hope for us all…

“Where there is no obedience there is no virtue,
where there is no virtue there is no good,
where there is no good there is no love,
where there is no love, there is no God,
and where there is no God there is no Paradise.”

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


(a willet shorebird / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

Recognition that lost periods of a life can never be returned can provoke
an intense desire to give completely to God what is yet remaining in a life.
The soul scarred by former sin is sometimes, after grace, the soul that will give without reserve.
It is not at all an exaggeration to affirm that great sinners often do become hidden saints.

Fr. Donald Haggerty
from Conversion

tales of the asinine…Vol. I

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
Søren Kierkegaard


(the oddity of a tiki flaming pineapple in the heart of Atlanta, absurd or odd / Julie Cook / 2019)

According to Merriam Webster, the word asinine means:

asinine: adjective
as·i·nine | \ ˈa-sə-ˌnīn \
1 : extremely or utterly foolish or silly

Utterly foolish or silly…

I think I’ll opt for such words as utterly foolish, idiotic, absurd, ridiculous
and really really stupid.

My daughter-n-law and I were running a few errands yesterday when she asked if I
had heard the news story about the police officers, out in Arizona, who were visiting
a Starbucks and were asked to leave because another patron told management that the
presence of the police made them nervous.

I responded that yes, yes I had heard that story and it had to be just about the most
idiotic thing I’d ever heard…

Incensed all over again, I told her it was just one more tale in the endless sea of lunacy
in a long line of “the tales of the asinine”…

Her response was that we should start writing a series entitled “the asinine journals, or
perhaps chronicles, of our times…”

For you see, I’m the type of person who happens to feel safer whenever I’m out and about
and police, or any other first responders, happen to be patronizing the same establishment
I am.

As in…when I’m out, say, eating a hearty breakfast at a Cracker Barrell and
there happens to be a table full of firemen also enjoying breakfast–
all the while as the crackle of their radios with the latest breaking news
echos around their table, I feel safe in knowing that should I suddenly have a
heart attack or choke on my Sunrise Sampler or lest a fire breaks out in the kitchen,
it’s all good.

Cops getting coffee in a Starbucks says to me that no idiot is going to come busting in
hoping to pull off an armed robbery…and if they do, the trauma should be short-lived
as the cops would be on the idiot(s) like white of rice.

Just an added bit of peace of mind while venturing out into our ever-growing
crime-ridden world.

But no, instead we have to have some idiot who tells a coffee barista that they just don’t
feel safe ordering a coffee mocha latte while some police officers are doing the same.
And so the equally idiotic coffee barista tells the officers to leave.

And so now tell me something…
God forbid that later, the barista should have to call 911 due to some sort of robbery
or calamity, how would those same officers feel about having to respond?

My guess would be that because they are duty bound,
they would respond regardless of any slight or offense because that’s what cops do.

And for all those naysayers, snowflakes and Antifa folks out there…
yes, there are bad cops, bad soldiers, bad doctors, bad priests, bad lawyers, bad teachers…
as in there are simply bad people out there who do bad things to good people…

Just like there are good cops, good soldiers, good doctors, good priests, good lawyers,
good teachers…as in good people trying to do good things for other people.
Good people who try to do their utmost for those they serve or for those who they
simply interact with on a day to day basis.

We live in a balance of good vs evil.
Plain and simple.

Good people doing good things for and by other people.

So for some police officers to come into a Starbucks to get a cup of coffee or a
cup of tea or whatever, only to be asked to leave simply because they are cops who
happen to make one fellow patron uneasy, is in a word, asinine.

Yes, the Starbucks Corporation has since issued an apology.
The Corporation, not necessarily the individual store or community.

Yet does a corporate apology make this incident now better or okay?

These sorts of little incidences keep happening all over the country.

Police are being victimized and even ambushed and murdered simply because they are
police officers.

Just yesterday, a sheriff’s deputy from Hall County, a part of the city of Gainesville, Ga
was shot and killed by four teens as he stopped them for having stolen a car and for their
involvement in burglaries.

A 28-year-old young man, a deputy sheriff who was two years younger than my own son.
He was both a young husband and father.

From convenient stores to restaurants—when policemen, State Troopers or deputies come into
various businesses in order to buy something and are told to leave all because someone else feels
uncomfortable in their presence is, well, absolutely an absurdity.

Yet our culture has fallen into some sort of odd ‘guilty by association’ mentality.

A police officer is seen on camera hitting, kicking, shooting a suspect…in most cases
images that are publicized by our media of the suspect which is a black male.
And so we now have a tremendous backlash from the black community that they are being targeted.

This goes back to the fact that we do indeed have rotten apples, those known as the bad guys pretending
to be good guys.

But that does not ever mean that all officers are bad or monsters or aimed at targeting
any particular community of people…

Yet good luck convincing the progressive left and liberal media of anything other than.

And so we have a culture now screaming henny penny the sky is falling over
what should be common sense…as we find ourselves living in the time
of the asinine.

Shame on Starbucks and any other business that shuns our first responders.

Those same responders you pray will come to your aide when you’re trapped in an
overturned and burning car or should some crazed madman invade your home and
terrorize you and your family…you can only hope and pray the police will get there
as fast as they can…lest you lose your life.

The good becomes bad and the bad becomes good…
as a culture slowly loses her common sense.

Volume II of The Asinine will follow tomorrow…

For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

Proverbs 2:6

temptation and humility

“God wishes us to be meek even toward ourselves.
When a person commits a fault, God certainly wishes him to humble himself,
to be sorry for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again;
but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself,
and give way to trouble and agitation of mind; for,
while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing good.”

St. Alphonsus De Liguori, p. 259
An Excerpt From
The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori


(lone plover / Rosemary Beach/ Julie Cook / 2019)

At this point, it is extremely important to keep in mind that a person is not bad
because he has a temptation.
Many believe, because they have a temptation to pride, to avarice, to hate, to lust,
that there is something wrong with them.
There is nothing wrong with you if you are tempted.
You are not tempted because you are evil; you are tempted because you are human.
There is nothing intrinsically evil about human nature just because a little devil knocks
at the door.
Evil begins only when we open the door and consent to the temptation.
Scripture praises the man who suffers temptations. When we resist temptations,
we strengthen our character.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
from Life is Worth Living

“Yes – but parents are ignorant”.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
Daniel J. Boorstin

Now that I have your attention…
No.
Parents are not ignorant…

But perhaps we best clarify…let’s just say that the majority
of parents out there are bright and utterly competent.

Yet reading the latest post (as in yesterday by now) by our dear friend, the Scottish Pastor David Robertson,
I read that very quote. “Yes – but parents are ignorant”.

It was made by a Scottish Government Minister, spoken to David.

It came about because David challenged this particular Governmental official to allow him
to address a group of Scottish parents as to the whooie (aka crap) that they are being
fed by the Government, the School System and now by even many in “the Church” regarding everything from
gender identification to sexual orientation…
with such indoctrination starting at the ripe old age of 5 and 6.

According to David:“Not just Christians and Muslims, but many other parents who are fed up
of their children being sacrificed to the whims of a progressive establishment who don’t
give a fig for the poor and the weak –
and seem concerned only with protecting their own position.”

And so now it seems that a local (Scottish) Church vicar has come under fire for simply citing
one of David’s articles in this vicar’s weekly column in his church’s news flyer.

A media outlet got wind of the ‘blasphemy’ and in true form, without any sort of true
journalistic investigation, offered up an article damning the vicar for quoting from
an article offered by the Wee Flea blog.

Well.

Since I quote from The Wee Flea all the time, I suppose that makes me persona non grata–
but of course, I am but a retired educator and not a person of the cloth, or of any real importance…
just a person who happens to keep a little blog—- so I think I’m good.

But my point is that not all are…’good’
And perhaps we should use the word ‘safe’ versus good.

Not all who speak the Truth of God’s word, not man’s rewritten version of such
but the true Word, are safe from the mob of progressivism or
safe from the self-appointed PC police.

David offers these kind words to this now wrongly maligned vicar.

“Simply abusing those who assert these views,
rather than having an intelligent and informed discussion is not helpful.
As someone who has faced the Twitter mob when you dare to blaspheme the new authoritarian State doctrines–
I can only empathise with my Anglican brother, praise him for his courageous stand…and stand with him.

Brother – you will win.
Not because you have political power –
but because you belong to the One before whom, one day, every politician will bow –
and give account for what they have done with their power…

Please find David’s article below by clicking on the link below.
Perhaps I should add the disclaimer that…if you are not afraid to click, read or like…
because you are not afraid of The Truth.

Vicar ‘under Investigation’ for Quoting The Wee Flea!

losing my mind…

There is no antithesis between hope for heaven and loyalty to the earth,
since this hope is also hope for the earth.
While we hope for something greater and definitive,
we Christians may and must bring hope into that which is transitory,
into the world of our states
.
Joseph Ratzinger


(detail from Sainte Chapelle / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

I mentioned the other day the irony that as we…we being anyone,
work toward pushing our way toward a Godly life, a Godly
mindset, a Godly perspective as to how we live our lives…
the harder we work toward such, Satan, in turn,
goes into overdrive trying desperately to thwart any and all efforts.

I know this.

Hence why I’m opting to just walk around with an umbrella over my head 24/7.

But more about all of that later.

One thing that I have noticed that isn’t helping…isn’t helping my mindset, my demeanor,
my outlook, is this country’s quagmire of division and hatred and the constant news
feeds… be they from a liberal progressive henny penny the sky is falling slant or from
the more conservative slant of ‘oh woe is us’ (of which I tend to be more of the ‘oh
woe is us’ camp) it is enough to be driving me absolutely nuts…
so much so that I dare turn on a television or click on news…
and Heaven’s help us, when I get the world breaking news alerts on my phone.

And so it was a bit serendipitous to stumble upon the following quote by
Joseph Ratzinger…aka Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Joseph Ratzinger, as Cardinal Ratzinger who worked under Pope John Paul II as the
Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
was known as God’s Rotweiller.

He headed a Vatican department responsible for enforcing doctrinal orthodoxy, and was
the successor to the Inquisition.
A tough-minded man who once said that “rock music was “the expression of basic passions”
And he described homosexuality as a “more or less strong tendency ordered toward
an intrinsic moral evil”.

He did not mince the words of Biblical truths.

The former Pope, who now lives a reclusive, prayerful and scholarly life in a small
apartment on the grounds of the Vatican, is German by birth.
Hence the Rottweiler reference as well as being known as the Panzer Cardinal.

However it was as a youthful boy, Ratzinger’s heart was set on being a priest.
But Hitler and his Nazi monster reign put that dream on hold.

The family was very anti-Nazi, anti-Hitler.
The Nazi regime’s politics ran counter to the Ratzinger’s Catholic Christian faith.
So much so that the senior Ratzinger moved his family multiple times in hopes of living a life
somewhat free from the growing madness.

However time eventually ran out and as required of all young German boys during this dark time
in mankind’s history, this future Pope was mandated to serve time as a member of Hitler’s
Youth Group. Should he opt not to participate, the family would face financial penalties
and most likely worse.

During the dark, chaotic days of Nazi Germany, Ratzinger witnessed first hand the
horrors of what life was like under Hitler’s spell.
Ratzinger had a younger cousin who had Down’s Syndrome—
Such individuals were considered to be defective….imperfect and impure.
It was the likes of Josef Mengele, the physician who performed countless “experiments” of such individuals-who viewed people like Ratzinger’s cousin as living guinea pigs, had those like
Ratzinger’s cousin rounded up and taken away.

And so his cousin was indeed “taken away” from the family by the local authorities.
A short time afterward the family was given word that the boy had been killed for being one of the “undesirables”—an individual considered to be a flaw…
a weak and unpure part of the Aryan gene pool.

During his time as a Hitler Youth, Ratzinger was miserable.

In Ratzinger’s book Salt of the Earth, Ratzinger says the following “…
Thank goodness, there was a very understanding mathematics teacher.
He himself was a Nazi but an honest man, who said to me,
‘Just go once and get the document so that we have it’ …
When he saw that I simply didn’t want to, he said, ‘I understand, I’ll take care of it’,
and so I was able to stay free of it.
(Wikipedia)

Later when he was of age, Ratzinger was drafted.
Three separate times his service was terminated, only to be reinstated and serving in various capacities
but never seeing active fighting on the front.

Eventually, he made the harrowing decision to desert.

Ratzinger has often stated that Heavenly angels watched over him and his family during those
frantic final days of Nazi Germany as there were multiple times when the authorities
discovered a young man of draft age who was oddly not enlisted—
and yet, his desertion was oddly never pursued.

As soon as the war was over, Ratzinger and his brother both entered seminary.

So if there is one who understands the attacks by Satan on those who attempt to pursue a
Godly life and of the role a political ethos plays in the lives of Christians
it would be Ratzinger…as well as Karol Woytjla, aka Pope John Paul II who
lived a life of labor, pain, and suffering in a Nazi-occupied Poland…

So may the following words of wisdom offered by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
speak to all of us today…those of us who are finding ourselves living
in these very uncertain and surreal political times…

True human objectivity involves humanity, and humanity involves God.

True human reason involves morality, which lives on God’s commandments.

This morality is not a private matter; it has public significance.

Without the good of being good and of good action, there can be no good politics.

What the persecuted Church prescribed for Christians as the core of their political
ethos must also be the core of an active Christian politics:
only where good is done and is recognized as good can people live together
well in a thriving community.

Demonstrating the practical importance of the moral dimension,
the dimension of God’s commandments—publicly as well—must be the center of responsible
political action.

Joseph Ratzinger

to be kind

“Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush,
anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on,
so that children have very little time for their parents.
Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the
disruption of peace of the world.”

Mother Teresa

“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us.
It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain
of someone unloved in our own home.
Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”

Mother Teresa


(the wee one letting her feelings be known during a shopping outing / Abby Cook / 2018)

I would wager that most of us would agree that it’s pretty easy to be kind to a baby
or for that matter, a small child.

That is unless you’re some kind of depraved individual but those are sad thoughts for another day.

Babies just seem to have a way of drawing us in…into their little worlds.
They do so with their large inquisitive eyes, their sweet and heartwarming smiles
and their openly unconditional acceptance.

You have a bad hair day — a baby doesn’t care.
You have visible scars — a baby doesn’t care.
You have internal scars — a baby doesn’t care.
You have issues, a baby simply doesn’t care.

They smile, they coo, they draw us in…

And suddenly we have no cares.

We don’t care about much of anything but for this exchange of warmth and kindness.
We are lost in the kindness.
It just feels good.
No cares, no worries…just basking in an exchange of endorphin pumping feel good
between two individuals.

That is of course until said baby or small child decides they are displeased with life’s
current circumstance.
All of which could be due to hunger, teething, a soiled diaper, colic,
too hot, too cold, too tired…you name it.

And it is at these very moments that our own capacity for kindness seems to quickly
dissipate as our nerves take over and kindness takes a back burner.

So we ask ourselves…does kindness come naturally?

I’m no psychologist or anthropologist or neurologist.
I don’t study people’s brains or actions or reactions.

Rather I am just a wife married for 35 years, a mom to a 30-year-old, and now a grandmother
to a 5-month-old. Plus I was a high school teacher for 31 years…
so I kind of know people and I often know myself…be that for good or bad.

Kindness seems to be more of a reciprocating response.

Now granted there are certain folks out there who just seem to be more innately
kind than others.
Think Melanie versus Scarlett.

And yet I’ve observed some really gruff individuals lose some of that bristled gruffness rather
quickly when met with pure kindness.

In our day’s quote, Mother Teresa observes that we often tend to be more gracious,
more kind to strangers much more readily than we do to those actually closest to us.

An odd human condition.

She notes that perhaps it is easier to be kind and gracious to those we don’t know rather
then those who actually deserve our kindness the most….those who are closest to us
in our lives. Yet it is those individuals who we often look over, take for granted or
just assume they care despite our brusqueness, attitudes, selfishness, curtness,
rudeness, and self-absorption.

I know this to be true.
I recall now in hindsight my days as an adolescent and I feel the constant need to offer up
my apologies to Mother.

I also know that during 35 years of marriage, I’ve had a lot to learn in the way of kindness.

Two imperfect people are joined in the union of marriage…to have and to hold…to
love, honor and respect, to live with until death does them part…
all the while, the perfect union and marriage is being lived by two very imperfect people…
a bit of a blind leading the blind.

I know that I tend to be a bit hard-headed and stubborn. I blame an Irish heritage.
I know that I tend to be the one who is always more right than wrong despite my
husband not yet figuring this out.

And yet I also know that I can be more Scarlett than Melanie…
wanting things my way…
I can be selfish, snappy, short-tempered, overwhelmed and moody.

And I also know that my husband has a high frustration level,
very little patience and is a 69-year-old by-product of a very abusive alcoholic father
who left deep lasting scars.
Add in the fact that my husband is nearly deaf so he can misinterpret, misunderstand
or miss everything I say…talk about over the top frustrating.

And so often in this life of ours, kindness has sadly taken a backseat.

And yet kindness seems to be a glue.
It is a binding agent.
It can bind two imperfect people together placing them under the blanket, or yoke if you will,
of the One who casts the perfect light of hope and healing over our human brokenness.

And yet we know this act of kindness must often be learned as well as worked on.
It is something I have learned that is a grace that more often than not
must be prayed for, cared for and nurtured.
It is a grace that God will and can work in our hearts.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost;
he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

Saint Basil

good fruit, bad fruit

“Beautiful, enticing, forbidden fruit will be offered to you when your “hunger” is greatest.
If you are foolish enough to reach for it,
your fingers will sink into the rotten mush on the back side.
That’s the way sin operates in our lives. It promises everything.
It delivers nothing but disgust and heartache.”

James C. Dobson

It never seems to fail that at this time, each year, I offer up some thoughts
on the gathering of the harvest.

The notion of fruit and or vegetables–be they good or be they bad…

This as I muse over the idea of the labor of one’s hands as well as the required patience
and persistence of both watching and waiting for that labor to come to fruition.

And that’s because I am usually in the beginning stages of harvesting something
this same time of each and every year…

A few years back I posted a great deal about our vegetable garden.

From the tiling of the soil, to the planting of the seeds, to the nurturing of those
tiny first shoots, to the building of a scarecrow in order to keep pesky critters
from eating me out of house and home.


(our scarecrow 2014/ Julie Cook)

We had actually named the scarecrow Tom… after one of my husband’s lifelong friends.
They did favor just a tad.

There was even the tale of the cutting off of slivers of Irish Spring soap and scattering
said slivers around the outer edges, along the periphery of the garden,
as an “old timer” had told us it was an excellent critter deterrent.

Of which seemed to work…for a while.


(the soap and deterents from 2014 / Julie Cook)

But then my dad got sick and needed me.

And I couldn’t tend to Dad and a garden at the same time.
The garden was big and demanded a great deal of attention and time…two things
I had suddenly found myself without as the time and attention needed for Dad far
outweighed the time and attention needed by the corn and squash.

So the garden was abandoned.
Filled in and covered up about 4 years ago.

Yet happily, I still manage to find a few things in the yard of which I must
gather and harvest.

Be it those first deep purple blueberries fresh off the 4 ever growing blueberry bushes…
or those first blushing shades of color coming from the tomatoes I’ve managed to plant
in a few containers perched in the flower beds,
Or simply the monitoring of the growing apples…
I still find a deep sense of satisfaction when gathering and harvesting.

Those of you who have been with me for a while most likely recall that every year,
around this same time, we have trouble with our apple trees and the peach trees.

You may recall the tales of when the sun goes down in our neck of the woods
and we go off to bed, that there’s a magic signal which goes out to all the deer in the area…
a dinner bell so to speak, clanging in the night, for one and all to come and get it…
come on over to Julie’s house and nibble on her fruit trees.

And let’s not bring up my husband’s pecan orchard that he planted about 3 years back…
those 50 “trees” I lovingly refer to as our green Q-tips planted in long rows out in the yard…

Their plight has been equally perilous.

With our resident deer, it’s more of a mindset of eat, kill and destroy any
and all of Julie’s trees.

Their idea is not to merely eat the fruit but rather to eat all the leaves as well as
the entire tree, limbs and all.

And so it’s a bit of a chess match…
waiting ever so patiently to see who makes the first move—
me or the deer.

So as it was today, with the sun was shining and it being most pleasant out,
I went to inspect the remaining 3 out of the 4 apple trees.
Sadly the deer simply ate up the 4th tree.

That victimized apple tree, plus the nearby equally destroyed peach tree,
are what I refer to as the sacrificial trees…as in the hope is that by eating up two of
my trees…that will be enough—
leaving me with 6 out of the original 8.

And whereas I see plenty of signs of snapped limbs and a few unripened fruit spent
on the ground…blessedly, I also see trees full of goodness.


(a fallen apple without the opportunity to rippen is now food for the ants / Julie Cook / 2018)

And so as I go about my yearly task of surveying, harvesting,
and finally gathering what there is to gather,
I am reminded, once again, about the importance of being known by our fruits.

Good healthy fruit or bad, diseased, soured, unripened and spent fruit?

What do I have to offer to those who come with a need or to those who are in search of
something thoughtful, fulfilling and full of ripened Grace?

Well if the deer don’t get involved, then may it be an offering which is good, plentiful,
abundant and more than filling.

By their fruit you will recognize them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:16-20