Disciples of hope!

“Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”
St. Catherine of Siena


(a pre pandemic January sunrise at Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)

There is an excuse for some anxiety today, but no one has a right to be without hope.
Yet the prophets of gloom abound, and the disciples of hope are few.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
From The World’s First Love

Yep, I’ll be the first to admit that these have been some trying times.

And yes, much like everyone else throughout this global ordeal, I have found myself fretful,
fearful and even angry.

We, humans, strive to control our destinies no matter what.
We like to believe that we are the captains of our own ship.
And we want to steer those ships upon the seas of life while
sailing into only calm waters.

But life, much like a wild horse, will not yield to being tamed.
The seas will pitch and roll at will.

We find ourselves tossed about in a maelstrom,
growing anxious as both frustration and depression set in.

If we throw in an already deeply divided and often hate-filled nation, we have the makings of
a most toxic mishmash of fear, bitterness, and resentment all sprinkled with a heavy dose
of a pandemic…it doesn’t get much worse.

The prophets have been touted and proclaimed… the prophets of falsehoods, ill-will,
and doom.
Prophets with a little p, prophets who profess conspiracy, animosity, divisiveness
and even hate.

But that need not be our fate.

We can make a conscious decision.
We can choose to set ourselves a part.
We can step aside from the small prophets
opting to be a disciple, a follower of Hope…

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand,
and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:2-5

Simple, humble and pure…

“By reason of His immensity, God is present everywhere; but there are two places
where He dwells in a particular manner.
One is in the highest heavens, where He is present by that glory which He
communicates to the blessed; the other is on earth—within the humble soul that loves Him.”

St Alphonsus Liguori


(seagull and reflection/ Rosemary Beach, Fl /Julie Cook/ 2020)

“Furthermore, let us produce worthy fruits of penance.
Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility.
Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin.
Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world,
but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give.
For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.
We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh.
Rather we must be simple, humble and pure.
We should never desire to be over others.
Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God’s sake.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end.
He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father’s children who do his work.
They are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St. Francis of Assisi, p. 333
An Excerpt From
Witness of the Saints

winter’s shadows overpowered by Grace

“If the heart wanders or is distracted,
bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence.
And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back
and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you
brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

St. Francis de Sales


(Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)

“This great power of grace over nature appears at first sight as unnatural,
for which reason nature strives against it and does not even wish to hear of the necessity
of penance and mortification. But the obligation of penance remains,
and precisely because of nature’s opposition,
it cannot be emphasized often enough or earnestly enough.
Softened, wounded nature, moreover, makes difficulties greater than they really are.
Grace does not wish to destroy nature, but only to elevate it,
that is, to drive out the evil that makes it sick and then to introduce a new and better life.
By taking away all that nature loves to its own detriment,
and thus wounding it in its innermost depth,
it at the same time pours such a healthful balsam into this wound that it is
a delight to be wounded in this way.
Ask the Saints if they have ever experienced any greater delight than in those moments
when they offered themselves, body and soul, as a victim to God…
Ask yourself if you have ever enjoyed a deeper or more genuine delight than when you
suppressed a violent desire of proud, angry nature, or performed any other act of
heroic mortification with the help of grace. If, then, grace could give the Saints
such a wonderful, superhuman and heroic courage as to elevate them above themselves
and make them lead an angelic life already in the flesh,
can it not enable you to live at least as a man, in harmony with your natural dignity,
and not as a slave of the flesh, of the passions, of your own will and opinion?”

Fr. Matthias J. Scheeben, p. 260
An Excerpt From
The Glories of Divine Grace:
A Fervent Exhortation to All to Preserve and to Grow in Sanctifying Grace

It is the winter of our discontent…may we seek contentment

“I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe,
but rather, I believe in order that I may understand.”

St. Anselm of Canterbury


(an early January morning / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“Francis [de Sales] insists that true devotion must touch every area of our life.
True devotion is not just a matter of spiritual practices but of bringing all our life
under the lordship of Christ. Francis is known for his slogan:
‘Live, Jesus! Live, Jesus!’
What he means by this is an invitation to Jesus to ‘live and reign in our hearts
forever and ever’…
In other words, for Francis, to live the devout life is to reach the point in our love for God
and neighbor that we eagerly (‘carefully, frequently, and promptly’)
desire to do His will in all the various ways in which it is communicated to us:
in the duties of our state in life, in the objective teaching of God’s Word,
in opportunities and occasions presented to us, in response to our interior inspirations.”

Ralph Martin, p. 107
An Excerpt From
Fulfillment of All Desire

to appear before man or God, that is our choice

“He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.”

St. Ambrose


( a quiet January morning / Rosemary Beach / Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God.
Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example,
for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter.
In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived
in remote caves to escape the esteem of men.
The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men,
to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul,
an evil that causes us to forget our God;
it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the
spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God,
we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their
approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.”

St. Alphonsus Liguiori,
p. 128-9
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

the daily ritual of a plover

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
― Robert Lynd


(all pictures by Julie Cook / 2019)

Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches.
Psalm 104:12 ESV

my highlighter dried up

“Despite the violence of the attacks that she may suffer,
the Chruch will not die. This is the Lord’s promise,
and His word is infallible.”
…theologians amuse themselves by deconstructing dogmas and emptying morality
of its profound meaning
Relativism is the mask Judas disguised as an intellectual.

Robert Cardinal Sarah


(morning skies / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

Here are a few more gems gleaned from Cardinal Sarah and his latest book,
The Day Is Now Far Spent.

I shared with you the other day that I had practically highlighted the entire first
two pages of his introduction and since then, the highlighter I was using has run dry.

The following snippets offer some very powerful words…words offered to
to the collective body of Christian believers who are finding themselves bewildered by the
attacks taking place on the bride of Christ, that being his Church.

Cardinal Sarah shares…
This book is the cry of my soul!
It is a cry of love for God and for my brethren.
I owe to you, to you Christians, the only truth that saves.
The Chruch is dying because her pastors are afraid to speak in all truth and clarity.
We are afraid of the media,
afraid of public opinion,
afraid of our own brethren!
The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep.

Today, in these pages, I offer you what is at the heart of my life:
faith in God.

In a little while, I will appear before the eternal Judge.
If I do not hand on to you the truth that I received, what will I say to him then?
We bishops ought to tremble at the thought of our guilty silences,
our complicit silences, our over-indulging silences in dealing with the world.

Christians are trembling, wavering, doubting.
I want this book to be for them.
To tell them: do not doubt!
Hold fast to doctrine.
Hold fast to prayer!
I want this book to strengthen faithful Christians and priests.

Cardinal Sarah has likened our current time to the mystery of Judas.
The mystery of betrayal.
He tells us that “The mystery of Judas, the mystery of betrayal, is a subtle poison.
The devil seeks to make us doubt the Church.
He wants us to regard her as a human organization in crisis.
However, she is so much more
than that: she is the continuation of Christ.
The devil drives us to division and schism.
He wants to make us believe that the Chruch has betrayed us.
But the Church does not betray.
The Chruch, full of sinners, is herself without sin!
There will always be enough light in her for those who seek God.

Judas is for all of eternity the traitor’s name, and his shadow hangs over us today.
Yes, like him, we have betrayed!
We have abandoned prayer.
The evil of efficient activism has infiltrated everywhere.
We seek to imitate the organization of big businesses.
We forget that prayer alone is the blood that can course through the heart of the Chruch.
We say that we have no time to waste.
We want to use this time for useful social works.
Someone who no longer prays has already betrayed.
Already he is willing to make all sorts of compromises with the world.
He is walking on the path of Judas.

I will leave us today with one last thought offered by Cardinal Sarah.
One last thought that we must all ruminate over…that of our purpose as believes in Christ.

Do we Christians, priests, bishops have some reason for existing other than to stand before
God and to lead others to him?
It is time to teach this!
It is time to put it into practice!
The one who prays is saved, the one who does not pray is damned, St Alphonsus said.
I want to insist on this point,
because a church that does not have a prayer as its most precious treasure is headed for ruin.
If we do not rediscover the meaning of long, patient vigils with the Lord, we will betray him.
The apostles did this: Do we think we are better than they were?

“the ocean of God’s infinite vision”

“Consider God’s charity.
Where else have we ever seen someone who has been offended voluntarily paying out
his life for those who have offended him?”

St. Catherine of Siena


(A pack of plentiful piping plovers /Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook /2019)

In every contemplation, this double movement occurs:
the longing for God is fulfilled and at the same time enlarged to more consuming longing.
Any word of the Lord is sufficient to kindle in us this fire.
And this fire is the form in which human contemplation hands itself over to the Lord’s contemplation;
the small vision pours itself out into the ocean of God’s infinite vision.

Adrienne von Speyr
from Water and Spirit

graces

“Three things are necessary to everyone:
truth of faith which brings understanding,
love of Christ which brings compassion,
and endurance of hope which brings perseverance.”

St. Bonaventure


(a gull prances in the surf / Julie Cook / 2019)

My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners.
If only they could understand that I am the best of Fathers to them and that
it is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy.
For them I dwell in the tabernacle as King of Mercy.
I desire to bestow My graces upon souls, but they do not want to accept them.
You, at least, come to Me as often as possible and take these graces they do not want to accept.
In this way you will console My Heart.
Oh, how indifferent are souls to so much goodness, to so many proofs of love!
My Heart drinks only of the ingratitude and forgetfulness of souls living in the world.
They have time for everything, but they have no time to come to Me for graces.”

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, p. 367
An Excerpt From
Diary of St. Faustina

read, preach, defend

“The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder…
What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course,
and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection.”
St. Padre Pio


(a willet and a pair of piping plovers in the surf /Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

“For it is our plain duty to preach and defend the truth in a straightforward way.
Those who are to stumble must stumble, rather than the heirs of grace should not hear.
While we offend and alienate one man, we secure another;
if we drive one man further the wrong way, we drive another further the right way.
The cause of truth, the heavenly company of saints, gains on the whole more in one way than in the other.”

Bl. John Henry Newman, p. 25
An Excerpt From
Quotable Newman