Conduct of God, conduct of man

“Totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for your love.”
St. Clare of Assisi


(winter shells cast across the surf / Julie Cook/ Rosemary Beach, Fl / 2019)

“Consider not only that God your benefactor is present but also that He acts continuously
in all His creatures.
And for whom is this continual action, this work of God in nature?
For you.
Thus, He lights you by the light of day;
He nourishes you with the productions of the earth;
in a word, He serves you by each one of the creatures that you use;
so that it is true to say that at every moment the bounty,
the wisdom and the power of God are at your service and are exercised in the world for
your wants or pleasures.

This conduct of God toward man should be the model of your conduct toward God.

You see that the presence of God in His creatures is never idle;
it acts incessantly, it preserves, it governs.
Beware, then, of stopping at a sterile contemplation of God present in yourself.
Add action to contemplation; to the sight of the Divine presence add the faithful
accomplishment of the Divine will.”

St. Ignatius, p. 182
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

arrow of beauty, the tiny spark of Love

“If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you,
do not expose it to the wind,
for it may get blown out…
Stay quiet with God.
Do not spend your time in useless chatter…
Do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself.”

St. Charles Borromeo


(a gull in unfazed by the crashing surf / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

True knowledge is being struck by the arrow of beauty that wounds man: being touched by reality,
‘by the personal presence of Christ himself’, as [Nicholas Cabasilas] puts it.
Being overcome by the beauty of Christ is a more real, more profound knowledge than mere rational deduction.
Of course we must not underestimate the importance of theological reflection, of exact and careful theological thought;
it is still absolutely necessary.
But to despise, on that account, the impact produced by the heart’s encounter with beauty,
or to reject it as a true form of knowledge would impoverish and dry up both faith and theology.
We must rediscover this form of knowledge—it is an urgent demand of the present hour.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
from On the Way to Jesus Christ

The gift Giver who allows you to set the world on fire

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena


(plover along the surf /Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cool / 2019)

“Love is a strong force — a great good in every way;
it alone can make our burdens light, and alone it bears in equal balance what is pleasing and displeasing.
It carries a burden and does not feel it; it makes all that is bitter taste sweet. …
Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing higher, nothing stronger, nothing larger, nothing more joyful,
nothing fuller, nothing better in heaven or on earth;
for love is born of God and can find its rest only in God above all He has created.
Such lovers fly high, run swiftly and rejoice.
Their souls are free; they give all for all and have all in all.
For they rest in One supreme Goodness above all things, from Whom all other good flows and proceeds.
They look not only at the gifts, but at the Giver, Who is above all gifts.”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 108
An Excerpt From
The Imitation of Christ

gain greater than loss

“I see clearly with the interior eye, that the sweet God loves with a pure love the creature
that He has created, and has a hatred for nothing but sin,
which is more opposed to Him than can be thought or imagined.”

St. Catherine of Genoa


(gull along the surf / Rosemary Beach, FL /Julie Cook / 2019)

“Man threw away everything he had—his right to speak freely, his communion with God,
his time in Paradise, his unclouded life—and went out naked, like a survivor from a shipwreck.
But God received him and immediately clothed him, and taking him by the hand gradually led him to heaven.
And yet the shipwreck was quite unforgivable. For this tempest was entirely due,
not to the force of the winds, but to the carelessness of the sailor.
Yet God did not look at this, but had compassion for such a great disaster…
Why? Because, when no sadness or care or labor or toil or countless waves of desire assaulted our nature,
it was overturned and fell.
And just as criminals who sail the sea often drill through the ship with a small iron tool,
and let the whole sea into the ship from below,
so when the devil saw the ship of Adam (by which I mean his soul) filled with many good things,
he came and drilled through it with his voice alone, as if it were an iron tool,
and stole all his wealth and sank the ship itself.
But God made the gain greater than the loss, and brought our nature to the royal throne.”

St. John Chrysostom, p. 19
An Excerpt Frp,
A Year with the Church Fathers

New every morning

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24


(morning sun / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2018)

Is it fair to say I was lured away?
By endless distractions and lovelier attractions then
Or fairer still, my own free will
Is the better one to blame for this familiar mess
I’ve made again
So I would understand if You were out of patience
And I would understand if I was out of chances
Your mercies are new every morning
So let me wake with the dawn
When the music is through or so it seems to be
Let me sing a new song, old things gone
Every day it’s true, You make all Your mercies new
The distance left between East and West
Is how far You would go to forget the debt I’d owe
And thrown into the sea, the wicked ways in me
Will never have a chance to wash back on the sand
So I would understand if You would make me pay
I would understand lying in the bed I made again
Your mercies are new every morning
So let me wake with the dawn
When the music is through or so it seems to be
Let me sing a new song, old things gone
Every day it’s true, You make all Your mercies new
Up comes the sun on every one of us
Gone, gone, gone the guilt and shame that knew Your name
Your mercies are new every morning
So let me wake with the dawn
When the music is through or so it seems to be
Let me sing a new song, old things gone
Every day it’s true, You make all Your mercies new
Songwriters: Nordeman, Nichole Ellyse / Ashworth, Charles William

the responsibilities we have

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds.
A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship,
and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

St. Basil the Great


(gull, Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Scattered about the entire earth, your mother the Church is tormented by the assaults of error.
She is also afflicted by the laziness and indifference of so many of the children she carries
around in her bosom as well as by the sight of so many of her members growing cold,
while she becomes less able to help her little ones.
Who then will give her the necessary help she cries for if not her children and other members to
whose number you belong?”
Saint Augustine, p. 90
An Excerpt From
Augustine Day by Day

consider the lowly

Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
Your statutes are always righteous;
give me understanding that I may live.

Psalm 119:141-144


(the lowly sea cucumber, aka the lollyfish / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2019)

In the pecking order of the sea, I would imagine that a sea cucumber would be pretty much the lowest
of the low.
More slug than fish.
More bottom dweller than swimmer.
Living life on the ocean floor filtering out all the residue from one’s fellow creatures…

Wash up on the beach and you might be mistaken as the excrement from something else.

Not a glamours creature by any means.

We would never consider ourselves to be anything like a sea cucumber.
Lowly and ugly.
A bottom dweller.

But the introduction of sin has made man much lower than that of even a poor sea cucumber.

Pride may cloud the eye of man but sin clouds the sight of man from the eye of God …

“…the hyphenated sins of the human spirit.
They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their
subtlety and their power. To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity,
self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them.
They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention
till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins, egotism,
exhibitionism, self-promotion, are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders even in circles of
impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people,
to become identified with the gospel.
I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for
popularity in some sections of the Church visible.
Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common
as to excite little notice.”

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Sinfulness masking itself as self-promotion… or even worse…
masking itself as the seemingly self-righteous promoting of Christ when in actuality it is
an act that is merely self-serving…
an act that consists of self-promotion at the expense of Christ himself.
Merely using Christ as a tool for our own sense of selfishness, ego, and pride.

A sinful nature that makes us lowly…

And yet, it is in that lowliness where our hope is to be found and where it rests. …
hope in the lowliness of an open and admited humility…

Only in God is my soul at rest
In Him comes my salvation
He only is my Rock
My strength and my salvation

My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be afraid at all
My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be moved

Only in God is found safety
When the enemy pursues me
Only in God is found glory
When I am found meek and found lowly

My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be afraid at all
My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be moved

Only in God is my soul at rest
In Him comes my salvation

Lyrics by John Michael Talbot based upon Psalm 62