A beating heart

What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like.

St Augustine


(sunrise as soon peeking through the trees / Julie Cook / 2018)

Consider the heart.
A muscle that beats, according to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 60 to 100 beats per minute.

That’s every minute of every hour, of every day,
of every year over the course of one’s lifetime…

According to Gizmodo:
Humans and chickens are outliers in that we get 2.21 billion and chicken
gets 2.17 billion beats (I wonder how many actually see that much).
But a lot of other animals teeter the 1 billion line:
horses, pigs, rabbits, elephants, cats, whales, etc.
Animals big or small, fat or strong,
fast or slow—it seems like there is a magic number for us all.
Other than small dogs. They got the short end of the stick.

According to Runner’s World
First of all, for the record, let’s just do some simple math.
Let’s say you’re a sedentary dude with a resting pulse of 60.
Each day, your heart beats 24*60*60 = 86,400 times.
Now let’s say you’re a real nut who takes up running and works up until you can go
for an hour every day with a pulse of 160
(which is likely an overestimate).
As you get fitter, your resting pulse drops to 50.
Now, in any given day, your heart beats 23*60*50 + 60*160 = 78,600 times.
So in fact, by running, you’re saving 7,800 beats every day!

I say all of this today about hearts as I’m off for a stress test.
I’ve never thought much about something that is actually working nonstop 24/7
never skipping a beat.
Like most everyone else, I take things like beating hearts, breathing lungs, digesting guts
all for granted until something goes awry.
Then suddenly their amazingness comes flooding to the forefront of consciousness as we
are immediately awed, annoyed and panicked all at once in the span of a split second.

Well, I have a thing called premature atrial contractions, so sometimes my heart gets
a little erratic…but I’ve had it for oh so many years and have gotten pretty much use to
the occasional catching of breath and fluttering deep within.
My doctor hasn’t fretted, nor have I…
More nuisance than worry.

And that’s not the reason for the stress test, but we’ll talk about that little reason later once
I get the good word following the results.

Seeing the sun peeking, glowing and pulsating through the trees the other morning made
me immediately think of that most sacred heart of Jesus…

The image of the Sacred Heart came racing to clarity in my mind.

An amazing image captured by man of a beating heart in a man, yet beating
for the Divine.

A crushingly humbling yet overwhelmingly moving image that leaves me awed…
remembering that in each of us remains a tiny piece of that very divine organ…

No matter our purposeful or flippant life choices…
our willingness or our refusal
our kindness or our selfishness
our openness or our disagreement
our love or our hate…

We each have a tiny beating pulsating piece of the Divine deep within our being–
a remaining, functioning and existing saving piece of Grace…

May our life’s prayer, our life’s purpose, be that we not only yearn to feel His heart beating
within us—much like a mother-to-be can hear the heartbeat of her unborn child via an ultrasound—
but that we will allow it to inspire our approach to a purposeful and Divinely inspired
Grace-filled living of life…

The Latin phrase at the bottom of this 18th-century painting by an unknown artist
is a verse from John–
For God So Loved The World…..
John 3:16

And so we are saved by the loving Grace found within that heart…
A heart that we, in turn, must act as a living example to and for a world in need.

“Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of its very nature,
is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us,
and at the same time,
an exercise of our own love by which we are related to God and to other men.”

Pope Pius XII

isms

“For in spite of itself any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an
‘ism becomes so involved in reaction against other ‘isms that it
is unwittingly controlled by them. For it then forms its
principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive,
constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibilities.”

John Dewey


(a dragonfly readies for take off / Julie Cook / 2017)

In the mid 1930’s there was a very loud and very vocal cry being sounded within the United States..
the voice was sounding the alarm to a rising tide of Communism…
as this rising tide had become a growing cancer on the world’s global stage.

This was at a time just prior to the outright assault of WWII, as war had not
yet been declared…
but Hitler was indeed on the move.

Both Fascism and National Socialism (Nazism in a nutshell) was viewed by most
of Europe, as well as the United States,
as the most serious and fastest growing threat to Western Civilization and
her beloved democracies…

In part because both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were within the confines of “Europe”
while Communist Soviet Russia was seen to be more of an eastern threat.
Poland had long served as the lone suffering stalwart blocker in histories past
to invaders, always being the stopgap to regimes set on menacing Europe…
so why should now be any different….

Yet this time Hitler had different plans for Poland and he needed Stalin’s help.

There was however a grim opinion held by a handful of visionary souls that it was
actually Communism which was to be considered the far more sinister sleeping beast.
These hardy and farsighted souls began to formulate a battle cry.

Joseph Stalin had come to power in the Soviet Union in 1929.
Cold, calculating and menacing…a terror the world would not soon forget.
Promoting and spreading the Communist ideal was a top priority.
A totalitarianism manifesto which would eventually dominate the world…if he and others
were to have their way.
Seeds were planted deeply into the various “western” democracies where the grounds were
ripe and fertile as the State would be seen as the
both the new god and guardian of the people…

It would be just a short ten years following his rise to power that in 1939
a toxic union would form between Hitler and Stalin.
A union that barley lasted 2 short years…that was…
once Hitler had decided his need of Stalin was no longer beneficial…
as he merely beat Stalin to the divorce.

And yet we must back up a few years.

Around 1934 Pope Pius XI, along with his top aide Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli
(later Pope Pius XII),
had a meeting with a certain American Catholic Bishop.
His name was Fulton Sheen and his was a bigger than life persona.
He was a dynamic and charismatic personality who was known as both a top
notch educator as well as notable orator.
Sheen was widely popular in the United States with both Catholic and non Catholics alike.
The Pope knew a catalyst when he saw one.

Calling Sheen to Rome, the Pope told the Bishop that he wanted him to study the works
of Karl Marx in order that he could better understand the terrible threat Communism
was to be against not only Christianity but to the betterment of mankind.
The Pope trusted this young vibrant servant of Christ with defending the faith
as well as guarding the dignity of all human life against the growing scourge
of Communism.

Shortly after returning to the States, Sheen addressed the faithful.

“They have thrown down the gauntlet to the world.
The voice is either brotherhood in Christ or comradeship in anti-Christ.
There is no alternative.
If the one does not regin the other will.
They will have chosen the comradeship in anti-Christ —
they can devour anything that is not brotherhood in Christ.
Communism was inspired not by the sprit of Christ but by the spirit of the serpent…
The Mystical Body of the Anti-Christ”

He predicted that neither ‘New Deals [n]or fascism’ would stop communism because they
could not ‘summon’ forth sufficent zeal and fervor.’
They lacked communists’ absolute devotion to their religion”

(excerpt from A Pope and A President / Paul Kengor)

So as we now stand on the landscape of this 21st century…
far removed from the horrors of WWII and it’s battle between the good and evil,
freedom or enslavement…and even decades from that most famous command heard
round the world…
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”
we must ask ourselves…how different are our times?

Are we not living in what many now call a post Christian society where secularism
and political activism have both risen to the forefront as the new religions?
Have we not merely traded one form of ism for another..that of progressivism, liberalism,
socialism, and even the counter nationalism…

May we each recall the wisdom offered during those previous dark days….

“The anti-God regime is always the anti-human regime”
Bishop Fulton Sheen

words, deeds and offered kindness

If there was a little more light and truth in the world through one human being,
his life has had meaning.”

Alfred Delp, priest

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(a cache of books from Plough Publishing House)

When life seems to be endlessly hard fraught with struggles, isn’t it amazing how
one small gesture, one small act of kindness or recognition, can mean so very much…

Over the better part of almost two years,
my life has, more often than not, felt like a battleground.

Some days there has been advancement,
some days there has been retreat,
some days there has been a stalemate,
and some days there has been defeat.

For a myriad of reasons, every last one of us faces moments in our lives
that are hard and difficult… some of those moments are downright devastating.
And much like the Geico Insurance ads that so famously highlight life’s absurdities
with that famous tag line “because that’s what you do”
we in like turn muddle through, power through or simply manage to make it
through such times…because, that’s what we do….

So imagine my surprise when one evening I received a comment on my blog
from an editor from Plough Publishing House.
She had read a recent post in which I used a quote by Eberhard Arnold,
the early 20th century Christian theologian and writer.

You must know that I do not choose the quotes that I use for each post randomly
as I am very purposeful in selecting the right words spoken…
In that I use other’s words,
in order to add impact or highlight a particular point or post,
is not something I take lightly.

There are times when I have stumbled across a quote or statement that I think appropriate
yet I may be unfamiliar with the owner of the words and thoughts.
So I’ll do a little background research.
And in that research I often find intriguing backdoor stories that draw me ever inward…
as I find myself wanting to know more about the particular individual of choice.
Such was the case with Eberhard Arnold.

I don’t want to spend time today jumping off on a side pig trail but it is
interesting that I have found the words and stories behind many German Theologians intriguing—
certainly with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who I often quote and write about,
to Maximilian Kolbe and Alfred Delp…
two Catholic priests whose lives, words and deeds we remember to this day
due in part to their martyrdom at the hands of the Nazis in the death camps of the Holocaust.

I like to think that I am not discriminatory with the words I include in my posts
as I greatly welcome the thoughts and words from a wide range of the faithful…
be they Protestant or Evangelical, Catholic or even Jew—
I have a deep respect for those individuals who have spent their lives,
if not having given up their lives, for our shared Judaeo / Christian faith and beliefs…
As they are in part the stone pavers to the pathway we walk today.

And so was the case with my inclusion of Eberhard Arnold…
which in turn brought the attention of a senior publishing editor my way.
She asked if I would be interested in maybe receiving a few of their newest releases
in hopes that I might find time to not only read them but to share them on the blog.

I was more than humbled as well as honored by her offer.

Delightfully a small package arrived Tuesday afternoon containing five books.
Five faith-filled books…
Of which I look forward to exploring and sharing from time to time here on cookiecrumbs with you…

There is so much to learn as well as to apply to our own 21st century lives from the thoughts and experiences of those who, having often walked their journey prior to our own, have put their
experiences of both their lives and faith in action to pen and paper…

We should note that the written word has such a way of
transcending both space and time…as does a simple act of kindness…

All be they seemingly insignificant, it would behoove us to be mindful of the
importance of our own actions and words… .
That to reach out, to speak, to touch, to offer kind thoughts,
gestures and words to another…can, as a stone dropped into a still pond,
ripple outward reverberating far beyond our limited sight…
touching those who we may never meet or know….
Such is the power of our words and deeds…

The final Kingdom is near, and the whole world should be on the watch.
But the world will not take heed unless the Church of Jesus Christ puts the unity
and justice of this Kingdom into practice daily.
Faith will bring about true unity among believers
who are ready to live a life of unlimited,
active love.

Eberhard Arnold, 1934

the seeds have been planted…

Who stands firm?
Only the one for whom the final standard is not his reason,
his principles, his conscience, his freedom, his virtue,
but who is ready to sacrifice all these,
when in faith and sole allegiance to God he is called to obedient and responsible action:
the responsible person, whose life will be nothing but an answer to God’s question and call.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

DSCN3632
(tigerlilly seeds / Julie Cook / 2016)

The post originally intended for yesterday was to be one of butterflies…
of the lovely, amazing, peaceful and inspiring happy side of life…
It was to be a light and airy, happy and colorful sort of post…

All the images had been taken, chosen and uploaded…
the text had been written…as all was ready for posting…

And then a truck ran into a crowd of holiday revelers in Nice, France…

There were…
Children with dolls and ice-cream…
young couples holding hands…
grandparents remembering when…
tourists basking in the celebration…
as locals relished their independence…

Innocents…contended and happy individuals….much like the butterflies….

And suddenly, just like that, life was no longer about butterflies or anything else lovely, light or etherial…

Reality hit, once again, and it hit hard and fast….

Yet we neither want nor like reality with all of its ugly hard and fast..
We still want the butterflies…
the light, happy, pretty images…
We don’t want to see the macabre surrealism of the mangled bodies of children with their loving dolls keeping silent vigil.

That isn’t why we come to the internet..
We don’t want to see, hear or read the truth of reality..
Rather we prefer to disconnect from Reality as we relish in savoring the pretty,
the colorful, the light, the nice…

When Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested in 1943 for taking part in the assassination attempt against Adolph Hitler, it came as a shock to many who had known the young Lutheran pastor…a shock that he would be involved in such an act because he was known for his pacifism…
and how on earth could a pacifist ever take part in the conscious decision to take the life of another….

But what many did not know was that Bonhoeffer, along his Catholic co-conspiritiors of which Pope Pius XII could be counted, had used the writings of St.Thomas Aquinas to justify their taking an active role in the fight against evil and tyrannical powers.

The moral issue here is that of tyrannicide…
the killing of a tyrant, and specifically, the killing of a tyrant by a private person for the common good. Technically, there are two classes of tyrants: a tyrant by usurpation (tyrannus in titulo), a ruler who has illegitimately seized power; and a tyrant by oppression (tyrannus in regimine), a ruler who wields power unjustly, oppressively, and arbitrarily.

The key conditions for a justifiable act of tyrannicide in this case include that the killing be necessary to end the usurpation and restore legitimate authority; that there is no higher authority available that is able and willing to depose the usurper; and that there is no probability that the tyrannicide will result in even greater evil than allowing the usurper to remain in power.

However, if the tyrant by oppression attacks the citizen, jeopardizes the welfare of the community with the intent leading it to destruction or killing the citizens, or commits other evils, then a private citizen can morally commit an act of justifiable tyrannicide. Moreover, if because of the tyrant’s rule, a nation cannot defend itself, is on the course of destruction, and has no lawful means to depose or to condemn the tyrant, then a citizen may commit an act of justifiable tyrannicide. Interestingly, many modern political philosophers would posit that a leader who abuses power and has become tyrannical ipso facto loses legitimacy and becomes an usurper.
(Catholic Resource Education Center / Fr William Saunders)

And whereas it appears in such teachings against the hand of evil that the Church actually condones such acts of killing and assassinations, it must be noted that the Church does not actively teach nor proclaim such concepts…as some detractors may beg to differ.

…yet Aquinas’s writings and teachings remain buried in the layers of the historical fabric within the Church… percolating ever so often upward from the historical depths of time into the present light of a gloomy world as the faithful sit staring, once again, in disbelief at the ongoing images of evil wondering what is truly just…

These seeds of evil and death however were sown a very long time ago.

First with the falling of light into darkness…
Secondly with the determined choice of will in the acceptance of a seemingly simple apple.
and lastly with the death of a brother by the hands of a brother…

Yet the growth of those seeds did not end with the birth of both evil and death.

It has been said that the Magna Carta is one of the single greatest charters ever written by man as it has been the single building block for all civil societies ever since its proclamation and implementation at Runnymede, in England in 1215, by then King John and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langdon.
Even the American Colonists based their own formation of a constitution on the Magna Carta…

It has struggled throughout the course of the past 800 years. It has been amended, abridged and reassigned, and yet, it has continued as the chief cornerstone of Western Civilization.

This ancient charter, steeped in the protection of the rights of all individuals, has helped to formulate judicial systems as it has directed the workings of all governments rooted in the democratic liberties throughout Western Civilization.
It is a lynchpin to our western civility and society as we know it today.

The same civility and democratic liberty that is in sharp contrast to Muslim Sharia law.

It has always been, in part, the responsibility of the Church, in conjunction with the leading governments, to help protect those very civil liberties of all citizens in a democratic society.
It has been her, the Church’s, moral and ethical responsibility—
Yet she too has often failed at the task.

Yet it is this duty to and for the faithful that often puts her at odds with acting governments as she has often been the last bastion between hope and collapse.
All the while as she has tried to maintain her separation from those very governments of those people both hers and not.

Sharia Law and its use of the word of Mohammad stands in stalk contrast to the civil liberties of Western Civilization as it also stands in sharp contrast to the foundations of our Judaeo / Christian society.
We see this power play struggle daily.

And whereas the Church and her members have long recognized the importance of protecting the liberties of the individual citizen, the current Administration of the United States, as well as its fellow administrations of various governments throughout Western Civilization, has failed and continues to fail to see the correlation or relevance to the contrast between the protection of freedom verses that of the tolerance of tyranny.

The civil liberties, the equality, the judicial process, the democratic freedoms enjoyed by the West are nothing short of polarizing to the Sharia Law of Mohammed–
the two are not and will never be compatible…

And until our leaders can understand that one small fact, we will continue witnessing the repercussion of this massive collision.

All the while as Islamic extremists continue the systematic killing of innocent victims who merely wish to live life in their respective democratic societies.

Sadly yet undeniably the butterflies have been replaced by the ugly reality of the hard and fast truth of our current world.

“Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
John 18:37

Something better than before…

“Empires not based on peace are not blessed by God.
Politics divorced from justice betrays those who wish this to be so”

Pope Pius XII

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.

Psalm 33:12

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(Rock of Cashel/ Rock of the Kings / Co Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2016)

Empires have risen and Empires have fallen…
Nations that once prospered have perished and disappeared.

Time has not been kind to the once great Civilizations and Empires that were…

Phoenicians
Egyptians
Monguls
Huns
Romans
Greeks
Persians
Ottomans
Mayans
Angles
Picts
Goths
Saxons
Celts
Normans
Vikings

The list is lengthy as the questions remain…

Where did they go?
What really happened?

Some evolved into others as some devolved into a lesser form.

Great, rich, powerful, intimidating, influential..
Each simply ceased and are now oddly no more.
Lost somewhere along the winds of Time.
Yet their descendants quietly now roam the earth.

Was it…
Catastrophe?
Plague?
Self destruction?
Natural disasters?
Wars?
Revolutions?

Or was it merely fate?

They were once resolute.
They were once certain.
They once believed in their place in the annuals of Time…

As in…
Persevering
Maintaining
Growing
Surviving

As in forever….

What were…
Their goals
Their desires
Their mission
Their purpose

Were their pursuits pure…
Their desires true?

Were lessons learned…
Or will mistakes be repeated?

Are we today, better, because of them?
Learning from what went before…

Are we…
wiser
kinder
more practical
less self absorbed
more peaceful
altruistic
benevolent
nurturing
happier….

Are we… better…?

Are we blessed?

Or….

Are we doomed?

Destined, perhaps even cursed, to the same demise of those who have gone before…
Simply disappearing into the memory of Time…
…along with all those who once were powerful, mighty and great…?

Or have we chosen a different path, a different fate…
choosing a different destiny altogether…?

Maybe something better than before…?

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15