woman and child being caught up in the moment.

Hailing and shouting exultations.
He was everything they thought they wanted.
Welcoming, inviting and enthusiastically waving…
each person was so very delighted, happy and pleased.

Finally…it was him…it was the One everyone had waited for….
yes, finally…all would now be well
They were all so certain that things were to be different, better…
and finally…as they should be…

There was a general sense of satisfaction radiating from the crowd…
a sense that all things were right with the world…

As a sense of contentment settled over the crowd.
Today was to be their day…
because He had finally come…

Yet there was something in the shifting winds that signaled an impending
sense of change…
and He was the only one who felt it….

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

Content

Prayer is the beginning and the end, the source and the fruit,
the core and the content, the basis and the goal of all peacemaking.

Henri Nouwen


(hidden color / Julie Cook / 2017)

“Where sin abounded, there did Grace more abound.
(Rom 5:20)
Resting in that promise,
I am content”

Dorothy Day

security

The horror of these times would be unendurable unless we kept being cheered and set
upright again by the promises that are spoken.
The angels of annunciation speaking their message of blessing into the midst of anguish,
scattering their seed of blessing that will one day spring up amid the night,
call us to hope.

Alfred Delp

2569817-2569815-charlie_brown_and_linus-jpg

Security.

Picture Linus and his blanket.

Or better yet…

Picture your computer, your phone, your car or even your home…
They are all the sorts of things in your life that are most likely well protected
with some sort of security system in place.

Even your very self…
you protect, or so you try, yourself from harm, crime or even accident.

Yet we are currently living in a time when security is at a constant risk.
Many individuals are feeling that even their very
security of self has been threatened…
as in it has or will be somehow taken, hacked or even stolen.
Much like identify theft, but not.

It’s not because our country has been invaded…
despite the cries of
“the Russians are coming,
the Russians are coming…”

It’s not because we have each been kidnapped or abducted by aliens.

It’s not because we have all lost or out grown our blankets or our teddy bears…

However it could be because those very things into which we have poured our feelings…
those places, things or persons into which we have assigned our sense of security…
has turned out not to be what we thought…

With many still foolishly reeling from post election trauma,
to those who are merely finding themselves lost in the midst of
“this time of year” overload,
the sense of safe, secure, content is anything but…

It is at such times when we find ourselves reaching for those things that provide us with
a sense of comfort, a sense of well being, that long sought sense of contentment…
most often with those hoped for things, places and people fading and fleeting
or simply falling flat.

Enter Advent.

The Jesuit priest Alfred Delp reminds us form his Nazi prison cell that…
For all its earnestness, Advent is a time of inner security,
because it has received a message.
Oh, if it ever happens that we forget the message and the promises;
if all we know is the four walls and the prison windows of our grey days;
if we can no longer hear the gentle step of the announcing angels;
if our soul no longer is at once shaken and exalted by
their whispered word—
then it will be all over with us.
We are living wasted time and are dead before they do us any harm.

So might this heightened sense of loss and fretfulness be rooted in something
greater and deeper than mere misplaced security?

Have we forgotten the message, as well as the promise, of long ago
as we languish in the emptiness of the grey days of our lives?

Have we forgotten that single announcement, proclamation, revelation?

That there is One, and only one, who was to come,
nay, has come,
to offer us everlasting security…
Security that will neither waiver nor fail…
as He offers the dearest thing He has…in order that we may finally
feel secure…

notbad

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2

Hygee

“Religion died, from various diseases, and humanity died with it.
Or perhaps it is truer to say that humanity died of great possessions,
of modern development, of the pace of modern life and so on –
and religion died as humanity succumbed.”

Alfred Delp

dscn4457
(Sometimes all we need is just a sliver of Hope…
Deer Lake, Watercolor Resort, Julie Cook / 2016)

There I stood in one of the many long snaking lines at the grocery store early this afternoon.
I don’t care where you are, be it grocery store, the post office or a local fast food joint,
this time of year there will be long snaky lines.
That’s not mentioning the large discount stores, department stores or home improvement
centers where “snaking lines” pales in describing the madness currently taking place
at those spots…
but I digress….

As I made my way to the register and conveyor counter waiting to unload my cart,
only to have my items rung up, paid for, bagged and reloaded into my cart,
I noticed the array of magazines lining the shelves.
From tabloid to self help, from recipes to horoscopes….

There in all her blazing glory was an ever grinning Oprah appearing to levitate over
the Grand Canyon happily proclaiming that one and all should be living their grandest
life possible…as in living it oh so grandly and oh so largely.

“Easy for Oprah to proclaim” I hear my brain grousing.

I could live grand while levitating over the grand canyon rather than standing in
a long snaky, too close to Christmas line waiting to buy kleenex and chicken
if I had a boat load of cash, an entourage of folks
waiting with bated breath to do my bidding
all the while having no where to be or nothing particularly world altering to do.

Once at home, with said chicken and kleenex unloaded for the 3rd time today….
I sat down at the table in order to catch up on a few things.
Like considering addressing the few Christmas cards I just had to gather…
as in the few cards, according to my husband, that are essential that I send out….

With my small world derailing these days, Christmas and its more secular hoopla is
being held to a bare minimum…don’t ask where the tree is yet…I might get around to it.
As there is simply not enough time, energy, me nor joy lurking in my crumbling world.

My eyes wandered to an interesting little news article as I fought off the impending chore…

After reading the interesting little article I decided
I must be living under a rock.

Now mind you, I really don’t mind living under a rock…
as there is often a good bit of peace and solitude under said rock.

It’s when I read about some latest craze or word or trend that seems to have
“social media” or the internet, or the entire world for that matter all ablaze…
that I know I’m contently under my rock.

I really don’t miss hearing about or seeing those things that set popular culture on fire.
Those latest brouhahas in movements, foods, pastimes, clothing, music…
In fact I rather relish being left out of the hype.

Now I suppose that’s an age thing as there was probably a time I would have “died”
had I not been riding the latest band wagon….

So it seems there is this word…
“hygge”

It’s a Danish word pronounced either hyue-gar, or hoog-jar or hoo gah
maybe it depends on where in the country of Denmark you are from…
kind of like a regional dialect sort of thing.

Anywhoo, hygge is a word, or better yet, a state of mind,
that just so happens to be taking the UK by storm…
and it is predicted that very shortly that the very same world altering word
and blissful state of mind, will wildly descend upon life here in the States.

It is a word that describes the approaching, or perhaps better yet, the attacking of life
with a mindset of all things positive…
all the while as one embraces the enjoyment of everyday life experiences.

Hummmm…..a rather oddly familiar concept

Seems that the world altering events of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump has folks
all across this globe in a peculiar dither..
as in the masses are in a state of ‘inability’…a feeding frenzy of inability…
as in an inability to function, to embrace life, or to even appreciate life…
let alone finding the strength to simply enjoy living.

And leave it to the Danes, those same northern folks who have been voted time and time again
by all things travel to be the happiest folks on the planet,
to perfect that very state of happiness into a new global phenomenon….
while all the other poor souls who are still languishing in the events of the past year,
seek some sort of solace from their woes.

Enter hygge…

Yet…
Despite this latest feel-good phenom making the most of the empty cultural voids…
this latest and desperately sought after placebo for an ailing populace…
is actually a state of mind that’s been around for quite some time…

Or perhaps, better yet, it’s really more of a command as to how one should actually live…

And as for me…
it is a very timely reminder….
that despite my overwhelmingly imploding small world…
I have long known the secret to a contented life that goes far beyond the
limited understanding of this oh so jaded and self centered world…

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

And that my friends is God, in Christ Jesus, our very own hygge….

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24