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

a needed prayerful reminder

“I will glory not because I am righteous, but because I am redeemed;
I will glory not because I am free from sins,
but because my sins are forgiven me.
I will not glory because I have done good
nor because someone has done good to me,
but because Christ is my advocate with the Father
and because the blood of Christ
has been shed for me.”

St. Ambrose


(an early image from the spring of a robin visiting the future blueberries / 2019)

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Isaac Watts, 1738 / Oh God Our Help in Ages Past
a hymn based on Psalm 90

refined

“Never will we understand the value of time better than when our last hour is at hand.”
St. Arnold Janssen


(refining metals)

“Let the Word of God come; let it enter the church; let it become a consuming fire,
that it may burn the hay and stubble, and consume whatever is worldly;
there is heavy lead of iniquity in many; let it be molten by divine fire;
let the gold and silver vessels be made better, in order that understanding and speech,
refined by the heat of suffering, may begin to be more precious.”

St. Ambrose

Scrutiny, reviews, restrictions… I get it… but…

We seek for truth in ourselves; in our neighbours, and in its essential nature.
We find it first in ourselves by severe self-scrutiny,
then in our neighbours by compassionate indulgence, and, finally,
in its essential nature by that direct vision which belongs to the pure in heart.

Saint Bernard


(ariel view of a portion of the American Cemetery in Normandy, image courtesy of the White House)

For years, long before it became chic or before it became social or before it launched its
commercials with its very own spokes-owl and long before it was pitted against a growing
plethora of similar agencies…I had been writing reviews on Trip Advisor…
way before travel sites were “a thing.”

I have relied on Trip Advisor and its review offerings for everything from restaurants
to hotels to worldwide attractions as well as to the vast array of travel services,
all of which they’ve freely provided…
for,
you guessed it,
for years.

I have been in the top 1% of all Atlanta area reviewers…once again, for years.

I am well aware that each review written and submitted is in turn reviewed by a
TripAdvisor team member before it is allowed to be published…
just as it should be.

Integrity and truth are the driving forces behind companies such as TripAdvisor
that supply the general public with much needed and honest information.

I’ve never had a problem…
that is until yesterday.

I had written a review yesterday regarding the tour group we had used for our D-Day visit
while in Normandy.

I had written the review regarding the guide we were assigned along with an overall
review of the group we had used for this most memorable tour.

I sang the praises of our guide.
I sang the praises of the tour service…and…
here is where I ran into a glitch,
I also included a personal observation…

I wrote why I thought it was important for every American to visit Normandy.
An improbable probability yes, but still something I felt to be very important.

I wrote in my review of how a self-absorbed younger generation…
a generation that seems bent on division, socialism, anthem protests, violence,
all-inclusiveness, etc…
why a history lesson ‘in the raw’…
one such as walking through the American Cemetery in Normandy, would and could be beneficial.

One youthful generation looking out over thousands of crosses and Stars of David of
the sacrifices made by a previous youthful generation.
The lessons from those who went before…
lessons long lost on today’s youthful progressive generation.

TripAdvisor sent me an email about a need for ‘action request’ regarding
my review.
They told me not to include other URLs…
Yes I confess that I did have a link to my D-Day post that I had written here at WP
as I thought it could offer further, and some more in-depth
information, for those who might be seeking more or who were curious about such a tour.

“Okay”, I thought…they’re telling me to cut and paste what I wrote, edit it,
then reload and resubmit.
Okay, I’ll cut out my link.
No biggie.
I get it.

Yet a bit of a problem arose when I figured out that they had only sent me a small portion
of what I had previously submitted. Actually only about 1/3 of what I’d written.
And I quickly discovered, much to my frustration,
that there was no way, not even by going into my history, was I to find the full body of text.

So as I cut out my link, I had to rewrite, as best as I could remember,
what I had previously written.

I cut, edited, rewrote and resubmitted.

10 minutes hadn’t passed before I received the same ‘action request’ email with an added note
that they did not want reviews to include “personal opinions on politics, ethics, religion,
or wider social issues.”

Is this about those so-called trigger alerts?

Okay, I thought…
I’ll try to rewrite it again…rewriting again because they hadn’t provided
the full body of text again…
so I’d be relying on my fading memory, one more time…

But as I thought about this, I said to heck with it!

I opted to write just a bit more in order to finish out the first thought..the portion of the
text body that they had sent back in the email before I proceeded with my new thoughts.

I then proceeded to write that TripAdvisor had asked me to keep my personal observations to myself.

I continued my review by asking how does one write about visiting such powerful places
as the beaches, the various locations, the churches, as well as those overwhelming cemeteries
of that fateful June day in 1944 and not offer thoughts that include “wider social issues?”

Normally I would have kept my review informative with a general sweeping overview…just like
all the hundreds of previous reviews I’ve written…
however, for this particular review, I chose not to do so.
I couldn’t do so.

I didn’t know how I could.

How could I be simple and concise given the sacrifices freely made by all those thousands
of individuals who died that fateful June day?
Those individuals who, unbeknownst to them at the time, died for both you and me?
Do they not deserve more than some simple, generic, sterile, and broad sweeping travel review?

Maybe it’s the impending Veteran’s Day remembrance.
Maybe it’s the craziness currently sweeping our Nation.

No matter what the reason…I just couldn’t keep it simple when talking about
what I saw and what I experienced there in Normandy.

Something very powerful happened that June day in 1944.
Something that greatly affected how each of us lives our lives to this day.
Keeping one’s personal opinion quiet when taking in the raw emotion while visiting
those beaches and those cemeteries is…well…an injustice really.
An injustice to each one of those crosses and stars.

So I suppose it’s all a matter of context…or maybe its a matter of perspective…

No matter what it is…there are just some things that deserve our full attention and our
full voice.

(images from the National Gaurd Memorial of Omaha Beach / Julie Cook / 2018)

We, too, born to freedom, and believing in freedom, are willing to fight to
maintain freedom. We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do,
would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

timely considerations

“Guard against anger.
But if it cannot be averted, let it be kept within bounds.
For indignation is a terrible incentive to sin.
It disorders the mind to such an extent as to leave no room for reason.”

St. Ambrose


(detail of the Sacred Heart of Jesus / Santa Maria sopra Minerva / Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

“That raises a terrible question.
How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they
believe in God and appear to themselves very religious?
I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

After the storm

“Let the Word of God come; let it enter the church;
let it become a consuming fire, that it may burn the hay and stubble,
and consume whatever is worldly; there is heavy lead of iniquity in many;
let it be molten by divine fire; let the gold and silver vessels be made better,
in order that understanding and speech, refined by the heat of suffering,
may begin to be more precious.”

St. Ambrose


(the break following a very stormy day / Julie Cook / 2018)

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says,
‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you,
and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’
I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.
I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you,
the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.
And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices,
all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into
a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature:
either into a creature that is in harmony with God,
and with other creatures, and with itself,
or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures,
and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven:
that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power.
To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence,
and eternal loneliness. Each of us at this moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 92
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

Righteous Indignation

“Anyone can get angry, but to do this to the right person,
to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive,
and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy.”

Aristotle


(a favorite image I’ve used before—Glendalough National Park, Co Wicklow, Ireland / 2015)

“Let anger be guarded against.
But if it cannot be averted, let it be kept within bounds.
For indignation is a terrible incentive to sin.
It disorders the mind to such an extent as to leave no room for reason.
The first thing, therefore, to aim at, if possible,
is to make tranquility of character our natural disposition by constant practice,
by desire for better things, by fixed determination.”

St. Ambrose

Righteous indignation—according to Wikipedia “is typically a reactive emotion of anger over mistreatment, insult, or malice of another. It is akin to what is called the sense of injustice.
In some Christian doctrines, righteous anger is considered the only form of anger which
is not sinful, e.g.,
when Jesus drove the money lenders out of the temple (Gospel of Matthew 21).”

As we find ourselves living in an age of growing and ever-increasing anger and angst…
anger over everything from road rage to cultural collisions,

It would, therefore, behoove all of us to stop and consider from whence comes our
wrath and rage… and to the reasons as to why it is and to where we send it…

Reactionary or purposeful??…
Or even actually necessary…

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice.

Ephesians 4:31