God does not judge as man judges…

“The school of Christ is the school of love.
In the last day, when the general examination takes place …
Love will be the whole syllabus.”

St. Robert Bellarmine


(after the rain/ Julie Cook / 2021)


(after the rain / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Set free from human judgment, we should count as true only what God sees
in us, what he knows, and what he judges.
God does not judge as man does.
Man sees only the countenance, only the exterior.
God penetrates to the depths of our hearts.
God does not change as man does.
His judgment is in no way inconstant.
He is the only one upon whom we should rely.
How happy we are then, and how peaceful!
We are no longer dazzled by appearances, or stirred up by opinions;
we are united to the truth and depend upon it alone.
I am praised, blamed, treated with indifference, disdained, ignored,
or forgotten; none of this can touch me.
I will be no less than I am.
Men and women want to play at being a creator.
They want to give me existence in their opinion,
but this existence that they want to give me is nothingness.
It is an illusion, a shadow, an appearance, that is, at bottom, nothingness.
What is this shadow, always following me, behind me, at my side?
Is it me, or something that belongs to me?
No.
Yet does not this shadow seem to move with me?
No matter: it is not me. So it is with the judgements of men:
they would follow me everywhere, paint me, sketch me,
make me move according to their whim, and, in the end, give me some sort of existence…
but I am disabused of this error.
I am content with a hidden life.
How peaceful it is!
Whether I truly live this Christian life of which St. Paul speaks,
I do not know, nor can I know with certainty. But I hope that I do,
and I trust in God’s goodness to help me.”

Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, p. 99-101
An Excerpt From
Meditations for Lent

Always be busy in spiritual actions…no other action is nearly as important

“Persevere in labors that lead to salvation.
Always be busy in spiritual actions.
In this way, no matter how often the enemy of our souls approaches,
no matter how many times he may try to come near us,
he’ll find our hearts closed and armed against him.”

St. Cyprian of Carthage


(red indian pheasant / Parrot Mt. /Pigeon Forge, TN/ Julie Cook /2020)

“Christ Himself is our mouth through which we speak to the Father,
our eye through which we see the Father, our right hand through which we
offer to the Father.
Without His intercession neither we nor all the saints have anything with God.”

St. Ambrose

All sorts of things are running through our thoughts today.
Some of us are pleased yet hesitant.
Some of us are sad and resentful.

But what we need to remember is that there is One who is so much greater than
all of this mess.

If you’ve been a regular guest here,
then you already know that I am a big fan of the series The Chosen

https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen

It is solely a crowdfunded production.
Since I was afforded the opportunity to watch season 1 due to the giving of someone
who came before me…
I have opted to do the same, I have paid it forward, twice.

Here are just two of the “thank yous” I received…

So on election day…I have found that these types of words transcend the silliness of man…
words of anger, divisiveness, and bickering…all of which cast a pall over the
ways of this world.

So today, the day after, no matter how things turned out for you or me…be it good or bad …
remember, there is One who is so much greater than any of this mess…

Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 NIV

confession of sins and prayer

“O my God, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve to be served,
to give without counting the cost, to fight without fear of being wounded,
to work without seeking rest, and to spend myself without expecting any reward,
but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.
Amen.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)


(fallen fungi / Julie Cook / 20202)

“Whoever confesses his sins…is already working with God.
God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God.
Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear ‘man’ –
this is what God has made; when you hear ‘sinner’ –
this is what man himself has made.
Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made…
When you begin to abhor what you have made,
it is then that your good works are beginning,
since you are accusing yourself of your evil works.
The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works.
You do the truth and come to the light.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1458
An Excerpt From
Catechism of the Catholic Church

it isn’t easy, nor is it ever fair…

“The demand for equality has two sources; one of them is among the noblest,
the other is the basest, of human emotions. The noble source is the desire for fair play.
But the other source is the hatred of superiority.
At the present moment it would be very unrealistic to overlook the importance of the latter.”

C.S. Lewis


(a roped off area where a sea turtle has laid her eggs / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)

Life is hard and it is certainly not always ever fair…

And yet we humans seem to be trying oh so hard to keep things as equitable, even, fair,
as well as level, as far as our conscious demands…

That is until we are stymied…

Stymied not so much by our fellow man or menacing mob, but rather stymied by
the likes of someone much more powerful…that being Mother Nature.

We can scream at one another about fairness, justice, injustice, and unfairness all we want.
We can make other men kneel at our sword and cower to our words and demands.
We can threaten, harass, harangue, and even inflict harm all in the name of making
others bend to our will for a purported notion of justice or fairness.

Yet in the end, it really isn’t any of us who will have the final say.

We had made plans long ago to come down to the Gulf this week…
our plans were long before a string of storms began advancing.
But such is any planned trip to a beach during this time of year.

The Gulf’s latest intruder is named Sally.

Unfortunately, I left my transfer cable for my camera at home so all of my
pictures from my camera will have to wait to be uploaded onto my computer when I get home…
I did, however, manage to get a few pictures using my phone.

This is the time of year when the sea turtles come to shore in order to lay their eggs.

There are beach volunteers who will mark and rope off the areas where a turtle nest
is situated.
Sea turtles, their nests, eggs, as well as hatchlings, are all protected.

Walking the shoreline yesterday evening, only hours before the storm would advance
as it has today causing massive erosion, we saw several roped-off nesting sites.
Some of the sites were far enough away from the battering surf but there was one
directly in the surf.

Poor turtle, I thought, her hard efforts, her nest, her offspring,
will most likely be in vain.

Had the weather been calm, the nesting site would probably have faired well but
I knew given the storm, there would be no site remaining the following day.

This was what we found this morning—a single staub jutting out of the surf
where yesterday there were four well marked and roped staubs.

And as we walked later in the day, as the gulls and plovers roamed what sand
was not underwater, we found a lone egg.
Cracked and dented.

(a lone turtle egg / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so as I ponder Mother Nature…her fickled ways with both life and death–
my prayers are with our neighbors to the West…those who are living in the midst of
hell on earth as wildfires ravage Oregon, Washington, and California—
just as I think and pray for yet another Gulf area that will be hit by yet another hurricane.

We may think we can bend man, or woman, to make him or her do as we please…
but in the end, it will be Mother Nature,
her and her alone, who will always have the final decisive say.

And yet…in actuality,
it just might be what we do in the wake of her decisions that will make the more
lasting difference on humanity…be that for good or be that for bad.

She plays her hand and then we must respond.

Maybe she just wants to divert our attention from ourselves for just a brief respite.

By my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth, mankind,
and the animals that are on the face of the earth, and I give it to whomever I see fit.

Jeremiah 27:5

Update– wee beasties abound

A sly rabbit will have three openings to its den.
Chinese Proverbs


(a nest or den hidden in the pinestraw)


(the fur lining is a clue)


(a wee beastie nestles at the doorway_


(a bestie makes a mad dash)

Yesterday we had a really bad thunderstorm around lunchtime.
Once things cleared, I rushed outside to check on the rabbit den and the tiny little
baby I had met the day prior.

Low and behold, as the sun broke through the clouds, there was
indeed that one familiar little head poking out of its den—
it was my little friend.
Yet I noticed something else.
Nestled around my wee friend’s head, it appeared as if he had company.
There was an additional two to three little backsides—
Making a total of either 3 or 4 wee beasties…I couldn’t quite tell.

I was relieved knowing my wee little friend was not alone.

So now I’m blaming what happened next on my friend Kathy.
“Take more pictures” she implores, “they’re so cute.”

Well after supper I headed out to see if I could indeed snap a picture or two
of the wee clan living under the fire bush.

Crawling on my hands and knees, easing my way to the small opening, I gently reached
toward the little brown bottom sitting at the opening of the den.
Suddenly baby rabbits came barreling out of the hole running every which-a-way.

“What are you doing?! my husband hollers out while watching babies scoot
here,there and yon.

“Stop that one” I yell, as I watch my husband just stand there watching a brown blur
race alongside the rock wall, racing for dear life seeking shelter under
the masive viburnum bush.

“Why didn’t you stop it? I wailed.
“I didn’t want to step on it” he quipped.

Rolling my eyes I began to scrunch and inch my way under the giant viburnum bush…
gently moving the straw, while hoping to get the baby so I could put him back in the nest.

I eventually managed to get one of the babies back in the nest but one remained under the
viburnum bush while the other baby was on the opposite end of the shrubbery bed
under a butterfly bush.

The tiny sparrows hopping about kept looking at me, wondering what in the world was
this latest creature in the yard who was crawling around on all fours.

I searched and searched..and searched in vain.
The missing two babies had seemed to disappear into thin air…or more aptly
disappeared under a mass of straw and spent leaves…perfectly camouflaged.

I will go back out in the morning to check on them.

But oh what a blessing.

God is so gracious…so kind…so thoughtful.

I’ve been so consumed by the latest current events of this world.
Those of our dreadful woes and seemingly guaranteed demise…and yet here is God, granting me
a tiny look into His world…a far cry from the world I am a part of… that of
man’s world…a world full of strife and frustration.

Granted, nature at times can indeed seem cruel and harsh…but for now, I will simply
glory in the Grace I’ve been afforded–that of watching a few wee beasties
learn about life in a world full of bushes and plants… and an odd creature
teetering about on all fours cooing like a nut to a handful of wee beasties.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what
God has done from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Bowing, kneeling…humility, reverence

“Every man’s measurement is determined by his responses
when he is on his knees before God.”

J. Otis Yoder, When You Pray


(a woman worships in silence alone, in a small Florentine chapel in Florence, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

I grew up in a Christian denomination that included a great deal of kneeling throughout its services—
I became quite comfortable early on, being on my knees when I came before God…
be there a cushioned kneeler or a bare floor.

I was also accustomed to solemnly bowing if I ever crossed in front of the altar.
Bowing was a sign of respect and reverence as the church’s cross was center-point above the altar.
I would also genuflect, a slight kneel, before and after entering or exiting my pew.

Reverence and humility offered to and for God—both deeply ingrained in my being long ago.

I carry that same sense of respect and reverence with me to this day.

I humble myself before God.

I do so because I am reminded of Moses coming before the Great I AM, and being told to remove his
sandals because he was standing on Holy ground. (Exodus 3:5)

Each of our houses of worship, consecrated to the Lord, becomes Holy ground.

It is why I will offer myself as a humble servant when entering a House of Christian Worship.
It is why I will kneel in the quiet of solitude when I pray alone, be it at home or
someplace else, whenever I come before the Lord my maker.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand…

Psalm 95:6-7

Yet oddly kneeling and bowing seem to have become quite the hot item as of late.

And it has nothing to do with the worship of God but rather the worship of man.

Last month the in vogue thing was the wearing of masks…
that is now replaced with a demanding that one should kneel or bow…
as a sign of servitude to another human being.

Bowing and or kneeling are now required by the ‘madness mob’ as an act of contrition.
It is demanded by those who deem that you and I are either the wrong skin color
or that we are on the wrong side of their movement—think Seattle and their
new 6 city block zone that is now proclaimed as a “new” independent country
within a country.

I don’t bow or kneel to man.
I bow and kneel to God—plain and simple.

We must respect our fellow man as we strive to serve mankind with our actions and heart…
but our kneeling and bowing…our worship is reserved but for One and for One alone.

During my marriage ceremony, the priest asked that my soon to be husband and myself
would step up to the altar and kneel–this as he proceeded to bless us.

We were kneeling at the altar, before the cross, as a sign
of our respect to God…we knelt, inviting God to please come and be a part of this new journey
that we were about to embark upon….we knelt asking for His blessing of our union–
two becoming one.

I am now deeply perplexed as I watch human beings demanding that other human beings kneel
and bow down before them—and if one does not comply…the result, with the least being ridicule
and the common being bodily harm.

What have we become to one another?

There was a wonderful story this past week about a Georgia State Patrol officer who had
gone to work a protest.
He, as have officers all over our country been told to do, was asked by the crowd to kneel
before them in order to show his contrition and respect.

He stated that he has respect, otherwise he would not have given up vacation time in order to
come oversee a protest in hopes of keeping everyone safe…but that he will only kneel…
to God.

https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/georgia-state-trooper-tells-protesters-in-viral-video-i-only-kneel-for-god

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven,
and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11

to appear before man or God, that is our choice

“He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.”

St. Ambrose


( a quiet January morning / Rosemary Beach / Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God.
Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example,
for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter.
In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived
in remote caves to escape the esteem of men.
The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men,
to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul,
an evil that causes us to forget our God;
it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the
spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God,
we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their
approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.”

St. Alphonsus Liguiori,
p. 128-9
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

read, preach, defend

“The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder…
What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course,
and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection.”
St. Padre Pio


(a willet and a pair of piping plovers in the surf /Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

“For it is our plain duty to preach and defend the truth in a straightforward way.
Those who are to stumble must stumble, rather than the heirs of grace should not hear.
While we offend and alienate one man, we secure another;
if we drive one man further the wrong way, we drive another further the right way.
The cause of truth, the heavenly company of saints, gains on the whole more in one way than in the other.”

Bl. John Henry Newman, p. 25
An Excerpt From
Quotable Newman

when man reaches up towards Heaven…

“Spira, spera.”
(breathe, hope)
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The day we met,
Frozen I held my breath
Right from the start
I knew that I’d found a home for my heart…

I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more…

(Lyrics from Christina Perri A Thousand Years)


(Pieta by Niccola Coustou / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2019)

Notre Dame—Our Lady of Paris

850 years of–

Christianity
faith
religion
spirituality
mysticism
relics

history
ingenuity
construction
architecture
labor
sacrifice

art
sculpture
poetry
prose
music
colored glass

revolution
desecration
coronations
funerals
burials
weddings

bishops
nuns
confessions
monastics
saints
sinners

humanity
bloodshed
loss
wars
peace
victories

humankind
survival
life
death
breath
hope…

Yet for now, there are too many emotions to express regarding this collective sense
of sorrow, grief and loss.

Our frail and feeble earthly attempts to reach upward to God will each eventually perish
while fading to both ash and dust…

and yet…

Our Heavenly Father’s reach, downward to us his children, will remain for eternity…


(detail of Virgin and Child by Antoine Vassé / Norte Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2019)


(detail of the iron work on the main entrance doorway / Norte Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2019)


(detail of the central portal (central enterance) of Notre Dame Cathedral / The Last Judgment, constructed in 1220/
Julie Cook / 2019)


(vaulted ceiling of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2019)


(South Rose Window / 1260 / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook 2019)


(South exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)


(detail of flying buttresses and gargoyles / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)


(detail of bell tower / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2011)


(south view of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)


(Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / 2011)


(Wesrtern facade of the bell tower entrance Notre Dame Cathedral /Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

“He therefore turned to mankind only with regret.
His cathedral was enough for him.
It was peopled with marble figures of kings, saints and bishops who at least
did not laugh in his face and looked at him with only tranquillity and benevolence.
The other statues, those of monsters and demons, had no hatred for him –
he resembled them too closely for that.
It was rather the rest of mankind that they jeered at.
The saints were his friends and blessed him; the monsters were his friends and
kept watch over him.
He would sometimes spend whole hours crouched before one of the statues
in solitary conversation with it.
If anyone came upon him then he would run away like a lover surprised during a serenade.”

Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Conduct of God, conduct of man

“Totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for your love.”
St. Clare of Assisi


(winter shells cast across the surf / Julie Cook/ Rosemary Beach, Fl / 2019)

“Consider not only that God your benefactor is present but also that He acts continuously
in all His creatures.
And for whom is this continual action, this work of God in nature?
For you.
Thus, He lights you by the light of day;
He nourishes you with the productions of the earth;
in a word, He serves you by each one of the creatures that you use;
so that it is true to say that at every moment the bounty,
the wisdom and the power of God are at your service and are exercised in the world for
your wants or pleasures.

This conduct of God toward man should be the model of your conduct toward God.

You see that the presence of God in His creatures is never idle;
it acts incessantly, it preserves, it governs.
Beware, then, of stopping at a sterile contemplation of God present in yourself.
Add action to contemplation; to the sight of the Divine presence add the faithful
accomplishment of the Divine will.”

St. Ignatius, p. 182
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius