true worth

“Our true worth does not consist in what human beings think of us.
What we really are consists in what God knows us to be.”

St. John Berchmans


(conservatory roof at the Biltmore House / Julie Cook / 2020)

“It is by endurance that you will secure possession of your souls (Luke 21:18).
The possession of a soul means the undisturbed mastery of oneself,
which is the secret of inner peace, as distinguished from a thousand agitations
which make it fearful, unhappy, and disappointed.
Only when a soul is possessed can anything else be enjoyed.
Our Lord here meant patience in adversity, trial, and persecution.
At the end of three hours on the Cross, He would so possess His soul that
He would render it back to the Heavenly Father.”

Fulton J. Sheen, p. 322
An Excerpt From
Life of Christ

restores us…

“It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards a man’s progress,
nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.”

St. Francis Xavier


(falling snow covers the holly, Biltmore Estates, NC/ Julie Cook / 2020)

“Thus sin renders the soul miserable, weak and torpid, inconstant in doing good,
cowardly in resisting temptation, slothful in the observance of God’s commandments.
It deprives her of true liberty and of that sovereignty which she should never resign;
it makes her a slave to the world, the flesh, and the devil;
it subjects her to a harder and more wretched servitude than that of the unhappy
Israelites in Egypt or Babylon.
Sin so dulls and stupefies the spiritual senses of man that he is deaf
to God’s voice and inspirations; blind to the dreadful calamities which threaten him;
insensible to the sweet odor of virtue and the example of the saints;
incapable of tasting how sweet the Lord is,
or feeling the touch of His benign hand in the benefits which should be a constant incitement
to his greater love.
Moreover, sin destroys the peace and joy of a good conscience, takes away the soul’s fervor,
and leaves her an object abominable in the eyes of God and His saints.
The grace of justification delivers us from all these miseries. For God,
in His infinite mercy, is not content with effacing our sins and restoring us to His favor;
He delivers us from the evils sin has brought upon us,
and renews the interior man in his former strength and beauty.
Thus He heals our wounds, breaks our bonds, moderates the violence of our passions,
restores with true liberty the supernatural beauty of the soul,
reestablishes us in the peace and joy of a good conscience,
reanimates our interior senses, inspires us with ardor for good and a salutary hatred of sin,
makes us strong and constant in resisting evil, and thus enriches us with an
abundance of good works.
In fine, He so perfectly renews the inner man with all his faculties that the Apostle
calls those who are thus justified new men and new creatures.”

Venerable Louis Of Grenada, p. 46
An Excerpt From
The Sinner’s Guide

prayer and the victory over death

“There is nothing the devil fears so much, or so much tries to hinder, as prayer.”
St. Philip Neri


(it is so hot and dry here, even the toadstools in the woods are swiveling and decaying/ Julie Cook / 2019)

Yesterday I spoke of the running thread of a single word and thought that just
seemed to keep popping up at each turn and corner.

That word and act would be that of prayer.

And so again the following morning, my incoming quote of the day focused
on that very same notion.

Prayer.

As St. Philip Neri teaches, Satan fears our very prayers.
They become a hindrance to both him and his plans so therefore he painstakingly attempts
to hinder us as we long to reach out to our Father.

We become busy.
We become distracted.
We become distant.
Or we simply grow hardened.

So often we feel defeated when our prayers seem to go ignored or unanswered—
And yet even worse, we can grow despondent when they appear to be answered in a
way so utterly contrary as to how we would have hoped.
When our oh so deeply prayerful “please yes” is answered with a gut-wrenching “no, not today.”

No to healing.
No to life.
No to avoiding the bad and painful.

And yet our hearts remain steadfast because despite the answers,
despite the bitter disappointments, we still know that our prayers are our
only means of conversing with our God.

St Athanasius’ quote below adds to this thought by examining the
fear man has with death and decay.
Because if the truth be told, are not so many of our prayers aimed at avoiding
that very thing?
As we fervently pray to avoid death, pain and suffering at any and all cost?

Man sees death as the inexplicable chasm of separation.
That of isolation, loneliness and unending sorrow.

The non-believer scoffs and belittles the simplistic pleas and petitions
of the believer as he cries out to that unknown and unseen God.

The un-believer mocks and sneers at the childlike actions of the believer.

And yet I have often wondered…in that single solitary moment of overwhelming grief,
unbearable sorrow, engulfing fear and isolation of abandonment…
who does that non-believer cry to?

Who does he turn to in that micro-moment of the blinking of an eye that exists between
living and dying?

Whose hand does he reach for?
Whose arms does he yearn for to envelope him?
To whom does he cry out?

Or is his mind merely an empty void, his ego too full, his heart so hard that he has
already withered with decay?

Yet despite the ridicule and vitriol, the prayer of the humbled believer will
always be for that hardened non-believer…
it will be a prayer for blessed deliverance…
a prayer that he would find solace, comfort as well as Grace.

Even to the end, the believer prayers…even for the sake and soul of the non-believer.

“Now, man is afraid of death by nature, afraid of the decay of the body.
But here is a startling fact: whoever has put on the faith of the Cross
despises even what is naturally dreadful, and for Christ’s sake is not afraid of death.
So if anyone is skeptical even now, after so many proofs,
and after so many have become martyrs to Christ,
and after those who are champions in Christ have shown scorn for death every day—
if his mind is still doubtful about whether death has been brought to nothing and come to an end—well,
he’s right to wonder at such a great thing. But he should not be stubborn in his skepticism,
or cynical in the face of what is so obvious.
Let him who is skeptical about the victory over death receive the faith of Christ,
and come over to his teaching.
Then he will see how weak death is, and the triumph over it.
Many who used to be skeptics and scoffers have later believed,
and despised death even enough to become martyrs for Christ himself.”

St. Athanasius, p.15
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

“in suffering, God gives strength’

It is extremely liberating to know that God never demands more of us that we can give him.
He is always content when we do what we can.
The only important thing is that we never give up,
that with a holy stubbornness we do what we can.

Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen
from The Holy Spirit, Fire of Divine Love


(our little pecan trees are bearing their fruits / nuts slowly / Julie Cook / 2019)

“There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely in this obscurity;
it has suffered:
for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable, than that of rejoicing and of action.
In suffering God gives strength, but in action and in joy the soul does but show its own
weakness and imperfections.
And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue, and becomes pure, wiser, and more cautious.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 149
An Excerpt From
Dark Night of the Soul

making the invisible, visible…

Because God is love, and we are made in his image and likeness, our relationships should
reflect him in the world.
This, perhaps, is the greatest form of evangelization:
to make an invisible God visible to the world through our love.

Jason Evert
from Purity 365


(a butterfly at the Butterfly House, Callaway Gardens / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Indeed, the glory to which God raises the soul through grace is so great that even the
natural beauty of the Angels is as nothing compared with it.
The Angels themselves wonder how a soul that was sunk in the desert of this sinful earth
and robbed of all natural beauty can be clothed with such a wonderful splendor.
But this wonder of the Angels will not surprise us when we see and hear that God Himself
considers the beauty of grace with astonishment and rapture.
For how otherwise can we explain what He says in The Canticle of Canticles to the soul:
‘How beautiful art thou, my love, how beautiful art thou!’

(Cant. 4:1).”
Fr. Matthias J. Scheeben, p. 133

temptation and humility

“God wishes us to be meek even toward ourselves.
When a person commits a fault, God certainly wishes him to humble himself,
to be sorry for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again;
but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself,
and give way to trouble and agitation of mind; for,
while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing good.”

St. Alphonsus De Liguori, p. 259
An Excerpt From
The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori


(lone plover / Rosemary Beach/ Julie Cook / 2019)

At this point, it is extremely important to keep in mind that a person is not bad
because he has a temptation.
Many believe, because they have a temptation to pride, to avarice, to hate, to lust,
that there is something wrong with them.
There is nothing wrong with you if you are tempted.
You are not tempted because you are evil; you are tempted because you are human.
There is nothing intrinsically evil about human nature just because a little devil knocks
at the door.
Evil begins only when we open the door and consent to the temptation.
Scripture praises the man who suffers temptations. When we resist temptations,
we strengthen our character.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
from Life is Worth Living

Confession, good for the soul? Actually, more like the saving of the soul.

“Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin.
All hope consists in confession.
In confession, there is a chance for mercy.
Believe it firmly,
do not doubt,
do not hesitate,
never despair of the mercy of God.”

St. Isidore of Seville


(one of the many confessionals inside of St. Peter’s Bascillica / Rome, Itlay / Julie Cook / 2018)

Confession, it is said, is good for the soul.

And I must say, I agree.

Confession comes readily to some.
For others, not so much.

It can be the swallowing of one’s pride, position or place.

To confess is to become less than the ego, less than self…
it means to become humble before all or simply before God…but most likely before both.

It is the ability to admit wrongdoing or a habitual shortcoming.

It is often hard and difficult and yet, it is so utterly obvious.

Mercy rests in confession, as well as Grace.

May we seek Mercy.

May we seek Grace

“When we are living in the world, we can easily take on the mindset of a secular society.
It is important for us to cultivate in our lives, with great care,
God’s way of looking at things and life in general.
His Word guides us.”

Rev. Thomas J. Donaghy, p. 22
An Excerpt From
Inspirational Thoughts for Everyday