pondering…proposes, invites, counsel and freewill

“And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force,
because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one,
but only proposes, invites and counsels.”

St. Angela Merici


(Julie Cook / 2022)

On a snowy Sunday afternoon…way down here in the deep South—
a day full of anomalies…meaning….
that the two notions of a deep South and a snowy day are not usually
found within the same sentence, it seemed to be a perfect day for pondering.

Pondering.

Merriam Webster tells us that the definition of the word ponder is:
to weigh in the mind or to think about or reflect on…

And so, on this stay inside sort of day, this day of a deep South’s
day of ice and snow, pondering simply seemed to be a perfect pairing.

To weigh, to think, to reflect…

I found the following quotes, both above and below, to be so full
of thoughtfulness..so full of deep reverberations…
so full of infinite truths…
all of which each echo within the walls of any longing soul…
so much so that each quote has caught my breath.

words spoken…

Words which speak of purpose…
words which speak of freewill…
words which speak of accepting actions…
words which speak of burdens…
words which speak of conscience…
words which speak of opportunity,
words which speak of forgiveness…

All three quotes give us much to contemplate, examine and reflect upon…
all during these dark days of winter…

Tis the season to ruminate…to ingest and to ponder…

“We have difficulty understanding this,
just as a blind man has difficulty understanding color,
but our difficulty doesn’t alter this fact:
God’s omnipotence and omniscience respects our freedom.
In the core of our being we remain free to accept or
reject God’s action in our lives—-
and to accept or reject it more or less intensely.
God wants us to accept him with all our ‘heart, soul, mind, and strength’—-
in other words, as intensely as possible.
But he also knows that we are burdened with selfishness and beset by the devil,
so it will take a great effort on our part to correspond to his grace.
Every time our conscience nudges us to refrain from
sharing or tolerating that little bit of gossip, every time we feel a tug
in our hearts to say a prayer or give a little more effort,
every time we detect an opportunity to do a hidden act
of kindness to someone in need,
we are faced with an opportunity to please the Lord
by putting our faith in his will.”

Fr. John Bartunek,

The more I wanted to pray for my father and could not,
the more I realized how much my hatred of him had harmed me
instead of harming him.
I can’t remember where I heard this saying,
but it came back to me then:
Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and hoping that
the other person will die.

Derya Little
from her book From Islam to Christ

grace not lost

“He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.”

St. Ambrose


(Cades Cove, TN / Julie Cook / 2015)

We must animate ourselves by the thought that God is always with us,
that he only allows this trial for our greater good,
and that we have not necessarily lost his grace because
we have lost the taste and feelings of it.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

your heart…house of traffic or house of God

Our technological society has no longer any place in it for wisdom
that seeks truth for its own sake, that seeks the fullness of being,
that seeks to rest in an intuition of the very ground of all being.
Without wisdom, the apparent opposition of action and contemplation,
of work and rest, of involvement and detachment,
can never be resolved.

Thomas Merton


(Spaghetti junction / Atlanta / Julie Cook / 2021)

Your heart.

Not the physical beating muscle within your chest that pumps life
sustaining blood racing throughout your body…
but rather I speak of the heart, the place where both your soul and
inner “being” each reside…

Is that heart, that place within your soul,
is that personal and private inner space a place of madness and confusion…
a place of never ending infuriating traffic?

Meaning… is your heart reeling, congested, frustrated, overwhelmed
and rife with rage?

or in contrast…is it…

a house of and for the omnipotent God…
that hallowed dwelling place of the Holy of Holies?
Is that very sacred place and space, is it a place where
the Great I Am can reside?
A place of interior silence, severe reverence and a place of
deafening peace?

I wonder.

And thus I must ask…are we, meaning both you and me…
are we oddly and surreally more content with the confusion, noise, madness
and chaos…the frenetic swill of uncertainty…
Are we actually afraid of finding that long awaited
overwhelming silence…are we afraid to find that astounding reverence
and that most deafening Peace?

Should we not actually be willing, or rather pleading, to quiet the rage within,
detach from this world and recollect our true home?

“Man will not consent to drive away the money-changers from
the temple of his soul until he realizes that it is a Holy of Holies—-
not a house of traffic, but in very truth the house of God.
We thus reach two striking conclusions:
There cannot be entire dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance,
which is the true meaning of living in Christ, without complete self-renunciation.
There cannot be complete self-renunciation without the constant
underlying spirit of faith, without the habit of interior silence,
a silence where God is dwelling.
Many do not see the connection between thoughts about the King
and the service of the King; between the interior silence…
and the continual detachment…
If we look closer, it will be seen that there is a strong, close,
unbreakable link between the two.
Find a recollected person, and he will be detached;
seek one who is detached, and he will be recollected.
To have found one is to have discovered the other…
Anyone who tries, on a given day, to practice either recollection
or detachment cannot ignore the fact that he is doing a double stroke of work.”

Raoul Plus, S.J., p. 39-40

casting ourselves into the arms of the Father

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to
thank God for all that He, in His goodness,
sends to us day after day.”

St. Gianna Molla

“Faith is to believe what you do not see.
The reward of faith is to see what you believe.”

St. Augustine of Hippo


(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

thoughts

“Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the cross;
he waited until one of them turned to him.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer


(bluebird / Julie Cook / 2017)

“I’m still discovering, right up to this moment,
that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.
I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems,
successes and failures, experiences and perplexities.
In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Come, Lord…

“Trials, tribulation, anguish, anxiety are permitted
by the very One Who gives peace.”

Fulton Sheen


(icy days 2017 / Julie Cook )

“How good is our God!
When we can no longer come to Him,
He comes to us.”

St John Vianney / The Curé of Ars

He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Revelation 22:20

Warriors and gaurdians

So I walk up on high and I step to the edge
To see my world below
And I laugh at myself while the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know, it’s the world I know

Lyrics Collective Soul


(St Kevin’s Monastery, Glendalough / Co. Wicklow, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

Some years are harder than others.
Some months are harder than others.
Some weeks are harder than others.
Some days are harder than others.
Some nights are harder than others
Some hours are harder than others.

We often feel as if we are traversing life alone.

Within as well as outward, we hear and see a myriad of attacks
hurled in our direction…

Voices whispering…
naysaying, lying, undermining…

We dip, dodge and stumble as we attempt to miss being blindsided.

These attacks come from the external world yet even more precariously
and dare we day dangerously,
these attacks come from our own individual internal worlds.

And so we spend our days tiptoeing through a minefield,
fearful that the next step might just be the last.

As that is exactly what our ancient nemesis would have us believe.

The lies, the emptiness, the loneliness, the deception…

Until a guardian, a warrior arrives by our side…

“Christians long ago concluded that each individual human being
has his or her own particular guardian angel.
Though the Church has never defined the teaching about
individual guardian angels, the Catechism of the Catholic Church
sums up the matter this way,
quoting St. Basil:
‘From infancy to death human life is surrounded by [the angels’]
watchful care and intercession.
Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd
leading him to life’.
In this light, we can turn to our guardian angels for help in spiritual warfare,
especially to resist the temptations of the Enemy.
Yet angels are more than guardians; they are also warriors.”

Paul Thigpen, p. 30
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare, p30

don’t be comfortable with the status quo

Perfect holiness is the purpose for which we were created,
so we can’t allow ourselves to be comfortable with the status quo.

Fr. J. Augustine Wetta, OSB
from his book Humility Rules


(2017 / Julie Cook)

“It is undoubtedly true that each of us, men and women,
irresponsible and thoughtless as we often are,
hold within our hands the happiness and sorrows of others.
We cannot help it or escape from it.
The power is in us inalienably almost from birth to death—in us,
because we are persons—and we are responsible for the use we make of it.
Indeed, so mysterious is this power that the very presence of a person
who does not realize his responsibility is often the source of the keenest pain of all..
The failure to exercise the power to give happiness to others is
not merely negative in its results;
it is the source of the most positive suffering of all.
Thus there is no escape from the responsibility involved in the
possession of this power.
Not to use it where it is due is to destroy all happiness.
Strange power, indeed, to be committed to such weak and unworthy hands;
yet there could be but one thing worse:
that none could interfere with the joys and sorrows of others.
We might envy their happiness and pity their sorrows,
but we could not help them.
It would be a world of isolated individuals wrapped in inviolable selfishness;
each must take care of himself and the world must go its way.”

Fr. Basil W. Maturin, p. 149

Home

The key to perseverance is keeping your eyes on the goal.
For every Christian, that goal lies just beyond the gates of death.
Our true citizenship is in the only place where we will truly feel at home:
Heaven.

Fr. J. Augustine Wetta, OSB
from his book Humility Rules

Thinking of the notion of home…I’ve thought back to a post I wrote back in 2013..
a post about a simple back door.
Here’s the link…

If a door could talk

I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the world I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the world that I’m coming
I’m back where I belong, yeah I never felt so strong (yeah)
(I’m back baby)
I feel like there’s nothing that I can’t try

Skylar Grey

what lessons…sure intentions

What lessons God gives us in nature if we take the time to reflect on them…
If we take the time to reflect on the meaning and
purpose revealed to us in the ordinary experiences of our lives,
the world lights up, even in the darkness.

Fr. Joseph Kelly
from On Second Thoughts: A Book of Stories


(flowers in the snow / Julie Cook/ 2017)

“It is necessary to have an absolutely sure intention in all our actions,
so that the generous fulfillment of our daily duties may be
directed toward the highest supernatural ideal.
Thus, our life, apart from moments of prayer, will be a prayerful life.
It is clear that the habit of giving an upward glance to God
at the moment of action is a great assistance in aiding us to behave
always with a pure intention and in freeing us from our
natural impulses and fancies, so, that, retaining our self-mastery,
or rather, God becoming the sole Master,
all our movements become dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
We see in the Gospel that whenever our Lord was about to
undertake some important step,
He always paused for a moment to raise His eyes to Heaven,
and only after this moment of recollection did He take up the work
He had to do.
‘He lifted up His eyes to Heaven’ is a phrase that
recurs with significant frequency.
And doubtless, when there was no outward sign of this prayer,
there was the inward offering.
The ideal is the same for us.
The constant subjection of self to the guidance of the Holy Spirit
is made easier from the fact of His presence in the soul,
where He is asked explicitly to preside over all our doings…
We shall not submit wholeheartedly to the
invisible Guest unless He is kept in close proximity to us.”

Raoul Plus, S.J., p. 37-8