submission of the soul, “when God requires action, sanctity is to be found in activity”

The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation,
as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul
with the glory of God.

St. John Damascene


(Gulf fritillary/ Julie Cook / 2021)


Gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2021)


(Gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2021)

Submission of the soul.

For many of us, the notion of submission comes with great difficulty.
Submission is equated with the notion of weakness.
A giving up and giving in.

And yet we cling viciously to the visage of ego…that false image we hold high
and large against the humility of heart…a tenuous balance is struck.

We let that false visage block oh so many possibilities.
Hitting wall after wall, we wonder how much longer will we struggle.
So much heartache ensues because of that false visage of hubris.

Self inflicted wounds.

God is not one to be quiet when He knows what is required.

It may take years before we finally let go and submit…but when we do,
blessings will flow like a burst dam of water.

May those healing waters flow…

“The will of God gives to all things a supernatural and divine value
for the soul submitting to it.
The duties it imposes, and those it contains,
with all the matters over which it is diffused,
become holy and perfect, because, being unlimited in power,
everything it touches shares its divine character. …
The entire virtue of all that is called holy is in its approximation
to this order established by God; therefore nothing should be rejected,
nothing sought after, but everything accepted that is ordained
and nothing attempted contrary to the will of God. …
When God requires action, sanctity is to be found in activity.”

Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p. 15
An excerpt from
Abandonment to Divine Providence

“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”

“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”—
“Let it be done unto me according to thy word.”


(The Annunciation by Fra Angelico /the Museo Nazionale di San Marco,
Florence, Italy/ 1440–1445 /Julie Cook / 2018)

So I was reading through a few emails yesterday when one in
particular caught my eye.

This particular email opened with a question.
What does the word “fiat” mean.

Well naturally my mind immediately jumped to that of the Italian car
maker of that same name.
When we were teens, my cousin had an old school blue fiat..
that was almost 50 years ago and of course he had to trade it in for
something new and shiny red.

The email I was reading had nothing to do with cars but rather with
the original word that is actually Latin for ‘decree’.

According to dictionary.com the word fiat is
“taken from the Latin meaning “let it be done,”
this word appears in the Latin translation of Genesis,
the first book of the bible, when God proclaimed “let there be light” (fiat lux).
As a result, many early uses of fiat were biblical allusions,
as in John Donne’s 1597 poem The Storm. I
n it he writes that there will be darkness unless
“God say/Another Fiat.”

It was not until the 1630s that English speakers started using fiat
to describe an “authoritative decree,”
often issued by royalty or clergy—two groups that depended on divine
right for their power.

By the turn of the 19th century,
English speakers applied fiat’s meaning to less-than-Godly legal manners.
The phrase “fiat in bankruptcy” gained popularity at this time.
Later that century, the concept of “fiat money,” or currency
that has no intrinsic value,
but that the government gives a value to by declaring it legal tender,
took its place in English-speaking minds.”

Isn’t that interesting…fiat money, currency that has no intrinsic value…
hummm….
kind of like our currency today…just print and spend with nary
a thing to back it.

So it IS true…??!! There really is such a thing as monopoly money!!!!!
I knew it!!!!!

Oh but I digress again, today’s post is not about our Federal Banking System…
but maybe it should be…no, no…I’ll save that notion for another day.

So each day I receive an email devotional from the Catholic company…and no
I am not Catholic, but I probably should be…but again, I digress…
another post, another day..

So like I was saying, I get a daily devotional via email…
I also get a few other emails from this group entitled
“Get Fed, bite-sized faith”.
These little offered nuggets, or bites, are always informative and
thought provoking.

So in yesterday’s “bite” they posed the question, “what does “fiat” mean?”

And since this wasn’t about cars, I was intrigued and read on.

Like the info I listed above, they explained that the word fiat did indeed
refer to a type of decree.
And so naturally when we think of decrees, we usually associate decrees with
authoritative institutions such as governments or leadership.

An “off with their heads” sort of dictatorial decree.
One that sweeps in fear and dread—something that is given as a command,
an order to make the little people, us serfs, quake.

But the fiat that Catholic Company was speaking of was far
from authoritative—rather it was one of humble surrendering.

Here is a portion of what they wrote:
“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”—
“Let it be done unto me according to thy word.”
Certainly no “fiat” before or since has had such drastic consequences
for humanity.

When we refer to Our Lady’s “fiat,” we mean not only the words she spoke,
but also the spiritual attitude verbalized by these words.
This small phrase encapsulates her spirit of obedience,
her profound humility, and her boundless charity.
Unlike so many other fiats, she wasn’t enacting her own will
but embracing God’s will. She wasn’t exercising her own authority
but assenting with a full and joyful heart to her role in
God’s glorious plan of salvation.

I loved this kinder, simpler take on what is usually considered
an authoritative word.

Rather than the command ordered for the troops to go forth and conquer,
here we have a humble submission of the will…acquiescence to the
Great I AM–“Let it be done to me according to your will…”

In Mary’s submission…therein lies the reality of strength…our strength.
A holy segue from humble submission to Omnipotent Greatness.

Having watched and read about what is unfolding with our botched
withdrawal of Afghanistan, knowing that horrible things are currently
happening to individuals and families…knowing that our leadership
made an uncalculated fiat…
knowing that the Taliban has announced their own fiat…
conquer at all costs…
a fiat which stands in stalk contrast to Mary’s fiat to God…
humility and submission vs brutality or else.

What of a former President and his grandiose birthday?
What of Madame Speaker and her cohort Schumer
who proclaim that their inner circles should go out and party…
dance, drink and eat cake while they in turn pronounce their own fiat…
telling us, the simple populace, to mask up, fall in line or else.

What of the Border crisis?…
What of the Administration’s fiat that says to one and all, come then go
while never minding any sense of legality, a pandemic, or placement?

Fiat of folly or fiat of humble purpose..

Yep.
Fiat.
A decree.
Let it be done unto me according to YOUR will!

Luke 2:1-20 NIV
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census
should be taken of the entire Roman world.
(This was the first census that took place while
Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary,
who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord
shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy
for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off
and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby,
who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him,
they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the
things they had heard and seen, which were just as they
had been told.

Built on such strong rocks, your castle can never go to ruin

“Arm yourself with prayer rather than a sword;
wear humility rather than fine clothes.”

St. Dominic


(desolation in the countryside / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Do you know what it is to be truly spiritual?
It is for men to make themselves the slaves of God—branded with His mark,
which is the Cross. …
Unless you make up your minds to this,
never expect to make much progress,
for as I said humility is the foundation of the whole building and
unless you are truly humble,
Our Lord, for your own sake,
will never permit you to rear it very high lest it should fall to the ground.
Therefore, sisters, take care to lay a firm foundation by seeking
to be the least of all and the slave of others,
watching how you can please and help them,
for it will benefit you more than them.
Built on such strong rocks, your castle can never go to ruin.
I insist again: your foundation must not consist of prayer
and contemplation alone: unless you acquire the virtues and praise them,
you will always be dwarfs; and please God no worse may befall
you than making no progress, for you know that to stop is to
go back—if you love, you will never be content to come to a standstill.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.209-10
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

before heading back down to where life is full of blissful madness–the calm before the storm

“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds;
our planet is the mental institution of the universe.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


(The Biltmore House / Asheville, NC/ Julie Cook / 2020)

Ok, I simply couldn’t go back to my self-imposed isolation, aka my never-ending
unpacking and sorting, without first offering my dismay at having caught a recent news popup
that showed up on my phone yesterday.
It seems that Madame Speaker never ceases to amaze me…and that is…
amaze me in a not so positive way.

The news tag read “The enemy is within
It seems the Speaker is afraid of her GOP colleagues—calling them ‘the enemy within’
Madame Speaker is afraid of those Republicans who have gun permits…
in particular those members who might be ‘packing heat’ while on the job—
And given the recent precarious events of insurrections and occupations by
“enemy combatants” I would think those with permits might feel as if they
need a bit of personal security.

But to call one’s colleagues ‘enemies of the state’ takes this whole undercurrent push
for a one party state a step further into the surreal Twilight Zone we now call reality.

Yesterday, always in timely wise fashion, our friend Kathy, over on atimetoshare, noted that
Mr. Kerry is back to his typical pompous bombastic self by calling middle Americans
“the little people”…

Reminds me a bit of a Marie Antoinette sort of personality…let those hungry
little people eat cake.
Ode to those “little people” and ode one’s supposed colleagues.

A one party state
Little people
enemy combatants
the enemy within
security vs paranoia
pomposity
arrogance
disregard
double standards
hypocrisy

The underground is looking pretty peaceful for the time being…
I imagine it is the calm before the storm.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders.
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another,
for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:5

the best kind of ‘extremes’

“If you wish to go to extremes, let it be in sweetness, patience,
humility and charity.”

St. Philip Neri


(one of my first Christmas ornaments, circa 1963 / Julie Cook / 2014)

“Augustine drew out the meaning of the manger using an idea that at first seems almost shocking,
but on closer examination contains a profound truth.
The manger is the place where animals find their food.
But now, lying in the manger, is he who called himself the true bread come down from heaven,
the true nourishment that we need in order to be fully ourselves.
This is the food that gives us true life, eternal life.
Thus the manger becomes a reference to the table of God,
to which we are invited so as to receive the bread of God.
From the poverty of Jesus’ birth emerges the miracle in which man’s redemption
is mysteriously accomplished.”

Pope Benedict XVI, p. 68
An Excerpt From
Jesus of Nazareth Infancy

acknowledge our need

“God will not give me humility, or patience, or holiness,
or love as separate investments of His grace.
He has given only one gift to meet our need, His Son Christ Jesus.”

Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life


(St. Peter’s Holy Spirit window / The Vatican, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2013)

“The fullness of wisdom is fear of the Lord, she is present with the faithful in the womb (Sirach 1:14).
Fear of the Lord does not mean to be afraid of God.
It means to stand in awe and wonder before the greatness of the Lord.
When we recognize that God is God and we are creatures,
we develop a healthy sense of humility.
We acknowledge our need for wisdom and grace, which are both gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Rev. Jude Winkler, p. 9
An Excerpt From
Daily Meditations Holy Spirit

humility of the heart

“Love proves itself by deeds, and how shall I prove mine? …
I can prove my love only by scattering flowers, that is to say,
by never letting slip a single little sacrifice, a single glance, a single word;
by making profit of the very smallest actions, by doing them all for love.
I want to suffer and even rejoice for love, for this is my way of scattering flowers.”

St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 4-5
An Excerpt From
The Story of a Soul


(wildflowers at the beach /Julie Cook / 2020)

“The true reason for which God bestows so many graces upon the humble is this,
that the humble are faithful to these graces and make good use of them.
They receive them from God and use them in a manner pleasing to God,
giving all the glory to Him, without reserving any for themselves…
It is certainly true that he who is humble is also faithful to God,
because the humble man is also just in giving to all their due, and above all,
in rendering to God the things that are God’s; that is,
in giving Him the glory for all the good that he is,
all the good that he has and for all the good that he does;
as the Venerable Bede says:
‘Whatever good we see in ourselves, let us ascribe it to God and not to ourselves.’
To give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received and are continually
receiving is an excellent means of exercising humility,
because by thanksgiving we learn to acknowledge the Supreme Giver of every good.
And for this reason it is necessary for us always to be humble before God.
St. Paul exhorts us to render thanks for all things and at all times:
‘In all things give thanks.’ (1 Thess. 5:18).
‘Giving thanks always for all things.’ (Eph. 5:20).
But that our thanksgiving may be an act of humility it must not only come
from the lips but from the heart, with a firm conviction that all good comes
to us through the infinite mercy of God.”

Rev. Cajetan da Bergamo, p. 87-8
An Excerpt From
Humility Of Heart

what we need is a heavy dose of Divine humility

In order to be able to commune with divine things,
it is necessary to agree to acknowledge that one is radically unworthy of them.
Unless we enter into fear and adoration, we never arrive at love and union.

Robert Cardinal Sarah
from his book, The Day Is Now Far Spent


(the adultress scene from The Passion of the Christ)

We are all unworthy.

Each and every last one of us.

Unworthy of what you ask?

Unworthy of Divine Grace.

But you probably don’t care about Divine Grace because you either don’t
know what it is or you simply don’t believe in such.

Yet most of us feel that we are more than worthy…worthy of whatever we may want…
This is because we readily believe that we are better than the man or woman who stands next to us,
across from us, in front of or behind us…that is our smug arrogance.

A smug arrogance that only grows with each passing day.

We hear that smug arrogance.
We see that smug arrogance.
We live that smug arrogance.

The opposite of such is humility–

Humility..the freedom from pride or arrogance…

It is becoming more and more clear with each passing day…
we human beings are in desperate need of being saved from ourselves.
Saved from our seething pride and arrogance.

and in turn…simply being saved.
Yet the irony is that we are not worthy of saving or of being saved.

We’ve seen the news,
we’ve read the articles,
we’ve seen the pictures…
We hear the anger.
We feel the rising tension, the division, the hate.

Humility.
Saving.
Grace…

He who had no sin became sin… for us,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

Our hope, our salvation.

“Although we feel the humiliation keenly when we are insulted, persecuted, or calumniated,
this does not mean that we cannot suffer such trials with sentiments of true humility,
subjecting nature to reason and faith, and sacrificing the resentment of our
self-love to the love of God.
We are not made of stone, so that we need be insensible or senseless in order to be humble.
Of some martyrs we read that they writhed under their torments;
of others, that they more or less rejoiced in them,
according to the greater or lesser degree of unction they received from the Holy Ghost;
and all were rewarded by the crown of glory, as it is not the pain or the feeling
that makes the martyr, but the supernatural motive of virtue.
In the same way some humble persons feel pleasure in being humiliated,
and some feel sadness, especially when weighted down with calumny;
and yet they all belong to the sphere of the humble,
because it is not the humiliation nor the suffering alone which makes the soul humble,
but the interior act by which this same humiliation is accepted and received through
motives of Christian humility, and especially of a desire to resemble Jesus Christ,
who though entitled to all the honors the world could offer Him,
bore humiliation and scorn for the glory of His eternal Father.”

Fr. Cajetan da Bergamo,
p. 19-20
An Excerpt Fromm
Humility Of Heart

Bowing, kneeling…humility, reverence

“Every man’s measurement is determined by his responses
when he is on his knees before God.”

J. Otis Yoder, When You Pray


(a woman worships in silence alone, in a small Florentine chapel in Florence, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

I grew up in a Christian denomination that included a great deal of kneeling throughout its services—
I became quite comfortable early on, being on my knees when I came before God…
be there a cushioned kneeler or a bare floor.

I was also accustomed to solemnly bowing if I ever crossed in front of the altar.
Bowing was a sign of respect and reverence as the church’s cross was center-point above the altar.
I would also genuflect, a slight kneel, before and after entering or exiting my pew.

Reverence and humility offered to and for God—both deeply ingrained in my being long ago.

I carry that same sense of respect and reverence with me to this day.

I humble myself before God.

I do so because I am reminded of Moses coming before the Great I AM, and being told to remove his
sandals because he was standing on Holy ground. (Exodus 3:5)

Each of our houses of worship, consecrated to the Lord, becomes Holy ground.

It is why I will offer myself as a humble servant when entering a House of Christian Worship.
It is why I will kneel in the quiet of solitude when I pray alone, be it at home or
someplace else, whenever I come before the Lord my maker.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand…

Psalm 95:6-7

Yet oddly kneeling and bowing seem to have become quite the hot item as of late.

And it has nothing to do with the worship of God but rather the worship of man.

Last month the in vogue thing was the wearing of masks…
that is now replaced with a demanding that one should kneel or bow…
as a sign of servitude to another human being.

Bowing and or kneeling are now required by the ‘madness mob’ as an act of contrition.
It is demanded by those who deem that you and I are either the wrong skin color
or that we are on the wrong side of their movement—think Seattle and their
new 6 city block zone that is now proclaimed as a “new” independent country
within a country.

I don’t bow or kneel to man.
I bow and kneel to God—plain and simple.

We must respect our fellow man as we strive to serve mankind with our actions and heart…
but our kneeling and bowing…our worship is reserved but for One and for One alone.

During my marriage ceremony, the priest asked that my soon to be husband and myself
would step up to the altar and kneel–this as he proceeded to bless us.

We were kneeling at the altar, before the cross, as a sign
of our respect to God…we knelt, inviting God to please come and be a part of this new journey
that we were about to embark upon….we knelt asking for His blessing of our union–
two becoming one.

I am now deeply perplexed as I watch human beings demanding that other human beings kneel
and bow down before them—and if one does not comply…the result, with the least being ridicule
and the common being bodily harm.

What have we become to one another?

There was a wonderful story this past week about a Georgia State Patrol officer who had
gone to work a protest.
He, as have officers all over our country been told to do, was asked by the crowd to kneel
before them in order to show his contrition and respect.

He stated that he has respect, otherwise he would not have given up vacation time in order to
come oversee a protest in hopes of keeping everyone safe…but that he will only kneel…
to God.

https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/georgia-state-trooper-tells-protesters-in-viral-video-i-only-kneel-for-god

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven,
and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11

Pandemic, what pandemic??

“The difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable.
It is the way we look at them – through faith or unbelief –
that makes them seem so.
We must be convinced that our Father is full of love for us and that He only permits
trials to come our way for our own good.

Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God.
The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him.
As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him.
We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.”

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Here’s to all the grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles as well as extended
family members, and or friends, who are on “lockdown” taking care
of the little ones or older ones, or simply the other ones, while all the others
can do this whole work from home thing!

I was talking typing with
Dawn Marie over on hugsnblessing (https://hugsnblessings.com)
as to how we were both coping with being a grandmother who was helping with our little
grandbabies while their moms were busy teaching from home
while we were all stuck at home…all together at the same time.

I’ve mentioned before that with all the parents now working from home…
someone has got to be helping with all those children who are also at home—

I told Dawn Marie that I wasn’t worried so much about a pandemic taking me out
as much as I was about stepping on the Lego that is now strewn all
around the house…all while I was walking barefooted through the minefield
that is now my home!

She told me how cooking was, becoming for her, almost monastic
as she recalled a prayer by Brother Lawrence.

Now I’ve written and quoted Br. Lawrence before.

And I too understood most clearly what she was saying.

In what seems to be a previous life,
I was once upon a time a mom who also worked outside of the home…
so I knew all too well about balance.
Sometimes I did a good job balancing, sometimes, not so much.

Yet as we fast forward a good 30 years or so, into this now surreal time
of pandemics and lockdowns and sheltering in place and working from home…
I think I’ve now spent more time in my kitchen in the past three weeks than
I have in the past twenty years…or so it seems.

And this comes from someone who loves to cook!

I understand pots and I understand pans… just as I now understand laundry.
Washing, fighting stains, drying, folding…all for many a big and little wee folk
living in my current state of lockdown.

Brother Lawrence spoke of the same sort of menial acts of our lives as being
actually large thank offerings to God.
Brother Lawrence was a simple monk who toiled in the kitchen and laundry of
a Medival monastery and so if anyone knew manual labor and mundae toil and trouble,
it was Brother Lawrence.

His was the work of daily menial chores.
And yet it was in those mundane chores that he could find joy in offering to God
the simple blessings of his life.

So as we each now labor in perhaps a different capacity than what we are accustomed to—
be it working from home while balancing a family,
or perhaps sheltering in place alone and isolated,
or working to provide needed services in this time of emergency…
may we each learn to look at our circumstance not so much as our own,
but rather as a thank offering of joy to our Heavenly Father who sees
and knows of our struggles.

Learning to shift our perspective from that of carrying out thankless and
backbreaking chores into one of giving selflessly with love can miraculously lift
and change our spirits…and if there was ever a time we needed to uplift our
spirits…it would be now!

Brother Lawrence is attributed with having written a small humble book
The Practice of the Presence of God.

You can read about Brother Lawrence here:
(https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/innertravelers/brother-lawrence.html )

This is the prayer attributed to Brother Lawrence,
the French medival Christian monastic who labored in the kitchen of a medieval monastery…
may his kind and gentle thoughts bring you peace during this time of uncertainty.

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
since I’ve no time to be a great saint
by doing lovely things,
or watching late with Thee,
or dreaming in the dawnlight,
or storming heaven’s gates,
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.
Amen/em>