the night before the storm

“Faith and love are like the blind man’s guides.
They will lead you along a path unknown to you, to the place where God is hidden.”

St. John of the Cross


(the evening sky before the arrival of a tropical storm…no sailors delight…
Julie Cook / 2019)

“Therefore, when God gives spiritual comfort, receive it with thanksgiving,
but know that it is the bounty of God, not thy merit.
Be not puffed up, be not overjoyed, nor vainly presume,
but rather be the more humble for this gift and the more cautious and fearful in all thine actions;
for this hour will pass away and temptation will follow.
When comfort shall be taken away from thee, do not presently despair;
but wait with humility and patience for the heavenly visit,
for God is able to restore thee a greater consolation.
This is no new thing, nor strange to those who have experienced the ways of God:
for the great saints and ancient prophets have often felt this kind of variety.”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 64
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ


(evening sky before a tropical storm arrives / Julie Cook / 2019)

“wash your spirit clean”

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while,
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir


(a close up of a persimmon / Julie Cook / 2019)

Every now and then, we all need to go take a walk in the woods.

Walking away from the crowds, the city, the traffic, the noise, the stress…
Sometimes we even need to take a brief walk away from life…
and the best place to go to…is to the woods.

Allowing ourselves to marvel in the tiniest details of the Master’s hand…


(a small fallen dogwood seed / Julie Cook/ 2019)


(the last blooming “weeds” /Julie Cook / 2019)


(a lovely shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2019)


(deer moss /Julie Cook / 2019)


(more deer moss / Julie Cook / 2019)


(hidden shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2019)


(a fallen acorn / Julie Cook / 2019)

“I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land
so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.

Ezekiel 34:25

The noblest of acts

“Cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton


(the only sign of color this fall / Julie Cook / 2019)

“The true reason for which God bestows so many graces upon the humble is this,
that the humble are faithful to these graces and make good use of them.
They receive them from God and use them in a manner pleasing to God,
giving all the glory to Him, without reserving any for themselves…
It is certainly true that he who is humble is also faithful to God,
because the humble man is also just in giving to all their due, and above all,
in rendering to God the things that are God’s; that is,
in giving Him the glory for all the good that he is,
all the good that he has and for all the good that he does;
as the Venerable Bede says: ‘Whatever good we see in ourselves,
let us ascribe it to God and not to ourselves.’
To give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received and are
continually receiving is an excellent means of exercising humility,
because by thanksgiving we learn to acknowledge the Supreme Giver of
every good.
And for this reason it is necessary for us always to be humble before God.
St. Paul exhorts us to render thanks for all things and at all times:
‘In all things give thanks.’ (1 Thess. 5:18).
‘Giving thanks always for all things.’ (Eph. 5:20).
But that our thanksgiving may be an act of humility it must not only come
from the lips but from the heart, with a firm conviction that all good comes
to us through the infinite mercy of God.”

Rev. Cajetan da Bergamo, p. 87-8
An Excerpt From
Humility Of Heart

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

honey and locust… or would that be grasshoppers?

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth;
and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word,
to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God,
men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”

Pope St. John Paul II


(a locust passing by / Julie Cook / 2015)

Sometimes I just think it would be best if I found some hollowed-out tree, ditched
all the trappings of this life and opted to survive off of honey and locust.

Think John the Baptist.

The voice of the one crying out in the wilderness.
The man who lived in the desert eating only honey and locust while preaching about the
repentance of man…

So in my case, maybe we should make those grasshoppers because grasshoppers are more prevalent
in my neck of the woods.
But if the truth be told, I could easily do honey all day long, grasshoppers, however,
are things that I’m just not so certain about.

But this little reflection is not about eating bugs or living in
a hollowed-out tree—
but rather this post is about ridding oneself of all the trappings of a distracting world.

Giving to God all that I am and all that I have…which is simply me and me alone.

Because isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?
What we’re supposed to be about?

So maybe this IS a post about living in a hollowed-out tree, or in a cave or in a hut
or in the desert…

It’s about giving all and crying out.

It’s much like having a St. Francis moment.

Stripping down naked in the town square, tossing off all the fine clothing given
by one’s well to do parent and opting instead to offer the only thing one truly has that
is his or her own…that being one’s unclad naked self.


(St. Francis’ renunciation of worldly things / Giotto /1295 /Bascillica of San Francesco Assisi, Italy)

Yet Life gets complicated.

Our culture and society have both grown caustically complicated.

We can get so caught up in the minutia of living.
We tend to worry about things that are totally trivial in the grand scope of what is
truly worthy of concern…

We fret over silly little things like matching appliances, buying name brand purses, shoes, and cars.
We want a house in that oh so special neighborhood while putting our kids in the best of the best schools…
We live on our phones, on Facebook, on twitter on Instagram…
We have become the masters of making nothingness into life-altering concerns and thoughts.

The proverbial mountain verses the molehill.

Throw in the daily constant fixation with our toxic political sludge…
and well, we are all living a life of perpetual distraction— and if the truth be told,
it is a life of heaviness and negativity.

What then do we have left to give God?
What remains?

Maybe having a St. Francis moment is in order for us all.
Throwing off the trappings of this world and giving to God what it is at the heart of the matter—
that being ourselves and ourselves alone…
ourselves with nothing covering us or allowing us to hide behind…no distractions.

Just us.

Just us making Him our focus..the focus of what truly only matters.
Because in the end…nothing else in this world does matter…
Everything and everyone will eventually die and or pass away.

So only Him and us…

Creator and created…

“We live in a fallen world.
We must, therefore, work out our destiny under the conditions created by sin.
Did we but realize this truth, we would accept each of life’s trying changes in the same spirit
in which we accept the penance from the confessor.
Were we truly convinced that our hope of pardon, and consequently our salvation,
depends upon repentance, we would willingly undergo all the sufferings of life’s warfare.”

John A. Kane, p. 81
An Excerpt From
How to Make a Good Confession

Exchanging the present for the future

“In everything, whether it is a thing sensed or a thing known,
God Himself is hidden within.”

St. Bonaventure


(self fungus grows on the end of a fallen cut tree/ Julie Cook / 2019)

“What made the holy apostles and martyrs endure fierce agony and bitter torments,
except faith, and especially faith in the resurrection?
What is it that today makes true followers of Christ cast luxuries aside,
leave pleasures behind, and endure difficulties and pain?
It is living faith that expresses itself through love…
It is because of faith that we exchange the present for the future.”

Pope Benedict XIV, p. 205
An Excerpt From
Witness of the Saints

immovable and unswerving

Be one of the small numbers who finds the way to life, and enter by the narrow gate into Heaven.
Take care not to follow the majority and the common herd, so many of whom are lost.
Do not be deceived; there are only two roads: one that leads to life and is narrow;
the other that leads to death and is wide. There is no middle way.”

St. Louis de Montfort


(a late season flitery visits what blooms remain /Julie Cook / 2019)

I admit that I was unfamiliar with both of our guest speakers this morning.

But it was the Dominican monk, the Venerable Louis of Grenada, that drew in my attention,
in part because of his book.
I was rather intrigued by the title of his book written in 1555, The Sinner’s Guide.

While doing a little background research into this centuries-old book, it appears this “guide
has quite the staying power as it has been compared to Thomas à Kempis’ “The Imitation of Christ”

It caught my eye because my name was right there in the title…The “Sinners” Guide.

Because are not all of our names in that title?

Both of our guests today, who offer us their words of wisdom and faith, remind us that
there are no middle paths but rather only two…
a wide path and a very narrow path…and our’s must be the narrow…
the more difficult but the only way.

We are reminded not to follow the majority of the herd as they are actually lost.
Much like the proverbial lemmings racing precariously toward the cliff of demise.

We are told not to put our trust nor hope in this world for it is rife with vanity,
malice, falsehood, and arrogance.

Be wary of false doctrine but rather remain steadfast…immovable with our goodness
unswerving in our faith…

“What is this brightness—with which God fills the soul of the just—but that clear knowledge
of all that is necessary for salvation?
He shows them the beauty of virtue and the deformity of vice.
He reveals to them the vanity of the world, the treasures of grace,
the greatness of eternal glory, and the sweetness of the consolations of the Holy Spirit.
He teaches them to apprehend the goodness of God, the malice of the evil one, the shortness of life,
and the fatal error of those whose hopes are centered in this world alone.
Hence the equanimity of the just.
They are neither puffed up by prosperity nor cast down by adversity.
‘A holy man’, says Solomon, ‘continueth in wisdom as the sun,
but a fool is changed as the moon.’ (Ecclus. 27:12).
Unmoved by the winds of false doctrine, the just man continues steadfast in Christ,
immoveable in charity, unswerving in faith.”

Venerable Louis Of Grenada, p. 135
An Excerpt From
The Sinner’s Guide