Santa Julia

I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.

excerpt from the hymn
I Sing a song of the Saints of God
Lesbia Scott 1898


(when your name is officially Julia and you see a wine named after you, well…..)

It was a very long day….
followed by the very long exhale from years of burden.

More about all of that later…
As we’re just in the middle of a huge change of life’s seasons…

So late this afternoon, when I was dashing in a store in Atlanta
in order to pick up something for supper,
I spied this little bottle of wine…and since it had my name on it…
well, it seemed like a destiny sort of thing…

Thus in turn, I offer us all a little background lesson on Saint Julia….

Saint Julia

Virgin, Martyr
Patron of Corsica
(Fifth century)

Saint Julia was a noble virgin of Carthage, who, when the city was taken
by Genseric in 439, was sold for a slave to a pagan merchant of Syria.
In the most mortifying employments of her station,
by cheerfulness and patience she found a happiness and comfort which the world could not give.
Whenever she was not employed in household affairs,
her time was devoted to prayer and reading books of piety.

Her master, who was charmed with her fidelity and other virtues,
thought proper to take her with him on one of his voyages to Gaul.
When he reached the northern part of Corsica,
he cast anchor and went ashore to join the pagans of the place in an idolatrous festival.
Julia was left at some distance,
because she would not be defiled by the superstitious ceremonies,
which she openly spurned. The governor of the island, Felix,
a bigoted pagan, asked who this woman was who dared to insult the gods. T
he merchant informed him that she was a Christian,
and that all his authority over her was too weak to prevail upon her to renounce her religion;
nonetheless, he found her so diligent and faithful he could not part with her.
The governor offered him four of his best slaves in exchange for her.
But the merchant replied, No; all you are worth will not purchase her;
for I would lose the most valuable thing I have in the world rather than be deprived of her.

Nonetheless Felix, while the inebriated merchant was asleep,
attempted to compel her to sacrifice to his gods.
He offered to procure her liberty if she would comply.
The Saint made answer that she was as free as she desired to be,
as long as she was allowed to serve Jesus Christ.
The pagan, offended by her undaunted and resolute air,
in a transport of rage caused her to be struck on the face,
and the hair of her head to be torn off.
Finally he ordered her to be hanged on a cross until she expired.
Certain monks from the isle of Gorgon transported her relics there,
but in 763 the king of Lombardy transferred them to Brescia,
where her memory is celebrated with great devotion.

Reflection.
Saint Julia, whether free or a slave,
whether in prosperity or in adversity, was equally fervent and devout.
She adored all the sweet designs of Providence;
and far from complaining, she never ceased to praise and thank God for all His holy designs.
God, by an admirable chain of events,
raised her by her fidelity to the honors of a Saint, and to the dignity of a virgin and martyr.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints,
a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and
other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

real love

“Everything in this life passes away…
only God remains,
only He is worth struggling towards.
We have a choice:
to follow the way of this world, of the society that surrounds us,
and thereby find ourselves outside of God;
or
to choose the way of life, to choose God Who calls us and for Whom our heart is searching.”

Seraphim Rose

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(Mother’s 35 year old tea rose bush / Julie Cook 2016)

Driving over to Dad’s yesterday morning I spotted a sign outside of a church which read:

Real love has no ending…

I don’t think I’ve ever read a better sign.

By earthly standards we know all too well that there are endings…
For earthly love does indeed seem to end….

It may end sad, maybe even bad…
because there really is no such thing as a happy ending,
by earthly standards…

Because even that happy or enduring sort of love here on Earth,
dies away….

We call that life…
and death….
as in,
there’s a beginning…
and there’s…
the end….

But here’s the thing…love that reaches beyond the boundaries of this earth…
well, that is both happy and never ending…
We call that, perfect Love….

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Isaac Watts,
Stanzas 3 and 4 When I Survey The Wondrous Cross , 1707

wondering and wandering

“We are perishing for want of wonder,
not for want of wonders.”

G.K. Chesterton

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(December moon /Julie Cook / 2016)

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.

(Appalachian Christian Folk Hymn 1933)

Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
1 Chronicles 16:24

Trembling joy

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

(Hymn Imortal, Ivisible
Welsh Melody 1839 John Roberts / Lyrics Walter C. Smith 1876

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(Birth of Jesus, Francesco di Giorgio Martini 1460)

So far we have been reminded that we have entered a new season.
A season of waiting and watching.

And somehow, somewhere within our trepidation of the arrival of this unknown,
we sense that as we wait and watch, we are to remain hopeful…
Because curiously we are inwardly reassured that what we are waiting for
and watching for…
is good.

And not only is it to be good,
it is to be actually grand.
As in life changing, world altering…
GRAND.

And almost within the same breath of waiting and watching,
we are reminded that what we wait for and watch for
is actually something quite intimate.
Something dear and something even tenderly precious.

Perplexed we wonder, how can this trepidation, which is so full of anticipation
and perceived to be not only good but Grand,
how can it be sweetly intimate, tender and close…?

So many good Christians are dumbfounded or tremble in fear when something of Christ’s
future is told to them.

As Christoph Blumhardt notes in his essay The Wise Men’s Star…

If we would only look forward to the Last Day with a trembling joy, as the Savior said:
“When these things begin to take place,
stand up and lift up your heads because your redemption
is drawing near (Luke 21:28)

But now, when people hear of it, they are afraid and shake and tremble.
They fail to rejoice in the reality that redemption is drawing near.

And so we are left to we wait,
and watch…
Watching and waiting for a most intimate moment…
Yet we are now told to be ready…
Ready to rejoice…
While at the same time, being filled with
trembling joy…

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zachariah 9:9

The sinking sands of our crazy times

I live in a crazy time.
Anne Frank

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(the evening beach walkers / Santa Rosa Beach, Fl / 2016)

I don’t think that there is man nor beast amongst us who wouldn’t agree that we are living in a time of utter craziness.
And that’s crazy in not a good kind of crazy way.

Granted previous generations have had their fair share of crazy…
However back then, back in the day,
one could pretty much discern who and what was crazy and who and what was not.
Everyone knew who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.
Life was black and white.

Everyone knew right from wrong and wrong from right and they could all unite on common ground to fight the common fight against the common enemy.

Folks could and would rally around a cause,
actually rolling up their sleeves to fight for that cause.

Today we live in a hazy time…a crazy time.
A time of heavy smoke and fog…
A time that sees the sands on which we stand, sifting…
As all the colors have swirled together… creating a tertiary bland sea of nothingness…
with no discernible good / bad …right / wrong.
No one knows which side of the fence to get on anymore.

That’s what happens when we decide everything and anything is simply all good because we don’t like anything to be bad. We’ve actually muddied the waters with our overt good intentions.

I’ve always been pretty even keeled and level headed…or at least that is now the case in these latter years of mine as hindsight is something I have finally, thankfully, acquired…with such being a by-product of the aging process.

I’m not one to go off half cocked and jump on the elusive bandwagons of those wearing the rose colored glasses.
I like things to be black and white.
Yes or no
Good or bad…
I like being able to readily discern what is what.

A gray, blended hodge podge of gobbledegook is not my cup of tea.

I admire the John the Baptists and Winston Churchills among us.
Those who could and can see, as well as know, what is what…
No excuses, no delusions, no appeasement and sticking heads in sand.
More of stating the facts then squaring the shoulders in order to deal with the forthcoming onslaught.
They didn’t nor currently do not mince words and they called and continue calling a spade a spade….
meaning…they don’t and won’t sugar coat the truth, no matter how hard and tough it may be.

I like to see what I’m dealing with…straight away and head on…

It’s like seeing that ominous twister in the distance.
It’s fearsome, destructive and heading your way…but at least you know what you’re dealing with.
You know your options…albeit dire and possibly deadly, but at least you know what your fighting for and against.

It’s the twister coming in the night, hidden in the darkness, that hidden monster heading your way, which is most frightening. You catch a glimpse of it in the flash of lightening… only to meekly jump into bed while pulling the covers over your head as you simply hope for the best.

Not a good plan…

Nope, not at all…

I prefer knowing what it is I’m dealing with and in turn, flatly deal with it.
And I don’t like pretending that the bad is hiding in the sheep’s clothing of good.

Now I’ve never been one to jump on Ralph Nader’s bandwagon.
You know, that forever and ever Greenpeace presidential candidate…
That fellow who has been raising his battle standard since I was young!
As Nader was always the voice in the back of the room who was reminding everyone of issues no one either cared to hear about or simply tried to ignore.
He made most folks a tad uncomfortable with his rabble rousing.

He was always a bit out there for me, a bit over the top.
Not that he hasn’t had good ideas…
He has sounded the often necessary bells of alarm over the environment and all things humanitarian.
He was the consumer’s advocate before there was the magazine.

But as a more rock solid kind of soul, I wasn’t all peace, love and rock and roll.

So imagine my small bemusement recently when reading a recent interview with Mr Nadar that actually had me more in agreement than disagreement.

Never one to shy away from what he thinks is the real reason behind big government, big business, big shenanigans, Mr Nader reflects on some of the reasons for today’s craziness of the shifting sands we precariously now find ourselves slowly sinking on….

Everything from the defunct Occupy Wall Street movement, to the overtly sensitive Black Lives Matters, to our darkening college culture of self absorption, to the crisis in middle America and the rise of Donald Trump…

Mr Nader offers a good bit to chew on in his latest bells of alarm….bells I tend to agree need to be rung….

http://www.aol.com/article/2016/06/10/ralph-nader-criticizes-absurd-college-culture/21393149/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/06/09/ralph-nader-blasts-sensitive-black-lives-matter-activists-absurd-trigger-warning-campus-culture/

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Hymn “my Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
lyrics by Edward Mote (1797-1874)

Lost to the lies

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to your Cross I cling;
Naked, come to you for dress;
Helpless, look to you for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Augustus Toplay
Rock of Ages

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(snapdragon / Julie Cook / 2016)

“We cannot stand the humiliation of acknowledging our bankruptcy
and allowing somebody else to pay for us.
The notion that this somebody else should be God himself is just too much to take.
We would rather perish than repent, rather lose ourselves than humble ourselves.”

John Stott

My dad is an exasperating man.
If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while,
you already know this.
I’ve gotten where I don’t write about it or him as much as it
is mostly overwhelming.

He holds two college degrees.
He is a retired civil engineer.
He sent two kids to college.
He lives in the same house he bought in 1961.
He has been retired for nearly 30 years…
and he has lived a comfortable life.
But at 88, he is now exasperating.
Very very exasperating…

For my dad lives in a constant state of denial…

He refuses to acknowledge the truth.

A hard truth that it is, but he will deny it all day long.
He will vehemently fight it—
me, you, whomever…tooth and nail,
as if demanding the truth to be something other than what it is,
willing the facts to be false.

Yet his willfulness will not, cannot, change the facts.

I can see, hear and be very well aware of this particular truth,
with him knowing that I am only too aware, but he will argue with me,
or anyone holding to that truth,
working himself into a tizzy of epic denial.

When his colitis rears its ugly head, as it has today,
it is the signal to all of us that he does indeed know the truth…
but he is fighting deep within himself, willfully lying to even himself.
And so his body reacts.
His body negatively reacts to his hostile denial of the truth.

For my dad lives in a state of constant fear, denial and conflict.
All three going hand in hand.

It frustrates me to absolutely no end.

The constant fighting and denial is not good.
It is not healthy.
And it is a lie to not only us and the reality of it all, but it is a lie to himself.
It is utterly counter productive to the care that both he and my
stepmother are being provided…
Yet he thinks that if he can deny it long enough,
fight it long enough, he thinks he can change it.
Making it work out in his twisted childish favor.

It leaves those who are tasked with his care utterly frustrated.
And it makes me nuts.
Yet there is nothing any of us can say or do to turn him around to the truth.

For in his mind, the truth is worse than the lie…

And that, to me, is the saddest thing…

He will have temper tantrums, shouting and pouting.
He will “sull up” as a small child…
Wearing a deep frown, refusing to talk.
Any sort of possible verbal or physical demonstration,
in order to change the truth to his yearned for lie…

This is not a case of just letting him be…
living happily with his half truths and lies of his aged demented unreality.
Leaving him alone to his skewed view of reality these final years…
It’s not that easy.
It’s much more serious and much more complex than that…

It is a battle really.
With serious repercussions.

One that I must continue fighting…until, as one insightful care provider noted, something
catastrophic will have to take place in order to finally shake some light on the reality…
And unfortunately it is believed that that will happen most likely sooner than later…
as my dad has painted himself into a corner, and I’m stuck in that corner with him.

My dad will fight God on this one.
Refusing to let go.

Up his meds they suggest.
Maybe….

But until he can stand before God, offering this mess of his up,
up to the one true God who in turn is the only real Truth,
this mess will stay a mess, taking all of us charged with his care, with it…

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32

forty days and forty nights

“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”
― John Chrysostom

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.”
Pope Francis

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(lone sheep along the cliffs near Teileannn, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Forty days and forty nights
Thou wast fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights
Tempted, and yet undefiled.

Sunbeams scorching all the day;
Chilly dew-drops nightly shed;
Prowling beasts about Thy way;
Stones Thy pillow; earth Thy bed.

Should not we Thy sorrow share
And from worldly joys abstain,
Fasting with unceasing prayer,
Strong with Thee to suffer pain?

Then if Satan on us press,
Jesus, Savior, hear our call!
Victor in the wilderness,
Grant we may not faint nor fall!

So shall we have peace divine:
Holier gladness ours shall be;
Round us, too, shall angels shine,
Such as ministered to Thee.

Keep, O keep us, Savior dear,
Ever constant by Thy side;
That with Thee we may appear
At the eternal Eastertide.

Lyrics: George Hunt Smyttan (1856) (later revisions by Francis Potts)