Disciples of hope!

“Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”
St. Catherine of Siena


(a pre pandemic January sunrise at Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)

There is an excuse for some anxiety today, but no one has a right to be without hope.
Yet the prophets of gloom abound, and the disciples of hope are few.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
From The World’s First Love

Yep, I’ll be the first to admit that these have been some trying times.

And yes, much like everyone else throughout this global ordeal, I have found myself fretful,
fearful and even angry.

We, humans, strive to control our destinies no matter what.
We like to believe that we are the captains of our own ship.
And we want to steer those ships upon the seas of life while
sailing into only calm waters.

But life, much like a wild horse, will not yield to being tamed.
The seas will pitch and roll at will.

We find ourselves tossed about in a maelstrom,
growing anxious as both frustration and depression set in.

If we throw in an already deeply divided and often hate-filled nation, we have the makings of
a most toxic mishmash of fear, bitterness, and resentment all sprinkled with a heavy dose
of a pandemic…it doesn’t get much worse.

The prophets have been touted and proclaimed… the prophets of falsehoods, ill-will,
and doom.
Prophets with a little p, prophets who profess conspiracy, animosity, divisiveness
and even hate.

But that need not be our fate.

We can make a conscious decision.
We can choose to set ourselves a part.
We can step aside from the small prophets
opting to be a disciple, a follower of Hope…

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand,
and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:2-5

lose not our soul…

“One should not say that it is impossible to reach a virtuous life;
but one should say that it is not easy.
Nor do those who have reached it find it easy to maintain.”

St. Anthony of the Desert


(the invasive lionfish composed of found invasive plastics / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“That which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did and suffered for all men,
He did and suffered for each one in particular;
and He would not have thought it too much to do if it had been a question of saving
only a single soul.
The salvation of a soul is, then, the price of the blood of God,
the price of the death of God, the price of the greatest sacrifice that God,
clothed in our human nature, could possibly make! This is incomprehensible!…
It proves that the dignity of a soul is beyond understanding—for God to abase Himself,
for God to annihilate Himself, for God to sacrifice Himself,
only to save that soul and make it happy forever!…
As for us, who believe humbly and firmly all that God has revealed to us,
let us learn, by the contemplation of God upon a Cross, what is the value of our souls.
Let us not lose our soul; let us not prostitute it to creatures;
and to make sure of our eternal salvation, which cost so much to the Son of God,
let us beg of Jesus Christ Himself to take charge of it,
to lead us in the right way and guide us always.
Such an inestimable treasure runs too great a risk in our own hands.
Let us trust it to God and our Savior. Let us make Him the Master of our liberty,
which we may so easily abuse, and the abuse of which may bring about
such terrible consequences.
Once abandoned to the safe and infallible guidance of His grace,
we have no more to fear.
He loves us too much, He takes too much interest in our salvation,
ever to lose the price of His blood and His sufferings.”

Fr. Jean Nicholas Grou, p. 7-9
An Excerpt From
The Spiritual Life

winter’s shadows overpowered by Grace

“If the heart wanders or is distracted,
bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence.
And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back
and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you
brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

St. Francis de Sales


(Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)

“This great power of grace over nature appears at first sight as unnatural,
for which reason nature strives against it and does not even wish to hear of the necessity
of penance and mortification. But the obligation of penance remains,
and precisely because of nature’s opposition,
it cannot be emphasized often enough or earnestly enough.
Softened, wounded nature, moreover, makes difficulties greater than they really are.
Grace does not wish to destroy nature, but only to elevate it,
that is, to drive out the evil that makes it sick and then to introduce a new and better life.
By taking away all that nature loves to its own detriment,
and thus wounding it in its innermost depth,
it at the same time pours such a healthful balsam into this wound that it is
a delight to be wounded in this way.
Ask the Saints if they have ever experienced any greater delight than in those moments
when they offered themselves, body and soul, as a victim to God…
Ask yourself if you have ever enjoyed a deeper or more genuine delight than when you
suppressed a violent desire of proud, angry nature, or performed any other act of
heroic mortification with the help of grace. If, then, grace could give the Saints
such a wonderful, superhuman and heroic courage as to elevate them above themselves
and make them lead an angelic life already in the flesh,
can it not enable you to live at least as a man, in harmony with your natural dignity,
and not as a slave of the flesh, of the passions, of your own will and opinion?”

Fr. Matthias J. Scheeben, p. 260
An Excerpt From
The Glories of Divine Grace:
A Fervent Exhortation to All to Preserve and to Grow in Sanctifying Grace

to appear before man or God, that is our choice

“He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.”

St. Ambrose


( a quiet January morning / Rosemary Beach / Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God.
Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example,
for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter.
In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived
in remote caves to escape the esteem of men.
The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men,
to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul,
an evil that causes us to forget our God;
it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the
spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God,
we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their
approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.”

St. Alphonsus Liguiori,
p. 128-9
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

power found in prayer, humility and truth

“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


bearded iris / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

“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

my highlighter dried up

“Despite the violence of the attacks that she may suffer,
the Chruch will not die. This is the Lord’s promise,
and His word is infallible.”
…theologians amuse themselves by deconstructing dogmas and emptying morality
of its profound meaning
Relativism is the mask Judas disguised as an intellectual.

Robert Cardinal Sarah


(morning skies / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

Here are a few more gems gleaned from Cardinal Sarah and his latest book,
The Day Is Now Far Spent.

I shared with you the other day that I had practically highlighted the entire first
two pages of his introduction and since then, the highlighter I was using has run dry.

The following snippets offer some very powerful words…words offered to
to the collective body of Christian believers who are finding themselves bewildered by the
attacks taking place on the bride of Christ, that being his Church.

Cardinal Sarah shares…
This book is the cry of my soul!
It is a cry of love for God and for my brethren.
I owe to you, to you Christians, the only truth that saves.
The Chruch is dying because her pastors are afraid to speak in all truth and clarity.
We are afraid of the media,
afraid of public opinion,
afraid of our own brethren!
The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep.

Today, in these pages, I offer you what is at the heart of my life:
faith in God.

In a little while, I will appear before the eternal Judge.
If I do not hand on to you the truth that I received, what will I say to him then?
We bishops ought to tremble at the thought of our guilty silences,
our complicit silences, our over-indulging silences in dealing with the world.

Christians are trembling, wavering, doubting.
I want this book to be for them.
To tell them: do not doubt!
Hold fast to doctrine.
Hold fast to prayer!
I want this book to strengthen faithful Christians and priests.

Cardinal Sarah has likened our current time to the mystery of Judas.
The mystery of betrayal.
He tells us that “The mystery of Judas, the mystery of betrayal, is a subtle poison.
The devil seeks to make us doubt the Church.
He wants us to regard her as a human organization in crisis.
However, she is so much more
than that: she is the continuation of Christ.
The devil drives us to division and schism.
He wants to make us believe that the Chruch has betrayed us.
But the Church does not betray.
The Chruch, full of sinners, is herself without sin!
There will always be enough light in her for those who seek God.

Judas is for all of eternity the traitor’s name, and his shadow hangs over us today.
Yes, like him, we have betrayed!
We have abandoned prayer.
The evil of efficient activism has infiltrated everywhere.
We seek to imitate the organization of big businesses.
We forget that prayer alone is the blood that can course through the heart of the Chruch.
We say that we have no time to waste.
We want to use this time for useful social works.
Someone who no longer prays has already betrayed.
Already he is willing to make all sorts of compromises with the world.
He is walking on the path of Judas.

I will leave us today with one last thought offered by Cardinal Sarah.
One last thought that we must all ruminate over…that of our purpose as believes in Christ.

Do we Christians, priests, bishops have some reason for existing other than to stand before
God and to lead others to him?
It is time to teach this!
It is time to put it into practice!
The one who prays is saved, the one who does not pray is damned, St Alphonsus said.
I want to insist on this point,
because a church that does not have a prayer as its most precious treasure is headed for ruin.
If we do not rediscover the meaning of long, patient vigils with the Lord, we will betray him.
The apostles did this: Do we think we are better than they were?

graces

“Three things are necessary to everyone:
truth of faith which brings understanding,
love of Christ which brings compassion,
and endurance of hope which brings perseverance.”

St. Bonaventure


(a gull prances in the surf / Julie Cook / 2019)

My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners.
If only they could understand that I am the best of Fathers to them and that
it is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy.
For them I dwell in the tabernacle as King of Mercy.
I desire to bestow My graces upon souls, but they do not want to accept them.
You, at least, come to Me as often as possible and take these graces they do not want to accept.
In this way you will console My Heart.
Oh, how indifferent are souls to so much goodness, to so many proofs of love!
My Heart drinks only of the ingratitude and forgetfulness of souls living in the world.
They have time for everything, but they have no time to come to Me for graces.”

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, p. 367
An Excerpt From
Diary of St. Faustina