refined

“Never will we understand the value of time better than when our last hour is at hand.”
St. Arnold Janssen


(refining metals)

“Let the Word of God come; let it enter the church; let it become a consuming fire,
that it may burn the hay and stubble, and consume whatever is worldly;
there is heavy lead of iniquity in many; let it be molten by divine fire;
let the gold and silver vessels be made better, in order that understanding and speech,
refined by the heat of suffering, may begin to be more precious.”

St. Ambrose

which creature say you?

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(Green darner dragonfly / Julie Cook / 2019)

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says,
‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’
I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.

I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you,
the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.
And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices,
all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or
into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God,
and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God,
and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.

To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power.
To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness.
Each of us at this moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 92
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

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

the nagging issue of a name

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,
but I’ve never been able to believe it.
I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


(the crest for my maiden name, Nichols)

If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you know that I’ve written a good bit
about my adoption…and that of a quest.

It has been a roller coaster of emotions with the exhilaration of discoveries–
all of which have been met by the slamming of doors, tightly shut…
all the way to the bewildering opening of different doors, much more welcoming.

In all of this is a name…
or more aptly, two names.

A before name and an after name.

The ‘now’ name of Julie and the ‘then’ name of Sylvia Kay…

Two names for one person that were exchanged after only three short months.

The Julie side of all of this has had the staying power of nearly 60 years while the
initial Sylvia Kay side was used but for a short time…

The whys and significance of Sylvia Kay remain unknown but to one.

Albeit a brief name, it none the less has most certainly remained in the recesses of the
conscience of a certain 83-year-old woman.
She has slammed shut the door but none the less has obviously allowed this name to fester…
just as it has festered in my own thoughts.

Yet Sylvia Kay was the “before” name.

The name following, which was officially Mary Julia and shortened by Dad to ‘Julie’,
has been the ‘after’ name—a name that has remained for all these many years…
the name with the real staying power of identity.

And so it was this morning, as I was reading a verse from the Bible, that I noticed
the real importance of before and after names.

I read a verse in which Abraham was referred to as Abram.

I am obviously no Bible scholar.
I was raised an Episcopalian and we all know Episcoplains are not Old Testament,
let alone Bible, aficionados.

I noted that it seemed odd as I am more familiar with the name Abraham
but I figured it must indeed be a “before” name for Abraham.

A sort of ‘before God encounter’ name.

And it seems that I was more correct than I realized.

You’ve often heard me quote and share the teachings of a simple
Benedictine monk from Australia who is currently living in a monastery in England.
He is best known as Father Hugh—Father Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB

The good Father’s post from yesterday opened with a picture of the
Jerusalem-version lectionary used throughout England and Wales.
Father Hugh asks all viewers if they can spot what it is that is the glaring mistake…
a mistake that is actually used twice.

The glaring mistake is found in a name.
The name Abraham.

Because of where this name falls in reference to the before and after encounter
of Abram with God, it is indeed, incorrect.
Instead of the after name Abraham, the Lectionary should use the before name of Abram.

Before Abram encounters God, he is known as “exalted Father”
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Genesis 14:19-20

After his encounter and ensuing covenant with God, Abram becomes Abraham, “father of many nations.”

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said,
“I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.
Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him,
“As for me, this is my covenant with you:
You will be the father of many nations.
No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham,
for I have made you a father of many nations.
I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your
descendants after you for the generations to come,
to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Genesis 17:1-7

Why does any of this matter?
What is the big deal about a before and after name?

Well, it matters a great deal…
For we see time and time again throughout the Bible, names matter.
Names have meaning…purposeful meanings.
And in this case, the case of Abram, it matters because of the implications
of a covenant.

A covenant being an agreement.

And this agreement between Yahewh and Abram has lasting implications for all
generations to come…of which include both you and me.

On the other hand, my little before and after names are much smaller in scope.
They matter really only to me…and perhaps one other.
Mine is a simple matter of why…
Abram’s before and after is a matter of the beginning of reconciliation which
in turn leads to the salvation of all mankind.

Yes, big or small, names matter.

Please see the link below for Father Hugh’s most excellent teaching post

What’s in a Name

the paparazzi don’t lie…do they?

“I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.”
Mahatma Gandhi


(visiting the Mayor and the New Sheriff—the Mayor does not appreciate the Sheriff
recieving more time and attention than herself, while demanding she occupy the same chair)

I’ve been away, over in Atlanta for the past few days,
working at the main Woobooville headquarters.

Working of course with the Mayor and her new Sheriff.

And it appears as if a bit of damage control is in order due to a few pictures that have
surfaced in a few of the tabloids.

Now if there is any truth to the pictures, well, that will be left to the viewer to
decide—however one report is that the Mayor has taken the 5th.

One image appears to show the Mayor attempting to derail, or as some unnamed
sources are claiming, actually do away with her new Sheriff.


(the mayor and the new sheriff—is she attempting to adjust the speed or merely
checking for safety…you decide)


(the Mayor denies all wrong doing)

Naturally, the Mayor is vehemently denying any wrongdoing.
She denies attempting to take a teething ring that did not belong to her while
at the same time dumping her new Sherrif from the Mamaroo.
The Mayor reports that she was actually checking to make certain that the speed was
indeed appropriate for his safety…while also claiming that she was merely
safekeeping the teething ring.

Later the Mayor took advantage of a photo op in an attempt to boost her poll ratings
with one of the local clans.
Here we see the Mayor showing her support for the local Cook Clan by attempting to treat
a cornhole board as an indoor slide…
her aides had to step in and quickly correct the mistake of sliding vs bean bag tossing.

Next, some photographer caught the Mayor, with all of her chief aides, eating out publically.
It appeared she was conducting a working business dinner while busily signing some important documents.

The reporter noted that at some point during the outing,
part of one of the crayons the Mayor had been working with was oddly and mysteriously missing.

Further investigation revealed that the tip of a crayon had actually been bitten off.
Perhaps it was just coincidence but the Mayor showed traces of orange wax on her teeth.

Again all wrongdoing was vehemently denied.
The Mayor claimed that any shade of orange near her mouth or on her teeth was
merely some residual BBQ sauce.

She quickly asked for the bill and left the restaurant.

The Mayor’s office is now claiming that her personal account has been hacked by some
foreign nationals who have obviously sold off some compromising pictures to the
highest bidder.
These images were published in a tawdry rag of a magazine showing the Mayor is a rather
risque pose donning a new swimsuit.

Unaware that her mic was hot while dining out at a new restaurant that was proud
of its pickled asparagus, all the while posing for another photo op,
the Mayor accidentally expressed her alarmed disdain for the pickled asparagus.

All the while the Sheriff is trying his best to keep his new boss on the up and up…
while maintaining the law and order in Woobooville.

But at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, the Mayor remains securely at the helm.
She works hard running a tight ship while all of her constituents continue to give her their
full and entire support…even her new Sheriff offers his all,
given his often precarious position in her life.

Christ Crucified

“For true hearts, there is no separating ocean; or, rather, God is their ocean,
in Whom they meet and are united; they love, and lose themselves in Him and in each other.”

St. Théodore Guérin

“Jesus Christ did not think the sovereign beatitude and glory of Heaven too
dearly purchased at the price of unspeakable tortures,
and by suffering His sacred flesh to be mangled by nails, thorns, and scourges.
Great indeed must be the value of that which cost the Son of God so dear!
And yet we esteem it so little, as to be even ready to renounce our claim to it,
as, in fact, so many of us do, for the sake of some wretched pleasure or despicable interest!
Ye blind and deluded children of men, contemplate the Wounds of your
Crucified God, and see in what manner the gates of the kingdom of glory have
been opened to you!
See what it has cost Him to place you in possession of it, and understand,
if possible, how infinite a benefit was bestowed upon you by the
Son of God when He purchased for you Heaven, which you had lost by sin!…
Enter in spirit into these sacred Wounds, and you will comprehend the
value and sublimity of that eternal felicity which they have acquired for you,
and you will learn to detach your heart from the earth and from creatures,
so as to place all your affections and desires upon Heaven.”

Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Christ, p. 226-7
An Excerpt From
The School of Christ Crucified

reparations vs Grace

“Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself,
‘Who could be the Master of these beautiful things?’
I felt a great desire to see him, to know him and to pay him homage.”

St. Josephine Bakhita

When speaking of her enslavement, she often professed she would thank her kidnappers.
For had she not been kidnapped, she might never have come to know Jesus Christ and entered His Church

Catholic.org


(St Josephine Bakhita)

Firstly this business about paying reparations for slavery is about the dumbest thing our
legislators have ever opted to take up and pursue…let alone conduct a three ring circus
of unbridled idiocy over.

Now whereas I’ve written about this notion before…as in will we pay those free blacks who
were also slave owners. Will we pay the Native American Indians…and of course will the
Egyptians pay the Jews, will the various African tribes pay the other tribes, will the
Chinese pay the Koreans, will the Russians pay the Russians…yada, yada, yada.

No nation is exempt from this sinful crime.

But this is not so much a post about reparations as it more about Grace.

The following story is about a woman who was born in Darfur in 1869.
As a young girl, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery to the Arabs.

Her’s is a harrowing tale of slavery, torture, and cruelty that lead to
serving not man, but instead, Jesus Christ.

How could one begin to pay reparations for Josephine’s life of servitude to man?
How could one begin to remove the 114 lasting stripes across her back?

Josephine would never expect nor accept such…her greatest gift,
coming to know Jesus Christ.

If ever there was one who should have quit, given up all the while begging to simply die…
It would have been Josephine Margaret Bakhita.

But she did not…
What can money do in the place of everlasting Grace?
Nothing.

May we all come to know that Grace…

Saint Josephine Margaret Bakhita was born around 1869 in the village of
Olgossa in the Darfur region of Sudan. She was a member of the Daju people and
her uncle was a tribal chief.
Due to her family lineage, she grew up happy and relatively prosperous,
saying that as a child, she did not know suffering.

Historians believe that sometime in February 1877,
Josephine was kidnapped by Arab slave traders.
Although she was just a child, she was forced to walk barefoot over 600 miles
to a slave market in El Obeid. She was bought and sold at least twice
during the grueling journey.

For the next 12 years she would be bought, sold and given away over a dozen times.
She spent so much time in captivity that she forgot her original name.

As a slave, her experiences varied from fair treatment to cruel.
Her first owner, a wealthy Arab, gave her to his daughters as a maid.
The assignment was easy until she offended her owner’s son,
possibly for the crime of breaking a vase.
As punishment, she was beaten so severely she was incapacitated for a month.
After that, she was sold.

One of her owners was a Turkish general who gave her to his wife and mother-in-law
who both beat her daily.
Josephine wrote that as soon as one wound would heal, they would inflict another.

She told about how the general’s wife ordered her to be scarred.
As her mistress watched, ready with a whip, another woman drew patterns on her skin with flour,
then cut into her flesh with a blade. She rubbed the wounds with salt to make the scars permanent.
She would suffer a total of 114 scars from this abuse.

In 1883, the Turkish general sold her to the Italian Vice Consul, Callisto Legani.
He was a much kinder master and he did not beat her.
When it was time for him to return to Italy, she begged to be taken with him, and he agreed.

After a long and dangerous journey across Sudan, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean,
they arrived in Italy.
She was given away to another family as a gift and she served them as a nanny.

Her new family also had dealings in Sudan had when her mistress decided to travel
to Sudan without Josephine,
she placed her in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice.

While she was in the custody of the sisters, she came to learn about God.
According to Josephine, she had always known about God,
who created all things, but she did not know who He was.
The sisters answered her questions.
She was deeply moved by her time with the sisters and discerned a call to follow Christ.

When her mistress returned from Sudan, Josephine refused to leave.
Her mistress spent three days trying to persuade her to leave the sisters,
but Josephine remained steadfast. This caused the superior of the
Institute for baptismal candidates among the sisters to complain
to Italian authorities on Josephine’s behalf.

The case went to court, and the court found that slavery had been outlawed
in Sudan before Josephine was born, so she could not be lawfully made slave.
She was declared free.

For the first time in her life, Josephine was free and could choose what to do with her life.
She chose to remain with the Canossian Sisters.

She was baptized on January 9, 1890 and took the name Josephine Margaret and Fortunata.
(Fortunata is the Latin translation for her Arabic name, Bakhita).
She also received the sacraments of her first holy communion and confirmation on the same day.
These three sacraments are the sacraments of initiation into the Church and were always
given together in the early Church.
The Archbishop who gave her the sacraments was none other than Giusseppe Sarto,
the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, who would later become Pope Pius X.

Josephine became a novice with the CanossianDaughters of Charity religious order on
December 7, 1893, and took her final vows on December 8, 1896.
She was eventually assigned to a convent in Schio, Vicenza.

For the next 42 years of her life, she worked as a cook and a doorkeeper at the convent.
She also traveled and visited other convents telling her story to other sisters
and preparing them for work in Africa.

She was known for her gentle voice and smile.
She was gentle and charismatic, and was often referred to lovingly as the
“little brown sister” or honorably as the “black mother.”

When speaking of her enslavement, she often professed she would thank her kidnappers.
For had she not been kidnapped,
she might never have come to know Jesus Christ and entered His Church.

During World War II, the people of the village of Schio regarded her as their protector.
And although bombs fell on their village, not one citizen died.

In her later years, she began to suffer physical pain and was forced to use a wheelchair.
But she always remained cheerful.
If anyone asked her how she was, she would reply, “As the master desires.”

On the evening of February 8, 1947, Josephine spoke her last words,
“Our Lady, Our Lady!” She then died.
Her body lay on display for three days afterwards.

In 1958, the process of canonization began for Josephine under Pope John XXIII.
On December 1st, 1978, Pope John Paul II declared her venerable.
Sadly, the news of her beatification in 1992 was censored in Sudan.
But just nine months later, Pope John Paul II visited Sudan and honored her publicly.
He canonized her on October 1, 2000.

Saint Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of Sudan and her feast day
is celebrated on February 8.

Catholic.org