disbelief and consequence

“But again He is equally present in sudden unexpected moments,
and it is the neglect of these moments that is the most fruitful source
of disbelief in Him.”

Charles Williams


(a hidden squirrel enjoys supper / Julie Cook / 2017)

the following is a question posed by a novice to his master teacher,
Elder St. Paisios the Athonite….

Q. Geronda (common name referring to a Greek Orthodox monk),
why was Moses deprived of the Promised Land for a minor fault?

A. It was not a minor fault; it was disbelief.

God had provided for the Israelites’ passage across the Red Sea [ Exodus 14:1-31],
and provided water for them at Sinai [Exodus 15:22-25; 17:1-7],
nourished them with manna [Exodus 16:1-36].
He had shown them so many marvels.
And yet, when they were once again without water, they complained.
And when God told Moses to strike the rock to get water, he doubted Him:
‘Is it possible for water to come out from the rock’ [ Numbers 1-13]?

That is why God later gave him that rule:
‘As punishment, you will see the Promised Land only from a distance
[ Deuteronomy 32:48-52].

Now if God had not provided water for them before in such a miraculous manner,
then Moses could have been somewhat justified for his disbelief.
At this point, however, there was no justification for his disbelief,
which is why God did not permit him to enter the Promised Land.”

— From the book Passions and Virtues:
Counsels of Elder St. Paisios the Athonite, vol. 5.

“This is what the Lord says:
‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem.
These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words,
who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods
to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless!
For as a belt is bound around the waist,
so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,’
declares the Lord,
‘to be my people for my renown and praise and honor.
But they have not listened.’

Jeremiah 13:9-11

iustificatio / justification

“No creature can be in a position of
justice before its Creator”

Bishop Karol Wojtyla November 1962 (Pope John Paul II)


(a determined visiting box turtle / Julie Cook / 2017)

There is nothing I can add to this reflection by the then acting Bishop of Krakow.
It is a reflection of created and Creator,
man and God…
And that of man’s fallen nature which in turn precipitates the need for Grace
which is provided by and through Jesus Christ.

The dogmatic topic that requires a deeper spiritual reflection is the
mystery of justification (iustificatio).

Man cannot be ‘just’ before God: he can only be’justified’ before Him.

The former is proved by the fact that man is not equal to God, his Creator,
and the latter by Christ and the entire order of Grace.

No creature can be in a position of justice before its Creator.

Man is in a way a synthesis of creatures.

As a creature in general, he and his existence
are unconditionally dependent on his Creator;
he is dependent also by virtue of his nature and, consequently,
unequivocally subordinate.

As a being endowed with vegetative (sensual) life, he is subject to the laws of life
and death (generatio et corruptio) like other creatures.

As a ritual being – a person – he bears a more special resemblance to the Creator,
which obligates him to maintain the order of justice,
i.e. to give to everybody what rightly belongs to them (which also includes paying
religious worship to God).

The fact of personhood does not render invalid man’s vegetativeness and
animalitas (animal nature), which turns him into “ash and nothing” before his Creator.
As a person, man can enter into personal contact with the Creator;
this contact, however, has to be initiated by the Creator.

When He initiates it, it consists (like the act of creation) in an act of mercy,
because man as a creature is fully dependent and subordinate.
In particular, he needs to be justified because of his sin,
which, as an offense to God, does harm to the very essence of this personal
contact understood in the way it is understood and intended by the Creator –
and it is His prerogative to define the essence of the contact He establishes
with His rational creature.

Justification comes through Christ, the Son of God,
who initiates this essential contact and gives it,
to a certain extent, the qualities of His contact with the Father.

Therefore, justification is expressed in us as the new esse (being) –
‘esse ad Patrem’ (being towards the Father) (i.e. sanctifying grace),
and the continuation of this personal contact consists in faith, hope and love.

Bishop Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)
Personal diaries November 1962
In God’s Hands

when righteousness perseveres

“Man approaches God most nearly when he is in one sense least like God.
For what can be more unlike than fullness and need, sovereignty and humility,
righteousness and penitence, limitless power and a cry for help?”

C.S. Lewis

“Righteousness acts never in its own interest,
but in the interest of fellow men.”

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

_93137447_58e1e3fe-46b3-4be9-8d86-0c9b82c5045f
(The Rev. Samuel Leighton Green)

Say what you will about battles, conflicts and wars…
…such that there is no such thing as a just war.

And that may very well be true…

For historians still question the necessity of such wars as WWI
yet concede to the fundamental importance and necessity of WWII.

Yet both wars were some of humankind’s bloodiest conflicts…
with each resulting in a catastrophically global loss of life.

While at the same time each war has helped to shape the world, for both good and bad,
as you and I know it today.

And as is the case with history…
importance becomes more real, more relevant and more personal when it is
picked apart and examined individually…
by each single person after person, after person…
for it is in the details of each participant that we begin to see things
more narrowly verses that of a generic and sweeping panoramic view of
the statistical and numerical.

The following link is to a story found on the BBC regarding
the Reverend Samuel Leighton Green.
Green was one of a special group of men who served during the brutal
trench warfare of WWI.

As a member of the clergy, he was exempt from the mandatory draft,
yet volunteered anyway as he knew someone would have to tend to those
“fighting lads” spiritual needs.

Green also felt a moralistic sense of justification to the war’s necessity.

He served with the “blasphemous and foul-mouthed” 1/4th (City of London)
Battalion–the Royal Fusiliers.

Green served alongside this brave group of men throughout the duration of the war.

Green was awarded the Military Cross not once but twice for his bravery under fire.

It would behoove us to uncover more of these stories of such selfless souls…
those brave men and women who remain a part of the “Constant” to which mankind so
clings during the chaotic…

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-37377025

Dear future mom….

Yesterday as I was reading over a few of my favorite blogs, I came across a video clip under the title of “Slouching toward tyranny” on the blog Dover Beach.

My curiosity was piqued as I wondered what slouching, as in drooping, toward tyranny
and a smiling young lady with Down Syndrome had in common with one another.

It was soon very evident what brought these two seemingly polar opposite entities
catastrophically crashing into one another.

I’ll let you click on the brief French Television advert that never was…
before I continue our conversation….

“Slouching toward tyranny.
25 NOVEMBER 2016

“This is how a free people slouch toward tyranny. Here is an excerpt from a Catholic News Agency article. The short commercial mentioned in the article is below.

“On Nov. 10, the French Council of State, a body of the French government, ruled that the short video was inappropriate for broadcast on French television as a commercial.

In a decision upholding the French Broadcasting Council’s earlier ban of the video, the Council of State said it failed to meet the criteria for a public service announcement. In its reasoning, it pointed out that the happiness of the children shown in the video was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.””

If you are like me, after watching this clip, there are probably tears flowing down your cheeks.
Tears of joy and tenderness and hope…
always hope…

I taught high school art for 31 years before retiring 4 years ago.
During the course of three decades, I had the pleasure of working with all kinds of kids.
I taught in a public city school system for my entire tenure.
I worked with every color of kid you can imagine and a myriad of nationalities–
and yes, even illegal immigrants…
I taught kids with all levels of intellect…
those who were considered and tested gifted as well as those kids with both
physical and cognitive disabilities and deficiencies.
All mixed in within one class…
no separation, no division, no segregating, no distinction.
Simply kids…

This is not the first encounter I’ve had in recent weeks with an article or
video clip highlighting Down Syndrome children and the alarmingly and rapidly
growing cultural clamoring over the rising questions of should such pregnancies,
where by various testings an at risk child in utero has been identified,
should that pregnancy be allowed to come to term or should such a pregnancy be terminated,
as in aborted…

Sally Phillips is a British actress and a woman of deep Christian Faith.
She is featured in a documentary on the BBC raising the question about a world without Down Syndrome.

If you do not already know, I am the product of adoption.
I was adopted during a time when abortions, all though preformed were done so very clandestinely.
It was a very taboo back ally sort of affair…so adoption was much more prevalent,
as homes for unwed mothers were numerous.

There are those who would then take that notion and use it as a rallying cry for the legality of such, keeping it from being back ally clandestine.
But I would disagree.
There is no justification for itemized death.

I have very strong feelings about pregnancies and the bigger picture that far transcends
that initial act of sex–
For you see I don’t look at sex as merely sex,
as an act of satisfaction…
but rather always as, depending upon age and health,
the potential act of procreation.

And how our culture has disregarded such an intimate union of two individuals as something as trite,
the fulfilling of the physical, something causal or even wanton is beyond my soul.

And now we enter a new arena—where man enters the realm of God—
deeming who may live and who may not…

I have problems with that.

Shame on the French for deciding not run that advert letting both women and men
know that it’s ok to see the pregnancy of a child with Down Syndrome to completion.
The fact that they felt the showing of such an ad would trouble the conscious of those
women who had opted to “lawfully” abort their babies,
is one more reminder that we have ferried ourselves across the river Styx as we have
left the realm of the living opting to cross the river while embracing the realm of death…

“Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable,”
Pope John Paul II

“Many people are concerned with children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is the greatest destroyer of peace today- abortion which brings people to such blindness.”
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Rejoice

“That like as Christ was raised from the dead…
so we also might walk in newness of life”

Watchman Nee as taken from Romans 6:4

I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done

Psalm 118:17

RSCN2728
(cloudless sulphur butterfly / Julie Cook / 2016)

Rejoice this day…again, I say Rejoice
For you who were captive of both sin and death, have been set free….
forevermore…..

RSCN2725

Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
Acts 13:38-39

Costly Justification

“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

RSCN2711
(flowering quince / Julie Cook / 2016)

‘It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son—“you were bought with a price”(1 Cor 6:20) and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship Vol 4 pp 45

We have honed our craft both you and I….
As we have become that which we justify…

For within each justification lies…
the crime,
the hating,
the sentence,
the lying,
the hurting,
the bombing,
the cheating,
the policy,
the stealing,
the taking,
the death,
and even the murder…

Echoed are the causal observations…
“Twas a crime of passion”
“It was a justifiable homicide”
“It was taken in order that they could eat”
“It was hidden for their own good…”
“It was stolen in order to pay…”

There are…
The interestingly tragic assisted suicides…
The abortions due to untimely pregnancies…
The surreal justifiable shootings…
The acceptable culture of death…
The wars to end all wars…
The nuclear deterrents….

Every human act can be justified into being correct…

It was…
the right decision…
a necessary evil…
the only option…

How quickly it rolls off the tongue, as it slips easily from consciousness.
There is no remorse, no guilt, no real sorrow…
because it was something that had to be…

The justification of and for every action and reaction of mankind…

And yet how does one justify the free offering of ones only child…
In order that others may live…

One word….

Grace….

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—-not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

“Do not repay evil with evil”

“Anger is a brief madness.”
Horace

“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political or other. It consists in deeds not words.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

DSC01223
(a new crop of mockingbirds waiting to hatch / Julie Cook / 2015

Ours is an ever increasing culture of anger.
Where anger begets violence.
While in turn, anger and violence are answered by the lack of personal responsibility.

Turn on the news, read a newspaper, witness it first hand. . .
Road rage as the result from the slight of a thoughtless driver. . .
Rage and violence at the workplace. . .
Unmitigated violence in our schools. . .
Violent eruptions at the mall, the movie theaters, a parking lot. . .
Multiplied by the madness that ensues from the perceived sense of the witnessed injustice. . .
all of which spiral downward into death, murder and pure chaos.

The victims of arrests, or near arrests, or searches gone bad,
which in turn cast entire cities into the descent and abyss of the madness of anarchy.
Communities angry over injustices, lose sight of the issues at hand when mob mentality masks frustration, sadness, disbelief with an ill conceived blanketed notion
to the “right” to loot, steal, destroy, hurt, kill.
With everyone having lost sight of one original death,
which has only begotten an ad infinite chain of violent acts and deaths.

Yet no one wants to address reasons why.
No one wants to take responsibility.
No one really wants the truth.
Everyone prefers pointing fingers.

Everyone shouts. . .
“It’s their fault. . .”
“NO, it’s their fault. . .”
“It’s his fault. . .”
“NO it’s her fault. . .”
“It’s the police’s fault”
“It’s the poor people’s fault”
“It’s the rich people’s fault”
It’s the black people’s fault”
“NO, it’s the white people’s fault”
“It’s the Latino’s fault”
“NO it’s the Asian’s fault”
“It’s the immigrants fault”
“It’s the Government’s fault”
On and on and on it goes. . .

Anger, morphed into violence will only beget more anger and more violence.

All actions, good or bad have consequences, good or bad.
Responsibility must exist for all actions, good and bad. . .otherwise mob rule and anarchy are allowed to fester, breed, and grow.

Yet no one wants to take responsibility for wrongs. . .
it’s wrong to kill
it’s wrong to steal
it’s wrong to beat
it’s wrong to hate
it’s wrong to hit
it’s wrong to loot
it’s wrong to burn
it’s wrong to hurt
and therefore the wrongs are simply left to multiply. . .

Maybe, it’s just everyone’s fault.
Or maybe, it’s the fault of ignorance, prejudice, skepticism, and an inward hatred. . .
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the fault of a lack of faith in our hearts in the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the begotten Son of God and the power in that Resurrection. . .

“Do Not Repay Evil With Evil”
Do not raise your hand to strike.
Do not open your mouth in anger, but remain still.
How can the one who wants to do evil things against you hurt you?
It does not hurt you: it hurts the other person.
Suffering injustice does not hurt the Christian, but doing injustice does.
Indeed, evil can do only one thing to you, namely make you also become evil.
If it does, then it wins.
Therefore, do not repay evil with evil.
If you do, you will not hurt the other person; you will hurt yourself.
You are not in danger when evil happens to you,
but the person who does you wrong is in danger and will suffer from it,
if you do not offer help.
Therefore, for the sake of the other person and your responsibility for that person—
do not repay evil with evil. . .
How does that happen?
Not by our giving nourishment to the other person’s evil,
hate to the other person’s hate,
but by letting evil strike out into empty space and find nothing
that can inflame it.
How can we overcome evil?
By our forgiving it endlessly.
How does that happen?
By seeing enemies as they really are: as people for whom
Christ Died, as people Christ loves.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I Want To Live These Days With You
A year of Daily Devotions
Reading for May 11
taken from Illegale Theologenausbildung: Finkenwalde 1935-1940