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

What is truth?

Truth is not just an abstraction.
Truth is a person, and His name is Jesus.

Jerome Bertram
from Jesus, Teach Us to Pray


(wild crabapples blooming / Julie Cook / 2019)

“And let me make it quite clear that when Christians say the Christ-life is in them,
they do not mean simply something mental or moral.

When they speak of being ‘in Christ’ or of Christ being ‘in them’,
this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him.

They mean that Christ is actually operating through them;
that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts—-
that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body.

And perhaps that explains one or two things.

It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief,
but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion.

It is not merely the spreading of an idea; it is more like evolution—-
a biological or super-biological fact.
There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God.
God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature.

That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.

We may think this rather crude and unspiritual.
God does not: He invented eating.
He likes matter.
He invented it.”

C.S. Lewis, p. 64
AN EXCERPT FROM
Mere Christianity

Truth.

We could ask Aristotle, Socrates or even Plato…

It is absolute.
A fact.

The beating of a heart.
The rhythmic breathing in and out.

I rather like what Jerome Bertram has to say
regarding truth.

Jesus Christ is Truth.

Plain and simple.

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

John 14:6

ailing?

“Sin separates us from the presence of God”
David Fiorazo, The Cost of Our Silence


(image of a WWII medic’s bag found on pintrest)

Slowly picking my way through David Fiorazo’s book The Cost of Our Silence,
picking as if I was walking ever so slowly and ever so carefully through a thicket of
freshly ripening blackberries…
eyeing the bushes just so as I closely look for the riper and juiciest berries…
so goes my reading.

And whereas time is also a contributing factor to my lack of speed, I seem able only to
take in a page here and a page there…

I’m jumping around a bit as yesterday I offered a look back to our nation’s backstory
as we took a peek back in time to examine the ideals that the pilgrims had brought with them
as they left family, friends, and home an entire ocean behind…
risking everything, including their lives, in search of a place where free worship of
the Creator would be paramount.

Today I’m going to skip ahead in our story, just a tad before I backup again another day
as there is still much that needs to be shared historically as to why we are the nation we are…
or perhaps that is,,, the nation we were…

However, today, as I was taking in a page here and there…
the following quote really jumped out at me…

“We can (and should) talk much about the love of God,
but we are doing the gospel and those who hear us a disservice if we do not also talk
about sin and the wrath of God.”

For you see this is a bit of a recurring theme of mine…
the theme that there is both sin and wrath…
God’s wrath to be precise.

But no one wants to hear about sin, sinful nature, repercussions, a wrathful God, consequences,
etc…
Because instead, we’ve turned all of that into political correctness and tolerance.

David goes on…
“There are many symptoms of the disease (sin), but God has provided a cure (Jesus Christ)
for the cause and has given us a written prescription (the Bible) to follow.
The Great Physician is always on call, so let us speak about the only remedy and
keep referring people to Him!”

Our culture has no idea that it is ailing…no idea that it is truly sick.
It ignores the symptoms, denies the disease, and discredits the Physician
more and more each day.

Any psychologist will tell you that it is human nature to run through some very basic
emotions when confronted with something really bad and or tragic…
with denial being right up there in the earliest stages.

Churchs today are so desperately wanting to cling to dwindling congregations or to a
youthful generation that is heeding the call of the world, so much so that the Churchs are
compromising the entire concept of sin and God’s wrath. Going so far as to offering a
desperately needy and thirsty people a watered down Gospel narrative…having turned it
into a feel good placebo.

No one ever really wants to hear that they are living wrong, immoral, sinful lives…
they’d rather be patted on the head, handed a sucker and told to go scoot off
and keep playing.

But that is not the reality of our world.
It is not the reality of the Chrisitan faith.

If we do not accept sin for what it is…
If we do not admit that we are in need of healing and saving…
then we will incur wrath…

So rather than deal with such, myriads of folks have opted to simply deny any such thing.
No God equals no sin, equals no illness, equals no need, equals blisful ignorance.

And so we, those remnants of the faithful, who understand that sin is sin, death is death,
Satan is real and that healing and saving are paramount… must speak.

We must speak up, out and loud.

David reminds us that opposition to such talk will be a given.
There will be pushback.
There will be ridicule.

But we must remember from whence comes that pushback and ridicule and to where it is actually
directed.

“Most of us understand in today’s culture that living our faith in public will attract
resistance, ridicule, and even hatred.
If we remember our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12),
we will not take it personally when people come against us.
Their problem is with Jesus Christ, not us.”

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces
of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12)

ripening in order to bear fruit

“The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of one poor little person
to save a multitude of others,
redeemed like her at the price of His Blood.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(a slight blush begins on the persimmions / Troup, Co Georgia / Julie Cook / 2108)

Therese of Lisieux, known as ‘the Little Flower’, was only 24 years old when she died
from tuberculosis.
Despite her sweet and tender disposition, her Chrisitan spiritual impact was to be
tremendous as she today is known far and wide both inside and out of Catholic circles.
Next to Saint Francis of Assisi, Therese is the second most popular Catholic saint.

Therese lost her mother to what is thought to have been breast cancer when Therese was
only 4 and a half years old.
An older sister stepped into the role of surrogate mother to the young Theresa.

It wasn’t long after that time that Theresa’s two older sisters each left home as they
sought to join the cloistered community of the Carmelite order.

Carmelites are a religious order founded in the 12th century near Mt Carmel,
hence the name.
It is a religious cloistered order known for a contemplative lifestyle—
that being a life of prayer.
Community, service, and prayer are their central focus.

At first, Theresa was devastated as she had first lost her mother and now was
losing her two sisters who had taken her mother’s place in her life and heart.
Theresa was known for being a bright child who excelled in school yet was very
sensitive and was often the victim of vicious bullying.

Soon she developed what doctors labeled as “neurotic attacks”—
uncontrollable tremors, a result
as her body’s way of dealing with frustration.

Her oldest sister would then write letters of encouragement to Theresa speaking to her
of faith, Jesus, and mother Mary.

“Christmas Eve of 1886 was a turning point in the life of Thérèse; she called it
her “complete conversion.”
Years later she stated that on that night she overcame the pressures she had faced since
the death of her mother and said that “God worked a little miracle to make me grow up
in an instant…
On that blessed night … Jesus, who saw fit to make Himself a child out of love for me,
saw fit to have me come forth from the swaddling clothes and imperfections of childhood”.

(Wikipedia)

And so at the age of 15, Theresa left home to also join the Carmelite order.

She leaned heavily on the writings of two Spanish Carmelite mystics,
St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross.

Theresa was fervent in her desire to draw ever closer to God.
“In her quest for sanctity, she believed that it was not necessary to accomplish
heroic acts, or great deeds, in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God.
She wrote, “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love?
Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers
and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the
least actions for love.”

Wikipedia

And so Theresa had learned one of life’s most difficult yet important lessons…
that in order to accomplish big and great things,
these things must be accomplished in small and almost insignificant ways in order to have
the most lasting and powerful effects.

It was this humble yet steadfast approach of hers in developing a deeply intimate
relationship with God, Jesus and even Mary and in turn offering that intimate relationship
to others, that seems to have drawn so many admirers, both Catholic and not,
to this simple young nun.

In her short 24 years, she made such a tremendous impact on those who had known her…
so much so that it was just 28 years following her death that she was declared a Saint
as well as Doctor of the Chruch.

Another small yet giant of a woman, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, would eventually borrow
the name of Theresa, taking it as her own when she professed her own vows as a nun…
that woman was Mother Teresa.

And so it is with our ripening little persimmon which helps to remind us of the wisdom
of the little flower, St. Theresa.
We are all waiting, in some fashion or other, during our own individual time of ripening and
growth—waiting for the right time when we can finally bear the strong and powerful fruits of
a heart rooted in the belief and wisdom of Jesus Christ—

So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,
fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing
in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:10

heresy 101

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make

lyrics from In The End
The Beatles


(statue of the sacred heart of Jesus, Kylemore Abbey / Connemara, County Galway, Ireland/
Julie Cook / 2015)

Surely it’s time for a new story, a new thought, a new distraction in this land
of the distractable??!!

Yet Wedding Gate 2018 just keeps on keeping on.

And so I find myself needing to share one more observation and one more offering
offered by those wiser than myself…

Now I totally understand that most folks are more than ready to move on and away from
the chatter over this past weekend’s big wedding…as well as away from the chatter that
continues to reverberate over the guest speaker at said wedding.

Chatter that is causing a new rift within the Chrisitan community.

The 2 billion folks, yes you read the number correctly…of which is according to the networks,
who tuned in and watched said wedding, for the majority, seem to be totally enamored
with the sermon offered by the guest speaker Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry.

The bishop has been catapulted to the forefront and is now the darling poster child for
all things progressive and cultural.
And I suppose that should be only fitting as he is the leading voice behind the
promotion of Gay marriage within the Episcopal Chruch.

And now many folks, most folks it sadly seems, don’t understand why there is any sort
of controversy, brouhaha or criticism over Bishop Curry’s speech because who in their right
mind can or would criticize the concept of love?

Because that’s what the speech was about right?
Love?
And isn’t a wedding the perfect place to talk about love?

So whereas I’m indeed ready to move on as well, I’m opting to linger ever so slightly because,
as you see, the speaker and the cleric presiding over the wedding, the Archbishop of Canturbury,
just happen to each be cogs in the wheel of a Christian denomination in which I grew up.

The Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Chruch is where I was raised and where I came to
know Jesus as both Lord and Savior.

Times, however, have greatly changed since those early days of my youth.

And I would not be doing justice to those Anglicans and Episcoplains out there who
continue in the orthodox tradition of faith, just as I do, clinging to the knowledge
that God’s word is just that…God’s word.
I would not be doing justice to those who continue to cleave to that Word of God’s own
spoken Truth.

It would not be justice to those who choose not to condone the rewriting of scripture and
now the promotion of that rewritten scripture…
A new scripture that is being touted as the new age Chrisitan mantra…
that being simply put, Love is love.
And that notion of love is all one needs.

And if that’s love is between a man and woman, great.
If that’s love between two men, great.
If that’s love between two women, great.
If that’s simply a love of self, great.

Because love covers a multitude of sins we’ve always been told.

And so what if the Bible said love between one man and one woman???
We’ll just rewrite that to make things more applicable and current.
So what if the Bible says to beware of a love of self…
don’t we want to love ourselves??

And so as Bishop Curry was proclaiming love for love’s sake, he proceeded called up those
immortal words of John Lennon.
Maybe because he was in England, maybe because Lennon’s words seem more timely than not.

Imagine.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You…

Throw love in that mix and love becomes the newest culture god.

Yet what everyone seems to be missing is that this love, this romantic, erotic
love that Bishop Curry spoke of is a far cry from God’s love.

Bishop Curry speaks of a narcissistic and egocentric love.
A love that is not grounded in the Blood of the Lamb despite throwing out the name of Jesus
for good measure.
This is not the love of utter sacrifice.

But who these days wants to hear of sacrifice?

And so our dear rogue cleric Bishop Gavin Ashenden offers a wonderful observation of his own
over what basically boils down to a tale of heresy 101.

Bishop Ashenden cautions that we need to be able to use the repentance test when listening
to a speech such as Bishop Curry’s.
Is there talk of the need of repentance?
Or of the fact that God’s judgment is real and that the consequence of not repenting,
with that being hell, is also very real.
Did we hear any of that?

No, we didn’t hear about that.

We didn’t hear about when the fires of romantic and erotic love fade leaving people standing around
just looking at one another, somewhat bored and wondering what’s next.

Did we hear about the dire need of ours to be saved?
Saved by the blood of Jesus Christ?

No, we didn’t hear about that either.

We didn’t hear about the devil being real and that he battles for each of our souls.
We didn’t hear about the cross and the cost on that cross.

No we didn’t hear about that.

Rather we heard about love, sex, attraction, open arms, acceptance and more love.
Because isn’t love all we need??

And so I leave you with the latest clip from Anglican Unscripted, as well as two posts
written by our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson.

Both of these men heard, or perhaps didn’t hear is more appropriate those same things I didn’t hear.
And I for one am glad that each man is voicing concern over what was missing and why this sudden
hysteria over Bishop Curry is a very dangerous thought for all of us, Chrisitans as well as non believers.
For it is indeed heresy 101

The good news of Jesus Christ…that is what we need in the end

“Let me stress the importance of this another way.
The cameras lingered a lot on the Clooneys, Oprah and the Beckhams.
What struck me was the haunted, sad and lonely look on Victoria Beckham’s face.
I have no idea what was going on – but I know this.
Whatever the problem, the cure is the good news of Jesus Christ.
It’s such a shame that she did not hear it.”

David Robertson

The Wedding, the Sermon and the Reaction – Article on Christian Today

Ravi praises, Curry explains and Cranmer Spins…

Getting ready for being actively receptive..

“Nothing, how little so ever it be,
if it is suffered for God’s sake,
can pass without merit in the sight of God.”

Thomas a Kempis


(Arizona)

There are resolutions made fresh and anew at the beginning of each new year…
those things we decide to give up or take on in hope of becoming better at simply being us.

Some are kept, most are not.

Then comes Lent…a time when there are also things to be given up and or taken on
all in order to recall one man’s journey in a desert for a period of 40 days, in hopes
of bettering our souls.

Some are kept, others are not.

Yet it is during Lent that the keeping and or the letting go seems to be more important,
sharper and keener…
The burden is better understood, the giving in and letting go pricks more sharply.

It matters not whether your church, your avenue of faith, carries you along the road
of participating in Lent or not.
It matters little whether or not you “practice” Lent.
All Christians can, however, come together in the reflection of this time of Jesus’
earthly journey while on His spiritual path.

The entire idea is simply to be present with Christ on this journey.

How you decide to do that, is well, how you decide to do that.
Simply being present to Him…as in just you and Him…on a journey, together,
in a barren wasteland with everything and anything that is a distraction
being stripped away…while there is one who does his darndest to thwart your efforts
of being focused and present with and for your companion.

If it’s giving up chocolate because you always give up chocolate,
and later finding yourself fudging here and there, then that’s not
really taking a part of the journey now, is it…
Thinking that chocolate or the lack thereof helps you to focus
more keenly on the journey and on your companion…well, I don’t know.

This journey is bigger than chocolate…just saying.

For this journey is not a surface sort of trek…
but rather it is a time of real darkness and trial.
It is an arduous journey taken not by the faint of heart.
For it is a journey to the recesses of your being.

And it is a journey we are afforded, or better yet offered, to take yearly…
As each year we are reminded and allowed to recall that first foray of determined boldness
into the desert so long ago.

Deserts are formidable places.
Desolate, dry, lonely, empty, hot places.
Places we don’t much wish to find ourselves.
As our shadowed nemesis delights in tempting us out and away from this
place of deep introspection.
And yet Jesus goes…willingly.

It is here where we first see the earthly glimpse of His willingness to go…
just as we will shortly see, His willingness to descend into hell
for three days in order to do battle for our souls.

Yet each year, we make the conscious decision to choose to go along.
We decide to accompany Jesus into this desert…both His and our own.

Some of us will try to muster on while others of us turn relatively quickly for a fast
retreat.

And yet year after year, we make a choice as to whether or not we want to take this
journey alongside Jesus, knowing we may or may not make it…
But the real fact of the matter is that Jesus always makes the same choice…
the choice to always go…

As Jesus becomes our lynchpin.
He is our support in and out of the desert.

Our friend over on the blog Thoughts from the Side of the House
reminds us of this notion…he explains that our choice boils down alone to the single
matter of desire…as well as our being open to that desire…receptive to that choice.

Receptive to the choice of wanting to actually go hand in hand with Jesus on his arduous
journey into the desert.

As his friend Monsignor Heintz reminds us that whatever we attach our attention to,
becomes us.
If our desires are worldly, then the desert is not to be our foray.

Therefore as we now stand in the shadow of Lent, standing before the Desert…
we each much ask, are we will willing to travel with Jesus with the focus and intent
such a journey requires.

It is not for the faint of heart.

When I was in grad school a couple of my professors introduced me to the concept
of “active receptivity,” an influential concept in the thought of a
Polish philosopher named Karol Wojtyla.
Roughly, it means willingly desiring to receive certain gifts and,
if necessary, actively doing things to make such reception possible.
For instance, when I was a student, if I truly wanted to learn, I had to desire to
learn, to actively listen, engage and study concepts to truly understand them.
This idea is key for me in my spiritual life.

“In the early Christian tradition of mystical theology,
there was an aphorism of anonymous origin and goes like this:
“you become the object of your contemplation.”
That is, whatever we fix our attention upon,
whatever becomes the focus of our energies and our imagination,
whatever it is that consumes our thoughts and desires,
has an imperceptible but genuine impact upon us, shaping our sensibilities,
molding our personality, and making us – far more than we often realize – who we are.
The standard objects of fallen human desire: power, pleasure, wealth, can subtly take
hold of us, and our desire for them changes who we are;
we stray farther and farther from God and find ourselves in a land of unlikeness.

Monsignor Mike Heintz

You Become What You Think About