“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”

“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”—
“Let it be done unto me according to thy word.”


(The Annunciation by Fra Angelico /the Museo Nazionale di San Marco,
Florence, Italy/ 1440–1445 /Julie Cook / 2018)

So I was reading through a few emails yesterday when one in
particular caught my eye.

This particular email opened with a question.
What does the word “fiat” mean.

Well naturally my mind immediately jumped to that of the Italian car
maker of that same name.
When we were teens, my cousin had an old school blue fiat..
that was almost 50 years ago and of course he had to trade it in for
something new and shiny red.

The email I was reading had nothing to do with cars but rather with
the original word that is actually Latin for ‘decree’.

According to dictionary.com the word fiat is
“taken from the Latin meaning “let it be done,”
this word appears in the Latin translation of Genesis,
the first book of the bible, when God proclaimed “let there be light” (fiat lux).
As a result, many early uses of fiat were biblical allusions,
as in John Donne’s 1597 poem The Storm. I
n it he writes that there will be darkness unless
“God say/Another Fiat.”

It was not until the 1630s that English speakers started using fiat
to describe an “authoritative decree,”
often issued by royalty or clergy—two groups that depended on divine
right for their power.

By the turn of the 19th century,
English speakers applied fiat’s meaning to less-than-Godly legal manners.
The phrase “fiat in bankruptcy” gained popularity at this time.
Later that century, the concept of “fiat money,” or currency
that has no intrinsic value,
but that the government gives a value to by declaring it legal tender,
took its place in English-speaking minds.”

Isn’t that interesting…fiat money, currency that has no intrinsic value…
hummm….
kind of like our currency today…just print and spend with nary
a thing to back it.

So it IS true…??!! There really is such a thing as monopoly money!!!!!
I knew it!!!!!

Oh but I digress again, today’s post is not about our Federal Banking System…
but maybe it should be…no, no…I’ll save that notion for another day.

So each day I receive an email devotional from the Catholic company…and no
I am not Catholic, but I probably should be…but again, I digress…
another post, another day..

So like I was saying, I get a daily devotional via email…
I also get a few other emails from this group entitled
“Get Fed, bite-sized faith”.
These little offered nuggets, or bites, are always informative and
thought provoking.

So in yesterday’s “bite” they posed the question, “what does “fiat” mean?”

And since this wasn’t about cars, I was intrigued and read on.

Like the info I listed above, they explained that the word fiat did indeed
refer to a type of decree.
And so naturally when we think of decrees, we usually associate decrees with
authoritative institutions such as governments or leadership.

An “off with their heads” sort of dictatorial decree.
One that sweeps in fear and dread—something that is given as a command,
an order to make the little people, us serfs, quake.

But the fiat that Catholic Company was speaking of was far
from authoritative—rather it was one of humble surrendering.

Here is a portion of what they wrote:
“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum”—
“Let it be done unto me according to thy word.”
Certainly no “fiat” before or since has had such drastic consequences
for humanity.

When we refer to Our Lady’s “fiat,” we mean not only the words she spoke,
but also the spiritual attitude verbalized by these words.
This small phrase encapsulates her spirit of obedience,
her profound humility, and her boundless charity.
Unlike so many other fiats, she wasn’t enacting her own will
but embracing God’s will. She wasn’t exercising her own authority
but assenting with a full and joyful heart to her role in
God’s glorious plan of salvation.

I loved this kinder, simpler take on what is usually considered
an authoritative word.

Rather than the command ordered for the troops to go forth and conquer,
here we have a humble submission of the will…acquiescence to the
Great I AM–“Let it be done to me according to your will…”

In Mary’s submission…therein lies the reality of strength…our strength.
A holy segue from humble submission to Omnipotent Greatness.

Having watched and read about what is unfolding with our botched
withdrawal of Afghanistan, knowing that horrible things are currently
happening to individuals and families…knowing that our leadership
made an uncalculated fiat…
knowing that the Taliban has announced their own fiat…
conquer at all costs…
a fiat which stands in stalk contrast to Mary’s fiat to God…
humility and submission vs brutality or else.

What of a former President and his grandiose birthday?
What of Madame Speaker and her cohort Schumer
who proclaim that their inner circles should go out and party…
dance, drink and eat cake while they in turn pronounce their own fiat…
telling us, the simple populace, to mask up, fall in line or else.

What of the Border crisis?…
What of the Administration’s fiat that says to one and all, come then go
while never minding any sense of legality, a pandemic, or placement?

Fiat of folly or fiat of humble purpose..

Yep.
Fiat.
A decree.
Let it be done unto me according to YOUR will!

Luke 2:1-20 NIV
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census
should be taken of the entire Roman world.
(This was the first census that took place while
Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary,
who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord
shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy
for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off
and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby,
who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him,
they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the
things they had heard and seen, which were just as they
had been told.

seek, vision, trust

“He who seeks not the Cross of Christ seeks not the glory of Christ.”
St. John of the Cross


(zebra swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2019)

“We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business.
He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it.
We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as
he does unless the remedy were necessary, and we must rely on his skill.
Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way!
It looks as if we do not trust His wisdom and are afraid He cannot do His job properly.
We allow ourselves to be operated on by a man who may easily make a mistake—–
a mistake which may cost us our life—–
and protest when God sets to work on us.
If we could see all He sees we would unhesitatingly wish all He wishes.”

Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, p. 90
An Excerpt From
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

it’s happened again

“Man’s extremity is God’s appointment”
Pastor Rasmussen, Danish Pentecostal pastor

“First God gives to us–
Then we give back to God–
Finally God gives back
again to us–blessed and multiplied beyond our power to imagine”

Lydia Prince regarding the story of Abraham and Isaac
from Appointment In Jerusalem

“I can only bless that which is freely yielded to me”
Lydia Prince hearing the words of God
from Appointment in Jerusalem


(Panorama of Jerusalem old city / Israel / courtesy the web)

Remember the other day when I was cleaning off the bookshelves and that little
book by that Franciscan Monk just fell out of the pile landing at my feet…
a book entitled, There Are No Accidents by
Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel…

Well after I had painstakingly moved the sea of books that would not be going back
on the shelves into another room where I could spread them out, looking through
them, sorting over who would stay and who would head to the Goodwill,
I had to then move and relocate the books which would be staying down
to the basement.

Remember, like I said the other day, I was an art teacher for 31 years…
having minored in both history and art history who happens to have a keen
interest in Christian spirituality…
so there are books,
lots and lots of pretty, heavy, expensive books.
Books that I still love and want to hold onto but there is just only
so much room…

So as I was gathering up stacks to carry down the stairs,
another book literally fell out of the pile at my feet.

Appointment in Jerusalem by Derek and Lydia Prince.

I vaguely recalled buying the book while still teaching.
The copyright of this updated edition is 2005 but the original story was
actually written thirty years prior in 1975.

Why I opted to just shelve the book obviously many years ago, I don’t know,
but is seems as if Someone was wanting me to read the book, as in now.
And who am I to argue when I have most recently learned that there are
no accidents?

Curious I picked the book up off the floor and set it aside for later
so I could look over what the book was all about.

I started the book Saturday and finished the main original story Wednesday–
as I’m still picking through the added post epilogue to this newer edition.
Mind you, I’m not a fast reader but this story has been such that it has
totally captivated my thoughts and attention.

I was not familiar with either Lydia Prince, whose story the book is about,
nor her husband Derek, but I have since done a bit of research.

It seems the book has been very popular– for in 2005, over two million copies
were in print.
The Princes had a global Christian ministry that was going strong up to Lydia’s
death in 1975.

Just a quick bit of background as it is not the back story that has spoken to me
but rather the person of Lydia herself and of her voracious hunger for God.

Lydia was born in Northern Denmark in 1890, making her 6 years older than my own grandmother.
Lydia was also born into a very affluent family so she was never one to have to
fret over finances.
She was very smart and well educated.
She began a very successful teaching career in the Danish School system,
becoming a global teaching pioneer in what would be known as home economics.

Teachers were highly esteemed in Danish society and Lydia enjoyed the stability
of both career and lifestyle.
By her mid thirties, a fellow teacher had asked for her hand in marriage,
a union which most felt was a natural progression,
especially given the fact that Lydia was only getting older and needed to settle
down.

But settling down was not something she felt inclined to do.

This was during a time when Lydia had began questioning the scope and depth of
her life as a nagging feeling seemed to be engulfing her very being…
She kept feeling, thinking and finally believing that there was something missing
and something more to life..in particular…her life…
and she needed to find out what it was.

Lydia began an in-depth study of the Bible, even fervently praying as in actually
talking to God rather than simple prayer recitations.
Like most in Denmark, Lydia was Lutheran—with the Lutheran Church being the
state Church of Denmark, so to suddenly begin such a quest would be looked upon
as most odd.

Yet she had never felt particularly fulfilled with that aspect of life—
it was something that had been expected and she attended Sunday services
but as for “feeling” something…
that was all that was to it—simply attending a service, nothing more.

She began seeking out the counsel and even attending the services offered by a
local Pentecostal pastor.
The Pentecostal Church was something new and looked upon cautiously and
skeptically by the Danes.
Attending such a service was akin to totally losing one’s mind…
no decent Danish Lutheran would be caught dead attending a Pentecostal service,
let alone associating with Pentecostals.

But Lydia did just that…eventually receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In her small town and school, this new found faith of hers became nothing
less than a scandal.
She was threatened with termination.
Ostracized by her colleagues and students.
Even the Danish Government took up the case.

Her quiet simple life had blown up in her face…yet she was undeterred
and even found a peace in her continued pursuit of God.

She had given herself totally and unequivocally over to God and His directing
and there was no looking back

And such directing it was…

In 1927 she resigned from her teaching post as she now felt called to move
to Jerusalem.
She had no job awaiting her, no mission sending her, no backing from a church
and she had previously given away most of her life’s savings.
Yet there was no mistaking God’s direction.
Jerusalem it was to be.
She believed she was not to worry with any of the details…
not even fretting over not having proper funding because God would be
providing all– Lydia’s only responsibility was but to trust.

And Lydia might as well have been going to the wild west.
Because this was Palestine pre Israel.
A sandy territory under British authority with an uptick in
sectarian violence between Jew and Arab.
Living conditions were hard as well as dangerous….
especially for a single European woman in her late 30’s who spoke neither
Yiddish or Arabic and who knew absolutely no one in her soon to be new home.

However since the end of WWI there had been a steady inflow of Jews, from all over
the globe, moving into what was then Palestine, coming home as it were—
and this was something that the local Arab population
found gravely troubling…to the point of outright bickering and fighting
eventually erupting into deadly battles.

Yet both Arabs and Jews were equally weary of Christians as both groups had
suffered at some point or another at the hands of Christians….so
whereas Jews were unwelcome, Christians were even more unwelcomed.

I will stop here with Lydia’ back story—
saving it for another day.
As there is still a great deal more…
but for now I want to concentrate briefly on Jerusalem and the notion of faith.

I’ve written about the importance of Jerusalem before, and in turn the
importance of Israel, something that God has stated over and over and something
our family of Believers have most collectively and sadly forgotten or chosen to
disregard.

I’ve also explained how dangerous it is for any nation to turn it’s back on Israel…
for such an act is to turn one’s back of God himself.

This is all but spelled out throughout the Books of the Prophets…
throughout both Old and New Testaments.

And this is a fact that Lydia discovered and kept on the forefront of
her ministry for the remainder of her life.

Reading of Lydia’s pure unabashed dependent faith is now challenging me.

Her complete dependance upon God for every single need and detail shakes my
false perception of life’s security.

Her utter surrender of everything, holding nothing back…
from those she fervently loved down to her very life as nothing
was perceived to be an impossibility for God to attend to.

As the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved only son Isaac to
the God of all Creation…all because God said so…and knowing that Abraham,
obviously shaken and distraught over God’s request, still obeyed…
made such an impression upon Lydia that she too believed that there should
never be a time to ever deny or hold back from God whatever He asked for…
this as He worked to temper Lydia’s fatih and life within his
purifying furnace of Love.

There are many lessons to be gleaned from Lydia’s century old story and
the subsequent story of her life’s ministry and caring for orphaned children.
And I know that I will be eventually sharing those here with you…

“And yet the truth is that God’s plan of peace and blessing for all
nations can never come to completion until both Israel and Jerusalem are restored—
and He expects us to be His coworkers in bringing this to pass.”

Lydia Prince / Appointment In Jerusalem

And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Zachariah 12:9

living in before

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there,
wondering, fearing, doubting,
dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

Edgar Allan Poe

“Some dreams are best not to wake up from.”
Hiroo Onoda


(before the beaver, there was a tree / on the shores of Mackinac Island, Lake Huorn /
Julie Cook / 2017)

Following the official unconditional surrender offered by the
Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu,
on behalf of the nation of Japan on September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri…
a ceremony presided over by General Douglas MacArthur,
Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific…
life for a handful of soldiers remained unchanged…
their lives, duty and existence continued on as it had before the surrender.

For despite the war having been officially declared over, there remained a smattering
of Japanese soldiers hunkered down and holding on to various small
South Pacific islands…
soldiers, cut off from commanding units and or communication, all unaware
that their nation had surrendered let alone that the war was now
indeed officially over.

Hiroo Onoda was one such soldier.

Onoda had been trained as an intelligence officer…
specifically trained to gather intelligence in order to carry out and conduct
a guerrilla war against the enemy.
He, and a unit of men underneath his command, had been taken to Lubang Island
in the Philippines with direct orders.

On December 26th, 1944, Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines.
His orders from his commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, were simple:

You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand.
It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens,
we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier,
you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts.
If that’s the case, live on coconuts!
Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.

Daven Hiskey
Feb 9, 2010
‘Today I Found Out’

Following the end of the war Onoda fought on for another 29 years …

Onoda had refused to believe the “propaganda” in the way of dropped leaflets,
villagers pleas or former fellow Japanese soldiers sent to tell Onoda the truth.
He refused to believe any of it but rather was convinced it was all a ploy
by the enemy to take control of the island.

Until 1975 when his former commanding officer,
now an old man working at a bookstore in Japan,
was brought to the island to convince Onoda of the truth.

Reluctantly, yet ever the solider, on March 10, 1975 at the age of 52 an emaciated
Hiroo Onoda put on his 30 plus year old dress uniform and marched
from his jungle hideout to present then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos
his samurai sword.

Over those 30 years Onoda’s small band of fellow soldiers had either
eventually surrendered or died…
but Onoda remained a loyal guerrilla fighter making life miserable for the local
islanders. The islanders did their best to convince Onoda that Japan had
surrendered and that the war was over. During the 30 years Onoda fought his single
war, 30 villagers were killed and 100’s of others were wounded by this
lone guerrilla fighter

The story in itself is fascinating as well as sad.

Yet Onoda’s story is not just a story of survival or of disbelief,
or of skewed conviction but rather his is a tale about living life
in the before verses the after.

There was a single event that had marked the end of the war…
However Onoda had not been privy to that event.
He had not witnessed the surrender.
He knew his Nation’s determination.
He did not actually hear with his own ears the words spoken by his leaders.
He had been given a single command, and until he heard a reversal command
from his commanding officer, he would do his duty and serve his nation to his
utmost ability.

Rarely is such conviction found in men.

I thought of this story yesterday following the news I received regarding
the death of my aunt. Whereas she had been sick and even worsening,
the death from cardiac arrest came suddenly and unexpectedly yet in hindsight,
most likely blessedly.

Had I not answered my phone yesterday morning….
in my small narrow world, my aunt would still be alive.
She would be living on in my perceived reality.

For had I not heard the word, had I not been informed of the factual event
I would have gone on as before…knowing she was sick, fighting cancer, hanging on…
but not having died….not just yet.

The life of living before or the life of living after.

Before is usually what we know, what we’ve come to expect and what we rest in.
After equates to new, different, unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

In all of this I think of Thomas, the doubter.
The one disciple who had not been with the others when a risen Jesus
had manifest himself to their broken hearts.

And as Thomas happened to be away from the group, still broken hearted,
still wounded of spirit, still grieving…
he refused to believe the fantastical and or miraculous offered by his friends.

“Not until I see with my own eyes, put my hands in his wounds…I will not believe.”

Oh how we are all so convinced by the acknowledgement of our senses.
Convicted by sense.

For Onoda, the war had actually been over for those 30 years he lived in a
remote jungle fighting a non-existent war.

For my aunt, she died at 12:40 yesterday afternoon had I or had I not
answered the phone.

Jesus rose with or without Thomas having been present to see, touch, hear, feel…..

But because Jesus knew that we would all be so much like Thomas—needing
to be convinced, He offered Thomas, who continues offering each of us
the acknowledgement….
“my Lord, my God….”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,
“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger
in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.
The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said,
“Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here, and see my hands;
and put out your hand, and place it in my side;
do not be faithless, but believing.”
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him,
“Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

John 20:24-29

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2541104/Japanese-soldier-Hiroo-Onoda-refused-surrender-WWII-spent-29-years-jungle-died-aged-91.html

Battle weary

“If you wish to feign confusion in order to lure the enemy on, you must first have perfect discipline; if you wish to display timidity in order to entrap the enemy, you must have extreme courage; if you wish to parade your weakness in order to make the enemy over-confident, you must have exceeding strength”
Tu Mu / Du Mu, (803–852) leading Chinese poet of the late Tang Dynasty

From camp to camp, through the foul womb of night,
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
That the fixed sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other’s watch.
Fire answers fire, and through their play flames
Each battle sees the other’s umbered face.
Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
Piercing the night’s dull ear; and from the tents
The armorers accomplishing the knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation.

Shakespeare

DSCN5468
(English heraldry shield with ceremonial Union Jacks / Jere’s antiques / Savannah, Georgia /Julie Cook / 2014)

Allow me to introduce you to but a few of the enemy:

DSCN2954
The stripper of leaves and the tank crusher of plants and bushes—it knows no limits (image–Julie Cook)

RSCN5057
The nibbler of tender greens and head of ground troops (image/ Julie Cook)

Procyon_lotor_(Common_raccoon)
The corn ear husker, bird seed thief and chief of covert operations (image / The WWW)

DSCN5631
The blueberry bandit and chief of reconnaissance (image / Julie Cook )

armadillo-meat-1.gif
The burrower, vegetation marauder and chief of subversive forces (image / The WWW)

Do not allow yourself be fooled or lulled into complacency for one minute by the innocent appearances of the axis forces.
This lot, which has combined forces, is a formidable foe.
One that has left me tried, tested, spent and nearly exhausted.
I have used every available defense in my arsenal—those items and strategies which are of a humane nature of course.
And yet I grow weary.

This is the latest image taken from a recent night-time attack:

DSCN5677

The image is one of 4 rows of beans which have been re-eaten and topped off.
Wax and french beans decimated.
The casualty numbers are dangerously and tragically high.

What is at stake you ask.
This:
DSCN5702

The very nourishment and sustenance for my troops—-Er, make that “troop”, as in single, as in my husband. The army of one, led by me, a single commander. . .as in just really two who fight this war.
The crafty enemy is numerous and we are sorely out-maned and out gunned.
The enemy has boldly attacked our food supply lines, we are desperate to fend them off—using every available resource.

I will not be deterred.
No white flag here.
We shall never surrender. . .
“We shall defend our island, (replace island with garden and we’re good)
whatever the cost may be, (time, energy and money)
we shall fight on the beaches, (no beaches here so replace with the word garden again)
we shall fight on the landing grounds, (I suppose our yard could be seen as a landing field)
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, (just the fields)
we shall fight in the hills; (no real hills, maybe a mound or two)
we shall never surrender.

Winston Churchill with a few interjections by cookie