New dirty word

“Let us stand fast in what is right, and prepare our souls for trial.
Let us wait upon God’s strengthening aid and say to him:
‘O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations.'”

St. Boniface


(detail painting by Julie Cook based on Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim’s Altarpiece 1510 / 2012)

Avoiding the Cross is the essence of the demonic…
Consider the softness of the Church today: the desire to accommodate herself to the world,
shrinking away from sacrifice, self-denial.
We have today in the Christian world a new dirty word, but it doesn’t have four letters.
The new dirty word has five: c-r-o-s-s.
Christ without the Cross?
Sure, anyone will accept that.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
from Through the Year with Fulton Sheen

“God writes straight with crooked lines…”

If I were worthy of such a favor from my God,
I would ask that he grant me this one miracle:
that by His grace He would make of me a good man.

Saint Ansgar

What a marvelous desire—simply that God would make me good.

And oh what a miracle that would be.

For in this wish, is the knowledge that said goodness will not come by my own hands nor
by my own works…
but rather, only by the hand of God’s Grace and God’s Grace alone…
and thus a miracle beyond my mortal bounds

That such a goal should be my sole aim, my sole prayer…in this life…
that God would work to make me good…

Nothing grand, nothing special, nothing newsworthy, nothing glamorous…
neither rich, nor beautiful, nor thin, nor even particularly healthy…
nor powerful, nor smart, nor gifted…
but simply…good.

For the past couple of days, a few of the saints from day’s gone by,
have crossed my 21st-century path.
The other day it was St Boniface, today it’s St Ansgar.

And not that any of those brave men and women,
those who helped to forge our faith into what it is today,
are ever very far from me— my thoughts, my observations or my recollections…
it’s just that when God throws a few of those stalwart souls before the steps of my path,
that obviously, I must stop and pay attention…
for with God, there are no accidents.

Saints, mind you, are not individuals who would have ever claimed, nor claim today,
themselves to be such…
More realistically they were, as the familiar expression goes, ordinary people,
doing extraordinary things…

Many were actually sickly and feeble of body, others, such as our dear St Peter, had moments
that were less than stellar, in fact, moments that screamed of deep character flaws.

But whoever said God wasn’t able to make those silk purses from the ears of swine?

He’s good that way…and I am most grateful!

For it seems that there are days, that I am more often than not,
content to spend my time lounging in the pigstye.

Yet this loving Father continues reaching into that nasty pit in order to pull me from the
odious mud, working to clean me off as He nudges me forward…

Only to watch me, bewildered I would imagine, time and time again running back to
the comfort of the mudstye…as I readily put off once again His agenda at hand.

But I don’t think God is ever bewildered as He already knows my choices and my decisions…
just as He persistently continues cleaning and nudging.

So today I must confess that St Boniface is much more recognizable to me than St Ansgar.

In fact, I had never heard of St Ansgar before today.
But it seems that he is known as “the apostle of the North”
North being Scandinavia.

He is also known as the patron saint of Denmark.

Now when I think of Scandinavia, I think of Vikings…and if we know anything about Vikings,
it’s that they were not the most peace-filled, warm and fuzzy, full embracing sort of individuals
one would want to actually encounter.

Theirs was a deeply rich and entrenched culture immersed in the notion of the Norse gods
and Valhalla.
The raging sea and the cold of their lands.
Throw in some plundering, pillaging and raping and you had the warrior clans of the North.

I can only imagine the trepidation about having to head into their territory to spread the Gospel
of the One Omnipotent God and the saving Grace found in His resurrected Son.

There were language barriers, cultural barriers, a climate barrier, a customs barrier,
a physical appearance barrier, and most importantly, an end-goal barrier—as in a Viking’s
end goal in life was not that of a Chrisitan missionary’s end goal.

Mongering and surviving vs converting.

Ansgar (801-865) who lived about 200 years following St Boniface, was much like Boniface
in that neither man lived long enough to see the fruits of their labors come to fruition.

Neither of the groups of soul’s hearts who they had been instructed to go forth and turn,
had their hearts turned during the lifetime of either of these Godly men.

Oh, there were the brief time periods of peace, hope and redemption…but nothing
permanent and long lasting…not until others followed in the footsteps of
these determined men many years later. Along a path that these men had bravely cut.

Yet neither man saw their life’s work as a waste of time.
The key was that they were doing what God had sent them to do.
God did not tell either man there would be success and glory in the end…
they each simply prayed that God would lead and they, in turn, would follow.

They had prayed to do God’s will…not their will, not their desires, but rather God’s…
and so they lived their lives doing just that.
One being martyred at the hands of those he wished to turn and the other dying after
seeing his life’s work destroyed by the very souls he yearned to turn.

History records what people do, rather than what they are.
Yet the courage and perseverance of men and women like Ansgar can only come from a
solid base of union with the original courageous and persevering Missionary.
Ansgar’s life is another reminder that God writes straight with crooked lines.
Christ takes care of the effects of the apostolate in his own way;
he is first concerned about the purity of the apostles themselves.

(excerpt from https://vitaesanctorum.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/saint-ansgar/ )

So we are reminded that no matter what He has to work with, God will always write straight…by that which will never seem straight in the eyes of the world— and it is there inwhich lies our prayer…that
by His Grace, He may make us good…

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

I’m not looking for trouble, honest…

“In her voyage across the ocean of this world,
the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s
different stresses.
Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.”

St. Boniface


(I wonder if any of these birds know anything about the missing owl decoy’s head? / Julie Cook / 2018)

I think I’ve gotten to the age where I really don’t go looking for trouble…rather,
trouble merely seems to come looking for me.

Now that’s not to say that I’d back down or run from trouble…
I’ve learned that it’s often best to simply brace oneself while stepping into the wind…
the wind of trouble that is.
Marching forward and dealing with it head on…that is, when it comes marching my way.

I say all this because I had four things yesterday that I found troubling all within about
the span of a blink of the eye—
I didn’t find them, they found me.

Like I say, I don’t go perusing for these sorts of things and I do my darndest to keep such
off my radar…but…

Usually, every time when I go in to fetch my email, a “news” feed page comes up first…
AT&T’s home page.
It runs a scrolling snippet of the day’s headlines…

Now the idea of what I’ve always thought of as a headline versus what our “society”
now considers a headline, separated and parted ways eons ago.

So before I could even click the ‘take me to my mail page’ icon,
I saw that John Kerry was making fun of President Trump’s girth,
Tom Brady stopped an interview over a reporter’s snide remark regarding his daughter,
that the Grammy’s were a huge “I am woman hear me roar” moment and that—
with that last one actually being a twofer—
it was a night of who’s who in Grammyville loving one another while hating the rest of
everyone else…as the women untied and wanted to bash the heads of those who
countered their endearing and de-masculating moment of unification…

Then in my email, I read that our friend the Wee Flea reviewed a movie that will probably be up
for best picture–a typical movie plot over racism in small town USA, a movie that he actually
hated—and left him sad and hopeless that we as a society have sunk to calling such a film
“entertainment” and actually a bravo moment…

Then before I could run and hide, a movie ad pops up for a totally different movie that I
actually looked into regarding the plot line as it too was claiming to be a best picture.
It’s that movie about the Shape of Water business and having read the storyline–
about a mute woman falling in love and actually having sex on screen with a mutant sea creature,
while they then swim off happily together into the sunset, left me shaking my head…

As in shaking to see if something was lose inside my brain cause I just don’t get any of this.

A, I’ve never heard of either movie until first, I saw the Wee Flea’s post and then secondly
when the pop-up ad for the other movie actually popped up…and I confess,
I fell for its ad and looked further. So they accomplished their desire of fishing for curiosity.
But that was enough because I was resolutely reminded once again as to why I really don’t
ever go to see a movie.

They are either ridiculous, full of hidden agendas, laced with unnecessary awful violence and sex
or just flat out stupid.

Then we have the notion of news…that which makes news news…
and whatever that actually is—and that I don’t care for any of it.

I miss Huntly and Brinkley…I’ve written about them before…and I’m still missing them.

I could care less about award shows such as the Grammy’s, the Oscars, the Tony’s,
the you name its.
Why do I want to see an elitist crowd who is so far out of touch with reality, patting one another
on the back, while they use their public platform to tell the little people why it
is they are so little and why they the elitists, are so indeed so elite…

Sigh…

Today’s quote is by St Boniface—an English Benedictine monk (675-754 AD) who was tasked with
spreading the Gospel into the pagan Germanic tribes while also working to bring reform
to what Christian Churches had previously been established in the land of the barbarian Franks.

Neither task was easy and keeping one’s life was not a guarantee.
As Boniface was eventually massacred as he was preparing to baptize a group of converts.

He was committed to his faith in Jesus Christ.
He knew the significance of leading others to Christ and to sharing the Gospel with those
who had not yet heard or seen or whose hearts had once known but were now hardened.

Boniface bore out the Christian rule: To follow Christ is to follow the way of the cross.
For Boniface, it was not only physical suffering or death, but the painful,
thankless, bewildering task of Church reform.
Missionary glory is often thought of in terms of bringing new persons to Christ.
It seems—but is not—less glorious to heal the household of the faith.

(Franciscan Media)

I imagine that today’s current society is not much different than that of the time of Boniface
in that he was tasked with healing an ailing household of faith during a time of grave
personal peril. The Germanic Chruch, what there was of it, had fallen back into Paganism
along with having fallen into corruption.
Much like the day of St Francis when he was told by Christ on the Cross to “rebuild my house”
And again, not much unlike today.

Seems that not only are Believers meant to share, live and spread the Gospel,
they are also tasked with keeping house…
and when that house falls into ill repair, they are tasked with the repair and
even the rebuilding.

So I actually take heart when I read and see most vividly the wantonness of our day…
everything from the anger, the hatred, the belligerent chatter of the tit for tat and the
global persecution of the faithful…
because from all of this, be it the current “news” feeds or the latest ailments within the Chruch,
all of which is certainly enough to make me feel almost hopeless, and yet I take heart
in the words of St Boniface–
words which resonate with both my heart and soul.

We must not abandon the ship…
but rather we must work diligently to make certain
that we keep her on course…as well as make any needed repairs…

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called,
and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:12