The real enemy is already vanquished…for good

“But since the adversary does not cease to resist many,
and uses many and diverse arts to ensnare them,
that he may seduce the faithful from their faith,
and that he may prevent the faithless from believing,
it seems to me necessary that we also,
being armed with the invulnerable doctrines of the faith,
do battle against him in behalf of the weak.”

Justin Martyr (St. Justin),
Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection


(detail from Caravaggio’s The Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri) 1605)

I have always loved the works of Caravaggio—his play with dark, light and the juxtaposition of space.
Such skills helped to create a dramatic punctuation—effects found in many of his paintings.
Such skillful drama was only highlighted by Caravaggio’s own personal torment and
living the life of a rounder, rapscallion and wanted criminal.

Lots of symbology rests in this particular painting of The Madonna and Child with St. Anne


(Galleria Borghese, Rome)

An unusual image yet one that is both visceral and powerful.

I personally like the imagery of both mother and son, Mary and a young Christ,
each stomping the head of the snake.
It is an allegorical take on Christ’s victory over Satan.
And with Mary’s initial yes to God, she became privy to that very victory.

However it would indeed pierce, if not nearly breaking, her heart before there would be
that final Glory.

I can’t help but think about this image while watching our nation’s news play out in front of us.

With this second impeachment of former President Trump, as a taxpayer, I have been rather incensed.
Because if you are an able body with a pulse, you and I are paying taxes…
and these taxes of ours are helping to pay for political shenanigans.

The former President, along with us taxpayers, have been in this same spot not long ago.
It was a political circus act then, a wasteful black hole of time, energy and our money—
just like it was this past week.
A cheap and tawdry fictional paperback novel masquerading as a real political process.

So one would hope and think that with his having been voted back into normal private life,
that would be the end of our troubles with our rabid political leadership’s fraudulent
spending of ‘we the people’s’ money.
Yet sadly that has not the case.
Being returned to private life is not enough.

So the image of someone who is terrified of snakes,
who has taken a hoe to the head of said snake,
chopping off the head yet not being satisfied with the notion of the head being severed
and thus the snake being dead, continues to pound at and chop up the snake just to be
satisfied that that is indeed to end of the snake.

So don’t get me wrong— I’m not saying the former president is some sort of serpent,
contrary to what many may think.
And no, I’m not saying that there is a correlation to Jesus crushing Satan in any of this
political fiasco…it’s just that I can’t help but picture in my mind some crazed person
with hoe in hand, beating and chopping an obviously dead snake…adding an exclamation point
to the end of said snake…much like our political leaders—as in enough just isn’t enough.

However…the wonderful moral to this, as well as to all stories, is that politicians, snakes,
fiascos, lies, taxes, politics, republicans, democrats, presidents, pandemics, etc, all aside..
it that the victory, in the end, is indeed ours— Jesus has crushed Satan and in the
end we, both you and me, win.

So Jesus has no need to beat a dead horse—He’s already won… and in turn—so have we!

For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.

Deuteronomy 20:4

East to West, West to East…and a very Merry Christmas to all!

The journey of the wise men took them from the east to the west…
and that’s the journey that Christianity took.
It started in Israel and it moves to Rome, the capital of the world.

Dr. Edmund Mazza
from Rediscovering Christmas


(ode to my world / Julie Cook / 2020)

Is that a bunch of presents, all tied up with a bow?
Oh.
No.
No, it’s not.
Wait, where’s the tree???
Is there a tree??

Yes, it’s in the basement, ready to be loaded on a truck.

What you’re seeing is just a small snippet of boxes and bubble wrapped pieces all
from a home ready for moving.

Who moves during a pandemic?
Obviously, we do.

This will be our last Christmas in a house that has witnessed 21 of our 37 Christmases.
Yet we’re off to see the Mayor and Sherrif for Christmas…so the cats will have to
carry on Christmas day without us.

The catnip is locked up!

The quote I used today by Dr. Mazza is somewhat technically true.
Things did seem to travel from east to west.

I somehow think that our Orthodox brethren might be able to agree on that eastern part—
as when we think of the east…we think ‘Eastern’ Orthodox…
However, they might dispute that notion of Rome being the capital of the world as
that capital kind of moved, at some point in ancient time, to Constantinople
(modern-day Istanbul)–

And of course it did sort of move back Rome’s way before it began heading off west again, spiraling, splintering and dividing– but I digress…
So we’ll just leave that footnote to be argued by the theologians and historians.

And so here I am in the west, preparing to move to the east.
Perhaps a bit backward…however by going east, I might just be heading back homeward.

Things are beginning to look barren and sparse.

Before:

After:

So as I live amongst the boxes and now travel over to share a magical time with both
the Mayor and Sheriff–
just know that I wish each of you a joyous, safe, healthy, and blessed Christmas!!!

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be
taken of the entire Roman world.
(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria).
And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary,
who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby,
who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread
the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things
they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Luke 2:1-20

time keeps on slipping into the future…

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future

Lyrics by Steven Haworth Miller


(Fire in Rome by Hubert Robert, 1778 / MuMa – Musée d’art moderne André Malraux, Le Havre, France)

In 64 AD, Rome burned.
And supposedly the Emporer Nero fiddled with abandoned glee.

Now whether or not there was any fiddling on a fiddle taking place, there was no doubt
some fiddling of the facts taking place.

Once the fire had been contained and finally extinguished,
over two-thirds of the city lay in ruins.

The Emperor blamed the Christians.
That subversive religious “cult.”

However, historians actually believe that Nero himself had the fires set because he wanted
to create a grandiose “golden house” that would be a massive endeavor, a tribute
to his reign, and cover an expansive portion of Rome…
so long story short, Nero needed the space.

As the ever gracious Emperor, he immediately began offering food and aid to the
masses of his people whose lives were now decimated.

How kind.

Fast forward to Berlin, 1933.

The German Chancellory, The Reichstag…the home to the German Parliament, burns.
Hitler blames a known Communist sympathizer, however historians are in agreement,
Hitler had the Reichstag burned.


(Burning of the Reichstag 1933, Berlin, Germany)

The burning was the excuse Hitler needed in order to round up all the Communists,
allowing his Nazi party to finally fill in the gap;
the party could take the majority of seats in parliament, and in turn,
take control of the Nation.

How convenient.

Fast forward to 2020.

There is a pandemic along with a quarentine lockdown.

The Speaker of the House brags, while standing in front of her expensive subzero
refidgerators / freezers, that she is ‘enduring’ the lockdown with top shelf ice cream…
all the while small businesses are told they must shutter their livlihood or else.
Houses of worship are closed.

Civil unrest breaks out.

Cities are burned.

Businesses are destroyed.

Lives and livihoods are left in shambles.

Throw in a contentious election with a deeply divided Nation.

The conservative republicans, in particular those “MAGA” supporters,
those who support the President, are the ones who the progressive left
blame for all the woe…

Is there some sort of pattern here, or am I just imagining things…

Ode to the power of the power hungry…

“Therefore their way will be like slippery paths to them,
They will be driven away into the gloom and fall down in it;
For I will bring calamity upon them,
The year of their punishment,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:12

Let us pray…

“Keep to the ancient way and custom of the Church,
established and confirmed by so many Saints under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
And live a new life.
Pray, and get others to pray, that God not abandon His Church,
but reform it as He pleases, and as He sees best for us, and more to His honour and glory.”

St. Angela Merici


(St Peter / St. Peters, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

“Once, while I was wondering why Our Lord so dearly loves the virtue of humility,
the thought suddenly struck me, without previous reflection,
that it is because God is the supreme Truth and humility is the truth,
for it is the most true that we have nothing good of ourselves but only misery and nothingness:
whoever ignores this, lives a life of falsehood.
They that realize this fact most deeply are the most pleasing to God,
the supreme Truth, for they walk in the truth.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p. 175-6
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

So I’m not alone..

The continued persecution of Christians in the Middle East is one of the great
underreported stories of the 21st century.

Douglas Murray, in his insightful book The Strange Death of Europe,
warns us that there is a real danger of Europe losing its Christian roots,
values and freedoms, something which he as a gay atheist deplores.
I fear that the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a sign of more
troublesome times ahead.

David Robertson


(Interior of the great dome, Hagia Sophia /Paris Review)

The other day I offered a post regarding the news that the once-massive
Christian enclave of the East, the Basilica of Hagia Sophia,
had once again fallen to Muslim rule ( or perhaps ‘once again’ is not accurate as Muslim rule has shadowed the church since the 15th century–it just hasn’t been a practicing mosque but rather a museum in a Muslim nation)

(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2020/07/17/the-future-of-hagia-sophia-should-be-very-troubling-to-christians/)

Hagia Sophia, constructed in 532, stood as a Christian beacon in the East, as well
for the West following the sack of Rome, until 1453–
the year when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans.
She was desecrated and turned into a mosque.

Several hundreds of years passed when the mosque next became a museum.

And then change came once again last week when the church turned mosque,
turned museum returned to a Muslim Mosque.

For nearly a thousand years, she faithfully served her flock.

And so the question that sits like an elephant in the middle of the world’s living room…
what does this mean for the Faithful now…

Our friend the Wee Flea raises this same question in his most recent post…
“The Tale of Two Buildings–the Hagia Sophia and the Free Church Manse

David begins his post by reflecting on the demise of Christianity
in the very place of her inception, the Middle East…

The Assyrians for example have shrunk from 1.3 million in Iraq to less than 250,000.
They have scattered over the world.
There are around 40,000 Assyrians in Sydney – one of whom is my barber!
In Turkey, Christians are systematically persecuted.
Foreign church workers are arrested and expelled;
evangelical churches are regularly attacked by extremists.
To even suggest that the killing of over one million Armenians by the Turks in 1914-1923
was genocide will result in you going to jail.
I recall in 2007 being in Ephesus just after three Christian leaders
had been brutally tortured and killed –
the fear amongst the Christians was palpable.

I suspect that turning the Hagia Sofia into a mosque will only make things worse
as it will encourage the more radical Islamists to fulfil their dream of a society
where Sharia law is fully enacted, and the Christians and secularists are removed.
Another Hagia Sophia in Nicaea, where the Second Council of Nicaea was held in 787,
has already been turned into a mosque. It is a concerning development which
raises a number of questions.

Turkey has, like China, signed the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights,
which amongst other things, guarantees freedom of worship, expression and belief.
Like China, it appears that its signature is meaningless.

Another area of concern is the problem of the lack of freedom in many Islamic countries.
In the West, Muslims are rightly free to worship and build mosques –
something I have defended in the past and will defend again.

There is a bigger issue here.
I have no problem with there being different religions within a pluralistic and tolerant society.
But what if that religion itself is opposed to pluralism and tolerance,
which I argue Islam is, and seeks to impose its own Sharia law?

David continues his post with a more personal reflection regarding the Chruch manse that he
and his family called home for 27 years…a church manse turned Muslim home with the
entire neighborhood becoming Muslim…

A casual observer might think that David’s feelings are somewhat racist in that he is concerned
about a Scottish neighborhood becoming Muslim, but he clearly notes that Islam is
not a race but rather a religion…and it is one that has at its core the goal of
the decimation of Christianity…

And so yes, there are big questions that remain—
What is happening to the Chruch from both within and from with-out

See David’s full post here:

A Tale of Two Buildings – the Hagia Sophia and the Free Church Manse – CT

“Shadow of the Almighty rather than the shadow of death”

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
Psalm 91:1


(image courtesy decidingvoteblog)

As the fluid situation of all of our lives continues to swirl, the post I had hoped to
write today…a post about looking back at how we Americans have overcome past crises
is now on hold.

We’ve been called into a bit of action—for we are off to fetch the Mayor today
with the Sherrif following in a few more days.

With the schools now shuttering in Georgia, our daughter-in-law the teacher
will find herself at home. She will be home with two little ones, along with
a husband (our son) who is already working from home.
And as a teacher, she will be responsible for conducting virtual learning classes
so in turn, they will need help with the kids….so…
the kids will be coming to us.

For how long is yet to be determined.
Therefore, any blogging will be sporadic.

The Mayor tends to demand a great deal of her staff’s time and energies.
And as a governing official, she has her hands full…as we all do.

But before I leave you, I wanted to offer you some lovely words of hope.

The following message…a message of hope in the face of global adversity,
is from our dear friend The Wee Flea, David Robertson.

Living now in Australia but with family still in Scotland as well as England,
David understands first hand the fretfulness we are all feeling during these
times of uncertainty as well as times of fear…

How do we as Christians respond?

My wish is that you will find comfort in the following words…
the link to the full post is found at the end…

Be blessed, stay well and be safe…

One of my greatest concerns is that the Church far more often reflects the society
than it does lead or love it.
This pandemic is a real test for the reality of our faith and the relevance of our doctrines.
And there is no doubt that our world is being taught some real lessons –
lessons the Christian should, if we believe the Bible, already know.

Humility

We are being taught humility.
Fintan O ‘Toole had a marvelous article in The Irish Times pointing out that we are not
kings of the world and we are not masters of our own fate.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. And one that humanity, in our hubris,
has to keep being taught.

History

We have a lot to learn from history –
not least because we keep forgetting it.
Plague and disease are not new to humanity.
When we look at how the Church in the past has dealt with plague –
whether in ancient Rome, medieval Europe, 19th century London or numerous other examples
we can get a better perspective.
My predecessor in St Peter’s Dundee, Robert Murray McCheyne died aged 29 after he visited
the sick and dying in an epidemic among the poor in the city.
The Church today seems to be more concerned about not getting sick, rather than visiting the sick.

Hebel

I love this Hebrew word.
I don’t really know an exact English equivalent.
It’s what Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes when he describes everything as ‘meaningless’ or ‘vanity’.
It carries the idea of trivial froth.
The coronavirus is exposing our societies’ Hebel.
Sport, wealth, leisure, entertainment –
how light and frothy they appear to be in the light of such a foe!

I was in a barber’s in Sydney yesterday where my fellow clientele would normally have been
outraged at the cancelling of the major sporting events which play such
a large part in our lives, but there was general agreement that it didn’t really matter.
(I loved the sign above the door – “if you’re sick you need a doctor, not a barber!”).

Hope

That is the great missing thing.
Real hope has to be more than the wish that this would soon be over and that we could carry on
with life as normal. This virus has exposed the shallowness of that approach to life.
Where do we find hope?
As always I find it in the word of God.
Let me share with you three readings from this morning.

Proverbs 1:20-33 warns us of what happens when we neglect the wisdom that is calling aloud
“in the public square”.
There will be calamity and “disaster that sweeps over you like a whirlwind”.
The waywardness of the simple and the complacency of fools destroys them but
“whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm”.

Then there are the great words of Psalm 91 –
a Psalm that sustained me when I lay on my bed in the ICU unit in Ninewells hospital,
helpless and fearful.
We can rest in the ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ (rather than the shadow of death).
We are covered by his feathers, and his faithfulness is our shield and rampart.
“You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday” (v.5-6).

Finally, my song for this morning was Psalm 139 where,
amongst other things, we are assured that all the days ordained for us were written in the
Lord’s book before they came to be. These verses surely speak to our situation.
Are we listening?
Or are we listening to the voices of doom both within our fearful selves
and our frightened society?

Listening to what God says is not burying our head in the sand;
it is allowing the light to expose our darkness and to point us to a greater and better truth –
to The Rock that is higher than us.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
my anxious thoughts survey.
Show me what gives offence to you,
And lead me in your way”

(Psalm 139:23-24 – Sing Psalms – The Free Church of Scotland)

Three Bible passages to Replace Fear of Coronavirus with Hope in God

The question…would St. Valentine still give his life today?

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is,
than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings,
what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends,
what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

We’re off to celebrate a certain Mayor’s 2nd birthday.
Birthday on Monday.
Party on Saturday.

But before we get to birthday celebrations, we need to remember the day of all things Amore…
Yes, Dean Martin is indeed crooning in the background…

I wanted to stop long enough to consider the real person of Saint Valentine.

A Christian martyr versus the modern-day commercialized king of roses,
chocolate, and amore.

I caught this great piece yesterday on the Federalist regarding the life of the real
St. Valentine along with the story of his martyrdom.
The question posed was what might be St. Valentine’s thoughts regarding
today’s modern 21st century’s concept of marriage…?
Would he still sacrifice his life for today’s shifting thoughts on marriage?

Because that’s what St. Valentine did—he gave his life over to martyrdom for
performing Christian marriages— of which ran counter to the pagan thoughts of
marriage throughout Imperial Rome.
He would not bow to Ceaser nor Rome’s pagan gods.

This is a great piece—so please enjoy.
And just remember…there actually remains a real-life story…one of true agape love
which lies buried beneath those roses, chocolates and special romantic
dinners out.

Now off for the Mayorial celebrations!

Would Saint Valentine Be A Christian Martyr For Marriage Again Today?
We can especially feel an intense hostility towards the very idea of marriage that
Saint Valentine represented: the union of one man and one woman, centered on Christ,
and loyal until death.

One of the many legends about Saint Valentine is that he was a Christian priest martyred
by Roman authorities for secretly performing Christian marriages.
We used to think of Saint Valentine as the good guy in that scenario.
Today?
Not so much maybe, given the hostility towards the idea of Christian
marriage in our culture.

Saint Valentine would have committed a double offense by the time he was beheaded
in 270 A.D.
First, he defied Emperor Claudius II’s ban on marriage, a ban intended to create a
larger pool of effective soldiers by preventing young men from becoming attached to wives and families.
Second, as a Christian, Saint Valentine would have refused to bow down to false gods and the state,
and taught his brethren likewise.

The custom of burning incense to the pagan gods and to Caesar would have violated
the conscience of any devout Christian because it would be a public betrayal and rejection of Christ.
In addition, incense is significant in worship.

When the custom was in force, the authorities didn’t actually require anyone to
believe in the gods, but simply to go through the motions.
They thought it was no big deal. But it was a very big deal,
because the point was to enforce conformity and capture people’s consciences.

That’s not to say Christians uniformly resisted. Most likely obeyed,
while those who resisted were persecuted, even put to death.
Needless to say, this caused some division among Christians.

Christians during the great persecutions had a special example of
steadfastness in Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was 86 when he was arrested
and martyred around the year 155. According to tradition, when brought to judgment,
the Roman proconsul was astonished to see in Saint Polycarp a venerable old man
he did not want to execute.

So he offered him what he thought was a generous out: if Polycarp would just
toss a teensy pinch of incense (not even noticeable) to Caesar, then he would be set free.
Of course, Polycarp would have none of that. So he was burned alive instead.
Sacrificial Love versus Shiny Object Love

There are plenty of other legends about Valentine and other saints.
The point is that Valentine’s Day originated as a celebration of the sacrificial love
upon which Christian marriage is based. To “be true” is to be willing to make the
ultimate sacrifice for someone, and to proclaim that love for better or for worse, until death.

Valentine’s Day is still filled with beautiful traditions, such as exchanging
heartfelt notes of love and gifts to those we care about.
Who doesn’t enjoy the beauty of roses and the deliciousness of chocolate?
Commercialization is a given, and often a testament to things we love anyway.

But in many ways Valentine’s Day got hijacked by the shiny objects offered by
the sexual revolution: self-gratification, “free love,” etc. For many, sexual attraction
or hooking up is the only reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Self-sacrifice?
What’s that?
Sacrificial love doesn’t sell.
Often people seek out others who practice it because they prefer not to practice
it themselves.
Funny how that works.

By 1998, Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues” decided to dub the day “V-Day,”
which she said stood for “Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.”
Well, not much love and sacrifice there. V-Day is still around, with the
mission of raising awareness of violence against women, “both cis and trans.”
(Since 1998, of course, the V-Day folks discovered that “men can have vaginas.”)

In any case, the V-Day project represents a trend that seeks to separate men and women—
on Valentine’s Day.
Such separation is the end result of the sexual revolution.
After all, the push to legally abolish all sex distinctions is nihilistic,
especially towards marriage.
Hostility Toward Christian Marriage

As V-Day plods its cheerless way onward, we seem to be witnessing a revolve back
in the direction of persecution. First, there was a celebration of Saint Valentine
and sacrificial love, particularly in Christian marriage.
Then the predictable focus on romantic love, much of it in the Victorian era
that popularized the sending of Valentine cards.

With the sexual revolution, we get a more direct focus on sex as the centerpiece
of the festivities.
Predictably, the sexual revolution then spawned resentment rather than love,
now by using the day to raise awareness of wife-beating and other forms of
violence against women.

We can especially feel an intense hostility towards the very idea of marriage that
Saint Valentine represented: the union of one man and one woman, centered on Christ,
and loyal until death. His crime was to bring a man and a woman together while
the state meant to keep them apart.
The marriages he performed were anathema both to Roman imperialism and to
today’s worship of hook-up culture, adultery, divorce, and abortion,
all celebrated in the media and pop culture.

The hostility runs so deep that Christians today are told they must pay homage
to same-sex unions or else lose their livelihoods. It is not only happening in the wedding industry,
as florist Baronelle Stutzman and baker Jack Phillips can attest.
It is happening in all of society’s institutions.

This hostility against the timeless understanding of marriage as the union
of one man and one woman runs so deep that it is a heresy being forced into the
churches themselves, often through evangelical defectors, such as Joshua Harris and David Gushee.
Gushee uses his title as an evangelical ethicist to warn other Christians that if
they don’t follow the LGBT agenda, they’ll be rightfully smeared as bigots.

In a 2016 op-ed, he warned: “Neutrality is not an option. Neither is polite half-acceptance.
Nor is avoiding the subject. Hide as you might, the issue will come and find you.”
(That goes for you too, Saint Valentine!)
This sounds like a recipe for forced love, which is quite the opposite of love.
Anyway, for good measure, Gushee shared a laundry list of those who have signed on to
this manufactured, sold-and-bought zeitgeist:
corporate America, academia, psychologists, etc.

That’s been the basic idea behind political correctness all along:
deny your conscience, shut up, and publicly prostrate yourself before the elitists
who operate this zeitgeist machine. Otherwise, to the stake with you.

Devout Christians know, of course, that this is the same old stuff served up to their
forerunners when they were told to bow down to pagan gods.
Yes, bowing down to the pagan gods was popular all right, since the alternative,
as always, was to be smeared and skewered. Just call it “the right side of history”
and you’re good to go.

Yet even one person who does not betray conscience in the face of
such punishment can change the world by injecting some truth into it.
Perhaps that is why the enemies of free conscience are on a constant
search-and-destroy mission to “come and find you.”
But in the end, true sacrifice—the kind that comes without deep-pocketed
lobbying—can breed real love. And, as Saint Valentine showed, real love can’t be forced.

Stella Morabito is a senior contributor to The Federalist

https://thefederalist.com/2020/02/13/would-saint-valentine-be-a-christian-martyr-for-marriage-again-today/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=f80b93b154-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-f80b93b154-84149832

mincing no words

“At the root of the collapse of the West, there is a cultural identity crisis.
The West no longer knows and does not want to know who made it,
who established it, as it was and as it is.
Many countries today ignore their own history.
This is self-suffocation naturally leads to a decadence that opens the
path to new, barbaric civilizations.”

Robert Cardinal Sarah


(Cardinal Sarah)

Many of you may or may not be familiar with Cardinal Sarah.

I’ve quoted and even mentioned Cardinal Sarah before.

I am not Catholic, but having been raised in the Episcopal Chruch,
I have always been considered Catholic lite… or so they say…
of which I take as a compliment.

But I want you to know that despite my not being a Catholic, I have always felt
encouraged when ever reading Cardinal Sarah’s words.

He does not mince his words.
He does not apologize for those words.
And he always takes God at His word while never looking back.

That is such a refreshing stand in a time of endless apologies, backtracking, politicizing,
and the current persecution of Christians in, of all places, Western Civilization.

Robert Sarah was born in 1945 in Ourous, a village in then rural French Guinea.
His parents were both Christian converts.
Sarah began his religious studies at the age of 12.

With ongoing conflicts within Guinea, Sarah eventually completed his schooling in both
France and Senegal with his final ordination studies in both Rome and Jerusalem.
He was ordained in 1969, serving as a priest and eventual bishop in Guinea.
Both pope’s Benedict and Francis elevated Sarah to first cardinal deacon then
eventually Cardinal in 2013.

What we know about Africa, Cardinal Sarah’s home nation, is that it is the fastest-growing
Christian nation on the planet.
And it is a bastion of a conservative perspective on God’s word and of Christianity.
Meaning, the global Christian Chruch in Africa does not mince God’s word.
If God said it, then it is so…end of sentence.

There is no deciphering, interpreting, or rewriting to suit the whims of the times.

In a time in which Christianity is under tremendous attack and Christians are facing
all sorts of persecutions, Africa offers Christianity hope.

Cardinal Sarah makes no excuses for his Christian faith, his African Christianity,
his Catholicism and no excuses for what many claim to be politically incorrect
stances on Christianity.

Cardinal Sarah has been very vocal, as well as pointed with his words, regarding ISIS,
Radical Isalm, gender identity, LGBTQ lifestyles, mass immigration, abortion,
the current demise of the traditional family, and the current seemingly
demise of Western Civilization.

The good Cardinal says that he “considers that the decadence of our time has
all the faces of mortal peril.”
He has also stated that ‘Gender Ideology is a Luciferean Refusal’
of the Sexual Nature Given to Us by God.

There are no apologies for such wording as he speaks with only the
word of God as his guide.

Cardinal Sarah has a new book to be released in September…
The Day Is Now Far Spent.

The publisher’s review is telling…

In this powerful book by the acclaimed spiritual leader and best-selling writer,
one he calls his “most important”, he analyzes the profound spiritual,
moral and political crisis in the contemporary world.
He says that he “considers that the decadence of our time has all the faces of mortal peril.”

“At the root of the collapse of the West, there is a cultural identity crisis.
The West no longer knows who it is, because it no longer knows and does not
want to know who made it, who established it, as it was and as it is.
Many countries today ignore their own history.
This self-suffocation naturally leads to a decadence that opens the path to new,
barbaric civilizations.”

In these words, Cardinal Sarah summarizes the theme of his book.
His finding is simple: our world is on the brink of the abyss.
Crisis of faith and of the Church, decline of the West, betrayal by its elites,
moral relativism, endless globalism, unbridled capitalism, new ideologies,
political exhaustion, movements inspired by Islamist totalitarianism…
The time has come for an unflinching diagnosis.

While making clear the gravity of the crisis through which the West has gone,
the Cardinal demonstrates that it is possible to avoid the hell of a world without God,
a world without man, a world without hope.

After the great international success of his first two books,
God or Nothing and The Power of Silence,
Cardinal Sarah offers a wide-ranging reflection on the crisis of the contemporary
world while teaching many important spiritual lessons.

I look forward to reading this latest book by this ardent soldier of the Faith,
and I am thankful that there are prelates, clergy, and
men of the cloth who will not apologize nor back down in the face of mounting backlash,
criticism or persecution—

In the word of God, there are no mistakes…there is no mincing of His word…

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth:
it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless],
but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose,
and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11

the power to give…or not

“If you want God to hear your prayers, hear the voice of the poor.
If you wish God to anticipate your wants, provide those of the needy without
waiting for them to ask you.”

St. Thomas of Villanova


(an olive dries on the tree outside of St Peters, Rome, Itlay / Julie Cook / 2018)

“It is undoubtedly true that each of us, men and women, irresponsible and thoughtless as we often are,
hold within our hands the happiness and sorrows of others.
We cannot help it or escape from it.
The power is in us inalienably almost from birth to death—in us,
because we are persons—and we are responsible for the use we make of it.
Indeed, so mysterious is this power that the very presence of a person who does not realize his
responsibility is often the source of the keenest pain of all…
The failure to exercise the power to give happiness to others is not merely negative in its results;
it is the source of the most positive suffering of all.
Thus there is no escape from the responsibility involved in the possession of this power.
Not to use it where it is due is to destroy all happiness. Strange power,
indeed, to be committed to such weak and unworthy hands;
yet there could be but one thing worse: that none could interfere with the joys and sorrows of others.
We might envy their happiness and pity their sorrows, but we could not help them.
It would be a world of isolated individuals wrapped in inviolable selfishness;
each must take care of himself and the world must go its way.”

Fr. Basil W. Maturin, p. 149
An Excerpt from
Christian Self-Mastery

a plethora…

“Well, you just told me that I had a plethora,
and I would just like to know if you know what it means to have a plethora.
I would not like to think that someone would tell someone else he has a plethora,
and then find out that that person has no idea what it means to have a plethora.”

El Guapo (played by Alfonso Arau) from the movie ¡Three Amigos!


(a vast array of tomatoes and vegetables at Campo di Fiori, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

A plethora…an abundance…a profusion…

And that is exactly what I am grateful for…

I am grateful for the abundance of family and friends that I have both here in
my small corner of the blogosphere as well as those in my small corner of this world
in which we live.

Thank you…each of you for stopping in…
for visiting, reading, caring, writing, sharing, loving…
and for making me smile, laugh, cry…as well as think…

Thank you for being my friend…even for those of you who do not see eye to eye
with what I write.

May God’s Grace abundantly bless each of you…
Keeping you safe, happy, warm, dry, well fed, free from harm and at peace…
during not only this Thanksgiving Day but throughout this season of wonderment,
joy and awe.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Oh, and by the way…The Mayor has requested that her closet aides accompany her on a bit of
an excursion during the next couple of days.
Something about wanting to visit the place where she has her earliest family roots
while taking in a bit of serene history…she’s calling it a working holiday…
she can be such a slave driver…but when she says jump, we aides say how high 🙂

Plus… if you read yesterday’s post, I lived through the pumpkin pie making as well.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26