Confidence in God

“As the pilot of a vessel is tried in the storm; as the wrestler is tried in the ring,
the soldier in the battle, and the hero in adversity: so is the Christian tried in temptation.”

St. Basil the Great


(Stain glass windows of Sainte Chapelle / Paris, France / 2018)

“Our confidence in God must be founded on His infinite goodness and on the merits of the Passion
and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, with this condition on our part:
that we should preserve and recognize in ourselves an entire and firm resolution to belong wholly to God,
and to abandon ourselves in all things, and without any reserve, to His Providence.
Observe that I do not say that we must feel this resolution to belong wholly to God,
but only that we must have it and recognize it in ourselves;
we must not concern ourselves with what we feel or do not feel,
since the greater part of our feelings and satisfactions are only the movements of self-love.
Neither must it be supposed that in all this practice of abandonment and indifference,
we shall never have desires contrary to the will of God,
or that nature will never shrink with repugnance from the dispositions of His good pleasure,
for these will often occur.
The virtues of abandonment and indifference reside in the higher region of our soul;
the lower region, generally speaking, has nothing to do with them.
We must remain at peace, and paying no attention whatever to what that lower nature desires,
we must embrace the divine will and unite ourselves to it—whatsoever this may entail.
There are very few persons who reach this height of perfect self-renunciation;
nevertheless, we must all aim at it, each according to his little measure.”

St. Francis de Sales, p. 22-23
An Excerpt From
The Art of Loving God

losing my mind…

There is no antithesis between hope for heaven and loyalty to the earth,
since this hope is also hope for the earth.
While we hope for something greater and definitive,
we Christians may and must bring hope into that which is transitory,
into the world of our states
.
Joseph Ratzinger


(detail from Sainte Chapelle / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

I mentioned the other day the irony that as we…we being anyone,
work toward pushing our way toward a Godly life, a Godly
mindset, a Godly perspective as to how we live our lives…
the harder we work toward such, Satan, in turn,
goes into overdrive trying desperately to thwart any and all efforts.

I know this.

Hence why I’m opting to just walk around with an umbrella over my head 24/7.

But more about all of that later.

One thing that I have noticed that isn’t helping…isn’t helping my mindset, my demeanor,
my outlook, is this country’s quagmire of division and hatred and the constant news
feeds… be they from a liberal progressive henny penny the sky is falling slant or from
the more conservative slant of ‘oh woe is us’ (of which I tend to be more of the ‘oh
woe is us’ camp) it is enough to be driving me absolutely nuts…
so much so that I dare turn on a television or click on news…
and Heaven’s help us, when I get the world breaking news alerts on my phone.

And so it was a bit serendipitous to stumble upon the following quote by
Joseph Ratzinger…aka Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Joseph Ratzinger, as Cardinal Ratzinger who worked under Pope John Paul II as the
Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
was known as God’s Rotweiller.

He headed a Vatican department responsible for enforcing doctrinal orthodoxy, and was
the successor to the Inquisition.
A tough-minded man who once said that “rock music was “the expression of basic passions”
And he described homosexuality as a “more or less strong tendency ordered toward
an intrinsic moral evil”.

He did not mince the words of Biblical truths.

The former Pope, who now lives a reclusive, prayerful and scholarly life in a small
apartment on the grounds of the Vatican, is German by birth.
Hence the Rottweiler reference as well as being known as the Panzer Cardinal.

However it was as a youthful boy, Ratzinger’s heart was set on being a priest.
But Hitler and his Nazi monster reign put that dream on hold.

The family was very anti-Nazi, anti-Hitler.
The Nazi regime’s politics ran counter to the Ratzinger’s Catholic Christian faith.
So much so that the senior Ratzinger moved his family multiple times in hopes of living a life
somewhat free from the growing madness.

However time eventually ran out and as required of all young German boys during this dark time
in mankind’s history, this future Pope was mandated to serve time as a member of Hitler’s
Youth Group. Should he opt not to participate, the family would face financial penalties
and most likely worse.

During the dark, chaotic days of Nazi Germany, Ratzinger witnessed first hand the
horrors of what life was like under Hitler’s spell.
Ratzinger had a younger cousin who had Down’s Syndrome—
Such individuals were considered to be defective….imperfect and impure.
It was the likes of Josef Mengele, the physician who performed countless “experiments” of such individuals-who viewed people like Ratzinger’s cousin as living guinea pigs, had those like
Ratzinger’s cousin rounded up and taken away.

And so his cousin was indeed “taken away” from the family by the local authorities.
A short time afterward the family was given word that the boy had been killed for being one of the “undesirables”—an individual considered to be a flaw…
a weak and unpure part of the Aryan gene pool.

During his time as a Hitler Youth, Ratzinger was miserable.

In Ratzinger’s book Salt of the Earth, Ratzinger says the following “…
Thank goodness, there was a very understanding mathematics teacher.
He himself was a Nazi but an honest man, who said to me,
‘Just go once and get the document so that we have it’ …
When he saw that I simply didn’t want to, he said, ‘I understand, I’ll take care of it’,
and so I was able to stay free of it.
(Wikipedia)

Later when he was of age, Ratzinger was drafted.
Three separate times his service was terminated, only to be reinstated and serving in various capacities
but never seeing active fighting on the front.

Eventually, he made the harrowing decision to desert.

Ratzinger has often stated that Heavenly angels watched over him and his family during those
frantic final days of Nazi Germany as there were multiple times when the authorities
discovered a young man of draft age who was oddly not enlisted—
and yet, his desertion was oddly never pursued.

As soon as the war was over, Ratzinger and his brother both entered seminary.

So if there is one who understands the attacks by Satan on those who attempt to pursue a
Godly life and of the role a political ethos plays in the lives of Christians
it would be Ratzinger…as well as Karol Woytjla, aka Pope John Paul II who
lived a life of labor, pain, and suffering in a Nazi-occupied Poland…

So may the following words of wisdom offered by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
speak to all of us today…those of us who are finding ourselves living
in these very uncertain and surreal political times…

True human objectivity involves humanity, and humanity involves God.

True human reason involves morality, which lives on God’s commandments.

This morality is not a private matter; it has public significance.

Without the good of being good and of good action, there can be no good politics.

What the persecuted Church prescribed for Christians as the core of their political
ethos must also be the core of an active Christian politics:
only where good is done and is recognized as good can people live together
well in a thriving community.

Demonstrating the practical importance of the moral dimension,
the dimension of God’s commandments—publicly as well—must be the center of responsible
political action.

Joseph Ratzinger

faith and science and The Law Giver

“God created everything by number, weight and measure.”
“In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”
“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired.
I study the Bible daily.”

Sir Isaac Newton

“God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used advanced mathematics
in constructing the universe.”

Nobel Prize winning physicist Paul A. M. Dirac,
who made crucial early contributions to both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.

“My greatest discovery was that I needed God,
and that I was nothing without him and that he loved me and showed his love
by sending Jesus to save me.”

Alexander Fleming, the Nobel Prize-winning British bacteriologist who discovered
the life-saving antibiotic penicillin.


(Sainte-Chapelle / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

The fact that the medieval men and women knew God to be rational,
to be logos, reasonable, thinking,
led them to soon think that the universe that God made would have a rationality about it—
laws that could be discovered.
CS Lewis thinks the same way.
‘Men became scientific because they expected law in nature.
And they expected law in nature because they believed in a Law Giver.’

Fr.John Flader
from God and Science

The courage to continue….

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston Churchill

DSC00518

Beautiful Stain Glass Rose window from Sainte Chapelle / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011

Merriam-Webster defines courage as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

Courage is not what we see depicted from Hollywood. Courage is not the professional athletes we laud over on the playing field. Courage is not physical prowess. Courage is not bravado. Courage is not belittling. Courage is not loud. Courage is not easy. Courage is not glamorous.

Courage is silence when others scream. Courage is for the tears shed alone. Courage is a smile when one is overcome by despair. Courage is going forward when others turn away. Courage is standing when sitting feels better. Courage is letting go when holding on is all one yearns to do. Courage teaches. Courage is quiet. Courage is lonely.

Courage is rooted in a mental decision to make a choice—it’s an either or with no time provided to weigh ones’ options. It’s a just do it mentality without the Nike swoosh. No glitz, no glamour, no pats on the back. It’s hard, difficult, dirty and even painful. But it’s the right thing–not the popular thing. It’s a moral thing not a trendy thing.

Our world needs more who are willing to act, to live, to choose courage.
It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.
Your choice.

The dark was not so dark

“Whoever has received knowledge
and eloquence in speech from God
should not be silent or secretive
but demonstrate it willingly.
When a great good is widely heard of,
then, and only then, does it bloom,
and when that good is praised by man,
it has spread its blossoms.”
― Marie de France

DSC00521
(photograph: a section of floor tile at Sainte Chapelle/ Paris, France/ Julie Cook/ 2011)

Both the image and the author of the quote date to medieval France; the Church from the 13th century and the poet to the 12th century. We so often equate the medieval world to a “dark age” or a time of ignorance cloaked in misery, darkness and disease—but it was a time of so much more than our simple assumptions limit.

Masterful architecture as evidenced by the gothic spires built during these dark days, now spanning centuries of time only to continue reaching toward the heavens today. The lyrical music and poetry of the merry Troubadours who wandered the lands of France and Italy singing their way into the hearts of both lord and lady. St Thomas Aquinas,13th century, one of the most important Doctors of the Church, is undoubtedly one of the foremost theologians and philosophers still widely and deeply studied to this day—brilliant minds, brilliant engineering, brilliant music all seemingly cloaked in supposed ignorance, darkness, superstition and disease.

On this new day of this new week, be not deterred by naysayers who wish to relegate you to “less than” or to the impossible–great things are all around us, just waiting to be revealed–often in the most unlikely of places. Let not historian nor so called “expert” tell you anything other than “yes, it is always possible”. If you think it, there are always possibilities.

Be not secretive or silent as God continues to bestow gifts on us all—be willing to share what gifts you have been given–allow your greatness to spread and blossom. Be not deterred.