the wisdom of Catherine of Siena

“We’ve had enough exhortations to be silent.
Cry out with a thousand tongues –
I see the world is rotten because of silence.”

St. Catherine of Siena

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son. Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control
this free will, because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will
into the hands of the Devil—that is,
if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—you will never be injured by
the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love,
and to understand why I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having
it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

— St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

The devil’s trick….

“La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas.”
(“The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”)”

Charles Baudelaire


(a silkmoth Ceratomia hagoni / Julie Cook / 2017)

Perhaps the author of today’s quote knows a thing or two about the devil as his life
was speckled with troubles…
as those who were familiar with Monsieur Baudelaire associated him with darkness and depravity…
so perhaps it is true what they say about the devil knowing his own…

But I must say that I totally agree with Monsieur Baudelaire’s observation that it is indeed
one of Satan’s main ploys…
that being to lull us into the notion of his nonexistence.

Last night I was watching a newsy talk show.
I have to be really picky and choosey over the “news” I watch as most outlets that claim
to be News oriented, are simply not….
maybe they were when I was 5, say back in 1964, but no longer is that the case.

So this particular news host was running a story about the Freedom From Religion
Foundation, an aggressive special interest group, that had forced, bullied, threatened,
you choose the word, an elementary school in Tennessee to stop allowing a before school
Bible study offered to its first and second grade students.

Last I checked anything offered before or after school is considered voluntary,
NOT a curriculum or school mandated event.
The FFRF group co-founder, Dan Barker, had sent a letter to the school warning against
having any school personnel volunteering for such an activity as they would be in direct
violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.

Read between the lines—“if we discover that your faculty is having anything to do
with this, we will take you to court….
and you will be sorry and made to pay in more ways than one…”

Having been a long time educator I’ll be one of the first to tell you that if the word
lawsuit is even whispered near a school, sheer panic ensues…
so needless to say, the school shut down this before school voluntary study group—
which in turn infuriated the parents.

As the host and guest argued back and forth, the guest offered this defense…
“There are families who wish to protect their children from the depravity and
the violence that’s in the Bible,”

At which point I almost fell off the couch…
Depraved??
Really??
Ok.

They went further…
Host: You don’t forfeit your First Amendment rights, or any of your Constitutional rights,
just because you work for the government.
You know that.”

Guest: “Yes, you do.”

I think as an educator that was the single greatest thing that troubled me—
the feeling that rights afforded to all US citizens under the Constitution of the
United States somehow bypasses teachers…
as in we aren’t allowed the same rights, apparently, as our students,
or parents, or at times, even our administrators…

The other troubling notion was that these oh so important “rights” are more or less
relevant depending on your personal beliefs—

Christian teachers around this great country of ours are being told that they may not
have a bible on their desk.
Some districts are even telling their teachers that they may not wear a cross or that
Jewish teachers may not wear a star of David but a Muslim teacher may wear a headscarf,
may have a prayer rug and may teach the Quran….

So yes, Monsieur Baudelaire seems rather correct in his observation that the devil’s best
trick is to make us think that he not real as we have fallen hook, line and sinker
for every lie he’s been throwing our way…
all the while we’re holding onto these lies like a dog with a bone…

Living life in the world of lies…and the bad thing is that we’re simply sitting back
and letting it all happen without nary a word of protest from us, the Faithful…

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth,
because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

Clowns to the left, jokers to the right…

“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.”

Lyrics from Stuck in the Middle with You
Stealers Wheel

“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.”

Martin Luther

DSCN2086
(an abandoned gristmill stone, Cables Mill, Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Townsend, TN / Julie Cook / 2015)

A two front war…it’s what Churchill longed for and what Hitler loathed.

As soon as the US threw her hat into the ring, following the attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler had set his sights on Russia, Churchill at long last knew that it was now only a matter of time before Hitler would crumble as the result of fighting a two front war.

History tells us that a two front war is a very difficult prospect for any warring nation as it requires a vast wealth of fresh troops, endless resources, new equipment, ample food, unending ammunition and free flowing cash in order to keep the fighting machine well fed.

It is exhausting and vastly draining on multiple national levels.

It is the ultimate squeeze play…a forcing of the hand…with all cards having to be be played at the same time as there is no longer the luxury of hiding anything…it’s now or never.

And that’s exactly how our ancient adversary enjoys plaguing us most…
Squeezing us on multiple fronts, diverting all of our energies, our attentions, our resources, our nerves, our health, all as we battle multiple opponents on multiple levels simultaneously.

It is disheartening, physically and emotionally exhausting, depressing, and very near crushing.
Defeat almost inevitably appears to be galloping toward us on the horizon as the specter of Death raises his scythe for the final blow….

And it is at that exact moment when we gratefully hear the rallying cry…

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Hymn A Mighty Fortress is our God
words and music by Martin Luther

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46: 1-3,7

(****whereas to many Martin Luther’s name cries of derision, division and contempt, these ancient words speak to all Christians…Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant alike as we, the collective followers of Christ, continue finding ourselves pitted against an ancient foe who neither tires nor grows weary of making our lives miserable—it behooves us to always remember that we never go into battle alone)