evil lurks in a garden…humm…where have I heard that before?

When confronted with two evils,
a man will always choose the most attractive.

Anonymous


(the quince faded and yet in the summer’s dogdays, are now reving back up / Julie Cook / 2020)

With little to no time to tend to the yard as I would normally do this time of year…sadly,
surreally, this time of year has not been like previous times of year…

So having taken out the garbage the other evening, I glanced once again forlornly,
over to the ever-growing leggy quince, the fledgling maple trees,
and some stubborn resprouting crepe myrtles all dotting the back bank…

Disgusted by what I saw…weeds were thriving amongst that which was treasured.

Neglected entirely too long!

Is this not the current story of our lives?

The negative now flourishing amongst that which we hold dear because of our distractions,
our worries, our heaviness…

So I threw the trash in the bin and grabbed my clippers…enough already!!!!

I went over the quince first.

I wanted to hit the high spots…that obnoxious giant poke salat and those
annoying runners from the crepe myrtle that was cut down years ago and those shoots
from the maple trees…
but as I clipped and yanked with the ire and determination of a woman frustrated with
much more than aggravating weeds…something caught my eye…

WHAT???

Hidden amongst the quice was something rather unkind and most unwelcomed.

Poison Ivy.

Or was it worse..was it the dreaded thunder wood?

I had already clipped and pulled, without my gloves mind you, several of these
“pesky” weeds, before realizing these pesky weeds were much more insidious than shoots,
runners or the blooming plants from random dropped seeds by passing birds.

I dropped my bundle of weeds, along with my clippers, practically running inside to immediately
wash my hands.

The next day I saw this:

Okay I thought, I have prescription cream for such…I’ve got this.

The day after that, two more spots on my shoulder.

Okay, more cream.

The day after that, after itching through much of the night, may we now times these
few red blistery spots by at least 100 that now currently cover my entire torso.

The doctor gave me a steroid shot today and a prednisone pack.

Did I mention the 6 or more hot flashes I’m already experiencing throughout the night
due to stopping the HRT?

Itching, hot flashes…
Sleep?!
HA!

Insomnia is my middle name!
Don’t worry about that twitching eye, it’s trained on the madness raging all around us.

Yet in all of this, I was reminded that where we think beauty and peace reside,
where we believe calm and simplicity rest, our ancient nemesis does not sleep.

Remember this as you ponder the current madness ravaging our nation.


(Christ smashing the head of the serpent in the Garden / The Passion of the Christ)

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

Kristallnacht, we will try to live through it…

“Our father took me and my little sister in his arms that night,
and said, ‘this is the beginning of a very difficult time, and we’ll try to live through it’.”

Ruth Winkelmann remembering The Night of Broken Glass


(United States Holocaust Museum)

The greatest gift that all of us can give to our country as patriotic Americans
is to live out our lives as faithful Catholic Americans who have been entrusted
with the fullness of faith and the fullness of divine life and the fullness of power
without which our country will not endure.

Dr. Scott Hahn
from A Father Who Keeps His Promises

I don’t think Dr. Hahn would mind me substituting “faithful Christian American”
in place of “faithful Catholic American—as I think it is a most fitting assertion…
in that, it is a gift that all Believers should be offering—
as in a gift given from ourselves to ourselves and to our fellow countrymen…
those who are Believers as well as to our non-believing kinsmen.

What better example could we the faithful be but that of good and patriotic Americans!
Those who possess humility, kindness, charity, and that of a law-abiding zest for living.
As in, we the people, who have been the entrusted caregivers of this Nation…
a nation founded 244 years ago. We are her stewards.
As that was the legacy and hope of our Founding Fathers.

Yet, in most recent weeks, we have been witness to a life far from that of caring…
a life far from one of stewardship.


(Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House/
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)


(Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG/ Long Beach, California)


(Minnesota protesters topple a statue of Christopher Columbus)

Even our cousins across the great pond have gotten in on the act.

The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is seen defaced, with the words (Churchill) “was a racist” written on it’s base in Parliament Square, central London after a demonstration outside the US Embassy, on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. – Taking a knee, banging drums and ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney to London on Saturday kicked off a weekend of global rallies against racism and police brutality. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)

In fact, most of the countries which make up our 21st-century Western Civilization
have devolved into a disastrous maelstrom of violence and hate.

Last week when I wrote a post lamenting this current reign of madness, a fellow blogger
commented that we are actually experiencing our own Kristallnacht…
the night of broken glass.

I was dumbfounded.
It was as if I had been struck by lightning.
It was a revelation.
And I was amazed at the eerie similarity.

And so for those of you who are unfamiliar with Kristallnacht or for those who do not
know their history…and particularly since this current cultural civil war seems to be
falling woefully short any sort of knowledge of history or the past…
let me share with you a brief look backward.

When one googles “history repeating itself” a myriad of sites pop up dedicated to the notion
that history does indeed repeat itself…no ifs, ands or buts.

Many scholars and historians both believe that this phenomenon takes place after a
4 generational time frame.
Meaning, it takes four generations to see a re-cycle of time and events.

And according to Wikipedia “a generation is
“all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively.”
It can also be described as, “the average period, generally considered to be
about 20–⁠30 years, during which children are born and grow up,
become adults, and begin to have children.”

According to the United States Holocaust Museum,
Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, took place during two nights
in November, the 9th and 10th, of 1938.

1938 is 82 years ago—a division of 4 being 20.5 years

The term ‘night of broken glass’ comes from the fact that the streets of numerous cities
across Germany, those two nights in 1938, were littered with millions of shards of glass coming
from the smashed and shattered windows of storefronts, synagogues, and homes…all properties
of the Jewish population—a result of riots instigated by Nazi Party members
and the Hitler youth.
The Jews were blamed collectively for what was at the time was an apparent
wrongful death.

The violence was instigated primarily by Nazi Party officials and members
of the SA (Sturmabteilungen: commonly known as Storm Troopers) and Hitler Youth.

In its aftermath, German officials announced that Kristallnacht had erupted
as a spontaneous outburst of public sentiment in response to the assassination
of Ernst vom Rath.
Vom Rath was a German embassy official stationed in Paris.
Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, had shot the diplomat on November 7, 1938.
A few days earlier, German authorities had expelled thousands of Jews of Polish citizenship
living in Germany from the Reich; Grynszpan had received news that his parents,
residents in Germany since 1911, were among them.

Grynszpan’s parents and the other expelled Polish Jews were initially denied entry
into their native Poland. They found themselves stranded in a refugee camp near
the town of Zbaszyn in the border region between Poland and Germany.
Already living illegally in Paris himself, a desperate Grynszpan apparently
sought revenge for his family’s precarious circumstances by appearing at the German embassy
and shooting the diplomatic official assigned to assist him.

Vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after the shooting.
The day happened to coincide with the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch,
an important date in the National Socialist calendar. The Nazi Party leadership,
assembled in Munich for the commemoration, chose to use the occasion as a pretext
to launch a night of antisemitic excesses.
Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, a chief instigator of the Kristallnacht pogroms,
suggested to the convened Nazi ‘Old Guard’ that ‘World Jewry’ had conspired to commit
the assassination. He announced that “the Führer has decided that…
demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the Party,
but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.”

Now, let us look at a few similarities…
The “spontaneous” riots in 1938 were the result of the outrage over a wrongful death.

In the case of Germany, it was an assassination of a low-level government official.
In the US it was the death of an unarmed petty criminal.

In both cases, riots were instigated under the pretext of these wrongful deaths.

Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who we know is credited with instigating
Germany’s “riots”, noted that Hitler had called for no organized demonstrations by
Party officials but that if things happened spontaneously…well, then so be it.

The turning of the blind eye.

And so we ask ourselves, how many in our own government raised a voice during the past
month decrying the civil unrest taking place across our nation?
What of those in our media?
What public figures raised their voices crying out that enough is enough?
Other than the President and his inner circle, what elected official has denounced
the violence?

Rather, our media and leadership are siding with and even encouraging the agitators–
they claim that nothing is wrong with the destruction of businesses, livelihoods,
churches, or monuments.

Now whereas some claims have been made that when Hitler came to power,
he defunded and disbanded the German police—
but in actuality, the opposite is the case.
But it was at a dire cost.

The United States Holocaust Museum continues…
Nazi state in fact alleviated many of the frustrations the police experienced
in the Weimar Republic.
The Nazis shielded the police from public criticism by censoring the press.
They ended street fighting by eliminating the Communist threat.
Police manpower was even extended by the incorporation of Nazi paramilitary organizations
as auxiliary policemen.
The Nazis centralized and fully funded the police to better combat criminal gangs
and promote state security.
The Nazi state increased staff and training, and modernized police equipment.
The Nazis offered the police the broadest latitude in arrests, incarceration,
and the treatment of prisoners.
The police moved to take “preventive action,” that is,
to make arrests without the evidence required for a conviction in court and
indeed without court supervision at all.

Conservative policemen were initially satisfied with the results of their cooperation
with the Nazi state.
Crime did indeed go down and the operation of criminal gangs ended.
Order was restored.
But there was a price.
The Nazi state was not a restoration of the imperial tradition.
It was at its core thoroughly racist.
The Nazis took control and transformed the traditional police forces of the Weimar Republic
into an instrument of state repression and, eventually, of genocide.

The Nazi state fused the police with the SS and Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst; SD),
two of the most radical and ideologically committed Nazi organizations.
Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, also became the chief of all German police forces.

But the most egregious capitulation actually came from an unlikely organization—
that being the Chruch.

From the beginning of Nazi rule and the fateful years leading up to them,
Germany’s traditional spiritual and moral leaders failed to speak out against
hateful speech, violence.
After 1933, they failed to speak out against legal measures that progressively
stripped Jews of their rights.
Some church leaders, particularly within the more nationalistic “German Christian”
movement of the Protestant Evangelical Church, enthusiastically supported
the Nazi regime.

Only a small minority of religious leaders, ministers, and priests,
usually in isolated parishes, spoke out against Nazi racism, gave Sunday sermons
decrying the persecution of Germany’s Jews, provided aid, or hid Jews.
Without the support of their leaders and institutions,
voices of dissent had little effect.
Churches in communities across Germany also facilitated the implementation of racial laws
by providing baptismal records,
a proof of non-Jewish descent.

Church responses to the persecution of Jews were shaped by traditional forms of
religious antisemitism with deep roots in Christian history.
Clergy and church leaders were also influenced by larger political and social trends
in Germany after World War I, including rising nationalism and of special importance for the churches,
the fear of “Godless Communism” after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia,
which led to left-wing revolutionary activities in Germany.
Support for the repression of communism and the need to restore Germany’s economy
and status as a world power usually outweighed church leaders’ distaste for the
“un-Christian,” racialized thinking, and “paganism” many of them saw in Nazism.

By the time of Kristallnacht, the violent assault on Jews of November 9-10, 1938,
no church leader of influence spoke out to protest and in this,
they shared the complicity of university, business, and military leaders who were also
silent during events of which many disapproved or had qualms.
By this time, as the orgy of violence and terror of Kristallnacht showed,
it was probably too late. The Nazi regime had total control of public discourse and
spaces and of the tools of repression which became even harsher once war began,
from imprisonment without trial in a concentration camp to execution.

So where I have been going this week with all this talk about callings, vocations,
civil unrest, radicalism, capitulation, Nazi’s, police, The Chruch, the madness???
I’ll tie this all together tomorrow…

lunatics at large!!! Where have all the sane people gone?????

“Sane people did what their neighbors did,
so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.”
George Eliot, Middlemarch


(edvard-munch.org)

About 8 years ago, when I first began this little blog of mine, I posted a little disclaimer …
that being—as a newly retired teacher, I still felt as if I had a few things left
in me to teach..things that still needed to be studied…

Two key components to that need of continuing education were–
A) the history of our Western Civilization and that of her Judaeo Christian bedrock
on which it was built—as well as…
B) the importance of knowing from whence we came in order that we could know where
we were going.

There were also other pressing issues but knowing one’s history,
as well as one’s foundation, were the lynchpins.

And yet we are currently watching our culture throw that proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
All because our oh so woke world cares not about her past but rather only about her
own selfish agenda.

And that my dear students, is what we call ignorance.

Or maybe it’s what we call stupidity.

Or maybe it happens to be both—ignorant stupidity.

Madame Speaker has demanded that all the portraits of all Civil War era
Speakers of the House be removed from public view.
Much like that crazy uncle who needs to be hidden away from the guests during the holidays.

Statues around our Western Civilization…statues of Columbus, Winston Churchill,
and all Confederate leaders are being defaced or toppled.

Rioters are commandeering our cities, claiming swarths of city blocks as new sovereign lands.

Our police have lost all due process and are leaving their posts.

Lawlessness rules supreme.

Face maks are mandated.

Rioters do as they please.

Where is our sanity in the midst of this chaos?

Your history matters people.
It defines you–for better or worse.
We pray that the worse part is what will serve to make you better.
But if you continue to stick your fingers in your ears, ignoring the facts,
then you are bound to the ties of failure.

Let me share an intimate look at history.

When our two-year-old granddaughter comes to visit…in order to
consolidate the hurried pace of getting ready for bed, she and I
will hop in the shower together.

If ever a kid loved water, it is her.
She could stay in a tub or shower all night if possible.
Happily turning into a wrinkled prune.

She will sit on the shower bench telling me to sit beside her,
this as the warm rainfall showerhead gently rains down over our heads.

I’ll scrub her little feet and lather her head as we style
soapy hair into fun and fanciful shapes.

She asks that I cup my hands together, filling my hands full of water so
she can try and take a drink.
She asks that I fill her pink water pitcher full of water so I
can pour it over her head.

I think of us sitting together in this shower, warm and happy…
an intimate setting when everything seems right in the world…
all within our happy little world.

And then I think of a different time…
a time when other women and their children and grandchildren
huddle together, all awkwardly and yet intimately naked, thinking that this
was to be their last sacred time together.

They had been herded into “the showers” ridiculed, naked, and afraid.
Holding tightly together in a final intimate last moment before
the deadly ‘showers’ began.

I am removed from their nightmare by 75 to 80 years.

At this moment, I am happy and feel a deep sense of gratitude to be able to
share in this rather intimate night-time ritual with my granddaughter…

Yet there were other women who would have also relished in such an opportunity…
but rather theirs was to be a final solution to a culture’s perceived problem.

Madness.

Yet madness still prevails.

Learn from your history and your past my dear students.
Do not repeat the same errors of previous “woke” generations.

However, I fear your pride has blinded your eyes and chilled any hope of compassion
from your heart.

Continue on this path and we are all doomed.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar,
and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved,
and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought
you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming
of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved,
and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise
we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

2 Peter 3:10-13

Where is the Love? Where is the kindness?

We are sailboats; our hearts are the sails, and God’s love is the wind.
We are called to receive the love of God and then to make all of our decisions
from out of our communion with Divine Love.

Fr. Scott Traynor


(a hint of fall / Julie Cook / 2019)

I don’t know about you but I’m so over this madness.

Can we, will we, ever get back to just living life side by side?

It is more than apparent that our country is at a stalemate,
unable to move forward on any sort of positive drive toward any
meaningful progress with our woes.
And it’s all because of the reigning mania regarding our President…
as Newt Gingrich says, this is all about the ‘impeachment coup.’

Now throw into the mix a gay Hollywood female actress/ comedian
enjoying an NFL game with a former Republican President of the United States.

She took flack for sitting with him and his wife in their booth at a football game.
She found herself having to defend enjoying her time with the former President.
Her ilk has turned on her.
She is now a traitor.
She enjoyed her time with this former Commander in Chief and in turn, has
had to address her critics.

She told her audience, during her daily talk show, that it’s just a simple matter
of being kind to one another despite having a difference of opinion.

When I saw the clip on the news of her attempt at justification,
I thought to myself…
‘hear, hear Ellen—-kindness indeed!’

But the ire of her ilk has only grown exponentially against her.

They obviously will not tolerate a break in ranks.

She will be a sacrificial lamb for the rabid progressive left.

I admit that I don’t agree with her lifestyle or her choices.
And in turn, I doubt I’d agree with her or her take on politics…
but I do believe in treating all people with kindness…
and so we have a bit of common ground in which to have dialogue.

And have we all not been told…have we all not heard…

Love your neighbor as yourself???

So I ask…Where is the love?
Where is the kindness?
Love and kindness that extends to those who we disagree with?

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

Kindness and love…
what lovely ideas…

Our response to God, loving Him and loving our neighbor for His sake,
always is the result of having generously received His love for us.

Fr. Scott Traynor
from Parish as a School of Prayer

dystopian or reality?

“Friendliness took the place of charity, contentment the place of hope,
and knowledge the place of faith.”

Robert Hugh Benson, Lord of the World


(Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson)

First, read the following intro to a new book I’ve recently learned about, along
with a few of the following reviews—and then we’ll talk…

Oh, but keep this in mind, the book was written in 1907.

What would you do if you were living
at a time when the entire world regarded
Christianity as a dangerous superstition…

When governments ridiculed religion
and exalted the progress of humanity…

And materialism and psychology seemed
to provide for man’s every need?
Can you imagine a world where
faith is replaced by “information,”
hope with “contentment,” and
charity with “friendliness”?

Where politicians are lauded as prophets,
and the greatest politician of them all
is worshipped by the masses as the
Messiah, they’ve been waiting for?

A world where Humanitarianism is the
new “Kingdom of God,” and madness
descends like a fog on the nations?
What would you do if you saw priests, bishops,
and Catholic laity falling under this great delusion
and apostatizing from the Faith in masses?

What would it be like to see everything
and everyone rapidly coalescing into
two distinct yet unequal camps:

…the World and its massive secular power—
and the small flock of Christ’s true Church?
And all the while God
seems distant and silent.

His Church appears to be defeated,
with all hope lost; Rome seems
as vulnerable as a sandcastle
before the crashing tide.

The Church has no men who are
strong enough for the decisive
fight that is approaching.

Except one.

Father Percy Franklin.

On the surface, he is a young, unassuming priest,
but deep down he is a man-made for the times—
like a brilliant general who sees with strategic
and intuitive eyes the powers that are at play.

He rises in the ranks to lead the
Church in its darkest hour.

How will he endure the impending
assault of the world’s combined powers?

All this is the apocalyptic scene
placed before you by novelist
Fr. Robert Hugh Benson.

In this dystopian novel, we can
see prophetic elements of our
present real-world crisis.

“Classic and prophetic work.”
—Joseph Pearce

You will find yourself in a world
that feels hauntingly familiar…

…a world in which there is a magnetic
temptation to apostasy, and even the strong
struggle to keep their faith in Christ.

Author Robert Hugh Benson
will make you ask yourself:

Would my faith in Christ and His Church
remain unshaken if I lived in a world like this?

Robert Hugh Benson was a famous Anglican priest.
His father was the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But he stunned the world when he left the Church
of England and became a devout Catholic priest.

A brilliant author, he was also an astute
observer of the great world powers
that were at work in his day.

He predicted that a modern rise in mass communication
and weapons of mass destruction would culminate in a
future clash of the world against God and His Church.

‘Lord of the World’ is his apocalyptic novel,
written in the years leading up to the Great War—
the war that would bring Our Lady to Fatima—and
he places the reader into a prophetic re-telling
of the Book of Revelation.

“[Robert Hugh Benson] was a magnetic preacher,
an excellent story-teller, a ready writer; he had
enthusiasm and unremitting energy, a rich
imagination… but he knew that there was
only one relationship of absolute
value, that of the soul to God.”

Evelyn Waugh
Author & Convert

“Lord of the World is the right book for Christians
in the modern world—and there may be no
message more critical for our time.”
Most Reverend James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln

“A relevant and readable edition
of a harrowing 1907 novel that,
in places, seems all too
familiar and timely.”
Elizabeth Scalia
Acclaimed Catholic Writer

Ok, so let’s chat a minute.

Firstly, I’m not a big fan of fiction or novels.
I’ve always just preferred more actual, realistic, biographical or historical works.
But that’s not to say that I’ve not read my fair share of both good and bad fictional
tales over the years.

So I’ll admit that my interest was certainly piqued when reading this particular intro–
especially when I read the line
“Would my faith in Christ and His Church
remain unshaken if I lived in a world like this?”

For starters… because you and I need to understand that we are indeed living in such a world
as outlined in this intro of a 1907 dystopian novel.

The troubling thing is that we don’t exactly see or “get” that we are living in such a world.

And secondly, the question asked is a very relevant question for both you and me…
the question being, ‘would, or more likely will, our individual faith in both Christ and the
Christian Chruch remain in such an anti-Christian, anti Chruch, anti-Christ culture?
…Not simply be unshaken, but more correctly, will it actually remain??

Because the reality of this particular fictional tale is not whether or not we are actually
living in the world of this 1907 prelate’s fantasy—bur rather are we living one man’s
fantasy which has in actuality become our very own reality??

And thus the looming question that you and I need to be asking ourselves
is whether or not our faith is holding–
is it fast, firmed and fixed…
or is it simply slipping too quickly through our oh so slippery fingers of doubt?

I ordered the book.

which creature say you?

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(Green darner dragonfly / Julie Cook / 2019)

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says,
‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’
I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.

I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you,
the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.
And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices,
all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or
into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God,
and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God,
and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself.

To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power.
To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness.
Each of us at this moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 92
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

the Holy Spirit is on the move…

“Often, actually very often, God allows his greatest servants,
those who are far advanced in grace,
to make the most humiliating mistakes.
This humbles them in their own eyes and in the eyes of their fellow men.”

St. Louis de Montfort


(detail from an altar’s funerary tomb within the Chruch of Santa Maria sopra Minerva/
Rome, Itlay / Julie Cook / 2018)

On a warm October afternoon as my husband was back in the hotel taking a much
needed and long awaited nap—
I opted to step out into the streets of the madness which is synonymous
with the Eternal city of Roma…
Wandering with a purpose while drinking in both past and present.

Now I will say that ever since I was a wee child,
napping was just something that was never ever on my radar.
Mother would ‘put me down’ for my nap, gently closing the door, as I’d wail in protest…
Once I realized I was pretty much stuck, I would then defiantly stand up on the bed with
little elbows resting on a windowsill as I’d stare out wondering about the world outside.

What was I missing?
I wasn’t sleepy.
Why waste this precious time offered for living by sleeping??

And before all of you nap advocates out there begin to read me the riot act over the
glorious benefits of naps…
with those first protestors being my cats and my husband…
I will simply plead my defense to my odd wiring…
I am simply not a napper.

So on this early October afternoon, I chose not to nap but rather to explore, meandering
the overtly crowded streets near the frenetic sea of tourists milling in and around
the Pantheon in Rome.
And as usual, I found myself drifting off course.
I cut down a side street that gave way to a quieter and much smaller piazza.
The Piazza della Minerva.

Seeking peace amongst the madness.

I quickly realized I was standing outside of the Dominican Chruch of
Santa Maria sopra Minerva, or rather known to English speakers as
Saint Mary above Minerva—
The name is due to the fact that a Christian Chruch was built over an early temple
dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis, or rather the Latinized version being
that of Minerva.

Nothing gives me a greater sense of peace when I’m visiting a large frantic historic city
then finding a hidden, off the radar, church…be it big or small…

Ode to the sacred that beckons me to come in…
Coming in to marvel,
to rest,
to wonder
to ponder,
to think,
to pray…

I am drawn in to such places like an iron ball is drawn to a magnet.
With my eyes open wide, usually adjusting to the dim flickering candlelight,
as my head tilts upward, all the while I try to find my balance as I take in the size
and scope of what it is I’ve been drawn in to.

I allow myself to bask in the utter majesty or rest in the pure simplicity of our
Christian roots.

Such was the case in this ancient gothic church constructed in 1320.

I’ll share more about this visit later as there is a beautiful statue of the risen Christ,
flanking the main altar, carved by Michelangelo…along with the beautiful frescoed altar
paintings by Filippino Lippi
(you remember I was an art teacher right??)

I reverently wandered in this cavernous church while the footsteps of both myself
and those who had also come inside..those who were both curious as well as seeking,
echoed throughout the massive sanctuary.

I stopped before each niche and each chapel, studying and soaking in what I saw.
Soaking in the stories, the emotions, the glory, and even the sorrow offered
to those who take the time to look, read, ponder and imagine.

When suddenly I found myself gazing upon what
appeared to be a large collection of various polished white marble statues.

It was actually more like one particular statue that was just one piece of a much larger
carved funerary tomb which held my gaze steadfast.

There were several statues of women and angels.
Large and imposing, they made me feel very small…both physically as well as metaphorically.

One figure, that of a woman who I initially assumed to be Mary, turned her body away from
the viewers, as well as from her fellow statues.

She was covering her face, turning her body, in what appeared to be a
state of anguish or perhaps even shame…
All the while, a small cherub, also known as putti, looked directly at her in a most knowing
and penetrating fashion.

What did he know about this woman?
What had happened?

Yet rather than being a statute of Mary, this woman was actually a portrayal of Justice…
And rather than being a typical blindfolded image of a woman, as Justice is usually depicted,
this statue, designed by Bernini, was portrayed as a woman who seemed consumed by grief.

There were suddenly a thousand thoughts racing through my mind as I gazed up at this somewhat
painfilled moment of time.
A moment that should have otherwise been private, was here on display for all to see.

No hiding her grief.
No mourning and crying privately.
The putti knew…and now I knew.

But what did I know?

I felt compelled to offer, albeit in some distant fashion, comfort.
I could feel the weight of her pain.
But why?
I had no idea.

Fast forwarding to yesterday morning, I was reading my morning devotions when I came to
the following excerpt from Father Jacques Philippe.
I had a similar reaction to his words as I did to that statue…
there was a sense of the deep weight of both pain and understanding.

Like I say, we will come back to take a deeper and wider look into the beauty and mystery
of Santa Maria sopra Minerva but for now…
The Holy Spirit is busy…
this much I do know…

“When uncertain about God’s will, it is very important that we tell ourselves:
‘Even if there are aspects of God’s will that escape me,
there are always others that I know for sure and can invest in without any risk,
knowing that this investment always pays dividends.’
These certainties include fulfilling the duties of our state in life and practicing
the essential points of every Christian vocation.
There is a defect here that needs to be recognized and avoided:
finding ourselves in darkness about God’s will on an important question . . .
we spend so much time searching and doubting or getting discouraged,
that we neglect things that are God’s will for us every day,
like being faithful to prayer, maintaining trust in God, loving the people around us here and now.
Lacking answers about the future,
we should prepare to receive them by living today to the full.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 55
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

pet rocks

Rocks and waters, etc., are words of God, and so are men.
We all flow from one fountain Soul.
All are expressions of one Love.

John Muir

I suppose we all think the eras in which we grew up were the craziest of times…
but I really think the mid 60’s through the late 70’s most likely will take the
cake in the annals of time…
that or those of the roaring 20’s

Thankfully I was too young to be a hippie…
So the craziness which was known as the time of love-ins, Woodstock, the summer of love,
bra burning, sit-ins, Woman-power, Black Power, and those days of the psychedelic high were,
thankfully, not pieces to my raising.

Yet I remember it all most vividly as I was an impressionable preteen during those
early days.

And those early days were truly heady days…
they were wild, weird and full of fads…
Bellbottoms, birth control, peace signs, smiley faces…and…pet rocks.

I can remember wanting a pet rock.

By the time Pet Rocks became popular,
I was driving, babysitting and making my own spending money.
So blowing hard earned money on a rock touted as a pet…well I suppose it wouldn’t be
my last endeavor into wasted folly…

As I write this, I vaguely recall the Tamagotchi craze of my son’s childhood—
at least a digital pet was a bit more interactive, or should we say demanding,
than a rock…but I digress.

Imagine a rock being marketed as a pet.
Let that sink in…
A rock.. a hard inanimate wad of some sort of mineral or other sundry substance…
being marketed as something to be cared for, held and loved…

And imagine it coming with its own vented carrying case and little straw bed.

The only positive, you didn’t have to feed, water, or clean out it’s “cage.”

Genius or madness??
Perhaps we should consider the millionaire…

Pet Rock is a collectible conceived in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl.
Pet Rocks are smooth stones from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach.
They were marketed as live pets, in custom cardboard boxes,
complete with straw and breathing holes.
The fad lasted about six months,
ending after a short increase in sales during the Christmas season of December 1975.
Although by February 1976 they were discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold 1.5 million
Pet Rocks for $4 each, and became a millionaire.

Wikipedia

Anywhooo…since I’ve mentioned several times, in oh so many days, the notion of the
singing rocks of which Mark reminded us of the other day…
I suppose its only natural that the memory of pet rocks pops into mind…

For I am still left marveling at the thought of rocks singing…
singing because God would command such.

The thought which leaves me both marveling and utterly humbled by the thought of God,
the magnificent Creator of all that was, is and will be, never allowing His praise
to be silenced.

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:39-40

I read those words and I am made small…
and it is because I am small as compared to all of Creation
that yet I know not a single hair on my head falls without God’s knowledge.
And trust me, with a bad thyroid, hair falls…
Yet not a single hair falls without Him seeing and knowing…for He has counted each hair,
He knows each hair…

I read those words and I am silenced because I am small…
Because I am the created and He is the Creator…

Yet others will read those words and won’t even blink an eye…they won’t flinch and some
will even find such words folly and fantasy…

What is it that makes me stop and actually shutter over such words while others
are left empty or even chuckling??

When you heard the message of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him,
you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession,
to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

Meat and potatoes

One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in
the same pattern, but in different colors.

Robert Graves


(the red snapper at Bud and Alley’s Seaside Beach, Fl / Julie Cook)

Ok, I admit….this is a picture of a fish with potatoes and not a steak.
as in “meat and potatoes”

I did have a lovely picture of a prime rib roast which I had cooked a while back,
but the fish seemed a bit less red and well, meaty…as I know there are those
out there who just really are opposed to “red” meat….despite my knowing there are
those who will grouse over the whole well, whole fish…meaning head and eyes….
but we digress….

I’ve stated before, I’ve always been a meat and potatoes sort of girl.
Be that meat…fowl, pig, lamb, fish or cow…..

Yet today’s post is not about food…meat or starch…
but is a post that we might just call more of a hearty dose of the
Word of God….being sustenance for the soul verses the food for the stomach.
As in getting down to the heart of the matter….

And now that the dust has somewhat settled…as the snows are now melting…
life is settling back into its normal madness of Christmas….
sans any of the distracting, as well as debilitating, white stuff.

Power is now restored.
Limbs are now cut up and stacked.
Cars have been moved to where they belong….
As schools resume to normal schedules today.

So in the madness since late last week, when the snows did begin to fall,
I was literally pulled away from much of my reading and study as my duties
were needed immediately elsewhere—
And I was particularly pulled away from my reading and focusing on the teachings
of those 3 favorite clerics of mine…

And what a delightful hodge podge of spirituality they are—

A renegade Anglican priest, a reformed Presbyterian minister and a Catholic monk…

And may it be known that whereas each one of these men may seem,
from all outward appearances to be vastly different,
when all the pretense of what the world perceives of them is
peeled away, they along with their messages, are but one in the same.

And I for one delight in that.

In my distraction with the snow and writing about such…there has been so much
that has actually taken place that needs not only my attention but yours as well….

Jerusalem is being recognized by the US, at long last, as the capital of Israel…
much to the chagrin of most of the world as well as by many actually in the US
itself.

The Pope, much like our US President, has boldly and perhaps blindly, ventured
to where he may not should have trod, by declaring that the Lords’ Prayer
needs an overhaul….see the perspiration beads forming at my brow….

Sexual harassment continues to prevail in our headlines as it appears to have crept
into the fold….

And my friend who I made mention of the other day…
the one whose family business my family had frequented for the past 25 years or so,
lost her earthly battle early Friday morning.
During the last time we had a chance to chat, which was just a couple of weeks ago,
I noticed that my friend was rather sad and weepy.
I asked what was troubling her….and this 78 year old friend looks me in the eye
and tells me “I miss my momma”—- as I look back at her,
telling her how I understand because I miss mine as well—of which she knew….
So I am uplifted in knowing that both her son and daughter were by her side
when she gave up the earthly ghost and headed on home to be with her mom…

All of this, along with all the other tit for tat that has been happening in what seems
to be my snow encrusted writing absence, will each be addressed in due time…..

But first I wanted to return our focus to Advent.

Because isn’t that what our focus should currently be about?
Advent.
As in The Coming….

I spent some time this morning listening to the 2nd Sunday in Advent’s homily
offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden…I was a day late and a dollar short,
but none the less, blessed.
12 delightful minutes of good meat and potatoes for the soul.

The good bishop reminds us that Advent is a time for making space in our hearts,
more space for Jesus.

He tells us that this is the time that we are to be about repentance…
in order to make sacred space available.

Bishop Ashenden focused on the reading of the day which was taken from the Gospel of
St Mark (Mark 1:1-8) in which there is a good description of John the Baptizer…
a man wearing simple garments and who is sustained by eating wild honey and locust.

The good Bishop admits to having always been a bit perplexed as the why
the locust eating would be so important as to be included in the text….
but a Greek friend noted that the true translation in Greek, as only Greeks would understand it to be, was not that of an insect but rather actually a type of flower—
of which seemed to make much more sense.

So we get the complete picture of John…that he was a simple man,
living off and being sustained by the land.
Not the crazy loner off in the desert howling by the moon at night as he
has often been portrayed—perhaps more mad than wise.

And so as we note–John was very simple—
in turn bound by no worldly trappings what so ever ….

John both proclaimed as well as accused those of his day of having
lives way too full—
and that the time had come to make the choice…

The choice being between holding on to that which gets in the way of God or
to choose to move out and get rid of that which gets in the way…
getting rid of that which is separating ourselves from God and God alone.

Very much what we see society and our culture forcing upon us today—
Especially and particularly this time of year!

Our lives, particularly during Christmas, are so chocked full that we are
practically to our breaking point.

We are so full and overwhelmed with all that must be done to
make the “holidays” just so special, magical and wonderful…
on top of already busy lives with school and work….
that we are actually crowding out Jesus.

Crowding Him out from the very time He is to actually be at the center of
our focus.

Bishop Ashenden notes that John’s message of Metanoia, or that of our total change
and or transformation, is so important because it calls us to a new way of examining
things….

Yet at the same time the good Bishop admonishes us that…dare we say,
there is a spirit of evil actually at work, at this very moment, particularly now…
during this time of year that we are being called…called by God.
It is all so totally opposite of the call of the Holy Spirit.

For there is a force working to counter that call…
countering with the distractions and demands we actually throw upon ourselves
particularly at this time of year.

Shopping, church pageants, visits to Santa, picture taking, card writing and sending,
choir practice, school plays, sporting events, making costumes, wrapping gifts,
sorting, cooking, parties, cleaning, traveling…
all of this on top of the already endless demands of both work and school—
All of this becomes the priority while the true essence of Christ is pushed further
aside.

We fight to pretend and convince ourselves otherwise—
we rationalize that we are doing what we are doing because IT IS Christmas…
yet none of it has one single thing to do truly with Christmas—
or Christ Mass…

None of this is to be about lifestyle and clutter but about having the presence
of God at our forefront…as Bishop Ashenden pointedly asks…
“how much time then do you allot for prayer, the reading of scripture,
and loving the Lord?”…especially now during this chaotic time?

I found that I had to really look at what he was saying…
I had to look closely at what gets pushed aside…looking at what is then
actually pushing its way into being the priority….a false priortiy.
The priorities that society makes of us during this season…

Our culture clamors that we are to be all inclusive…and non discriminatory—
but should we not be exclusive and discriminatory over that which is demanding
to be the forefront of our focus—-all of which is not the true essence of Christ
nor of Christ Himself….

Really???

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot,
and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

George Carlin


(as seen while I was driving to the grocery store / Julie Cook / 2017)

People crack me up…
well….
let me correct that….
I admit… I’ve actually been known to also crack myself up…

But today it wasn’t me, it was people…as in the random people out on the road.

If you’re anything like me,
especially now during the start of this season known more for
its madness than for anything truly Holy, religious, spiritual or even grateful….
you’re in your car a lot—driving.

Driving to visit, driving to work, driving to shop—
driving wherever it is you drive.
As in you just seem to be driving more than perhaps you normally would…
In part because during “this” season it’s when we seem to need to go more places,
do more things and see more sights than we normally would or do…
it’s just what we do.

So early this morning as I made a dash to the store, I was stopped at a red light,
behind the car whose image is inserted above.

I usually enjoy reading the stickers folks put on their cars.
Entertaining mindlessness as one sits held captive.

Of course if the stickers are foul or profane,
of which I have seen plenty of stickers that are offensive in one way or another….
I’m none too amused…
and actually if the truth be told,
offended by the thoughtlessness of the more selfish among us….

Yet generally speaking, the stickers provide a bit of cheap entertainment, idle mind filler, thought-provoking wonderment, contemplation or even an audible “amen” …
this as I waste the 4 to 5 minutes of life sitting at red lights or hours stuck
in stop and go traffic.

I’ve always said you could tell almost everything about a driver
from the stickers on their car—-

Whether or not they are young or old,
male or female,
Southern or not,
a fan of a particular college,
a veteran,
a republican,
a democrat,
a member of the green party,
a member of PETA,
a music fan,
a former POW,
a Purple Heart recipient,
a school supporter,
a proud parent or grandparent,
a Christian,
an Atheist,
a Gay,
a dog lover,
a cat lover,
an adopting parent,
a Humane Society supporter,
a relative of or an actual cancer survivor…
whether or not they are athletic,
whether they are into sports,
whether they love electrical linemen,
whether they live on a farm,
whether they drink beer–and usually which brand….
whether they love adventure,
love to hike,
love to bike,
simply love,
simply hate,
whether they are a doctor,
a nurse,
a teacher,
a boy scout,
a girl scout,
an Eagle scout,
a Starwars fan,
and even a guess as to their name as their initials are actually monogramed on
their car’s window—-kind of like a throwback sweater but not.

It gives a good bit of insight into who it is driving the nearly 4000 pound vehicle
in front of you….a friend or foe sort of vibe.

So imagine my curiosity when I actually focused and read the sticker on the car
in front of me this morning.

Now I’ve seen stickers that warn that ‘in case of rapture this car will be driving
dangerously and erratically, all by itself,
so everyone left in their cars need to watch out’—
or what about those stickers that state that God is the driver’s co-pilot…
I think I’d rather prefer that to read, ‘God is the pilot,
I’m just along for the ride’….

But Zombie Response Squad??? Really???

Was I to assume that there was an actual zombie rescue person in the car
in front of me?
What exactly does that mean their responsibility will be in case of an attack?
Was I to find some sort of comfort in knowing that little fact of their
expertise in all things zombie?

This as I remember there’s actually a truck here in town, riding around with
some sort of machine gun, real or not I do not know,
mounted in the bed of the truck with signs posted on either side of the truck–
“Zombie Assault Vehicle”.
As I begin to wonder what sort of town do I actually live in……

Nervously I look up and down the road…left then right…
They eat brains right???

As in do people really think Zombies are going to attack?
That Zombies are actually real?
That Senoia, Georgia’s claim to fame…The Walking Dead are actually alive and…ummm…dead and questionably well down in that small southern town?

Is that why we hear tales of preppers?
Is that why we hear tales of those militia who are hiding out in the mountains
and woods?

Is there something going on that I don’t know about during this season of
all things mad and crazy??
Maybe that’s why it’s called “black Friday”…
it’s a Government coverup because it’s really about some sort of Zombie apocalypse…

This as I just read another story that someone out there is certain the whole moon
landing was faked….

Well, it tis the season…. or so they say…
and remember…I think I read that Zombies like fruit cake…
So best to leave those ubiquitous seasonal goodies now hitting the grocery store shelves
out on the lawn….just to be on the safe side….

May you and your family have a joyful, grateful and even a bit of the humorous
Thanksgiving eve—- 🙂

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11