Peril

Grüß Gott
(German for Go with God)

“So it is more useful to watch a man in times of peril,
and in adversity to discern what kind of man he is;
for then at last words of truth are drawn from the depths of his heart,
and the mask is torn off, reality remains.”

― Titus Lucretius Carus

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(a small section of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany / Julie Cook / 2012)

Peril.

We don’t much care for peril or that which is perilous.

Yet our world, our society, our civilization is consumed by peril.
Yet we prefer not to think about this.

We prefer to be distracted.
Distracted by that which is…
bright and colorful,
soft and sweet,
happy and nice…
and for some even dull and dark…
anything to take our minds off of all that is now in peril.

Because who wants to sit around pondering peril and perilous…
when one can look at a shiny baubles, happy videos about kittens and puppies
or lose oneself to reality TV—nothing better than watching the lives of random folks
on television fall apart, or lose massive amounts of weight or dance their socks off….

Our politics are in peril
Our colleges are in peril
Our environment is in peril
Our National Security is in peril
Our athletes are in peril
Our foreign relations are in peril
Our race relations are in peril
Our children are in peril
Our veterans are in peril
The family is in peril
Our healthcare is in peril
Many of our fellow human-being’s state of health is in peril
Christianity is in peril
Judaism is in peril
State Governments are in peril
The US Postal Service stays in peril
The TSA seems to cause peril
Our airports are in peril
Our opinions are in peril
Our Country’s infrastructure is in peril
Our young people are in peril
Our safety is in peril
Much of our drinking water is in peril…
on and on and on and on…
ad infinitum…

You get the picture…

With so much peril all around us, it’s no wonder the hits and likes of
the puppy’s and kitten’s videos are skyrocketing.

I like to read but sadly time is not always my friend allowing me to do so.
I have a book that I purchased a while back but have made a point recently to grab it
when running out the door to rush dad to this or that procedure and doctor.

Church of Spies
The Pope’s secret war against Hitler
by Mark Rielbling

It’s a great book.

Spies, intrigue, narrow escapes, secrets, murders, tortures, codes, double agents
double crossing….
and it’s all true.

Real life high stakes espionage involving all sorts of folks…some folks in the most benign places you’d never expect to find double agents, accomplices, or spies.

I have been troubled over recent current events in this country where folks, mostly younger folks, have taken to labeling various political minded individuals as Hitler.
No one in this country comes anywhere close to possessing any sort of similarities to Adolf Hitler.
It is flippant but even more egregious to label anyone as Hitler.
It insults the 6 million individuals who were murdered in his concentration camps–not counting the countless numbers of soldiers and civilians killed during the course of the war…it cheapens and lessens each one of their tragedies.

But most folks today don’t really understand the total enormity of what Hitler’s ideology, atrocities to mankind, and reign of terror did not only to the people of the greater world almost 80 years ago, but what his deluded visions continue to do to us today…

For most of us today this is all merely fodder for the history books…
a bad blip on the radar of the past.

Maybe our generation who has been taxed, as has been the generations before us, with reminding current as well as future generations of the enormity of all that was in those dark days of World War II are not doing our job.
Maybe reminding others of past perils and of the similarities to today’s perils is simply too much, too challenging—- so therefore ignoring it has become the better option….

Opening the backdoors to incoming troubles.

Words uttered in 1940, the words of Helmuth von Moltke, a German lawyer involved in the resistance, ring as true today as they did all those many years ago…
“totalitarian war destroys spiritual values. One feels that everywhere. If it destroyed material values, the people, whose thinking is mostly limited by their perceptions, would know how and against what to defend themselves. As it is, the inner destruction has no correlative in the perceived world of things, of matter. So they fail to grasp the process and the possible means of countering or or renewing themselves.”

Our spiritual lives are currently in peril…shall our means of countering such be also lost, in turn allowing for a new sinisterness to fill the vacuum?
Extremism and radicalization loves to fill in where the spirituality of mankind has faded…

Those brave men and woman who worked silently and secretly to oppose Hitler and the Nazi regime, those who risked everything in order to stop, who even attempted to assassinate the ensuing madness, had to consider not only removing Hitler but what to do in the void following his removal.
That is, should they have succeeded in that removal.

As they were keenly aware of what could fill the vacuum should Hitler be disposed or eliminated.
For chaos often begets chaos….

Father Ludwig Kaas, an exiled German priest turned abettor for the resistance, noted that “the elimination of the furor Germanicus of Hitlerism will leave particularly among the young and restless generation a spiritual vacuum which will have somehow to be filled if another explosion is to be avoided”
As an alternative order-principle, the Vatican proposed European unification. An economic federation, Kass argue, would prevent anarchy, exacerbated patriotism, aggression and war

(Church of Spies p94)

The similarities of then and today are eerily mirrored.

Rather than Hitlerism, Nazism, the Nationalist Socialist Worker’s Party of then, today it is ISIS, the Islamic State, and an extremist Islamic Caliphate. Many of the young men and even woman who leave families in order to go join this barbaric rising regime are most often the restless of their generation.
They are those who are lost, bored, disenfranchised, angry, even oddly hopeful…

Many of the young terrorists who were responsible for the attacks in Paris and later those in Belgium had been no stranger to the local authorities as they had been versed in petty crime, local drug dealing, unemployed, foreign nationals..lost, living on the fringe of a country not their own.
There have been a few however who had been educated, integrated and accepted, yet felt a calling back to something buried deep within their core…

Has our world allowed this latest void, this vacuum, to expand?
Have we allowed the lessons of the past to pass us by…
Have we allowed the perils of the past to lessen over time?
Are today’s perils only those same past perils that have evolved over time into something
new yet equally perilous….

It took brave individuals willing to risk all they had to eliminate the perils of their time
to ensure the safety and wellbeing for us…the future generations they didn’t know.
But it was for those future generations that they did not know, but believed to be worth fighting for…

Have we forgotten that there are further generations worth fighting for?

Maybe we need to think about, taking a closer look at this perilous world of ours, and consider what we need to do in order to make things less perilous…..for not only ourselves but for our future hope…

Grüß Gott

He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
2 Corinthians 1:10-11

the danger in losing

In a battle all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it’s more dangerous to lose than to win.
George Bernard Shaw

“Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.”
Martin Luther

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(the knights of St Patrick / St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

TO ARMS
TO ARMS…

The nightwatchman has sounded the alarm…

The time has come!

The Fortress is surrounded.

Are you ready?

The time has come to gather up your weaponry…
Take to your positions…
Set your sights
The gauntlet has been thrown down and it is
to you who must pick it up.

You have no choice but to accept this looming fight now before you…
For you have chosen this fate long ago.
You can either fight with intent or
try and flee as those poor souls, unaware…
Who try to flee when it is far too late and hope has long departed.
For yours is a fight unto the death…
the death of all mankind.

Be not lulled into complacency.
The enemy has rallied his army.
The walls will soon be breached.

Perhaps you could ignore it,
Pretending there is no advancement.
You may even attempt to convince yourself that there is no enemy…
just as so many have tried to do in the past…
even as they continue to do now, those who stand by your side, oblivious to the
advancing mayhem.
Maybe it’s just been a lot of hype, a mere distraction.
The alarmists and doomsday crowds are simply beating the war drums….
…again.

However be warned, the enemy is cunning.
He has a myriad of lying spies…
those who enjoy nothing more than to woo you into a sense of false security
The whispered lies of false flattery ooze like silky honey form their lips.

You must not be dismayed nor distracted..
for the battle of all eternity is raging…
Be not fooled nor deceived…
The enemy advances more rapidly than you’ve ever imagined.

To win is but a mere gain
But to lose will be a never ending agony with no hope of salvation…
You have been warned,
you have been called…
Take to your post now, for the Prince of princes has called His army to defend the kingdom
And you have been chosen to fight….

He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
Daniel 8:25

writing on the wall

“It is also a warning. It is a warning that, if nobody reads the writing on the wall, man will be reduced to the state of the beast, whom he is shaming by his manners.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall.
Think of it–always.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

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(remnants of what once adorned a wall of Cong Abbey, County Mayo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

What’s it going to take…
What sort of revelation do you need?
What type of sign?
What is it that you need in order to understand, to see, to realize, to acknowledge…
…that which speaks of truth, reality and actuality…?

How many more will perish?
How long will you remain silent?
How often will you deny that which is obvious?

Pretend,
Ignore,
Deny…
They each dance lightly along the wind

We sift, sort and pull out the lies, the half truths and the diversions.
All the while as those in authority continue shifting, twisting and tweaking our reality.
We are considered to be either mindless, clueless or too preoccupied,
as we roll in the muck and mire of our own divisiveness…

While Darkness bides his time

Meanwhile there are those who prowl, troll and seek… vowing harm, mayhem and delightfully even death.
They lurk about in the shadows smiling through the night.
Hearts are broken and lives are disrupted while we look the other way.
We wring our hands in our sorrow… never realizing our need for direction.
While the demonic and sinister contently wait focused and determined.

Amazingly no one seems to take notice that the time draws ever near… when life and death will catastrophically collide leaving mankind stuck helplessly in the middle…
Yet the masses continue wearing their rose colored glasses… blinded by the lies of want and greed.
The seriousness that waits to be addressed is overshadowed by desire, hip and chic.
The worlds we’ve spent a lifetime perfecting are now rapidly passing away
while the writing, which yearns for our reading is plainly etched upon the wall…

Hey you…yeah you…what are you waiting for?

“God gave Himself to you: give yourself to God.”
Saint Robert Southwell

“Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.”
St. Ignatius Loyola

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(a fussy youthful crow at the Cliffs of Mohr / County Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

You’ve been skirting around the issue forever.
Avoidance, deference, denial…
Yet it’s nagged at your heart, nipped at your heels and hounded your idle thoughts all these many years.

Oh sure, you casually said “whatever” years ago…figuring that was good enough…
yet deep down you knew, you always knew, more of you was wanted, needed, required.

Life was cushy enough with you just sitting on the fence, balancing that wire…
but now the swinging and swaying has grown almost impossible for you to keep your balance. You know a fall is inevitable but as to which side you fall, you’re still a little concerned.

One side requires all of you…which sounds like a lot of work and effort…”hummmm” you muse deep within…
…the other side…well, the outcome is touted as a bit dire. “Reckon they know what they’re really talking about?” you fumble over your thoughts like a handful of loose change.
You’re not so sure if you’re up for this whole kit kaboodle of giving the required all of you–
yet that other dark dismal world thing doesn’t sound like it has a very good ending.

You try not thinking about it, hoping it’ll just all go away–leaving you to live your happy little life…as the fence tilts more and more with you hanging on tighter and tighter.
You busy yourself, living life loud and large trying to drown out that nagging pull—
You bury yourself in your work, filling your brain with things other than the aching pull— hoping to ignore the slow throbbing pounding in your head.

You just don’t get it do you?
God is more determined and more patient than you—He’s waiting, but I think time is running out…
hopefully one day soon, you’ll figure it all out…before it’s all too late…

“Don’t you long to shout to those youths who are bustling around you: Fools! Leave those worldly things that shackle the heart – and very often degrade it – leave all that and come with us in search of Love!”
-St. Josemaria Escriva

Doing the right thing is never easy, but must be done. . .

“It is always darkest just before the day dawneth”
Thomas Fuller

“There are stars who’s light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen appart. There are people who’s remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.”
The Talmud

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.
Dante Alighieri

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(a tiger swallowtail visits the sedum / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ever since we were young, we were always told to “do the right thing”. . .
It seemed to be so much easier when we were younger. . .

As we aged, growing older and it doesn’t appear much wiser, the right thing seemed to become a bit blurry, out of focus and at times, difficult to discern.
We became pressed with increasing dilemmas.
The “right thing” could at times be hurtful to ourselves or worse, to others. . .
It became too much and overwhelming, it turned out to be more than we could bear.
It often seemed as if our very lives could fall into jeopardy over this whole doing the right thing business.
What were we to do?
What were our choices?
Doing the right thing became harder as doing not the right thing became easier.
“What’s a little fudging here and there” we’d rationalize.
We found ourselves justifying what they don’t know won’t hurt them, or rather, we meant us, as in ourselves.
A blind eye, became key.
Turning the proverbial blind eye to the those trivial details known as facts became common place.
Got the ol head stuck down in the sand, looking the other way and ignoring it all, hoping it would all just go away, leaving us and everyone else alone.

Complacency became our safe and happy place, our easy way out.

Yet the stakes, while we were busy not watching, have snuck in under the wire, growing bigger and higher.

To ignore it would be criminal.
To wish it all away, impossible.
To pretend it doesn’t exist, damning.

The children are dying and the world is bleeding and we can no longer afford not doing the right thing. . .

Part-PAR-Par8261894-1-1-0

“A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of an unidentified migrant child, lifting it from the sea shore, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum, Turkey, early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. A number of migrants are known to have died and some are still reported missing, after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized.
(both images courtesy AP)

Full story:
http://news.yahoo.com/distraught-father-of-drowned-syrian-boy-recounts-ill-fated-journey-191139707.html

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in you
Deuteronomy 15:11

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
1 John 3:17

Shortcomings

“When judging other people’s shortcomings, remember yours”
Leo Tolstoy

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(crucifix hanging beside the shrine to St Maximilian Kolbe, The Polish Museum, Rapperswill, Switzerland / Julie Cook / 2012)

I am always amazed when reading the writings of Christian theologians and clergy who were living in the midst of Hitler’s rise to power, as well as the chronicles of the holy living throughout the perilous struggles during the height of the war, all these many years later.

Living, preaching, teaching, writing, ministering to the faithful, as well as the faithless, during incessant bombings, times of disease, brutality, starvation. . .during times of hiding, as well as internment, while even facing certain death.

The perspective of their faith during such dire times is still so very relevant to our own time almost 80 years later.

That they could maintain a holy presence of mind while witnessing unspeakable atrocities.
That they could hold desperately to a faith during the days of ungodliness and devastating betrayal.
That they never wavered or buckled when the world had seemed to abandon all sense of hope and sanity.
That clergy, nuns and priests such as Father Maximilian Kolbe, who were murdered in the death camps, could continue to minister to their fellow prisoners while enduring horrific tortures–still able to sing songs of praise even when their mouthes were so utterly dry from starvation that not a sound could be heard.
Yet sing they did in their hearts.

I am always amazed reading the reflections written during such a different time and in such a different world which are eerily so timely still today.
And perhaps that is what makes me sad.
The continued relevance and timeliness.

Reading the words, not knowing that they belonged to a different era, the casual observer would no doubt be surprised that they were not written today.
Such are the reflections of Dietrich Bonhoeffer regarding the Christian Church prior to and during the war.

The following daily reading is taken from A Year With Dietrich Bonhoeffer and could easily be spoken today.
Pope Francis, during a recent visit to Turin, Italy in order to view the Shroud of Turin, gave a talk regarding the Church’s failings during the war noting that she struggles with her shortcomings of the faithful today. . .

The Sins of the Church
The church confesses that it has not professed openly and clearly enough its message of the one God, revealed for all times in Jesus Christ and tolerating no other gods besides. The church confesses its timidity, its deviations, its dangerous concessions. It has often disavowed its duties as sentinel and comforter. Through this it has often withheld the compassion that it owes to the despised and redacted. The church was mute when it should have cried out, because the blood of the innocent cried out to heaven. The church did not find the right word in the right way at the right time. It did not resist to the death the falling away from faith and is guilty of the godlessness of the masses. The church confesses that it has misused the name of Christ by being ashamed of it before the world and by not resisting strongly enough the muses of that name for evil ends. The church has looked on while injustice and violence have been done, under the cover of the name of Christ. It has even allowed the most holy name to be openly derided withou contradiction and has thus encourage that derision. The church recognizes that God will not leave unpunished those who so muse God’s name as it does.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Ethics 138-139

Precarious yet Precious

Hopes have precarious life. They are oft blighted, withered, snapped sheer off In vigorous growth and turned to rottenness.
George Eliot

“Why does everything that lives have to die?
So life would be precious, Asher. Something that is yours forever, is never precious.”

Chaim Potok

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(a wounded spicebrush swallowtail resting in a tree / Julie Cook / 2015)

What is life but a precarious dance with death
A game of slight of hand
Hide and seek
Catch me if you can. . .
And yet it is a gift, sacredly given–
A gift to be. . .
Savored
Guarded
Cherished
and
Honored. . .

All life matters. . .
The born and the unborn
the young and the aged
the sick and the healthy
the bright and the dim
the tall and the small
the believer and the unbeliever
the White
the Black
the Asian
the Indian
the Muslim
the Buddhist
the Jew
the Christian
the Taoist
the liberal and the conservative
the republican and the democrat
the whig and the tory
the carnivore and the vegetarian
the learned and the ignorant
the faithful and the faithless
the wise and the unwise
the good, and yes, even the bad. . .

And what we do with that most precious of gifts is what matters most

Give or take
Comfort or ignore
Help or turn away
Reach out or hold tight
Love or hate. . .

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth
Psalm 139:13-16