Alleluia

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end, he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh, I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

Job 19:25-27


(home sky 2016 / Julie Cook / 2016)

the wisdom of a child

“One just soul can obtain pardon for a thousand sinners.”
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque


(a contemplative little Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

So I must make a confession on this Holy Saturday…

Whereas in years past my posts were reflective of this time of year…
starting with Ash Wednesday, those dark heavy 40 days of Lent leading up to the
Holy Week of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday—
as we culminate all of this on a triumphant Easter.

I’d pray earnestly.
I’d fast regularly.
I’d be diligent in my observance.
I would have even gotten some purposeful Lenten reading.
I would focus on the cross and that of an empty tomb.

However, this week has passed in a blur.
In fact, Lent passed in a blur.
As much of the year has passed in a blur.

I hardly even noted that yesterday was Good Friday as I was on the road in
torrential rains and horrendous traffic as my thoughts were elsewhere.

There was a time I would attend the 3 hours long Good Friday service while
purposely fasting this highest of Holy days.
I would go to the Great Easter Vigil…clutching my candle with deep intent.

However, this year has been different.
For lots of reasons I suppose.

Whereas there were both sorrow and loss in years past, I none the less managed to keep
the tires in the middle of the road.

This year, sadly, I pretty much simply fell off the tracks.

There are some distracting extenuating circumstances that will most likely be written
about when there is finally a bit of clarity…
But in a nutshell, my time and my focus have been pulled into a thousand different degrees…

And speaking of degrees—
I have been suffering through some sort of flu bug this past week that has left me hot
to the touch yet cold and shivery to the body.

Add in the Mayor visiting her satellite office and the walking dead comes to mind…
not in the zombie kind, but rather literally feeling dead while still walking.

There’s been little sleep, lots of heavy thoughts, as well as thoughts of anticipation with
a new little sheriff set to arrive any day now.

And having spent the past two days trying to keep an ever-growing, rambunctious, newly walking
borderline toddler out of harm’s way while trying to keep up at the same energy level has
been no easy task.

And yet I often find myself sitting back and simply marveling at her intense gaze.
I watch her little wheels turning while wondering what are her thoughts.

Her love, excitement, and openness to each and all she meets.
Be it animal or human or a stuffed animal or even an interesting plant.
Each one is met with a raised hand and a resounding “HI”

There is such an open innocence and trust that we adults,
who love her and are entrusted with her care, wish to warn her of the dangers
as we work to protect and keep her from harm.

Any parent or grandparent will tell you that that is a life long task that can,
in this current angry world’s day and age, leave anyone who loves a little one
both anxious and nervous.

Because we adults know that there is bad, there is danger and there is evil.

My husband noted this morning at breakfast,
as she gobbled up some bits of maple syrup-soaked waffles,
that if the world possed the same sort of sweetness and same refreshing innocence…
oh, how the world could be so different.

And so on this Holy Saturday, I am reminded that God is reminding me…
He is calling me to return to that same trusting spirit…
return to an openness…allowing Him to pour out His sweet balm
within this weary soul of mine.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!


(the Mayor in such a pondering pose / Julie Cook / 2019)

“No one who follows Me will ever walk in darkness (Jn 8:12).
These words of our Lord counsel all to walk in His footsteps.
If you want to see clearly and avoid blindness of heart,
it is His virtues you must imitate.
Make it your aim to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s teachings surpasses that of all the Saints.
But to find this spiritual nourishment you must seek to have the Spirit of Christ.
It is because we lack this Spirit that so often we listen to the Gospel without really hearing it.
Those who fully understand Christ’s words must labor to make their lives conform to His.”

Thomas á Kempis, p.15
An Excerpt From
The Imitation of Christ

fat tuesday

“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth,
faintheartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.

“But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility,
patience and love to your servant.

“Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin and not to judge my brother,
for You are blessed from all ages to all ages.
Amen”

St. Ephraim the Syrian

“Self-denial means knowing only Christ, and no longer oneself.
It means seeing only Christ, who goes ahead of us,
and no longer the path that is too difficult for us…
Self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


(a king cake and mardis gras beads)

We’ve heard a lot of talk about Manic Mondays, Wordless Wednesdays, Fabulous Fridays
and yes–even Taco Tuesdays…
but today we are actually going to be talking about a Tuesday other than
a Taco Tuesday—
we will be talking about, as well as “celebrating,” Fat Tuesday…

Yet how many of us truly understand the significance of a Fat Tuesday
or an Ash Wednesday or even that of a Good Friday?

So today we’ll take a little closer look at Fat Tuesday…
saving the other days for later.

Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday— the eve of the beginning of Lent.
It is a day in which we are to “use up” the excess fat (think oil and butter)
in the house all before the beginning of the required fasting during the Lenten season.

Lent being the season that the Church marks the 40 days that Jesus spent in the
desert while being tempted by Satan.

During the 40 day fast, our Orthodox brothers and sisters will abstain from
consuming any fats, such as oils and butter, along with meat,
dairy products as well as alcohol.
Many of our Catholic and Anglican brethren will abstain from much the same.

There is even to be an abstinence from sexual intimacy…
meaning— ALL earthly pleasures are put on hold during the Great Fast of Lent…
because we are to fast not only from certain foods but from all that holds and binds
us to our earthly bodily pleasures….a time that affords us the opportunity of
transcending, as it were, our sinful, earthbound bodies.

It is a time in which we are to abstain from all that is earthly while striving
to turn more inward as well as upward with our thoughts and personal actions.
…A time of deep introspection and drawing closer to God while we lift
our spirits upward closer to the Spirit of God.

A time of abstinence, fasting, repentance and spiritual reverence.

Many denominations refer to Fat Tuesday as Shrove Tuesday, a term that comes
from the old middle English word ‘Shriven’ meaning that one goes to confession
and receives absolution for one’s sins.

A day, also, where many of the Christian faithful will indulge in a Pancake supper.

So not only are we to use up all of the excessive cooking fats in the house
as we prepare to ‘fast’—
we are also told that we are to both acknowledge and confess our sins while in turn,
receiving absolution.

The other day a fellow blogger, Christina Chase, offered an interesting post on Lent…
Fat and Ashes: A Lenten Preview

Fat and Ashes: A Lenten Preview

I greatly enjoyed reading Christina’s take on fat vs ashes.

Her opening to the post was very telling.
She even added the image of a typical fast food meal…our daily intake of
“fat” that we so often take for granted.
Literal fat, as well as the fat that represents our sinful nature.

Christina mirrors that fast food fat image with the talk of our over the top revelry…

Revelry, might I add, that is currently taking place in locatoms such as New Orleans,
Venice, and Rio–
the world’s biggest draws for all things wanton and that of pre-Lenten celebrations.
A revelry that only grows greater while the observance of the Spiritual season
of Lent grows less and less.

Christina reminds us that it has become a giant excuse for a party really.
A far cry from the original intent of preparations and fasting of which eventually
leads to the celebration of life in triumphant joy found in the Ressurection of Christ.

Christina shares…
“Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, and it represents the last occasion
for eating rich, fatty foods before the fast of Lent begins.
However, who abstains from fat during 40 days of Lent anymore?
Funny how that tradition has faded away,
but the tradition of overindulgence and revelry has only increased.
It says a lot about us.”

Christina’s observation of our “fat” goes well beyond the literalness of fat in our diet
to that which is more of a symbolic fat—that of greed, self-indulgence and materialism…
that which is personal to that of a national level as witnessed in our government with
it’s excessive pork-barrel spending at the taxpayer’s expense…a vicious cycle.

As a long time observer of Lent, I love Christina’s words…
“If done prayerfully, we discover that our fulfillment as human beings is not dependent
upon extra stuff. We are invited to shed the excess and find out what
it truly means to be fulfilled.”

Amen!

She continues…

“We humans are not merely taste buds and pleasure sensors, after all.
We have minds and hearts because we are not only of flesh but also of spirit,
being created by God in divine image. The pure goodness of our souls gets tainted
and soiled by self-centeredness — when we want what we want because it feels good,
even if we know that it isn’t truly good for us or anyone else.”

Christina then switches her focus to ashes—that which is left to pass away—
“Much of earthly life is perishable and will not continue into eternity with
our spiritual souls.”

Musing what, in this life, will she have allowed to turn to ash and fade away…

I shared with Christina that whereas I loved her take on the ashes of our lives,
I actually see those ashes as more of a goal…they are the lessening of the fat,
with the ash being a passing away of that which I have failed to do
or be—the ashes being a cleansing of the fat…a burning away of the negative.

So whatever our take may be of the fat and ashes of our lives…
may we all be drawn ever closer to the passion, to the
death and final resurrection of our Redeemer and Savior.

40 days of the lessening of ourselves and the lessening of the fat that hinders our very souls.

Here are two links to previous posts regarding
Lent, Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesdqy…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/ashes-to-ashesa-history-lesson/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/ash-wednesday/

What separates Christians from the rest of the pack…

“Life [had] replaced logic.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


(a soon to bloom peony / Julie Cook /2018)

The image of the bloom used in today’s post is that of a peony.
I call this peony my resurrection plant because I bought it two summers ago, in July.
It was a very expensive plant.
Yet anyone living in the deep South knows you don’t sink a lot of money into a
plant, dig a hole in the hot dry ground, plop in said expensive plant and expect it to live…
especially in July and especially in a summer experiencing a full-blown drought.

I wrote about this plant last spring and the reason as to why I call it a resurrection plant—
of which you can read from the following link…
but that is not the true gist of today’s post

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/resurrections/

Today’s post is a reminder of what the Resurrection is all about…
and if you are a Chrisitan, it’s a reminder of what that exactly means to you.

The reminder rests in the fact that we’ve just celebrated Easter…

Easter being holiest celebration, besides the birth of Christ, within the Christian Chruch…
Some would argue that it is the sole holiest celebration…but I suppose we can’t have a
resurrection of our Savior without his immaculate conception and birth…
all of which supersedes the ability of man’s small mind to grasp and process…
hence so much of the consternation in mankind since that very first miraculous morning.

After watching the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted featuring our favorite
rouge Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gavin Ashenden, I’ve come to realize that
there are many in our fold who really don’t know what they think about
the Ressurection…
And what is even more startling, many members of the clergy don’t quite
know what to make of it either…

In a nutshell, it is the what which separates Christianity from every other religion.

How in the world can you offer anyone, let alone speak of such things as
Hope, Salvation, Grace, if you can’t find the words to say that you believe, without
a doubt, in the Ressurection of Jesus?

You can’t.

Because the Resurrection is the defining key to our faith.
It is the impetus to faith…the belief in that which is a mystery, undefinable,
and greater than oneself.

Without the Resurrection,
Christianity is nothing… nor is it any different from a myriad of other belief systems.

C.S. Lewis explained this very point in 1950

I heard a man say,
“The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival,
evidence that the human personality survives death.”
On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men,
the difference being that in Christ’s ease we were privileged to see it happening.
This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought.
Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened.
Christ had defeated death.
The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open.
This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival.
I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival.
On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion,
Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost.
The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection
as something totally different and new.
The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death;
they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe.
Something new had appeared in the universe:
as new as the first coming of organic life.
This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”.
A new mode of being has arisen.
That is the story.
What are we going to make of it?
The question is, I suppose,
whether any hypothesis covers the facts so well as the Christian hypothesis.
That hypothesis is that God has come down into the created universe,
down to manhood—and come up again, pulling it up with Him.
The alternative hypothesis is not legend, nor exaggeration, nor the apparitions of a ghost.
It is either lunacy or lies.
Unless one can take the second alternative (and I can’t) one turns to the Christian theory.

C.S. Lewis,
“What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” (1950)

So if you claim to be a Chrisitan and yet find yourself unable to acknowledge the mystery
and the might behind the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you need to rethink your allegiance.
And if you are a member of the clergy and find the words and concept uncomfortable,
you need a new profession because the calling, was not for you….

Divine Mercy

“Great love can change small things into great ones,
and it is only love which lends value to our actions.
And the purer our love becomes, the less there will be within us for the flames
of suffering to feed upon, and the suffering will cease to be a suffering for us;
it will become a delight! By the grace of God,
I have received such a disposition of heart that I am never so happy as when I suffer for Jesus,
whom I love with every beat of my heart.”

(303, page 140) St Faustina


(the chives are blooming / Julie Cook / 2018)

Yesterday, and this week actually, marked the day of Divine Mercy for our Catholic
brothers and sisters.
A timely marking given our continued celebration with Easter and the
most notable and tangible gift of our Salvation…

According to Wikipedia…
The Divine Mercy of Jesus, also known as the Divine Mercy, is a Roman Catholic devotion
to Jesus Christ associated with the reputed apparitions of Jesus revealed
to Saint Faustina Kowalska.
The Roman Catholic devotion and venerated image under this Christological title refers
to the unlimited merciful love of God towards all people

The primary focus of the Divine Mercy devotion is the merciful love of God and
the desire to let that love and mercy flow through one’s own heart towards those in need of it.
As he dedicated the Shrine of Divine Mercy, Pope John Paul II referred to this when he said:
“Apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind”.

For a woman whose writings were once banned by the Vatican, the fact that the Catholic world
now recognizes this Polish nun is really quite amazing.

“Twenty-five years ago, her writings were banned by the Vatican and her legacy —
a special devotion to the divine mercy of God — seemed in doubt.

Today she is a saint,
her diary has been translated into more than a dozen languages and her Divine Mercy movement
has attracted millions of Catholics around the world.”

Catholic News Service

For a more in-depth look into St Faustina Kowalska…here is a link:
https://cssfinternational.wordpress.com/2018/04/06/backstory-st-faustina-and-the-divine-mercy-devotion-cns-top-stories/

According to Merriam Webster–Divine is defined as of, from, or like God or a god
Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone
whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm

Put the two together and we have Compassion and/ or forgiveness,
shown by God who actually has the power to
punish or harm if so desired…and yet, He desires Compassion and forgiveness…
the same compassion and forgiveness afforded to each of us on Easter
as witnessed through His resurrected Son…

Now, this is not to be some sort of theological debate about our Catholic,
a word that also means Universal, brothers, and sisters in Christ.
Nor is this a debate about saints or the notion of God playing judge, jury and
executioner…this is about the call for all Christians to come together and remember the gift
we’ve each been given and as a Divine gift, it is in turn to be extended to others…

Divine Mercy…may we each pass it on…

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

Answering the question…

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
When wickedness comes, contempt comes also, and with dishonor comes disgrace.
The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the righteous of justice…

Proverbs 18:1-19:29


(a hidden Iris in the straw / Julie Cook / 2018)

The Cross had asked the questions;
the Resurrection had answered them…
The Cross had asked: why does God permit evil and sin to nail Justice to a tree?
The Resurrection answered:
That sin having done its worst might exhaust itself and thus be overcome by Love that
is stronger than either sin or death.
Thus there emerges the Easter lesson that the power of evil and the chaos of any one moment
can be defied and conquered for the basis of our hope is not in any construct
of human power but in the power of God who has given to the evil of this earth
its one mortal wound –
an open tomb,
a gaping sepulcher,
and empty grave.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

who will find the prize egg…

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird:
it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.
We are like eggs at present.
And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.
We must be hatched or go bad.

C. S. Lewis


(colorful eggs hidden amongst the chives / Julie Cook / 2018)

Way back when…many many blue moons ago…when my husband and I first married…
I was introduced to a long-standing family tradition–the annual Easter egg hunt.

Colorful plastic eggs were either scattered about, hidden throughout the yard and shrubs
or they were hung by ribbons from an ornamental tree.

All the grandkids and even the adults, as the grandkids became teenagers, would seek
out the eggs with everyone’s sight on one egg in particular.

My husband’s dad would hide money in the eggs—sometimes just change, other eggs would hold
a dollar or even a 5 dollar bill…but the grand prize egg…well,
it usually had a brand new crisp $100 dollar bill tucked inside.

As bad of a dad as he had been to them growing up, he was usually generous at
odd times such as Easter Egg hunts and Trick or treating…

No wonder the family about killed one another racing around the yard.

The stakes were high…
a lot higher than the stakes had been with my family’s egg hunts—
My dad just hid candy eggs in the yard and then my brother and I would
scurry about with baskets trailing in the wind as it was a race for colorful sugared eggs.

With my husband’s family, there was a lot of running, grabbing, shrieking…
plus a few hard feelings for our son who was the smallest of all the grandkids…
so I was usually his wingman…or is that wingmom??

If the eggs had been hung, creating an egg tree…then each family member took turns taking
off one egg at a time…hoping each plucked egg contained the big prize.

This was a bit more orderly of a pursuit as Easter should not be about aggression.
Or….if the truth be told, it shouldn’t be about prize eggs either…

So on this Easter morning, all these many years later,
as I think back over those early days of our marriage and how I joined in on such a haphazard
pursuit and tradition…
it dawned on me that I had already possessed the true prize egg…
it was something I had actually “collected” many years prior…

That being the real knowledge of the true Easter prize…

Victory over Death!

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!

He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57