waiting rooms and prayer

Believers ought to be distinguished not only by their place,
but by their way of life. They ought to be obvious not only by the gift,
but also by the new life. He should be distinguishable by everything—
by his walk, by his look, by his clothes, by his voice.

St. John Chrysostom
from A Year with the Church Fathers


(a Bible sits on a table in the waiting room of a doctor’s office / Julie Cook / 2020)

This is a week spent running from a myriad of doctor’s offices and the hospital for tests…
Long story.
Schedules have just worked out making this a full packed week.

So this morning, on my first stop of the day, I was sitting in the brand new
waiting room for my general practitioner.
They’ve just recently moved into a brand new, state of the arts,
fancy schmancy medical complex that sits across the street from our city’s hospital.

You know how waiting rooms can be.
Someone is always talking on their phone when they shouldn’t be.
There’s coughing, sneezing along with some idle chit chat amongst the fellow waiters.

I had not brought a book and my eyes were tired of squinting at my phone so I
opted to survey my surroundings.

I spied the table sitting across from me to see if there might be a magazine of interest
but then I thought better about picking anything up because the flu was running
rampant around the room.
I’ve been lucky thus far and didn’t want to chance things so I dug out some paper
from my purse to scratch off a list for the grocery store.

Yet before I could even start writing, my eye caught a Bible sitting rather prominently
on the table across from me as I immediately inwardly smiled.
I know that my doctor is an ardent Christian.

So I started thinking.
So many people, the rabid nonbelievers amongst us, rattle sabers when they catch a hint
of Christianity out and about in plain view. They protest the outward symbols of
the Chrisitan faith, claiming it is some sort of infringement of their civil rights.

Yet here in plain sight sat the foundation of our faith.
And what an appropriate place for a book of hope to be found since this is often the
place of bad news and burdened individuals.

Throughout the day, as I traversed from one appointment to another, I was constantly
reminded of the fiasco taking place in Washington…be it from a television in a waiting room
or news alerts on my phone…I knew a three-ring circus was filling our lives.

It is so easy for me to fuss and cuss the idiocy taking place from both sides of the aisle
as these people, this body of governmental leadership, has put the running of our Nation’s
business on permanent hold as they wage a petty battle among themselves.
And for what?
Vindictiveness?

And so looking at the Bible sitting on that table, I got to thinking that I actually had
an opportunity. I could either fuss, cuss and lament about our Governmental leadership,
or lack thereof, or I could do something much more important—
I could pray.

Here are two of the prayers found in the Book of Common Prayer
offered for our Government and President.

May we pray for God’s Mercy and Grace…

18. For our Country

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our
heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove
ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and
pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend
our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes
brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue
with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust
the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we
may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

19. For the President of the United States and all in Civil
Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We
commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided
by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant
to the President of the United States, the Governor of this
State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom
and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the
love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful
of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the
Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
Amen.

be rich not in this life, but proceed from love…

“Since love completes all, makes all hard things soft, and the difficult easy,
let us strive to make all our acts proceed from love.”

St. Arnold Janssen


(a birthday bouqute graces the dinner table / Julie Cook / 2019)

“The Devil didn’t deal out temptations to Our Lord only.
He brings these evil schemes of his to bear on each of Jesus’ servants—
and not just on the mountain or in the wilderness or when we’re by ourselves.
No, he comes after us in the city as well, in the marketplaces,
in courts of justice. He tempts us by means of others, even our own relatives.
So what must we do? We must disbelieve him altogether, and close our ears against him,
and hate his flattery.
And when he tries to tempt us further by offering us even more,
then we should shun him all the more…
We aren’t as intent on gaining our own salvation as he is intent on achieving our ruin.
So we must shun him, not with words only, but also with works;
not in mind only, but also in deed. We must do none of the things that he approves,
for in that way will we do all those things that God approves.
Yes, for the Devil also makes many promises, not so that he may give them to us,
but so that he may take away from us. He promises plunder,
so that he may deprive us of the kingdom of God and of righteousness.
He sets out treasures in the earth as snares and traps, so that he may deprive
us both of these and of the treasures in heaven.
He would have us be rich in this life, so that we may not be rich in the next.”

St. John Chrysostom, p. 152-3
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

the contemplation found in nighttime shadows

“If then we have angels, let us be sober,
as though we were in the presence of tutors;
for there is a demon present also.”

St. John Chrysostom


(a little evening, pre-bath, walk with the mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)


(a screech owl watches our little evening walk / Julie Cook / 2019)

“I never found anyone so religious and devout as not to have sometimes a subtraction of grace,
or feel a diminution of fervor.
No saint was ever so highly rapt and illuminated as not to be tempted sooner or later.
For he is not worthy of the high contemplation of God who has not,
for God’s sake, been exercised with some tribulation.
For temptation going before is usually a sign of ensuing consolation.
For heavenly comfort is promised to such as have been proved by temptation.
To him that overcometh, saith our Lord, I will give to eat of the tree of life.”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 65
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

endure the hatred of those he loves…

Suffering is part of Jesus’ mission.
His power to effect conversion stems from the fact that he is ready to endure the hatred of those he loves.
He can conquer this hatred only by a love that is all the greater, a love that is stronger than death.

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
from The Evangelizing Parish


(magnolia bloom / Julie Cook / 2019)

Reading on and off of the back and forth tit for tat regarding Chrisitan suffering vs joy…
I have concluded that in this life we will most certainly know both.

It matters not what side of the fence you claim…both will find us eventually.

We will suffer and we will rejoice.

And we just always pray that we will rejoice a great deal more than we should ever suffer.

But both are part and parcel to living.

And as odd as it may seem…some of us are simply prone to one of the two more so than the other.
Why that is, only our Creator can say.

Yet there are lessons to be found in both of our times of joy and in our times of suffering.

It’s just that during those suffering moments, learning lessons or finding truths revealed
during such a time, is not top on the list as much as it is to simply remove the suffering.

So it came as no surprise that I was moved when reading Cardinal Schönborn’s words…
that suffering was a part of Jesus’ mission…
and the fact that he endured the hatred of those he loved..loved despite and through the
hate He knew existed…thus a ‘suffering’ of abiding love meets a wall of hate.

How many of us can do such?
To love in spite of reciprocal hate?

No easy task.

But imagine…imagine if we met the hate that stares us in the face with only
love.
Boy…how this world could be so different.

But I’ll be the first to admit, that it seems to be our human nature to rile
against that which opposes us on such a very deep level.
It is almost instinctive to have that knee jerk eye for an eye mentality.

Hate for hate is easy is it not?

May we pray that we would rather offer love for hate.

“Helping a person in need is good in itself.
But the degree of goodness is hugely affected by the attitude with which it is done.
If you show resentment because you are helping the person out of a reluctant sense of duty,
then the person may receive your help but may feel awkward and embarrassed.
This is because he will feel beholden to you.
If, on the other hand, you help the person in a spirit of joy, then the help will be received joyfully.
The person will feel neither demeaned nor humiliated by your help,
but rather will feel glad to have caused you pleasure by receiving your help.
And joy is the appropriate attitude with which to help others because acts of generosity
are a source of blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.”

St. John Chrysostom

gain greater than loss

“I see clearly with the interior eye, that the sweet God loves with a pure love the creature
that He has created, and has a hatred for nothing but sin,
which is more opposed to Him than can be thought or imagined.”

St. Catherine of Genoa


(gull along the surf / Rosemary Beach, FL /Julie Cook / 2019)

“Man threw away everything he had—his right to speak freely, his communion with God,
his time in Paradise, his unclouded life—and went out naked, like a survivor from a shipwreck.
But God received him and immediately clothed him, and taking him by the hand gradually led him to heaven.
And yet the shipwreck was quite unforgivable. For this tempest was entirely due,
not to the force of the winds, but to the carelessness of the sailor.
Yet God did not look at this, but had compassion for such a great disaster…
Why? Because, when no sadness or care or labor or toil or countless waves of desire assaulted our nature,
it was overturned and fell.
And just as criminals who sail the sea often drill through the ship with a small iron tool,
and let the whole sea into the ship from below,
so when the devil saw the ship of Adam (by which I mean his soul) filled with many good things,
he came and drilled through it with his voice alone, as if it were an iron tool,
and stole all his wealth and sank the ship itself.
But God made the gain greater than the loss, and brought our nature to the royal throne.”

St. John Chrysostom, p. 19
An Excerpt Frp,
A Year with the Church Fathers

worse than the wild beasts

“We follow the ways of wolves, the habits of tigers: or, rather we are worse than they.
To them nature has assigned that they should be thus fed,
while God has honoured us with rational speech and a sense of equity.
And yet we have become worse than the wild beast.”

John Chrysostom


(door knocker, Florence, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

“The Devil didn’t deal out temptations to Our Lord only.
He brings these evil schemes of his to bear on each of Jesus’ servants—
and not just on the mountain or in the wilderness or when we’re by ourselves.
No, he comes after us in the city as well, in the marketplaces, in courts of justice.
He tempts us by means of others, even our own relatives.
So what must we do? We must disbelieve him altogether, and close our ears against him,
and hate his flattery.
And when he tries to tempt us further by offering us even more,
then we should shun him all the more. . .
We aren’t as intent on gaining our own salvation as he is intent on achieving our ruin.
So we must shun him, not with words only, but also with works;
not in mind only, but also in deed.
We must do none of the things that he approves,
for in that way will we do all those things that God approves.
Yes, for the Devil also makes many promises, not so that he may give them to us,
but so that he may take away from us.
He promises plunder, so that he may deprive us of the kingdom of God and of righteousness.
He sets out treasures in the earth as snares and traps,
so that he may deprive us both of these and of the treasures in heaven.
He would have us be rich in this life, so that we may not be rich in the next.”

St. John Chrysostom, p. 152-3
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

And the winner is…

“If one does away with the fact of the Resurrection, one also does away with the Cross,
for both stand and fall together,
and one would then have to find a new center for the whole message of the gospel.
What would come to occupy this center is at best a mild father-god who is not
affected by the terrible injustice in the world,
or man in his morality and hope who must take care of his own redemption.”

Hans Urs Von Balthasar, The Cross For Us


(empty tomb image courtesy the web)

The hype has been rising to an unbridled level of hysteria—
with the grand and glamorous culmination reaching a deafening crescendo.

Flashing lights and snapping cameras…

The Oooos and ahhhs ripple along the magical red carpet.

Glittery, showy and dazzling
or
Empty, shallow and fleeting…

All breath is held at the utterance of the enchanted phrase…
‘And the winner is…”

All of us who so choose to believe…

There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us.
There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered.
There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us,
and does not now bear with us. And on the far side of every cross,
we find the newness of life in the Holy Spirit,
that new life which will reach its fulfilment in the resurrection.
This is our faith. This is our witness before the world.

St. John Paul II

“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages.”

St. John Chrysostom,