it’s really very simple

“Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be,
and becoming that person.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

AMEN!!!


(detail from the Sistine Chapel, God reaching to give life to Adam / Michaelangelo / 1508-1512)

“However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves.
Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations in the field of love;
only he has sufficient mastery over our hearts for that.
If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement and fruitless struggle.
We do not have to become saints by our own power;
we have to learn how to let God make us into saints.
That does not mean, of course, that we don’t have to make any effort . . .
We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts,
but to let God act in us without our putting up any resistance against him;
we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace,
which sanctifies us.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5
AN EXCERPT FROM
In the School of the Holy Spirit

21st century iconoclasm… it’s all about color

To [Shuan] King, the only proper response to any fossil of racism or
oppression is to destroy it.
As any depictions of Christ or the Virgin Mary with light skin represent
“white supremacy,” according to King they’ve all got to go.

Nathan Stone


(Michaelangelo’s statue of Moses / Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli/ Julie Cook / 2018)

Back in 2014, I wrote a post about Pope Paschel I and Iconoclasm…
you may find the link to that post here:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/pope-paschal-i-iconoclasm-and-hospitality/

I went back to read that post today, in part because of a dangerous trend
I see happening these 6 years later…
This trend has been taking place over the past two months or so and it’s been happening
on both a national level as well as a global level.

The trend is that of vandalism—vandalism directed toward Chrisitan Houses of Worship.
As in… that of churches, stained glass windows, and even statuary.
There has been a call to vandalism by Shaun King, the leader of Black Lives Matter.
A call to eradicate any and all depictions of a light-skinned Christ

In yesterday’s post, a post based on an article by Nathan Stone, Stone wrote
extensively about why King would call his “followers” to arms…a call to
bring destruction to Churches, stain glass windows and images of Christ, Mary
and the saints.

Recently, Shaun King, a champion of the Black Lives Matter movement,
called for the destruction of Christian iconography, statues, and stained glass,
if they represent Christ, His mother, or any of the apostles as white.
This, according to King, makes the iconography nothing more than a
“gross form of white supremacy” and “racist propaganda” created
to be “tools of oppression.”

To King, the only proper response to any fossil of racism or oppression is
to destroy it.
As any depictions of Christ or the Virgin Mary with light skin represent
“white supremacy,” according to King they’ve all got to go.

Nathan continues…
True Christianity Was Never About Race

The idea that Christianity is or has been infected with white supremacy
is not new.
Susan Abrahams, the dean of faculty at Pacific School of Religion,
blamed “White Christians” for Charlottesville.
Jeannine Hill Fletcher wrote a book in 2018 that purportedly showed racism was a
natural outgrowth of Christianity, springing from “Christian superiority.”

This premise is wrong, first because of the existence of black saints.
There is a rich tradition of African Christianity.
Many of the earliest fathers of the church hailed from Africa,
including Cyprian and St. Augustine of Hippo.

Furthermore, multiple men and women are recognized by the Catholic Church
as saints who were black, including St. Moses the Black, St. Benedict the Moor,
and St. Martin de Porres.
It is a strange racist and oppressive system that recognizes the sanctity
of people from across the world, regardless of their color,
and bequeaths upon them the title of “saint,” a moniker that designates
all who possess it as attaining ultimate equality before the throne of God.

All this is a reminder that skin color doesn’t make an ounce of difference
in Christianity. As St. Paul wrote in Galatians,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Pigmentation did not matter in Christianity; what mattered was faith in Christ.
This is also why, contrary to the implication in King’s ridiculous tweets,
Christianity often adapted itself to the environment of indigenous peoples.

To buttress this, we even have proof that Africans were accepted in medieval Europe.
There is evidence that Christians from Ethiopia pilgrimaged to Spain and were
present in medieval Rome to the extent that the church of
Santo Stefano degli Abissini was built, and rebuilt,
specifically for Ethiopian Christians.

The Radicals Want to ‘Cancel’ Christianity.

Stained glass and statues do not show Christianity to be racist.
A quick Google search would have shown this to King.
So why King would make a statement that could be so easily refuted?
The answer is that this outrage over white portrayals of Christ and the apostles
is a blind meant to detract us from the real goal: canceling Christianity.

Just a year ago, believing the radical left had such a goal would
have sounded conspiratorial. Within the last four weeks, however,
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was vandalized.
Across from the White House, St. John’s Church was attacked twice.
Neither church nor the statue was involved in any way or form with
the deaths of George Floyd or Rayshard Brooks.

More recently, in the Polish city of Breda, a memorial to World War II Polish
soldiers was vandalized with BLM graffiti. Never mind that the memorial
features a replica of the Virgin Mary as a black woman,
the soldiers the memorial heralds were fighting fascists,
and Poland has no history of colonization anywhere.

Recently “The Catholic Church in the United States experienced a series of
attacks this weekend all over the country.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles saw a fire in an eighteenth-century mission church,
San Gabriel, founded in 1771 by St. Junipero Serra. Firefighters
responded to the call at 4:24 a.m. on Saturday, July 11.

Archbishop José Gomez tweeted about the fire,
asking for the intercession of St. Junipero.

St. Junipero has become a point of attack during recent protests
in the United States.
The Spanish Franciscan priest converted thousands of native Californians
to Christianity. Pope Francis canonized him while in the United States in 2015,
recalling how the saint “defended the dignity of the native community.”

Meanwhile, in Ocala, FL, the Marion County Sheriff’s office reported
someone set fire to Queen of Peace church just before Sunday morning Mass on July 12.

The police allegedly found a car crashed into the front of the church.
The suspect then poured gasoline in the narthex and lit it on fire,
before escaping in the same vehicle. No parishioners were wounded.
The suspect was arrested and is in Marion County jail on no bond.

The Boston Police Department is currently investigating an arson of a
statue of the Blessed Mother at St. Peter’s Parish Church in Dorchester
on Saturday, July 11.
They report an unknown suspect lit the plastic flowers in
the Madonna’s hands on fire, resulting in burning on the statue’s
face and upper body.

Another statue of Mary was vandalized on Friday, June 10 at 3:09 a.m.
at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in New York. The statue, which had
been at the entrance of the all-boys school for more than 100 years,
had the word “IDOL” written on its front. It was cleaned Friday morning by staff.
The Diocese of Brooklyn announced that the New York Police Department
is currently investigating the case.

These acts of vandalism come as Catholics are returning to churches
in many states, after the lockdown and closure of parishes due to coronavirus.
The actions also coincide with protests and the removal of various historical
statues across the United States, spurred by the death of George Floyd.

https://www.romereports.com/en/2020/07/13/churches-burned-and-statues-of-mary-vandalized-in-catholic-churches-across-us/

And then there was the fire at the Cathedral of Saint Pierre-et Saint Paul in Nantes, France

A fire at the cathedral in the French city of Nantes is believed to
have been started deliberately, prosecutors say.
Three fires were started at the site and an investigation into suspected arson
is underway, Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said.
The blaze destroyed stained glass windows and the grand organ at
the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, which dates from the 15th Century.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53455142

And so finally, it seems that someone in Washington is taking notice…
Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks is demanding federal authorities
at the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigate mob attacks on Christian statues
and churches in their continued purge of human history in the name of “social justice.”

“Over the last two months as Americans have seen statues of American heroes
toppled and memorials dedicated to our national memory desecrated,
those responsible for these acts have also in their sights Catholics,
statues of saints and churches,” an email from Banks’ office read Wednesday.

Let us pray for The Chruch, the global Christian family…

When buzzards come calling…

When vultures surround you, try not to die.
African proverb


(close up of a turkey buzzard / Lifescience.com)

Look at that face would you?
Look how the nostril just opens through to the other side…
I’ve always heard that, as the garbage men of the bird world, buzzards
can’t smell…well I would certainly hope not!

It is supposedly by their keen eyesight that they are able to scope out and zoom in on the
latest roadkill.

So over the past weekend, since it has been so miserably hot and while we are still
supposedly in some sort of social distancing lockdown…
just don’t tell everyone out on the roadways that, we opted for some idyllic countryside driving.

I don’t know about you but I’ve come to realize that I feel very heavyily burdened.

Be it this ongoing Pandemic mess…total civil unrest across the nation and world…
political persecution should you support the sitting president…
Christian persecution…

All the while questions loom heavy overhead…
Will there be school, will there not be school…
will there be a second wave…did we ever finish the first wave…
will they open Chruch…will we just succumb to Marxist ideology and the church will be
rendered dead…should we don a mask or not…

And so pray tell, how much longer will all of this mess go on!?

So as we started driving and I was looking out the window, with the weight of so much
heaviness on my mind, I focused my eyes on something a bit odd…
I noticed a black image sitting atop the steeple of a small country church.


(youtube)

“Oh my gosh,” I exclaimed to my husband, “do they not have any sense of reverence?”
“Who?” my husband surprised by my question responds a bit bewildered.

“Buzzards!”
“There’s a buzzard sitting on top of that church’s cross on its steeple.

“No respect” my husband chuckles.

I wish I had been able to get out my phone to take a picture but the one I found
on-line gives you some idea of what I’m talking about.

I went back to staring out the window while musing the symbology of a specter of death
perched on a cross atop a steeple.

And so wouldn’t you know it, when we were out driving around the following day,
I saw the same thing…but this was another church with another buzzard perched up top.

What are those odds?

Coincidence?

Who knows…but what I do know is that there’s got to be a heavy dose of irony
buried somewhere in two different visions of death birds perching on top of a cross,
an image of life.

Yesterday, Tricia, over on Freedom Through Empowerment,
and I were chatting back and forth about the implications of the news over Hagia Sophia
becoming a “working” mosque again mirrored by the Marxist push to attack
Christianity here at home.

We both noted that whatever is to come from any of these latest digs at
the global body of Believers was not going to be good.

For many weeks now a thought has been nagging at the back recesses of my thoughts.
It’s a thought that I believe is being slowly fine-tuned.

This was my response to Tricia—a response I cleaned up when re-reading
my initial reply because there is just something about pecking out a deeply
thoughtful response on a phone while using a thumb.

“Tricia—as a kid, I was always mesmerized by the stories of the early saints and martyrs of the church.
I often imagined living life in early Rome,
sneaking about and worshiping in secret, in the cover of darkness or hidden in catacombs.
I imagine my defiance if ever discovered and arrested.
I would face the torture with fortitude.

Or so thought my youthful bravado self.

Even over the past decade, as we’ve seen more and more about the persecution of Christians worldwide,
I’d like to think I would be courageous.
But here, at home, we have something much more sinister and insidious.
No less full of persecution with the end goal being Christian eradication—
yet am I courageous in our oh so woke society?

Do I take to the streets in defense of my faith?

Churches are being attacked..both here and in Europe and it is not by Muslim extremists…
but by extremists none the less.

I can’t help but think God has prepared you, me, Tom, Kathy, IB, Wally, CS et al,
(just a few of the blogging community of Fatih)
to be those who dare to meet in the catacombs albeit the catacombs of today…
those of our neighborhoods and cities.
Am I willing to risk everything for my faith??
I hope I will be able to answer yes.
Is this a preparation of an ending, a clash of both Good and Evil—–
of course, we can’t answer that…but it sure does feel like it.”

And so I’ve come to view my buzzard friends as both a symbol as well as a reminder.

Death has always smugly desired to sit upon that which has always promised life.
Yet those of us who are true Believers, and trust me, there are many today
who call themselves “believers” but who are not…are here for a reason.

Do I think “the end is near?”

I asked this same question just the other day…and like the other day, I couldn’t say,
I can’t say… but what I do know is that it sure does feel like it.

So I think we need to get ready.
Catacombs and buzzards seem to be waiting!

Off with their heads!

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat.
“We’re all mad here.”

The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland


(a toppled statue of St Francis / Julie Cook / 2020)

No, my little St. Francis statue is not the victim of our current hate-fueled madness but
rather it was the victim of a severe thunderstorm.
He toppled over onto the sidewalk and literally lost his head.

Yet, to be honest, seeing poor ol St. Francis having lost his head,
stung my senses a bit.

And so if an old worn garden statue I’ve had for years can prick my emotions, imagine how
I feel watching American monument after monument being defaced or destroyed?

Imagine my dismay over our suddenly removing the names of those more famous among us,
those who are now long gone, being removed from buildings or airports all because their only crime
was having lived generations ago.

What of those now screaming that all white European images of Christ be removed,
or better yet, destroyed?

What of those in the LGBTQ communities exclaiming they don’t wish to co-exist with Christians
but would rather prefer seeing Christianity as nonexistent.

But more about that nonsense later…

Have you ever found yourself pondering the notion of your existence?
As in a ‘why am I here’ sort of pondering?

I know that there have been those amongst us who have felt a keen sense
of purpose for their lives early on…a sense of destiny.
It is a sense of knowing, even as a child, that they were destined for something
so much bigger and so much greater than simply being themselves.

Karol Wojtyla, later the first Polish Pope and Saint, John Paul II felt such.
George Patton, later 4-star general, also felt such.
Winston Churchill, later the UK Prime Minister during WWII, again, felt the same.

As a young boy, Churchill is noted for telling a young schoolmate that he knew
that greatness was in his future.
This coming from a precocious young boy who struggled in his schooling.
A boy who was shipped off to boarding school and was often an embarrassment to his
famously prestigious father.
Greatness was not the initial thought that came to the mind of those who knew
the boy before there was to be the man.

There have been countless others who have also felt the very same sense of purpose.

A feeling that their life was a calling.
A calling to something greater than.

Such callings are often referred to as vocations.
With vocations being vastly different from mere jobs.

A vocation requires a deep sense of dedication—up to and not limited
to one’s very existence.

Those who become members of religious orders and even those who are lead to become teachers,
doctors, policemen, firefighters, nurses…they are but a few of those who we consider as
being called to vocations rather than 9 to 5 jobs.

Those who seek vocations rather than the average job have often felt such calls
early on in life.
An invisible pulling to something so much more than…

If you were ever a kid who attended any sort of Sunday School,
chances are you heard stories and tales about ‘the saints’ —
those brave men and women who dedicated their entire beings to serving God
and proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Those who were willing to face the dire consequences of doing so.

Gruesome tortures with eventual death being the inevitable.

Some of these men and women had been average folks but many had been roughnecks,
criminals and most often the worst amongst us…
yet God had tapped them early on for something so much greater.

And once the scales had fallen from their eyes and their hearts broken,
their true mission began.

And so, we know…
there is indeed a calling.
And there will be no denying this calling.

Some of us already know this very keenly.
Others of us come to this knowledge reluctantly…but come we do.
And when we do so, we do so resolutely.

So tell me, have you heard it?

Have you heard or felt the calling?

I have.

And so now I know…

This thought will be continued…tomorrow.

Call to me and I will answer you,
and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Jeremiah 33:3

Whoever is of God hears the words of God.
The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

John 8:47

Here comes the sun…

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

(Here Comes the Sun lyrics–the Beatles)


(sunflowers / Julie Cook/ 2019)

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts,
you double-minded.

James 4:8 NIV

I don’t know who comes up with the verse of the day for the YouVersion app
but how appropriate is this verse??!!…
“wash your hands…”

And since we’re currently living under the shadow of both gloom and doom…
I thought we could all use a little reminder that the sun will still rise
each morning in the east, life will begin anew and we will still be
God’s and He will be ours…

Part of the life of the saints is turned toward us;
the other and larger part is open only to God in solitude and mystery.
This area is closed to psychological analysis.
Psychology always acts as if the soul can be exhaustively understood,
as if there is no hiding place from the objectivity of its laws.
But the nearer a soul is to God and the more it shares a common life with God,
the more God covers it with his veil, letting us see only what he wishes us to see.

Adrienne von Speyr
from Three Women and the Lord

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

read, preach, defend

“The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder…
What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course,
and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection.”
St. Padre Pio


(a willet and a pair of piping plovers in the surf /Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

“For it is our plain duty to preach and defend the truth in a straightforward way.
Those who are to stumble must stumble, rather than the heirs of grace should not hear.
While we offend and alienate one man, we secure another;
if we drive one man further the wrong way, we drive another further the right way.
The cause of truth, the heavenly company of saints, gains on the whole more in one way than in the other.”

Bl. John Henry Newman, p. 25
An Excerpt From
Quotable Newman

ora pro nobis—pray for us

So the religious soul finds in the heart of Jesus a secure refuge against
the wiles and attacks of Satan, and a delightful retreat.
But we must not rest merely at the entrance to the hole in the rock,
we must penetrate its depths. At the mouth of the deep hollow, at the mouth
of the wound in his side we shall, indeed, find the precious blood which
has redeemed us.
This blood pleads for us and demands mercy for us.
But the religious soul must not stay at the entrance.
When she has heard, and understood, the voice of the divine blood,
she must hasten to the very source from which it springs,
into the very innermost sanctuary of the heart of Jesus.
There she will find light, peace, and ineffable consolations.

St. Anthony of Padua


(a mysterious painting of St. Anthony and the Christ child)

The saints pick us, we don’t pick them…
Or so that’s what they say.

But firstly, let’s remember, this is going to be a story about a painting…
nothing more, nothing less…

For starters, I’ve stated this before…I am not a Catholic—rather I was raised in the
fold of the Episcopal Chruch…that of the Anglican Communion.

I am however familiar with the family of Saints.
A seemingly Catholic notion.
Yet also very Anglican…

Also, I love my traditional Anglican hymns…
One little hymn, in particular, I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
I loved singing that hymn when I was a little girl attending children’s chapel.

Saints, in my youthful mind, were individuals who loomed large in our Christian Faith.
Brave, and even stoically defiant, in the face of persecution.
Some had been ardent unbelievers or dastardly sinners who had, for whatever reason,
come face to face with the God of all Creation and in turn, fell into His redeeming arms,
never looking back but rather becoming ardent defenders of the faith.

It was always the 3rd stanza of the hymn that offered me a sense of hopefulness that I too
could one day be counted among that same fold of brave Christian individuals.

they lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.

I also know that when one is confirmed within the Catholic Chruch,
they are encouraged to choose a patron saint.
A heavenly individual who will walk alongside them as they navigate the world…
all the while the saint helps to provide inspiration along with a more spiritual focus.

The old saying goes, ‘you don’t pick the saint, the saint picks you.’

And I must admit, I actually agree.

We Protestants haven’t always quite understood the relationship our Catholic kin
have had with the Saints, but I’m one who has always appreciated that little relationship.
And that’s in part due to my Anglican upbringing.
As well as spending years in college studying religious Renaissance Art.

So no, it’s not an attempt at replacing Jesus as the focus of our prayers, praise,
and adoration but rather it’s more like having a few more folks in one’s corner
it’s just that those folks are a bit more heavenly than earthly.

Think of it like having a close friend who joins you in prayer and
who walks along by your side…it’s just that they’re there in spirit rather than
in the flesh.

But this isn’t a post about the virtues or vices of Saints in our lives…
rather this is a post about a painting…a painting of a saint…

Well, sort of…

The saint in question is Saint Anthony of Padua, otherwise known as
Santo Antonio di Padova.

Anthony was born Fernando Martins de Bulhões in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195.
Eventually, he became a Franciscan Friar, making Padua (Padova), Itlay home.

He is known as the patron saint of lost things.

But again, this is not necessarily to be a biographical post, just a post
about a painting…

I have had a long connection with St Anthony—one I’ve written about before.
But this particular tale is unlike our other run-ins and lingering relationship.

So just know, Santo Antonio and I have a history.
But this story isn’t about that story, but rather about a painting.

Several months ago, I took a couple of my grandmother’s old lamps over to Atlanta
in order to have then rewired.

They are lovely antique lamps that have just sat, never being used due to ancient
and most dangerous wiring.
My grandfather, who was an electrical engineer would, as a hobby, often turn the
antiques figurines or urns that my grandmother would bring home into lamps…
and so some of these lamps haven’t been updated in decades.
So I figured it was high time I got them up to speed so I could actually use them.

A friend of mine recommended a nice little lamp shop located over in Midtown…
and it just so happened that the shop also had a hodgepodge smattering of antiques.

I made several trips back and forth as I also decided that I needed to update a few lampshades.
Over the course of my visits, the owners and I struck up a nice little friendship.

We knew mutual old Atlanta stories and they knew some customers from Carrollton who
I knew.
Life can be delightfully small like that.

During one of my many trips over, one day my eye suddenly gravitated to an old beat-up
unframed oil painting perched all alone over in a forgotten corner.

The painting was ripped, chipped and cracking as the canvas was coming
untacked from the wooden base frame.
It was old, it was sad and it was unloved…
and it oddly drew me in.

Or rather it was the subject matter which immediately drew me in.

I asked the owners if they would consider selling the picture.

They said yes and it was actually a very affordable penance of a price for such an old painting.

Next they proceeded to tell me the story of how they came about the painting.

It seems that back in the early 1920s, The Vatican reached out to an Abbey in Michigan
about sending them approximately 50 paintings.
Why I’m not certain, but I do know that it was not uncommon for the Vatican to
‘lighten the load’ so the speak by gifting various abbeys, monasteries and churches
with some of their burgeoning collection of artwork.

The abbey kept the paintings until recently.

A nun from the abbey, out of the blue, reached out to these owners…
as it seems that one of the owners has a proclivity for antique
paintings and is known for such.

The nun explained how the abbey had gotten the paintings
but for a reason I never caught in this convoluted tale, asked if they’d be interested in
buying any of the paintings.

When they hung up the phone with the nun, they immediately rented a U-haul and drove
all night to Michigan.

They bought all 50 paintings and brought them back to Atlanta.

Many of the paintings have in turn been sold or were simply kept.

All but the one painting that had caught my eye—sadly because it
was most likely the one in the worst shape.

But that didn’t matter to me.
The painting called out to me and I couldn’t resist.

What I was planning on doing with a dilapidated,
torn old painting was beyond my husband’s soul…
but it mattered not, the painting had called to me.

A few weeks after bringing home my new old broken treasure,
my husband and I ventured down to a small town outside of
Callaway Gardens to spend an afternoon roaming around and having lunch.

I wandered into an antique shop and started looking at a couple of old frames that were for sale.
The owner asked what I had in mind for the frame.
That was when I began to share my tale about my painting and how I was looking for a frame.

She asked if I would consider bringing her the painting as she had a friend who actually
did restoration work on old paintings.

I agreed.
I was curious as to its background and there was just something about the painting
that seemed to plead with me to please bring it back to life.

I think that comes from spending a lifetime as an Art teacher

The short of this long story…we finally picked up the painting today…
It is estimated to be almost 200 years old.
It has been lovingly repaired, cleaned, re-stretched
and now rests in a pretty new frame…nearly 3 months after
I first saw it sitting alone in a corner.

So tomorrow, the painting of Santo Antonio will finally be hung up, surrounded by things
received and gathered during a lifetime of running into St Anthony.

I don’t know its origin.
I don’t know its artist.
I don’t know if the Vatican ever really once owned it or not.
And I don’t know the abbey that held on to it all these years.
I really don’t know anything about it…only but one thing…
it seems that saints find us, we don’t find them…

“I have learned on this journey that we can’t only study the saints who have personalities
or interests exactly like our own.
Our friends, including our Heavenly ones, should challenge us and help us to grow.
In seeing what we lack in our own lives, we are able to forge ahead and grow.
If we never seek out our defects or weaknesses, then we can never begin to overcome them.
So be open to saints who choose you and want to befriend you.
It is God moving in your life through His saints.
There is something you need to learn or I need to learn.
Let us be thankful for the saints who choose us through no merit of our own.
All you holy men and women, ora pro nobis.”

Constance T.Hull
Catholic Exchange

testing point of the saint

Every martyr knows how to save his/her life and yet refuses to do so.
A public repudiation of the faith would save any of them.
But some things are more precious than life itself.
These martyrs prove that their 20th-century countryman,
C. S. Lewis, was correct in saying that courage is not simply one of the virtues
but the form of every virtue at the testing point, that is, at the point of highest reality.

(as seen on the CSSF site / Felician Sisters)


(Virgin entroned with angels and saints / Duccio di Buoninsegna 1285)

This past week has seen me so incensed over the absurdities that are taking place
all over this country…
Absurdities being shared as “news” stories, taken from across the land…
yet stories with one central missing theme…that being the key theme of common sense.

So incensed that I had a few volumes of the assinine posted in order to shed some
light on our glaring lack of common sense.

And I should note that the absurdities just keep coming as I now must confess that
I am actually finding myself feeling a bit sorry for the current Speaker of the House
as she toils to keep her Fab 4 newbies in line as they continue having
temper tantrum after tantrum.

They may be known best as formidable twitter warriors, but they fall woefully short in
the area of common sense.
Theatrics yes, common sense no.

Throw in a serious lack of humility and we have a wealth of trouble on our hands.

But I digress and must move on because their finger waging tantrums simply leave me
tired from all the eye-rolling and head-shaking I’ve caught myself doing as of late.

So today we won’t focus on the wealth of lack of common sense that is now engulfing our
land but rather we will look at something much more nobler than any one of
our legislators or governing officials seem to demonstrate,
acknowledge let alone possess.

So yesterday I was reading a post regarding the Saints of the Day from one of the
Felician Sisters blog sites.

The saints were actually two Englishmen…
John Jones and John Walls.

These two friars were martyred in England in the 16th and 17th centuries
for refusing to deny their faith.

John Jones was Welsh. He was ordained a diocesan priest and was twice imprisoned
for administering the sacraments before leaving England in 1590. He joined the Franciscans
at the age of 60 and returned to England three years later while Queen Elizabeth I
was at the height of her power. John ministered to Catholics in the English countryside
until his imprisonment in 1596. He was condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.
John was executed on July 12, 1598.

John Wall was born in England but was educated at the English College of
Douai, Belgium. Ordained in Rome in 1648, he entered the Franciscans in Douai several years later.
In 1656 he returned to work secretly in England.

In 1678, Titus Oates worked many English people into a frenzy over an alleged papal plot
to murder the king and restore Catholicism in that country. In that year Catholics were
legally excluded from Parliament, a law which was not repealed until 1829.
John Wall was arrested and imprisoned in 1678, and was executed the following year.

John Jones and John Wall were canonized in 1970.
(Felician Sisters)

And so let me be clear, saints are no different from you or me…
We are all sinners and we are all also very capable of eventually becoming a saint.
For saints are simply the ordinary doing the extraordinary.

The one important thing we need to remember, however, is that saints
are of a humble lot.

And humility is often in short supply in our land these days.

Saintly is a matter of doing what is right when no one is looking,
listening or paying attention because what is being done is for the betterment
of others…with no regard to self and no recognition or applause.

Saints have no twitter accounts or Facebook posts.

It’s doing those things that are not popular, trendy or politically correct but are being done
because they are the right thing to do regardless of what the world may have to say.

Even despite the threat of harm or even death.

It’s a conviction.
It’s a drive that reaches far beyond personal desire.

It’s falling face down in the mire.
It’s being the sinner who picks himself up and says no more.

Sights shift.
Hearts change.

It’s doing what God calls to be done…not what the self would want done.
It’s discernment along with death to self.

It’s hard.
It’s not easy.
It can be dangerous.
It might be life-threatening…
…but none of that seems to matter.

The thought of self is never even considered.
Self is never an issue.
There is no personal gain but rather personal loss.

The spotlight shines elsewhere.

There are no stats or likes.
No followers.
No trending.
No polls.
No cameras.

No, saints are not far from sinners at all.
In fact, a saint is a sinner who simply turned his eyes outward rather than inward.

Some things are more precious than life itself…

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the
twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp,
and golden bowls full of incense,
which are the prayers of the saints.

Revelation 5:8

reparations vs Grace

“Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself,
‘Who could be the Master of these beautiful things?’
I felt a great desire to see him, to know him and to pay him homage.”

St. Josephine Bakhita

When speaking of her enslavement, she often professed she would thank her kidnappers.
For had she not been kidnapped, she might never have come to know Jesus Christ and entered His Church

Catholic.org


(St Josephine Bakhita)

Firstly this business about paying reparations for slavery is about the dumbest thing our
legislators have ever opted to take up and pursue…let alone conduct a three ring circus
of unbridled idiocy over.

Now whereas I’ve written about this notion before…as in will we pay those free blacks who
were also slave owners. Will we pay the Native American Indians…and of course will the
Egyptians pay the Jews, will the various African tribes pay the other tribes, will the
Chinese pay the Koreans, will the Russians pay the Russians…yada, yada, yada.

No nation is exempt from this sinful crime.

But this is not so much a post about reparations as it more about Grace.

The following story is about a woman who was born in Darfur in 1869.
As a young girl, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery to the Arabs.

Her’s is a harrowing tale of slavery, torture, and cruelty that lead to
serving not man, but instead, Jesus Christ.

How could one begin to pay reparations for Josephine’s life of servitude to man?
How could one begin to remove the 114 lasting stripes across her back?

Josephine would never expect nor accept such…her greatest gift,
coming to know Jesus Christ.

If ever there was one who should have quit, given up all the while begging to simply die…
It would have been Josephine Margaret Bakhita.

But she did not…
What can money do in the place of everlasting Grace?
Nothing.

May we all come to know that Grace…

Saint Josephine Margaret Bakhita was born around 1869 in the village of
Olgossa in the Darfur region of Sudan. She was a member of the Daju people and
her uncle was a tribal chief.
Due to her family lineage, she grew up happy and relatively prosperous,
saying that as a child, she did not know suffering.

Historians believe that sometime in February 1877,
Josephine was kidnapped by Arab slave traders.
Although she was just a child, she was forced to walk barefoot over 600 miles
to a slave market in El Obeid. She was bought and sold at least twice
during the grueling journey.

For the next 12 years she would be bought, sold and given away over a dozen times.
She spent so much time in captivity that she forgot her original name.

As a slave, her experiences varied from fair treatment to cruel.
Her first owner, a wealthy Arab, gave her to his daughters as a maid.
The assignment was easy until she offended her owner’s son,
possibly for the crime of breaking a vase.
As punishment, she was beaten so severely she was incapacitated for a month.
After that, she was sold.

One of her owners was a Turkish general who gave her to his wife and mother-in-law
who both beat her daily.
Josephine wrote that as soon as one wound would heal, they would inflict another.

She told about how the general’s wife ordered her to be scarred.
As her mistress watched, ready with a whip, another woman drew patterns on her skin with flour,
then cut into her flesh with a blade. She rubbed the wounds with salt to make the scars permanent.
She would suffer a total of 114 scars from this abuse.

In 1883, the Turkish general sold her to the Italian Vice Consul, Callisto Legani.
He was a much kinder master and he did not beat her.
When it was time for him to return to Italy, she begged to be taken with him, and he agreed.

After a long and dangerous journey across Sudan, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean,
they arrived in Italy.
She was given away to another family as a gift and she served them as a nanny.

Her new family also had dealings in Sudan had when her mistress decided to travel
to Sudan without Josephine,
she placed her in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice.

While she was in the custody of the sisters, she came to learn about God.
According to Josephine, she had always known about God,
who created all things, but she did not know who He was.
The sisters answered her questions.
She was deeply moved by her time with the sisters and discerned a call to follow Christ.

When her mistress returned from Sudan, Josephine refused to leave.
Her mistress spent three days trying to persuade her to leave the sisters,
but Josephine remained steadfast. This caused the superior of the
Institute for baptismal candidates among the sisters to complain
to Italian authorities on Josephine’s behalf.

The case went to court, and the court found that slavery had been outlawed
in Sudan before Josephine was born, so she could not be lawfully made slave.
She was declared free.

For the first time in her life, Josephine was free and could choose what to do with her life.
She chose to remain with the Canossian Sisters.

She was baptized on January 9, 1890 and took the name Josephine Margaret and Fortunata.
(Fortunata is the Latin translation for her Arabic name, Bakhita).
She also received the sacraments of her first holy communion and confirmation on the same day.
These three sacraments are the sacraments of initiation into the Church and were always
given together in the early Church.
The Archbishop who gave her the sacraments was none other than Giusseppe Sarto,
the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, who would later become Pope Pius X.

Josephine became a novice with the CanossianDaughters of Charity religious order on
December 7, 1893, and took her final vows on December 8, 1896.
She was eventually assigned to a convent in Schio, Vicenza.

For the next 42 years of her life, she worked as a cook and a doorkeeper at the convent.
She also traveled and visited other convents telling her story to other sisters
and preparing them for work in Africa.

She was known for her gentle voice and smile.
She was gentle and charismatic, and was often referred to lovingly as the
“little brown sister” or honorably as the “black mother.”

When speaking of her enslavement, she often professed she would thank her kidnappers.
For had she not been kidnapped,
she might never have come to know Jesus Christ and entered His Church.

During World War II, the people of the village of Schio regarded her as their protector.
And although bombs fell on their village, not one citizen died.

In her later years, she began to suffer physical pain and was forced to use a wheelchair.
But she always remained cheerful.
If anyone asked her how she was, she would reply, “As the master desires.”

On the evening of February 8, 1947, Josephine spoke her last words,
“Our Lady, Our Lady!” She then died.
Her body lay on display for three days afterwards.

In 1958, the process of canonization began for Josephine under Pope John XXIII.
On December 1st, 1978, Pope John Paul II declared her venerable.
Sadly, the news of her beatification in 1992 was censored in Sudan.
But just nine months later, Pope John Paul II visited Sudan and honored her publicly.
He canonized her on October 1, 2000.

Saint Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of Sudan and her feast day
is celebrated on February 8.

Catholic.org