“and why should we to have confidence in God?”

“Cast yourself into the arms of God and be very sure that if
He wants anything of you, He will fit you for the work
and give you strength.”

St. Philip Neri


(St Peter’s /Rome, Italy / Julie Cook /2018)

“Like a child who fears no danger in his father’s protecting arms,
we must cast ourselves into the arms of our Heavenly Father,
confident that those Hands which sustain the heavens are all powerful
to supply our necessities, to uphold us in temptation,
and to turn all things to our profit.
And why should we not have confidence in God?
Is He not the most powerful as well as the most tender of fathers? …
Do not dwell upon your unworthiness or your failings,
but raise your eyes to God and consider the infinite goodness
and mercy with which He deigns to apply a remedy to all our miseries.
Reflect upon the truth of His words,
for He has promised to help and comfort all who humbly and confidently
invoke His sacred name. Consider also the innumerable benefits
which you have hitherto received from His paternal hand,
and let His bounty in the past inspire you to trust
the future to Him with renewed hope.
Above all, consider the merits and sufferings of Christ,
which are our principal title to God’s grace and mercy,
and which form the treasure whence the Church supplies
the necessities of her children.
It was from a confidence inspired by such motives that the saints
drew that strength which rendered them as firm as Mount Sion,
and established them in the holy city whence they never
could be moved. (Cf. Ps.124:1).”

Venerable Louis of Grenada, p. 404
An Excerpt From
The Sinner’s Guide

“The kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom…”

“The truth of the matter is that the whole world has already been turned
upside down by the work of Jesus Christ”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship


(Lady Banks roses / Julie Cook / 2021)

“[Saint] Paul understood that the suffering he was going through somehow allowed him
to share in Christ’s suffering for the world…
In his own life, there was a time when he asked the Lord three times to remove a
particular suffering from him (see 2 Corinthians 12:8).
The response he received from the Lord was not “Oh, my oversight.
That’s right, I took care of all that suffering.
You don’t have to do anything.”
No, God’s response was, “[Paul], my grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)…
It is completely opposite of the way the world thinks…
What looked like the worst thing that ever happened on earth—Christ hanging on a cross,
bleeding to death—became the source of salvation for the entire world.
The point of weakness became the point of strength;
it was transformed into the power over death and Hell.
We have to get it through our heads that the kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom
according to the world’s perspective.
Weakness confounds the wise.
The poor and obscure confound the rich and famous…
Whatever you are going through right now, remember that God has a plan for you.
He wants to be united to you so closely that it resembles a spousal relationship…
your suffering is not inconsequential; it is extremely valuable in the economy of God.”
Jeff Cavins, When You Suffer

An Excerpt From
When You Suffer

the mystery and the demand—do not abandon ship!

“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


(The Britannic going down. (Painting by Ken Marschall)

“The Passion is described as the mystery of Christ’s suffering.
It was a mystery at the time because people could not reconcile it with what they had expected.
In the sense that we can never fully understand the idea of God suffering,
the Passion is still a mystery.
Now if our sufferings are somehow or other to fit into the Passion of Christ—
and this is no fiction because this is where they belong—there will surely
be an element of mystery about them.
They will make demands on our faith.”

Fr. Hubert van Zeller, OSB
An Excerpt From
The Mystery of Suffering

I love both of these thought provoking quotes!

St. Boniface is keen with his observation that The Church, as in big C,
is indeed like a ship.
She has criss-crossed this globe of ours now for the last 2000 plus years.

Her crew consists of both you and me, the family of Believers.

A crew of both past and present faithful believers…
and yet…we can’t help but wonder about her future crew.

How might a future crew tend to this most majestic of ships?

Next we read the words of Fr. van Zeller regarding suffering.
God’s suffering as well as ours, mankind.
Suffering.
The suffering of God the father and Christ the Son, along with the suffering of humanity.

The suffering of God made man is perplexing– in part because our earthly
minds and rationale cannot fully grasp the full scope of one who would submit to such
knowingly and willingly.

Firstly, there is no question that we mere mortals have wrestled with the thought of the
suffering of Christ since the day he was arrested, tried and executed.
The God of creation willingly subjecting himself to misery, brutality, deprivation,
suffering and a lingering death.
Why would the triune God submit to such a thing as “the Passion”?

Therein lies the mystery.

The lack of comprehension.

The inability to grasp the unconditional.

Man, it seems, will frustratingly struggle with the scope of such a free and willingly
given gift until the end of time.

Compound that dilemma with the dilemmas we now face in this precarious 21st century.

So is it any wonder there are those who are readily and rapidly jumping ship?
Fear is a powerful tool used by our ancient nemesis.

Jump, we drown.

There are great demands on our faith.
These are the days of separation…
Goats and sheep.

Stay on board…the surf is rough but a Calm will soon still the waters.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book:
if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy,
God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city,
which are described in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19

bring an empty heart

“It is part of the discipline of God to make His loved ones perfect through trial and suffering.
Only by carrying the Cross can one reach the Resurrection.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(fall leaves doing what they do, fall / Julie Cook / 2020)

Reading the late great archbishop’s words…I would imagine that some readers don’t
much care for the notion of man’s enduring trials and suffering while on this earth…
that of carrying the Cross…with each as a means of reaching the final end goal—
that of our being Resurrected with Christ.

We don’t like to think that we are meant to carry a cross, that we are meant
to suffer or endure…a loving God should want us happy and content right??
A loving God shouldn’t allow those He created and supposedly loves to suffer
or to encounter pain, violence, or be handed a heavy cross to bear…

yet…

What we need to remember is that we live in a fallen world.
Sin shadows our every move.
In our lifetime we will each experience various trials.
Avoiding them as best we try, trials will still come regardless of our vain attempts
to keep them at bay.

However, our best recourse is to rid ourselves of ourselves…
To sever our ties to the trappings of this earth.
To completely empty our hearts.

For it is in that emptying, as St Liguori reminds us, that we are allowed
be open ourselves for the filling of the Holy Spirit.

We must detach ourselves from ourselves and from the world in order to save ourselves.

And it is only through following Christ, first to Golgatha then to that empty
tomb, that we will find our true peace and joy and everlasting life.

“The heart cannot exist without love; it will love either God or creatures.
If it does not love creatures, it certainly will love God.
In order to become holy, we must therefore banish from our heart all that is not for God.
When anyone came to the Fathers of the desert and desired to be received by them he was asked:
‘Do you bring an empty heart that it may be filled by the Holy Ghost?’
And they were right, for a heart that is filled with the things of earth has no room
for the love of God.
He who brings a vessel filled with earth to the spring will never be able to fill it
with water until he empties it of the earth with which it is filled.
How does it happen that so many pray and go frequently to Holy Communion and still make
no considerable progress in the love of God?
The reason is doubtless because the heart is full of self-esteem, of vanity, of self-will,
and of attachment to creatures.
He, therefore, who wishes to arrive at the perfect love of God must practice poverty in spirit.
He must be detached from worldly possessions, from temporal honors,
from his fellow creatures, and from himself.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 114-5
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

***off for a few days in order to find a few more falling leaves with the Mayor and the Sheriff

ENOUGH!!!

I find consolation in the one and only friend who will never leave me,
that is, our Divine Saviour in the Holy Eucharist…
Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the most tender of friends with souls
who seek to please Him.
His goodness knows how to proportion itself to the smallest of His creatures
as to the greatest of them.
Be not afraid then in your solitary conversations, to tell Him of your miseries,
your fears, your worries, of those who are dear to you, of your projects,
and of your hopes. Do so with confidence and with an open heart.”

St. Damien of Molokai (1840 – 1889)


(Father Damien shortly before his death in 1889)

I don’t know…
can you hear the rising anger in my voice????
If not—I can speak louder.

I want to scream at the top of my lungs…“YOU ARROGANT IDIOT!!!”

But calling someone an idiot, I realize, is unkind.

Yet in this case, this person is proving to be a walking definition of the word.

Idiot–a stupid person

As in, someone who does not know what it is they are talking about.

In this case, that someone is the infamous AOC.
As in New York’s darling representative, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

The link at the end of this post leads to an article showcasing the blatant ignorance
spewing forth from this Marxist left loving,
elected official–that being Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

This most arrogant and ignorant woman has most recently taken to her
Instagram calling for the removal of a statue of the Belgium born Catholic priest,
Jozef De Veuster, better known as Fr. Damien, because she deems him to be a white supremacist.

Did you read that????
A freaking white supremacist?????!!!!

In my obviously limited mind, a white supremacist most likely has a white hood on his
ignorant head…NOT a rosary in one hand while holding the hand of a dying leper with the other.

Having read this article, my blood pressure is currently rising so quickly
that I just might explode.
This woman has indeed lost her ever-loving mind!

Let it be known that I have written about this particular man before…
back in 2018.

Here is that link:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/the-saint-of-the-outcast-a-martyr-of-charity/

But in case you missed that post, let me catch you up to speed without rewriting that
previous post.

Father Damien was born Jozef De Veuster in Tremelo, Belgium, in 1840.
As a young man, he chose to enter into the life of a Catholic priest–
choosing the name Damien after a fourth-century physician, and martyr.
A rather prophetic name at that.

When Damien’s brother, who was also a priest, was unable to fulfill his duty
of going to serve the Hawaiian Islands, Fr. Damien volunteered.
Once in Honolulu and freshly ordained, Fr. Damien learned about the leper colony
on the island of Molokai.

He readily volunteered to serve the colony.

Leprosy was highly contagious and Father Damien would have known that it would
only be a matter of time before he too would contract the deadly disease—
yet serving the suffering was paramount to any concern of self or
that of self-preservation.

Fr. Damien offered the gift of humanity, as well as dignity, back to those who had been
looked upon as less than.

There is no greater pain to a human being than to be stripped of one’s humanness.
To be regarded as less than…even less than that of an animal.
And that’s what lepers were considered to be…the lowest of the low…
less than human, less than animal.

Father Damien saw past the disease, the deformity, the living death…
and saw but human beings…human beings who were hurting.
He brought back to these individuals the gift of hope…of love.

I won’t go on about the service Fr. Damien performed for hurting people.
I won’t ramble on about the lives he touched nor of the
lasting difference he made in the lives of those in need.
I won’t talk about how he petitioned the Hawaiian government
to allow for a school for the colony’s children or a hospital for the suffering.
I won’t talk about how he petitioned the Hawaiian government
to allow the people of the colony to form their own governing body.

I won’t talk about how he eventually contracted the disease–painful and debilitating
and yet he continued tirelessly to serve his flock.

I won’t talk about how there is no greater gift than that of a man
who is willing to lay down his own life for the betterment of his fellow man.

AOC wants Father Damien’s statue, which graces the halls of our nation’s Capitol
as a tribute to Hawaii, removed.
It seems that AOC believes Fr. Damien’s statue speaks of white supremacy and colonization
rather than the selfish service he offered to the people of Molokai.

When she and her ilk finally shut up and step up…focusing
not on politics or selfish agendas but rather focusing on personally
trying to help heal the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry…
working with their hands rather than constantly complaining with their mouths —
then that is when our nation’s true healing will begin.

Will she ever understand what is Truth?

The Truth being that our lives are not to be about supremacy
but are rather to be about that of servitude and of selflessness.

That our lives are to be about reflecting the light of Jesus Christ
and not that of the world.

And yet now they are burning not buildings in Portland…but rather bibles…

Where have I heard about book burnings before??

God have mercy upon our souls.

“I am gently going to my grave.
It is the will of God, and I thank Him very much for letting me die of the
same disease and in the same was as my lepers.
I am very satisfied and very happy,”

Father Damien wrote while on his deathbed to his brother.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/07/31/aoc-condemns-catholic-priest-who-sacrificed-his-life-serving-others-as-a-white-supremacist/

everything is NOT ok…

How do you wake up from a nightmare
when you’re not asleep?

Unknown

“Lives that Matter Are Made with Positive Purpose.”
(OK Cafe sign during Atlanta’s unrest)


(The OK Cafe, an Atlanta instituion)

On Saturday, I received an interesting email.
At first, I wasn’t certain what it was about.
I wasn’t certain what Liberty House Restaurant Corp. was until I read a bit into the email.
I realized that it’s actually the name of the group that owns two of Atlanta’s
iconic restaurants.

The OK Cafe and Blue Ridge Grill.


(Blue Ridge Grill interior)

Both of these restaurants are two that my family has enjoyed visiting during the past
30 years or so…
despite the fact that they’ve been going strong for a good 41 years.

I can remember when our son was little, driving over to Atlanta on Sunday mornings
just to take him to the OK Cafe for breakfast—some of the best pancakes.

The Mayor and Sheriff now enjoy that same simple pleasure.

We’ve also celebrated many memorable events at the Blue Ridge Grill.
With the last being last year’s Father’s Day lunch.

And so when I read the following email, I was incensed.

We all know that many restaurants across this country have suffered grievously during
this pandemic.
Some have been unable to rally back following the shutdowns.

People have suffered the loss of work, the loss of income, the loss of camaraderie
and for many, the loss of a lifetime of work, hopes, and dreams.

And so just when folks were trying to kickstart their businesses and livelihoods,
here come the rioters, looters, vandals, antagonists, anarchists and racial extremists
who have decided our lives need to all go in another sort of direction.

A direction of violence, fear, and intimidation rather than emergence, renewed health
and hope.

These two restaurants did not ask to be in the crosshairs of the current
wave of civil unrest.
When the protesters commandeered the main street and parking lot to these restaurants,
both restaurants offered the protestors free tea and lemonade…
that’s the Southern way of hospitality.

They did have a couple of banners up hoping to showcase their support to
“all” people as well as keeping the peace during a peace-filled protest…
they also expressed their simple love of America,.

And it was that very notion of hospitality and peace that went terribly
wrong for this group of would-be do-gooders.

So now Homeland Security is monitoring their restaurants.
They have received death threats and a barrage of hate-filled
social media threats and attacks.

All because of a sense of hospitality, a hope for peace and the notion that
all lives do matter and in turn, can be a cause for the positive…

May those of us who believe in the same sense of kindness, caring, hospitality
and hope support those businesses who are simply trying to make
a living by serving us and making us happy.

Maynard Jackson (1938-2003) was the first black mayor of Atlanta.
He was the same Mayor who worked to bring the Summer Olympics to Atlanta in 1996.

He famously proclaimed that “Atlanta is the city too busy to hate”
I always believed that…until now.

Dear Liberty House Restaurant Friends,

It seems that we have found our company in an unusual – and perhaps dangerous – situation.
Richard & I have been under police protection and OK Café is being monitored by Homeland Security.

Wow! How did it get to this?

For those who know us, you’ll know that we are not here just to make money.
For 41 years we’ve served up Southern hospitality and helped showcase and identify our Southern culture.
Our aim was – and is – to make Atlanta a world-class city.
Liberty House is part of the fabric of Atlanta.

Since we’ve never been attacked before, I’d like to make our position clear:

On June 7th, a few days after the destructive riots in our city center and
throughout Buckhead, some people felt it right to organize a march down
West Paces Ferry Road to “bring the people of Buckhead out from behind their screens”
(the Marcher’s cry).

By June 7th, OK Café and Blue Ridge Grill had only reopened 4 days before and
like all others in the shopping center,
we weighed the dangers of looting or harm to our staff and customers, so we closed again.
The marchers took over our parking lot anyways, so no customers could have parked.
The marchers were mostly peaceful – that day.

For our part, we put up two signs at OK Café and served tea.
As is our 1st amendment right to do.
The banner read:
“Lives that Matter Are Made with Positive Purpose.”

Blue Ridge Grill had a tent and served lemonade.
Their sign read:
“Law & Order = Peace”

And Marvin Gaye’s lyrics;
“Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
What’s going on.”

And lastly a red, white, and blue sign draped the front of OK Café on Northside Parkway.
Loud and proud it read:
“OK Café LOVES America.”

Since then we have received hundreds of negative reviews online.
We have been told, kneel or go out of business.

If loving America is wrong – I don’t wanna be right.
And our great and mighty team stands with us on this point.

Susan DeRose
President
Liberty House Restaurant Corp.

Strive for peace with everyone,
and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

(I’ll be on a bit of a hiatus for the remainder of the week)

are you willing to man up?

“When we contemplate the sufferings of Jesus He grants us, according to the measure of our faith,
the grace to practice the virtues He revealed during those sacred hours.”

St. Angela Merici

When I read the above quote for the day by St. Angela Merici,
my immediate response was…

“Am I ready?”

Am I ready to step up, to man up, to woman up (for those more sensitive to gender)
to the virtues, the trials, the tribulations that Jesus
readily revealed, experienced and endured during his time of suffering???

That of betrayal, arrest, a mock trial, scourging, the Via Dolorosa, being nailed
to a tree, being hoisted into the air…only to hang by his hands and feet…
deprived of relief…
a long, slow, torturous and inevitably painful death…?

Am I ready?
Am I ready, am I willing, to take up my own cross that He is ready and most willing to
handoff to me?

I ran track in high school…
I ran two different relays.
I know about handoffs.
I know about the importance of the syncing of the handoff.
The necessary effortlessness.
The timing.
The precision.
Hand to hand.
Trust.

So the question remains…
Am I ready…
Am I ready when He would desire to extend such a “grace” to me?

It is a tall order.
It is even a hazardous order given our day and times.

But it is one that we, the faithful, must be willing to take.

The day’s light grows dim.
Time is of the essence.
Are we, both you and I, ready to man up?

St. Francis had to ask himself the same question when confronted with what was a perceived
horror of his own day…leprosy.

In his conversion, he had submitted his all to God.
He had humbled himself to man…but was he willing to humble himself to God?
Was he willing to trust with a blind faith?

Would he, could he, walk the talk when faced with a possible and impending doom?

Spoiler alert…he did.

“Now, as he was riding one day over the plain of Assisi he met a leper,
whose sudden appearance filled him with fear and horror;
but forthwith calling to mind the resolution which he had made to follow after perfection,
and remembering that if he would be a soldier of Christ he must first overcome himself,
he dismounted from his horse and went to meet the leper, that he might embrace him:
and when the poor man stretched out his hand to receive an alms,
he kissed it and filled it with money.
Having again mounted his horse, he looked around him over the wide and open plain,
but nowhere could he see the leper;
upon which, being filled with wonder and joy,
he began devoutly to give thanks to God,
purposing within himself to proceed to still greater things than this.”

St. Bonaventure, p. 4
An Excerpt From
The Life of St. Francis

from bitterness to sweetness

“Let us make up for lost time.
Let us give to God the time that remains to us.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori


(a blushing magnolia “seed pod”/Rosemary Beach, Fl / 2019)

“By accepting the sufferings ‘offered’ by life and allowed by God for our progress and purification,
we spare ourselves much harder ones.
We need to develop this kind of realism and, once and for all,
stop dreaming of a life without suffering or conflict.
That is the life of heaven, not earth.
We must take up our cross and follow Christ courageously every day;
the bitterness of that cross will sooner or later be transformed into sweetness.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 49
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

“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

pierced heart

“As the sun surpasses all the stars in luster,
so the sorrows of Mary surpass all the
tortures of the martyrs.”

St. Basil


(detail of Mary at the deposition of Christ by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden circa 1435)


“In this valley of tears, every man is born to weep, and all must suffer,
by enduring the evils that take place every day.
But how much greater would be the misery of life,
if we also knew the future evils that await us!
‘Unfortunate, indeed, would be the situation of someone who knows the future’,
says the pagan Roman philosopher Seneca; ‘he would have to suffer everything by anticipation’.
Our Lord shows us this mercy. He conceals the trials that await us so that,
whatever they may be, we may endure them only once.
But he didn’t show Mary this compassion.
God willed her to be the Queen of Sorrows, and in all things like his Son.
So she always had to see before her eyes, and continually to suffer,
all the torments that awaited her. And these were the sufferings of the passion
and death of her beloved Jesus.
For in the temple, St. Simeon, having received the divine Child in his arms,
foretold to her that her Son would be a sign for all the persecutions and oppositions of men. …
Jesus our King and his most holy mother didn’t refuse,
for love of us, to suffer such cruel pains throughout their lives.
So it’s reasonable that we, at least, should not complain if we have to suffer something.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 222
An Excerpt From
A Year with Mary

I’m still making my way slowly through the book The Divine Plan by Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando.
A book based on a seemingly oddly matched friendship and the ‘dramatic end
of the Cold War.’
The book is about the relationship between the Catholic Pope, John Paul II,
and the Protestant American President, Ronald Reagan and of their individual
journies toward that friendship that changed the course of history.

I’ve previously read many books recounting the work of this dynamic duo and the subsequent
dismantling of the USSR…books that recount the seemingly odd match Fate found in
two vastly different world stage players.
But this book’s authors, as do I, believe that this particular match was a match set in
motion long before there was ever an iron curtain,
a relationship that was formed by something much greater than mere Fate.

Hence the title, the Divine Plan…

But today’s post is not so much about that particular Divine match…
that post will come later…
Today’s post, rather, is actually a post about someone else whose life was
Divinely tapped to play a pivotal role in our collective human history.

A post inspired in part by something that I actually read in the book regarding
Pope John Paul II when he was but a young boy growing up in Poland and known
simply as Karol Wojtyla.
It’s what I read which actually lead me to today’s waxing and waning.

When the Pope, or rather young Karol, was 8 years old, his mother died after an
acute urinary tract infection, leaving an impressionable young boy to be raised
by his former military father.

Blessedly the elder Wojtyla was a very devout Christian man and was determined to raise his
young son under the direction of the Chruch.
And so he took a bereft young boy to one of the many shrines to the Madonna in order to pray
and to explain to Karol that the woman he saw in the shrine, that being Mary the mother
of Jesus, was to now be the mother to whom he must turn.

If you’ve ever read anything about Pope John Paul II then you know that he had a very
deep and very real relationship with the Virgin Mary—it is a relationship that reached back
to the void in the heart of an eight-year-old boy who had lost his earthly mother.
It was a relationship that would serve the Pope well throughout his entire life.

So it was this little tale about Mary that got me thinking.

Being raised as a Protestant, we don’t always fully grasp the relationship our Catholic kin
have with Mary.
In fact, we often look at the relationship sideways as if it were some sort of
obsessive oddity.

We scorn them for it.
We ridicule them over it.
And we’ve even accused them of idolatry over it.
And I think we have been unfair.

But this post is not about all of that, not today.

However, this post, on the other hand, is about my thoughts about the mother of Jesus,
the mother of our very own Lord and Savior.

I think history, theology, Christianity often gives Mary a bum rap.
And if it’s not a bum rap, it simply opts to gloss over her.

We tend to put her over in a corner someplace and move on.

And yes that is the role she readily accepted.

We think of her on or around Christmas eve as we recall her wandering the backroads of
a desert night, riding on the back of a donkey as she and her young husband look
for shelter as she is about to give birth…
and then, after Christmas, we don’t think much else about her, ever.

Many mothers accept such a role.
One of obscurity and the role of simply being put in a corner someplace as their child or
children shine in the limelight of whatever direction life should take them.

It’s kind of what mothers do.

And thus I write this post today in part because I have been, as I am currently,
a mother.
And in turn, I kind of get what it means being both mother and grandmother and what
that entails on an earthly level.

I get that it can be a deeply gut-wrenching, emotionally charged roller coaster
ride of life.
I get that it can be both physically, emotionally and spiritually exacting.

Just as it can literally break one’s heart.

Think of those women who have lost their children to illness, accidents, suicides or even
lost to war.

But for Mary, let’s imagine a woman who’s more than just a mother of a son,
but rather a woman who must also look to that son as an extension of her own God.

Who amongst us wouldn’t find that dichotomy utterly impossible to comprehend?

Your son being also your God…

This being the baby you carried for nine months.
Who you delivered through in pain and duress…
The baby who you had to flee town over.
The baby who kings came to visit.

Yet the same baby whose dirty diapers you changed.
Whose spit-up you cleaned up.
Whose hands you popped as they reached for danger…
The toddler whose hand you held when he took his first steps;
The child whose fever you prayed would go away; whose broken bones you willed to heal…
Whose broken heart, you wept over…

And then this same child grew to be an extension of the same God who had come to you
on a lonely night, telling you that He was taxing you with a seemingly impossible task.

Imagine the anguish you felt when, on a family trip, you thought this child of yours was
in the care of relatives…until you realized that no one really knew where he was.

This only child of yours was lost.

It had been three days when you realized he wasn’t with your family.
You had assumed and taken for granted and now he was gone.
How could you have let this happen?
You mentally begin to beat yourself to death.

You now realize he was left behind, alone, in an unforgiving town.
Who had him?
What had become of him?
Was he frightened?
Was he alone?
Was he hungry?
Was he dead?
Was he gone forever?

After frantically retracing your steps, desperately searching both day and night,
calling out his name, you miraculously finally find him.

He is at the Temple.

Your knee jerk reaction is to both cry out while taking him in your arms and then to simultaneously
yank him up by his ear, dragging him off back home all the while fussing as to the
sickening worry he has caused you.

And yet he meets you as if you’ve never met before.
You eerily sense an odd detachment.
He is subdued, calm, even passive…
An old soul now found in what should be a youthful, boisterous child.

Your brain struggles to make sense of what greets your eyes.
His now otherworldliness demeanor is puzzled by your own agitated level of angst.

He matter-of-factly tells you that he’d been in “his Father’s house,
about His father’s business. A simple matter of fact that should not have
you surprised or shocked.
It was as if he felt you should have known this all along.

You let go of him and stare while you try to wrap both your head and heart around what
you’re hearing.
Your anger and fear dissolve into resignation when you painfully recall the words
spoken to you years earlier…
“your heart, like his, will be pierced”…

In the movie, The Passion of the Christ, I was keenly stuck by one particularly
heartwrenching scene.

It was the scene of Jesus carrying the cross through the streets as
Mary ran alongside, pushing through the gathering crowd, watching from a distance
as tears filled her eyes while fear filled her heart.

Mother’s are prewired to feel the need, the urge, the necessity to race in when their
children are hurting.
Mothers desperately try, no matter the age of their children, to take them in their arms…
to caress their fevered brow, to kiss away their salty tears to rock their pain-filled body…

In the movie we see Mary watching as Jesus stumbles under the weight of the
cross–this after being brutally beaten.
She particularly gasps for air…willing her son to breathe in as well.
Her mind races back in time to when, as a young boy, Jesus falls and skins his knees.
He cries as the younger mother Mary, races to pick up her son and soothe his pain.

And just as suddenly, Mary is rudely jolted and catapulted mercilessly back to the current moment,
painfully realizing that she is now helpless to be there for her son.

Her heart is pierced.
As it will be pierced again as the nails are hammered into his flesh and he is hoisted
up in the air…left to die a slow and excruciating death of suffocation
while bones are pulled and dislocated.

And so yes, my thoughts today are on Mary.
A woman who taught us what it is to be a loving mother as well as an obedient woman…
obedient unto the piercing of a heart.

I would dare say that we still have so much to learn from her example.

Obedience seems to have very little in common with such things as abortions,
hashtags and feminism.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome.

1 John 5:3 ESV