silence and the greatest foe

“Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you,
remember Christ crucified and be silent.”

St. John of the Cross


(the spoils of the surf /Julie Cook / 2021)

“Let us beware of complaints, resentments,
and evil-speaking against those who are ill-disposed to us,
discontented with us, or hostile to our plans and arrangements,
or who even persecute us with injuries, insults, and calumnies.
Rather let us go on treating them as cordially as at first,
or more so, as far as possible showing them esteem,
always speaking well of them, doing them good,
serving them on occasion, even to the point of taking shame and disgrace
upon ourselves, if necessary to save their honor.
All this ought to be done, first, to overcome evil with good,
according to the teaching of the Apostles; and secondly,
because they are our allies rather than our adversaries,
as they aid us to destroy self-love, which is our greatest foe;
and since it is they who give us an opportunity to gain merit,
they ought to be considered our dearest friends.”

St. Vincent de Paul, p.413

An Excerpt From
Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery With the Saints

Why do we do what we do?


(Ian Charleson, playing Eric Liddell, leads the cast on the sands of St. Andrews)

Is it just me or does it seem that our news headlines have recently been inundated
with the stories about the struggles of our Nation’s younger athletic phenoms.

And in struggles I don’t mean physical ailments or injuries but rather
mental health struggles.

Earlier this year, twenty three year old tennis great Naomi Osaka
withdrew from playing in the Wimbledon Open due to anxiety, depression
and stress…

Isn’t that pretty much the life of training and competing for athletes?
Anxiety?
Stress?
Depression from the agony of defeat??

And then just yesterday, gymnastics superstar Simone Biles withdrew from
Olympic Competition due, also, to “mental health” issues.

Recently I watched several of the Olympic Gymnastic events and noticed that,
for the girl’s US team, there just wasn’t that usual spunk, no joie de vive.
The camaraderie and banter, along with the hugs and smiles, appeared to be
few and far between…
And yes I remember there’s a pandemic but this goes beyond that.

The familiar unity, the smiles, the group support did not seem as apparent
with this Olympic girl’s squad as it has in the past.
Not until Simone withdrew and an apparent invisible weight lifted from
her shoulders.

Maybe it’s just me but I’ve sensed more trepidation.
and heaviness then I have a typical competitive team energy.

Of course there should always be those serious game faces,
but there’s just not that emblematic team embrace as with teams prior.

Compare this year’s girl’s team to the men’s team.

This year’s men’s squad has seemed to be working as a cohesive unit of solidarity
despite working as individuals as well as a team unit….
but the girls…
well something has just seemed off with both team and individuals.

The aged stoic in me, who I might add has never ever competed at such
a level as an Olympian but who had always participated in team sports
while growing up say’s ‘suck it up buttercup, this is the Olympics’

Biles was at least seen laughing and cutting up after she “quit” and
thus the pressure was gone…or so it seemed.

And yet a more reflective part of me looks at what we as a society
do to our athletes by putting them up on platforms of worship.
Our expectations, the media’s obsession and the constant buzzing in the
ear and mind from all things Social Media are all heavy weights placed on kids
who push and push and push, year after year after year to be…the best of the best
at all costs.

Yet what of the competitive, the win at any cost athletes?
Think Tom Brady, Michael Phelps et el.

But costs for what???

So at first, I thought I wanted to write a post about things based on
snowflakes, coddeledness, spoiled, whining, golden calves…but rather…
something else popped into my head.

Growing up in the Episcopal Church the Hymn Jerusalem was and remains
a favorite of mine.
Hauntingly beautiful.
And yet despite it being a true English hymn and considered a quasi British National
Anthem…it moves my heart.

The hymn is based on a poem by William Blake and according to Wikipedia…

“And did those feet in ancient time” is a poem by William Blake
from the preface to his epic Milton:
A Poem in Two Books, one of a collection of writings known as the Prophetic Books.
The date of 1804 on the title page is probably when the plates were begun,
but the poem was printed c. 1808.[1]
Today it is best known as the hymn “Jerusalem”,
with music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916.
The famous orchestration was written by Sir Edward Elgar.

The poem was supposedly inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus,
accompanied by Joseph of Arimathea, a tin merchant,
travelled to what is now England and visited Glastonbury
during his unknown years.
[2] Most scholars reject the historical authenticity of this story
out of hand, and according to British folklore scholar
A. W. Smith, “there was little reason to believe that an oral
tradition concerning a visit made by Jesus to Britain existed
before the early part
of the twentieth century”.[3]
The poem’s theme is linked to the Book of Revelation
(3:12 and 21:2) describing a Second Coming, wherein Jesus establishes
a New Jerusalem.
Churches in general, and the Church of England in particular,
have long used Jerusalem as a metaphor for Heaven,
a place of universal love and peace.[a]

In the most common interpretation of the poem,
Blake implies that a visit by Jesus would briefly create heaven in England,
in contrast to the “dark Satanic Mills” of the Industrial Revolution.
Blake’s poem asks four questions rather than asserting the historical
truth of Christ’s visit.
Thus the poem merely wonders if there had been a divine visit,
when there was briefly heaven in England.[4][5]
The second verse is interpreted as an exhortation to create an ideal
society in England, whether or not there was a divine visit.[6][7]

So my mind drifted to one of my most favorite movies…Chariots of Fire.

The movie, the soundtrack…each became an integral part of me.
I went to showing after showing and I eventually bought the CD…
sans video cassette.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movie, the story…
is a true tale.

The movie came out in 1981 but the true tale reaches back to the early 20th century.

Again…here is what Wikipedia has to share about the plot…

In 1919, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) enters the University of Cambridge,
where he experiences anti-Semitism from the staff,
but enjoys participating in the Gilbert and Sullivan club.
He becomes the first person ever to complete the Trinity Great Court Run,
running around the college courtyard in the time it takes for the clock to strike 12,
and achieves an undefeated string of victories in various national
running competitions.
Although focused on his running, he falls in love with Sybil (Alice Krige),
a leading Gilbert and Sullivan soprano.

Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), born in China of Scottish missionary parents,
is in Scotland.
His devout sister Jennie (Cheryl Campbell) disapproves of Liddell’s plans
to pursue competitive running, but Liddell sees running as a way
of glorifying God before returning to China to work as a missionary.

When they first race against each other, Liddell beats Abrahams.
Abrahams takes it poorly, but Sam Mussabini (Ian Holm),
a professional trainer whom he had approached earlier, offers to take him on
to improve his technique.
This attracts criticism from the Cambridge college masters
(John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson), who allege it is not gentlemanly
for an amateur to “play the tradesman” by employing a professional coach.
Abrahams dismisses this concern, interpreting it as cover for
anti-Semitic and class-based prejudice.

When Liddell accidentally misses a church prayer meeting because of his running,
his sister Jennie upbraids him and accuses him of no longer caring about God.
Eric tells her that though he intends to return eventually to the China mission,
he feels divinely inspired when running, and that not to run would be to
dishonour God, saying “I believe that God made me for a purpose.
But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

(bold is mine)

The two athletes, after years of training and racing, are accepted
to represent Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics in Paris.
Also accepted are Abrahams’ Cambridge friends,
Lord Andrew Lindsay (Nigel Havers), Aubrey Montague (Nicholas Farrell),
and Henry Stallard (Daniel Gerroll).

While boarding the boat to France for the Olympics,
Liddell discovers the heats for his 100-metre race will be on a Sunday.
He refuses to run the race, despite strong pressure from the Prince of Wales
and the British Olympic Committee, because his Christian convictions
prevent him from running on the Lord’s Day.

A solution is found thanks to Liddell’s teammate Lindsay,
who, having already won a silver medal in the 400 metres hurdles,
offers to give his place in the 400-metre race on the following
Thursday to Liddell, who gratefully accepts.
Liddell’s religious convictions in the face of national athletic pride
make headlines around the world.

Liddell delivers a sermon at the Paris Church of Scotland that Sunday,
and quotes from Isaiah 40, ending with “But they that wait
upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Abrahams is badly beaten by the heavily favoured United States runners
in the 200 metre race. He knows his last chance for a medal will be the 100 metres.
He competes in the race, and wins. His coach Sam Mussabini,
who was barred from the stadium, is overcome that the years of dedication
and training have paid off with an Olympic gold medal.
Now Abrahams can get on with his life and reunite with his girlfriend Sybil,
whom he had neglected for the sake of running.

Before Liddell’s race, the American coach remarks dismissively to his
runners that Liddell has little chance of doing well in his now, far longer,
400 metre race. But one of the American runners, Jackson Scholz,
hands Liddell a note of support, quoting 1 Samuel 2:30
“He that honors Me I will honor”.
Liddell defeats the American favourites and wins the gold medal.

The British team returns home triumphant.
As the film ends, onscreen text explains that Abrahams married Sybil
and became the elder statesman of British athletics.
Liddell went on to missionary work in China.
All of Scotland mourned his death in 1945 in Japanese-occupied China.

And so as I reflect upon our young American athletes who are having a difficult
time with their various world stages, I remember Chariots of Fire.
A tale of two very different men competing for two very different reasons…
yet they compete because they knew they must.

One competes to honor God, the other competes to honor his people, his heritage.
Each man driven to and by honor of something so much greater than themselves.

I watched as the American Gymnasts, who had won silver, went over to
congratulate their Russian competitors who won Gold.

So why do we do what we do?

effects

“Thus, brethren, God has loved you from eternity,
and through pure love, he has selected you from among so many men
whom he could have created in place of you;
but he has left them in their nothingness,
and has brought you into existence, and placed you in the world.
For the love of you, he has made so many other beautiful creatures,
that they might serve you, and that they might remind you
of the love which he has borne to you, and of the
gratitude which you owe to him.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 218
An Excerpt From
Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori


(a tiny ghost crab / Julie Cook / 2021)

“The works of man, whether they are good or bad,
are not always isolated, transitory acts; more often,
especially in the case of the leaders of nations and those who are
invested with public authority,
they continue to subsist after they are concluded,
either in the memory of other men or in public acclaim,
as a result of the consequences they have had and the scandal
they have caused.
Thus, at first sight, a particular,
secret crime seems to be only a private, personal deed;
but it becomes social on account of its effects.
Certainly it is of faith that there is a particular judgment,
and that every man, at the instant of his soul’s departure
from the body, appears before the tribunal of God to hear
his eternal sentence pronounced. Yet this judgment cannot suffice,
and it is essential that it should be followed by another public judgment,
in which God will not examine the actions in isolation and taken in themselves,
but will examine them in their effects upon other men,
in the good or evil deriving from them for families and peoples—in a word,
in the consequences they produced and which those who perpetrated
them ought to have foreseen.”

Fr. Charles Arminjon, p. 94
An Excerpt From
The End of the Present World

sign of the times??

My God will be my Great Reward. I don’t desire to possess other goods.
I want to be set on fire with his Love.
I want to see him, to unite myself to him forever.
That is my Heaven…
that is my destiny:
Living on Love!!

St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Quoted in the book Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Living on Love


(an odd juxtaposition of images on the off beaten path / Julie Cook / 2021)

A flag, a dumpster and a ‘dead end’ sign.
What a telling mix of imagery.

Is it a sign of what might be?
A sign of what currently is…?
Or simply a bad mix of imagery?

I think we will be the determining factor of what will or will not be.

“We have to accustom ourselves to pray in all places and at all times.
The real place to pray in is the soul, for God dwells there.
If we wish to obey our Lord’s counsel,
when we pray we should enter the chamber of our soul,
close the door, and speak to the Father, whose loving eyes seek ever our own.
This inner chamber of our soul is the true temple,
the sacred sanctuary, and we carry it with us and can at any time
either remain there or quickly return to it,
should we have been obliged to leave it.”

Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 111
An Excerpt From
The Prayer of the Presence of God

a little slide of hand…


(27 Feb 1926, Sat The Richmond Item (Richmond, Indiana) Newspapers.com)

I caught a rather interesting story yesterday offered on Newspapers.com regarding
the great escape artist, Harry Houdini.

I thought I might offer the story here as it makes for a nice
diversion from our current headlines.
It offers a snippet of interesting history while touching
on the political climate of Houdini’s time.

For a little bit of background on Houdini, for those unfamiliar with
this early 20th century entertainer, I did a little digging.

According to Wikipedia, Houdini, whose birth name was Erik Weisz
and whose father was a Rabbi, was born in Hungry in 1874.
The family immigrated to the US in 1878, calling Wisconsin home before
eventually moving to New York.

As a young boy, Erich (the family adopted the German spelling upon
immigrating to the US) developed a love running cross country
as well as becoming a trapeze artist.

Young Erich would go on to become a professional magician,
changing his name to Harry Houdini after the French magician
Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdinthe.

Houdini would eventually become America’s favorite escape artist,
illusionist, stunt performer and mysteriarch.
He was a Vaudeville favorite and eventually performed globally.

Contrary to popular belief, Houdini did not die from a stunt gone awry,
but rather from peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at the age of 52.

It is speculated that the ruptured appendix may have originated from
a man who had come to Houdini’s dressing room prior to a performance and
repeatedly hit Houdini in the abdomen.

Houdini often boasted that he had an extreme tolerance to being hit
in the abdomen.
This curious man took Houdini at his word by repeatedly hitting him.
Houdini abruptly had the man stop, explaining that he had not
braced himself appropriately for the blows.

Within a few days of the hitting incident and having suffered severe pain
since the man’s punches, Houdini began running a fever.
He was taken to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a
ruptured appendix.

To add to the mystique of Houdini,
he was known to be a practicing Freemason.

Fast foward to the roaring ’20’s.

America, as well as much of Europe, had become fascinated with
all things of the supernatural.
Mystics, fortune tellers, snake oil doctors, Mediums and seances had become all
the rage.

Intriguing entertainment and fun parlor tricks yet there was
something much more alarming and even deeper than mere entertainment.

Many people longed to reconnect with those loved one who had “passed
over to the other side.”
Those who had lost loved ones who were sorely pressed to hear from
those lost loved ones—longing to hear from them just one more time
would cling to every word offered by a “Medium”—a person who
could connect to the nonliving.

Houdini, who prided himself on his professionalism, was hard pressed
to expose those who were profiting off the emotions of the bereft—
as well as those who were casting a doubtful light on Houdini’s craft.

Houdini boldly brought this issue before Congress as he wanted to have
a federal law created against those working under the guise as mediums
while profiting falsely from the emotions of those who were hurting…

As part of Houdini’s crusade against fraudulent mediums,
two congressmen (Senator Royal S. Copeland and Representative Sol Bloom)
sponsored an amendment to a Washington DC law that would essentially
ban fortune telling in DC.
The proposal was met with stiff resistance from the spiritualist community,
who charged that it would infringe on their right to religious freedom.

Houdini had hired a small army of ‘detectives’ working to uncover the
imposters and hucksters.
One of his most ardent ‘detectives’ was a 34 year old named Rose Mackenberg.

And so during the congressional hearing “the biggest bombshell of
the hearing—at least as far as the news media was concerned—
was dropped by Mackenberg herself.

Prior to the May hearings,
Houdini had sent his undercover investigators, including Mackenberg,
to visit suspected phony mediums in DC and gather evidence against them.
During her testimony, Mackenberg alleged that two spiritualists
had independently divulged that a number of their clients
were U.S. senators, and she even went so far as to reveal the names of
four of those senators while on the stand.

But most shocking of all, Mackenberg testified that one of the mediums,
Jane Coates, had boasted that seances had been held in the White House,
with President Coolidge and his family present.”

So it seems that maybe we should have exorcized the White House years ago
and maybe we wouldn’t be having the problems we’re having today…
but of course I digress…

Here is a link to the story…it makes for some interesting reading…
enjoy the diversion…

https://blog.newspapers.com/astonishing-adventures-of-houdinis-favorite-detective/

Night and day

“I will glory not because I am righteous, but because I am redeemed;
I will glory not because I am free from sins,
but because my sins are forgiven me.
I will not glory because I have done good nor because someone has done
good to me, but because Christ is my advocate with the Father and
because the blood of Christ has been shed for me.”

St. Ambrose


(sunset at Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2021)


(morning surprise at Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2021)

The art of how to or how not…

The God of all mercy teaches us that our vocation is to learn to love
and also to be able to love after the image and in imitation
of the Most Holy Trinity.
Christ, therefore, is situated at the heart of marital and family life,
in other words, at the heart of the gestures and the attitudes of
the husband toward his wife, and vice versa,
of the father and the mother of the family toward their children—
which you seek to put into practice in trust and in truth.

Robert Cardinal Sarah
From his book Couples, Awaken Your Love!


(the Mayor struggling with the art of the fondue / Julie Cook / 2021)

In yesterday’s post, I noted that I had not kept up with the news during our
small family’s recent little getaway.
A smart and delightful choice I might add.

And thus, upon our return home, I foolishly thought that I needed to play
a bit of catch-up.

So of course there was the story about the plane full of smug, arrogant
and really stupid Democrats who thought they were running away from Texas,
setting their sights on being liberated in Washington D.C.

But what it really was…was a plane full of super-spreaders of Covid.
So why do we vote for such people…??
I digress.

And then there was and is the continuing migrant story…
but where do we start with that one???
Covid, welfare, gangs, sex trafficking, drugs…
Simply not enough time.

Then there was the typical story of hostility in The House between
Dems and Republicans.
A bipartisan panel to look into that House infiltration fiasco…
HA..bipartisan…that’s a good one!
But what’s new???

And of course there was the story about Dr. Fauci proclaiming that we
all need to mask up again…vaccine or not.
But maybe it’s more about the haves and the have nots.

Yet Dr. Fauci now wants us to mask our toddlers…
wee ones who will be heading to pre-school and or daycare.
So hear me now as I channel my best Charlton Heston voice…
NOT ON MY WATCH–NOT MY GRANDCHILDREN!
And no, NO SHOTS for toddlers.
We simply don’t know enough.
Perhaps that shall be one of my many mountains to perish upon.

And once again, there was the continuing story about CRT.
That idiotic ideology which I referenced yesterday.
How to teach about not being a racist…
Lets set people apart, teach them about shame, teach them about resentment,
teach them about angst and anger—those are some really powerful
kumbiya thoughts…right????
Eyes rolling.

And now there’s this latest story about the White House promoting the
Abolitionist Teaching Network whose desire is to “disrupt whiteness”…

What in the heck is that all about???

So let me backup to where we really need to be with this whole
education thing.

If you want to go backwards, which it seems the woke folks are bent on…
let’s go back to what actually worked back in the beginning…

God.
Prayer.
The Ten Commandments.
Faith.
Family.

That pretty much covers all of this lunacy in a nutshell!
Go back to those particular key components and all this fiasco will
finally be righted.

Righted only if those 5 things fall back into their original place…
then and only then will we ever have some sense of normalcy and peace….
otherwise it’s Katie bar the door—
all Hell is about to break loose and I mean hell with a big H…
as in literally.

Love, by its essence, involves a leap into the unknown, a death to oneself,
because genuine love is a love that loves to the end.
And to love to the end means to die for those whom you love.

Robert Cardinal Sarah
From his book Couples, Awaken Your Love!

we just don’t seem to get it…

“You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds…
What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.”

St. Thomas More


(the Sheriff trying to get the hang of a crab net / Julie Cook / 2021)

So upon my return from being away 7 days, I did what most stupid
gullible, people do..
I felt compelled to see what had been newsworthy in my absence…
what was news worthy.

Ohhhhh, what a loaded idea that would be…

There were just so many stories…
so much so that I’m having a difficult time focusing on that one
news story that needs to be showcased.

Well firstly, I did catch a nauseating story about how Mademoiselle Squad member
seems to think we need to include reading, writing and race theory within our
preschool curriculums…

Hummmm….

Ok, so here is your favorite retired educator’s take on this latest banter
of idiocy…

It seems that those self-proclaimed wizards behind the mirror have
deemed that we need to be teaching our most wee and impressionable children
Critical Race Theory–or so they say??!!

Teaching propaganda in our public schools.

Hummmm….

Teaching wee children how not to be racists…

Wait, what exactly is a racist??

According to Merriam…a racist is: a belief that race is a fundamental
determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences
produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Hummm…

Wait, I thought brown, black, yellow and white were all created equal
and precious in His sight….

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free,
there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

So might we note that we adults are having an incredible challenge
with crime.

Forget race…crime has taken the forefront of our lives.

We are killing one another at such a rapid pace that we are unable
to keep count.

There is an exponentially critical spike in violent crimes…
in particular that of murder.

Mlle Squad member wants to educate our wee ones on how not to be racist but
we adults are busy killing the innocents.

Hummm…

This Nation of ours just had a one year old shot in a convenient store
in Philly this past weekend.

That is unacceptable yet Mlle Squad member seems to think teaching CRT is
just that in a nutshell, critical.
Forget murder…forget hate…forget rage…

More later…

“Finally—and this is perhaps the most difficult aspect of what
concerns the practice of conformity to the will of God—
we should desire virtue itself and the degrees of grace only insofar
as God wishes to give them, and not desire more.
Our whole ambition should be to attain the degree of perfection
that has been appointed for us, since it has not been given to everybody
to reach the same height.
It is obvious that however well we may correspond with the graces given us,
we can never equal the humility, charity and other virtues of the Blessed Virgin.
And who can even presume to imagine that he can reach the same heights
as the Apostles?
Who can equal St. John the Baptist whom Christ called the greatest
of the children of men? Or St. Joseph to whom God entrusted His Son?
In this we must as in all else submit to the will of God.
He must be able to say of us, My will is in them;
it rules and governs everything.
So when we hear or read that God in a short time has brought some souls
to a very high degree of perfection and shown them signal favors,
enlightened their understanding and imbued their hearts with His love,
we should repress any desire to be treated likewise so as not to fall short
in pure love of conformity to His Will.
We should even unite ourselves still more closely to His Will by saying,
‘I praise Thee, O Lord, and bless Thee for deigning to show Thyself with
so great love and familiarity to the souls Thou has chosen …'”

Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, p. 75-76
An Excerpt From
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

I’m baaaaack

“The glory of God is man fully alive,
and the life of man is the vision of God.”

St. Irenaeus


(a willet in the surf /Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2021)

We got home yesterday from our week away and I’ll share more about our
adventure with the Mayor and Sheriff at the beach… soon…
just as soon as I get alllll these clothes washed.

My last post was about the homecoming for Sgt. Rob Holloway’s as he
and his wife returned home to Carrollton after months in two
different hospitals…this following his having been shot in the
wee hours of April 12th during a high speed chase.

Rob and Stephanie got home Wednesday…they were to spend a few days home
before heading back to Atlanta to begin a transition period at Pathways
which is a program to help Rob learn how to manage his daily routines
while getting back to “normal” as best as possible.

However on Thursday, Rob began running a fever.
The Hospital told Stephanie to get him back to Atlanta ASAP
where he was placed back in ICU.

He has since received IV fluids and antibiotics…
and is reportedly feeling better.

Because bullet fragments remain lodged in Rob’s brain and due to having the
reconstructive skull surgery, the risk of meningitis remains high.

So will you please join me as we offer up prayers for Rob and his family…
as we also pray for all our men and women in blue, as well as for their families…
those members of our various law enforcements who give their all for us….

“The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of one poor little person
to save a multitude of others, redeemed like her at the price of His Blood.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

what is your heart’s desire?

“God does not fit in an occupied heart.”
St. John of the Cross


(waning sunflowers / Julie Cook / 2021)

God then directs these words to you:
If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free
from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit;
turn away from evil and do good;
let peace be your quest and aim.

Saint Benedict
from The Rule of Saint Benedict

***taking the week off from technology… or as best I can.
Off on adventure with the Mayor and Sheriff