When were the saints at the height of their joy,
but when they were suffering for their God and Saviour?
St. Teresa of Avila,
In a letter to the Reverend Father Hohn de Jesu Roca,
Carmelite, at Pastrana
(Palmer Chapel Methodist Church / Cataloochee National / Cataloochee Valley in the
Something that I’ve long observed as a Christian is that we members
of the faithful flock often walk a fine line with our faith and following.
We do so because we have been programed by words like sin, guilt, suffering,
penance, punishment—words that have throughout time
become sentiments hammered into our heads—worn around our necks like a
an every growing weighted chain.
Sentiments that we must experience if we are to be true to our faith.
Simply put, the burden is part and parcel of life as a Christian.
Such teachings have been allowed to morph while getting tangled
and entwined in our mindset.
They become like a choking vine wrapped around a tender young sapling.
Eventually that choking vine outpaces and engulfs the poor sapling.
We are very much like that tender sapling…
striving to grow ever upward, seeking our place in the sun—or in our case
that is more like in and with the Son…but…sadly…
many of our Christian denominations have instilled in us a need to carry a
deep suffocating burden if we expect to be true followers of Christ…
And yes, we should note that that burden is in essence
our sinful nature and that of our sins…
of which I dare not wish to dismiss, diminish or make light of…
for as a sinner, I know all too well the deep and lasting effects sin
can have on our spiritual well being–especially
sin that is neither repented nor confessed let alone curtailed.
The fine line is found somewhere between redemption and that of the sin itself.
We should also note that not only do we bear the weight of our sins,
it’s as if we are expected to continue carrying the associated guilt and heaviness
of those sins and wrong doings despite our having confessed and having handed
them over to our Redeemer.
We are not allowed, nor do we allow ourselves, to truly feel the release,
the joy and the freedom that comes with redemption.
We are washed clean yet many of our denominations and religious teachings
have lead us to think, or better yet believe,
that we must constantly wear our hair shirts as a reminder
that we are never truly free.
And perhaps in many ways, we are not free.
We are tethered to this world and that of our own sinful nature.
Yet I honestly believe that Jesus wants to lighten our burdens
when we confess to him, yet in doing so, many of us, me included,
just can’t seem to shake the heaviness or associated guilt…guilt
the world and our ancient enemy would have us bear and claim despite
Jesus having claimed them for us in his death and resurrection.
It seems that I also have observed that we have been taught, again over time,
that we are to actually suffer for our faith.
And the question of this world then nags… if we are not heavy ladened and or suffering,
are we truly following as we should??
There are those who would say no.
And so we wrestle on…wrestling with our various doctrines as well as
Personally, I think Jesus has the better solution.
A solution I must embrace…I must listen for his call…
or perhaps that is more like I am yearning for his call…
Come unto me, all you who labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)
But go and learn what this means:
‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’
For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there,
wondering, fearing, doubting,
dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe
“Some dreams are best not to wake up from.”
(before the beaver, there was a tree / on the shores of Mackinac Island, Lake Huorn /
Julie Cook / 2017)
*****What is written below is the offering from a previous post written in 2017.
Since I’ve recently been thinking a great deal about before and afters…
as well as the distance of both space and time within the context of our lives,
I opted to go back in time to some previous posts that spoke of such
We all have a before—-as in a past. We also have a present—as in the now… and if lucky, we will have a future.
Before, now, after.
Those befores, nows and to-bes (afters) each intermix with the same before, nows and to-bes of our fellow man. Colliding together on a myriad of planes of dimension.
And so when I found this particular post, I found it of great interest on a variety of levels. Firstly it offers an amazing story of one man’s commitment to the service of his nation. A misguided service most would likely agree, but commitment none the less. Yet it is a story of both before and after.
The post explores the idea of all of our before and afters… and our perception of time–as to how that perception effects both our befores and afters.
And so I offer it to you as a both a bit of a history story but
also as a post that looks at our lives on a deeper level
of what we may or may not care to acknowledge…
Following the official unconditional surrender offered by the
Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu,
on behalf of the nation of Japan on September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri…
a ceremony presided over by General Douglas MacArthur,
Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific…
life for a handful of soldiers remained unchanged…
their lives, duty and existence continued on as it had before the surrender.
For despite the war having been officially declared over, there remained a smattering
of Japanese soldiers hunkered down and holding on to various small
South Pacific islands…
soldiers, cut off from commanding units and or communication, all unaware
that their nation had surrendered let alone that the war was now
indeed officially over.
Hiroo Onoda was one such soldier.
Onoda had been trained as an intelligence officer…
specifically trained to gather intelligence in order to carry out and conduct
a guerrilla war against the enemy.
He, and a unit of men underneath his command, had been taken to Lubang Island
in the Philippines with direct orders.
On December 26th, 1944, Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines.
His orders from his commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, were simple:
You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand.
It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens,
we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier,
you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts.
If that’s the case, live on coconuts!
Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.
Feb 9, 2010
‘Today I Found Out’
Following the end of the war Onoda fought on for another 29 years …
Onoda had refused to believe the “propaganda” in the way of dropped leaflets,
villagers pleas or former fellow Japanese soldiers sent to tell Onoda the truth.
He refused to believe any of it but rather was convinced it was all a ploy
by the enemy to take control of the island.
Until 1975 when his former commanding officer,
now an old man working at a bookstore in Japan,
was brought to the island to convince Onoda of the truth.
Reluctantly, yet ever the solider, on March 10, 1975 at the age of 52 an emaciated
Hiroo Onoda put on his 30 plus year old dress uniform and marched
from his jungle hideout to present then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos
his samurai sword.
Over those 30 years Onoda’s small band of fellow soldiers had either
eventually surrendered or died…
but Onoda remained a loyal guerrilla fighter making life miserable for the local
islanders. The islanders did their best to convince Onoda that Japan had
surrendered and that the war was over. During the 30 years Onoda fought his single
war, 30 villagers were killed and 100’s of others were wounded by this
lone guerrilla fighter
The story in itself is fascinating as well as sad.
Yet Onoda’s story is not just a story of survival or of disbelief,
or of skewed conviction but rather his is a tale about living life
in the before verses the after.
There was a single event that had marked the end of the war…
However Onoda had not been privy to that event.
He had not witnessed the surrender.
He knew his Nation’s determination.
He did not actually hear with his own ears the words spoken by his leaders.
He had been given a single command, and until he heard a reversal command
from his commanding officer, he would do his duty and serve his nation to his
Rarely is such conviction found in men.
I thought of this story yesterday following the news I received regarding
the death of my aunt. Whereas she had been sick and even worsening,
the death from cardiac arrest came suddenly and unexpectedly yet in hindsight,
most likely blessedly.
Had I not answered my phone yesterday morning….
in my small narrow world, my aunt would still be alive.
She would be living on in my perceived reality.
For had I not heard the word, had I not been informed of the factual event
I would have gone on as before…knowing she was sick, fighting cancer, hanging on…
but not having died….not just yet.
The life of living before or the life of living after.
Before is usually what we know, what we’ve come to expect and what we rest in.
After equates to new, different, unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
In all of this I think of Thomas, the doubter.
The one disciple who had not been with the others when a risen Jesus
had manifest himself to their broken hearts.
And as Thomas happened to be away from the group, still broken hearted,
still wounded of spirit, still grieving…
he refused to believe the fantastical and or miraculous offered by his friends.
“Not until I see with my own eyes, put my hands in his wounds…I will not believe.”
Oh how we are all so convinced by the acknowledgement of our senses.
Convicted by sense.
For Onoda, the war had actually been over for those 30 years he lived in a
remote jungle fighting a non-existent war.
For my aunt, she died at 12:40 yesterday afternoon had I or had I not
answered the phone.
Jesus rose with or without Thomas having been present to see, touch, hear, feel…..
But because Jesus knew that we would all be so much like Thomas—needing
to be convinced, He offered Thomas, who continues offering each of us
“my Lord, my God….”
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,
“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger
in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.
The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said,
“Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here, and see my hands;
and put out your hand, and place it in my side;
do not be faithless, but believing.”
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him,
“Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
“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 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
“In a world gone astray from God there is no peace, but it also lacks charity,
which is true and perfect love…
Nothing is more beautiful than love.
Indeed, faith and hope will end when we die, whereas love, that is, charity,
will last for eternity.”
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
“We might say the whole mystery of our redemption in Christ,
by his incarnation, his death, and his resurrection, consists of this marvelous exchange:
in the heart of Christ, God has loved us humanly,
so as to render our human hearts capable of loving divinely.
God became man so that man might become God—might love as only God is capable of loving,
with the purity, intensity, power, tenderness,
and inexhaustible patience that belongs to the divine love.
It is an extraordinary source of hope and a great consolation to know that,
by virtue of God’s grace working in us
(if we remain open to it by persevering in faith, prayer, and the sacraments),
the Holy Spirit will transform and expand our hearts to the point of one day
making them capable of loving as God loves.”
Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 67-8
“It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect through trial and suffering.
Only by carrying the Cross can one reach the Resurrection.”
Archbishop Fulton Sheen
(fall leaves doing what they do, fall / Julie Cook / 2020)
Reading the late great archbishop’s words…I would imagine that some readers don’t
much care for the notion of man’s enduring trials and suffering while on this earth…
that of carrying the Cross…with each as a means of reaching the final end goal—
that of our being Resurrected with Christ.
We don’t like to think that we are meant to carry a cross, that we are meant
to suffer or endure…a loving God should want us happy and content right??
A loving God shouldn’t allow those He created and supposedly loves to suffer
or to encounter pain, violence, or be handed a heavy cross to bear…
What we need to remember is that we live in a fallen world.
Sin shadows our every move.
In our lifetime we will each experience various trials.
Avoiding them as best we try, trials will still come regardless of our vain attempts
to keep them at bay.
However, our best recourse is to rid ourselves of ourselves…
To sever our ties to the trappings of this earth.
To completely empty our hearts.
For it is in that emptying, as St Liguori reminds us, that we are allowed
be open ourselves for the filling of the Holy Spirit.
We must detach ourselves from ourselves and from the world in order to save ourselves.
And it is only through following Christ, first to Golgatha then to that empty
tomb, that we will find our true peace and joy and everlasting life.
“The heart cannot exist without love; it will love either God or creatures.
If it does not love creatures, it certainly will love God.
In order to become holy, we must therefore banish from our heart all that is not for God.
When anyone came to the Fathers of the desert and desired to be received by them he was asked:
‘Do you bring an empty heart that it may be filled by the Holy Ghost?’
And they were right, for a heart that is filled with the things of earth has no room
for the love of God.
He who brings a vessel filled with earth to the spring will never be able to fill it
with water until he empties it of the earth with which it is filled.
How does it happen that so many pray and go frequently to Holy Communion and still make
no considerable progress in the love of God?
The reason is doubtless because the heart is full of self-esteem, of vanity, of self-will,
and of attachment to creatures.
He, therefore, who wishes to arrive at the perfect love of God must practice poverty in spirit.
He must be detached from worldly possessions, from temporal honors,
from his fellow creatures, and from himself.”
St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 114-5
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation
***off for a few days in order to find a few more falling leaves with the Mayor and the Sheriff
“By accepting the sufferings ‘offered’ by life and allowed by God for
our progress and purification, we spare ourselves much harder ones.
We need to develop this kind of realism and, once and for all,
stop dreaming of a life without suffering or conflict.
That is the life of heaven, not earth.
We must take up our cross and follow Christ courageously every day;
the bitterness of that cross will sooner or later be transformed into sweetness.”
Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 49
An Excerpt From
(things that come ashore during a storm / Julie Cook / 2020)
We were not made for earth but for Heaven.
That is the single truth for those who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior.
It is for those who believe there was Omnipotent breath blown into Adam,
giving him life.
It is for those who believe the Word of God is both the first and last word.
The Alpha, the Omega.
It is for those who believe in the Resurrection.
It is the sole truth for those who watch a world gone mad and wonder where
and how they fit in.
The answer is simple, they don’t, we don’t, fit in.
You and me…we don’t fit into any of this mess.
God is God and we are not.
It is that simple.
I Am Who I Am (Exodus 3:14)
And we are His.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
From April 12, 2018
(yes, life is that manic…
but I want to wish each of you joy this Easter morn….
Hail thee festival day!! (one of my favorite hymns)
(this is an oldie but a goody)
“Life [had] replaced logic.”
(a soon to bloom peony / Julie Cook /2018)
The image of the bloom used in today’s post is that of a peony.
I call this peony my resurrection plant because I bought it two summers ago, in July.
It was a very expensive plant.
Yet anyone living in the deep South knows you don’t sink a lot of money into a
plant, dig a hole in the hot dry ground, plop in said expensive plant and expect it to live…
especially in July and especially in a summer experiencing a full-blown drought.
I wrote about this plant last spring and the reason as to why I call it a resurrection plant—
of which you can read from the following link…
but that is not the true gist of today’s post
Today’s post is a reminder of what the Resurrection is all about…
and if you are a Chrisitan, it’s a reminder of what that exactly means to you.
The reminder rests in the fact that we’ve just celebrated Easter…
Easter being the holiest celebration, besides the birth of Christ, within the Christian Chruch…
Some would argue that it is the sole holiest celebration…but I suppose we can’t have a
resurrection of our Savior without his immaculate conception and birth…
all of which supersedes the ability of man’s small mind to grasp and process…
hence so much of the consternation in mankind since that very first miraculous morning.
After watching the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted featuring our favorite
rouge Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gavin Ashenden, I’ve come to realize that
there are many in our fold who really don’t know what they think about
And what is even more startling, many members of the clergy don’t quite
know what to make of it either…
In a nutshell, it is the what which separates Christianity from every other religion.
How in the world can you offer anyone, let alone speak of such things as
Hope, Salvation, Grace, if you can’t find the words to say that you believe, without
a doubt, in the Ressurection of Jesus?
Because the Resurrection is the defining key to our faith.
It is the impetus to faith…the belief in that which is a mystery, undefinable,
and greater than oneself.
Without the Resurrection,
Christianity is nothing… nor is it any different from a myriad of other belief systems.
C.S. Lewis explained this very point in 1950
I heard a man say,
“The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival,
evidence that the human personality survives death.”
On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men,
the difference being that in Christ’s ease we were privileged to see it happening.
This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought.
Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened.
Christ had defeated death.
The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open.
This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival.
I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival.
On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion,
Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost.
The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection
as something totally different and new.
The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death;
they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe.
Something new had appeared in the universe:
as new as the first coming of organic life.
This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”.
A new mode of being has arisen.
That is the story.
What are we going to make of it?
The question is, I suppose,
whether any hypothesis covers the facts so well as the Christian hypothesis.
That hypothesis is that God has come down into the created universe,
down to manhood—and come up again, pulling it up with Him.
The alternative hypothesis is not legend, nor exaggeration, nor the apparitions of a ghost.
It is either lunacy or lies.
Unless one can take the second alternative (and I can’t) one turns to the Christian theory.
“What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” (1950)
So if you claim to be a Chrisitan and yet find yourself unable to acknowledge the mystery
and the might behind the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you need to rethink your allegiance.
And if you are a member of the clergy and find the words and concept uncomfortable,
you need a new profession because the calling, was not for you….
“Recent generations seem to consider ‘old-fashioned’ thinking as out-dated
and without place in the modern world.
I beg to differ.
After all, who has greater faith?
He who looks to and learns from the past, or the man who cares
not for consequence?”
Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life – Fennel’s Journal – No. 1
(a shirveled little pear / Julie Cook / 2014)
The other day I caught a fellow blogger’s post regarding the soon to be splitting of
the United Methodist Church over the issue of recognizing gay marriage as a
sanctified union and thus conducting said weddings.
And I took issue with some of his thoughts.
I didn’t immediately respond, as I wanted to think about my words,
but I knew I disagreed with his take on things.
According to a separate article I read regarding the split, things appear amicable in
the proposed negotiating of the soon to be un-united Methodist Church–
An amicable split might just border on being an oxymoron when talking about divisions
stemming from differing views over foundational doctrine…with everyone seeming to
be all good with the parting.
“The United Methodist Church has decided to divide over the issue of same-sex marriage.
This is not surprising, given the longstanding disagreements on this matter that have
afflicted the denomination.
The UMC has arranged the separation in a remarkably civil way:
The proposed solution, formulated by a committee of members drawn from both sides of the debate,
will (hopefully) avoid the rancor and distress and disputes about properties and pensions
that have marked other such denominational splits in recent times.
Carl R. Trueman
The blogger’s post, for which I took umbrage, mentioned that he had been reared in the
Methodist Church and was naturally troubled by the proposed split…
I think we’d all agree that “splits” are never the desired outcome.
We really do want to keep things united as one.
Or so it seems we once did.
Yet think of this…we began with what was known as the Latin West Church,
otherwise known as The Church of Rome.
Shortly thereafter, we had the Eastern Orthodox Church of, naturally, the East…
So splits seem to be in our nature because from those original two,
we have spiraled into countless denominations,
of which each feels as if they are the ones who’s gotten it right and all figured out…
but I digress.
This particular blogger wrote that other denominations had “come to terms” regarding
same-sex marriages and that scientific facts now showed that the Bible was outdated and
out of step with said scientific facts.
Homosexuality was prewired and not a choice and therefore the Church, big C,
needs to step up and get in step.
I read just a bit more before I had to close out the post and leave for an appointment
but I made a mental note that I wanted to go back to the post and eventually respond.
Well, a few days passed and I went back into my reader looking for the post.
It is no longer there or at least I couldn’t find it if it was.
I scrolled and scrolled but just couldn’t find it.
It was not a blog that I follow but a blog post that I had seen as a
re-post by another blogger.
Since I couldn’t remember the particular blog’s name from whence the post
in question had come from, I suppose it was not meant for me to get into a
tit for tat with another blogger…
Because that is pretty much what happens when we comment often to the contrary of
what someone else has written.
A war of words so to speak.
A small microcosm of what is ailing our entire Nation, but again, I digress.
And so I will briefly share my umbrage here…as in, you are now the lucky recipient.
Unequivocally, and to the contrary, most denominations are NOT on board with gay marriage—
hence why ‘splits’ have been taking place for nearly a decade.
My dear ol’ Episcopal Chruch comes to mind.
The thought of schisms in the Episcopal Church can be traced back to the ’70s
when the notion of allowing women into the priesthood first took flight.
There was an exodus then with communicants going to more traditional “Rite I”
sort of churches.
Next came gay clergy and gay marriages all intertwined.
We saw another exodus with the founding of Anglican Chruch in North America.
Hence the split from the more liberal Episcopal Chruch to the more conservative
Anglican body of North America.
We are also seeing a huge exodus across the pond by more traditional Anglicans from
the very liberal body of the Chruch of England who is just all over the place
with what is being called “Queer Theory” and transgenderism as the issue over gay clergy
is now simply passe.
The Presbyterians, the Lutherans, the Methodists and yes even the Baptists are all wrestling
with the same divisive issue of a traditional fundamental belief in scripture verses a more
liberal interpretation and the progressive view that the Bible is outdated and simply
The argument is that God is Love, Jesus is Love and the Church should, therefore, be love…
and so the thinking is that this should all be quite clear.
Clear that there is love within the LBGTQ communities.
So come one, come all because we are all about love.
And thus any church member who thinks otherwise is so last century and entirely out
of step with the new way of the world…so if you don’t like it or argue that
it is entirely against Scripture, then you, my friend, are considered hate-filled
and need to go elsewhere because the new church has no room for such thinking.
However, I find that the Bible is very specific when it comes to homosexuality,
sinfulness, sexual deviations, pansexuality, gender, etc.
It is not the Bible that needs changing but rather man’s sinfulness.
No one disputes that God is love.
He has a deep and abiding love for… the sinner….that being you and me.
Hence the birth, eventual killing, and resurrection of His Son.
So no, I don’t see that other denominations are basically “on board” with gay marriage
or all the new sprouting ‘life choices.’
To sin or not to sin is a choice is it not?
The Bible is very specific about sin and what constitutes sin.
God hasn’t changed His mind.
He has not had that “ah ha” Oprah moment of “yeah, I think they are right. I suppose
I do need to rethink my thinking on say, all those commandments…”
God is immovable.
He does not waver.
No matter how much we work to convince ourselves that our choices are ok
and therefore He’s ok with said choices.
So, in a nutshell, that’s my comment.
I the Lord do not change.
So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and
have not kept them.
Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“In everything, whether it is a thing sensed or a thing known,
God Himself is hidden within.”
(self fungus grows on the end of a fallen cut tree/ Julie Cook / 2019)
“What made the holy apostles and martyrs endure fierce agony and bitter torments,
except faith, and especially faith in the resurrection?
What is it that today makes true followers of Christ cast luxuries aside,
leave pleasures behind, and endure difficulties and pain?
It is living faith that expresses itself through love…
It is because of faith that we exchange the present for the future.”
Pope Benedict XIV, p. 205
An Excerpt From
Witness of the Saints
Tuesday was the feast day of St Matthias–May 14th on the Gregorian calendar…
the calendar most of the world now follows.
However, our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters follow the Julian calendar
and so their commemoration of the feast day is August 9th.
But for our purposes today, for those of us who adhere to the Gregorian calendar,
we’ll just stick with May 14th.
St Matthias was the disciple that, following the death and Resurrection of Jesus,
and then that of his Ascension was voted on by Peter and the others to fill the void left
by the betrayal and subsequent suicide of Judas Iscariot.
It was the replacing of one who betrayed with one who remained faithful.
It was also a fulfilling of prophecy.
May 14th was also a day that I actually had time to catch the latest youtube episode of
Anglican Unscripted with US host Kevin Kallsen and our favorite rouge Anglican priest,
Bishop Gavin Ashenden.
Our dear friend actually started the segment by mentioning that their day’s discussion
was to be quite timely given the fact that it was the feast day of St Matthias.
After watching the episode, I understood the nod to the significance of St Matthias.
That being the replacing of betrayal with dedicated devotion.
A devotion that, in the face of severe trial and grave threat to life,
never wavered–one iota.
Those in the US, other than disheartened Episcopalians and Anglicans such as myself,
may not understand nor be interested in what a former British Anglican bishop has to say.
They may wonder why I continually reference the man.
So for those of you who wonder who in the heck I keep talking about, quoting or referencing,
in a Wikipedia and from his own bio nutshell, here is who is he is… “Gavin Roy Pelham Ashenden (born 1954)
is a British Anglican clergyman.
He was a Chaplain to the Queen from 2008 until his resignation in 2017.
He was ordained in the Church of England, but left it in 2017.
That year was consecrated a missionary bishop by the Christian Episcopal Church,
a continuing Anglican jurisdiction outside of the Anglican Communion.”
On the Feast of St Michael and All Angels 2017,
the Archbishop of the Christian Episcopal Church announced that Dr. Ashenden
had been consecrated as a Missionary bishop to the UK and Europe.
But there is more to the man than a quick bio—
Bishop Ashenden knows music and its history, he has a law degree, he studied psychology
and theology, he is an accomplished and deeply published author, he has been a teacher,
preacher and even smuggler—smuggling Bibles into the communist Soviet Union.
He has served in small parishes and he has served a Queen.
He is keenly knowledgable about history be it the history of religions, governments or law.
In other words, he is a man who knows his stuff.
Yet because he knows “his” stuff, why should any of that matter to you, you might now be asking.
Well, because my friend, if you are one who considers themselves a Christian, as well as a member
of the Judaeo/ Christian democratic Western Civilization, Bishop Ashenden paints a grave yet
painfully honest picture of your very world…a truth that you need to familiarize yourself with
before you are caught like so many will be, blindsided.
Would I call Bishop Ashenden a prophet?
Perhaps I would.
I do know that much of the modern-day world wonders why we have not heard from the
likes of such prophets like those from the days of old.
Those wizened voices who rose up most often from obscurity,
bending the ears of kings and warriors alike by foretelling things that were to be.
Those men who dreamed dreams and shared visions.
Not like a Nostradamus mind you, but more like a Jeremiah, Obadiah or an Isaiah,
or even a John The Baptizer.
I know I’ve been guilty of lamenting ‘where are the prophets?’
Where are those voices of Truth…?
But as I’ve pondered such a notion…it has dawned on me that the prophets are indeed
alive and well…they are found the world over and rest in the voices of men and women who
speak the Truth about Jesus Christ…His life, His teachings, His death, and His resurrection.
They are the ones who do not bend the Truth for convenience sake.
They are not the appeasers or the pleasers of an egocentric society or a materialistic world.
They are the men and women who literally die each and every day for their faith because their
trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ and in Christ alone.
They do not care about social norms, culturalisms, objectivism, convenience, or popularity.
They do not care what a world gone mad thinks of them.
They are not afraid.
For those who speak Truth are never afraid.
During Tuesday’s segment, host Kevin Kallsen made mention that he had seen on a
recent Yahoo News interview freshman Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib,
who happens to be a practicing Muslim, state that the notion of the Holocaust gives her
“a calming feeling.”
Are you kidding???
Holocaust and clam used within the same sentence???
And yet Congress, along with mainstream media, has basically all ignored such a statement.
Who in their right mind has any sort of sense of calm or peace whenever thinking of the Shoah,
in other words, the Holocaust???
I’ve looked into the back story a bit and it appears that some feel her words were taken
out of context…but, I don’t agree.
And so as the segment’s conversation continues,
the good Bishop actually takes a closer look at Islam and that of the Chruch’s odd embrace
of a religion that has always stated that living
in harmony with the followers of the Cross will never be tolerated.
Bishop Ashenden notes that Mohammed’s Islam has, for the better part of 60 years,
been taught by theologians to be one of the three legs of the Abrahamic religions…
with the other two legs being that of Christianity and Judaism.
However our dear friend staunchly, and without hesitation, states that that thought
is absolutely not the truth.
Mohammed borrowed the Biblical characters such as Noah, Mary, and even Jesus,
in order to give credence to “his” religion.
And he denied that Jesus ever rose from the dead.
The good Bishop states that “Mohammed is nothing more than a dictator who demands submission.”
whereas Jesus Christ offers himself as a sacrifice.
Islam is not a cousin of our faith but on the contrary…runs counter to Christianity.
The troubling thing, however, is that we are today witnessing a global Chruch who wants to
appear friendly, accepting and even embracing of Islam.
Going so far as to inviting Muslim neighbors into a Chruch’s sanctuary in order to celebrate
the ending of Eid by covering up the crosses in order not to offend.
Is not covering the cross on the altar of the Chruch a turning of one’s back to Christ and all
He stands for in our faith?
Is that not a betrayal of convenience?
To follow Jesus means that we are not to be ashamed nor disassociate ourselves–ever.
Bishop Ashenden reminds us that we know more about Hell from Jesus than from anyone else Biblically.
He shares that Jesus was and is very specific about consequences…
So much so that He tells us that to deny Him, results in the opposite of Paradise…
it results in Hell.
Yet so many of us will argue that we are a polite society.
We don’t want to rock the boat.
We want to accommodate and be neighborly and friendly.
But to what extent?
At what cost?
Do we opt to turn a blind eye, ignoring public servants who speak positively about
egregious atrocities such as the Holocaust?
Do we rewrite God’s word so that His words now fit better into our current day and times?
Do we cover up and hide the key representative symbol of our faith,
thinking that others of differing faiths may find it offensive?
Evil is alive and well…yet no one likes to admit such let alone think about such.
Bishop Ashenden tells us that Christianity, and only Christianity, offers a defense against Evil.
Jesus cleanses the human heart of such Evil.
Yet the fingerprints of Satan are very much visible within and across the global collective Church.
Truth is being turned upside down as there is not enough regard for the truth in our
And yet we are reminded…
Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life…the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life…
Do not compromise.
Do not be ashamed.
Do not hide.
Do not deny.
Do not pretend.