isms

“For in spite of itself any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an
‘ism becomes so involved in reaction against other ‘isms that it
is unwittingly controlled by them. For it then forms its
principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive,
constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibilities.”

John Dewey


(a dragonfly readies for take off / Julie Cook / 2017)

In the mid 1930’s there was a very loud and very vocal cry being sounded within the United States..
the voice was sounding the alarm to a rising tide of Communism…
as this rising tide had become a growing cancer on the world’s global stage.

This was at a time just prior to the outright assault of WWII, as war had not
yet been declared…
but Hitler was indeed on the move.

Both Fascism and National Socialism (Nazism in a nutshell) was viewed by most
of Europe, as well as the United States,
as the most serious and fastest growing threat to Western Civilization and
her beloved democracies…

In part because both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were within the confines of “Europe”
while Communist Soviet Russia was seen to be more of an eastern threat.
Poland had long served as the lone suffering stalwart blocker in histories past
to invaders, always being the stopgap to regimes set on menacing Europe…
so why should now be any different….

Yet this time Hitler had different plans for Poland and he needed Stalin’s help.

There was however a grim opinion held by a handful of visionary souls that it was
actually Communism which was to be considered the far more sinister sleeping beast.
These hardy and farsighted souls began to formulate a battle cry.

Joseph Stalin had come to power in the Soviet Union in 1929.
Cold, calculating and menacing…a terror the world would not soon forget.
Promoting and spreading the Communist ideal was a top priority.
A totalitarianism manifesto which would eventually dominate the world…if he and others
were to have their way.
Seeds were planted deeply into the various “western” democracies where the grounds were
ripe and fertile as the State would be seen as the
both the new god and guardian of the people…

It would be just a short ten years following his rise to power that in 1939
a toxic union would form between Hitler and Stalin.
A union that barley lasted 2 short years…that was…
once Hitler had decided his need of Stalin was no longer beneficial…
as he merely beat Stalin to the divorce.

And yet we must back up a few years.

Around 1934 Pope Pius XI, along with his top aide Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli
(later Pope Pius XII),
had a meeting with a certain American Catholic Bishop.
His name was Fulton Sheen and his was a bigger than life persona.
He was a dynamic and charismatic personality who was known as both a top
notch educator as well as notable orator.
Sheen was widely popular in the United States with both Catholic and non Catholics alike.
The Pope knew a catalyst when he saw one.

Calling Sheen to Rome, the Pope told the Bishop that he wanted him to study the works
of Karl Marx in order that he could better understand the terrible threat Communism
was to be against not only Christianity but to the betterment of mankind.
The Pope trusted this young vibrant servant of Christ with defending the faith
as well as guarding the dignity of all human life against the growing scourge
of Communism.

Shortly after returning to the States, Sheen addressed the faithful.

“They have thrown down the gauntlet to the world.
The voice is either brotherhood in Christ or comradeship in anti-Christ.
There is no alternative.
If the one does not regin the other will.
They will have chosen the comradeship in anti-Christ —
they can devour anything that is not brotherhood in Christ.
Communism was inspired not by the sprit of Christ but by the spirit of the serpent…
The Mystical Body of the Anti-Christ”

He predicted that neither ‘New Deals [n]or fascism’ would stop communism because they
could not ‘summon’ forth sufficent zeal and fervor.’
They lacked communists’ absolute devotion to their religion”

(excerpt from A Pope and A President / Paul Kengor)

So as we now stand on the landscape of this 21st century…
far removed from the horrors of WWII and it’s battle between the good and evil,
freedom or enslavement…and even decades from that most famous command heard
round the world…
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”
we must ask ourselves…how different are our times?

Are we not living in what many now call a post Christian society where secularism
and political activism have both risen to the forefront as the new religions?
Have we not merely traded one form of ism for another..that of progressivism, liberalism,
socialism, and even the counter nationalism…

May we each recall the wisdom offered during those previous dark days….

“The anti-God regime is always the anti-human regime”
Bishop Fulton Sheen

black sheep

“America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.
That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in
the Declaration of Independence;
perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics
and also great literature.
It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice,
that governments exist to give them that justice,
and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism,
and it does also by inference condemn atheism,
since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom
these equal rights are derived.
Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of
such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally
God whose claim is taken more lightly.
The point is that there is a creed,
if not about divine, at least about human things.”

G.K. Chesterton

dscn4770
(folkart ceramic black sheep my aunt found at a crafts show in North Carolina)

Bah, Bah, a black Sheep,
Have you any Wool?
Yes merry I Have,
Three Bags full,
One for my Master,
One for my Dame,
One for the Little Boy
That lives down the lane

(the original 1744 English Nursery Rhyme from the Tom Thumb’s Pretty Song Book)

Anyone who knows me….
knows I have a thing for sheep.
Why, I don’t know…I’ve just always been drawn to them….

And it must be noted that it is those with either a black face or those entirely black
that speak most sweetly to my heart.

Add to that…that it seems black sheep have always gotten a really bad rap…
so perhaps there’s a bit of ‘supporting the underdog’ in my affinity….

Outsiders and or outcasts of a family have always been referred to as a black sheep….

In ancient times black lambs were killed by the farmer or shepherd as they were associated
with being like the devil as both were black in color.
Even ancient Greeks associated black sheep with Hades, the ruler of the underworld,
and would in turn sacrifice black sheep in hopes of currying favor while hoping to ward
off any unforeseen visits by this keeper of Hell…

Consider even the seemingly benign old English Nursey Rhyme, Bah Bah Black Sheep

baa_baa_black_sheep_pg_8
(Edmund Caldwell illustration 1880)

What was first published in 1744 as part of the oldest recorded collection of children’s
Nursery Rhymes, Tom Thumb’s Pretty Song Book,
is included the sing song tale of a little black sheep along with his wool…

Yet it is thought that the rhyme’s original intent was actually more of a political comment
on the wool tax of that day’s time…

And then in the late 20th century it seems a darker and more sinister twist took place
with our little children’s rhyme as it was seen to possess negative racial connotations.
Hence leading it to become its own black sheep of the nursery world….

Pity really….and even quite ridiculous….

As this is a prime example of how far we’ve detached ourselves from reality…
it is a prime example as to how our crazy minds have been sadly evolving…
spiraling down into the depths of sheer lunacy and madness….
As we’ve allowed a sweet little children’s rhyme to become a poster child for all things
negative or racist…

Shame on us all for being so damned sensitive….

I say this because I continue hearing and seeing all sorts of references to our becoming a
fascist Nation.

Didn’t I just touch on this little observation last week??
Did I not try explaining as to why we are not???
And yet it seems as if no one is listening…

Sigh…

If anyone really wants to understand about fascist regimes…
any book ever written offering first hand accounts of life in a Nazi occupied nation or
of life lived and lost in a concentration camp…
well, that would be the best and most accurate description of what fascism,
along with its spiraling nature of uncontrolled brutality, is all about.

Our current life here in the US is not, and I repeat, IS NOT,
an example of living under a Fascist regime.

The very notion that people are able to yell and scream at, to or about the president
and the government…while not suddenly disappearing…
never being heard from again…
should be proof enough…

That people may be hateful to one another, intolerable of one another, that they may
defame their leaders or their fellow countrymen, that they can throw things through
windows, spray paint buildings, set fires to cars, and basically destroy everything
and anything in their wake that is neither owned nor possessed by them….

That people are actually allowed to go crazy and ballistic over various speakers wanting
to speak…as these certain groups of people have now decided who will be allowed to
experience the First Amendment and who will not…
while taunting law officials, while wearing masks, while causing all manner of chaos
and havoc… with little to no repercussions…should be proof enough.

That you aren’t having to poison your own pets as an attempt to end their lives in what you
consider to be an act of mercy because you live in fear that when the authorities come for
you, you won’t have to worry about what will be happening to your pets when you
are hauled off….

That you haven’t had to surrender your technology or communication devices because
the powers that be have deemed them to be a danger to the state.

That you have not had your business seized, your home seized, your family incarcerated
because you were considered anti nationalistic…

That you are not afraid when you lay your head down on your pillow at night that there
will be a knock on your door demanding your sons or daughters be handed over in order
to the do their duty for the State while knowing you may never see them again….

Rather instead we are all basically allowed to be selfish, hateful, intolerant, violent,
mean, vile, vulgar, dangerous, inflammatory…
as well as…
secretive, selective, extravagant, flamboyant, pompous…
All behaviors which have been not only tolerated but to a great deal, protected…

that IS NOT fascism nor is it living in a fascist nation…

dscn0850
(little black sheep Co Kerry, Ireland sheep farm / Julie Cook / 2015)

Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
and hidden from my eyes.
“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.

Isaiah 65:16-17

adoption

“As soon as I saw you,
I knew an adventure was going to happen.”

Winnie the Pooh

dscn4752
(ice encrusted sweat gum balls / Julie Cook / 2017)

A while back, back in the fall, you might remember me mentioning that an editor
from Plough House Publishing had stumbled upon my tiny little corner of the blogosphere.
After reading some of the things I’d posted,
she thought that I might like to receive some of their books for my perusal…
perhaps using one or two in future posts…
perhaps a full fledged review or more appropriately…
simply an added bit of flavoring or spice
to whatever it is I may be posting…

Several of the books contained the works of Alfred Delp,
the Catholic priest arrested by the Nazis who was eventually hung for not
denouncing his faith or the priesthood.

A couple of weeks ago my publishing friend contacted me again letting me know that she
was going to be sending out a new, yet uncorrected proof, of a soon to be released
book for my perusing.
The name of the book is
You Carried Me
A daughter’s memoir

by Melissa Ohden

In her email my friend gave me a little background to the book and story.
In a nutshell it is the story of a now grown woman coming to terms with her adoption.
Little did my publishing friend know that I too had been adopted and had even written
about my own adoption here when I first started blogging.

Mrs Ohden’s tale is not merely one of a child given up for adoption who
subsequently goes on a quest for the answers to those nagging questions of an unknown past…
but rather Mrs. Ohden’s story is a bit more complex.

For you see Mrs Ohden is actually the survivor of an abortion.
As in she was an aborted baby, who lived.

Now before you click the exit button or start rolling your eyes, stay with me for a minute.

Her story is not a rant.
It is not political.
It is not a sentimental soppy tale of angst and devastation before finding needed redemption…

or maybe…

in actuality maybe it is—
maybe it is all of that and more.

This is a post that really needs to be more and go further,
but I don’t have the necessary time or strength for the emotional journey it would require.
And you don’t have to time to read such….

Here is a link to the first time I posted anything about my own adoption….
it is early on in the blogging days so it is not as polished or clean as it should be…
as I am the queen of typos and a victim of the constant undetected autocorrects…
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/who-in-the-heck-is-sylvia-kay-and-what-have-you-done-with-her/

January 22 in the Catholic church is a day of prayer…
a “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”

So I decided the time might be right to add a post along those same lines…

I promise I’m not going to jump on my soapbox here, I’ll wait for another day.
And I must admit that I really debated as to whether I wanted to read the book…
or not.

Adoption is not an easy topic for me.

At 57 I have lived a life of putting pieces back together that I had never taken apart…
they were taken apart long before I was born.

I am a believer that we are all broken and damaged goods.
I’ve yet to meet a human being who wasn’t…
as in no one is the embodiment of perfection.

It’s just that some of us do a better job then others of living and
dealing with what makes us, us.

Our parents were not or are not perfect.
And despite our best attempts, all of us who are parents will fall woefully flat…
as our kids will be the byproducts of our own shortcomings and dysfunctions…
be they good or bad or just simply despite it all.

Yet for adopted kids there is an added trove of unanswered questions.
For even the most well adjusted among us is still a human being
and will muse at some time or another the questions of why and who.

Walking down the street, often wondering if I’ve ever bumped into or crossed the path
of the biological family I’ve never known,
I look in a mirror and wonder…
I wonder where the green eyes come from.
I wonder why I like certain things and dislike others…
Who passed on this or that?
Where are my roots and my heritage….

Throw into the mix the circumstance the biological in-utero connection
between mother and child.

A baby who is to be given up, as soon as it is born, cannot help but have certain
anxieties and heaviness passed on by a torn woman burdened with guilt,
resentment, angst, worry, or sorrow….
add then to that the knowledge that the pregnancy is to be terminated…

A heavy load for the psychological growth of any individual.
Certain things will always bubble below the surface…like it or not…
As any doctor or psychologist or psychiatrist worth their salt will tell you…
there is a deep innate connection between mother and child
whether we want to acknowledge that or not.

Despite the best parenting skills and love given and offered by the adopted parents,
those who are given up for adoption have a higher incidence of issues with
abandonment, anger, rage, self esteem and a wealth of insecurities…
For it is all just part and parcel.

Melissa Ohren’s burden was a bit heavier because she was to have been killed, never born.

Her’s was a late third trimester saline injection abortion.
It was hard for me to read her recounting of her “delivery” by the nurse who actually
realized that the delivered baby was not dead nor about to die.

Saline injections are meant to burn and suffocate…surviving is rare if ever.

She spent a lengthy time in an intensive care unit of a neonatal center.
Potential adoptee parents were told that this baby girl would most likely face a lifetime
of both developmental and physical burdens and deficits.
Potentially blind, deaf, delayed developmentally, never walking, or talking…
the list was long and grim.

Yet her adopted parents jumped in with both feet despite a possible lifetime of
care and need.

Melissa Odhen however defied the odds.

She never suffered any lasting or long term physical or developmental effects.

So Mrs Odhen tale is more than merely filling in the who of an adopted child…
her’s is a tale heavy on the side of why and how.

Her adopted parents were always loving and supportive of her quest.
As they were the couple she always claimed as her parents—
The knowledge of adoption and late abortion never lessened her love of and for this couple
nor ever did her need for answers lessen their love for her.
They supported her digging and her quest from the very beginning.

I found that I could relate to some of her feelings and questions,
especially when she married and eventually became a mother herself….
as there are lots and lots of worries and concerns regarding genetics and potential
problems when an adoptee is pregnant herself.

Yet I could also relate to some of her angst filled adolescent struggles
over issues such as the identity of self, a sense of not fitting in,
a deep seceded anger and frustration that she
could never quite put her finger on.

All wich exploded once she learned of the failed abortion.

Imagine yourself as an adoptee…
you find yourself, despite knowing you are
obviously wanted and loved by your adopted family,
yet there remains a primal feeling buried deep within
that you are not worthy of being wanted…

Or either you find yourself constantly left wondering as to how or why your biological
mother could have ever given you away…
As it all ties into the need of being loved and of knowing ones self worth.
You spend a life struggling with a sense of self worth…you battle internally,
rationalizing with your self that you are worthy of love..of course you are,
yet your own mother made the conscious decision that really, really you weren’t…

It is a constant and deadly internal struggle.

Add to the fact that your biological mother actually wanted you dead.
Leaving a toxic and even deadly combination for the most grounded of individuals.

The book is not long, a mere 165 pages—
and once I committed to reading it,
I finished it in a day and a half, despite my being a rather slow reader.

This book and story are not a catalyst for protest,
but rather simply a tale of one woman’s quest of
self discovery, spiritual discovery, acceptance and forgiveness…
for both self and for a biological mother she slowly begins to understand.

And yet it is a good book adding a bit more flavor to the debate
that grips this nation of ours…
As we continue revisiting and coming to terms with Roe v Wade…

Melissa Odhen has created a foundation for other survivors of abortion…
Abortion Survivors Network and is an advocate for all those
who have been impacted by abortion…

More on adoption at a later date….

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

(Psalm 139:13-18)

submission

It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence –
“Not unto us,
not unto us,
but unto Thy name be glory.”

– Charles Spurgeon

5a966797f14f6810dda6251e7cb4fe16
(image of Mary, Illuminated Manuscript)

Jesus.
The name of our Lord and of my Order [The Society of Jesus]
shall be the first word I write in the New Year.
The name stands for all the things I desire when I pray, believe and hope;
for inner and outer redemption;
for relaxation of all the selfish tensions and limitations I place
in the way of the free dialogue with God,
all the barriers to voluntary partnership and surrender without reserve:
and for a speedy release from these horrible fetters.
The whole situation is so palpably unjust;
things I have neither done nor even known about are keeping me here in prison. ”

The name Jesus stands also for all that I intended to do in the world,
and still hope to do among mankind. To save, to stand by ready to give immediate help,
to have goodwill towards all men, and to serve them. I still owe much to so many.

And in conclusion the Order, too, is embraced in my invocation of this name–
the Order which has admitted me to its membership.
May it be personified in me.
I have pledged myself to Jesus as his loving comrade and blood-brother.

The Name stands for passionate faith, submission, selfless effort and service.

Excerpt from Fr. Alfred Delp’s diary
January 1, 1945

In 1944, at the time of Father Delp’s arrest and subsequent trial for treason against the Nazi State,
the young Jesuit’s date for his profession of his final vows as a priest had been
indefinitely postponed.
And as Hitler had decreed that no priest was to study for the priesthood,
as he had shuttered all seminaries, Delp’s friends arranged to have a priest, a confrere
with full support of the German Catholic Church, visit Delp while in prison in Berlin.
He would hear Delp’s profession and receive him fully into his order.

The visiting priest, Father Tattenbach,
knew that he had to disguise his visit as merely a sympathetic gesture offered to
a condemned prisoner.
The visit could have no whiff of official Church business as such had been long outlawed.
Nor could he let it be known what the two men were actually doing.
He also feared that the prison guards would be suspicious especially as the vows
were to be made in Latin…
he worried the guards would think that they talking in code while passing secrets.

So Fr Tattenbach explained that he was going to be praying with Fr Delp in Latin
and actually wrote out what he would be saying in German…
yet the guards remained suspicious hovering about as the two men
entered into a sacred, holy and solemn moment in time…
and oddly allowed the two men to conduct their most important “prayer session”…

To be submissive.

It is a word that is growing ever more difficult to act upon as our
society deems the act of submission to be a serious and egregious act of weakness…
Something that is to be scorned, reviled and forbidden.

The negative connotations associated with acts of submission are endless.
Particularly as the militant feminist movement has cast the word into the realm of all things taboo.
As they claim that the very word seethes with all things vile and odious in nature.

Yet throughout this season of Advent,
we are constantly reminded of what complete and utter submission looks like.
It begins in the form of Mary’s selfless, obedient and submissive willingness to play a part in God’s grand plan…
spanning the chasm of time to the Springtime reminder of that same selfless,
obedient and submissive willingness offered freely by her son as he walks from
the start of his life in that obscure stable to his destiny on Golgotha.

And thankfully there remains those few souls among us who make wide their beings…
opening and allowing for the totally emptying of self.
They forgo all aspects of their own wellbeing…
in turn allowing for the betterment of all humankind… at the cost of their own existence.
They act as our polestar.

And just as Father Delp demonstrated,
with hands chained and a noose waiting to be placed around his neck,
submission to the service of God is an act so much greater than any fettered or
tethered limitation imposed by man.

So may we, this season of Advent, learn the importance of submission…
May we be both strong and courageous as we learn to yield our hearts, minds and our very beings
to the will of the One True God…

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.
For there is no authority except from God,
and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

Romans 13:1

The Resistance

“Resistance is the protest of those who hope,
and hope is the feast of the people who resist”

Jürgen Moltmann

resistenciafrancesabn2l
(archived photo of French Resistance fighters)

If you know anything of the history of World War II, you are most likely familiar with the
role ‘The Resistance’ played in helping to defeat Hitler and his raging Nazi machine.

There were many resistance groups scattered across occupied Europe during those
dark days of Hitler’s unrelenting march toward total European control…

There were those in Rome, working behind the walls of St Peter’s under the watchful eye
of Pope Pius XII…
Just as there were those deep within Germany herself working precariously
within dangerous clandestine shadows to sabotage the Nazi juggernaut…

But the most notable group of partisans were those brave men and women of the French Resistance.
Those everyday citizens who risked everything, which was most often their lives,
as well as the lives of those they loved, all in hopes of undermining Germany’s
control of France and the ever advancing deadly reach westward.

I suppose it is fitting to actually call their actions a true form of guerrilla warfare…
As countless secret codes, messages and Allied information was ferried in and out,
deep from behind and within the enemy lines of the occupied nation.
Explosives, used to blow up bridges and railways, in hopes of cutting supply lines,
were a constant worry for advancing Nazi troops as this secret army of ever hopeful citizens
was key to helping keep hope alive globally…
Hope that all was not truly lost.

Hope…
Alive…

I often feel as if I have become a fighting member of a new resistance movement…
As the growing secularization of Western Civilization marches ever wider,
tightening its grasp and choke hold on the very foundation of our Judaeo Christian faith
and of the very real concept of humanity and morality…

The powers that be, those who work to rewrite Truth, while pointing deadly accusatory
fingers at those who still cling to that Truth,
mark those who remain steadfast in the love and knowledge of the Word of God
and of the Resurrection of His son as…
intolerant, as well as lacking the intelligence to jump on the current trend for
the quickly growing progressive Esprit de Corps.

Backwards fairtalists who live in the dark of Commandments, Covenants and pure make believe
is what we are being labeled as we are met with growing ridicule and condemnation.

We are being sold out by our leaders as they quickly label us as
intolerant, bigoted, xenophobic or simply deplorable ignorant rednecks…
as they try to sell the world a hopeless bag of goods disguised as an
all inclusive pie in the sky…
for they tout that each individual is who they are and whatever that may be
is perfectly great…

Does it matter that you look in the mirror and great and happiness, and contentment
and even satisfaction is not necessarily looking back…?

Our entertainment industry spews out raunchy and lewd innuendos as artistic,
comedic, current and trendy….
while we are mocked for finding it less then humorous…

Our news media has mastered the art of spin in hopes that no one
will be able to really sort fact from fiction…
as we are scorned for attempting to point out the Truth….

Yet Hope does remain…
For the Word of God remains…

For the Word of God cannot,
will not
nor will it ever be silenced…

For in that never-ending Hope is rooted in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ…

May we, who are called to the Resistance continue to fight the good fight
as we each become a member of God’s rebellion against this culture of Death….

The resurrection faith is not proved true by means of historical evidence,
or only in the next world.
It is proved here and now, through the courage for revolt,
the protest against deadly powers, and the self-giving of men and women for the victory of life.
It is impossible to talk convincingly about Christ’s resurrection without
participating in the movement of the Spirit “who descends on all flesh” to quicken it.
This movement of the Spirit is the driving “liberation movement,”
for it is the process whereby the world is recreated.

So resurrection means rebirth out of impotence and indolence to “the living hope.”
And today “living hope” means a passion for life, and a lived protest against death.

Christ’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s rebellion.
That rebellion is still going on in the Spirit of hope, and will be complete when, together with death, “every rule and every authority and power” is at last abolished (I Cor. 15_24)

“I didn’t find Christ, he found me.”

Jürgen Moltmann

forgiveness

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because
God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

C.S. Lewis

“Out of the depths, I cry to you, Lord”
Psalm 130:1

4931
(Pope Francis walks through the gate at Auschwitz. Photograph: Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock)

This past July,
July 29th to be exact,
Pope Francis journeyed to Oświęcim,
a small industrial town in southern Poland…
He next ventured a bit further to the small village of Brzezinka…

He had come to Poland to meet with an excited and joyful throng of young people
who had journeyed to Krakow in order to celebrate World Youth Day.

Yet it was to Oświęcim and Brzezinka that Francis made a solomon detour.
For in this once obscure and quiet area of Poland, 76 years ago,
the first of 23 concentration camps was opened to receive its first prisoners of war…
This was the beginning of Hitler’s incomprehensible final solution…
this was Auschwitz…

There were major camps…camps where exterminations took place,
of which were scattered throughout Poland,
And there were sub-camps…camps where hard manual labor was the focus.
But it was at Auschwitz that an estimated that 1.5 million people
died during the 5 years it operated.

Six million jews and an additional 11 million individuals
lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis, most of which died in the camps.

And it is estimated that 80 million people lost their
lives during the course of the war.

Pope Francis came to Auschwitz to reflect and to remember…
to remember what the world must never forget…

Yet like all of us who claim Jesus as our Savior,
that Savior who, when nailed to a cross, lifted
his face toward Heaven and asked His father to forgive…
to forgive those who knew not what they were doing…

to forgive us…all of us…
over and over and over…
for our egregious sins…
sins that are unfathomable,
sins that are horrid,
sins that are unspeakable,
sins that are unthinkable,
sins that are inhumane….

All of which leaves us…you, me, the Pope…
charged with that same living and dying example…
to forgive…to forgive those who have sinned against us,
just as we have sinned against others…

It is the most difficult and challenging action of the human ego…

Seventy-five years ago, when Francis was a four-year-old boy
called Jorge living in Buenos Aires,
this cell at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp was occupied by prisoner number 16770,
Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar.

When 10 fellow inmates were selected to die in punishment for the escape of another prisoner,
Kolbe stepped forward and volunteered his life instead of that of Franciszek Gajowniczek,
who had cried out in anguish for his wife and children. Kolbe’s offer was accepted.
He was thrown into the starvation bunker for two weeks and finally given a
lethal injection on 14 August 1941.

The pope came to Auschwitz on Friday to pray in silent memory of Kolbe and the
other 1.1m people the Nazis exterminated there. Jews made up the vast majority-
960,000, including 185,000 children–
but thousands of Polish Catholics, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war were also put to death.

He had signaled his intention to visit the memorial “without speeches, without crowds”.
His simple plan was:
“Alone,
enter,
pray.
And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.”

In the shadows of the cell, his long silence was an eloquent tribute to the suffering of so many and a profound condemnation of evil.
At the end of his prayers, he raised his head, crossed himself,
stood and left.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/29/no-words-as-pope-francis-visits-auschwitz-death-camp-in-silence

“Lord, have pity on your people.
Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”

Pope Francis

Stranger in a strange land

And she bore him a son, and he called his name Gershom:
for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Exodus 2:22

DSC01132
(Mrs. Bluebird peeking outward / Julie Cook / 2015)

Have you ever traveled to another country where you did not speak the language?
Immediately upon arriving, jet lagged, tired, disoriented, all previous thoughts
of being ok and of easily getting by suddenly evaporate. Overwhelmed, you stare bleary eyed and lost.
You immediately sense your differentness. A rising sense of panic works to consume you as you feel conspicuous and vulnerable. Uneasiness, dread, foreboding race to devour your remaining sense of wellbeing—-all this transpires in the span of the first 30 seconds upon arrival, all before you can slowly breathe, getting your bearings and allowing common sense to quell the rising panic.

As a Christian, I am beginning to feel that same sense of rising of panic, disorientation, and sense of alienation. I feel as though I am no longer welcome in my own country. . .for I am a stranger now in a very strange land. I am ridiculed and scorned for my beliefs, my faith. I choose to believe in the Bible and what I consider to be the true Word of God and yet I am told to get with the program, come to the 21st century. . .I am told not to be so archaic, stop believing in mythology and fairy tales. I am told that I do not have a right to believe what I believe because it is preposterous, unbelievable, not all inclusive–as my beliefs seem to have limits, it appears my beliefs are saying “no” to certain lifestyles and choices.

. .I am reminded that this is not a time for an either or sort belief system for we are now a people who are all about “it’s all good” and “it’s all ok” sort of life. Tolerance, where is my tolerance I am asked.
Where is my love and acceptance of all. . .

Yet my faith, my beliefs, state that I am to believe in the Word God, the One true God—there is no waffling, no balancing act, no grey areas. . .either I believe or I don’t. Not in little demigods, not in things, not in man, not in little parts or snippets of His word while disregarding others. . .but rather I believe in an Omnipotent God. There is to be no rewriting of His word in order to set things as the world would like things to be written.
His word was stated and set eons ago. . .
there is to be no changing, no rewriting,
no updating to modern times. . .no redo. . .

Yet I am told that my thoughts, my beliefs, my faith are all no longer acceptable.
It’s all outdated, passé, cliche, no longer relevant. . .
Change or be changed I am told.
I must no longer adhere to the mumbo jumbo.
The courts will have their say.
They’ll show me.
They will tell me that I can’t believe.
Television tells me I can’t believe.
Their shows will prove I’m wrong.
Movies and music will all show me.
Step aside I am told.
We don’t want you here.
You can’t pray here.
You can’t say “Amen” here.
You can’t talk about Jesus here. . .
You’ll be fired, removed, shut down, sued, or even beheaded if ISIS has any say.

Bad things happen.
Earthquakes, calamities, tidal waves, tornadoes, floods, volcanos, blizzards,
natural as well as man made disasters. . .
I am asked where is my God.
How dare he allow such suffering. . .
Why doesn’t He stop the madness, the chaos?

But wait, I thought I was told He doesn’t exist, we don’t have room for Him, I was wrong for my belief in Him. . .
We rewrote Him, I reply, remember. . .
We made Him smaller.
We made Him our own.
We didn’t want to be transformed into His likeness, we wanted, rather, to transform Him to our likeness, our image, our idea, our ideal. . .

Hear the words of the ancient psalmist. . .

“You have rebuked the insolent;
cursed are they who stray from your commandments!”

Psalm 119:21

And hear now the words written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, while he was a prisoner in a Nazi death camp awaiting execution. . .the writing was to be a manuscript written of his reflection of Psalm 119. . .

God hates the insolent, those who despise the Word of God and the faithful. Pride before God is the root of all disobedience, all violence, all irresponsibility. Pride is the root of all rebellion and destruction. Confronting all pride and insolence, however, is a fearful warning, of which the proud themselves comprehend nothing but the faithful do: it is the gospel. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). The cross of Jesus Christ, which shows that God is with the weak and the humble, is God’s rebuke to the insolent. They may achieve victory over all human beings, but against God they will come to nought.
Whoever believes in the gospel sees the Word of God hanging over the insolent of this earth. The preaching of the Word of God is the only serious rebuke to a humanity grown proud. But along with his Word, God has also given sign of his might. In the midst of history, here and there, God’s rebuke can be seen, and the community of the faithful look with shuddering and amazement at the proud, who even now in their time fall and are destroyed. They are kept from any hypocritical certainty, however, because they see that innocent people are always destroyed along with the proud; and so the visible judgements of God remain hidden and obscure even for the faithful. Only the Word remains incontrovertibly clear when it pronounces its curse on the godless: “Cursed are they who stray from your commandments!” In the laws it says ” Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them” (Deut.27:26). Can we speak this word without being convicted by it ourselves? Is it a word only for others and for ourselves? The curse upon the transgressors of the law of God is God’s right and. . .

Bonhoeffer’s words of his manuscript break off at this point. . . he never finished the manuscript. . . on April 9, 1944 he was executed on the direct orders of Adolph Hitler, exactly two weeks before Hitler committed suicide.

The psalm ends. . .Turn from me shame and rebuke,
for I have kept your decrees.
Even though rulers sit and plot against me,
I will meditate on your statutes.
Fro your decrees are my delight,
and they are my counselors.

A stranger in a strange land indeed. . .