not of this world

“We are Christians, and strangers on earth.
Let none of us be frightened; our native land is not in this world.”

St. Augustine


(etching of a Rhinoceros by Albrecht Dürer / 1515 / The Biltmore House/ Julie Cook / 2020)

“Christian life is a retreat.
We are ‘not of this world’,
just as Jesus Christ is ‘not of this world’ (John 17:14).
What is the world? It is, as St. John said, the ‘lust of the flesh’,
that is, sensuality and corruption in our desires and deeds; ‘the lust of the eyes’,
curiosity, avarice, illusion, fascination, error, and folly in the affectation of learning,
and, finally, pride and ambition (1 John 2:16). To these evils of which the world is full,
and which make up its substance, a retreat must be set in opposition.
We need to make ourselves into a desert by a holy detachment.
Christian life is a battle …
We must never cease to fight.
In this battle, St. Paul teaches us to make an eternal abstinence, that is,
to cut ourselves off from the pleasures of the senses and guard our hearts from them…
it was to repair and to expiate the failings of our retreat,
of our battle against temptations, of our abstinence, that Jesus was driven into the desert.
His fast of forty days prefigured the lifelong one that we are to practice by abstaining
from evil deeds and by containing our desires within the limits laid down by the law of God.”

Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, p. 17-18
An Excerpt From
Meditations for Lent

Pride, greatness, nothingness

“if we cannot resemble God in his sovereign independence,
he wishes to resemble us in our humility.”

Meditations for Lent
Jacques-Benigne Bossuet

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(lavender blooming / Julie Cook / 2016)

Promises of greatness
Blinded by pride….
Fall now endlessly into the abyss of nothingness…

Independence caught by humility
Rescued by Grace
Fall into the hands of a Sovereign heart

Man has made himself god through his pride.
God makes himself man through his humility.
Man falsely credits himself with God’s greatness,
and God truly takes on man’s nothingness

Meditations for Lent
Jacques-Benigne Bossuet

Hidden in God… with You…

“God creates out of nothing.
Wonderful you say.
Yes, to be sure, but He does what is still more wonderful:
He makes saints out of sinners.”

Soren Kierkegaard

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(a small spring trickles through the brush / Glendalough National Park, Co Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The world does not know him,
does not wish to know him.

All the earth is covered with his enemies and those who blaspheme him.
Heresies go up in the very bosom of his Church to disfigure his mysteries and doctrine.
Error prevails in the world, and even among his disciples there are some who do not know him,
for no on knows him, he told us, except those who keep his commandments.

And who keeps them?

The impious have multiplied beyond all number; they can no longer be counted.
But your true disciples, O my Savior, how rare are they, how scattered throughout the earth,
and even in your Church!

Scandal mounts, and charity cools.
We seem to be living in the times you predicted:
“When the Son of man comes, will h find faith on earth”
(Luke 18:8)

But you do not thunder; you do not make us feel your might.
Mankind blasphemes with impunity.
Were we to judge according to human standards, we would think nothing more equivocal or dubious than your glory.
It is found only in God, where you are hidden.

And I too wish to be hidden in God with you.

Meditations for Lent
Jaques-Benigne Boussuet
Sophia Institute Press