the journey, the uncomfortable of the unfamiliar

My entire conversion was less of a journey to a foreign place,
and more of a discovery of my long-lost home.

Jennifer Fulwiler
from her book Something other than God

Change is uncomfortable.
Kirby Smart


(unseasonably warm weather has the gardenias in bloom / Julie Cook / 2022)

Perhaps it’s because it’s the start of another new year.

Perhaps it’s because so much of this said new year remains unknown.

Perhaps it’s because we long to forget the year that was..along
with the year before that…

Perhaps it’s because we are actually standing on the periphery of that
which is simply spilling out before us…

Spilling and spreading outward both far and wide…
much like a randomly tossed gallon of paint working
itself outward…spreading and covering everything in its path.

And yet frustratingly, we cannot see what that spilling and
spreading-out entails.

Nothing seems to be in focus…
All we can clearly see is that we are standing at the edge something
that reaches outward from where we currently stand…
beckoning us to follow suit.

It’s similar to standing on the edge of the sea.
We stand at the surf’s edge peering outward to a distant horizon line…
a horizon that seems to be endlessly far away yet calls us to come.

And thus we are reminded that have we have a choice.

We can either remain standing at the edge of all that is…
or…
we can set out on a journey that is calling us, nay beckoning
that we come.

Merriam Webster tells us that a journey is:
something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another

Meaning…that if we choose to move, hopefully forward
versus God forbid backward or irritatingly merely remaining in place—
we are obviously to be moving from one place to another.
As in…forward motion…with blessed great momentum.

The notion of such is not always comforting to we the creatures of habit.

We don’t like the unknown.

We don’t like the uncomfortable.

We don’t trust the unfamiliar.

Yet if there is to be growth, there must come the uncomfortable
of the unfamiliar.

And so the journey begins.

For better or worse.
For either good or bad.
The journey beckons.

The question we must ask ourselves, on the forefront of this new year..
are we ready to trust?

Are we ready to put one foot in front of the other?

The year is calling…

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the
calling you have received.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3

bloom more beautifully

“Be patient, because the weaknesses of the body are given to us in
this world by God for the salvation of the soul.
So they are of great merit when they are borne patiently.”

St. Francis of Assisi


(Julie Cook / 2019)

“Strong passions are the precious raw material of sanctity.
Individuals who have carried their sinning to extremes should not despair or say,
‘I am too great a sinner to change,’or
‘God would not want me.’ God will take anyone who is willing to love,
not with an occasional gesture, but with a ‘passionless passion,
‘a ‘wild tranquility’.
A sinner, unrepentant, cannot love God,
any more than someone on dry land can swim;
but as soon as a person takes his errant energies to God and asks
for their redirection, he will become happy, as he was never happy before.
It is not the wrong things one has already done that keep one from God;
it is present persistence in that wrong.
Someone who turns back to God, as the Magdalene and Paul,
welcomes the discipline that will enable him to change his former tendencies.
Mortification is good, but only when it is done out of love of God….
Mortifications of the right sort perfect our human nature;
the gardener cuts the green shoots from the root of the bush,
not to kill the rose, but to make it bloom more beautifully.”

Venerable Fulton Sheen, p. 185

Rest for the weary

The scorched land will become a pool
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the haunt of jackals, its resting place,
Grass becomes reeds and rushes.

Isaiah 35:7


(Dried thistle along the banks of the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

(***since the Mayor and Sheriff are here for the Trick or treat weekend…
I opted to seek out a post from 2015—from the wisdom found on the road in Ireland–
thank you always Paul!!)

I was weary…
dry and brittle of body, heart and soul…
Yet you Oh Lord have heard me in my distress.
You have seen to my weariness…
to the dryness and brittle spirit which as clung to me like an ashen paste.
You have refreshed and soothed a parched and thirsty heart


(the wild Atlantic somewhere along the Dingle Peninsula / County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

You have attended to a wounded soul…
My offering to you is a simple thankfulness that reaches to the depths of the sea,
and the width of an endless sky…


(somewhere along the road in County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”

Isaiah 58:11

goodness and guides

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God
for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.”

St. Gianna Molla


(yellow roses / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Faith and love are like the blind man’s guides.
They will lead you along a path unknown to you,
to the place where God is hidden.”

St. John of the Cross

discipline and a holy will

“It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect
through trial and suffering. Only by carrying the Cross can one reach
the Resurrection.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(a rose still covered by the morning dew / Julie Cook / 2021)

“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

A re-visited prayer

(dragonfly, Troup Co. Georgia / Julie Cook/ 2018)

“Our Father…”

You made me and chose me before time, to love you, to serve you,
and adore you; to long for your voice, to recognize you,
to return home to you. For you are the Father, prodigal in your love,
who runs forward to meet us as we kneel to pray.

“Who art in heaven…”

Give me a vision, Lord, of the saints in heaven, of the community in heaven,
of the joy of heaven, so that I may be drawn out of this dull world into the light
of all that is real.

“Hallowed be thy name…”

Lord, may your name be holy in my mouth, holy in my heart, holy on my lips,
holy in my life; “I am that I am”, “the lamb that was slain”.
Lord, may the words that describe you sanctify the lips of all who
call upon you.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done…”

Let our hearts and our words be shaped by yours.

“On earth as it is in heaven…”

Lord, call those you have chosen on earth to follow you and to live your life,
to make space for you, for the earth is in the hands of your enemy,
it is in the hands of the ruler of this world.
Help us repulse him with your authority, and in your name, and by your power,
to reclaim earth for heaven.

“Give us this day our daily bread…”

For Jesus is the bread of life. Help us feed on Jesus in the word of the Gospels,
by the presence of the Holy Spirit, in the holy and blessed sacrament.
Give us, Lord, all that we need to feed on you in Christ our saviour.

“And forgive us our trespasses…”

Both those sins that we know about and those sins we have not seen.
Cleanse us, and forgive us, and renew us,
Lord, and wash away all that stands between your love,
and your mercy, and our wounded hearts.

“As we forgive those who trespass against us…”

As we allow your kindness and your goodness to overflow and to free
those we hold in
anger and unforgiveness.

“And lead us not into temptation”

For we are weak-willed.
We are blind and intemperate.
We have very little strength of our own.

“But deliver us from evil.”

For he (the evil one) prowls around us like a lion seeking whom he may devour,
insinuating words into our mind, laying traps of false desire in front of us,
whispering untruths into our heart. Deliver us, Lord, from all evil,
and from the snares the devil sets for us.

From the Ashenden Daily Office:
https://ashenden.org/2018/07/16/our-father-who-art-in-heaven-an-extended-prayer/

Good reminders…

“The closer one approaches to God,
the simpler one becomes.”

St. Teresa of Avila


(a walk around a mountain lake / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Prayer is the duty of every moment.
We ought always to pray, said our Lord.
And what He said, He did; therein lay His great power.
Action accompanied His words and corresponded with them.
We must pray always in order to be on our guard.
Our life, both of body and soul, our natural and supernatural life,
is like a fragile flower.
We live surrounded by enemies.
Ever since man rejected the Light that was meant to show him the way,
everything has become for us an obstacle and a danger;
we live in the shadow of death.”

Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 9
An Excerpt From
The Prayer of the Presence of God


(orange jewelweed / Julie Cook / 2021)

“If, then, we wish to persevere and to be saved—for no one can be
saved without perseverance—we must pray continually.
Our perseverance depends, not on one grace,
but on a thousand helps which we hope to obtain from
God during our whole lives,
that we may be preserved in his grace.
Now, to this chain of graces a chain of prayers on our
part must correspond: without these prayers,
God ordinarily does not grant his graces.
If we neglect to pray, and thus break the chain of prayers,
the chain of graces shall also be broken, and we shall lose the
grace of perseverance.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 201
An Excerpt From
The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori

are you getting what you want or what you need?

“You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation
if you had it—so by not getting what you’ve asked,
you really are getting what you want.”
St. Catherine of Siena


(swallowtail spicebrush butterfly / Julie Cook / 2021)

“What really hurts is not so much suffering as the fear of suffering.
If welcomed trustingly and peacefully, suffering makes us grow.
It matures and trains us, purifies us,
teaches us to love unselfishly, makes us poor in heart, humble,
gentle, and compassionate toward our neighbor.
Fear of suffering, on the other hand,
hardens us in self-protective, defensive attitudes,
and often leads us to make irrational choices
with disastrous consequences.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 47
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

comapassion, endurance, perseverance

“Three things are necessary to everyone:
truth of faith which brings understanding,
love of Christ which brings compassion,
and endurance of hope which brings perseverance.”

St. Bonaventure


(a pollen laden honey bee / Julie Cook / 2021)

“My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls,
and especially for poor sinners.
If only they could understand that I am the best of Fathers
to them and that it is for them that the Blood and Water flowed
from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy.
For them I dwell in the tabernacle as King of Mercy.
I desire to bestow My graces upon souls,
but they do not want to accept them.
You, at least, come to Me as often as possible and take
these graces they do not want to accept.
In this way you will console My Heart.
Oh, how indifferent are souls to so much goodness,
to so many proofs of love!
My Heart drinks only of the ingratitude and forgetfulness
of souls living in the world.
They have time for everything, but they have
no time to come to Me for graces.”

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, p. 367
An Excerpt From
Diary of St. Faustina

quiet significance found in the seemingly insignificant

It is a dangerous thing to be satisfied with ourselves.
St. Teresa of Avila
From the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 4


(a single drop of rain / Julie Cook / 2021)


(detail of a drop of remaining rain / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Even though we know that God’s will and commandments apply to everyone,
we do not always have the strength to fulfill them.
Now, every time we respond faithfully to a motion of the Spirit,
out of desire to be docile to what God expects of us,
even if it’s something almost insignificant of itself,
that faithfulness draws grace and strength down on us.
That strength can then be applied to other areas and may make
us capable of one day practicing the commandments that up until
then we had not been capable of fulfilling entirely.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 20
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit