what is your heart’s desire?

“God does not fit in an occupied heart.”
St. John of the Cross


(waning sunflowers / Julie Cook / 2021)

God then directs these words to you:
If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free
from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit;
turn away from evil and do good;
let peace be your quest and aim.

Saint Benedict
from The Rule of Saint Benedict

***taking the week off from technology… or as best I can.
Off on adventure with the Mayor and Sheriff

Fall from Grace…(a re-post, sort of)

So I’ve obviously decided to stroll a bit down memory lane recently,
doing so again today by pulling some thoughts from past posts—
this one comes from Veteran’s Day 2017—and yet it remains very relevant
for today as we ready to celebrate our Nation’s birthday…

“Freedom has been elevated to a total eclipse of a person’s obligations,
to a freedom from any obligation.

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

“After the Western ideal of unlimited freedom….
here is the true Christian definition of freedom.
Freedom is self-restriction!
Restriction of the self for the sake of others!”

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn


(Washington with troops at Valley Forge / Adam Asar)

In his book A Pope and A President, Paul Kengor recalls the admonishment of a young senator from Massachusetts to a college audience….

“In 1955…Senator Kennedy told Assumption College that the Communists had a ‘fear’
of Christianity and allowed ‘no room for God.’

In a passage that could have been spoken by President Ronald Reagan
thirty years later, Kennedy said that Communists sought
‘to make the worship of the State the ultimate objective of life’
and could not ‘permit a higher loyalty, a faith in God,
a belief in a religion that elevates the individual, acknowledges his
true value, and teaches him devotion and responsibility to something
beyond the here and now.

As president, Kennedy candidly warned America of its “atheistic foe,” the
fanaticism and fury” of communions, and the “communist conspiracy” that
“represents a final enslavement.”
“The enemy is the communist system itself—implacable, insatiable, unceasing
in its drive for world domination,” Declared Kennedy.
“This [is] a struggle for supremacy between two conflicting ideologies”
freedom under God versus ruthless, goddess tyranny.”

“Years later President Reagan went to the home of Senator Ted Kennedy…
where he spoke at an endowment fundraiser for the John F. Kennedy Presidential
Library. On hand were Jackie and her two grown children.
Reagan commended JFK for his shrewdness in recognizing the enemy:
“He understood the tension between good and evil in the history of man;
understood, indeed,
that much of the history of man can be seen in the constant working out
of that tension.”

Reagan noted that Kennedy knew that the United States had adversaries,
real adversaries,and they weren’t about to be put off by soft reason and
good intentions.
He tried always to be strong with them and shrewd.”

And so it’s hard for me, in this very surreal 21st century of ours,
to imagine that there were once two presidents serving roughly 20 years apart—
men from two very different parties, two very different men, who each understood
what exactly was this nation’s collective enemy.

These two very different men who, despite being decades apart in their service to
their nation as well as being nearly 30 years apart in age…men who were each of
different ideologies, could actually collectively agree at that juncture in time
on a single threat.
Something that we see today which has become more satirical farce
rather than serious consideration.

And not only did these two very different presidents understand who the
collective enemy was…they also deeply understood the connection between a nation
who rested under God’s dominion verses a nation resting under the dominion of man.

Imagine today the party of Kennedy speaking about an “atheistic foe”…
Or referring to an adversarial nation as having “no room for God”
as well as those who have a fear of a Christian nation—
Imagine that a leader of the party of Kennedy would actually claim the United States
to be a “God fearing, Christian nation”
That there would be those who would speak of godlessness when referring to
oppressive regimes.

Imagine the party of Reagan, in turn, speaking words of agreement…

Oh how far we have fallen from who we once were.

When did it happen?

When did we think it necessary to scorn and scoff the notion of being
collectively under the yoke of an Omnipotent Creator?
When did we decide that we were free of any obligations other than to our own
selfish individual whims and agendas?

When did we decide there was no real good nor evil…
rather just the altar of individual humanism?

And what is the irony that the words of a one time Soviet dissident
would remind us, those of us who have lived in and with “freedom” most of our
lives, that our’s is a precious gift…one that we have been entrusted with
to cherish and maintain…as blood has been spilled and lives have been lost
all in the name of this very “freedom.”

It has mattered not whether we were black nor white,
male or female, freeman or enslaved individual…we toiled
through wars with others as well as wars with ourselves
so that ultimately ALL men and women living under our one flag
could and would be free.

And so I look around and wonder now—why is there such divisiveness?
Why is there such strife?
We have all fought too hard and too long to believe the lies
of those whose desire it is to destroy our way of life.

And I say that as I speak of those within our own Nation.

It would behoove us as individuals as well as a Nation to
recall, as well as honor, the selfless sacrifices made by those
men and women who, since those early days when we were but a collection
of bedraggled colonies…
a people, who down through the decades, understood exactly who
the enemy always was and that we as human beings have been called
to a greater good…

These selfless brave men and these women who have served and continue to serve
our Nation have often offered the ultimate sacrifice of both lives and limbs,
all for a Nation that now is at war with itself…having lost her way.

May their service never have been in vain.
And may we always hold our freedom from tyranny dear…

“…it would have seemed quite impossible, in America,
that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose,
simply for the satisfaction of his whims.
Subsequently, however, all such limitations were eroded everywhere in in the west;
a total emancipation occurred from the moral heritage of Christ
ian
centuries with the great reserve of mercy and sacrifice.”
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

revisiting a 6 year old post (Turning Point)

What most of all hinders heavenly consolation is that you are too slow in
turning yourself to prayer.

Thomas a Kempis


(detail of a pinecone / Julie Cook / 2014)

** I made a terrible mistake last evening…I watched the news.
It was Fox, who since the election, I’ve just kind of cut ties with,
just as I’ve cut ties with all major news outlets…
I am more than disheartened with the “conservative” news program’s seemingly
feeble attempts to stand up against the growing national oppression of our freedom
of speech and thought…
yet sadly, they fall woefully short…and still….I watched.

I was quickly reminded as to why I now avoid all news.
It is sickening.
It was a startling reminder that we are living George Orwell’s 1984.
We are living Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Maybe we are even living in the midst of the Book of Revelation…

And if that’s the case, things really are scary, but thankfully in that
most frightening of thoughts, there remains hope for those of
us with weary souls because we know Our Redeemer will reign supreme
and this nightmare will end.

We are living in the midst of a massive Spiritual battle..
a battle of light vs darkness.

A place where Americans view one another as their own worst enemy.
Free speech and thought as not free or even allowed.
We have forgotten our past, our history, our ideals…
We have become our own worst enemy.
And it all began when we turned our back on God.

So as I watched, I felt sick to my stomach.

And since we are living life in the Twilight Zone…
I decided to cast my thoughts backwards…tumbling back in time.
I went back 6 years ago…6 years ago to a time that was pre-Trump.
It was life during Obama’s reign.
And oddly what I wrote those 6 years ago did not speak of calm, peace and a kumbiya existence–
but rather it was a shadow of things to come…it’s just that we had no idea of knowing
how bad it would all become…

Here is that 6 year old post….

As a tale-end Baby Boomer and child of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, the USSR,
The Federation of the Russian Republic or simply Mother Russia,
has always been an uncomfortable shadow over my shoulder,
just as it has for most everyone my age and older.
The enigma known as Russia, who most graciously hosted the world last February
for the Winter Olympics only to turn around and shock us all a few months
following with the “invasion” of Ukraine, has remained a conundrum for the free world
since the Russian Revolution of 1917 which gave way to birth of Communism.

When I was in high school, which seems to be many lifetimes ago,
I had the good fortune of taking a Russian History course—with the most memorable
experience being of my introduction to the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
I had the good fortune of reading several of his books…
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Gulag Archipelago and Cancer Ward.

Now all these many years later I find myself drawn back to the writings
and words of Solzhenitsyn,
of which I find more prophetic than I had ever imagined.

For those of you unfamiliar with Solzhenitsyn, in a nutshell,
he was a Russian soldier (WWII), Gulag prisoner (for nearly 10 years),
writer and novelist, historian, Soviet dissident,
Nobel Prize recipient and finally, again, Russian citizen.

As a life long member of the Russian Orthodox Church,
Solzhenitsyn was guided by a deeply spiritual moral compass.
He was a very loud and vocal opponent of Totalitarianism,
of which expedited his forced exile from the Soviet Union,
yet he could also be equally critical of the West and its obsession with Capitalism,
Consumerism and Materialism. All of which reminds me of the chastisement the West
often received from Pope John Paul II,
as well as Mother Teresa—as perhaps those who have suffered more grievously under
the Socialist and ultra Nationalistic Regime of the Nazis and then that of
the Communist Soviets, have perhaps a clearer perspective of our
often blind view of what we consider to be “the good life”

I am poignantly reminded of Solzhenitsyn, his words and wisdom as well wise counsel
and rebukes of those who have witnessed first hand the sinister wiles
and atrocities of Evil, particularly during this time of year as it seems
the world always appears to crescendo to a heightened sense of madness–just
as the holidays come into focus. I don’t know why that is except that
as the world seems to not only witness an abundance of joy and goodwill,
there seems to be an equal measure of evil and chaos.
Perhaps it is because Christians are drawn to the birth of the Savior and Jews
begin the celebration of the miracle of light and the rededication to the Second Temple–
a time of a tremendous pull of people toward God—as it seems Evil
must have its share of the pie by unleashing its part of unimaginable
pain and suffering in order to create some sort of sadistic counter balance.

Perhaps our senses are on hyper drive this time of year as we keenly
feel the highs of Joy and Wonder along with the bottomless pit of despair
and suffering as they each roll in to one. These thoughts reverberate
in my mind just as Sydney, Australia was held hostage Monday
by a radical Islamist madman leaving 3 individuals, including the gunman, dead.
Then on Tuesday, Pakistan witnessed an unimaginable attack on a school
leaving 132 children and 9 adult staff members dead all at the hands of the Taliban.

We currently have a menacing cyber attack taking place at Sony as North Korea
is suspected to be retaliating to the release of a tongue and cheek movie
which sadly mocks an attempted assassination of an, albeit, unhinged world leader.
Sometimes I think we, those of us in the West with our often sophomoric
entertainment industry, have lost our sense of what is considered off limits or
morally wrong when it comes to the exploitation of movie making and entertainment–
but I suppose a moral compass would be needed in the first place in order to be
reminded of such. . .

We have just marked the tragic anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre
as we continue reading headline after headline of local, national and global tragedies.
Just as the world tries to come together in some sort of unity marking two
very sacred holy times of the year as well as the secular merry making
of Santa, Papa Noel and Kris Kringle’s arrival.

In reading Solzhenitsyn’s book Warning to the West,
which is actually a brief composite and compendium of the texts to three
separate addresses made in the US in the late 1970’s,
it is startlingly frightening noting the parallels of then verses now.
I am keenly reminded of the relevance of Solzhenitsyn’s words which were uttered
almost 40 years ago as they could very well be spoken on the world stage today
regarding today’s global state. I will leave you with a few pieces of his
excerpted texts in order to ponder and ruminate the relevance and warnings
which echo across our prosaic landscape as we wrestle to make sense of the
tragic events which continue to unfold before our very eyes this holiday season. . .

“Is it possible or impossible to transmit the experience of those who have
suffered to those who have yet to suffer?
Can one part of humanity learn from the bitter experience of another or can it not?
Is it possible or impossible to warn someone of danger?
How many witnesses have been sent to the West in the last sixty years?
How may waves of immigrants? How many millions of persons? They are all here.
You meet them every day. You know who they are: if not by their spiritual disorientation,
their grief, their melancholy, then you can distinguish them by their
accents or their external appearance. Coming from different countries,
without consulting with one another, they have brought out exactly the same experience;
They tell you exactly the same thing: they warn you of what is now taking
place and of what has taken place in the past.
But the proud skyscrapers stand on, jut into the sky, and say:
It will never happen here. This will never come to us.
It is not possible here.”

“In addition to the grave political situation in the world today,
we are also witnessing the emergence of a crisis of unknown nature, one completely new,
and entirely non-political.
We are approaching a major turning point in world history, the the history of civilization.
It has already been noted by specialists in various areas.
I could compare it only with the turning from the Middle Ages to the modern era,
a shift in our civilization. It is a juncture at which settled concepts
suddenly become hazy, lose their precise contours, at which our familiar and commonly
used words lose their meaning, become empty shells, and methods which have been reliable
for many centuries no longer work. It’s the sort of turning point where the
hierarchy of values which we have generated, and which we use to determine
what is important to us and what causes our hearts to beat is starting
to rock and may collapse.
These two crises, the political crisis of today’s world and the oncoming spiritual crisis,
are occurring at the same time. It is our generation that will have to confront them.
The leadership of your country,
which is entering the third century of existence as a nation will perhaps
have to bear a burden greater than ever before in American history.
Your leaders will need profound intuition, spiritual foresight,
high qualities of mind and soul.
May God granted that in those times you will have at the helm personalities
as great as those who rested your country . . .”

(excepts taken from a speech delivered in New York July 9, 1975,
at a luncheon given by the AFL-CIO)

today’s view and forecast…questionable with a heavy dose of ominous

“The goodness of God is the highest object of prayer,
and it reaches down to our lowest need.
It quickens our soul and gives it life, and makes it grow in grace and virtue.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(my initial view this morning /Julie Cook / 2020)

So recently I have spent time running from ologist to ologist,
with a few MDs thrown in for good measure.

About a year or so ago you might remember that I was thought to be a carrier
for hemochromatosis.
A genetic disposition for the body to store up iron.
Iron is not eliminated by the body…it usually gets what it needs to function
from food, or if necessary, from supplements.

I had no idea that the body can’t process out extra iron…extra iron gets
stored up in organs, much like a grain silo—
organs don’t do well with a growing surplus of iron that is not used up.

It was eventually determined that I did not have full-blown hemochromatosis but I do,
however, possess one variant gene.
One normal gene and one not so normal gene.
So what that means is that I am a carrier who is having storage issues.
All because that blasted one rouge gene has got my body acting like
a freaking storage silo.

Soooo, the solution???…drain off the blood.

My current numbers are at 336…normal is 150.

So last week I had to see a slew of doctors.

I saw the gastroenterologist, a hematologist, my regular Internal med doctor
along with a radiologist while both my gynecologist and rheumatologist loudly weighed
in on all the bloodwork.

Seems this blood of mine is a quandary that’s gotten my medical folks in a dither.

One marker read that I was at high risk for blood clots.
That sent three of the 6 into a tizzy…each screaming, in his or her own way,
that I needed to start a baby aspirin a day or even blood thinners while immediately
coming back off the estrogen.

WHOA—HOLD ON!” I yelled!
“I just got back on the estrogen after two months of misery and zero sleep!!!”

There were a few other pesky issues as well so it was off to the hospital
for an abdominal CT scan along with, you guessed it, more bloodwork.

The good news is that the CT scan was all good except for my back…
but I already knew that.
The other good news was that the clotting markers were now perfectly normal…
HA! The estrogen can stay…thank the Lord!

But the iron…aka ferritin, well, it was over twice what it needs to be.
That meant a visit to the vampire transfusion center.


(ugh)

The last time I gave blood of any real significance, as in a pound bag’s worth,
was back in 1977.
I was a junior in high school and gave at our school’s blood drive.

After I was finished, I sat up on the table only to fall back down.
I repeated the up and down business several more times until I was told
to finally stay down.

After an hour or so and a few cookies later, I was released back to class…
and it was now time for lunch.

I can vividly remember getting my salad and walking back to the lunch table.
I looked at my salad and that’s all I remembered…until I woke
up, flat on my back, on the floor with salad scattered all around me while
folks hovered over me.

So no, I don’t give blood.

Tubes and viles, yes– bags full, no.

This morning when I ventured to the transfusion center, I explained all of this
to the nurse who was going to be siphoning me off.
She assured me that once I was done, she’d replace the lost blood with
a bag of fluid.

I was in an area that had 4 sections, all with divider curtains,
where other folks were propped up in order to receive cancer treatments and the like.

In fact, the whole floor was divided into sections of fours where patients
all sat tethered to various bags or machines.
Each reclining chair had a TV if one was so inclined to watch.
I just attempted to catch up in blogland and with the news on my phone
using my one unencumbered hand—that being my left and
opposite of the one I am comfortable using–so it was more like fumbling
with a phone.

Since it was so early, I’d really not eaten breakfast.
I was told that that was bad and that I needed to eat the pack
of crackers they were shoving at me.

When she started draining me off, my arm was uncomfortable but I thought
no big deal, I can do this.

As I neared the end of filling the bag, I noticed that I was not feeling well.
In fact, I was feeling really really bad.
I think the nurse must have noticed this too…probably
because I was now drained of all color and I had jerked off
my face mask…as I kept mumbling something about thinking I was
going to throw up.

Immediately she flipped my chair back so far that I was practically on my head
as she quickly hooked up the blood pressure machine.
80 over 40.

Immediately she began administering the fluids.

Halfway through the bag, she brought my chair back up to a normal position.
When the bag was empty the BP reading was now 91 over 56…better
but not where she wanted it.
I had started at 124 over 64.

Another bag and 30 minutes later I was up to 110 over 56—
a number it seemed we both could live with…literally.

And off I went…with an appointment to return in December.

As I looked around me in that large room with lots of folks
hooked up to things for various treatments…I pondered things
larger than my little bag of blood.

Some of the folks looked basically like me, healthy on the outside.
Some were elderly.
Some moaned and winced in pain.

And so I thought about this countdown week if you will.

A week like no other that any of us has ever known.

A week of ominous anticipation.

Many are scared.
Many are fearful
Many grow both anxious and angry.
All the while falsehoods, vehemence, and accusations whirl through the very
air we breathe.

Yet what of all the folks all over this nation of ours, all in rooms similar
to where I sat today…folks hooked up to machines, being fed medicines
in hopes of offering them some glimmer of a future…a chance to continue
life as they once knew it before a disease.

Some will not survive their treatments.
Some will not survive their diseases.

Some will.

Yet contrary to popular belief…we, meaning you and me,
will survive this election.
No matter who you vote for, the world as you know it will not cease nor
implode on Tuesday.
So quit acting like the sky is falling.

Satan feeds us fear…so don’t take it.

Oh, it might feel that life will end.
And it might get ugly before it gets better.
But you and I are not hooked up to a machine that is treating us
for a terminal illness…this election will not kill us—
despite what many of us are thinking.

A few weeks back, I read two different yet telling posts by our dear friend Oneta.

Oneta is a wise woman who is rooted in the Word of God.

I listen when she speaks…or make that, I take notice when she writes.

These particular posts of hers gave me much to chew on and a sense
of calm.

Please take the time to read what she has written.
They are not long posts.

NO, I DON’T THINK DJT IS THE MESSIAH BUT…

MORE CYRUS/TRUMP

Remember God is always stronger than evil!

“Many things happen that God does not will.
But he still permits them, in his wisdom, and they remain a stumbling block
or scandal to our minds.
God asks us to do all we can to eliminate evil.
But despite our efforts, there is always a whole set of circumstances which we can do nothing about,
which are not necessarily willed by God but nevertheless are permitted by him,
and which God invites us to consent to trustingly and peacefully,
even if they make us suffer and cause us problems.
We are not being asked to consent to evil, but to consent to the mysterious wisdom of God
who permits evil.
Our consent is not a compromise with evil but the expression of our trust
that God is stronger than evil.
This is a form of obedience that is painful but very fruitful.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 33
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

confession of sins and prayer

“O my God, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve to be served,
to give without counting the cost, to fight without fear of being wounded,
to work without seeking rest, and to spend myself without expecting any reward,
but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.
Amen.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)

“Whoever confesses his sins…is already working with God.
God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God.
Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear ‘man’ –
this is what God has made; when you hear ‘sinner’ –
this is what man himself has made.
Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made…
When you begin to abhor what you have made,
it is then that your good works are beginning,
since you are accusing yourself of your evil works.
The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works.
You do the truth and come to the light.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1458
An Excerpt From
Catechism of the Catholic Church

evil lurks in a garden…humm…where have I heard that before?

When confronted with two evils,
a man will always choose the most attractive.

Anonymous


(the quince faded and yet in the summer’s dogdays, are now reving back up / Julie Cook / 2020)

With little to no time to tend to the yard as I would normally do this time of year…sadly,
surreally, this time of year has not been like previous times of year…

So having taken out the garbage the other evening, I glanced once again forlornly,
over to the ever-growing leggy quince, the fledgling maple trees,
and some stubborn resprouting crepe myrtles all dotting the back bank…

Disgusted by what I saw…weeds were thriving amongst that which was treasured.

Neglected entirely too long!

Is this not the current story of our lives?

The negative now flourishing amongst that which we hold dear because of our distractions,
our worries, our heaviness…

So I threw the trash in the bin and grabbed my clippers…enough already!!!!

I went over the quince first.

I wanted to hit the high spots…that obnoxious giant poke salat and those
annoying runners from the crepe myrtle that was cut down years ago and those shoots
from the maple trees…
but as I clipped and yanked with the ire and determination of a woman frustrated with
much more than aggravating weeds…something caught my eye…

WHAT???

Hidden amongst the quice was something rather unkind and most unwelcomed.

Poison Ivy.

Or was it worse..was it the dreaded thunder wood?

I had already clipped and pulled, without my gloves mind you, several of these
“pesky” weeds, before realizing these pesky weeds were much more insidious than shoots,
runners or the blooming plants from random dropped seeds by passing birds.

I dropped my bundle of weeds, along with my clippers, practically running inside to immediately
wash my hands.

The next day I saw this:

Okay I thought, I have prescription cream for such…I’ve got this.

The day after that, two more spots on my shoulder.

Okay, more cream.

The day after that, after itching through much of the night, may we now times these
few red blistery spots by at least 100 that now currently cover my entire torso.

The doctor gave me a steroid shot today and a prednisone pack.

Did I mention the 6 or more hot flashes I’m already experiencing throughout the night
due to stopping the HRT?

Itching, hot flashes…
Sleep?!
HA!

Insomnia is my middle name!
Don’t worry about that twitching eye, it’s trained on the madness raging all around us.

Yet in all of this, I was reminded that where we think beauty and peace reside,
where we believe calm and simplicity rest, our ancient nemesis does not sleep.

Remember this as you ponder the current madness ravaging our nation.


(Christ smashing the head of the serpent in the Garden / The Passion of the Christ)

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

Please God, there is a remnant

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape,
as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

Joel 2:32

Hear my cries O Lord…

I am weary Lord.
I am depressed.
I am bewildered.

Please, Lord, hear our cries and our pleas.
Stop this evil.
There does remain a remnant…

I ask, then, has God rejected his people?
By no means!
For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham,
a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?
“Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars,
and I alone am left, and they seek my life.”
But what is God’s reply to him?
“I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works;
otherwise, grace would no longer be grace.

What then?
Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking.
The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”
And David says,

“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see…

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

Romans 11:1-10 / 27

If you don’t like it, simply ignore it… or better yet, deny it…

Men of ill judgment ignore the good that lies within their hands,
till they have lost it.

Sophocles

If you haven’t noticed, this week’s national current events have been interesting.

Troubling, yet most interesting.

There’s been a great deal in the way of political current events…
all with an odd underlying theme…
a theme of anger with a heavy dose of ignoring the facts…
or perhaps it’s more of a matter of anger with strong denial…

As in… if I deny it, it isn’t real.

1) According to an article in the New York Post,
“Hillary Clinton has now twice snubbed a process server
attempting to deliver the defamation lawsuit filed against her by Democratic presidential
candidate Tulsi Gabbard
, according to Gabbard’s attorney.
Gabbard sued the former secretary of state for $50 million last week for calling
her a “Russian asset.” Clinton has refused to retract the statement.

Ergo…if Hillary refuses to accept a court order, it doesn’t exist.

2) According to an article that appeared on Fox News regarding Stacey Abrams, the
one time Georgia Gubernatorial candidate who lost her bid as Governor to Brian Kemp and who,
after a year later, continues to refuse to acknowledge defeat…
The former lawmaker has still not conceded the election and has indicated that she
does not plan to.
“We don’t have to concede elections anymore, because when we concede,
we are condoning systems that are used to oppress us,”

she said last May according to the Texas Tribune.

Ergo…if Stacey doesn’t concede defeat, she never lost.

3) In an article from Fox News…
In scathing comments Thursday as her party appeared on the verge of defeat
in the Senate impeachment trial, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that President Trump
“cannot be acquitted” if the trial lacks the witness testimony and documentation
that Democrats have been seeking.

The San Francisco Democrat also fired on Trump’s impeachment defense team,
saying they’ve “disgraced themselves” during this week’s trial and suggesting
they deserve disbarment over their trial remarks.

But Pelosi challenged whether that acquittal would be valid,
in remarks that seemed a bid to undermine any Trump claim of victory.

“He will not be acquitted,” Pelosi insisted during her
weekly news conference, according to Politico.
“You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial.
You don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation and all of that.
Does the president know right from wrong? I don’t think so.”

Ergo…if Nancy doesn’t agree with an impeachment result, then it never happened.

And so just when we thought we’d heard it all, there was a recent article found in
Christianity Today by our dear friend Pastor David Roberston.

The good pastor offered his observation regarding a recent story concerning
Franklin Graham being banned from speaking in various UK churches.
Unlike his father, Billy Graham, Franklin is not welcome in churches throughout the UK.
In large part because of Graham’s views that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are sinful.

Ergo, if we don’t like what Graham or others share about the Bible and what is
considered sinful, then we simply turn our back and shove our fingers in our ears…
and therefore sin is simply no longer sin…

In other words, you can’t own what you refuse to claim…right??

Pastor Robertson notes…
“That is why all of this is so important.
Many of our civic institutions have been taken over by an ideology which is fundamentally
anti-democratic, anti-factual and intolerant – in the name of tolerance.
The State, having replaced God, has become the source of all morality and values.
If you don’t agree with those values you are not one of ‘the people’.
You are untermenschen.
You are out.

He adds an important observation by A.W. Tozer…

“The church goes along with everything and stands against nothing –
until she is convinced that it is the safe and popular thing to do;
then she passes her courageous resolutions and issues her world-shaking manifestos –
all in accord with the world’s newest venture – whatever it may be.”

In all of this, there seems to be the running connective thread of
anger and denial…a connective thread found in both our political and religious circles.
And now we can add the thread of division.

Democrat vs Republican.
Conservative vs Liberal
Believer vs Non-believer
Sin vs Repentance
Pride vs Humility
Death vs Life

We can pretend there is no division, no either-or, no growing divide,
no wrong, no right, no sin, no death…

We can see it for what it is or opt for what it isn’t…because ignoring it
seems to make it all just go away…

We see no evil.
We hear no evil
We speak…

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the
ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

Ephesians 4:18

The answer is as plain as black and white—Persecutions? Yes.

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Pope Francis (L) prays as a Jewish Rabbi looks on at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 26, 2014. Pope Francis faces a diplomatic high-wire act as he visits sacred Muslim and Jewish sites in Jerusalem on the final day of his Middle East tour AFP PHOTO/ VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)

Late last evening, while watching Clemson finishing out on top over Ohio State
in a battle in the Fiesta Bowl, a breaking news alert popped up on my phone…

The initial report was that there had been a stabbing outside of a synagogue
in New York.

“Oh Lord,” I thought out loud, “not again!”

As the facts started to come in more clearly, the attack had actually happened
inside the home of a Rabbi who lived next door to a Synagogue in Monsey, New York.

Reports were that a man had entered the home, where Hasidic members of a synagogue
had gathered prior to going to celebrate the 7th night of Hanukkah,
and began hacking people with a machete.

The news headline read:
New York Jews continue Hanukkah celebrations after stabbing at
rabbi’s home that left 5 wounded

The story explained that
Five people were stabbed at a rabbi’s home in New York during a Hanukkah celebration
on Saturday night —
but that didn’t stop worshippers from continuing their prayers at a synagogue next door.

Soon after the attack in the suburb of Monsey, located just 35 miles north of New York City
in Rockland County, Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg and his followers gathered at the adjacent synagogue,
which the rabbi leads, and sang together in prayer.

The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley tweeted a video of Rottenberg
and his followers continuing their celebration of the seventh night of Hannukah.
“The grace of God did not end and his mercy did not leave us,”
they sang, according to a translation of their song posted online.

Here’s a link to the initial story
https://www.foxnews.com/us/new-york-hanukkah-stabbings-five-wounded-synagogue-celebrations

The following day, I ran across a post shared by a fellow blogger…
The post seemed more than ironically timely as it addressed an alarming concern…

The concern being that there is a troubling rise in growing antisemitism while being
mirrored by a simultaneous decline in Holocaust memory.

Meaning—attacks on Jews is on the rise while the history of the Holocaust
is fading.

Fading as many young people have little to no grasp of the darker side of
20th-century history.
Just considering the almost rabid fascination by youthful generations with socialism
then this should not be terribly surprising—but terrible it is.

Here is the post along with a link to the full article.

A Growing Monster
December 29, 2019
by Anna Waldherr

A Europe-wide CNN poll in November 2018 found a rise in anti-Semitism and a
decline in Holocaust memory [1].
Anti-Semitic incidents in Germany rose by almost 10% in 2018, to a 10 year high [2][3].
In December 2018, a Greek Holocaust Memorial was desecrated for the fourth time [4].
In January 2019 a synagogue was vandalized in the Bulgarian capitol Sofia [5].
In June 2019 planned construction on the site of mass graves dating to the
Holocaust came to light in the Ukraine [6].
By July 2019 anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom had spiked [7].
A video showing West Ham soccer fans singing an anti-Semitic fight song about
rival club Tottenham Hotspur (which has a largely Jewish fan base) was posted to Twitter.
There is a monster growing in Europe. Anti-Semitism has increased substantially since
the 2015 immigration crisis [8].
France reported a 74% increase in violence against Jews.

“An alarming pattern of anti-Semitism is spreading across Europe,
from France to Germany to Sweden and elsewhere on the continent…
Antisemitism is not, and cannot, remain just a Jewish problem.
This is an issue that affects all Europeans, and Western society as a whole.”

–Ronald Lauder, Pres. of World Jewish Congress

[1] CNN, “A Shadow over Europe” by Richard Allen Greene, 11/27/18, https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2018/11/europe/antisemitism-poll-2018-intl/.

[2] France 24, “Anti-Semitic attacks rose sharply in Germany in 2018, report says”, 2/13,19, https://www.france24.com/en/20190213-anti-semitism-hate-crime-jews-germany-afd.

[3] New York Times, “The New German Anti-Semitism” James Angelos,
5/21/19, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/magazine/anti-semitism-germany.html.

[4] Times of Israel, “Greek Holocaust memorial vandalized for 4th time this year”, 12/17/18, https://www.timesofisrael.com/greek-holocaust-memorial-vandalized-for-4th-time-this-year/.

[5] The Jerusalem Post, “Synagogue in Bulgarian Capitol of Sofia Vandalized by
Stone-Throwing Incident” by Zachary Keyser, 1/22/19,
https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Synagogue-in-Bulgarian-capital-of-Sofia-vandalized-by-stone-throwing-incident-578217.

[6] Israel National News (Arutz Sheva 7),
“Ukraine plans construction atop Holocaust-era mass graves” by Cnaan Lipshiz, 6/18/19, http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/264735.

[7] CNN, “New report shows spike in British anti-Semitism” by Ivana Kottasova, 8/1/19, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/31/europe/antisemitism-incidents-rising-gbr-intl/index.html.

[8] The Guardian, “Anti-Semitism rising sharply across Europe,
figures show” by Jon Henley, 2/15/19,
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/feb/15/antisemitism-rising-sharply-across-europe-latest-figures-show.

A Growing Monster

Then if things weren’t troubling enough, a story broke Sunday morning about a
gunman walking into a church outside of Fort Worth, Texas and killing parishioners.
The gunman entered the church during communion and opened fire with a shotgun,
killing two and critically wounding another before being fatally shot by
quick-acting parishioners.

Texas church shooting leaves 2 dead, witness says gunman opened fire during communion

https://www.foxnews.com/us/texas-church-shooting-texas-injured-active

When Evil attacks our Spiritual foundation, we have always struggled to understand.

Yet here’s the thing, Evil is not something to be analyzed or neatly understood.
It does not play by the rules.
The fallen light-bearer is now the father of darkness.
Rules do not apply to Satan or to the Evils he relishes upon this realm we call home.

And yet the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, went on a news talk show Sunday
morning and tried to blame life in Washington and the hate that is seemingly
generated there, on the latest spate of attacks on Jews in his city and state.

Because we all know that when we have no answers, we blame Trump.

But Trump is not Satan…contrary to popular belief.

Persecution against both Christians and Jews has been with us throughout the ages,
yet there is an alarming uptick taking place across the globe.
Physical persecution to emotional and psychological persecution.

Might time be of the essence for both Light and Dark?

Faith, belief, God, Jesus, love, kindness, forgiveness, the family, honor,
righteousness…these are all components of our true essence…the piece
of the Divine which continues to reside in our souls.

And each and every one of those components is an enemy of the Darkness.

I read today that many Jews are now afraid to wear anything that
symbolizes their faith in fear of being attacked.

This while many Christians are being told that, at places such as work and
school, they are not allowed to have a Bible on their desk or to wear
a cross or other religious symbols.

As the shadows grow long, remain steadfast…
for your God will not be moved by man nor darkness.

You will be hated by everyone because of me,
but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Matthew 10:22

what comes from the Spirit

“The adorable Heart of Jesus is our comfort, our way, our life.”
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


(a winter treat blooms / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

“The experience of the Church and the saints demonstrates a general law:
what comes from the Spirit of God brings with it joy, peace, tranquility of spirit,
gentleness, simplicity, and light.
On the other hand, what comes from the spirit of evil brings sadness, trouble, agitation,
worry, confusion, and darkness.
These marks of the good and the evil spirit are unmistakable signs in themselves.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe