it’s never too late, but it might be getting close….

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your life, or how bad you’ve sinned.
I rejected God, but he still knew that I was redeemable.
I was worth saving.
There is no soul anywhere on this earth that is beyond the reach of God.
It’s never too late.

Deborah Lipsky
from Confessions of an Ex-Satanist: A Message of Hope


(mushroom in the woods / Julie Cook / 2020)

“The story of Christ’s life and ministry cannot be told without giving due space to Satan’s activity.
The Gospel writers carefully distinguish between cases of mere physical ailments and cases
of a demonic character (both of which Jesus cures).
Jesus frequently refers to the devil in his parables and other teachings,
and the devil himself tempts Jesus in the desert and returns again later to engineer Judas’ betrayal
(cf. Jn 13:2).
This Gospel motif teaches us an undeniable, if uncomfortable lesson: the devil is real,
and he is interested in counteracting the work of grace.
In one sense, accepting this fundamental truth, and keeping it always in the back of our minds,
can comfort us tremendously:
it helps us make sense of all the unpleasant influences at work in and around us.
We are not crazy; we are not failures; we are simply engaged in a spiritual battle.
If we believe in Jesus Christ, we must also believe in the devil—-doomed as he is,
he would love to take as many souls as he can along with him.”

Fr. John Bartunek, p. 350
An Excerpt From
The Better Part

Come to me…

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30


(statue of Jesus, Parrot Mt. and Gardens, Pigeon Forge, TN / Julie Cook / 2020)

the yoke of burden

“Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us.
What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ.
For he is all-powerful, and he tells us:
‘My yoke is easy, and my burden light.'”

St. Boniface


(wiktionary)

I think we’d all readily admit that this has been a most burdensome year.
A heavy, frustrating, frightening, as well as a never-ending year.

Blessedly, St. Boniface reminds us that we do not go this journey alone.

It has taken me nearly 61 years to understand that I do not have to go this journey alone.  And yet I can still remain obstinate and even contrary, fighting me, life, God every step of the way.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  It doesn’t have to be as hard as I make it. I simply have to remember to lean into The One who is stronger and more resolute than myself.

It sounds easy but we all know it’s not.  Our ancient foe works tirelessly to keep us distracted.

“What prevents us from receiving more abundant graces from God may be quite simply our not
being sufficiently grateful and not thanking him for the graces he
has already given us.
There is no doubt that if we thank God with all our heart for each grace received,
especially for the inspirations [of the Holy Spirit], he will grant us more.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 28
An excerpt from
In the School of the Holy Spirit

the life of Heaven, not earth…

“By accepting the sufferings ‘offered’ by life and allowed by God for
our progress and purification, we spare ourselves much harder ones.
We need to develop this kind of realism and, once and for all,
stop dreaming of a life without suffering or conflict.
That is the life of heaven, not earth.
We must take up our cross and follow Christ courageously every day;
the bitterness of that cross will sooner or later be transformed into sweetness.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 49
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom


(things that come ashore during a storm / Julie Cook / 2020)

We were not made for earth but for Heaven.

That is the single truth for those who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior.

It is for those who believe there was Omnipotent breath blown into Adam,
giving him life.

It is for those who believe the Word of God is both the first and last word.
The Alpha, the Omega.

It is for those who believe in the Resurrection.

It is the sole truth for those who watch a world gone mad and wonder where
and how they fit in.

The answer is simple, they don’t, we don’t, fit in.

You and me…we don’t fit into any of this mess.

God is God and we are not.
It is that simple.

I Am Who I Am (Exodus 3:14)

And we are His.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8

more than a watchful protector

He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.
So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero.
He’s a silent guardian.
A watchful protector.

Commissioner Gorden from The Dark Night


(steamcommunity.com)

My son is 31 years old and has been an avid Batman fan since a very very early age.
It may have been his 3rd or 4th Christmas that Santa brought him a battery operated
Batmobile that he could ride.

He was so blown away by what his young eyes beheld, that he ran to his room in order to
put on his Halloween costume..the one that still hung in his closet always at the ready…
Yes, it was a batman costume…one he would don whenever he believed Batman was
needed to save the day.

That Christmas morning, without uttering a word, our son, in full Batman regalia, proceeded to
stoically climb into that car in order to heed the call of help.

The problem came when he realized the car would not fly….the wee driver was to simply step
on a peddle propelling the car at a snail’s pace across the pavement.

Just as silent and just as stoic, he climbed out of the car and simply went inside.

Ode to a child’s imagination, thinking and yearning.

Needless to say, the prized and coveted Christmas gift was not so prized.

Our young son saw a batmobile and by gosh that thing was supposed to do what
Michael Keaton’s could do…race and fly.

Michael Keaton starred in the first real Batman movie our son ever saw…
Since that movie came out in 1989 and our son was born in 1988,
he saw the movie via a VHS tape shown at home.

The first actual movie that he saw in theaters, of which we regretted taking him to,
was Batman Returns with Danny DiVito playing the Penguin.
McDonald’s had really played up the movie for kids at all of their franchises and on television
because everything Happy Meal was all things Bat.

The movie, however, was, in our opinion, too dark and definitely not intended for young audiences.

But to this day, he says that is one of his favorites of the long-running series.

This little trip down memory lane came rushing forward while I was in Atlanta the past
several days taking care of a sickly Mayor.

We’d settled in one evening after supper and of course,
both the Mayor and Sheriff wanted to watch a cartoon…Frozen is the theme of the day.
Over and over we watch the Frozen movies…I can sing it all in my sleep…just let it go
for crying out loud…

But my son attempted putting on one of the older Batman movies—that is until I told him
his two young fans were just that, too young.

But before he turned it off, the opening scene of this particular movie showed a gathering of
city officials at some sort of banquet, where the speaker addressing those gathered spoke of the
demise of the city of Gotham.
He spoke of how the city was crime-ridden, dishonest, suffering…

And that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks.
We are living in Gotham.

Our major cities are now rife with disease.
Not so much from a pandemic disease but rather from the disease of human ill.
Not simply drugs, or from the typical crimes found in big cities, but ill with
the hate-filled rioting, looting, violence, agitation, and lawlessness found in hopelessness.
That which is found rotting in anarchy.
These are places where the bad guys now rule both the day and night.

And we are finding that we so desperately want to shine that floodlight into the night sky
with the insignia of “the bat.”
A signal that visibly states our dire need for help as well as a need for hope and
dare we say it, a savior from our current misery.

But here’s the thing…
we have no superheroes.
We have no long-suffering brooding vigilantes who feel the need to defend the defenseless.

They simply don’t exist.

We have police.
We have a military.
But both are currently loathed.

And so we feel lost.
We feel helpless.
We feel hopeless.

But there are those among us who do know…
we know that there is one who is more than just a watchful protecor…
one who has offered us both help and hope…

His name is Jesus Christ and all we have to do is to call out His name.

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

from one adopted kid to another…it’s all about unity and not division


(former NFL player Colin Kaepernick)

As the unofficial family historian of this clan of mine, I have certainly enjoyed the
stories I’ve uncovered over the years—especially the lineage of my dad’s family.

My grandmother had done her fair share of work and what was uncovered is
quite the storyline—Mayflower fame and all.

Yet despite having taken over the helm, following my grandmother’s death, of
being the unofficial family history loving sleuth,
I must confess that there has always been a nagging concern buried deep in
the back of my thoughts.

As an adopted member of this clan, I have always known that this clan is truly not my own.
Their story is not my story.
Or so I kept telling myself.

And yes, I know I’ve written extensively about all of this not long ago, but a part of my
own story came to the forefront of thought today while I was braving the heat picking
blueberries.

When things like this pop into my head out of the blue, I know the Holy Spirit is stirring.

Those of you who know me, know how much I love college football.
I don’t care whose playing, I’ll watch.

So I actually remember quite a few years back watching a game featuring UNLV
along with some other team.
I remember it was UNLV because of one of the stories, that the sports announcers shared
during the game, touched my heart.

It seems there was a young quarterback leading the UNLV team by the name of Colin Kaepernick.

During the game, the sports announcers offered a little background regarding this
seemingly phenom QB.

It seems that Colin’s mom had shared the story that Colin,
while being an outstanding high school quarterback, had not been offered any scholarships
to play at the next level…except for an offer by UNLV.

Not one of the “big schools” by any means…but it was an opportunity.
And obviously wanting to play at the next level, the Kaepernick family agreed that this
was his chance.

They also shared that Colin had been an adopted kid.
He is obviously a mixed-race kid while his adopted parents are white.

Adopted kids have a soft place in my heart.
And so I have something I’d like to say to Colin…my fellow adoptee.

Adoption, my young friend, is about unity and not division.

Colin, however, seems to be a rather unhappy young man…
some might argue that my observation is unfair…but I’ve never met a happy person who
is hell-bent on creating divisiveness.

He has made no bones about detesting our flag, our national anthem, our national monuments,
Betsy Ross and now he seems to detest our celebration of independence.

In fact, Colin seems to prefer being all about division these days.

His is a Black world or a White world.
Either or, but not both.
His is a world of one divided by race.
His is a progressive left world battling a presumptive non-inclusive, racist world.

I’ve always known I was adopted.
And for better or worse, I physically favored my adopted family.
I realize that Colin did not physically favor his adopted family—
what with his being mixed and his parents being white.
But one thing I do know about both of us, our adopted parents loved us
unconditionally as their own.

You just need to read some of what his mom has had to say about him over the years
to understand the love they have for this son of theirs.

Yet I never had to have that battle within myself over not being the same race
as my family.
I imagine that might have kept the matter of adoption more at the forefront of
Colin’s thoughts more so than perhaps my own.
I don’t know that for certain but knowing that I would look into a mirror always
wondering who it is I truly looked like… I suspect that mirror looking might
have been more frequent in Colin’s life.

I don’t know his full story of adoption…the background etc.
Heck, I barely know my own.

Those of you who know me and read this blog already know my story’s journey so
I won’t belabor that story but I do want to make a point…
a point for our friend Colin.

I do believe that adopted kids are born with some prewired emotional baggage.
I know this without doubt.
I truly understand the whole emotional transference during pregnancy.
It is real.

I also know what’s it’s like wanting to know one’s own story and not what someone
else’s story is all about…
We simply want to know our own story…plain and simple.

I went on that quest.

After hemming and hawing…after being full of trepidation and anguish…after
waiting and waiting…some answers and even more questions arrived.

On my biological father’s side, there has been discovery, connections to a cousin, and a peace.
On my biological mother’s side, there has been a painful dose of double rejection…
a disaster in a nutshell…or so I thought at the time.

I learned that my biological father died several years ago…
but there are living relatives…some of whom have opened their hearts.

My mother, on the other hand, is in her 80’s and despite my now being 60, vehemently
denied any sort of acknowledgment or contact.

I will say that that whole situation not only stung my heart, it also left me
emotionally reeling.
The child still deep within this adult body rebroke.

Yet over the past several months, since my discovery, peace has filled my wounds.
And that peace came from one place and one place only…the healing and soothing balm
of Jesus Christ.

I couldn’t have experienced that on my own.
On my own, there was anger and resentment…but God had other plans.
That of His peace.

God already knew my story but He also knew that I was hard-headed.
God will allow us to pursue what we think we want even when
He knows better.
He loves us that much that He will allow us to shoot ourselves
in the foot from time to time—always turning that self-inflicted wound
back around for His good purpose.

So certainly questions will always remain but the anger and the resentment are both gone.

I have come to see, feel, and claim that this adopted clan of mine is indeed mine.
I sit on a branch of their tree, adoption, or not.

So what I say to my fellow adoptee Mr. Kaepernick— is that the peace of heart,
the peace of spirit is of God and of God alone.

It is one of unity and not division.

It is not of anger or resentment.

It is neither black nor white.
Male nor female.

Black power, black lives, militancy…those are separators, not unifiers.

We are all children of God…despite how we come into this world.
We are all equally valued by God…despite physical differences from others.
There is not one single life that is greater than nor matters more than another’s.
The humility found in being created and not Creator is both freeing and soothing.

I would behoove Colin to seek a Savior and not a civil war of culture.

We are all of one America.
Black men and women, white men and women, Asian men and women, Native American men and women,
Hispanic men and women have each shed blood for the freedoms our now angry Nation enjoys.

No division is found in our freedom but rather unity.
No division is found in the children of God, but rather unity.

Unity and not division will bring one’s soul peace.
Until then…there will be only anguish and wasted energies at the expense of everyone.

But then again, one has to ask oneself: do you want peace in your being or do you
desire hate, resentment, and anger.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

crisis of faith or living faith…a choice

In a speech to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2011, Benedict XVI
reflected that
“The essence of the crisis of the Chruch in Europe is the crisis of faith.
If we find no answer to this…then all other reforms will remain ineffective.”

The Day is Far Spent / Cardinal Sarah


(a lone turkey feather lost in the woods / Julie Cook / 2019)

When Joseph Ratzinger speaks about a “crisis of faith”,
we should understand that he is not talking in the first place about an
intellectual or theological problem in the academic sense of the word.
He means a “living faith”, a faith that imbues and transforms life.
“If faith does not take on new life, deep conviction and real strength
from the encounter with Jesus Christ,” Benedict XVI added that day,
“then all other reforms will remain ineffective.”

This loss of the sense of faith is the deep root of the crisis of civilization
that we are experiencing.

As in the first centuries of Christianity, when the Roman Empire
was collapsing, all human institutions today sem to be on the
path of decadence.
Reflections between people, whether political, social, economic, or cultural,
are becoming difficult.
In losing the sense of God, we have undermined the foundation of all
human civilization and opened the door to totalitarian barbarity.

Human beings, separated from God, are reduced to a single dimension—
the horizontal—
and this reduction itself is one of the fundamental causes of the various forms
of totalitarianism that have had tragic consequences in the past century,
as well as the crisis of values that we see in the current situation.

By obscuring the reference to God the ethical horizon has also been obscured,
to leave room for relativism and for an ambiguous conception of
freedom which, instead of being liberating, ends by blinding
human beings to idols.

The temptation that Jesus faced in the wilderness before his public ministry
vividly symbolize which “idols” entice human beings when they do not
go beyond themselves.
Were God to lose his centrality man would lose his rightful place,
he would no longer fit into creation, into relations with others

Pope Benedict XVI
Nov 14, 2012

spam, scams or is God calling?

“The Divine Voice is not always expressed in words.
It is made known as a heart-consciousness”

A.J. Russell


(Robokiller symbol)

About a year or so ago, tired of the constant phone calls coming in from places like Belize,
California, Mexico, the Ukraine…places where I knew no one and no one knew me,
I decided to nip the madness in the bud.

I had seen an article about an app called Robokiller.
It’s an app that will filter out those mysterious and annoying calls…
as in it actually filters most all of your calls.

The only calls readily allowed are those numbers you have listed in your favorites…
any other call will face the scrutiny of the app.

When setting up the app you get to pick a type of voicemail message that you’d like to use.
Prerecorded silly messages or what I chose…a typical auto-recorded message that
states “the number you have dialed is currently no longer in service…”

The app works sometimes a little too well as it has dumped calls coming in from
various doctors or other offices that are attempting to get in touch with me–
all because it does not recognize the incoming numbers.

Of course, you can check the messages that are left, as well as the call numbers,
and choose whether you want to allow them to trickle through or not.

Overall, I am very pleased with the app and opted to renew my service.

I get an alert each time a call comes in and has been earmarked as spam…
allowing me to check it.

However, for the past several months, I’ve been getting the strangest call…
over and over, despite the spam net, of which this call does fall into on
an almost daily basis, the call persists.

It is immediately earmarked as spam but it keeps calling me.
And since it is earmarked as spam, it merely falls into the spam bucket—
yet I can still listen to the message.

When this “caller” first began calling me, I listened to the message only briefly
as it actually scared me.
Visions of some Russian downloading all my vital information that was encrypted
on my phone, while I was listening, raced around my vivid imagination.

But as the calls have continued, I opted to let my daughter-n-law listen
to the recording.

It is a foreign-sounding male’s voice.
Loud, forceful and angry.
The voice reminds me of some sort of nutty tel-evangelist who has his hand on my head
screaming, “BE HEALED”—think of a real-life scammer type Earnest Angely…with a
foreign accent.

It is a man who is vehemently and definitely stating that
“someone has spoken your name, leaving your name in my mouth.
There is a blessing that you are to receive.
Quick, you only have 5 seconds to receive it…”

During other calls, the messenger speaks of gifts and blessings.

What I’m to do within the 5 seconds continues to elude me…
Hence why I quickly click to end the recording.

I checked the area code…it’s listed as a middle Georgia number.

It never has asked for money and that’s probably why I fear Russia is downloading my
life as we speak, but then I’m left wondering…why.

Why is some sort of psycho “preacher” almost demanding that I act within 5 seconds time???
And as to how I am to be acting is uncertain but I get the distinct message that I am to act none
the less all in order to receive some sort of blessing…and if I don’t…well…
bad juju seems to be in the air.

An overactive imagination continues to wonder why this one particular call continues to come
through despite always reaching a pre-recorded message of a number out of commission.

A fleeting thought crosses my thinking…wonder if God is really trying
to tell me something??
Wonder if these calls are persisting for a deeper reason…??

But then I am quickly pulled back to reality…
I am reminded…God is a gentleman…forever and always.

He is persistent but He is not angry nor forceful.

He is not demanding…nor is His intent to frighten or coerce me into something strange.
God never coerces His children…He prefers to woo those He loves.

This particular caller, on the other hand, demands that I listen and then act.
It’s as if some unseen gun is being held to my head or to the head of a loved one..
act now or bad things will happen.

God has long stated the deal…
if one opts to follow, wonderful…if not, then that is the loss of the individual.
No pushing, not threats..it is what it is—

We are told that even Satan and his demons can recite scripture.
And so we must often test what comes our way.
Is it from God or not…

Robokiller helps, but nothing works like simply calling upon the name of Jesus Christ.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has
come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist,
which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

1 John 4:1-6

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

Heaven is exclusive…yikes

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here.
This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…
Come further up, come further in!”

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle


(Augusta National Club)

So the other day, a friend and I were chatting when the conversation rolled around to the
story about how her daughter had flown home this past weekend in order to attend a wedding
and the festive reception aftermath.

The shindig was held at one of Atlanta’s myriad of private “country” clubs.
City clubs, country clubs, tennis clubs, swim clubs, golf clubs, polo clubs…
clubs, clubs, clubs…
Atlanta has always had its fair share of clubs.

However, this particular club is one of Atlanta’s oldest and finest.

Back in college, I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s debut at this said club…
Do they still have such things as debuts??…
Those rights of passage for the more upper-crust amongst us?

Anywho, back to clubs.

This was my first and seemingly last visit to this particular club.
I checked it off my list of things to do before I died..wink, wink.

This club is one of Atlanta’s most prestigious, oldest and most exclusive.
It was founded in 1887 as a private club for Atlanta’s post-war elite males.

It was called a ‘driving’ club because of the carriages that were driven to the club.

This club did eventually allow women and the naturally flowing of families…
but there are still very few, if any, Jewish members and only but a handful of African American members.

In fact Jimmy Carter’s Attorney General, Atlanta’s own Griffin Bell,
a long-standing member of this club,
had to relinquish his membership, back in the day, when he was appointed US AG—
He had to part ways with the club due to its limitations of membership.

The waiting list is currently decades-long, shrouded in mystery and the fees to join is
that of a nice sized fortune.
Plus you need to “know” someone in order to get a foot in the door.
So certainly it is more trouble than most folks want to mess with…hence why
there are other clubs for all sorts of folks.

It’s an old vestige to a different time.

Now I really have no issues with “exclusive” clubs nor do I really care about their
existence or not…
They’ve been around as long as I can remember and I’ve known many
friends who have been members as well as those who would never want to be members…

Much like ancient secretive societes.

And yes, I will confess that my parents did join what was a new country club back
in the early 1960’s…
They joined just so they could take us swimming and have a place to go eat from time to time.
But knowing my dad like I did, it was a far cry from a whos who sort of club as he
would never pay dues for such…he just wanted to get us out of the house and dump us
off to swim throughout the summer.

Now whereas I don’t care who belongs to clubs or not…
there are those who do care…and some who care very much.

For the longest time, Augusta, Georgia’s home of the Master’s Golf tournament,
Agusta’s National Country Club, did not allow women or minorities as members.
I think Condoleezza Rice was the first of both…
a great choice as I really like Ms. Rice, but I digress…

However it was under the pressure of the press, along with various special interest groups,
that the club has since allowed women and minorities to become members…
However, due to the fees and dues, along with the necessity of knowing someone,
plus an often forever waiting list, these are hindrances that put the idea of membership
out of the grasp of most average folks.

And again, like I say, I really don’t give a hoot one way or another
but the irony of this notion of exclusivity is not lost on my thoughts.

Maybe if I played golf or tennis or wanted to socialize on a level beyond socializing
at the grocery store or at the post office, I might be interested…
but since I don’t…I’m good.

However, not all folks feel like I do.
Lot’s of folks do not like the notion of ‘exclusive’

Our overtly equity driven and level playing field culture does care and they care
very very much…

They care so much so that they petition, boycott and rage a twitter war while
wrecking all sorts of havoc…
They busy themselves shaming those exclusive places and those who want exclusiveness
into opening their doors to one and all…in turn, ending any and all exclusiveness…
because everyone will now equal…so yay for our equal culture…

Hummmm.

But really…who cares?

Why do I want to pay and play a part when I’m not keen on paying or playing
in the first place?
I don’t.
So let’s let sleeping dogs lie…or is that lay?
Right?

Lets leave those who wish to be exclusive, to their exclusiveness.

All of this is fine and good…but…when we seem to find the shoe on the other foot…
when what we do, what we say and how we react becomes a key to all this exclusiveness
while we allow such to become paramount…we find ourselves in a full-blown tizzy.

We want desperately to knock the high horses low while elevating the lowly to the higher position…
It’s an age-old human conundrum…envy, coveting and lusting…
as we yearn to assuage our egos by placing everyone even an even keel.

So guess what…here’s a brain explosion…

Something you may have never considered.

Heaven is actually exclusive.

Whoa.

Yeah, I know how you hate hearing such…
In fact, you don’t like hearing such, nor do you even agree…

But it’s true whether you like it or not…

Heaven is truly exclusive.

It’s exclusive to and for all those who hold the fact that Jesus Christ
is Lord and Savior.

Matters not whether you consider yourself a ‘good’ person or that you live
a ‘good’ life…
the one key factor to “getting” in is that you have made Jesus Christ your
lord and savior.

The entrance fee has been paid in full.
The monthly dues have been paid in full.
The membership is open to anyone no matter skin color, financial holdings, social
level or educational accomplishments…in fact, you don’t need any accomplishments…

Plus there’s only one person you need to know in order to help you get in…

It’s that simple.

And yet despite the clamors and protests by the counter culture and our uber progressive
society, Heaven will always remain exclusive…

The one key for membership…Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6