late but still very timely–no chaining the word of God

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.
But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do
with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Ok, I admit, I’ve let this one sit a bit too long…as in this was from about two weeks ago…
Hence the story of my life in a nutshell…a day late and many dollars short!!!

I wanted to share something I read…about two weeks ago.

It came from a daily email I receive from the American Catholic Bishop Robert Barron.
The e-mail is actually a small reflection based on the day’s religious reading.
Be it Catholic, Anglican or Episcopal…or other like-minded denominations, we keep a
liturgical based calendar…

This particular calendar is one that reflects the life cycle of the greater Christian body.

And for those of you unfamiliar with liturgical calendars…
in a nutshell from catholicextension.org, here is an explanation:

The liturgical year serves as the Catholic Liturgical Calendar.
(We could insert Episcopal here as well)
It consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons that determine when feast days
and other holy days are observed, and which Scripture and Gospel
readings are used at Mass.

Aside from the readings,
the liturgical calendar also determines the interior decoration of a Church,
the priest’s vestment colors, the timing of spiritual seasons and practices such
as Lent, and much more.

The Liturgical calendar year begins on the first Sunday of Advent.
It is divided into six seasons.
The shortest but most holy season is the three day Sacred Pascal Triduum leading up to Easter.

My church raising, in the Episcopal Chruch, was based on the same line of calendar seasons.
Our services revolve around the seasons that are recognized by the greater Chruch…
Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost…

That being said, each Sunday is recognized as a Sunday within a certain seasonal time…and each
Sunday has its own specific readings from the epistles and Gospel that follow along
with the said season.
(Each day does as well but most folks do not attend Chruch services on a daily basis…)

Ok, so now that we have that straight…

Two weeks ago, that particular day’s reading was from Luke 11:27-28
It’s a reading based on a small exchange between Jesus and a woman who had been in a
crowd listening to him.
In her zeal and excitement, this woman shouts out to Jesus “Blessed is the mother who
gave birth and nursed you”

Jesus heard her words and responded much differently than what the woman may have imagined
“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it”

He was always, as He remains, pulling our sights to the bigger picture…
or more precisely, to the right and correct picture.

We hear him tell us to obey the word of God…for blessed will we be for doing so.

Bishop Barron reflects on this notion of obeying God and thus being blessed
by looking back at a time in history that was more or less a catalyst rather than
being just a single incident.

Since Hitler’s Nazi war machine marched on Polish soil on September 1, 1939
until the fall of that infamous wall in November of 1991,
the Polish people lived under two iron-fisted atheistic regimes …
The Nazis and Communists…fascism, socialism, atheism, authoritarianism, ultranationalism…
you name it–the Poles suffered.
Their Jewish population was almost decimated during the Holocaust.

Poland had been a staunchly Catholic nation almost since its first Christian king in 966.

Yet for over 50 years, Christianity was the bane of two of the
20th century’s bloodiest ruling regimes.

Both the Nazis and Communists worked meticulously to silence the Chruch.

In Germany, the Lutheran Chruch had already capitulated by becoming the official
state-run Chruch. A puppet church of Hitler.

The Chruch in Poland would not fall as easily.

Both regimes outlawed the Chruch, they arrested and murdered priests and nuns,
as well as the pastors of other denominations.
They threatened the faithful with torture and death.
Doors to churches were locked and padlocked.

Yet the faithful remained just that…faithful.
They simply went underground.

This was no more evident than the day the first Polish Pope made
a homecoming visit of sorts on May 8, 1979–
The leader of the global Catholic Chruch visited a bleak and battered Communist nation…
A nation whose leadership was stymied as to stop such a televised and historic trip.

Bishop Barron notes that during the open-air masses attended by the millions of
hungry souls, the crowds would break out chanting, “we want God”

I can remember watching the televised trip.
The people were so hungry for God.
They were determined, they would no longer remian silent.
Because as Bishop Barron reninds us…
“There is no chaning the word of God”

Regimes have all come and gone, each having discoverd what happens when the
people obey that Word regardless of the risk to life…
because be it sooner or later, blessings will indeed eventually follow.

Here is Bishop Barron’s “homily”

Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 11:27-28
As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out,
“Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Friends, our Gospel blesses those who hear the word of God and observe it.
In this regard, I would like to speak about the response of the Polish people to
the word proclaimed by St. John Paul II.
The power of the Polish Communist state, and behind that the power of the Soviet Union,
is what John Paul faced at the beginning of the 1980s.
But he was practiced in the art of facing down oppressive political forces,
having grown up under Nazism and Communism.

He spoke of God, of human rights, of the dignity of the individual—frightening
at every turn, his handlers worried about diplomatic repercussions.
As he spoke, the crowds got bigger and more enthusiastic.
This went beyond mere Polish nationalism.
At one gathering, the millions of people began to chant “We want God! We want God!”
over and over for fifteen minutes.

There was no controlling this power, born of the confidence that God’s love is
more powerful than any of the weapons of the empires of the world,
from crosses to nuclear bombs. This is, of course,
why Communist officialdom tried vehemently to stop John Paul II.
But there is no chaining the Word of God!

Bishop Robert Barron

Of kings and thrones

“When kings the sword of justice first lay down,
They are no kings, though they possess the crown.
Titles are shadows, crowns are empty things,
The good of subjects is the end of kings.”

― Daniel Defoe

“Christ is on the throne.
We are not.”

David Robertson and the Wee Flea

clovis-nuremberg
(Woodcut image of King Clovis I (466-511), ruler who untied all the Franks, was the first
King of France who in turn declared Pairs the capital, as well as being one of the first
pagan rulers to convert to Christianity /
image from the Nuremberg Chronicles 1493)

“Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour
millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead:
even famous prostitutes or gangsters.
For spiritual nature,
like bodily nature, will be served;
deny it food and it will gobble poison.”

― C.S. Lewis

On your knees…

Certain thoughts are prayers.
There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body,
the soul is on its knees.

Victor Hugo

lightstock-60129-man-kneeling-in-prayer-in-the-middle-of-a-rural-road
(image courtesy the web)

“On your knees…”

A command that conjures many an image in one’s mind…depending on your age or experiences….

“On your knees…”

A command often dictated by one who is about to behead or otherwise kill another.

“On your knees…”

A common urban phrase used predominantly by a hip hop culture for the demeaning demand that another,
most often a woman, perform a lewed act.

“On your knees…”

A command given once by kings as they prepared to knight their subjects.

“On you knees…”

Children were once known to learn at their mother’s knee.

“On your knees…”

A sign of submission.
As in someone commanding another to…beg…
Begging for mercy,
or for one’s own life…

Yet for me,
upon my knees…
is the only place I long to be…

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

2 Philippians 2:9-11

What do the wise among us see

“Saruman rose to his feet, and stared at Frodo. There was a strange look in his eyes of mingled wonder and respect and hatred. ‘You have grown, Halfling,’ he said. ‘Yes, you have grown very much. You are wise, and cruel. you have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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(a curious jackdaw watches from the crumbling walls at The Rock of Cahsel, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

What of those wise men…
those sages of days long past…
those perceptive foreign kings who would travel from far far away in search of the sacred, the mysterious, the Divine?

What of those enlightened seers who once possessed a depth of wisdom not afforded to the masses of their time…
Of those scholarly patricians, scientists and astronomers of yore, those who studied both the heavens and the stars hoping to see, to foretell, and to discern those dire or joyful events which were to befall mankind…

I wonder what their thoughts, predictions, and discernments would be for our day and of our time…would they travel day and night all those many miles wandering only hoping to pay homage or rather would they hasten to warn those willing few brave enough to heed their divinations?

Would their concern be of the escalating global warming as they measured various viscous liquids watching the rise and fall of floating objects within a myriad of glass vessels?
Would they gather dirt and seed while measuring the falling rains?
Would the increasing number of tumultuous storms, floods, fires and earthquakes give way to a heightened need of understanding fueling their global quest?
Would their concern be of the climate shift and of the rising ocean temperatures?
What of the mysterious “die offs” of massive numbers of fish, antelopes, star fish, birds…
What would these learned men who sought to understand the balance between health and living make of these new pandemics, epidemics, plagues and unexplained global sicknesses?
What of the melting icecaps, would they even be aware of opposing earthly poles encased in ice and snow?

Would they unroll their brittle parchments and calfskin scrolls plotting and planning while measuring the charted maps of both known land, sea and heavens?
Would their vision be cast upward during a nighttime sky as they pondered the oddity of 4 successive large reddish moons which each oddly took place during a holy day or festival of the Hebrew people?

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(the half moon in the Killarney night sky / Sept 2015 / Julie Cook )

Would they read the words of ancient prophets and prophesies wondering if there were connections and correlations or would they simply pass it all away as coincidence.
Would they yield to the ancient scriptural warnings of things long foretold or would they consider the ancient tomes written by those delusional and crazed?

What of the star, that lone bright and brilliant star which had beckoned them years prior to that tiny Jewish village on the periphery of the expansive Roman Empire…
What of the ancient texts and the cross references of the both sacred and secular…were they but mere conjecture?

What other celestial and earthly signposts and events must appear before the wise and the average both understand?

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(moonlight over Killarney, Ireland / Sept 2015 / Julie Cook

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:6-14

King of the kingdom

The Lord gave the wonderful promise of the free use of His Name with the Father in conjunction with doing His works. The disciple who lives only for Jesus’ work and Kingdom, for His will and honor, will be given the power to appropriate the promise. Anyone grasping the promise only when he wants something very special for himself will be disappointed, because he is making Jesus the servant of his own comfort. But whoever wants to pray the effective prayer of faith because he needs it for the work of the Master will learn it, because he has made himself the servant of his Lord’s interests.”
― Andrew Murray

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(a small bug perched atop the bud of a snapdragon, surveying his kingdom / Julie Cook / 2015)

Who is the servant of your comfort?
Who do you seek when tasked with fulfilling your desires?
What prayer do you pray for your satisfaction?
What is the litany recited for your wants?
Whom do you seek as the king of your kingdom?

What is the name you call when in need?
Who are your followers, your disciples?
To whom do you pay homage?
Do you know the way of the effective prayer?
Who is the Lord of your interests?

What land do you survey and call your own?
To what promises do you cling?
Who’s work is it that you carry out?
From whence comes your salvation?
Whom do you call upon as your kingdom crumbles?

To one and only one is power given.
To one and only one is honor paid.
To one and only one is the title Master granted.
There is one and only one who offers you His hand.
The one true King calls you to His Kingdom.
Will you finally heed His call?

Star of Wonder

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

(refrain from the carol “We Three Kings of Orient Are”

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(three images of the same etched star on an antique weathervane / Julie Cook / 2014)

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:2

Men of science, astronomy, astrology, letters and words, who had studied the heavens, the alignment of the stars and the visible planets, as well as spending countless hours deciphering the venerable manuscripts of days gone by, knew that something seismic was soon set to take place. Something so epic, which was far greater than anything they or any living man had ever seen or studied before, was about to turn the world upside down.

Three very learnéd, dare we say, wise men, most likely from Persia or perhaps even the Far East, were the ancient equivalents of modern day storm chasers. They “saw” that something cosmic and life changing was soon to take place and they wanted more than anything to go directly to the source of this most significant event.
They plotted and planned.
They cross referenced information.
They eventually collaborated and corroborated one another’s findings.
They made educated conclusions.
And the only remaining option was to physically document their findings.

They set out in search of the phenomenon. . .
They most likely traveled individually at first, unaware that others were making the same journey of discovery. Then perhaps along their travels, they eventually meet one another, each in pursuit of the miraculous, welcoming a fellow scholar in search of history.
Each man was determined to “see” with their own eyes the predicted event which they knew, without a doubt, would change life as it was known forever.

They rode for hundreds of miles, day and night, continually looking skyward, checking the alignment of one particular star. It was the brightest of brightest of stars. They also read and reread new and old data, plotted and ciphered over their scrolls and maps, eventually making their way to a far-flung Roman outpost in the province of Judea. They sought out and introduced themselves to the region’s megalomaniac ruler, Herod the Great.

Herod, a man whose only allegiance was to himself, saw in these three foreign wealthy wise kings a potential boon to his greedy power-hungry appetite for they were carrying great wealth as gifts for this prophesied event of which they spoke. Yet as they spoke, it became clear that their vision, their predicted monumental life changing event, was to be but a mere birth.
A birth of a king they proclaimed.
But this was not to be just any king.
This was to be a king of all kings.
Suddenly Herod’s gracious yet sly welcome turned to the defensive as a new threat seemed to be appearing upon his kingdom’s landscape.

He bid these strange foreign kings farewell as they set out on the completion of their journey for they knew that their destination was close at hand. Yet Herod gave instructions for the wise kings to return to his court for a grand celebration following their adventure’s end, as he was anxious to hear all about this newly born king they were to soon meet.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:9-12

And so it was, just as predicted, that the heavens foretold and would lead and direct great men of wealth and wisdom to a desert village and a humble barn, in order to witness not a mere birth of a mere baby, but rather they were to witness a cataclysmic event which reverberated throughout the entire universe.

Wise men sought him.
Wise men who knew enough that it was to this King’s throne who they, great men of wealth and wisdom, were to yield and bow down.
As it takes a wise man to know when he has met one who is much greater than himself.

Snippets of Life through a couple of Psalms

I am like a pelican of the wilderness:

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(pelican in flight, Destin, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

I am like an owl of the wilderness,
like a little owl of the waste places.

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(Vienna Zoo / Schönbrunn Palace / Vienna, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012

I lie awake;
I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.

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(pigeon atop roof of the Old State House / Boston Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014

When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.

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(praying mantis / Julie Cook / 2014)

For I eat ashes as my food
and mingle my drink with tears

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(embers in the BBQ / Julie Cook / 2014)


Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,

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(seal swimming / Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada / Julie Cook / 2012)

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(basking sea lion, Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada / Julie Cook / 2012

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(the tip top of an orca, Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada / Julie Cook / 2012)

lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,

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(Georgia clouds / Julie Cook / 2013)


you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,

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(Watten, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

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(espaliered apple tree, Mondsee, Austria / Julie Cook / 2012)

wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,

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(neighboring Georgia bull / Julie Cook / 2014)

kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,

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(Web image of painting of Henry VIII)

young men and women,
old men and children.

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(homeless man, courtyard of The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(young boy posing for mom’s picture atop the duckings in Boston’s Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014)


Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

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(full moon over Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Jewish and Christian religious groups de
(web image of a rally in support of Israel)

Praise the Lord.

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(happy flowers covering Boston, Massachusetts / Julie Cook / 2014 )