where will you be???

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain:
either you will reach a point higher up today,
or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to
climb higher tomorrow.

Friedrich Nietzsche


(solar viewing glasses / Julie Cook / 2017)

Maybe you’ve heard,
maybe you haven’t….
there’s to be a really big event on August 21st.

I figured this out when a local realtor mailed out to the folks in our county
some funky little paper gasses advertising her reality business.

The glasses are paper things similar to what you use to get to view things in 3D.
These however have foggy looking lenses with the realtors name splashed on the sides.

I figured they were for viewing the fourth of July’s fireworks…
that is until I spotted the words “solar viewing glasses” on the inside of
the frames.

Curious I thought maybe there’s something going on I don’t know about.
A little search quickly informed me that yes, something big is to be going on…
on exactly August 21st.

A total solar eclipse will skirt across North America from Oregon to South Carolina.
It’s being dubbed “the Great American Total Solar Eclipse” as it’s isolated to
just North America, from sea to shining sea.

And you better believe the Atlanta news is already rife with the stories of where,
when and how to best view this rare occurrence.

My cousin who lives up in North Georgia, just this side of the South Carolina border, called asking if we wanted to drive up for the “show” as they are to be in
a great place for viewing.

Really?

I think those who will be in the path will be treated to about a 2 minute show
give or take.

“It brings people to tears,” Rick Fienberg, a spokesperson for the
American Astronomical Society (AAS), told Space.com of the experience.
“It makes people’s jaw drop.”

Really?

Now granted the last total such eclipse was in 1979.
Back then there weren’t fancy little viewing glasses—
just a piece of paper along with another piece of paper cardboard with a hole
cut in the middle… such that the cast shadow of the event would then show onto
the other paper…
all this for “safe” viewing lest you go blind staring at the sun.

Staring at the sun is never wise to those who treasure sight
as well as their eyes!

I think the glasses will make it all way cooler then our old school two
pieces of paper…just saying.

There will be about a 70 mile wide swarth flowing across Oregon,
Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee,
Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
With reports that “Aug. 21, 2017, may be one of the worst traffic days in
national history, some NASA representatives predict”…
so they’re telling folks to plan accordingly.

Really?

Now granted I may sound a bit cynical.
And don’t get me wrong….
I love a “heavenly” occurrence just as much as the
next person.
I can get swept up in the hoopla just as easily as everybody else
when something really big is anticipated to happen.

Remember partying like it was 1999…
in 1999…
at the stroke of midnight when we went from one millennium to another???
What with all that Y2K pandemonium…
that whole ‘where will you be when the earth goes black’ frenzy???

I was on my couch….
with my husband sound asleep on one end, my son and I
watching the ball drop in Times Square on the other end…
Once the ball dropped and we still had power and the earth was still
in one piece and the 2nd coming had not come…
I sent my son to bed.

So yes, I can get just as excited.

So with all the history of eclipses now making the rounds…
Given how those in ancient times reacted to such astronomical occurrences…
as in the sky is falling Henny Penny…

Add in all the speculations from all the calculations as to what this is
now all to mean..what with this latest lining up in the heavens…
coupled by the coincidence of various dates and patterns…
What with those who are currently stock piling their prepper safe rooms…

And well….I’ve got my glasses.

And with all of this latest stirring over phenomenons that are out of our control…
I actually wonder….

What would happen if folks were to get this excited thinking about the coming of
our very final redemption?

What would everyone do that sudden moment the heavens parted,
and in that Eastern sky, Jesus made His presence known….

There’d be no time to get the special viewing glasses,
helping to keep eyes protected from His blinding Light…
there’d be no time to plot and plan where the best place would be for
viewing that true “Second Coming”…
There’d be no time for news stories,
not fees taken for prime viewing rights….
and of what time would there be to say “yes, Lord, I am indeed
a sinner who is in need of your saving Grace….”

So how much greater will that day be in comparison to a total eclipse
of the sun…..

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth
distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,
people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.
For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the
Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to take place,
straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Luke 21:25-28

Here’s the link for information regarding the eclipse:

https://www.space.com/33797-total-solar-eclipse-2017-guide.html

unseasonable

“Preserve me from unseasonable and immoderate sleep”
Samuel Johnson

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(Helleborus / Lenten Rose / Julie Cook / 2017)

Unseasonable warmth gives way to
an unrelenting chain of events…

There is…

emerging,
birth,
growth…

A fullness of life…

there is preparing,
and a signaling of readiness,
and the ushering in of the new…

there is hopefulness…

Yet it is all so dangerously premature.
It is ill prepared,
unsuspecting,
and unsustainable…

It is out of step with time…

It is not strong enough to ward off that which will certainly be coming…

It is the living of a falsehood.

Living without regard for the Word,
while there is disregard for the Sovereign…
with contempt for the Promise…
Ignoring or discrediting all that has been proclaimed and foretold.

It is like the premature bloom…

Blooming,
growing,
living…
out of step and out of time…

Ignoring the rhythmic nature of what is to be,
only ushers in an inevitable destruction…
brought about by the reality of rebellion and ignorance.

What makes you think you are any different from the premature
blooms lulled into the pretense of Spring by an unrealistic and untimely change?
You who simply ignore the Truth because you find yourself basking in a
a false and unseasonable warmth…

All the while as you know, in the back of that mind of yours…
you who are fully aware that none of this of the superficial and self indulgent will last…

As you find yourself now unprepared to ward off that which is surely coming…

You will be defenseless and ill prepared.
You who have been basking and relishing in the allure of something other than the Truth.

Be not fooled by your own folly of bliss over the distortion of reality.
The Lion roars as winter is coming…
The premature thaw and warming winds will not last…
Take heed,
for you have been warned and now told…

Only those hearts humbled and now knowledgable will be ready…
for they have not given way to these foolish and heady times…

For out of the North,
and then the West,
while up from the South,
and finally the East…
the premature blooms will be trampled under the hooves
of the stampede…
those who run seeking a safe haven…
who will find none.

Yet the faithful will not dismayed…
you who have been prepared and ready…
Your time draws near…

As Hope is ushered in on the returning winds of change…
As His way has been prepared and now made ready,
as you who have been waiting,
now find yourself more than ready to pay homage to
the returning of the King.

Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of
the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Matthew 24:20-21

God Comes

“Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited.”

Thomas Merton

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(Caravaggio’s Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence / 1609 / Palermo, Italy)

“God Comes”

Pope Benedict XVI in his homily celebration of First Vespers
of the First Sunday of Advent
(Saturday, 2 December 2006)

“At the beginning of a new yearly cycle, the liturgy invites the Church to renew her
proclamation to all the peoples and sums it up in two words
‘God comes.’
These words, so concise, contain an ever new evocative power.

Let us pause a moment to reflect:
it is not used in the past tense—God has come,
nor in the future—God will come,
but in the present—‘God comes.’

At a closer look, this is a continuous present, that is, an ever-continuous action:
it happened, it is happening now and it will happen again.
In whichever moment, ‘God comes.’

The verb ‘to come’ appears here as a theological verb, indeed theological,
since it says something about God’s very nature.
Proclaiming that ‘God comes’ is equivalent, therefore, to simply announcing God himself,
through one of his essential and qualifying features: his being the God-who-comes.

Advent calls believers to become aware of this truth and to act accordingly.
It rings out as a salutary appeal in the days, weeks and months that repeat:
Awaken!
Remember that God comes!
Not yesterday,
not tomorrow,
but today,
now!

The one true God, ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,’
is not a God who is there in Heaven, unconcerned with us and our history,
but he is the-God-who-comes.
He is a Father who never stops thinking of us and, in the extreme respect of our freedom,
desires to meet us and visit us;
he wants to come, to dwell among us, to stay with us.
His ‘coming’ is motivated by the desire to free us from evil and death,
from all that prevents our true happiness.
God comes to save us.

The Fathers of the Church observe that the ‘coming’ of God—continuous and, as it were,
co-natural with his very being—is centered in the two principal comings of Christ:
his Incarnation
and
his glorious return at the end of time…
(cf. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis 15,1: PG 33, 870).

The Advent Season lives the whole of this polarity.

In the first days, the accent falls on the expectation of the Lord’s Final Coming,
as the texts of this evening’s celebration demonstrate.
With Christmas approaching, the dominant note instead is on
the commemoration of the event at Bethlehem,
so that we may recognize it as the ‘fullness of time.’

Between these two ‘manifested’ comings…
it is possible to identify a third,
which St. Bernard calls ‘intermediate’ and ‘hidden,’
and which occurs in the souls of believers and,
as it were,
builds a ‘bridge’ between the first and the last coming.”

hanging…in the balance

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be,
since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”

Thomas à Kempis

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(Sweetgum balls hanging on the branches / Julie Cook / 2016)

Having read an interesting editorial type article this morning
(which was actually yesterday morning if you’re reading this on this particular morning)
I was struck by one sentence in particular, or actually just one part of the sentence…
Stuck such that it was one of those ‘the scales have fallen from my eyes and I can see clearly now’ moments…

…that God has given us over to ourselves…”

Wow!

There is so much truth and clarity in those 8 words that I immediately felt that these past
endless anguishing months of this election misery coupled by the feeling,
from what seems to be a decades long slow demise of our western society…
as in it’s all going to hell in a hand basket and why am I the only person
who seems to feel this way sort of thoughts,
that it all became amazingly crystal clear, snapping into a steely sharp focus,
the instant I read those words…

The article was actually a commentary, or perhaps more of a personal observation,
regarding this election business of ours…
written by Michael Brendan Dougherty, a correspondent at TheWeek.com.
I’d actually found his article posted on a blog post by an Eastern Orthodox monk.
Dougherty is a Catholic…and from reading his article, he’s my kind of Catholic—
as I tend to be a more orthodox Christian.

The entire article is on point, but it was that one sentence
“that God has given us over to ourselves”
which is what really jumped out at me…
like getting hit upside the head with a giant dose of Divine revelation.

And whereas I agree whole heartedly with the opinion of Mr Dougherty,
I know that there are a ton of folks who don’t or won’t and will pooh pooh the notion of
A) that there is a God, let alone one who is holding the balance of life in His hands
and
B) that that opinion is merely the ramblings of some rabid Christian xenophobe who doesn’t
know his a%# from a hole in the ground….

Yes, I’ve heard enough negative Conservative and Christian
bashing as of late to last me a life time….

But the fact that God has most assuredly handed us over to our own devices, or rather,
that He allowed us to hand our own selves over,
what with all that freewill of ours you know,
is so much more true than even most Believers will be able to grasp..

For we, the family of Believers, have tolerated far too much…oh so much…
more than we ever should have…
and for that…we are certainly now reaping what we have sat back and turned
a blind eye to for so very long.

We have tried to blend the world with the Word that was set upon this Earth to live amongst us..
The Word made flesh that came to set this world upside down upon its head…
yet we wanted things to be nice and calm while not rocking any boats..

We wanted to get along and not offend.
We wanted the best of both worlds…His and our own…
So we became hard headed and hard of hearing.
We became the masters of appeasement.
We played the games…
and now the game masters have mastered us…
as we are finding that we believe everything they tell us…hook, line and sinker…

We were told…
by The Divine Word…
how to live…
how to let live…
how to love…
how to behave…
yes, very much like children…
yet we chose not to listen…
trusting rather in our own empty self-centered ideas.

And now we are left wondering how, we as a society and as a people, ever found our way
to this point and this mess.

What mess you ask?

Just look around the globe…

From these two candidates being all we had to choose between…
to the Middle East which is boiling…
To Russia once again becoming our nemesis,
or perhaps we were only fooling ourselves as they’ve never not been our nemesis….

From the earth to which now grows heavy under the weight of our toxic living…
to a seething sea of mass immigration of epic proportions…
To our embracing a culture of death…

our messes are endless…

But as Mr. Dougherty reminds his readers at the end of his editorial,
he reminds us that God’s judgment is not to be infinitely bad
nor is it to be the end of the story…
for in that judgement of our having turned away from Him
is actually our story of Hope…

“But for those who can accept it, God’s judgment is a good thing.
The same fire that consumes the chaff is used to purify gold and silver.

Here’s the full article…
http://theweek.com/articles/659600/election-gods-judgment

And so today,this new morning, we see that life has taken yet another turn…
that perhaps not all have been prepared to take…
May we continue in our prayers for this Nation and her leaders—
that we will turn back to our Sovereign Lord…

If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
If you remove wickedness far from your tent

Job 22:23

finding a faith stone through the dark times

“…in our willful desire to live independently of God, we have severed the lifeline that flows from the source of all life”
Billy Graham

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(Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There are no exemptions in this life when it comes to difficulties, struggles, trials and conflicts.
Some are self imposed, some are random and some, for the believer, can be most vexing…
for it can often feel as if God has…
walked away,
deserted us,
or…
is proving to be more stubborn than ourselves.

Some periods will be more severe than others and there is certainly no clear window as to how long or how short such episodes will each last.

There will be times of great dryness…a rough patch of road that leaves one feeling empty…
or better yet, feeling nothing at all, as in void of feeling or emotion…
A sense of isolation, depression and emptiness…

Other times there will be the feeling as if the rug has been pulled out from under foot …
As one is left wondering if facing one more moment, let alone one more day, is even possible…preferring simply to throw in the proverbial towel while gladly giving it all up.

Maybe it’s seasonal…
What with these long cold winters of shortened days, limited light, constant gray, heavy clouds, cold rains, blanketing snow and a never ending feeling as if one can never get warm.

Maybe its the long hot summers of endless days, excessive heat, dry barren ground that becomes brittle to the touch..leaving one and all the only option of slowing down to a crawl in order to preserve energy while hoping to sweat a little less while praying for a cooling breeze to quench the fire .

Maybe life has simply dealt a wicked hand.
Tragedy has struck,
illness prevails,
and loss is paramount.

Or maybe it’s as if one has been left to simply bam ones head against a wall…as in the wall isn’t budging and neither are we. Frustration has taken hold and we are stuck in our dead-end tract of never-ending madness.

Whatever the reason, life is…
hard and difficult,
frustrating and tiresome,
sad and often unbearable…

I was offered some wise counsel yesterday from a dear friend—which I hope he won’t mind that I now share…
In our conversation my friend offered up an interesting perspective as to when we find ourselves in the midst of struggle and suffering…

“sometimes its better to go back to the last place you encountered God in a mighty way
in your life and use it as a marker….
When Moses parted the red sea and the children of Israel crossed over, the first thing they did was build a stone altar there and gave thanks to God for their deliverance…
So it is with us….
When God does something in our lives and we know it was Him, it is a marker…
A faith stone that repairs our hope in troubled times.
It is good to remember that place and a good starting point to carry on….”

For me that moment, that mile marker , when I knew that I had encountered the Omnipotent I AM, was during my fall trip to Ireland…I think we all have a myriad of moments throughout our lives, but for whatever reason we may simply miss the significance, write it off as mere happenstance, or we may have felt so dreadfully barren for so very long that perhaps it feels as if it were the only real true encounter we have ever experienced….

So my marker, my road of Damascus moment, was one September evening in Ireland.

Yet to literally re-vist that very moment in order to restudy, review, re-live that exact moment in time is impossible, impractical and far from feasible…

It is impossible for me to fly back over, gather those 3 particular friends together again on that lone September evening, at that exact restaurant table up in County Donegal…it is impossible for me to have that exact same conversation which lead to the words being spoken that shot into my mind and heart like a hot arrow piercing my very soul…unleashing the overwhelming sensation that time was standing still and I was suddenly alone with God.

It was all of a second, maybe two, for those words to be uttered and in turn to be heard…
however it seemed much longer as each word reverberated throughout my entire being…

Whereas I may not be able to actually re-live that amazing turning point, it’s not impossible to recall those three life changing words….
“Be at peace…”
“Be at peace with your God”….

Yet it was the first three words of that simple sentence that knocked me and my current world upside down.
Yet…the words were not for that night…not then…

Those simple words which were offered over dinner were not intended for that moment…not for a moment that was indeed peaceful as four friends enjoyed a good meal and drink, with good conversation in an ideal setting.
For that particular moment was of peace itself…

It was to be later when I would need to revisit those words.

As I have needed to do so this very week.
As well as last week and mostly likely next week and the many weeks which lie ahead.
Life is that way.
Life has a way of sucking out the very life of one’s being.
It can be hard.
It can also be joyous as well…
yet frustratingly those joyous times are often forgotten as one is wading through the hard with the muck of madness clinging to one’s boots.

So yes… it behooves me to remember my marker.

Three words….

Be at peace….

Thank you my friend for reminding me to find my marker, my faith stone and to return to that place where God had made His presence known….

Colorful returns

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
Nelson Mandela

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(early season wild blackberries / middle of nowhere Troup County, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2015)

Bejeweled little beauties
Transforming in the May sun’s warmth
Like tiny chameleons. . .
They charm and captivate
First green then red
And later purple, maybe even blue. . .
Before finally reaching the lusciousness of black. . .
Bulging with sweetness
Beguiling and beloved
They bedazzle and bewitch
Tempt and bemuse
Announcing Summer’s triumphant return . . .

Returning of the keys

“King of England, and you, duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of the kingdom of France… settle your debt to the king of Heaven; return to the Maiden, who is envoy of the king of Heaven, the keys to all the good towns you took and violated in France.”
Joan of Arc

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(Julie Cook / 2014)

At some point in time, all those who have taken what is not theirs to take. . .be it land, kingdoms, homes, livestock, possessions, pleasures, time, identities, lives, esteem. . . will have to answer for their actions. It may be in this life or it may be the in the next, but answer, all must.

We often think of the act of taking what is not ours to take simply as stealing— which is something only the “bad” people do.
This comes in many guises.
Fraud, Identity theft, grand larceny, extortion, bribery, forgery, armed robbery, shoplifting, pickpocketing, corruption, money laundering, scams, etc.

Then there is the more insidious forms of taking such as kidnapping, rape, torture, brainwashing, murder, etc

We take liberties, power, charge, control all in the name of our own sense of righteousness and entitlement. Does that sense of superiority and righteousness make the taking any less wrong?

Is one type of taking more wrong or less wrong than another?
We could certainly argue such.
But is not all sin equal in the sight of God?

During the Hundred year war (which was really longer than 100 years), a young French girl had a vision from God that she was to be the voice to liberate France and her weary people from the clutches of what seemed to be the greedy English. This point could be argued depending on which side you ask— does one Nation have the right to “take” another Nation if they do so with justified good intentions or in many a king’s mind, divine right?

In 1429 this young girl dictated a letter, as she could neither read nor write, to Henry VI, the 7 year old King of England, as well as to those who spoke with authority for this young king, her intentions as instructed by God to bring an end to the fighting, the raping, the pillaging and the sheer madness of the English vying with France for total rule–the issue at stake was her people’s land, buildings, treasures, nationality as well as the actual people themselves—as the English were in France against the will of the French leadership and the people.

But try telling the English that, at the time, France was really not theirs for the seizing. The French were having their own troubles trying to determine who should be their rightful king. The best solution in the mind of the English, was indeed, the English.
What a complicated mess. As is the case when it comes to taking. The lines of yours and mine grow very murky when justification comes into play.

joanlettersig
(Joan’s letter to the English as written my a monk but signed by Joan / March 1429)

One sovereign nation usurping another sovereign nation for possession, as in possession equals power. France struggled within itself and England saw this as their duty to swoop in and simply take charge. Is that not what taking is really all about—taking power and possession and in turn eventually taking charge and control and then being the one on top?

And if it had not been England, it would or could have been Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, and at some point later, France itself— or perhaps as it is today with Nations such as Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq or as some in the world would say, The United States— Nations continually vying for supremacy over what is considered to be the lesser—as in less stable, less than, less prepared, less powerful.

Is taking considered ok if it is a Sovereign Nation doing the taking?
It depends on who you ask and it depends on the reason for taking, as it depends on the level of taking—As such taking always has a justification.

We take what is ours by proximity, by heritage, by birthright, by bullying, by might.
Yet at some point, we must give back, return, let off, recant, repent, own up, acknowledge or pay the price.

Our young heroin, St Joan of Arc, was eventually captured by French forces then handed over to be burned at the stake by the English as a heretic. King Henry VI ruled for 38 years before being murdered. France and England went on to continue waging war with one another up until the Revolutionary war when they continued taking sides and vying for control.

And so it goes. . .
Today it may not be the English and the French, but it is certainly other Nations now who are taking from other Nations. This seems to have been the trend of humankind—taking. And perhaps we may trace the taking back to an apple which was told not to be taken or the life of a brother which should never have been taken—the taking has been going on ever since.

From this tiny window or portal into history, lies the history of humankind.
The vying for power, control, charge and the taking of what we want with and by justification.
Nations justify their taking just as the petty thief justifies his—and sometimes God must say enough is enough, I will send one who must sort this out once and for all. Or maybe sometimes He just shakes His head wondering if we will ever get it right.

Thou shall not covet.
Thous shall not steal.
Thou shall not murder.

Perhaps this is a history lesson of divine Commandment.

At some point we will all have to return that which is not ours. We will be held accountable. The repercussions of the taking are endless if not silent at first then monumental in the long run.

May we be mindful of taking that which is not ours for the taking.
And may we be mindful of our justifications.
May we be mindful of our intentions—are they pure and loving or are they egotistical and self indulgent?

Joan of Arc’s Letter to the English
March 22, 1429

King of England, and you, Duke of Bedford, who call yourself Regent of the kingdom France; you William de la Pole, Count of Suffolk; John, Lord Talbot; and you Thomas, Lord Scales, who call yourselves lieutenants of the said Duke of Bedford, do justly by the King of Heaven; render to the Maid who is sent here of God, the King of Heaven, the keys of all the good cities that you have taken and violated in France. She has come here from God to restore the royal blood. She is all ready to make peace, if you will deal rightly by her, acknowledge the wrong done France, and pay for what you have taken. And all of you, archers, companions of war, nobles and others who are before you; and if this is not done, expect news of the Maid, who will go to see you shortly, to your very great damage. King of England, if you do not do this, I am Chef de Guerre, and in whatever place I shall find your people in France, I will make them go whether they will or not; and if they will not obey I will have them all killed. I am sent here by God, the King of Heaven, each and all, to put you out of all France. And if they will obey I will be merciful. And stand not by your opinion, for you will never hold the kingdom of France through God, King of Heaven, son of Saint Mary; it will be thus ruled by King Charles VII, true heritor; for God , the King of Heaven, wishes it, and this to him is revealed by the Maid, and he will enter Paris in good company. If you will not believe the news from God and the Maid, in whatever place we shall find you, we shall strike in your midst, and will make so great a hurrah [hahay] that for a thousand years there has not been one in France so great, if you do not deal justly. And you may well believe that the King of Heaven will send more strength to the Maid than you will be able to lead in all your assaults against her and her good soldiers. And when the blows fall we shall see who will have the better right from God of Heaven. You, Duke of Bedford, the Maid begs you and requires of you that you work not your own destruction. If you listen to her you will yet be able to come in her company to where the French will do the finest deed that ever was done for Christianity. And reply to this, if you wish to make peace at the city of Orleans; and if thus you do not do, you will shortly remember it to your great sorrow. Written this Tuesday, Holy Week. [March 22, 1429.]