it’s all making sense…or maybe not

“God will judge us not according to how much we endured,
but how much we could love”

Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ

Well, I sat down late Easter afternoon…worn out, exhausted and thankfully thought I might be
starting to actually be feeling a tad bit better…but I
certainly didn’t want to say that out loud.

I wanted to shift my thoughts to something from what I had just finished reading.
It’s a book about a story…the story includes my own yet fully compiled story
oddly intertwined within…
so any talk about all of that is going to have to wait…

Therefore I opted to pick back up a book that you may remember that I had been reading…
reading until things went a bit skewed.

That Hideous Strength: How The West Was Lost
The Cancer of Cultural Marxism in the Chruch, The World and The Gospel of Change
by Melvin Tinker

And I had every intention of offering another tidbit today that really struck me as to
how Mr. Tinker, and in turn, C.S.Lewis, foresaw what was to be the catalyst for
so much of our cultural troubles today….but, something else caught my attention.
Something that required me to put that thought on hold a day or two longer.

I’ve written about Christian Persecution before.
I’ve actually written about it a great deal.

But the trouble is…the persecution keeps escalating.
Not lessening, not keeping an even keel but growing

Now it’s not that I would ever think that my tiny little words could make
much of any sort of difference, it’s just that I feel it important to
speak out—just like I do about abortion.

These things don’t get any better, so I just keep trying to shine a little
light in the darkness.

Since Sunday, nearly 300 people have died from the terrorist bombings which took place in Sri Lanka
during Easter services.
8 bombings total rocked the country with 3 churches full of worshipers, along with three upscale
hotels, being purposely targeted.

The attackers were Islamic extremists.

Western leadership outrage hit the twitter waves…

Hillary Clinton offered condolences
“On this holy weekend for many faiths,
we must stand united against hatred and violence.
I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers
and travelers in Sri Lanka.”

Barack Obama offered condolences for Easter worshipers….
“The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity.
On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal,
we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka.”

But wait…

What exactly is an ‘Easter worshiper’?

Christians go to Chruch on Easter in order to worship…so might they be what the former president
was painfully trying to acknowledge?

Yet last I checked, no one worshiped Easter.

Christians worship, on Easter, the Risen Christ…The Redeemer.

So I think we’re seeing one piece to this puzzling problem…
American leadership never likes to use the “C” word….that being the word, Christian.

But I’ve written about that before.
I’d actually written about President Obama having a very difficult time voicing the fact
that there is actually real persecution against Christians.

And for all his grandiose rhetoric and eloquence of speech when speaking or addressing
a crowd, he could never call a terrorist attack what it actually was…
an attack by Islamic Extremists.

According to a story offered on Fox News back in Janurary,
“An international Christian organization is warning that the persecution of Christians
worldwide is set to rise in 2019 — and it’s calling on the United States to do more to help.

Release International, a U.K.-based charity that helps supports persecuted Christians
around the world and a partner organization of Voice of the Martyrs,
warns that this year, particularly in China, India, and Nigeria, persecution
against Christians is rising.

The story continued…
“These are countries that have long been on the list but we’re seeing
an upwards curve, an alarming rise in persecution,”
Andrew Boyd, Release International spokesman, told Fox News.

“Release has been doing this work for 50 years,” Boyd added.
“I have no doubt that persecution is increasing and it is alarming
and the contexts are different. You have militant Islam in Nigeria;
China, which is communism; India, which is militant Hinduism;
North Korea which is a weird blend of communism and Emporer worship.
There is an increasing intolerance and it’s being played out in violence and
we know it because of the reports that are coming from our partners on the ground.”

https://www.foxnews.com/world/christian-group-warns-of-sharply-rising-persecution-in-these-countries-in-2019

And yet our leaders continue to turn a blind eye while refusing to use the “C” word
or the ‘I E” words…

It was way back in 2014 when I first started writing about Christian persecution.
A year later it was to be a post about Islamic Extremists.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/ostriches-and-ducks/

Tomorrow I hope to tie in what I was reading regarding the catalyst that has lead
our culture into its current abyss and rising attacks on Christianity…

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
2 Timothy 3:12

We lift up our voices for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka

“It is a persistent evil to persecute a man who belongs to the grace of God.
It is a calamity without remedy to hate the happy.”

Saint Cyprian of Carthage

NEGOMBO, SRI LANKA – APRIL 21: Officials inspect the damaged St. Sebastian’s Church after multiple
explosions targeting churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on April 21, 2019, in Negombo,
north of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
At least 207 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded in multiple blasts that hit eight
different locations — including churches where Christians were marking Easter Sunday —
and 5-star hotels in commercial capital Colombo.
(Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

It never makes sense.

And it only seems more painful, ever more cruel, that it should happen on a day of worship.

That it happens in a house of worship.

That it happens particularly on Easter…

Aren’t those no go zones?

No go days?
No go places?

Safe zones from human savagery and cruelty?

But we know better.

We know that predation has happened in such places.
We know heinous things have happened in such places.
Tornados have happened in such places.
Priests have had their throats slit while conducting mass in such places

And so yesterday, Easter Sunday 2019, was not to be exempt.
6 coordinated explosions ripped through three churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.
Before day’s end, 8 explosions in all would rock the small island nation off
the coast of India, leaving 207 dead and upwards of 450 injured.

Terrorism.

Again.

Against churches.

Against Christians.

Against innocent folks…folks just like you and me.

We never know.

Evil is persistent.

But our God is eternal.

For our Redeemer remains unchanged…and He lives both today and tomorrow.

Our faith will not be deterred.

And so we lift our prayers in unity for our hurting brothers and sisters…
we pray for healing, comfort, peace, protection, Grace, and Mercy…

Hear our prayers oh Lord…

Alleluia

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end, he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh, I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

Job 19:25-27


(home sky 2016 / Julie Cook / 2016)

the wisdom of a child

“One just soul can obtain pardon for a thousand sinners.”
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque


(a contemplative little Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

So I must make a confession on this Holy Saturday…

Whereas in years past my posts were reflective of this time of year…
starting with Ash Wednesday, those dark heavy 40 days of Lent leading up to the
Holy Week of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday—
as we culminate all of this on a triumphant Easter.

I’d pray earnestly.
I’d fast regularly.
I’d be diligent in my observance.
I would have even gotten some purposeful Lenten reading.
I would focus on the cross and that of an empty tomb.

However, this week has passed in a blur.
In fact, Lent passed in a blur.
As much of the year has passed in a blur.

I hardly even noted that yesterday was Good Friday as I was on the road in
torrential rains and horrendous traffic as my thoughts were elsewhere.

There was a time I would attend the 3 hours long Good Friday service while
purposely fasting this highest of Holy days.
I would go to the Great Easter Vigil…clutching my candle with deep intent.

However, this year has been different.
For lots of reasons I suppose.

Whereas there were both sorrow and loss in years past, I none the less managed to keep
the tires in the middle of the road.

This year, sadly, I pretty much simply fell off the tracks.

There are some distracting extenuating circumstances that will most likely be written
about when there is finally a bit of clarity…
But in a nutshell, my time and my focus have been pulled into a thousand different degrees…

And speaking of degrees—
I have been suffering through some sort of flu bug this past week that has left me hot
to the touch yet cold and shivery to the body.

Add in the Mayor visiting her satellite office and the walking dead comes to mind…
not in the zombie kind, but rather literally feeling dead while still walking.

There’s been little sleep, lots of heavy thoughts, as well as thoughts of anticipation with
a new little sheriff set to arrive any day now.

And having spent the past two days trying to keep an ever-growing, rambunctious, newly walking
borderline toddler out of harm’s way while trying to keep up at the same energy level has
been no easy task.

And yet I often find myself sitting back and simply marveling at her intense gaze.
I watch her little wheels turning while wondering what are her thoughts.

Her love, excitement, and openness to each and all she meets.
Be it animal or human or a stuffed animal or even an interesting plant.
Each one is met with a raised hand and a resounding “HI”

There is such an open innocence and trust that we adults,
who love her and are entrusted with her care, wish to warn her of the dangers
as we work to protect and keep her from harm.

Any parent or grandparent will tell you that that is a life long task that can,
in this current angry world’s day and age, leave anyone who loves a little one
both anxious and nervous.

Because we adults know that there is bad, there is danger and there is evil.

My husband noted this morning at breakfast,
as she gobbled up some bits of maple syrup-soaked waffles,
that if the world possed the same sort of sweetness and same refreshing innocence…
oh, how the world could be so different.

And so on this Holy Saturday, I am reminded that God is reminding me…
He is calling me to return to that same trusting spirit…
return to an openness…allowing Him to pour out His sweet balm
within this weary soul of mine.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!


(the Mayor in such a pondering pose / Julie Cook / 2019)

“No one who follows Me will ever walk in darkness (Jn 8:12).
These words of our Lord counsel all to walk in His footsteps.
If you want to see clearly and avoid blindness of heart,
it is His virtues you must imitate.
Make it your aim to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s teachings surpasses that of all the Saints.
But to find this spiritual nourishment you must seek to have the Spirit of Christ.
It is because we lack this Spirit that so often we listen to the Gospel without really hearing it.
Those who fully understand Christ’s words must labor to make their lives conform to His.”

Thomas á Kempis, p.15
An Excerpt From
The Imitation of Christ

How we continue to make God into matter…and does it matter?

We try to make Jesus present…
Gavin Ashenden

Firstly—yes, it does matter that man continues to attempt to make God into matter…
because that means that where the spark of the Creator remains,
the created continue to seek Him…

I was so very blessed yesterday when I got to watch the video, included below,
that was actually an interview between Bishop Gavin Ashenden and the British journalist
Rodney Hearth concerning the good bishop’s observation regarding the fire at Notre Dame.

Bishop Ashenden does a marvelous job of sorting through this emotional event from the lens
of a Protestant…

Contrary to popular belief, Anglicans / Episcopalians are Protestants…
and as I’ve tried explaining before, Catholics are not some sort of two-headed monster.

I’ve grievously come to realize that many of the Protestant faith do not understand
why everyone is making such a to do over the fire at Norte Dame.

Sadly they do not see the relevance to their own faith.

And that is in part…a lost lesson in history.

Yet I am not here today to teach but rather to share.

The good Bishop explains that humankind has always attempted to make God into what
we all can comprehend…that being matter–the same of which we are made.

This is why the ancient churches and cathedrals were built—man reaching upward
to the unseen Creator—a tangible to the nontangible.

With regard to this very tragic and very public fire,
the good Bishop notes the significance of fire and the Christian faith as a
“Theology of Fire.”

He also shares the observation of crisis—of which this fire was…
as it is just one more piece to the crisis of the collective Church in Europe,

Crisis in Greek, κρίσις, translates to judgment.

And when we stand in judgment, we are exposed to God’s fire—
It is a fire that burns away the dross… that of our sin—
It burns but it equally cleanses when we repent…becasue we are cleansed by a Holy fire.

But on the other hand, if we do not repent, we are also exposed to Holy fire—
however, this is the fire of Holy Judgement and in that unrepentance,
we are cast into an unending inferno.

It was not lost on either of the men that ironically, there is a symbol of Christianity
burning on an island that was flanked on either side by the right and the left banks…

In the reality of the current battle being waged by the culture gods of secular relativism
as they strive to prevail, working earnestly to erase any vestige of our Judaeo / Christian
heritage…the Left fights the Right over which values our culture must embrace—all the while,
in between these two warring factions sits the Church— engulfed in a raging inferno.

The key question to Christians and to all of Christianity, a question I continue to ask—-
how will we, the faithful, respond?

“Interpreting the great fire of Notre Dame.” Gavin Ashenden in conversation with Rodney Hearth.

Before and after…the question

The south facade of Notre Dame before the fire…


(South exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

Now the upper portion of the same facade, after the fire…


(Associated Press)

Despite the brilliant blue sky, the delightfully warm late afternoon sun,
a heaviness continued to linger…

I dumped a portion of the hardwood chunks of charcoal into the grill then used the
lighter to ignite the charcoal.

When the soft yellow-orange glow began, I closed the lid, cracking open the vents while I
proceeded to wait.

Soon enough, I opened the lid as the flames rose while the burning wood chips popped
and crackled.

I stared down into the grill, filled with those yellow-orange licking flames,
while I purposely and intently listened to the sounds of both fire and wood.

My thoughts seemed to have gotten stuck on an unseen replay button…
replaying the scenes from yesterday’s images of both Notre Dame and of the fire.

I thought of each trip, over the past decades of my life,
that I have walked into that cavernous and overwhelmingly
historic and spiritual “house” of worship.

The sounds of my own footsteps echoing off the soaring stone walls and massive pillars
as my steps reverberated against the barrel vault high above my head.

Awe stopped me in my tracks as my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting
while the hints of pungent incense lingered in my nostrils.

I grappled with the magnitude of the historical and the physical while my mind
wrapped around the Spiritual impetus for this seemingly gargantuan whale that
had suddenly swallowed me whole.

The rising flames in the grill jerked me back to the present and my need
to get about my grilling supper…

I would say that this historic and catastrophic fire is proving devastating
on a great many levels.

The world is painfully mourning an iconic cultural loss.
Paris is mourning a devastating loss of an iconic piece of her home’s heart.
As we the world mourn both an artistic and architectural loss.

The proverbial bucket list destination for tourists and one of the spiritual
pilgrimage destinations on the lists of the faithful is now forever changed…
just as much of humankind is now changed.

But what I think is even more important, the fire has shaken loose a deeply hidden
sense of loss found in most of Western Civilization…it is a loss on a subconscious level
that we’ve never been able to put our finger on…
a loss that has long existed…one we have subconsciously known
was there but yet we didn’t know.

It is the loss of our Christian Spirituality…
our Spirituality that we have allowed to slip from, not merely our
hands, but from our very psyches and souls.

Yesterday I offered a response to a friend’s comment on my day’s post regarding
the fire and that comment has now lingered in my thoughts…

“someone I was listening to last night posed the question—– and I’ll paraphrase-
‘With so much of Europe becoming so secularized—–we’re seeing these massive ancient bastions
of Christian faith becoming more and more like museums rather than houses of worship.
With everyone now clamoring to rebuild…
the question we must be asking ourselves is what are we rebuilding?

Are we rebuilding a museum that lost so much art, etc…art that can never be replaced…
or are we rebuilding a church, a house of worship?…

I find that to be the very key question for our very postmodern Christian selves”

It is not lost on me that we are in the midst of the most Holiest of weeks within
all of Christendom while in the midsts of an ever-shrinking Christian faith
in our culture.

This fire is yet another visceral image of our own human tragedy and the fall of man.

It shakes loose our hidden sense of grief and loss over our flailing and fragile faith.

Christ descended into the depths of a raging fire of our very sin…
and on the third day, He rose from those ashes…

May we now use this sense of loss and grief, allowing our faith to be rekindled as we too rise
upward out of the ashes of what has become such a sinful loss…

Loss no more..but only gain…as the spire rises again…

“So you’re giving up?
That’s it?
Okay, okay. We’ll leave you alone, Quasimodo.
We just thought, maybe you’re made up of something much stronger.”

Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

when man reaches up towards Heaven…

“Spira, spera.”
(breathe, hope)
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The day we met,
Frozen I held my breath
Right from the start
I knew that I’d found a home for my heart…

I have loved you
For a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more…

(Lyrics from Christina Perri A Thousand Years)


(Pieta by Niccola Coustou / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2019)

Notre Dame—Our Lady of Paris

850 years of–

Christianity
faith
religion
spirituality
mysticism
relics

history
ingenuity
construction
architecture
labor
sacrifice

art
sculpture
poetry
prose
music
colored glass

revolution
desecration
coronations
funerals
burials
weddings

bishops
nuns
confessions
monastics
saints
sinners

humanity
bloodshed
loss
wars
peace
victories

humankind
survival
life
death
breath
hope…

Yet for now, there are too many emotions to express regarding this collective sense
of sorrow, grief and loss.

Our frail and feeble earthly attempts to reach upward to God will each eventually perish
while fading to both ash and dust…

and yet…

Our Heavenly Father’s reach, downward to us his children, will remain for eternity…


(detail of Virgin and Child by Antoine Vassé / Norte Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2019)


(detail of the iron work on the main entrance doorway / Norte Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2019)


(detail of the central portal (central enterance) of Notre Dame Cathedral / The Last Judgment, constructed in 1220/
Julie Cook / 2019)


(vaulted ceiling of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2019)


(South Rose Window / 1260 / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook 2019)


(South exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)


(detail of flying buttresses and gargoyles / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)


(detail of bell tower / Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France/ Julie Cook / 2011)


(south view of Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)


(Notre Dame Cathedral / Paris, France / 2011)


(Wesrtern facade of the bell tower entrance Notre Dame Cathedral /Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011)

“He therefore turned to mankind only with regret.
His cathedral was enough for him.
It was peopled with marble figures of kings, saints and bishops who at least
did not laugh in his face and looked at him with only tranquillity and benevolence.
The other statues, those of monsters and demons, had no hatred for him –
he resembled them too closely for that.
It was rather the rest of mankind that they jeered at.
The saints were his friends and blessed him; the monsters were his friends and
kept watch over him.
He would sometimes spend whole hours crouched before one of the statues
in solitary conversation with it.
If anyone came upon him then he would run away like a lover surprised during a serenade.”

Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame