an early Joyous Easter

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair.
We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła)


(empty tomb courtesy the web)

We have a jammed packed next couple of days…
Starting with a wedding in Atlanta on Friday…

One of my oldest and dearest friend’s daughter is getting married.
Getting married in the midst of a pandemic is problematic at best…
ask any bride from this time last year all the way ’til now…
Cancelations, plan B’s, C’s and even D’s to simply giving up and giving in
while opting for the notion of eloping.

I kind of happened to mention to my friend that…
“you do know, that in all of Christendom, there are no weddings on Good Friday…”
“And why is that?” she asked a bit annoyed…you should know my friend is Jewish
while the groom and his family are Catholic.

Oh something about Good Friday being the most solemn day on the Church’s calendar…this as my thoughts trail off…

I got a rather quick and snappy reply from a mother of a bride who has had
to jump every hurdle and hoop known to man due to a pandemic while trying
to pull off the wedding of a daughter’s dream….
“Well you know” she begins…”had some idiot in China opted not to eat a d@mn bat,
we’d be having the wedding on Saturday and they’d actually be going on their honeymoon
of choice but again, since some d@mn idiot in China decided to eat a bat… we are, in turn, living plans B, C, D, E and even F!!”

We mustn’t mess with the mothers or the brides of 2020 and now 2021…

And so immediately following the wedding, we’ve got to race back home because I’m signed up to get my second vaccine at 9 AM sharp at the Cancer and Blood Center in Athens.

I know…
I was vaccine shamed…plain and simple, so let’s not talk about it…

Rather let’s pray I don’t get as sick this round as I did following shot number 1 …because
everyone is coming to our house Sunday for Easter Lunch!!!!

So, since the next couple of day’s will be spent dashing here and there as well as cooking and cleaning …
I wanted to wish everyone a joyous day of Resurrection…
A keen reminder of redemption and hope!

“The soul that does not attach itself solely to the will of God will find neither
satisfaction nor sanctification in any other means,
however excellent by which it may attempt to gain them.
If that which God Himself chooses for you does not content you,
from whom do you expect to obtain what you desire?…
It is only just, therefore, that the soul that is dissatisfied with the divine action
for each present moment should be punished by being unable to find happiness in anything else.”

Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p. 14
An Excerpt from
Abandonment to Divine Providence

trying my soul

Leaves without flowers:
these are they which have words without works.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


(a soon to be blooming vine / Julie Cook / 2021)

Is it a coincidence that this week of all weeks, Holy Week, a week of the trying souls,
that WP is once again trying to make the new block editor the the only option for posting??
That the classic editor is becoming more and more elusive?
Perhaps my beloved classic editor is to be eliminated all together?
Is it not just a small microcosm, a random example of our current times?

The canceling, the exclusion, the elimination of the what was…
all for that ‘something’ that the powers that be deem to be so much other than
as well as better than…
something deemed to be more inclusive, and in turn, better?

But is all of that truly better?

Elusive and difficult, at best, is not better.

Does it matter that a portion of the population prefers what was???
Preferring that ‘what was’ is something that works best and better for others??
Or is it that ‘they’ and ‘it’ are both simply obsolete?

My husband and I ran to Home Depot today…a trip we make almost three times a week,
while we head to Lowes the other days of the week—
either way, we are in search of things needed for this new old home we’ve “inherited”
via purchase.
But let’s not go there today.

So I opted to sit in the car while my husband ran into the store.

While I sat in the car I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a notice that
The Chosen was offering their new trailer for the soon to be released Season 2.

The Chosen–that marvelous crowd funded show about the life of Jesus…via the
backstories of those who came in contact with the son of a carpenter…

I clicked on the trailer.

Isn’t it funny how God often desires to “speak” to us, His children, in places and in ways
we’d never imagine?
It matters not when nor where God opts to speak out loud to us–He will speak no matter
what or when!

He spoke to me today in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Athens, Ga.

I heard a resounding word—“your world is small, MY world is all encompassing.”

I looked at all the cars, all the folks pushing carts all around me…
Everyone was busy.
Life was on the move…and yet…
I had a resounding sense that all that I was seeing and experiencing was oh so small
and insignificant.

There was a true sense of peace in all of that.

All the news, all the mayhem, all the politics, all the legalities, all the pandemic..
all the madness taking place..none of it mattered…I felt a sudden sense of being
small and insignificant.

And in that insignificance, in that smallness…there was a release.
A peace found in the small…
No news
No storms
No politics
No laws
No division
No defunding police
No lawmakers
No masks
No vaccines
No trials
No hate
No death…

All bits and pieces of insignificance.

Our God…your God, my God..
Greater than anything of this world…
Greater than our own thoughts and imagination…
Thank goodness!!!

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son.
Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will,
because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—
that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—
you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why
I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

extend love and forgiveness

God wants us to receive His mercy and, in turn,
be merciful to others through our actions, words, and prayers.
He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He extends
love and forgiveness to us.

Fr. Chris Alar, MIC
from his book Understanding Divine Mercy


(hidden creatures amongst the rosemary /Julie Cook / 2021)

Free me from evil passions and heal my heart of all disorderly affections,
that being healed and well purified in my interior,
I may become fit to love, courageous to suffer and constant to persevere.
Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed,
which alone maketh light all that is burdened and makes all that which is bitter sweet and savory.
The love of Jesus is noble and generous;
it spurs us on to do great things and excites us to desire always that which is most perfect.”

Thomas á Kempis, p. 89
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

think and seek the things of God…

“O man, when the world hates you and is faithless toward you, think of your God,
how he was struck and spat upon.
You should not accuse your neighbor of guilt,
but pray to God that he be merciful to you both.”

St. Nicholas of Flue


(I think it’s called an Autumn cherry…despite it’s prolific blooms during early Spring / Julie Cook / 2021)

“This world is filled with many vulgar and dishonorable things that will claw and tear at your
Christian purity if you allow them to.
Don’t let them!
Seek instead the things of God.
He will purify you and free you from your slavery to profane and inconsequential things.”

Patrick Madrid, p.1
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Bible

stairway to heaven

“Apart from the cross,
there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

St. Rose of Lima


(Hotel Oud Huis de Peellaert stairway/ Bruges, Belgium/ Julie Cook 2011)

Remember back in the day, those heady days of the early 1970’s?
We had just crossed over the infamous Rubicon—a time of transition from the turbulent 60’s
crossing the threshold into a new decade—we did not want to look back.
Rather we crossed over, hoping the new decade would bring us
the gift of change….positive, war-free days change.

Musically it was a time just prior to the colorful days of spinning mirrored balls,
platform shoes, Night Fever and the world of all things Disco.
It was a quickly closing window of time…a time when rock bands still vied for the
waning spotlight.

It was a time when every sweaty-palmed young man and every young lady whose smile bore
the glint of silver braces, each felt a magical flutter when hearing the familiar and melodic
opening notes to the perfect slow dance song of all time—
the song that created an almost 10 full magical minutes of holding close slow dancing…

Should you dare rest your head on his shoulder??
Should you dare pull her closer to your chest??

Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven

And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all is one and one is all, that’s what it is
To be a rock and not to roll, oh yeah
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page / Led Zeppelin

Granted, I for one loved dancing to the song…especially if I was dancing
with “the one”—that particular boy who had stolen my fancy at that particular time
in life.

But I must admit, I often pondered those lyrics as the visual image of a stairway to Heaven
was akin to St. John Climacus’ The Ladder of Divine Ascent, also known as the Ladder of Paradise.


(The 12th century Ladder of Divine Ascent icon /Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt/
showing monks, led by John Climacus, ascending the ladder to Jesus, at the top right.

There were 30 rungs to the ladder…each a nod to the thirty some odd years of Christ’s life.
“It is the Divine model of the religious,
it presents a picture of all the virtues and contains a great many parables and historical touches,
drawn principally from the monastic life, and exhibiting the practical application of the precepts.”

And all of these thoughts came flooding to the forefront of my thoughts when I read today’s quote
by St. Rose of Lima.
There is no avoiding the cross as we look to climb the ladder to Heaven.

Many of the faithful, more of our Protestant brethren, often don’t understand what is
most often perceived as a bizarre and often macabre view of the cross, or crucifix,
that our Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican brethren seem to fixate upon.

And I for one tend to be one of those who look toward that cross.

It is the dark shadow of our faith that so many prefer to ignore or simply look past
pretending it doesn’t exist…but I see it for what it is.
The only means by which I now have hope.

For it there was no cross, there would be no hope.
If there is no decent into Hell, there is no ascent to Heaven.

It is the ugly truth as some would say…but I say it is the only truth.

There would be no Easter, no resurrection, without the cross.

We are told that we must carry that cross if we wish to live.
We can not avoid it.

There is no Easter joy if there is no cross of Good Friday.

The sacrifice had to be made if any of us were to be saved.

So yes, the cross is indeed our stairway to Heaven…

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you.
And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Isaiah 60:1-3

Does our anxiety separation grow exponentially with age?

“The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey.
The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage.
One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.”

Thomas Merton


(the unhappy traveling Mayor when a loved one leaves the car and she does not / Julie Cook/ 2021)

Recently it’s been hard to ignore, but both the Mayor and Sheriff have developed
a bit of separation anxiety when one of their loved ones gets out of the car
in order to run an errand.

I tend to be the lucky one left behind to sit with the unconsolable two
while their mom or dad runs in to a store.

What started out as a content and happy journey of riding in the car
has slowly morphed into the understanding that a loved one is leaving
while they are being left behind.

And so this latest toddler developmental drama has gotten me thinking.

Our past year, meaning both yours and mine, has been anything but pleasant.
To say it’s been trying is simply putting it mildly.

Anxiety ridden?
Yes.

We’ve been forced to mask up, sanitize until our skin cracks, be vigilant against
an unseen enemy, line up for a questionable shot, forced to become TP hoarders…

We’ve put education on the back burner, we’ve worked and lived in isolation,
we’ve balanced home and work all within the home, we’ve stayed put, stayed apart,
watched helplessly as our government has turned on us, wondered who we are as a nation,
struggled to find new ways to reinvent ourselves, labored to balance our physical
and mental health, locked down life as we knew it, missed out on our favorite activities…
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

I think the worst has been the separation.
Physically, mentally and emotionally.

It has been thrust upon us… and the jury is still out as to whether it
has been the right choice.
Chances are, when we look back, we will know it was indeed wrong.

Our seniors have been left alone in their Assisted Living facilities…
often falling ill and even dying alone…as family has not been allowed to visit.

Funerals have come and gone without the attendance of the typical respect of attending mourners.

Schools have shuttered their doors, leaving kids to “learn” remotely, alone.

The very nature of our beings, the social creatures that we are, has been stripped from us.

It has just over a year when this madness began.

This virus that has disrupted the globe, originated in Wuhan, China…

I don’t know a single person who has ever blamed the Asian community for any of this…
The CCP, the Communist Chinese Party is who is to blame…not the Asian people.

So for our news media, and even some governmental leadership, to spin that there is
a surge in crimes against Asian Americans carried out by white suprematists…
what we know as those majority of Trump voters who are simply white conservatives,
is blatantly egregious and a glaring lie.

A disturbed man in Atlanta went on a killing spree this past week, killing 8 people,
near and around Atlanta’s metro area.
His victims were all associated with Asian Spas as either customers or workers.
He claims a sexual addiction made him do such.
Shades of Flip Wilson claiming “the devil made him do it”

And that is what it is…the devil.
The Evil One who reigns supreme.

The young man is an unbalanced “nut job” and not a serial killer of Asian people.
He is not a minion of Donald Trump, contrary to what the news and certain leaders
would have us believe…
all because the former president told us that this current virus is from China.
Of which it is.

Our media and leaders are lying to us by creating ghost scapegoats where no
scapegoats are to be found.

Our journey this year has been hard enough.
If we begin being sucked into believing lies,
the year suddenly becomes heavier and even much more difficult.

Our separation from the Father of all creation is at the root of all our angst.

We have turned our vision from the greater to that of the lesser.
We have turned away from our Creator and turned rather to the mortal man.
Allowing man to become our greater god.
A small god who will always disappoint.

This journey has just become even more miserable…all because of our separation…
Separation from one another but more importantly, the separation from our God.

I think the Mayor and Sheriff are on their way to true knowledge.
When the very one who you put your entire life into their hands leaves you…
it is indeed dire.

Our opting to separate from our God our Father is becoming life ending.

In order to continue this difficult journey…we need God.
And if you find yourself laughing at such a thought or mocking this little proclamation of mine…
you just tell me how you want to keep moving forward if you don’t have Grace to
help you keep going…
Good luck with that.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:6-9

who turns sorrow to joy?

“My prayer is that the good God may establish His absolute reign
in your heart and in the hearts of all.”

St. Julie Billiart


(the clouds above a still sea / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Jesus will turn your sorrow into joy.
One can only imagine the shock and bewilderment the Apostles felt when
the Lord told them he must go away.
Though they could not understand it at the time, his departure was for their benefit.
The same is true of the unexpected setbacks and tragedies we experience in this life . . .
When I consider the times when I have been confounded by events that seemed so contrary
to what I thought God wanted for me, I should be mindful that they were permitted
by the Lord’s inscrutable providence for my own good, as difficult as that might be to fathom.”

Patrick Madrid, p. 251
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Bible

How could one Julie not highlight another Julie??

Julie Billiart (12 July 1751 — 8 April 1816) was a French religious leader,
social worker, educator of poor children, and Catholic saint,
who founded and was the first Superior General of the Congregation of the
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
(Wikipedia)

a lamb lead to slaughter or just another dumb sheep?

I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.

Psalm 119:176


(Francisco de Zurbaran / Agnus Dei / 1639)

If you know me, you know I have always loved that whole sheep and shepherd thing.
In fact I’ve often waxed poetic about moving to Ireland, living somewhere near
Dingle, with about 5 sheep.

A plot of emerald green land that looks out over the Atlantic Ocean….
ahhhhh… (thanks Paul)

I suppose this affinity of mine actually goes back to having grown up in a traditional
Episcopalian church…more “high” church—more Anglican than what we know now.

Each Sunday morning, working our way through the morning’s daily office, we would recite the
Confession taken from the Book of Common Prayer.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent;
According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake;
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name.

Amen.
1928 Book of Common Prayer

I so often felt like that erring and straying sheep…especially as I aged.
I could err and stray with the best of um.

So I always keenly felt that whole “I am the Shepherd and the sheep know my name”
You know, that verse out of John??
I would yearn to hear that loving and forgiving voice of my Shepherd.

We sheep aren’t often the brightest and are easily lead astray.
And yet Jesus took on that role of sacrificial lamb.
Laying down His life for His own sheep…the Agnus Dei.

You know that wonderful piece found in Isaiah???–
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished

Isaiah 53:6-8

So much symbology…so many beautiful and yet tragic images.
Albeit tragic melding into triumph…

But today, I felt perhaps a little ‘less than’ triumphant.
I simply felt that I was being a good dumb sheep.

I was joining the herd.

Maybe they should use the term ‘flock’…
Flock immunity vs herd immunity.

I don’t know if you’ve had your “vaccine”.
I don’t know if you want to get “the” vaccine.

I thought I didn’t want to get my vaccine.

There are so many schools of thoughts—so many bickering camps out there–
each touting a different mantra regarding the vaccine.

“It’s a biologic not an anti virulent”
“It will alter your DNA”
“You’re doing your part for your fellow man”
“It’s made from aborted fetus cells.”
“You’ll be dead in a year”
“You won’t be able to travel if you don’t get the shot”
“It’s the culling of the human race”
“Do your part”
“It’s the mark of the beast”

That last one gets me a bit because this new zip code of ours ends in 666—
of course there are two other numbers in front of that little triple line up…but
none the less, I hate even having to give out our zip code.
And that is in part as to why my husband feels that we’ve had such a time with this
new old house of ours.
Never buy something you didn’t build is his mantra…
But that’s another story for another day.

I have a dear friend who I grew up with who is a doctor.
She’s been practicing for over 30 years—she is well established and well respected.
She was adamant…DO NOT GET THE VACCINE! DO NOT LET THEM VACCINE SHAME YOU!”

Really??

Then I have another friend who is a doctor…one who has also been practicing for over 30 years
and is also well established and respected—plus these two both grew up with me and they went to
med school together.
He was like…”don’t forget to get signed up for your shot, my wife and I have already had our two.”

So.
Hum.
A quandary.

Throw in reading various takes on all of this and the confusion between the
do’s and the don’ts is exponential..
It is a matter of ‘name your game’ sort of thinking.

We had COVID back in November and thankfully lived to tell about it.
I figure we have some immunity going on but for how long is anyone’s guess.

I confess…. we felt vaccine shame….
and since my husband is 71, I got him signed up through the country’s health department.
I took him yesterday.

My new doctor signed me up despite my being 61 as she proclaimed that I am my husband’s caregiver.
Oh if she only knew…

Anywhooo, she signed me up in her office this past week.
And so I had to be at the University Cancer and Blood Center yesterday morning at 9AM sharp.

Driving over, I really felt like some dumb sacrificial sheep.
Was it the right thing to do??
Was I signing my own death sentence or was I simply doing my part for all mankind???

Who knows.

But what I do know is that the most caring professional group gave me, along with 799 other
sheep, a first dose yesterday morning.

Plus they gave me a goodie bag…

I’m a sucker for a goodie bag.

Plying me with chocolate is probably a good idea–thus I don’t think too much
about this whole ordeal of leading me to the slaughter business…

But like our friend Kathy said over on atimetoshare, “I guess if I’m going to die from it,
it doesn’t really matter, because that means I’ll go to heaven sooner,
but God is in charge of all that too.”

Amen Kathy!!!

God is still in charge!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

on the move

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand,
as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven,
we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it–
but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


(a plethora of piping plovers / Julie Cook / 2021)

Since the notion of moving has been my current train of thought, I certainly appreciated
seeing these little guys doing much the same…
They always make me smile.
Smiles are good!


(piping plovers / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2021

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19

our journey

“Who except God can give you peace?
Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?”

St. Gerard Majella


(two little cousins on their own little journey / Savannah, Ga, 2020)

“This is the difference between a journey on earth, and that which leads to Heaven.
For in the former, not only may we stop without fear of going backward,
but rest is necessary that we may sustain our strength to the journey’s end;
however, in the latter journey which leads to perfection,
our growth in strength is proportionate to our advance,
inasmuch as the inferior appetites which throw all possible obstacles in our path to Heaven,
grow gradually weaker while our good inclinations acquire new strength.
Thus as we advance in piety, our early difficulties fade into the background,
and a certain delight, with which God sweetens the bitterness of this life,
increases in our souls.
Going cheerfully on from virtue to virtue,
we finally reach the summit of the mountain.”

Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, pp. 117-18
An Excerpt From
The Spiritual Combat