king for a day or king for life—it’s a choice

“It is better to be a child of God than king of the whole world!”
St. Aloysius Gonzaga

“It is necessary to have an absolutely sure intention in all our actions,
so that the generous fulfillment of our daily duties may be directed
toward the highest supernatural ideal. Thus, our life, apart from moments of prayer,
will be a prayerful life. It is clear that the habit of giving an upward glance
to God at the moment of action is a great assistance in aiding us to
behave always with a pure intention and in freeing us from our natural impulses
and fancies, so, that, retaining our self-mastery, or rather,
God becoming the sole Master, all our movements become dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
We see in the Gospel that whenever our Lord was about to undertake some important step,
He always paused for a moment to raise His eyes to Heaven,
and only after this moment of recollection did He take up the work He had to do.
‘He lifted up His eyes to Heaven’ is a phrase that recurs with significant frequency.
And doubtless, when there was no outward sign of this prayer,
there was the inward offering. The ideal is the same for us.
The constant subjection of self to the guidance of the Holy Spirit
is made easier from the fact of His presence in the soul,
where He is asked explicitly to preside over all our doings…
We shall not submit wholeheartedly to the invisible Guest unless
He is kept in close proximity to us.”

Raoul Plus, S.J., p. 37-8
An Excerpt From
How to Pray Always

where you can find all the answers

“Only in Christ can men and women find answers to the ultimate questions
that trouble them.
Only in Christ can they fully understand their dignity as persons created
and loved by God.”

Pope St. John Paul II


(shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2020)

“There is nothing to be dreaded in human ills except sin—not poverty,
or disease, or insult, or ill-treatment, or dishonor, or death,
which people call the worst of evils. To those who love spiritual wisdom,
these things are only the names of disasters, names that have no substance.
No, the true disaster is to offend God, to do anything that displeases him.”

St. John Chrysostom, p. 334
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

finding God in all sorts of places…

“We must always remember that God does everything well,
although we may not see the reason of what He does.”

St. Philip Neri


(part of a bilboard is visable from where we parked for a pick up order from Longhorn’s / Julie Cook / 2020)

We had worked all day in our attic…sorting the boxes and plastic tubs of our younger lives.
What to keep, what to toss.

The art of a toddler, the 1950 bank files of my dad, my mom’s 70’s stylish readers,
my dad’s 1930’s coloring books, my husband’s father’s WWII pictures…
Yet the dust and decay took a toll on my sinuses–just like like white on rice…
oh wait, is that colloquialism considered passe PC in this culture of ours???

Anywhoo…

After a full day’s work, we opted to order supper to go from our local Longhorn.

When we pulled into the parking lot, finding a parking spot, I couldn’t help but
notice a rather prominent portion of the billboard hiding just behind the neighboring McDonalds.

The word GOD drew in my attention.
I wonder, had others noticed the same sign, the same word?

Our life is a gift and a giving to others; therefore it is joy at a profound level.
Anyone who seriously makes this idea his own and begins to practice it will find it to be true;
he will discover that the will to live it out, that is, to accept everything as a gift from God,
can transform our life right down to its roots.

Hans Urs von Balthasar
from You Crown the Year with Your Goodness

summoned to live…

Amid all the fear that characterizes our time,
we Christians are summoned to live in joy and communicate joy—
joy in spite of fear, joy in the midst of fear.

Hans Urs von Balthasar
from You Crown the Year with Your Goodness


(December sunset in Georgia 2013 / Julie Cook)

“Prayers are God-filled words in which our love and God’s love are joined.
That love embraces the people for whom we are praying,
and love always changes people and situations.
This doesn’t mean that we will always get what we want,
but Jesus does promise that we will get what we need.”

Rev. Jude Winkler, OFM, p. 14
An Except From
Daily Meditations with the Holy Spirit

East to West, West to East…and a very Merry Christmas to all!

The journey of the wise men took them from the east to the west…
and that’s the journey that Christianity took.
It started in Israel and it moves to Rome, the capital of the world.

Dr. Edmund Mazza
from Rediscovering Christmas


(ode to my world / Julie Cook / 2020)

Is that a bunch of presents, all tied up with a bow?
Oh.
No.
No, it’s not.
Wait, where’s the tree???
Is there a tree??

Yes, it’s in the basement, ready to be loaded on a truck.

What you’re seeing is just a small snippet of boxes and bubble wrapped pieces all
from a home ready for moving.

Who moves during a pandemic?
Obviously, we do.

This will be our last Christmas in a house that has witnessed 21 of our 37 Christmases.
Yet we’re off to see the Mayor and Sherrif for Christmas…so the cats will have to
carry on Christmas day without us.

The catnip is locked up!

The quote I used today by Dr. Mazza is somewhat technically true.
Things did seem to travel from east to west.

I somehow think that our Orthodox brethren might be able to agree on that eastern part—
as when we think of the east…we think ‘Eastern’ Orthodox…
However, they might dispute that notion of Rome being the capital of the world as
that capital kind of moved, at some point in ancient time, to Constantinople
(modern-day Istanbul)–

And of course it did sort of move back Rome’s way before it began heading off west again, spiraling, splintering and dividing– but I digress…
So we’ll just leave that footnote to be argued by the theologians and historians.

And so here I am in the west, preparing to move to the east.
Perhaps a bit backward…however by going east, I might just be heading back homeward.

Things are beginning to look barren and sparse.

Before:

After:

So as I live amongst the boxes and now travel over to share a magical time with both
the Mayor and Sheriff–
just know that I wish each of you a joyous, safe, healthy, and blessed Christmas!!!

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be
taken of the entire Roman world.
(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria).
And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary,
who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby,
who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread
the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things
they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Luke 2:1-20

no coincidence, no accidents…only Masterful order in perseverance

“And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck,
but everything by God’s wise providence …
for matters that have been in God’s foreseeing wisdom,
since before time began, befall us suddenly, all unawares;
and so in our blindness and ignorance, we say that this is accident or luck,
but to our Lord God, it is not so.”

St. Juliana of Norwich


(the odd clouds on a chilly late December Saturday afternoon / Julie Cook /2020)

“Many of the saints tell us that these times of God-ordained ‘desolation’
or dryness are very important times of growth if we persevere through them
by exercising a deeper faith, hope, and love. It is particularly important,
they tell us, not to give up our spiritual practices but to remain faithful.
God in His wisdom knows how long and how deeply we must be tried in order
to come closer to Him, and we should patiently trust Him during the
trial while persevering in our practices.”

Ralph Martin, p.174
An Excerpt From,
Fulfillment of all Desire


(a chilly puffy afternoon / Julie Cook / 2020)

culling memories

What is a man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness
of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man.
All things are connected.
This we know.
Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.
Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Chief Seattle


(purging a now 32 year old son’s baby clothes)

Spending today in the attic, sorting, and yes purging boxes of clothes that
should have been purged long ago…
this mother of an only child, who is trying to part with each and everything that was worn or played
with by this only child, was finding it painfully difficult.
Pulling out each piece of small, often stained, clothing…
past moments frozen in time, came racing viscerally back to the forefront of
my heart’s consciousness.

The small flannel footed pj’s worn by a young boy who was afraid of the night–
stealing himself from his own bed, standing silently by his mother on her side of her bed
waiting until she finally opened her eyes in order to lift the young boy,
placing him in a place of safety…nestled between his sleeping dad and now wide awake mom.

Night after night for nearly four years, this young boy was fearful…
until his grandfather bought him bunkbeds.

Found was a Christening outfit, a first Christmas onesie, a first Easter two piece,
a pair of Teenage mutant Nija Turtle sandals worn as part of an early Halloween costume…
the crochet teddy bear onesie…

Pieces of 30 some odd years ago that seem just like yesterday.

Sigh.

Maybe it’s this year, this surreal year of 2020…
Maybe it’s the packing up and moving one’s life after so many years.
Maybe it’s the time of year of all things Advent and Christmas.

A watchful time…a time of waiting for what is coming.

So much is coming.

Are we ready?
Are you ready?

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.
The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.
Another book was opened, which is the book of life.
The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
The sea gave up the dead that were in it,
and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was
judged according to what they had done.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.
The lake of fire is the second death.
Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown
into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15

a magnitude of grace

“To use this life well is the pathway through death to everlasting life.”
St. John Almond


(Methodist Chruch, Cades Cove /The Great Smokey Mt.s National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Even if you do not confess, God is not ignorant of the deed,
since he knew it before it was committed.
Why then do you not speak of it?
Does the transgression become heavier by the confession?
No, it becomes lighter and less troublesome.
And this is why he wants you to confess:
not that you should be punished, but that you should be forgiven;
not that he may learn your sin—how could that be, since he has seen it?—
but that you may learn what favor he bestows.
He wishes you to learn the greatness of his grace,
so that you may praise him perfectly, that you may be slower to sin,
that you may be quicker to virtue.
And if you do not confess the greatness of the need,
you will not understand the enormous magnitude of his grace.”

St. John Chrysostom, p. 255
An Excerpt From
A Year with Church Fathers

fall in love…

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance;
to seek Him the greatest adventure;
to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”

St. Augustine of Hippo


(an old handmade Christimas ornament from 1965 / Julie Cook, 2014)

“They who are bent on sensible sweetness, labor also under another very great imperfection:
excessive weakness and remissness on the rugged road of the cross;
for the soul that is given to sweetness naturally sets its face against
all the pain of self-denial.
They labor under many other imperfections, which have their origin here,
of which our Lord will heal them in due time, through temptations,
aridities** and trials, elements of the dark night.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 28
An Excerpt From
Dark Night of the Soul

**Aridity– ascetical theology…a state of a soul devoid of sensible consolation,
which makes it very difficult to pray

bloom more beautifully

“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

Isaiah 35:10


(a former rose bush / Julie Cook / 2013)

“Strong passions are the precious raw material of sanctity.
Individuals who have carried their sinning to extremes
should not despair or say,
‘I am too great a sinner to change,’ or ‘God would not want me.’
God will take anyone who is willing to love, not with an occasional gesture,
but with a ‘passionless passion,’ a ‘wild tranquility’.
A sinner, unrepentant, cannot love God, any more than someone on dry land can swim;
but as soon as a person takes his errant energies to God and asks for their redirection,
he will become happy, as he was never happy before.
It is not the wrong things one has already done that keep one from God;
it is present persistence in that wrong.
Someone who turns back to God, as the Magdalene and Paul,
welcomes the discipline that will enable him to
change his former tendencies.
Mortification is good, but only when it is done out of love of God…
Mortifications of the right sort perfect our human nature;
the gardener cuts the green shoots from the root of the bush,
not to kill the rose, but to make it bloom more beautifully.”

Venerable Fulton Sheen, p. 185
An Excerpt From
Peace of Soul