silent no more…the absence of God

“If I were to remain silent,
I’d be guilty of complicity.”

Albert Einstein


(image courtesy the web)

If you haven’t noticed, we have a crisis in our Chruch.

And I’m using the capital C because when one denomination within the
Christian body ails we, the collective body ails.

The Catholic Church has found herself in a near death knell over the heinous revelations of
child predation.

A decades-old crime and yet the cover-ups, lies, the sweeping under of carpets, ad infinitum,
are so deep… it’s a wonder if we will ever uncover the real facts let alone the
actual truth.

A gross sin perpetrated by those whose very vocation has been to teach and preach against
the very sins they were committing.

The scope is inconceivable.
The pain and betrayal are unbearable.

And the sad fact is that we are slowly discovering the same sins within
other denominations…

This growing scandal of sin has only fueled the mistrust and disdain held by many believers
and nonbelievers alike for and of the Catholic Church.

Yet we must remember that before we pick up and prepare to throw our stones that
no denomination, no Christian, no Christian body is without sin and no church body
is exempt from sin, scandal or betrayal.

Being raised in the Episcopal /Anglican church fold, I hold a very close affinity for
the Catholic Church and my love of history draws me to a deep appreciation for our original
Christian roots found in that very Latin West Chruch.

The myriad of Christian denominations has only but one place to look for the original
congregant body—
back to the throne of Peter.

And so I was pleased to see that Pope Emeritus Benedict has broken his silence during his reclusion
in order to address this latest burden of the Chruch.

The breaking of the dam began at the beginning of his election as pope.

There has been a cataclysmic revelation ever since.

The article is linked here:
https://start.att.net/news/read/article/cnn-expope_benedict_xvi_breaks_silence_on_churchs_sex-cnn2/category/news+

So in case your holy indignation for all things Catholic remains at the high end of the Richter scale…
be reminded Catholic, in our religion means globally or the wide body of who we are…
‘Catholic derived via Late Latin Catholics, from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning “universal’

Our dear friend and ever brave rogue former Anglican bishop addressed this very issue
with a post back in August of 2018—
in which I wrote a post based on the good Bishops teachings…
both links are found below.

Gay predators, telling the truth and spring-cleaning the Church.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/sin-and-confession/

My post began with the very notion of sin and our Church’s response:

Sin.

It’s a word that we take for granted yet it is a word whose actions are destroying us.
For we are its actions and we seem not to even care.

Our culture has opted to expunge the word from our vocabulary while blindly
embracing its very nuances.

And what of the Chruch?

She is either impotently silent or either she busies herself by embracing those
very nuances in order to appear more viable, more likable, more cultural.

Benedict who, as a cardinal, served as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
the powerful Vatican department responsible for enforcing doctrinal orthodoxy,
and the successor to the Inquisition
…was known as God’s rottweiler.

“Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ’68,” he writes,
“was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.”

Benedict says that this mentality also affected bishops and Catholic seminaries and caused,
“the extensive collapse of the next generation of priests.”

“There were — not only in the United States of America —
individual bishops who rejected the Catholic tradition as a whole and sought to
bring about a kind of new, modern Catholicity,” he writes.

“In various seminaries, homosexual cliques were established,”
he writes, “which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the
climate in the seminaries.”

Benedict cites one bishop who showed seminarians pornographic films,
“allegedly with the intention of thus making them resistant to behavior
contrary to the faith.”

Benedict also reveals that the Vatican’s two investigations into US seminaries,
called Apostolic Visitations, were thwarted by cover-up.
Benedict also reveals a tug-of-war between the Vatican and
US bishops over zero-tolerance.

The Pope Emeritus says that Church lawyers in Rome
“had difficulty” with the US proposal for zero-tolerance and preferred that priests guilty
of sexual abuse of minors receive only a temporary suspension.

“This could not be accepted by the American bishops,” he writes,
“because the priests thus remained in the service of the bishop and thereby
could be taken to be still directly associated with him.”

As a result, the former Pope writes, a new code of Church criminal law was created
and cases of child sexual abuse were judged by the Vatican office of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which then-
Cardinal Ratzinger was the head.

But Benedict admits that the prospect of full criminal trials for sex abuse
was “overwhelming” for the Vatican.

“Because all of this actually went beyond the capacities of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith and because delays arose which had to be prevented
owing to the nature of the matter,
Pope Francis has undertaken further reforms,” he writes.

And yet in the end…the bottom line, in a nutshell…

“Why did pedophilia reach such proportions?” he asks.
“Ultimately the reason is the absence of God.”

“God is dead” so proclaimed Nietzsche—and according to an article in the Big Think,
by Scotty Hendricks God is dead’: What Nietzsche really meant’
Nietzche was an atheist for his adult life and didn’t mean that there was a God who had
actually died, rather that our idea of one had.”

So perhaps it would behoove those of us who continue to cling to the faith that
Satan delights in the sin of man as we do his dirty work free of charge…

May we remain silent no more!

Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.
Ecclesiastes 7:20

The Truth versus that of silence…speak on

“Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you,
remember Christ crucified and be silent.”

St. John of the Cross


(the week’s gathering / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Yet such are the pity and compassion of this Lord of ours,
so desirous is He that we should seek Him and enjoy His company,
that in one way or another He never ceases calling us to Him…
God here speaks to souls through words uttered by pious people,
by sermons or good books, and in many other such ways.

Sometimes He calls souls by means of sickness or troubles,
or by some truth He teaches them during prayer,
for tepid as they may be in seeking Him,
yet God holds them very dear.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.26
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

Ok, I admit that I’ve been a bit remiss in my reading here in blogland as of late.
As I’ve been here, there and yon for quite some time—
really, if the truth be told, I’ve been running willy nilly since February
when the ‘wee one’ was born.

And I will be out of pocket once again starting today, on and off throughout the week
and weekend as I scoot back and forth babysitting.

Yet sadly, all good things must come to an end as next week a new routine is to
be established.

With our son’s position and hours soon to change and our daughter-n-law beginning
a new school year teaching in a new school, the ‘wee one’ will be going to a lady
who keeps about 8 kids in her home—two of whom are the ‘wee one’s’ cousins.

So it will be an all in the family sort of home care situation that is the best and
more viable solution.

The other option…

my husband and I sell our house and move…
Not exactly practical but don’t think for a minute that I’ve not entertained the idea.

But I digress…

So back to the issue at hand…
I’ve been noticing a rather alarming and running theme amongst many Christian bloggers.

Frustration.

For there is a growing and rising tide offered by non-believers, nay-sayers and
even from within the ‘family fold’ to silence those who continue to hold true to
the Word of God.

Not some watered down Word.
Not some rewritten Word.
Not some progressive liberalism mishmash of The Word…
Not some uber feminist militant anti-male bashing blatant denial of The Word.

But rather an adherence to the authentic Word…
as in Words that are a couple of thousands of years old, Holy in inspiration, and stated
as is for all of eternity…

As in God said it and therefore, it is.

Be it an Aramaic text, Greek text, Jewish or Latin text…His authority does not change.

I AM remains I AM.

His Words, His tenents, His commands have not changed nor evolved with the times.
We are the ones who are evolving with the times and those various cultural norms and sins…
sins that we continue to claim as new truths…

And no, I’m not talking about the argument of evolution of monkey to man or
anything to do with Darwin…
I’m simply talking about us not being a consistent lot.

We are fickled and we like to have our cake and eat it too while eating everyone else’s as well
or telling others how and what to eat and when they shall eat it.

Now my dear friends, Bishop Gavin Ashenden and Pastor David Roberston, have each been quite
busy as of late posting various observations and articles…as have most of my
dear blogging family…all while I’ve been torn for time.

And one thing I’ve noticed while playing catch-up in my reading of blog posts is the
same theme…that being the theme of frustration—

And I should know….as I’ve had my own share of frustration from those who come
around pretending to want to engage in dialogue when their main objective is to belittle,
malign and obliterate as they are frothing and rabid with atheistic zeal.
So much so that they cannot nor will not rest until they feel as if they can silence
a Believer’s words.

Slaughter the lambs as it were.

There are many in the fold of the Faithful who have also come across these rabid foxes and
wolves…each on a daily basis…

Our dear Oneta over on Sweet Aroma became “embroiled” in my absence with a younger
whippersnapper on FB, who was bashing the social media of her day…
that being handwritten letters and autograph books.

Not one to be on FB, I don’t know the 1, 2, 3 of her tale but I have gleaned that
somehow the conversation turned,
or perhaps it was an entirely different conversation with an altogether different
commenter, but the gist was that Oneta challenged someone for stating that John McCain
was a traitor…she wanted documentation to back up that statement but
somehow it came across that Oneta was echoing that notion of McCain as traitor…
but the thing is, Oneta never said such.
She merely stated some negative observation against the dear senator while also wanting to
see documentation as to his acts of treason.
(see, I have no idea of how it went from social media to traitors)

Oneta responded that she had not labeled Sen. McCain a traitor but rather her
negative observations regarding the good senator could stand as negative without
her words being twisted around that she was now calling the senator a traitor.

I admire McCain as much as the next person for his service to our country and for being
an American war hero, but his time representing the Republican party in a strong positive
light is rapidly spiraling outward and downward as are all of his kith and kin of the
old guard on both sides of the aisle.
And last I checked, we are each entitled to our thoughts on the legendary senator along
with his colleagues…

Oneta is a positive and well-learned person who engages with a wide and diverse audience.
She is a woman of deep faith and conviction.
And one whom I greatly admire for her life lessons, knowledge and the teaching of that very wealth
of knowledge.

I don’t think Oneta would mind my sharing her observation.

“Just called it off with my FB “foe.”
It was fun.
You know I would enjoy that.
The issue was that someone posted that John McCain was a traitor.
I challenged by asking for documentation.
I couldn’t seem to get through to my responder that I was not calling McCain a traitor.
But I did have plenty of negative charges to pass on.
He said he was 56 and a history buff who had read three books about McCain.
I told him I was 84 and I didn’t need history. I lived it.
I would say we parted as almost friends.:D
Have a good rest, dear friend.”

Oneta is 84 and is not new to this world’s rodeo—she’s ridden her fair share of bronking
bucks and has lived to tell about it.

So to be silenced when it comes to God’s Truth and tenants or to be silenced when challenging
the observations of those who turn personal notions into sweeping accusations…
accusations which ring of falsehood…accusations without any sound basis…
well none of that is going to be happening around our tenacious little octagenarian who expects
nothing but the sound Truth…because there is no need to quibble over Truth.

And of course, we next have IB.

Insanity Bytes is a woman around my age who resides in what she likes to claim to be
the 9th circuit of hell…
or so I think it to be the 9th circuit as most of our current ‘circuits” are none too friendly
to certain political leanings nor to that of certain faith leanings these days…
so it’s not surprising that I can easily get my circuits confused.

IB actually seems to stay embroiled whether I’m around to
read about it or not…and she lives not only to tell about it but to actually
laugh about it all…like it or not she finds the last word and her last word is
build on that notion of Truth.

IB mixes it up with those who are unbelievers as well as many who actually confess
to be believers…it’s just that their beliefs are more of that rewritten Word business.

IB knows her stuff and isn’t afraid to say her peace…
a peace I might add that is steeped in that same unrelenting ancient Word of Truth that I was
talking about earlier.

And as for our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Roberston, notes in a recent posting on his blog
“Keep silent or speak out?” that…
“As an undershepherd of the Great Shepherd,
it is my job to counter such error and to protect the flock of God.”

Keep Silent….or Speak Out?k

David has been taking a really rough beating by the Scottish press as well as from
those progressive liberals and atheists who troll his blogs, his speaking engagements,
his magazine columns, etc.

And yet he does not waiver…never wavering from the Truth no matter how hard the beating.

Yet David has expressed his frustration and exasperation with what he sees playing out
against the Chruch from both within and without her sacred halls.

Of which brings us next to our good friend and rouge Anglican bishop, Gavin Ashenden—
a non-wavering soul who has also been lambasted for his firmly rooted stance within
the Word of God…a stance constantly hounded by the British liberal press.
Bishop Ashenden challenges the powers that be within the Anglican Chruch over their growing
acceptance of all things transgenderism as well as all things of homosexuality and the ever
growing liberal theology…The Chruch of England’s continuing push for the total acceptance
and teachings of all things that run counter to God’s Word.

In a recent offering on the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted, with the sad reporting of
a horrendous incident committed by a once beloved bishop along with the apparent cover-up from
a former Archbishop of Canterbury, the good bishop notes that “there must be a moral independence
of the Chruch such that She is to say to the State (the government at hand) that “you’re getting
it all wrong”—
yet sadly we are reminded that the Chruch of England and the State of the British Government
just happen to walk hand in hand without separation…so rather than holding each other accountable,
there is actually a deeply obvious collusion.

As I paraphrase the good bishop, he goes on to say, ‘if we set ourselves up as saints then
all is lost. But if we admit to being sinful creatures, the Lord can and will pick us up…
and it is in that picking up where Hope actually begins…

There is forgiveness but that forgiveness is predicated upon our asking for it and then admiting that
we must now live with the consequences of our actions…yet we will live with the knowledge of
redemption.

Naked disaster in the Church of England. Anglican Unscripted. IICSA, Carey & Ball.

And so I’ve found a rather interesting book that I’ve just ordered…
“The Cost of Our Silence: Consequences of Christians Taking the Path of Least Resistance”
by David Fiorazo.

This one excerpt grabbed me:
Christian in name only, America has become an epicenter for the culture war as too many of us
keep ducking the issue of sin.
Due to decades of Christians being silent,
failing to preach the gospel and speak the truth in love,
we’ve reached a tipping point in which political correctness refuses
to coexist with religious freedom.
Why do you think Christians who defend God’s Word are often called hateful,
intolerant, or judgmental?
There are consequences in this life and for eternity,
when Christians take the path of least resistance.
We cannot reverse the moral decline, but we can choose to stand for righteousness
as we pray for revival and be the salt and light Jesus called us to be while we’re still here.

Hide the light of Christ and retreat,
or let it shine and expose the darkness; live an inconsequential life,
or bear fruit that will last. If most Christians remain silent,
fewer people will be saved, society will collapse,
and we will continue to be part of the problem.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.
God will not hold us guiltless…”

And so we are slowly learning the cost behind remaining silent in a
world that is so opposed to the Truth…
the cost is much greater than most of us are willing to imagine.
Yet thankfully there are those voices who continue speaking…refusing to be silenced.

And we are all the better for it.

Speak on…

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 16:13

an earthly perception of hell

“The Christian is not just to rage against the darkness…
we are to proclaim the light”.

David Robertson


(a lone sanderling at dusk / Rosemary Beach, Fl / 2017)

In the course of the past two days I have read, in two vastly different places, the
notion of what hell actually is as it is perceived by those still earthly
bound mortals…

And as you know, I don’t believe in coincidence…but rather in the intervention
of the Holy Spirit.

Each of the two views has come from a member of the clergy, one being a former Church of England prelate who now hails as a Reformed Anglican Bishop and the other–
an Eastern Orthodox monk who passed away 24 years ago.

Each man relates a similar thought concerning hell…
that being an absence.
As in a permanent and perpetual void.

I can only think, for us humans, to be able to understand this concept of absence
and void is if, and only if, we have experienced the death of a loved one.
For in death there is a separation…an earthly permanent seperation.
As in a state of no more…as in no more—ever….
at least not on this earth.

If we are Believers, then we know that death is not a permanent situation…
perhaps on this earth yes, but in Heaven no.
And if we are not Believers of the Christian faith…
then there is perhaps even a keener awareness of this state of ‘no more.’

And in that state of emptiness, for both the Believing and unbelieving,
there is an almost unconsolable sorrow of loss.
And this utter cutting off and separation, for some, is often more
than can be borne by both soul and flesh.

Both of these clerics express this notion in very different ways.

Bishop Ashenden recently had to have emergency surgery for a detached retina.
He explained that the healing process is most arduous—
He had to lie very still on his right side, at a 45 degree angle for 10 days—
24 hours a day of laying very still in a particular position
with only a 10 minute break here and there to use the bathroom.

The pain, when using the drops which aggravated his wound, was as if someone was
taking a screwdriver and was constantly digging and twisting it in his eye with no
easing off or letting up.

This reminds me of cancer patients and those with severe nerve damage where the
pain is a constant state of the unbearable.

I saw this with my mother when the cancer had spread to her bones and later with my
dad who had developed a severe Kennedy ulcer the last two weeks of his life.
The wound developed a horrible infection and opened all the way to his bone…
The slightest movement for both my parents was excruciating and yes, unbearable.

Bishop Ashenden said that in his pain he got to the point that the pain was such a
constant persistency, that it was to the point that he could not even pray—
his prayer being simply “help me Lord”—the prayer of suffering and agony.

And in that pain there was a consuming sense of isolation—
For that’s how pain is—it is totally consuming to such an extent that there is
no sense of communion with God—rather there is no sense of God…only agony.

Be that a physical pain or emotional pain or spiritual pain….

And it is often in such moments that many a Believer and even non-believerer
will actually be to the point where they say “to hell with God”
“If He cannot help me, relieve me, then let Him just be damned.”

That is to the lowest we go as humans.
And it is a tragic state.

Archimandrite Sophrony (1896-1993) offers us a bit different vision
of a mortal’s interpretation of hell.
He shares what he has learned from those monks who have gone before him…
in the way of what is known as a “custom house”

The customs houses about which the Fathers write are symbols of a reality.
The Fathers understand them as follows: after the fall of man,
the soul is nourished by the body, in other words,
it finds refreshment in material pleasures.
After death, however, these bodily passions that used to divert the soul
no longer exist, because the soul has left the body,
and they choke and stifle the soul.
These are the customs houses and eternal torment.
Abba Dorotheos says that eternal torment is for someone to be shut up
for three days in a room without food, sleep or prayer.
Then he can understand what hell is.

Elder Sophrony of Essex. I Know a Man in Christ

Bishop Ashenden admonishes us all that it would behoove us to be of a constant
state of prayer—during those times in life when we are free to offer up our prayers…
be they of worship and praise, adulation and jubilation, thanksgiving and awe,
or simply intercession—
For we must do so with a fervency…because none of us are exempt from pain.

Just as it would behoove us to understand that hell is very real, very lasting
and it is not the sort of place we should want to or settle on going—
For if we find the early glimpse unbearable, what would eternity be….

For during each our lifetimes we will inevitably be faced with this glimpse of hell,
and when we are, we must know that we are ‘shored up’…
that during those times when all we can do is cry out “help, please” that we may rest
in knowing that He has heard us and we are not as we feel, alone and tormented…
For He has already walked our journey long before we were even conceived.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

Reasoning of the what ifs

“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human
history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—
the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God
which will make him happy.”

C.S. Lewis


(a lone pigeon surveys the surf / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2017)

‎”Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind.
In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking.
It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen,
for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way,
this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought.
But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true?
It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself
will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking,
of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism,
and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else.
Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought:
so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

C.S. Lewis

In determining relationships we must begin somewhere.
There must be somewhere a fixed center against which everything else is measured,
where the law of relativity does not enter and we can say “IS” and make no allowances.
Such a center is God. When God would make His Name known to mankind He could find
no better word than “I AM.”
When He speaks in the first person He says,
“I AM”; when we speak of Him we say, “He is”;
when we speak to Him we say, “Thou art.”
Everyone and everything else measures from that fixed point.
“I am that I am,” says God,
“I change not.”

As the sailor locates his position on the sea by “shooting” the sun,
so we may get our moral bearings by looking at God. We must begin with God.
We are right when and only when we stand in a right position relative to God,
and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position.

A. W. Towzer

lambs to rams

“There’s nothing so fearsome as the revolt of a sheep,”
said de Marsay.”

Honoré de Balzac


(Sheep along the cliffs of Slieve League, Co. Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I have a very wise blogging friend.

Well actually, I have many wise blogging friends….
all of whom I have been fortunate enough to sit at their knees while learning
a thing or two.
For you see, I don’t think we’re ever too old or too knowledgable to learn.

One friend in particular is what I like to call a ‘kindly sort of warrior.’

Not warrior like some sort of Viking princess or radical progressive feminist—
quite the contrary.

She is older than I am, so she’s been around the block a couple of more times
than I have.
She also knows her stuff when it comes to both life and faith.

When you look at her, you get that sweet dear old aunt or grandmother vibe….
the one who always has the plate of fresh cookies waiting on you when you come visit.

Her point of origin however denotes a southern mid-west no nonsense sort of lens.
She therefore shoots straight from the hip and makes no apologies….

The other day after one of the most recent current event brouhahas, which was running
amuck across the nation, blew up in the media…this kindly wise soul actually bristled some feathers.
And naturally…. I liked it…. and told her as much.

Her response—“lamb to ram.”

Meaning that sometimes the sweet little lambs of the fold have been known to step up,
speak up, speak out—all the while they let it be known that whereas the lambs may
be known for their peaceful love…they are certainly no pushovers.
They will defend and even fight for what is right when it is necessary….
as in a Godly sort of righteousness.

Think Joan of Arc—as in a holy warrior.

And that’s the thing.

I often think those of the world view much of fold of Christianity as being pushovers, mambie pambie do gooders who are naive and often times ignorant souls who, bless their hearts, believe in make-believe and fairy tales.

As in who can or would take them seriously…??!!

They are to be the doormats of progressive liberals, the media, atheists and yes,
even radical Muslims…
As in annihilate the Christians because they are the annoying little flies in the room,
the troublemakers caught in a tragic time warp whose past is all but checkered.

But in actuality what I see is that Christianity represents the conscience
of man.
For Christians know all about sin, its destructiveness, its lies,
its corruption, its snare and its trap.

Christians are those who can actually see and know Truth, while living all around them
is a raging lie.
And no one likes being told their living or lives boil down to that of a lie…
hence part and parcel for all that animosity.

Yet Christians are no more exempt from sin, temptation, egregious acts than the next
person…it’s just that Christians recognize the source of the misery… they call it
by name, admit the errors… be they small or egregiously grand, seek the forgiveness
and the righteous salvation freely offered by the Resurrected Son and then in turn
share that blessed knowledge.

It’s that whole go and sin no more notion.

And yet, often times, they, we, do sin again.

And that’s when the naysayers jump.

But here’s another thing.

Christians continually seek the saving Grace of Jesus Christ…
as they are the penultimate sacrificial lambs to the ultimate Lamb…
that having been Jesus Christ.

We seek Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness…and the rub…?
The fold is then instructed to go out and do the same to and for those still
caught in the lies of the cultural wars.

Yet the culture war gods would prefer the Christians keep silent or better yet,
be silenced.

Because the collective fold consciously reminds these culture gods as to why
their push for the latest and greatest dehumanizing choices are wrong.

Why homosexuality is wrong.
Why gay marriage is wrong.
Why radical feminism is wrong.
Why abortion is wrong.
Why addiction is wrong.
Why sin is wrong.
Why secularism is wrong.
Why humanism is wrong.

They speak to what is dangerous and to why that is so.

Progressivism, liberalism, communism, secularism, totalitarianism, hedonism, socialism
materialism, idolatry, sorcery….as each one falls under the rule of the Law…..
as the lambs of the fold remind the nations as to why there are the laws of Commandments and to the consequence of not following God’s word…

So yeah, sometimes the lamb has to be a ram…


(a sheep somewhere along the road in Co Galway, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise
its authority for forty-two months.
It opened its mouth to blaspheme God,
and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.
It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them.
And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—-
all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life,
the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

Revelation 13:5-8

is it well with my soul?

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul”

stanza from the hymn It Is Well With My Soul
Horatio G. Spafford


(an end season skipper visits a blooming wildflower/ Julie Cook / 2017)

Is all well with your soul?

Probably not.

I know it’s not with mine….not in recent months…

If you are a breathing, sensory processing, thinking, feeling sort of human being,
chances are, that given the current day and times, all is not well with
your soul either.

How could it be?

I for one have gravitated from being an observer to what all is currently happening
around us to feeling angry, helpless, sad and frustrated.

From natural disasters that seem to ride in on each incoming wave to to the human
tragedies as seen in Las Vegas, to just our constant state of civil unrest and
disdain for our fellow citizens…
this oh so divided nation is breaking my heart.

Add in to that each of our own personal struggles and tragedies—
and life is becoming heavy to say the least.

Those of us of the faith pray, we read scripture, we listen and often we grow weary
by the weight of it all.

Those non believers amongst us often then jump on that weariness as some sort of sign of
our waffling and inner struggle as they gleefully shout that they told us all along…
there is no loving God….

And of course we know better than that…but it sure gets frustrating because we pray
and we pay and we just keep wrestling with the never-ending madness.

Growing up in the Episcopal church, the hymn It Is Well With My Soul was not
one of the hymns we sang…however I was familiar with it none the less…

So as I sat here today stewing a bit with the current condition of my “soul”—
as the heaviness just seems a bit heavier today than usual,
I did a little digging into the background of the hymn.

What I found was heart wrenching to say the least.
If there was a soul who wrestled with the heaviness and frustration and heartbreak
of life, it was Horatio G. Spafford…a successful businessman out of Chicago during
the mid 19th century.

I offer to you the following back story to this well know hymn…a story of reality, tragedy and eventually peace….
a peace in knowing that there is One who is always greater
than any trial, tragedy or frustration that we will ever face in this life….
A peace in knowing that there is One who has overcome each and every sorrow…

It Is Well with My Soul”
Horatio G. Spafford

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

With this hymn comes one of the most heartrending stories in the annals of hymnody.

The author, Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888), was a Presbyterian layman from Chicago.
He had established a very successful legal practice as a young businessman and was
also a devout Christian.
Among his close friends were several evangelists including the famous
Dwight L. Moody, also from Chicago.

Spafford’s fortune evaporated in the wake of the great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Having invested heavily in real estate along Lake Michigan’s shoreline,
he lost everything overnight.
In a saga reminiscent of Job, his son died a short time before his financial disaster.
But the worst was yet to come.

Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck tells the story:
“Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters as well as wishing to join
and assist Moody and [his musician Ira] Sankey in one of their campaigns
in Great Britain, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873.
In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments,
he had to remain in Chicago,
but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the
S.S. Ville du Havre.
He expected to follow in a few days.

About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic,
the Ville du Harve collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Suddenly, all of those on board were in grave danger.
Anna hurriedly brought her four children to the deck.
She knelt there with Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta and prayed
that God would spare them if that could be His will,
or to make them willing to endure whatever awaited them.
Within approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath
the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers
including the four Spafford children.

A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down,
spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage.
It was Anna, still alive.
He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which,
nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales.

Another of the ship’s survivors, Pastor Weiss, later recalled Anna saying,
“God gave me four daughters.
Now they have been taken from me.
Someday I will understand why.”

From there she wired her husband a message which began,
“Saved alone, what shall I do?”
Mr. Spafford later framed the telegram and placed it in his office.
Spafford left immediately to join his wife.
This hymn is said to have been penned as he approached the area of the ocean
thought to be where the ship carrying his daughters had sunk.

Another daughter, Bertha, was born in 1878 as well as a son, Horatio, in 1880,
though he later died of scarlet fever.
After the birth of daughter Grace in 1881,
Spafford and his wife moved to Jerusalem out of a deep interest in the Holy Land.
There they established the American Colony,
a Christian utopian society engaged in philanthropic activities among Jews,
Muslims and Christians.

After decades of benevolent activities, the Colony ceased to be a communal society
in the 1950s, though it continued in a second life as the American Colony Hotel,
the first home of the talks between Palestine and Israel that eventually led to the 1983 Oslo Peace Accords

(excerpted from both an article written for the United Methodist Discipleship Ministries
by Dr. Hawn who is professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology, SMU as well as from a story that ran in the St Augustine Record)

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding,
shall keep your hearts, your minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

heads of serpents

“The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about marriage
and the family.
Do not be afraid,
because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will
always be fought and opposed in every way,
because this is the decisive issue.
However, Our Lady has already crushed his head.”

Sister Lucia


(Madonna and Child with St Anne / Caravaggio / 1605-1606 / Galleria Borghese, Rome)

Caravaggio was a masterful late Renaissance painter who seems to have been able to
capture the overwhelming importance of certain biblical moments with merely the tip
of a brush.
He mixed both arrangement, size, light and proportion to make both impressive,
as well as tremendous, visual impacts.

Yet for many art historians, this particular painting is not considered one of his better works.
However workmanship aside, the visual representation based on the verse from Genesis 3:15,

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

is indeed a powerful painted statement none the less.

A little history behind the painting, taken from the site Caravaggio.org

The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne was painted between 1605 and 8 April 1606,
when a final payment to Caravaggio was recorded,
for the Confraternity of Sant’ Anna dei Palafrenieri, or Grooms, of the Vatican Palace.
The composition depicts Christ and the Virgin treading simultaneously on the serpent of heresy,
watched by the Virgin’s mother, St. Anne, who was the patron saint of the Palafrenieri.
It was an unusual although topical theme based on an ambiguous biblical passage, Genesis 3:15,
which does not make it clear whether it was Eve, the antetype of Mary, the ‘New Eve’,
or her offspring who was meant to strike at the serpent’s head.
What started as a theological dispute became caught up in the wider debate between
Roman Catholicism and Protestantism,
with the Protestants not unnaturally arguing in favour of the offspring and, hence, Christ.
The issue was resolved on the Roman Catholic side, however, with commendable textual accuracy,
not to say religious tact,
by a Bull of Pius V which ruled that ‘the Virgin crushed the head of the serpent
with the aid of him to whom she had given birth.’
It is this interpretation which Caravaggio followed, possibly basing himself on a
slightly earlier picture by the Milanese artist Figino.

Yet Papal Bulls, Reformations and denominations aside…
Today’s faithful know that the head of the serpent was indeed crushed following that fateful
Friday afternoon outside of the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.
And if the truth be told, the vice hold on the head began that lone starry night
in Bethlehem 33 years prior.

The quote from above is offered by Sister Lucia, the oldest of the three shepherd children
who, while tending their sheep in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, were visited by a strange yet
lovely lady.

And yet it matters not where you are on your Christian journey as to whether you
take stock in the tale of the shepherd children or of the tale of the miraculous..
Just as it matters not as to whether you believe that there was indeed such a heavenly
encounter now 100 years passed…
The important thing here however is to understand that wisdom and warning both
come to us in a myriad of fashions.

There are many in today’s world, both believers and ardent non believers,
who wonder and even argue that those tales of miracles and those outspoken prophets of
the bible are found only there…
in between the pages of ancient texts…
and that our world has not been privy to such powerful and outspoken voices, with such
names as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Moses, John, Peter, Paul and that we have not witnessed such
miraculous examples as to partings of seas, or to the raising of dead bodies,
or to waters that turn either to blood or wine…
but if truth be told,
both believers and non believers, yearn for that very thing.

It is a yearning for the tangible being found in the miraculous of that of the intangible.

Our current time is precarious at best…
Where persecution of the faithful becomes seemingly more elusive yet more sinister….
as it is an intellectual and spiritual suffocation.

While that which was once overt is no longer clearly visible but rather is now veiled in
the gossamer shadows of confusion.
It is a place where the notions of acceptance and approval pervasively reign for that
which is upside down.

What was once accepted as Truth has now been twisted into something other than
as we are being spoon fed a most palatable mix of half truths and lies…
all the while we continue to clamor for bite after tasty bite.

Yet the time has come…
shall the faithful speak up and speak out?

A final battle will eventually ensue..
there have been preparations, when he left us, he made certain we were well equipped.
As he has provided ample opportunities, all of which have been freely offered..
all the while as a holy foot has held the head of the serpent at bay…

So the choice is now clear, either we opt to crush the head of the serpent or
we become his prey…

He who commits sin is of the devil;
for the devil has sinned from the beginning.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him,
and he cannot sin because he is born of God.
By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil:
whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:8-10